Pentecostalism and Revivalism
Pentecostalism did not arise in a vacuum, but was deeply molded by several factors in nineteenth-century Evangelicalism. Revivalism, with its focus on an emotional encounter with God through the Spirit, was part of the very fabric of Evangelicalism. Revival took place in the Scottish Presbyterian church in 1830-31 through the preaching of controversial minister Edward Irving (1792-1834) in London, who had arrived there in 1822 and came to believe in premillennialism—that the Lord’s coming was imminent and that charismatic gifts including prophecy, healing, and speaking in tongues, and the fivefold offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers were being restored to the church. Glossolalia—speaking in tongues—occurred in Glasgow in 1830, in Irving’s congregation in Regent’s Square, London, in 1831, and in several other places. Irving himself was censured for allowing women and unordained men to speak during his services, and he was tried for what were considered his heretical views overemphasizing the human nature of Christ. He was dismissed from the London congregation in 1832, after which he led 800 of his members to form the Catholic Apostolic Church. But because he had not received any spiritual gifts himself, his place as leader of the new church was taken by “apostles,” including the wealthy banker Henry Drummond. Irving was sent to Glasgow in 1834 where he became ill and died. Spiritual gifts were practiced and recorded in the Catholic Apostolic Church until about 1879. The New Apostolic Church, which seceded from this church in Germany in 1863, continued the charismatic tradition longer. Although the Irvingite movement separated from Evangelicalism and has been regarded as a “sect,” it is an important precedent for John Alexander Dowie’s Zion movement and for Pentecostalism.1
The pentecostal mission historian Gary McGee writes about radical Evangelicalism and its expectation of a worldwide outpouring of the Spirit with accompanying miracles during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Unlike most histories of Pentecostalism, McGee spends a considerable amount of space describing the background to the rise of Pentecostalism in Christian history. He emphasizes continuity rather than the discontinuity often assumed in pentecostal historiography, particularly through the influence of “latter rain” teaching, which referred to the “former” and “latter rain,” terms used by Hebrew prophets as pointing to two separate outpourings of the Spirit. This suggested a historical gap between the first and twentieth centuries, when “signs and wonders” were restored to a prodigal church. However, signs and wonders, including healing, miracles, and glossolalia, were always part of the expectations that would accompany mission work in Catholic, Orthodox, and radical evangelical circles; and these manifestations did not begin in the late nineteenth century. Of course, Pentecostalism was to bring them more into focus, but there are historical precedents for everything the pentecostals did. Miracles were referred to by Western and Eastern Church Fathers and during medieval Catholic missions, and it was only Lutheran and Reformed Europe that introduced the denial of the possibility of contemporary miracles. The nineteenth-century British Catholic historian Thomas Marshall refers to miracles as essential for mission work, and he charges Protestants with practicing a form of deism where, in effect, God had withdrawn to become an absent and inactive Deity. Yet many nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries were aware of the enormous gap between what they read in the New Testament and their own mission practices—and how much more effective they would be if they could have the same power that marked the ministry of the first apostles. Their efforts had been met with few converts and the most significant achievements were the medical and philanthropic activities they had engaged in.2
Against this backdrop McGee traces the expectations on the margins of Evangelicalism as far back as the eighteenth century, in writers like Jonathan Edwards and later William Carey, the famous English Baptist missionary to India. Among these and especially among late nineteenth-century premillennialists (the “radical evangelicals”) there was a conviction that a great, worldwide outpouring of the Spirit would result in the restoration of miraculous power to the church’s mission, so that the nations could be reached for Christ before the impending end of the ages. The nineteenth century saw a series of evangelical revivals resulting in an unprecedented missionary movement, the birth of new evangelical denominations, and the holiness and healing movements. Many of these movements defined what we mean by “Evangelicalism” today and had a profound influence on the emergence of Pentecostalism and its globalization in the twentieth century. Evangelicalism, especially of the Methodist variety, was the dominant subculture in the United States in the nineteenth century. The revivals introduced a new method of evangelism characterized by emotion, large and long nightly services indoors or outdoors, often led by laypeople, that brought evangelical faith and often profound moral change to communities. But revivals and the intensity of religious activity that they bring can only last for a limited time. Not all revival converts remain committed churchgoers. A new outbreak of revival took place from 1857 to 1860 in the northeastern United States and in Ulster, Wales, and Scotland, eventually reaching as far as Liberia and India. Reports of revivals in various parts of the world began to filter back to the West, as there was an increasing belief in these circles of a second work of grace to be brought about by the infilling of the Spirit. Indigenous revivals in which prophecies and tongues broke out occurred in places like China, Uganda, and especially South India and often met with opposition from Western missionaries and resistance to the more emotional manifestations. Faith missions (independent of ecclesiastical organizations) arose in which missionaries were expected to exercise faith in God alone for daily provision; the healing movement added momentum to these expectations, and missionaries began to write about healing and exorcising demons. Expectant faith in the miracle power of God with the restoration of spiritual gifts began to increase.3
This was taken a step further when radical evangelicals, including some in A. B. Simpson’s Christian and Missionary Alliance, began to expect the restoration of the gift of tongues for the speedy and effective preaching of the gospel to the nations. The stage was set for this doctrine to become the hallmark of early American Pentecostalism via Frank Sandford and Charles F. Parham. Parham’s linking tongues with Spirit baptism was the radically new idea that caught fire in the early twentieth century. But the pentecostals believed that they alone had the “apostolic mission” that would return the power of the Spirit lost since the “Dark Ages.” This seamless web of evangelical expectations in history means that instead of a sudden new start in 1901 or 1906, there is a continuation and growth of ideas that have their origins much earlier.4
Pentecostalism was a movement that took on characteristics of those revival movements that preceded it. William Kay observes that “Pentecostalism is revivalistic. Patterns of revival behaviour became part of pentecostal worship. There was lay leadership and emotion and unpredictability.” One of the fundamental characteristics of Pentecostalism and its common denominator amid so many varieties is the practice of spiritual gifts, or “gifts of the Spirit” as outlined in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. In particular are those gifts that pentecostals believed were “restored” after years of neglect: healing, prophecy, miracles, casting out demons, and speaking in tongues. It was the latter in particular that was to cause the most controversy and initially set pentecostals apart from other forms of Christianity. Pentecostals of all shades proclaim that these “charismata” are to be exercised in the world as a means to evangelism and a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. Whenever “revivals” have been reported in the history of Christianity there have been manifestations of such gifts. A “revival,” as defined by the historian of “evangelical awakenings” J. Edwin Orr, is “a revival of New Testament Christianity in the Church of Christ and in its related community.” This is brought about, he writes, by the “outpouring of the Spirit” whereby the “revived Church... is moved to engage in evangelism, in teaching, and in social action.” The “major marks” of such a revival “are always some repetition of the phenomena of the Acts of the Apostles.”5
The independent American Methodist missionary Minnie Abrams, in the midst of the Mukti revival in India, wrote in 1906 that “the Holy Spirit has been poured out on many Indian churches, as on us as at the beginning.” She went on:
He [God] is teaching the Indian Christians to know and understand spiritual things. Many are being anointed with the spirit of intercessory prayer, spending hours, lost to time and surroundings, pleading for the unsaved. Young men and women are receiving the GIFTS of the Spirit, speaking with tongues, interpreting tongues previously unknown to them; the sick are being healed and unclean spirits cast out in answer to prayer....
There are many indications that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh and that the time for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit spoken of in Acts 2:17 has fully come. Let Christians in all parts of the world seek earnestly this Pentecostal outpouring for themselves and fellow believers, and pray mightily for an outpouring of the Spirit upon the unconverted and the heathen. The promise is “I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh.”6
So it was that Pentecostalism in these circles was seen as a fulfillment of prophecy, an end-time, worldwide, cataclysmic event that would result in ordinary people in every culture understanding and experiencing “spiritual things,” in particular, the gifts and manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostalism is a revivalist movement with roots in Pietism, Methodism, and the nineteenth century evangelical and revivalist holiness and healing movements. German Pietism—with its emphasis on personal experience or “new birth” by the Holy Spirit and exemplified through Nicolaus von Zinzendorf s Moravians—spread to Methodism through John Wesley and his theologian associate John Fletcher. The personal, “born-again” conversion experience that became the hallmark of Evangelicalism stressed individual decision and was therefore in synch with the individualism that characterized modernity in contrast to the monolithic ecclesiastical systems that dominated premodern Europe. The early Methodist doctrine of “entire sanctification,” by which a Christian could claim “perfection” through a crisis experience claimed by faith, and the possibility of personal spiritual experiences subsequent to conversion, undoubtedly constituted the sparks that ignited the holiness movement and its direct offspring Pentecostalism. The holiness movement radicalized the ideas of Wesley and Fletcher and focused on a personal encounter, a crisis experience of “holiness” that became known as “baptism with the Spirit.” Phoebe Palmer, Charles Finney, William and Catherine Booth, and William Taylor were among its best-known advocates. The holiness movement was a reaction to liberalism and formalism in established Protestant churches as a whole, and not just in the Methodist church. Its main principles were a biblical literalism, the need for a personal, emotional, and individual experience of conversion, and the moral perfection or “holiness” of the Christian individual. The Keswick Conventions that began in the English Lake District in 1875 were another expression of the holiness movement (although more Reformed in orientation), where the emphasis shifted from Spirit baptism as “holiness” or “sanctification” to Spirit baptism as “the higher Christian life” and the bestowing of power for witness to the world and mission. This was the theology of Spirit baptism continued by the pentecostals but to which they added the practice of spiritual gifts—in particular, speaking in tongues.
Later in the nineteenth century the healing movement arose in western Europe and North America mostly within radical and pietistic Protestant circles. Its chief proponents were J. C. Blumhardt, Dorothea Trudel, Charles Cullis, John A. Dowie, Carrie Judd Montgomery, and A. B. Simpson. The healing movement was one of the most important influences on early Pentecostalism and another expression of the popular beliefs on the fringes of Evangelicalism. Former Methodist preacher turned healing evangelist Charles Parham, who is credited with formulating the doctrinal link between tongues-speaking and Spirit baptism, came from these circles. For unknown reasons, Parham never sent out missionaries—despite his doctrine of missionary tongues. This would not happen until the Azusa Street revival in 1906, marking American Pentecostalism’s outreach into a newly globalized world. Like the earlier advocates of divine healing, even though they suffered from severe illnesses and many of their missionaries died from tropical diseases, pentecostals remained unshaken in their conviction that divine healing had been restored to the church in the worldwide revival of the last days. Healing and “signs and wonders” were both an indispensable ingredient of their message and the means by which the nations would be brought to faith in Christ. The presence of healing gifts sometimes broke down barriers of gender and race discrimination. One of the earliest healing ministries in North America was that of African American Elizabeth Mix; she prayed for Carrie Judd Montgomery (1858-1946), an Episcopalian and later Salvation Army member, Christian and Missionary Alliance leader, and finally pentecostal, that Montgomery would be healed of an incurable disease. Mix had a formative influence on Montgomery’s extensive healing ministry. Montgomery’s long ministry was extremely significant and bridged the holiness, healing, and pentecostal movements.7
The first pentecostals tended to come from one or other of these radical evangelical groups. All held a conviction that the second coming of Christ was imminent and that a worldwide revival would usher it in. They were conditioned by a movement reacting to rationalism and secularism, a response to modernity that focused on personal spirituality, emotional release, and divine intervention in human affairs—even if it used modernity’s rational tools to formulate and justify this reaction. By the end of the nineteenth century, the idea grew that there would be a great outpouring of the Spirit throughout the world before the second coming of Christ— and it was hoped, at the beginning of the twentieth century. Those upon whom the Spirit had fallen were to prepare for this by offering themselves for missionary service. Mission was thereby given a new pneumatologi- cal and eschatological dimension that was to become the preoccupation of early pentecostals. Pentecostalism was missionary by nature; its central experience of the power of the Spirit which all pentecostal believers affirmed was inextricably linked to going out and being witnesses to all nations. This, together with rapid improvements in transportation and communications, and colonial hegemony, facilitated their rapid spread into many parts of the world in the early twentieth century. Add to this the fact that outside the Western world there were hundreds of voluntary mission societies creating a Christian plurality in places like India, China, and British Africa. The entrance of independent lay pentecostal missionaries and native revivalists was neither unexpected nor unusual in these regions, which were those where Pentecostalism has proliferated most.8
David Martin writes of the voluntarism and pluralism born in British and American nineteenth-century denominational splits that “rapidly indi- genizes in the developing world, partly on account of its astonishing combination of motifs from both black and white revivalism.” Pentecostals, like the radical evangelicals they descended from, were firm believers in the privatization of religion: for them, because the only “real” Christians were the “born again” ones, the vast majority (whether they attended church or not) were simply not Christians. This is why proselytizing was engaged in without compunction and comity agreements on the mission fields were largely ignored. Unencumbered by ecclesiastical organizations and “doctrinal purity,” pentecostals relied on their own instincts and a raw interpretation of the Bible. Led by the Spirit, they could do whatever they felt was God’s direction at the time, and they created structures according to this subjective guidance. Similarly, and also because of their ostracism from other churches, pentecostals remained isolated and within a few years had corralled themselves into new denominations.9
Although the Azusa Street revival was the most significant North American center of early Pentecostalism, it was neither the only one nor the earliest. Various revivals occurred in different parts of the world during the late nineteenth and first decade of the twentieth century within a few years of each other. These revivals had decidedly pentecostal characteristics, with gifts of the Spirit like healings, tongues, prophecy, and other “miraculous” signs. They were conscious and deliberate attempts by ordinary people to adapt revivalist Christianity to their own local contexts, thereby giving expression to their desire for a more satisfying and relevant religious life. Furthermore, there were precedents laid down by earlier revivalists that were to mold the expectations of the first pentecostals. Many of these expectations were nurtured in the holiness and healing movements, the soil out of which Pentecostalism grew and without which it would not have survived. There were examples in eastern Europe, such as a revival that began in Russia and Armenia in 1855 with people speaking in tongues, and resulting in a group in the Black Sea area called “Pentecostal Christians,” who formed congregations there that predated pentecostal denominations in origin by fifty years. Keswick leader F. B. Meyer visited Estonian Baptist congregations in 1902 and reported approvingly that “marvellous manifestations” of the Spirit were frequent occurrences, and “the gift of tongues is heard quite often in the meetings,” accompanied by interpretations about the soon coming of Christ.10
There were other precedents in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that illustrate that the soil preparing the way for the emergence of Pentecostalism was not only found in the Western world. Here we begin in India and examine some of the revivals that ultimately influenced the emergence of Pentecostalism. These revival movements were in many respects revolutionary, paving the way for momentous change within the church, society, and nations, and in particular, creating a heightened awareness of personal dignity and identity. These revolutionary forces were affected by political energies geared toward independence from colonialism that characterized the early twentieth century. The numerous independent churches and movements that emerged in Pentecostalism were preceded by the revival events that not only served to further “spiritual” concerns, but also possessed far-reaching implications for political action, patriotic fervor, and social activism.
John Christian Arulappan (1810-67) and the Christian Pettah Revival
Although the Irvingite revival occurred in the 1830s, one of the earliest pentecostal revivals in the nineteenth century of which we have any knowledge was that associated with the Tamil evangelist John Christian Arulappan in Tamilnadu in 1860-65, when many charismatic gifts were reported. There is a little information on Arulappan in the Church Missionary Society (CMS) archives, and the unstructured account by the Brethren writer G. H. Lang published in 1939 is the only source of detail. This contains long quotations from Arulappan’s diary and letters, as well as commentaries by missionaries who witnessed the effects of his revival movement. This is particularly interesting because the Brethren movement has largely been opposed to pentecostal manifestations such as those described in Lang’s book, and Lang himself was no supporter of Pentecostalism. His account is limited in that it is based on a single source, with all the dangers of selective information and misinterpretation that this brings. Nevertheless, the most significant parts of this account have bearing on the general principle of precedents that this chapter illustrates.11
Arulappan was born into a Christian family in Tirunelveli in 1810. His family sent him at the age of fifteen to study at the CMS seminary led by the famous German missionary C. T. E. Rhenius (1790-1837). On one occasion Arulappan reportedly ran away from the seminary with other students, but on his return he was reinstated and began to make progress. At the end of 1826 Rhenius wrote of Arulappan, “This good young man lately gave way to the tempter, whereby he greatly injured his Christian character.... He feels it now and is greatly humbled. Has maintained his former good character. Sometimes negligent & sleeping.” He also reported that Arulappan was “good” in Tamil and Geography, and “average” in English and Hebrew. In 1833 Arulappan came into contact with Anthony Norris Groves (1795-1853), a British Brethren missionary and prominent leader in that movement, and he agreed to travel with Groves to the Nilgiri hills, preaching en route. This was the beginning of Arulappan’s extensive itinerant ministry. He would work with Groves for the next four years. After a taunt from a bystander, Arulappan refused to receive any remuneration from Groves and thereafter lived “by faith,” relying on support from locals. He soon returned to Tirunelveli and may have joined Rhenius after his resignation from the CMS, partly supported by gifts received from the people in Tirunelveli.12
Groves himself made the following observation (emphasis in original):
Dear Aroolappen has declined any form of salary, because the people, he says, would not cease to tell him that he preached because he was hired... Those who know the natives will, I am sure, feel with me, that this plan of missions, whereby the native himself is thrown on God, is calculated to develop that individuality of character, the absence of which has been so deeply deplored, and the remedy for which has so seldom been sought.13
Fifteen years later, Groves’s son Henry described Arulappan: “independent of every individual, or body of individuals, he has endeavoured to preach the gospel... looking to the Lord for the supply of his temporal wants and of those who... have been helpers with him.” In practicing an individualistic and anti-establishment form of Christianity that denied the traditions of the time, Arulappan followed the radical Evangelicalism of Pentecostalism’s forebears. He also challenged the prevailing idea that church leadership and the right to minister the sacraments were the exclusive preserves of ordained clergy, another precedent for Pentecostalism. When Arulappan and his colleague Andrew, the leaders of the mission in Pilney Hills, presided over Holy Communion and baptisms, it caused, in the words of Groves, “more stir and enquiry than you can imagine.” Arulappan’s radical Evangelicalism emphasized the empowerment of the Spirit for all followers of Christ regardless of race or caste, the priesthood of all believers, and faith missions that did not rely on a stipend from a church headquarters. He also practiced open worship services after the pattern of the Brethren movement, which included the breaking of bread and a simple biblical exposition based on the pattern of the early, “apostolic” church, and a communitarian lifestyle. Following the example of Rhenius and Groves, in 1842 Arulappan began a self-supporting agricultural village for Christians that included a boarding school, printing press, itinerant preaching base, a church, and periodic Bible training and conventions. The settlement was named Christian Pettah (“Christian village”), although some of those receiving its benefits were not Christians. Arulappan and his colleagues were also responsible for establishing churches and schools in the area. By 1858 there were thirty villages with 673 people attending these churches. The following year there were thirty-three villages and around 800 converts.14
These and later churches followed local mores and were independent of foreign mission authorities. They represented the first independent churches in India in modern times, long before the “three-self” formula made famous by Henry Venn and Rufus Anderson. The revival that began under Arulappan’s ministry significantly extended the reach and vitality of this indigenous movement and confirmed its contextual relevance. Arulappan had been reading in the Missionary Reporter of the revival that had occurred in America and Britain over the previous three years. Orr suggests that the most significant result of this revival was the “outbreak of revivals among indigenous Christians, and the folk movements of Indian communities to Christianity that resulted therefrom.”
The American Presbyterian mission in Ludhiana, Punjab, issued a call for Christians to set aside the second week of January 1860 for prayer for such a worldwide revival.15
When Arulappan read of this development he became very enthusiastic for a similar revival. He gave himself to earnest prayer and mobilized others to do the same. By March 1860 the manifestations of these revivals were beginning, in Arulappan’s words:
I am thankful to the Lord, who is pleased to pour His Spirit upon poor sinners without distinction of white or black, and rich or poor.... The next Sunday [March 4th]... I exhorted them... In the night when we broke the bread, I exhorted the church on three subjects...
The next day morning two of the females went to the next village and spoke about Christ and they read and searched the Scriptures with one of my sons-in-law. The next morning after prayer was over, they came into the house and wanted me to pray for them, and cried with groans and tears, and told me that they were sinners, and that they should pray for the Holy Spirit... I could not stop their crying until I had prayed thrice with them, and shewed them several passages... Some of my daughters attended their meeting. When they came to me in the middle of the day they were still trembling and crying but I comforted them... They were much pleased but their trembling did not leave them at once.16
The main characteristics of this revival movement were confessions of sin and an emphasis on holiness, features of the revivals at the beginning of the twentieth century in India and Wales. There was also the remarkable use of women in leadership—most unusual in nineteenth-century India, but a portent of even greater things to come. Lang commented that in Arulappan’s study of the Bible, he did not find “that rigid, inflexible prohibition of public ministry of women that Christendom in general seems to think it sees there.” This was even more remarkable, he observed, in that “India is a place beyond most of the suppression of woman.”17
This revival also had more “pentecostal” characteristics. Arulappan described the events from May to August 1860 in some detail:
From the 4th May to the 7th instant [August] the Holy Ghost was poured out openly and wonderfully. Some prophesied and rebuked the people: some beat themselves on their breasts severely, and trembled and fell down through the shaking of their bodies and souls. They wept bitterly, and confessed their sins. I was obliged to pray without ceasing for the consolation of everyone. I thought it was strange to see them without their senses. They saw some signs in the air. They were much pleased to praise God. Some ignorant [uninstructed] people gave out some songs and hymns which we never heard before. Some of those who were not baptized had no peace until we baptized them; so about twenty souls were baptized after they received the Holy Ghost. [Ac 10. 44-48]...
In the month of June some of our people praised the Lord by unknown tongues, with their interpretations. In the month of July the Spirit was poured out upon our congregation at Oleikollamm and above 25 persons were baptised by one of my sons-in-law and two other brothers who labour among them. They are steadfast in prayers.
Then my son and a daughter and three others went in to visit their own relations, in three villages, who are under the Church Missionary Society, they also received the Holy Ghost. Some prophesy, some speak by unknown tongues with their interpretations. Some Missionaries admit the truth of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. The Lord meets everywhere one after another, though some tried to quench the Spirit... We hold three meetings at every day.... We understand that the Holy Ghost dwells and abides among us, and leads us by His blessed words.18
Arulappan goes on to describe preaching and distributing tracts printed by his own press to thousands, and building a prayer room in Christian Pettah for 500 people. This “outpouring of the Spirit” and his use of Acts passages is expressed in language that would characterize the Pentecostal revival of the twentieth century and, like the latter, it resulted in aggressive evangelism. The ecstatic gifts of the Spirit like prophecy and tongues are not mentioned again in the edited versions of Arulappan’s and Groves’s accounts, but they may have been more frequent than these reports suggest.19
A fairly negative missionary report on the revival in Christian Pettah more than a year later (June 1861) confirms this suggestion and the account displays interesting parallels to developments in later Pentecostalism. It referred to “the apparent assumption of miraculous gifts” and “an unhealthy state of spiritual excitement,” including the frequent use of prophecies, tongues, interpretations, visions, and the introduction of outward rules such as wearing white clothing and the appointing of Apostles, Evangelists, and Prophets—all given by revelation of the Spirit. Another missionary spent a week with Arulappan and reported on the manifestations of “a great shaking, attended with certain ‘gifts’, viz. speaking with tongues, seeing of visions, interpretation of tongues and prophecy” and even writing in the Spirit, something that later occurred in the Azusa Street revival. Unlike the pentecostal revival, however, physical healing seems not to have been a feature of Arulappan’s movement, at least as far as these accounts reveal. Henry Groves reproduces a report from the Madras Church Missionary Record in which “a deeply interesting revival of spiritual religion” is described “with the same physical emotions” that had marked the “Ulster Revival.” However, in this case, the missionaries had succeeded in keeping “in check” the “painful manifestations.”20
A CMS missionary writing on the revival amplified what were regarded as the manifestations needing correction:
The whole number of the persons affected hardly exceeds one hundred, or perhaps, including the congregations connected with Mr. Arulappen..., one hundred and fifty... .both in the case of Mr. Arulappen’s congregations and also in that of one or two congregations in other parts of Tinnevelly, to which the movement extended, there have been cases of excesses, which... shew an unhealthy excitement which should have been checked. For instance, the newly awakened have fancied that they could speak in tongues, have seen visions, to which they have attached great importance, have given utterance to prophecies, etc. But in the congregations connected with ourselves... all such tendencies were checked in the first instance.21
At least one of the CMS missionaries, a Mr. Gray, was not as sure about this “checking,” and expressed cautious support for the revival movement. He expressed fear that he might “by my own deadness and coldness .. .throw a chill upon the blessed work.” He continued:
Some of the revived believers expected that the signs mentioned in Mark xvi. would follow believers now, even as in primitive times. But the Missionaries exerted themselves to remove these expectations.
We should not wonder, however, if some of the converts should reason thus. What God is now doing in the midst of us was altogether beyond the expectations of Missionaries and other Christians: who can say what manifestations the Spirit of God will or will not make of his power?22
Besides the reported speaking in tongues, prophecies, visions, and revelations, other common revival manifestations reported by the missionaries included loud sobbing and crying, falling down, swaying back and forth, and rolling the eyes. This revival was primarily a local Indian movement initiated by an independent Indian preacher that spread to other Christian congregations where CMS missionaries were working. One of them, the Reverend A. B. Valpy, expressed “his firm conviction, that the blessing which has been vouchsafed to us in this district is mainly owing, under God, to the efforts of the party of native Christians.” He also believed that some CMS missionaries had carried their “scepticism and mistrust” too far.23
He exhorted his fellow missionaries:
There was evidently a belief in the power of the Holy Spirit to work in this land even as he had been doing in Ireland and in America; and there was special prayer made for a revival of religion. It came. There was a baptism of the Holy Spirit which filled the members of this [Arulappan’s] church with a holy enthusiasm; and caused them to go everywhere preaching the gospel, in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.... Let us not put our views of decorum and of order above the mighty operations of the Spirit we can no more expect men to act under such circumstances in accordance with ordinary rules of decorum, than we could expect men aroused from their beds by an earthquake to avoid every demonstration of a noisy or alarming character. Perhaps it behoves us all, to surrender our very imperfect views of the power and majesty of the Holy Spirit, and prepare for something grander, more awful and revolutionary than we have yet witnessed.24
Notwithstanding these remarkably prophetic expressions of support, it seems that many, but not all, of the CMS missionaries sought to suppress the “excesses” of this revival. Arulappan died in 1867 and within a decade most of his churches had joined the CMS. Christian
Pettah, however, remained a separate independent church. Followers of Arulappan were actively responsible for an outbreak of revival in Kerala in 1873-75 among Syrian Orthodox and CMS churches led by Brahmin converts Justus Joseph and his brothers Matthew and Jacob, among others. Among the Syrians this revival led in turn to the foundation of the Mar Thoma church. As in Arulappan’s revival, this movement was also accompanied by physical and emotional phenomena including speaking in tongues, causing concerns for missionary observers. And it was among Groves’s Brethren churches in South India that the first pente- costals were found, some with direct links to the earlier revivals.25
The connections between Arulappan’s revival movement and Pentecostalism are not only phenomenological. Four decades later, in 1908, the pioneer of Pentecostalism in Europe, T. B. Barratt of Norway, arrived in Bombay for a two-month stay at the missionary retreat at Coonoor. Barratt was invited and financed by Anthony H. Groves, a tea planter in the Nilgiri hills, son of Henry and grandson of Anthony Norris Groves, Arulappan’s one-time mentor. Among other things, Barratt discovered that his Indian interpreter Joshua had received Spirit baptism, with glossolalia, in 1897, evidence that speaking in tongues continued in India long after the time of Arulappan and prior to the pentecostal beginnings in North America and Europe. And Barratt was to report on and be amazed by another revival taking place further north.26
Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922) and die Mukti Revival
Born in North India two years before Arulappan’s revival started, Pandita Sarasvati Ramabai was one of the most famous Christian women India has ever produced. She was a reformer, Bible translator, social activist, and leader of another Indian revival movement in her Mukti Mission from 1905 to 1907. Ramabai is significant in both the origins of Pentecostalism and in its acceptance among the wider Christian community. Her revival movement was given prominence in reports in the emerging pentecostal press. The details of Ramabai’s life have been adequately covered elsewhere. Her rejection of British colonialism remained with her all her life—like most educated Indians, she believed in Indian nationalism, stimulated by the British rulers’ repression of and arrogance toward Indian social structures, causing determined Indian resistance. She spent three years visiting the Western world and favorably commented on women’s rights in
American society, while criticizing that society’s shortcomings. In 1895 she established a mission on a farm she had bought at Kedgaon, near Pune, and her work shifted from a religiously “neutral” charity to an overtly evangelical Christian one. This mission was given the name “Mukti” (“salvation”) and its main purpose was to provide a refuge for destitute girls and young women, particularly those who had been the victims of child marriages and had become widows, and those rescued from starvation. By 1900 it had almost 2,000 residents. Ramabai believed that Hindu women could find complete freedom only by converting to Christianity. Her mission aimed to provide a totally supportive environment for its large community trained in income-generating skills, but her overtly evangelistic aims brought her into conflict with the Hindu majority. In 1904 Ramabai began her personal translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Marathi, a process that took eighteen years, almost to the end of her life. In 1907 the mission newsletter Mukti Prayer-Bell stated that Mukti was a “purely undenominational, evangelical, Christian Mission, designed to reach and help high caste Hindu widows, deserted wives and orphans from all parts of India,” who would receive “a thorough training for some years” after which they would “go out as teachers or Bible women to work in different Missions.” Ramabai had a team of seventy, including twenty-five volunteer Western workers. Minnie Abrams, a “deaconess missionary” in the Methodist Episcopal Church since 1887, joined Ramabai in 1898 and was a significant bridge between Ramabai and the emerging global pen- tecostal network until Abrams’s untimely death in 1912. Abrams was to be the international publicist for the revival that ensued.27
In about 1894 Ramabai had an experience described as “the blessing of the Holy Spirit,” when, she wrote: “I found it a great blessing to realise the personal presence of the Holy Spirit in me, and to be guided and taught by Him.” She saw her need to be “filled with the Spirit” and professed to “enter on a new experience of God’s power to save, bless and use.” Thereafter she identified increasingly with radical evangelicals, Keswick “higher Christian life,” and Holiness movements, and these revivalist networks promoted her work.28
Ramabai attended and addressed the Keswick convention in 1898, where she asked for prayer for an outpouring of the Spirit on Indian Christians:
At that time the Lord led me to ask those present to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all Indian Christians I requested God’s people to pray that 100,000 men and 100,000 women from among the Indian Christians may be led to preach the Gospel to their country people Since that time God wanted me to pray and expect great things of Him.29
After hearing of the Welsh revival and a revival conducted by R. A. Torrey in Australia in 1904, she dispatched her daughter Manoramabai and Minnie Abrams there. In January 1905, Ramabai instituted an early-morning daily prayer meeting, when women would meet and pray (in her words) “for the true conversion of all the Indian Christians including ourselves, and for a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all Christians of every land.” The numbers gradually increased from seventy to 500 and Ramabai wrote that in July 1905 “the Lord graciously sent a Holy Ghost revival among us, and also in many schools and churches in this country.” Her Bible school became the hub for all-night prayer meetings and the noise of girls weeping and praising God, many speaking in tongues and prophesying. Ramabai explained: “Some have laughed at us, for we have become fools. The Spirit-filled girls cannot suppress their sorrow for sin or their joy in salvation. They burst into loud crying and laughing, they shake, they tremble, some of them dance with joy and almost pray simultaneously in loud voices.” One visitor commented, “It was impossible to hear what anyone was praying about in the volume of sound which arose and which might continue for an hour or more at a stretch.” Even Manoramabai “on more than one occasion, when close to me, prayed for a long time aloud though the words were absolutely incomprehensible.” Manoramabai explained that she “knew perfectly well all the time what she was praying about, and those who had this gift testified to the spiritual help derived, saying that they had never been able to give God praise or worship in such a satisfying way till they did so in tongues.”30 The revival spread to other parts of the region. Students of the Zenana Training Home in Pune who attended Ramabai’s meetings took it there. Its leader Sunderbai Powar later commented: “One can see the fruits of the Revival in the girls’ conduct. They love each other and are anxious to win souls for Jesus. Some of the Biblewomen... are filled with the Spirit... they stood on the road and began to give the message, an unusual thing for Indian women to do.” A year later Manoramabai reported: “About the middle of August last year, the Lord began to call out praying bands of girls and women from Mukti to carry the message of salvation to those in other places.” Abrams also led teams for revival meetings in surrounding places. She took eleven young women to an orphanage at Telegaon and found that similar phenomena followed them with miraculous healing and great interest among the Hindu population. As one periodical observed, Ramabai’s “Praying Bands” of young women were going “in every direction to scatter the lire that has filled their own souls” and the result was that “many parts of India are hearing of the true and living God.” The revival lasted for a year and a half and resulted in over a thousand baptisms at the school, confessions of sins and repentances, prolonged prayer meetings and the witnessing of some 700 in teams into the surrounding areas, about a hundred going out daily, sometimes for as long as a month at a time. These “Praying Bands” spread the revival wherever they went and some remarkable healings were reported.31
It was not only in Mukti that revival was taking place, however, for reports were coming from other parts of India, including Tamilnadu, where ecstatic phenomena were reported among the Brethren churches in 1905, and in Kerala, Andhra, and Karnataka. The revival movement in northeast India in the Khasi Hills also received international publicity. But it was the Mukti revival that grabbed the attention of the Western evangelical world, and especially that of emerging Pentecostalism. References to the revival are plentiful and clearly situate it within the new movement. The Azusa Street revival’s newspaper The Apostolic Faith, Alexander Boddy’s Confidence in Sunderland, England, and the Stone Church in Chicago’s The Latter Rain Evangel had major articles on the Mukti revival, attesting to the importance placed on it by early pentecostals. The first report of the revival in India in The Apostolic Faith, entitled “Pentecost in India,” commented: “News comes from India that the baptism with the Holy Ghost and gift of tongues is being received there by natives who are simply taught of God... Hallelujah! God is sending the Pentecost to India. He is no respecter of persons.”32
The report to which this refers was carried by The India Alliance, the periodical of the CMA in India:
Those who are following through the papers the reports of the revival movement in India cannot but be struck with the likeness of many things in the revival to apostolic times and events, and the records frequently read like a continuation of the Acts of the Apostles. Some of the gifts which have been scarcely heard in the church for many centuries, are now being given by the Holy Ghost to simple, unlearned members of the body of Christ and communities are being stirred and transformed by the wonderful grace of God. Healings, the gift of tongues, visions and dreams, discernment of spirits, the power to prophecy and to pray the prayer of faith, all have a place in the present revival.33
Significantly, this report states that speaking in tongues occurred in the Bombay area before news of Azusa Street had reached India; and the first missionaries to India from Azusa Street, Albert and Lillian Garr, only reached Kolkata (Calcutta) three months after the report. The first direct report from Mukti from neighboring Methodist missionary Albert Norton said that in about September 1906 they had heard of the gift of tongues being received by “Christian believers in different places and countries.” He had visited Mukti a week earlier, where in a prayer meeting he had seen young women speaking in tongues, but “it closely resembled the speaking of foreign languages.” On the previous weekend he had again visited the Mission where he described “some 24 different persons had received the gift of tongues.” This was “abundant evidence that God was working in a wonderful way” and that “those speaking in tongues gave evidence that their souls were flooded with blessing from God.” They were “waiting on God for the bestowment of all the Spirit’s gifts which He has for us.”34 In September 1907 The Apostolic Faith published a letter from the Garrs, who mentioned that Ramabai and her daughter had been “tarrying” for the Spirit, who had come to them, a number of her teachers, and 300 “native girls.” This issue ran another report on the revival titled “Manifestations of the Spirit in India” taken from a “published report from the Mission at Mukti.” It refers to frequent scenes of various phenomena experienced in the revivals in “Assam and India,” including trembling, shaking, loud crying, and confessions, unconsciousness in ecstasy or prayer, sudden falling to the ground twisting and writhing during exorcisms, and “joy unspeakable” manifested by singing, clapping, shouting praises, and dancing. The report warns against those who would “suppress these manifestations” and thereby grieve the Holy Spirit and stop the work. The writer was Minnie Abrams, who exhorts:
We do not need to worry over these manifestations, nor seek to suppress them... we have seen over and over again during the past fifteen months, that where Christian workers have suppressed these manifestations, the Holy Spirit has been grieved, the work has stopped and no fruit of holy lives has resulted... The writer
testifies that she herself has, in the silence of the midnight hour, alone in her room without a sound in the house, been shaken from her innermost being, until her whole body was convulsed and filled with joy and consciousness that the Holy Spirit had taken possession of every part of her being. No one had greater prejudice against religious excitement than she, but every time she put her hands upon the work at Mukti to suppress joy or strong conviction, or reproved persons being strongly wrought upon physically in prayer, the work of revival stopped and she had to confess her fault before it went on again. We have learned that God’s ways are past finding out, as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth.35
In the Mukti Prayer-Bell of September 1907 Abrams gives prominence to speaking in “unknown tongues” and an outline of the “creed” of the Mukti Mission. The creed states that the “baptism of the Holy Ghost, giving power for service, is given with the gifts of the Spirit as recorded in 1 Cor. 12:4-11” and that these doctrines are “accepted and taught by all of the Mukti staff of workers.” This was one of the earliest statements of what became accepted pentecostal theology, whereas the “initial evidence” of tongues was only enshrined in American Pentecostal denominational dogma in 1918. It is unlikely that Los Angeles had any influence on what happened at Mukti, even if Ramabai and Abrams had heard of Azusa Street before that, which is also most unlikely. Abrams’s own account of revivals specifically links the Mukti revival with those in Wales and northwest India, she sees the Korean (1907) and Manchurian (1910) revivals issuing from these same sources, and the Los Angeles and European pentecostal revivals as connected but separate movements. A reading of early pentecostal historians like Stanley Frodsham confirms this view. It is best to see the Mukti and Azusa Street revivals (together with the 1909 Chilean revival) as formative events contributing toward the emergence of Pentecostalism.36
Ramabai herself was a sympathetic and involved participant in this revivalism. The January 1908 issue of The Apostolic Faith carried a report directly from the Mukti Prayer-Bell, in which Ramabai wrote that she was “not aware that anything like the present Holy Ghost revival, has ever visited India before the year 1905,” and that many had “stumbled” over the manifestations and criticized the revival. Ramabai was “convinced more and more” that those given the gift of tongues had been “greatly helped to lead better lives” and were more effective in prayer and evangelism as a result. A couple of months later, Ramabai’s “Stray Thoughts on the Revival” gave a clear indication that Ramabai thought that revivals were the means by which the Holy Spirit was creating a contextual form of Indian Christianity. This revival was to proceed according to the will of the Spirit, who knew perfectly well how to work in harmony with the Indian psyche to “suit their nature and feelings,” and would be hindered by “foreignised” Western ideas of decorum. These ideas were shaped by Ramabai’s background in philosophical Brahmanism and her resistance to all forms of imperialism.37
The Mukti mission was visited by several Western pentecostal leaders, including T. B. Barratt, who, in 1908, spoke to 1,200 young women in an assembly there and was awestruck by the simultaneous praying he had heard among them. After they had dispersed to classes, some remained “lying prostrate on the floor, praying and speaking in tongues.” In January 1909 the American healing evangelist Carrie Judd Montgomery and her husband George spent two days at Mukti and reported that 400-500 of the girls at Mukti had “been baptized with the Spirit and speak with new tongues.” “None can doubt,” George wrote, “that the Latter Rain as a great flood has been poured out at Mukti,” and that “all the workers there are baptized with the Spirit and speak in tongues.” Both Mukti and the neighboring Daund mission run by Albert Norton were main centers for pentecostal mission, Norton referring to Daund as “one of the mother colonies for pentecostal work in India.” Minnie Abrams was a prominent speaker in several pentecostal conventions during her furlough in the United States in 1909 and 1910. Abrams outlined her views on Spirit baptism in an article titled “The Scriptural Evidence of Pentecost” and wrote that the “outpouring of the Holy Ghost” on the Christian and Missionary Alliance had “greatly strengthened our hands at Mukti.” Mukti operated as the main center in India for the spread of Pentecostalism—much as Los Angeles or Oslo did in the West. Visitors from all over India and Sri Lanka received Spirit baptism at Mukti or in other centers like Bombay. The Mukti revival was of international significance and its importance for the pentecostal missionary movement worldwide cannot be underestimated. Ramabai was a pioneer of an independent Indian Christianity in the tradition of Arulappan. The Indian revival movements were to result in an unparalleled missionary outreach of Indian Christians. Ramabai died in 1922, less than a year after her daughter Manorambai’s death. Although she never considered herself a “pentecostal” in the contemporary sense, her impact on global Pentecostalism was considerable.38
The Mukti revival had at least live far-reaching consequences. First, the leaders of the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles saw the Indian revival as a precedent to the one in which they were involved, a prototype. Frank Bartleman, eyewitness and chronicler of the Azusa Street revival, some two decades after that revival wrote about the origins of the pentecostal movement: “The present world-wide revival was rocked in the cradle of little Wales. It was brought up in India, following; becoming full-grown in Los Angeles later.” Pentecostalism, he thought, was the outgrowth of two earlier revival movements: the Welsh Revival of 1904-05, a Holy Spirit revival movement that brought several thousands to Christian faith, and the Mukti revival in India. But Bartleman also implied that these earlier revivals represented the birth and adolescence of the “world-wide restoration of the power of God.” However, the Indian revival was a “full-grown” pentecostal revival that took place before word of the Los Angeles happenings reached India. It is more likely that these various revivals were simultaneous rather than sequential. In other words, the connections between these various revival movements were incidental, though they certainly fed on one another for sustenance.39
Second was Mukti’s impact on the beginnings of Latin American Pentecostalism. Abrams contacted her friend and former Bible school classmate in Valparaiso, Chile, May Louise Hoover, with a report of the revival in Mukti in a booklet she wrote in 1906 titled The Baptism of the Holy Ghost S. Fire. In its second edition later that year, she included a discussion of the restoration of speaking in tongues (the first published pentecostal theology of Spirit baptism), and 30,000 copies were circulated widely. As a result of Abrams’s booklet and her subsequent correspondence with the Hoovers, the Methodist churches in Valparaiso and Santiago were stirred to pray for a similar revival that began in 1909. Willis Hoover became leader of the new Methodist Pentecostal Church. It is also significant that one of the leaders of the Indian revival and an acquaintance of Ramabai, Shorat Chuckerbutty, was the woman who prayed for Alice Luce, CMS missionary in India at the time, to receive her pentecostal baptism. Luce was a pioneer both in her work among Hispanic pentecostals in the southern United States and Mexico, and in being the first to promote the “indigenous” church principle that was to affect pentecostal missions so profoundly.40
Third, both Ramabai in her ministry and the revival she led demonstrated an ecumenicity and inclusiveness that stand in stark contrast to the rigid exclusivism of subsequent pentecostal denominations. She often alluded to divisions in the church and the need for unity. Although there were obvious limitations to this with Ramabai’s increasing identification with conservative Evangelicalism, her earlier inclusivity was undoubtedly a result of the pluralistic context of India and Ramabai’s indebtedness to her own cultural and religious training in Brahmin philosophy and national consciousness.
The fourth feature of both the Mukti and Christian Pettah revivals was the prominent role given to women, who carried the pentecostal message out into other parts of India in the years that followed. The revivals empowered the marginalized, little-educated women who lacked formal ordination or acceptance in either Hindu reform circles or Western-dominated Christian circles. Notwithstanding these disadvantages, the revival movements enabled them to live productive lives and they imparted a sense of identity and dignity to many others. These revivals were to characterize Pentecostalism throughout the global South. This was another case of Pentecostalism’s early social activism, in which the Mukti revival and Ramabai herself were pioneers without precedent.
Last, these indigenous revival movements were, indirectly, resistance movements against foreign forms of Christianity. This was not lost on the missionaries themselves. One of them, in the wake of the Manchurian revival, wrote perceptively, although slightly peeved by what had moved out of his control:
A “revival” is almost always partly a protest... It is protest against foreign theology, against the domination of foreigners and foreign-trained men The desire is to drive out of power all those of whom they do not approve or, if necessary, to start an independent church.41
Forces had been set in motion by these revival movements that were to take Christianity in the Majority World in a direction that none of these missionaries would have ever anticipated. These were the first showers; the storm was yet to come.
Other Revivalist Movements
There were other figures who might be regarded as precursors of Pentecostalism. Chinese pastor Xi Shengmo (1835-96), whose name means “Overcoming Demons,” was well educated and from a wealthy family in Shanxi province. He ran opium refuges throughout the province in which his own Chinese medicines were used for the treatment of addiction (using a formula revealed to him by the Holy Spirit), and he was renowned for his gifts of exorcism and healing with revelatory dreams and visions. During his lifetime he wrote some 100 hymns set to popular Chinese tunes. He was ordained by the founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM), Hudson Taylor in 1886, but Xi was never under the authority of the CIM and was criticized by one missionary acquaintance for his “tendency to exalt things Chinese” and for his “not a little under-estimation of the foreign missionary.” Xi may be just one example of other preachers in China and elsewhere for whom divine healing and deliverance from demons were essential parts of Christian ministry in the late nineteenth century. Divine healing and exorcism were rarely part of the Protestant missionary establishment’s practices, and it was only with the advent of the pentecostals in the twentieth century that this practice became widespread. In the words of Daniel Bays, Xi “prefigured some of the independent Chinese church leaders of the twentieth century.”42
The “Korean Pentecost” of 1907-08 commenced at a convention in Pyongyang under the Presbyterian elder Sun Ju Kil and followed an earlier revival that had begun among Methodist missionaries in Wonsan on the northeast coast of Korea in 1903. None of these events seemed to have had any direct influence on international Pentecostalism at the time, although they did not escape notice. Canadian Methodist missionary Robert Hardie, one of the leaders of the 1903 revival, described his own experience as “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Missionaries who had visited the revivals in Wales and India visited Korea and inspired the Korean Presbyterians to expect a similar event. The Korean revival, like those in Wales and India, was part of the international holiness revivals characterized by emotional repentance with loud weeping and simultaneous prayer. Eyewitness William Blair likened the Korean revival to the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and the “Korean Pentecost” soon spread throughout the country—Blair recorded that “Christians returned to their homes in the country taking the pentecos- tal fire with them.” This was a specifically Korean revival, whose features still characterize both Protestant and pentecostal churches in Korea today: prayer meetings held daily in the early morning, all-night prayer meetings, vocal simultaneous prayer, Bible study, and an emphasis on evangelism and missions. But beyond these features are more typically pentecostal practices like Spirit baptism, healing the sick, miracles, and casting out demons. As was the case in India, national evangelists, especially Sun
Ju Kil with his teaching of premillennial dispensationalism and later the Presbyterian pastor Ik Du Kim, famous for his healing and miracle ministry, took the revival movement in a more charismatic direction. Pentecostal papers also reported on the Korean revival, one comparing the revival to that of Wesley and noting the “extraordinary manifestation of power,” then quoting the somewhat prophetic speculation that “it would not be so very wonderful if the Korean revival were to usher in such a religious awakening of the Orient as would transform the great Chinese empire and change the face of the whole missionary situation.” Such an international “awakening” was part of radical evangelical parlance. By the end of the twentieth century, this prophecy had been fulfilled, perhaps not exactly as imagined. As late as 1911, reports from Pyongyang about “the greatest weekly prayer meeting in the world,” with 1,100 in attendance, with one sixth of all Korean Christians training for the ministry, were being published in the pentecostal press. In 1923 the Korean Presbyterian Church, as a result of the manifestations of gifts of the Spirit, reversed its constitutional statement that miracles and healing had ceased.43
Soon after the Korean revival, similar revivals broke out in 1908 in Manchuria, North China—at the time, like Korea, under Japanese occupation—and in Fujian in southeast China among Methodists in 1909, when speaking in tongues was reported, and in 1909-10 in Shandong in northeast China. These revivals were directly inspired by the events in Korea, as one of the missionary leaders there, Jonathan Goforth, and a number of Chinese leaders, had seen the Korean revival. Significantly, Goforth visited a pentecostal church, Elim Tabernacle in Rochester, New York, in December 1909 to give a “stirring account of the recent outpouring of God’s Spirit in China.” It was reported that the congregation was “greatly encouraged and inspired to lay hold of God in a fresh way, crying to Him for even a mightier power that will sweep the earth and thus hasten the coming of our blessed Lord and Redeemer.” Pentecostal missionaries in north China, including Bernt Berntsen, visited the revival meetings of Goforth there. The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Gansu province in western China experienced a revival in January 1908 in which a Chinese preacher called Brother Yong experienced Spirit baptism, spoke in tongues, and was reportedly effective in gifts of healing, prophecy, and casting out demons, a full four years before any of these missionaries turned pentecostal, according to one of them. CIM missionary James Webster reported that a Chinese pastor, after thanking the missionaries for bringing the gospel to China, remarked that “the Holy Spirit came down from Heaven. You could not send Him to us.” The missionary replied that they could now take a “back seat” because it would “not do any longer for us to exercise lordship over God’s heritage in China.” The revival movement was once again recognized as the means by which the Spirit was creating an independent Chinese church.44
These various international revival movements were the soil in which local Pentecostalism grew and thrived, revivals that rapidly spread to other places. All over the world untold thousands of revivalists with no known Western connections were responsible for the spread of the pentecostal gospel. In the Ivory Coast and the Gold Coast (now Ghana), the Liberian Grebo from Cape Palmas, William Wade Harris spearheaded a revival in 1914-15 that included many pentecostal phenomena including healing and speaking in tongues. This revival resulted in 120,000 conversions in a year, the largest influx of Africans to Christianity the continent had ever seen. It is quite possible that Wade Harris had encountered the pentecostal missionaries working in Liberia in his home region of Cape Palmas (especially as they began among the Methodists), but there were no recorded connections thereafter. These various charismatic revivals were not primarily movements from the Western world to “foreign lands” but, more significantly, they were movements within these continents themselves. In most cases the revivals were led by local leaders. It can be argued that the revivals independent of Western Pentecostalism in Korea, China, India, Chile, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast were not specifically pentecostal revivals, but this depends on how “pentecostal” is defined. If the charismatic practices of healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, other physical manifestations, and emotional prayer meetings are characteristics of Pentecostalism, then these revivals demonstrate that pentecostal origins are complex and varied, polycentric, and diffused.45