Mighty through God
The following chapters from Norman Grubb’s biography of missionary Edith Moules describes the Spirit’s dealings in the heart that must precede revival-and rings just as true for us today
(Continued from last issue)
We have no final explanation of the hidden ways of God. We still walk by faith and not by sight. It is still "on earth the broken arcs, in heaven the perfect round"; and this is supremely so when we come face to face with that last enemy, death. Who can explain why God’s way, by which Edith should learn the secret for which she was searching, and be able to pass it on in vitaliz-ing power among us, should be by the graveside of her husband? Why should God take him in the fullness of his usefulness? We can only know the answer of faith: the cer-tainty that service on earth in this finite fragment of God’s plan of the ages, is exchanged for something vastly more complete behind the veil; and we can thankfully trace the ways by which, even to our mortal eyes, life comes welling up out of death.
Edith, not Percy, had been ill. Mainly through the strain of devot-edly nursing a dying missionary, kneeling for hours by the bedside administering nourishment, Edith had damaged her knee, and in 1943 had to go for an operation at the station of her old friends of the Unevangelized Fields Mission, Herbert and Mrs. Jenkinson. A year later she was ill again and spent some weeks in the State Hospital in Stanleyville, where an operation for appendicitis was performed. On her return, it was decided that they should both take a local vacation in the lovely mountainous region to the east. They traveled by the Belgian courier van to Kisenyi, at the northern end of Lake Kivu, the most beautiful of the chain of Central African lakes, about a 400 mile journey from Nebobongo.
They stayed, en route, at various small hotels. But at one, where they just stopped for a meal, they had their doubts about the cleanliness of the place and food. However, they ate the meal, but fifteen days later Percy went down with typhoid fever.
"We were 400 miles away on the mountain side amongst strangers," she wrote afterwards. "It seemed that there was not a Christian in the place, and for four weeks we were going through an experience, I can only call it, of walking with God and learning that He is our peace. Often in former months, when I was feeling I could-n’t stand the fret and tear of things, God had said to me, ‘But you have said I am your peace. Let Me be your peace’; so in this new strain it seemed as though that was the les-son God wanted to teach. We were still hanging on for revival, and I believed that this was part of the training. I didn’t ever talk to my husband about death; and he never once spoke to me about going to be with the Lord. I believe he thought that this was God testing us; I knew God was testing me. I believed with all my heart that God would raise him up.
"We prayed that God would send us help. Then, after four weeks of learning to know God’s peace in these circumstances, we heard a young man outside singing ‘Onward Christian soldiers,’ in a native tongue, of course. I said to Percy, ‘There must be Christians here after all. That isn’t a native tune!’ I went outside and found a boy ironing clothes in someone’s back garden. I called to him and asked him where he learned to sing that. He said, ‘From a teacher up in the mountain.’ ‘Where’s that?’ ‘Oh, well, if you set off in the morning early and your legs don’t tire, you will get there at night. About twen-ty-five miles up the mountain.’ ‘Can you send for that man?’ ‘Yes, I will send my small boy.’ It didn’t seem possible that he could have a small boy. But he brought a child of about seven, who went twenty-five miles up the mountain side and twenty-five miles back in twenty-six hours, for a woman he had never seen before.
"When the teacher arrived, I asked him where he had been taught. ‘By the mountain people up there, the white people who come from England. They have taught us the way of God. But, Madam, are you saved?’ I said, ‘Yes, praise God, I am saved.’ And he looked at me pretty keenly, as I added, ‘But my husband is terribly ill and I want help.’ ‘Excuse me, Madam,’ he went on in English, ‘but are you sure you are saved? Because I was a servant of the Church, a paid agent of the Church for twelve years, but I didn’t know Jesus inside. Do you know Jesus inside?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I do know Jesus inside. It is just that my husband is very ill and I want help. Is there a doctor up there?"
She found that the missionaries to whom he referred were of the Ruanda Medical Mission, a branch of the Church Missionary Society, and the station was Shyira, sixty miles away. She wrote a letter appealing for help. Dr. Harold Adeney came at once, but found that Percy had started a serious relapse and could not be transport-ed unless lying flat. "This was out of the question in our old Ford," Dr. Adeney wrote to us later, "but God had arranged that some American missionaries from the French Cameroons, Mr. and Mrs. Cozzens, should ‘happen’ to be passing through Kisenyi and one of their cars, a beautiful one, had adjust-ments by which a very comfortable spring bed could be fixed up in it, ideal for a patient gravely ill with typhoid. These Americans simply overflowed with kindness to the Moules, and brought him over in the greatest comfort."
"At first," he continued, "Mr. Moules seemed better for the change from the uncomfortable hotel room at Kisenyi, but on Tuesday his temperature rose very high, and some disquieting symp-toms made their appearance. Now the Lord had arranged another wonderful thing in that Dr. and Mrs. Leech of Mengo Hospital, Kampala, ‘happened’ to be there on holiday, so there was another doctor to share the responsibility with us, and it was wonderful to have Bertha Leech-a fully trained nurse.
"On Saturday morning Mr. Moules’ condition showed a marked change for the worse, and it became clear that, humanly speaking, there was no hope for his recovery. He had been putting up a great fight for life, and the Lord gave him a wonderful peace. His only concern had been the amount of work he was giving others, and his last words to me were a thrice repeated ‘thank-you.’ At Mrs. Moules’ request we gathered the elders of the Church together, and after prayer, anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord; but the Lord had other and higher service for him and throughout Saturday he gradu-ally grew worse. In the afternoon Edith Moules, Hilda Langston, Isobel (my wife) and I were with him, singing hymns, especially his favourite, ‘Precious, precious blood of Jesus.’ Just as we were singing the last verse, the Lord called him into His immediate presence, and he knew the joy of being with Christ which is far better. The Lord gave Mrs. Moules wonderful victory. Her one concern was that she should not, in any way, let Him down.
"We had the funeral the next morning. The Administrator came up to represent the Government, and the Lord enabled us to give him and all the Africans a real testimony of joyous victory and triumph over Satan and death. The Lord gave Mrs. Moules strength to testify pub-licly to the peace she had, and to plead with the unconverted to come to the Saviour."
"I can never say," wrote Edith, "how I appreciate all the kindness shown me by Dr. and Mrs. Adeney, Mrs. Talbot Hindley and Miss Langston, during my great ordeal and sorrow. Dr. and Mrs. Adeney received us into their home with a typhoid patient, in spite of the fact that they had three small children. I believed that the Lord would heal, until the last two days, when He began to warn me that my prayers would not be answered in the way I hoped. Percy was too ill to talk or understand properly, those last days; and on Saturday, October 21, he quietly slipped away from me, to be with the Lord, whom he loved and served so well. For him it is joy unspeak-able, glorious entry into the pres-ence of the King. My personal loss I shall never estimate, nor can I write of it now. He seems so very necessary both to me and to the work the Lord has given us. Can you wonder that I cling very hard to Romans 8:28?
"The same evening on which he died, Mrs. Adeney came into my room and read a chapter from Miss Carmichael’s book, Gold by Moonlight, telling of snow and des-olation, but also of the new life which springs out of the earth beneath that snow. Then again, as I stood alone by his grave, the night before I left Shyira, the Lord spoke to me from John 12:24, ‘Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringest forth much fruit.’ I had peace in my soul that it was for our work, and it was a wonderful balm in my sorrow!"
The shock and sense of loss was very real through the whole mission, both because it was so unexpected and because Percy was "a man greatly beloved." But, as with all true Christians, death in the service of Jesus has always been regarded in the Crusade as the highest honour. It is the Lord’s summons into His own presence, "Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face." And in this spirit his fellow-crusaders waved farewell, as it were, to Percy until the great meeting day.
RUANDA AND REVIVAL
Even before Percy’s death, howev-er, and much more so afterwards, Edith was conscious of something about the spiritual life at Shyira which was new to her. It was par-ticularly noticeable in a quality of fellowship she had not seen before. All barriers were down between missionaries and Africans. The keen Christian African would come in and out of the missionar-ies’ houses, and sit and chat, with the obvious freedom of the family. This, she was told, had only come about Mighty through God since the revival. Previously there had been attempts to break through these barriers by invita-tions to tea and so on, but it did not work. Heart fusion came through the Holy Ghost. When He had come, the normal and necessary differences in ways of living, the missionaries eating dif-ferent food and living in different types of home and so on, just did-n’t count. The love of God in all hearts simply overflowed all such things, as the rocks on a river bed disappear when the waters rise.
The fellowship between one and another was the outcome of a new level of fellowship with God. It was to be seen at the sta-tion meetings, whether it was the early morning inner circle fellow-ship hour meeting in the small prayer hut, the informal meetings in the sitting room of a mission-ary’s home, or the larger meetings in the building used as a church. It was, as Jesus said, like a well of water springing up in the hearts of the people. There were practi-cally no beginnings and endings. As soon as folk gathered, the stream of witness would begin. It was a company of people giving up-to-date news of what God was saying to them or doing in them.
Often it would be praise for cleansing in the Blood, because the Spirit had given conviction on some point which many might call small; but these brethren, white and black, had learned to call no sin small which nailed the Saviour to the Cross. It might be jealousy against a brother, or the desire for the things of this world creeping in, or just coldness, criti-cism, or impure thoughts. With the conviction, there had been the repentance and cleansing in the precious Blood, and then the joy in the fellowship meeting of testi-fying to the brethren of what Jesus had done. Then from all the company would rise the song of praise for the precious Blood, "Glory, glory Hallelujah, Glory, glory to the Lamb." And there was the sense of being in a com-pany of brethren with no barriers between, all fellow-sinners magni-fying the Lamb that was slain, with no pretences to their own righteousness, and touching rock bottom not by vague theories, but by the application of the grace of God to the everyday life. This was revival indeed. It was in the air, in the songs of praises, in the love of the brethren, in the joy-filled faces, and the transformed lives. In this freedom of the Spirit any would give what God had given them. Some would ask the brethren to look at this or that passage of Scripture, and pass on some prac-tical word which had come to them; others would pray; and the flow of fellowship was so continu-ous that when perhaps an hour and a half or two hours had gone by, it would just be necessary for some missionary or African leader to close the meeting.
She heard, as she enquired, of such floods of blessing, sometimes in deep heart-searching and tears, sometimes in unspeakable joy, that meetings had been known to go on day and night. Tens of thou-sands of souls had been saved. The Eastertide Conference at one station would gather 15,000. Another station had 400 out-churches, mainly the fruit of the testimony of the balokeli (saved ones) going and telling others. Excesses had sometimes endan-gered the work, but on this sure foundation of an open walking in the light with one another, a hum-ble searching of God’s Word for the answer to all problems, and a readiness to give or receive the checks of the Spirit through the members of the body, the work had been kept on an even keel.
This new thing that God has been doing in Ruanda has already had such worldwide repercussions in the Church of Christ that it is worth an attempt to explain in further detail what it is that has brought to so many, including a number in the W.E.C., a new life in Christ: for what God began in Ruanda has now spread to the older Churches in Uganda, where thousands, including many of the clergy, have been revived. The blessing has reached on into Kenya and Tanganyika, and like seeds carried by the wind, is found springing up in all corners of the world. In 1948, for instance, at a revival conference of one hundred and fifty ministers in Los Angeles, a couple of Mennonite missionar-ies from Tanganyika gave a simple testimony of how their dry bones had come alive through a visit to Ruanda; the effect was such that the next two nights were spent by these ministers on their knees until a late hour, first in repentance, then in praise and faith, and some fifty of them met the following week to tell how the revival God had started in their own hearts had spread to their churches. To Britain, Switzerland, South Africa and God Himself alone knows what other countries, these seeds of revival have been carried and are bearing this same fruit.
Revival came to this band of missionaries and Africans in Ruanda about fifteen years ago, and has been continuing and spreading ever since. It is no new truth. It has not centred round some special person. In fact, one of its chief characteristics has been the humbling of man and the exalting of Christ. It simply consists of individuals, the twos and threes, then groups, and larg-er groups, opening themselves continually to the light of God, and at any cost to themselves, walking in that light. Just as sim-ple as that. At any moment, any hour of the day, if a motion of the heart, a thought, a word, a deed is seen in that blinding light to be less than the highest it is squarely recognized as such, not slurred over, not excused as some infirmity or natural weakness, but faced, acknowledged, and con-fessed outright as sin. Sin, in other words, takes on new mean-ings. It is the least thing that comes short of the glory of God, short of His perfection; nor is there any quibbling about what is merely temptation, a
nd what is sin. Any motions in the heart of hardness towards a brother, criti-cal thoughts, resentment, self-pity, unbelief, impurity, fear, worry, those minor attitudes of hypocrisy by which we cover up our true actions and make out we are bet-ter than we are, these and many other such things are nailed to the counter in their true colours. Such simple and continual acts of repentance for sin they often call "brokenness" or "bending the stiff neck," for on each occasion it means that self-will or self-esteem or self-seeking in some form is recognized in its true colours as claiming mastery of the heart, and is confessed and forsaken as an evil thing.
But conviction and confession are meaningless unless they take place at Calvary. Christ bore our sins. He was broken for us. His head was bowed in giving up the ghost for us. And Calvary means cleansing: "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." It is there we break, and bend our necks, broken at the sight of what our sins have done to Him, broken by His broken-ness, and from there we come away forgiven and cleansed. It is not merely conviction and confes-sion, but conviction, confession and cleansing. The glory is in the Blood.
And where the Blood is applied, the Spirit abides. Jesus lives in the cleansed heart. He is both the light and the life. He is revival. Conviction, confession, cleansing is followed by cups run-ning over with joy and victory.
But a brother in Christ cannot live to himself. He is part of a brotherhood, a body. He has a horizontal relationship, as well as a vertical. The channel of the
Spirit is blocked if praise and testi-mony from the heart goes upwards to the Redeemer, but not outward also to the fellow-redeemed. The fellowship must be with the body as with the Head. And it is just here that the blinds are so often kept down. Christians fight shy of sharing the Lord’s personal dealings with each other. They will talk of the Lord’s work, of the Lord Himself, of the teach-ings of the Word, but much more rarely of the direct transactions of the Spirit with their own hearts. And there is one chief reason for this: it is humbling to do so, hum-bling for us, though glorifying to Him. To tell how the Lord has given us a new precious cleansing in the Blood, and deliverance of soul from an attack of pride, jeal-ousy, resentment, self-indulgence or what not, is to belittle oneself, though it magnifies His grace. Exactly. I say I have no interest except in magnifying His right-eousness, imputed and imparted to me. But the truth is, that I still want to maintain a great deal of my own righteousness in the eyes of my brethren. I still have per-sonal pride. I just don’t want my brethren to know that there is no good thing in me, no more today than there was the day I was born again. I still am capable of responding to every form of sin; it is only Jesus in me who keeps me, only He who has purified my heart and keeps it pure, only His own flowing Blood keeps me clean.
And the Spirit bears witness when my lips confess Christ’s Name; bears witness to me and to all who hear me. Something hap-pens when confession is made before men, but true confession is always costly. It means a great deal when for the first time, the sinner confesses that pride, and shameful living, and all the rest are gone in the Blood; and it means much when I confess, to God’s glory, not the cleansing of my sins of twen-ty-five years ago, but conviction, repentance, cleansing of some-thing which touched my life today. A great joy and release wells up in the soul, as before our brethren, I give the Lamb the glory. I am the sinner, He is the Saviour. And the same with my brethren-barriers are down, love and joy flow, glory to the Saviour, a sense of reality, not of Christian theory, but of a life touching bottom, a sense of deep fellowship as fellow-sinners and fellow-redeemed: and light and conviction spread from one to another, as a new sight of sin in one life causes another to see the same thing in himself. For our grave danger is blindness. We just don’t see our sin as sin: but the testimony of our brethren, as they describe the Lord’s revelations to them in their own lives, very often unveils to ourselves the hidden things in ours. That is revival. And that is how it leaps like a spark from one to another. A dead spot revealed, cleansed and replaced by the love of Jesus, that is revival; and that same thing shared with others is revival trans-mitted. That is exactly what Edith had to see. It was not the darkness or stubbornness or sulkiness of some leper girl that hindered revival. It was her own unjudged impatience or hard word. When she saw that, broke, repented, was cleansed, and then shared the incident with others, revival, like fire, began to run along the ground.
No, it is no new thing. There is no new Gospel. There is only one light, one life, Jesus. But the grave danger of us well-taught people is that we live by set doc-trine which very easily dulls the keen edge of our daily walk. We have been saved by grace. There is always forgiveness with Him. We are crucified with Him and He lives in us. But just because of the precious truths, so real to us, we tend to slur over the immedi-ate impact of an inner, even momentary, response to sin. Just because we keep such sins to our-selves and know there is the Blood, we just in a general way count on it; or worse still, we
leave things clinging to ourselves unchallenged, a hardness to a brother, unbelief in a situation, worry, depression, impatience, rush and restlessness, strain or fear. We are the Lord’s; we rejoice in being His, and we hardly notice that these things have a foothold in us. But if a life of daily fellow-ship in the light is lived with a fel-low-Christian, husband and wife together, or family circle, or larger group, then these things cannot be easily slurred over. Am I in the light now? Thus comes the ques-tion. What is God saying to me today? What is His special word to me that I can share in fellowship with my brethren?
Challenge comes into it also, vitally so. Conviction, confession, cleansing, cups running over, chal-lenge. Fellowship in the light will also mean, in humility and bro-kenness, holding each other up to the highest; a readiness both to accept all light through our
brethren (for we are all so terribly ignorant about our real selves and how the self-life in us may be hin-dering Christ being seen in us). And a readiness to take the costly way of telling others faithfully where we see they come short. If there is a true brokenness, this will be eagerly welcomed that we may be more Christ-like ourselves, and help our brethren to be the same. Honesty with ourselves will make us honest with one another,
though it always has to be remem-bered that the faithful word is never sealed by the Spirit, unless it is also the gracious word, that is to say, unless it has first been through the crucible of the cross and purged of a judging or retaliatory motive.
The revival really started in Edith’s own heart by the simple challenge of an African. "On the morning of the day Percy died," she wrote later, "I suddenly remembered about James 5:14 and thought, ‘Oh! I haven’t called for the elders of the church and had Percy anointed. Is God whip-ping me for this?’ That is how the Devil tries to get us tied up with legalism in a weak moment. I was physically weak. I had been nurs-ing him night and day for a month. Well, we called for the eld-ers, and four Africans came, with Harold and Isobel Adeney and Hilda Langston. We stood round the bed and anointed Percy in the Name of the Lord. Then one by one they prayed around the bed, and when it came to my turn I prayed, as if my life depended upon it, that God would raise him up. I had believed that God was going to do so until that morning, when there had been a warning inside that He was going to take him, and I was facing up to that. My heart was honestly saying, ‘Your will be done, Lord,’ and I said it in my prayer. But immediately afterwards one of these revived African brethren, who knew how to hear God’s voice, said, ‘I have something to say to Mrs. Moules.’ He then began to tell a story of a white woman who lost someone she loved very much and was crying. A little child said to her, ‘But don’t you love Jesus?’ ‘Yes, I do,’ was her answer. ‘Well, then, why do you cry?’ As he said that, something smote me. How dare he talk to me like that? Doesn’t he know what I am going through? Doesn’t he understand that I am a missionary? Doesn’t he understand that I do love the Lord, and that it is just the human side of me that is grieving? Oh, that thing hurt. Then as I stood there, as clearly as if I heard it, God’s voice spoke to me and said, ‘You be careful about that spirit of yours. He’s only trying to be loyal to me.’ God allowed that African to say the thing which hurt me, and it did hurt me, to show me a truth that has since been mighty in me. It was the thing which we don’t like calling resentment. I didn’t like the African sa
ying that to me, because it wasn’t true. I wasn’t really trying to fight against God, it was just the human side of me which was grieving. But when I saw that it was resentment, it went like a flash, and I looked across at him and said, ‘It is just the human side of me that is grieving; God can do as He likes with His own,’ and he understood."
It was just that simple inci-dent which opened Edith’s eyes to what she and Percy had been seeking, and there began forth-with, so she wrote, "a fellowship with African brothers that I have rarely known with white people, except with a few since revival has come. It is because we haven’t learned how to get on the cross and like it. It is holy ground. One doesn’t say these things lightly, but it is not a crisis that happens just once when you see it. The power is in the process. If we try to get away from that, we are going to stop dead again in our spiritual advance, and revival will stop flowing through us."
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 23 No 1
- Words to Live By-Difficult People
- Questions & Answers!
- To Believe is to Have
- Unproductive Faith
- What is an Intercessor?
- Pigmies are Giants
- Bible Study: Christ Praying As Us
- CD Talk
- Clear Guidance
- The Substance of Faith
- Mighty through God
- Strategy in Faith
- Editor’s Note
- A Faith Illustration
- Prayer and the Fourth Dimension