The Modern Missionary Movement Started in Colonial Times

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

America is well known for the modern missionary movement. The missionary movement is credited with starting in the mid 1800s during the Second Great Awakening, but it really began with a 100 year prayer movement in colonial times. The people who started this movement were called the Moravians.

In 1727, a group of Moravians in Saxony started a round the clock prayer meeting that lasted 110 years. By 1737, Moravians had settled in Savannah, Georgia to share the Gospel. At this time, they met John Wesley, from the first Great Awakening and had a profound impact on his ministry.

In 1741, the Moravians moved to an estate owned by John Whitfield, another preacher from the Great Awakening, and started ministering to the Delaware Indians in the region. They established the towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth in Pennsylvania and moved throughout the colonies sharing the Gospel wherever they went.

Schoenbrunn Village

By 1772, the Delaware were being pushed into Ohio, and the Moravians followed them. They set up two villages there, one in Schoenbrunn and one in Gnadenhutten. They risked great dangers, not only from the other tribes, but from the British forces once the Revolutionary War began. The British accused the Moravians of informing the colonialist about troop movements, a charge that was mostly true.

The Moravians finally abandoned their villages to move on to avoid clashes with the British. That fall, a group of converted Delaware returned to Gnadenhutten to harvest their crops. They were massacred by American soldiers who mistakenly thought they were raiders.

There aren’t that many Moravian in the United States today although there are clusters of congregations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia. There are also some areas in Canada with large Moravian populations. Moravians in America moved on to evangelize other parts of the world. The largest groups of Moravians now live in East Africa and the Caribbean. They left their mark on America though through their missionary endeavors and paved the way for other missionaries.

How Camp Meetings Ushered in the Second Great Awakening

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

The year was 1800. Within the last 30 years, the United States had become a nation, adopted a Constitution.  Within the last year, it had elected its second president, John Adams. An unusual church service in Red River, Kentucky near the border of Tennessee ushered in a move of God called the Second Great Awakening that would sweep the nation for years to come.

A series of meetings was organized in June by Presbyterian minister James
McGready, and many Presbyterian and Methodists ministers took part. Because
many other congregations located along Muddy River and Gasper River planned to
attend, it was decided the meeting would be held outside near the Red River
Meeting House. This was the first “camp meeting” reportedly held in the United
States.

The services were well attending and were like many revival meetings of the time. On the last day of services, as William Hodge was preaching, a woman stood and started shouting praises to God. Soon others joined her. The service ended, but nobody was willing to leave. Mr. Hodge, according to an account by Methodist minister, John McGee, “felt such a power come on him that he quit his seat and sat down in the floor of the pulpit.” At that point McGee began to tremble, and the congregation started weeping. Revival broke out as people started shouting, and the floor was covered with those who had been slain in the Spirit (an occurrence where people are overwhelmed by God and can no longer stand).

A letter from McGready described the service.

“In June, the sacrament was administered at Red River. This was the greatest time we had ever seen before. On Monday multitudes were struck down under awful conviction; the cries of the distressed filled the whole house. There you might see profane swearers, and sabbath breakers pricked to the heart, and crying out, ‘what shall we do to be saved?’ There frolicers, and dancers crying for mercy. There you might see little children of ten, eleven and twelve years of age, praying and crying for redemption, in the blood of Jesus, in agonies of distress. During this sacrament, and until the Tuesday following, ten persons we believe, were savingly brought home to Christ.”

After the Red River Camp Meeting, other meetings were held where people would travel long distances and camp at the site. Camp Meetings spread throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, and Southern Ohio in what became known as the Revival of 1800. McGready travelled well into October where even bad weather didn’t keep people away.

Rankin House

John Rankin also started camp meetings into Tennessee and North Carolina with many of the same results. Later he settled in Ripley, Ohio where he conducted an underground railroad station from his house. He claimed over 1,000 escaped slaves that made their way to freedom went through his home.

In 1801, Methodist preacher Barton Stone attended one of the camp meetings near Red River. He decided to organize his own camp meeting in Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1801. 20,000 people attended, and again, revival broke out. Over the next year, more than 10,000 people visited Cane Ridge services where unusual moves of God were reported.

One feature of these camp meeting revivals was the presence and conversion of blacks, many of whom were slaves. Women, children, and blacks were also allowed to participate as exhorters, lay people who preached impromptu sermons encouraging others.

First US Woman Evangelist Phoebe Palmer

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Phoebe Warroll Palmer was one of the first prominent woman evangelist in the church in the United States before women were recognized or licensed as preachers. She was born in New York City on December 18, 1807. Her parents were devout Methodists that held family worship services twice a week.

Phoebe married Dr. Walter Palmer, a homeopathic physician and devout Methodist, when she was nineteen years old. They had four children, but three died in early childhood. Phoebe was distraught and thought God was punishing her. She sought God’s guidance, and with the help of her sister, Sarah Lankford, came to a new understanding of sanctification and holiness.

Phoebe’s sister encouraged her to take a more active role in the church. In 1835, Phoebe and her sister began having church meetings for women in her home. Attendance grew to several hundred, and soon Dr. Palmer built extra space in the crowded home.

In 1839, Phoebe opened the meetings up to men as well as women. Her popularity grew, and soon, pastors, bishops, and people from other denominations attended. Phoebe and her husband began having protracted meetings (revivals) made popular by Charles Finney, and preached at camp meetings and Holiness revivals. In 1850, they toured across the United States and Canada preaching.

In 1850, Phoebe established a mission to help people in New York City because she felt sanctification required works of service for others. She spoke out against slavery and alcohol and promoted more freedom for women in the church and in society.

Phoebe also wrote many books and became the editor to Guide To Holiness in 1862 when her husband bought the publication.

She developed the concept of “altar theology,” which explained the idea of the “second blessing,” or immediate sanctification. As a basis for this concept, she drew on the Apostle Paul, who had advanced the idea of placing ourselves as “living sacrifices” on the altar of God to represent complete consecration. This “altar theology” simplified sanctification into a three-step process that included consecration, faith, and testimony. This concept, as well as her central theme of holiness of heart and life, gained popularity although some criticized it as simplistic.

After the Civil War, Phoebe served as a leader of the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness. In 1867, she and her husband established the National Association for the Promotion of Holiness, which encompassed much of her evangelical work. She also continued holding her Tuesday meetings right up until she died in New York City on November 2, 1874.

Phoebe Palmer showed what a life devoted to God can do even when the culture and some leaders in the church came against her because of her stand on sanctification and because she was a woman.

Was George Washington a Christian?

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Throughout history, people have known the founding father of the United States, George Washington was a man of faith. Recently his reputation as a Christian has been tarnished, not because any new documents have been discovered, but because some historians are going out of their way to prove our founding fathers did not rely upon God. It has become politically incorrect to consider George Washington as any more than a Deist, someone who believes in a distant God who doesn’t interfere with the plans of man.

This theory became popular in 1963, when Professor Paul Boller wrote a book, George Washington and Religion. Professor Boller wrote, “Broadly speaking, of course, Washington can be classified as a Deist.” But the evidence that Washington was more than a Deist is overwhelming. To debunk this theory, Peter A. Lillback wrote a biography based on fifteen years of research called George Washington’s Sacred Fire.

Here’s a few things that prove George Washington had a strong Christian faith in God:

At age thirteen, Washington transcribed and memorized 110 Rules for Young Gentlemen, written by Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits in the 1590’s. They teach man is God’s servant who lives not for self, but for others. They became a part of his character.

When Washington was twenty, he wrote prayers to say each morning and evening. On Sunday mornings he prayed, “…pardon, I beseech Thee, my sins; remove them from Thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept me for the merits of Thy son, Jesus Christ…”

Captain Washington, at the age of twenty-three, was caught in a surprise ambush by the French and Indians near what is now Pittsburgh. Every British and American officer was shot but Washington even though he rode numerous times back and forth across the battlefield. He later wrote to his brother, “By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation, for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me.” Later, Indians testified they had singled Washington out, but their bullets had no effect on him. They were convinced an Invisible Power was protecting him.

As Commander and Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, on July 2, 1776, General Washington told his troops: “The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance or the most abject submission. We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die.”

As Commander and Chief, he pushed for army chaplains and required church attendance among the soldiers.

Seven weeks later, British General Howe had trapped Washington and his 8,000 troops on Brooklyn Heights, ready to crush them the next morning. Washington gathered every vessel from fishing to row boats and spent all night ferrying his army across the East River. By morning many troops were still exposed to the British. This gave the British a chance to win the war. But the fog that almost always lifts from the river in the mornings, that day, stayed thick and covered Washington’s retreat until the entire army escaped.

In 1777 at Valley Forge, a dozen soldiers died a day in the freezing cold. They lacked supplies such as blankets or shoes. A Quaker named Isaac Potts reported seeing Washington on his knees in the snow praying aloud for his beloved country. He thanked God for exalting him to the head of a great nation which was fighting at fearful odds. Potts told his wife, “Till now I have thought that a Christian and a solider were characters incompatible, but if George Washington not be a man of God I am mistaken, and still more I shall be disappointed in God does not through him perform some great thing for this country.”

On May 5, 1778 Washington learned the French would join America as allies. The General told his troops, “It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the universe to defend the cause of the United American States, and finally to raise up a powerful friend among the princes of the earth, to establish our liberty, and independence upon a lasting foundation, it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the divine goodness…”

While encamped on the banks of a river, Washington was approached by Delaware Indian chiefs who desired their youth be trained in American schools. In Washington’s response, he first told them that “Congress… will look on them as on their own children.” He then commended the chiefs for their decision: You do well to wish to learn our arts and our ways of life and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.

In 1781, General Washington’s southern army defeated a detachment of British troops. Lord Cornwallis was infuriated and began pursuing the outnumbered Americans. He waited the night at the Catawba River, which the U.S. troops had crossed just two hours earlier. Miraculously, a storm arose during the night causing the river to be uncrossable for five days. Cornwallis nearly overtook Americans at the Yadkin River, but another flood arose, allowing Americans to escape.

The French navy seized control of the Chesapeake Aug. 30, 1781, driving out British ships. Washington rejoiced and besieged Cornwallis’ stronghold at Yorktown. With no ships to escape upon, Cornwallis surrendered.

Washington wrote Congress, “I take a particular pleasure in acknowledging that the interposing Hand of Heaven…has been most conspicuous and remarkable.”

During the oath of office, when Washington became president, he chose to take the oath with a Bible. As president, Washington often spoke on the importance of prayer and signed the first official Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in US history. It is clear that faith in God was very important to President Washington and that he was a Christian.

Moravian Christmas Traditions

img_1022By Tamera Lynn Kraft

In my novella, A Christmas Promise, I write about Moravian missionaries in Schoenbrunn Village, circa 1773. The Moravians brought many Christmas traditions to America that we use to celebrate Christ’s birth today. Here are a few of them.

red room with christmas-tree and colorful gift - rendering

The Christmas Tree: Moravians brought the idea of decorating Christmas trees in their homes in the early 1700s, long before it became a popular tradition in the United States.

 

Illustration of Christmas candle lighted with wreath isolated on white background done in retro style.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services: Most churches have Christmas Eve services where they sing Christmas carols and light candles to show Jesus came to be the light of the world. The Moravian Church has been doing that for centuries. They call their services lovefeasts because they also have a part of the service where they serve sweetbuns and coffee – juice for the kids – and share Christ’s love with each other. For candles, Moravians use bleached beeswax with a red ribbon tied around them. The white symbolizes the purity of Christ and red symbolizes that His blood was shed for us.

The Moravian Star: In the 1840s at a Moravian school, students made 24 point stars out of triangles for their geometry lessons. Soon those Moravian stars started making their way on the tops of Christmas trees. The star as a Christmas tree topper is still popular today.

The Putz: The putz is a Christmas nativity scene surrounded by villages or other Biblical scenes. Moravian children in the 1700s would make a putz to put under their Christmas tree. Today, nativity scenes and Christmas villages are popular decorations.

achristmaspromise_medA Christmas Promise

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

“Revel in the spirit of a Colonial Christmas with this achingly tender love story that will warm both your heart and your faith. With rich historical detail and characters who live and breathe on the page, Tamera Lynn Kraft has penned a haunting tale of Moravian missionaries who selflessly bring the promise of Christ to the Lenape Indians. A beautiful way to set your season aglow, A Christmas Promise is truly a promise kept for a heartwarming holiday tale.” – Julie Lessman

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Do You Really Want Revival?

Flaming Cross Christian ArtWe hear it all the time. “A revival is coming to America.” “We are praying for revival.” “Only revival will save America.” Everywhere you look, there are prophecies about the coming revival. But sometimes I wonder if most American Christians really want revival, or if they just want a religious experience that makes the feel good.

American Christians are comfortable. Even the poorest American is richer and safer than most people in the world. True revival would make them uncomfortable. True revival will mess you up.It will challenge you. It will change your perspective and your life. It will humble you when God moves on you in unexpected ways. It will explode your theology and understanding. It will put you at odds with the culture – even the modern Christian pop culture. So the question is do we really want revival? Here are some of the ways revival manifested itself in the book of Acts and throughout history.

Praying African Americn boyIntense unified prayer proceeds a move of God. In Acts 2:1, the disciples were all praying in one place and one accord. Before the First Great Awakening, the Moravians started a prayer meeting in 1727 that lasted one hundred years. The Great Awakening was said to be in its greatest intensity between 1727 and 1757. If we truly want revival, we will pray for a spirit of revival prayer to sweep through the church.

Man in waterSigns and Wonders Accompany Revival. This is hard for some to accept. When revival comes, it is messy. God moves in strange and unusual ways. I’ve heard some say the Holy Spirit is not weird. That doesn’t ring true when we look at historical results of revival.

Acts 2:2-3 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

The early Christian revival in Acts wasn’t the only one that had strange signs and wonders accompany it. Trypho said in the second century, “For the prophetical gifts remain with us even to the present time.”  Sarah Edwards, wife of Great Awakening preacher Jonathan Edwards described an experience that incapacitated her for days which she described as “being swallowed up in God.” In the Cane Ridge revival in 1801, it was described this way. “20,000 people swirled about the grounds—watching, praying, preaching, weeping, groaning, falling. Though some stood at the edges and mocked, most left marveling at the wondrous hand of God.”

Laughing, crying, being slain in the Spirit, groaning, and other manifestations make make the modern church uncomfortable. Many have scorned Christians and churches where unusual signs and wonders occur, but if we truly want revival, we’ll have to accept the unusual and jump into the river of God.

Generosity and Self-Sacrifice accompany revival. Acts 2:45 says, “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” In the Moravian revival, two men were willing to sell themselves in slavery to share the Gospel.

Cute african girlA spirit of holiness and repentance is always present in revival. In the book of Acts, Peter preached, “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.” Ananias and Sapphira were killed by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. In Acts 19, new Christians brought their occult materials and burned them.

Throughout history repentance and holiness have also been a major part. During the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards preached Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, and people held on to the church posts in fear of the judgement of God. During the Jesus revival in the 1970s, young men and women brought their drug to the altar and left them there. During the Welsh Revival, Reverend Hertford said this.

“I found the poor children whom Mr. A kept at school were increased to about thirty boys and girls. I went in immediately to the girls. As soon as I began to speak, some of them burst into tears, and their emotion rose higher and higher. But it was kept within bounds until I began to pray. A cry then arose, which spread from one to another, till almost all cried aloud for mercy, and would not be comforted.”

True revival will cause us to speak out about the sins of our culture and grieve over our own sins.

Earth SunriseMissions and evangelism accompany revival. 3,000 were saved on the day of Pentecost. People accused the disciples of “turning the world upside down”. The Moravian movement sent out 300 missionaries and started the modern missionary movement. Charles Finney, during the Second Great Awakening, was president of Oberlin College when it sent missionaries all over the world.

If we really want God to move, we will yield to whatever God wants to do. Revival will mess up our church structure and services. It will change our lives and cause us to be willing to obey God no matter how it makes us look to others in the Christian world. God is too big to fit in your comfortable revival box. Let God move the way He chooses and let the River of God overflow.

10 Quotes from Great Awakening Preachers

featherThe United States of America was born out of the Great Awakening that took place in the 1700s. Men like the John and Charles Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield preached as America turned to God. Revivals and Awakenings have happened a number of times sense then. America is at a crossroads. It needs another Great Awakening like never before. Here are 10 quotes from some of the preachers of that first revival in America.

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” — George Whitefield

“The care of the soul is ‘a matter of the highest importance;’ beyond anything which can be brought into comparison with it.” — George Whitefield

“If you are going to walk with Jesus Christ, you are going to be opposed … In our days, to be a true Christian is really to become a scandal.” — George Whitefield

“God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.” — Jonathan Edwards

“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” — Jonathan Edwards

“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.” — Jonathan Edwards

“To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.” — Jonathan Edwards

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth. — John Wesley

“Catch on fire, and people will come for miles to see you burn.” — John Wesley

“Once more, Never think that you can live to God by your own power or strength; but always look to and rely on him for assistance, yea, for all strength and grace.” — David Brainerd