Gladys Aylward

Gladys Aylward

Gladys Aylward (1902-1970) grew up in London, England. She was raised in a Christian home and attended church and Sunday school as a girl. But as she entered young adulthood she became impatient with religious matters. Her one great ambition was to become an actress. While working as a housemaid in London, she took drama classes in the evening.

One evening, instead, she attended a church service, although she hardly knew why. There she heard again the Gospel truths she had been taught as a child, realized that God had a claim on her life, and placed her trust in Christ Jesus as her Savior from sin.

Sometime later Gladys read a magazine article that spoke of millions of Chinese who had never even heard of Jesus, a thought that staggered her. She spoke with friends and relatives about that alarming situation but none of them seemed too concerned. Before long Gladys came to sense that God was directing her to go as a missionary to China.

She learned of the China Inland Mission training school for prospective missionaries in London.  She went through three months of its training program but was rejected as a suitable missionary candidate due to her lower academic performance.

For a time she served with a ministry in Swansea that sought to rescue young women from prostitution and drunkenness. While she thought that ministry worthwhile, she could never escape the thought that God desired her to be serving in China.

Gladys Aylward with one of her many adopted orphans

Gladys Aylward with one of her many adopted orphans

As Gladys endeavored to read and study through the Bible, she was arrested by the story in Genesis 12 of God calling Abraham to leave his relatives and country, to go to a distant land, and to be used there as a blessing to others. Her attention was also drawn to the example of Moses in the early chapters of Exodus. In order to carry out the challenging mission God called him to, he had to leave the comfort and security of the work and family he enjoyed in Midian. Gladys couldn’t help but draw parallels to her own situation and sense of God’s call on her life.

Eventually she returned to London and resumed working as a parlor maid. The third day on her new job she began reading the narrative concerning Nehemiah. She could relate to his being burdened over a distressing, distant situation that he could do nothing about. But after reading Nehemiah 2, she was filled with elation and exclaimed, “But he did go. He went in spite of everything!” From that Scripture passage Gladys was convinced that God was giving her marching orders – to go, as Nehemiah had in his own time and place, to play a part in addressing the concerning situation in China that had been so long on her heart.

She laid her Bible on her bed as well as her copy of a Daily Light devotional guide and all the money she possessed – only two and a half pence (cents). “O God,” she prayed simply, “here’s the Bible about which I long to tell others, here’s my Daily Light that every day will give me a new promise, and here is two and a half pence. If You want me, I am going to China with these.”

Just then her new mistress rang the service bell to summon her. “I always pay the fares of my maids when I engage them,” the mistress informed Gladys. “How much did you pay getting here?” When Gladys told her, the mistress promptly gave her three shillings, slightly more than she had paid for her travel fare. “So in a few moments my two and a half pence had increased by three shillings,” Gladys afterward related. (A shilling was worth twelve pence.)

Gladys worked hard, scrimped and in time saved up enough money to buy a one-way railway ticket to China. At last, at age thirty, she traveled to China to assist an aging lady missionary in her ministries in the mountains of Shansi Province in northeast China.

Gladys Aylward quotationThat was just the beginning of Gladys’s many years of devoted, sacrificial, faith-filled service in China. Her colorful missionary career there included ministries to muleteers, women, orphans, refugees, prisoners, soldiers and others. Her years of service were full of adventures, dangers, remarkable providential protection and provision, as well as much spiritual fruit.

After World War 2 Gladys helped establish and carry out ministries to Chinese refugees and orphans in England, Formosa (modern Taiwan) and Hong Kong. She also traveled widely throughout Britain, Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan, sharing of and raising funds for her ongoing ministries.

Books worth reading on Gladys Aylward’s life and ministry include: Gladys Aylward, The Little Woman (her autobiography, co-authored with Christine Hunter); A London Sparrow, The Story of Gladys Aylward, by Phyllis Thompson; Gladys Aylward, The Courageous English Missionary, by Catherine Swift; The Small Woman: Gladys Aylward, by Alan Burgess.

Copyright 2016 by Vance E. Christie

William SangsterWilliam Sangster (1900-1960) was a prominent evangelical Methodist minister in Britain. From 1939 to 1955 he pastored Westminster Central Hall, a prestigious Methodist church not far from Westminster Abbey in London. During World War 2 the basement of Sangster’s church was used as an air raid shelter. For 1,688 nights Sangster ministered to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of all types of people who gathered there for safety. After the war he spearheaded a spiritual renewal movement in Methodist churches across the country.

In 1958, however, Sangster was diagnosed as having an incurable disease that caused progressive muscular atrophy. When he learned of the diagnosis, he made four resolutions: “I will never complain. I will keep the home bright. I will count my blessings. I will try to turn it to gain.” Later he wrote: “There have been great gains already from my sickness. I live in the present. I am grateful for little things. I have more time – and use it – for prayer.”

Over the course of two and a half years he experienced the gradual paralysis of his muscles, which left him with no voice and able to move only two fingers. With them he communicated with others by writing, but eventually even that became illegible.

John 11:25On Easter morning, just a few weeks before his death, he managed to write: “How terrible to wake up on Easter and have no voice to shout, ‘He is risen!’  Far worse, to have a voice and not want to shout.”

This Easter season may our hearts and mouths be full of exuberant praise for our risen Savior Jesus Christ. He not only conquered death Himself. His resurrection is the guarantee that all who believe in Him, even should they die before His return, will similarly be raised from the dead to experience life eternal with Him in heaven.

The Apostle Paul states of those who die believing in Jesus as their Savior: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. … But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him” (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23).

Christ's ResurrectionAnd Jesus Himself declares: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

Such a Savior is worthy of our deepest gratitude and highest exaltation!

Copyright 2016 by Vance E. Christie

David Livingstone as a younger adult.

David Livingstone as a younger adult.

David Livingstone’s storied thirty-three-year career as a missionary, explorer and slave trade opponent in the southern half of the African continent led to his becoming a missionary legend and a British national hero. He was honored with a burial in Westminster Abbey.

But initially his qualifications for missionary service were seriously questioned, and he was nearly not approved to serve with the missionary society under whose auspices he first went to Africa. His early history as a would-be missionary suggests important lessons about persevering through discouragements in preparing for and pursuing the ministries we sense God is calling us to undertake.

Livingstone was raised in a pious but poor family in Blantyre, Scotland. From the time he was ten years old he worked long, taxing hours in a cotton mill while pursuing his education on the side. He came to saving faith in Christ Jesus at age nineteen. Two years later he sensed God’s leading to prepare to become a medical missionary.

Thoroughly independent, at first he planned to work his way through medical school then pay his own way in going to the foreign field. But during his second year of medical training, friends encouraged him to apply for service under the London Missionary Society (LMS).

The LMS Directors provisionally accepted Livingstone as a possible missionary candidate and, in the fall of 1838, sent him for a period of probationary training under Rev. Richard Cecil at Chipping Ongar, not quite thirty miles northeast of London. Livingstone and six other probationers studied theology as well as Latin, Greek and Hebrew under Cecil’s tutelage.

The students were also given the responsibility of leading, in rotation, the daily family worship sessions that were held in Cecil’s home. They were further required to prepare sermons that were submitted to Cecil for editing. Those sermons were then committed to memory and delivered to village congregations in the area.

David Livingstone buying a book as a boy - London Missionary Society painting

David Livingstone buying a book as a boy – London Missionary Society painting

Livingstone’s first attempt at preaching proved a disaster. One Sunday he was sent to deliver the evening message at a church in nearby Stanford Rivers. After reading the scripture text for his sermon very deliberately, Livingstone suddenly found that he could not recall a single word of his intended discourse. After a painful silence, he blurted out, “Friends, I have forgotten all I had to say,” then hastened, humiliated, out of the chapel.

Early in 1839 Cecil submitted his report on the current mission students to the LMS Board. Due to Livingstone’s hesitating manner in leading family worship and while praying during weekday chapel services, as well as his failed first attempt at preaching, Cecil’s report on Livingstone was rather mixed:

“His heaviness of manner, united as it is with a rusticity, not likely to be removed, still strikes me as having importance. But he has sense and quiet vigor; his temper is good and his character substantial, so that I do not like the thought of his being rejected.” Cecil thought Livingstone was “hardly ready in point of knowledge” to go to a theological college but stated his hope that his plodding Scottish charge “might kindle a little.”

Having read the report, the Mission Board was about to decide against Livingstone as an acceptable missionary candidate. But one of the Directors “pleaded hard” that Livingstone’s probationary period should be extended, with the result that it was. Six months later Livingstone was finally approved to serve as a missionary with the LMS. After finishing 1839 under Cecil’s further training in Chipping Ongar, Livingstone moved to London for a year of additional medical education. He sailed for South Africa in December 1840.

Gravestone of David Livingstone, Westminster Abbey.

Gravestone of David Livingstone, Westminster Abbey.

What does Livingstone’s example in this early phase of his history have to teach us?  When we sense God leading us to a particular ministry, we should diligently prepare for it. Even if at first we don’t seem (to ourselves or others) highly qualified for our future course of service, we should persevere in preparing for it if we remain convinced that the Lord is still leading us that direction. If God is, indeed, leading us into a particular course, He will give us success in becoming well prepared for it and will direct others to affirm and support us in pursuing it.

From a different angle, perhaps the Lord has us in a position to guide and encourage along an individual of less-than-obvious qualifications who nonetheless senses God’s leading to a particular ministry. Let’s seek to be careful and to be guided by God’s Spirit ourselves in how we advise that person. The Lord may use us to help bring to light a diamond in the rough.

Copyright 2016 by Vance E. Christie

David Livingstone

David Livingstone

My primary publisher, Christian Focus Publications, has blessed me with a grand opportunity this year – to write a new biography on David Livingstone, the eminent missionary explorer to Africa. I’m deeply grateful to both God and CFP for this privileged opportunity, and greatly look forward to carrying it out with the Lord’s help.

Here are five main reasons I’m looking forward to writing this book:

(1) David Livingstone (1813-1873) is one of the premier missionaries in the annals of Christian missions. Through his extensive pioneer explorations in southern Africa, he prepared the way for the spread of Christianity and helped bring about an end to the slave trade throughout that portion of the Dark Continent. He gained tremendous acclaim during his lifetime. Since his death, untold thousands have been inspired by his example to undertake missionary or other forms of active, sacrificial Christian service. It truly is a privilege to research and write the life story of such a prominent, significantly-used servant of Christ.

(2) Livingstone has good name recognition, especially through Henry Stanley’s immortal greeting, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” But a relatively small percentage of people know much about the good doctor other than that he was a famous missionary and explorer in Africa. This is a wonderful opportunity to help many people learn a great deal about Livingstone’s:

  • challenging and formative upbringing
  • Christian convictions that motivated and guided him
  • expansive (and sometimes controversial) missionary vision
  • phenomenal explorations – remarkable for their distances, difficulties and discoveries
  • tireless determination to stamp out the African slave trade
  • honest struggles as a husband and father.
David Livingstone & Family

David Livingstone & Family

(3) Livingstone possessed many outstanding strengths, including: his granite convictions; his unwavering devotion to fulfill what he perceived to be his divine mission and duty; his huge vision in various undertakings; his astounding determination and perseverance through all types of hardships and sacrifices; his unflagging courage; his highly respected character; his effectiveness in working with different races and classes of people. Such an individual has much to teach us.

(4) To be sure, Livingstone had weaknesses and failures as well. His fierce independence sometimes created marked relational difficulties. He was rather neglectful of his family. As a leader he could be dictatorial. A few of his cherished ambitions and undertakings failed to materialize or even turned out poorly.

Recent Livingstone biographies, apparently eager not to portray him as a plaster saint or larger than life, seem to relish the opportunity to emphasize his shortcomings and failures. They often judge him by contemporary standards and perspectives rather than by those of his own day. Some secular biographies of Livingstone exhibit little or no understanding of or appreciation for his spiritual perspectives and convictions. While I intend to acknowledge rather than ignore Livingstone’s shortcomings, I also anticipate being able to rightly provide a more positive and accurate assessment of his life and ministry.

Sculpture of David Livingstone Being Attacked by a Lion

Sculpture of David Livingstone Being Attacked by a Lion

(5) One aspect of pioneer missionary biography I’ve always enjoyed is the real-life adventure side of it. Who needs fiction when there’s such thrilling history to read?! Livingstone’s entire career as a missionary, explorer and slave trade opponent in Africa brims over with adventure and excitement, harrowing dangers and fascinating discoveries, triumphs and tragedies.

I’ll likely provide periodic perspectives from David Livingstone’s life in this blog as I write his biography. In the meanwhile, for a brief, beneficial summary of Livingstone’s life, see “David Livingstone,” by Brian Stanley, in Great Leaders of the Christian Church, ed. by John Woodbridge (Moody, 1988), pp. 329-333. A number of informative and helpful articles on different aspects of Livingstone’s life and ministry can also be found in Christian History, Issue 56 (Vol. XVI, No. 4), published by Christianity Today, Inc., 1997.

Copyright 2016 by Vance E. Christie

Shoemaker and apprentice pix 1William Carey (1761-1834) is commonly credited with being “the father of modern missions.” He grew up in Paulerspury, Northamptonshire County, England. Carey was a spiritually indifferent boy, despite the fact that his devout parents taught him to read the Bible from a very early age and religiously took him to the village’s Anglican Church. As a young teenager Carey was apprenticed to a shoemaker named Clarke Nichols in the neighboring village of Piddington. There Carey gravitated toward irreligious companions and became addicted to “lying, swearing and other sins.”

However, a fellow apprentice, John Warr, regularly talked with Carey about religious and spiritual matters. Warr attended the worship services of a nearby group of Dissenters, who were also known as Nonconformists. Like most Englanders in that day, Carey despised Dissenters for not adhering to the Church of England. Though Carey arrogantly argued against Warr’s views on Christianity, the latter’s earnest verbal witness and consistent Christian lifestyle began to have a positive influence. Carey started attending church more frequently in hopes of finding relief from the growing burden he had come to have on his soul. He also determined to set aside his habitual sins and sometimes sought to pray when alone.

Paulerspury Anglican Church as where Carey attended as a boy.

Paulerspury Anglican Church as where Carey attended as a boy.

God used an incident that occurred just at that time to show Carey the badness of his own heart and his need for a complete spiritual transformation. It was customary in that part of the country for apprentices to collect “Christmas boxes”—small cash gifts, sometimes collected in earthenware boxes—from the tradesmen with whom their masters had dealings. (These gifts were considered a token of Christmastime goodwill toward the apprentices for their service of the tradesmen throughout the year.) That Christmas season Clarke Nichols sent Carey to Northampton, six miles northwest of Piddington, having given him money with which to purchase some supplies for his master. Nichols also gave Carey permission to collect “Christmas boxes” for himself from the Northampton tradesmen whom they serviced.

From Mr. Hall, an ironmonger, Carey received a shilling, worth twelve pence. After collecting a few more shillings from other tradesmen, Carey went to purchase “some little articles” for himself. Only then did he discover that the shilling he had received from Hall was counterfeit, made of brass. He substituted one of Nichols’ shillings for the artificial one in order to complete the purchase. Too late he realized that his personal items had cost “a few pence” more than the gift money he had just collected. Expecting to be severely reproached by his master for his careless mishandling of money, Carey resolved “to declare strenuously” that Nichols himself had inadvertently given him the counterfeit coin when he entrusted funds to him with which to buy supplies for his master.

Carey afterward related: “I well remember the struggles of mind which I had on this occasion, and that I made this deliberate sin a matter of prayer to God as I passed over the fields [walking] home. I there promised that if God would but get me clearly over this, or in other words, help me through with the theft, I would certainly for the future leave off all evil practices. But this theft and consequent lying appeared to me so necessary that they could not be dispensed with. A Gracious God did not get me safe through.”

William Carey in middle age.

William Carey in middle age.

Nichols was suspicious and sent Warr to investigate the matter. Hall, the ironmonger, admitted having given Carey the bogus coin. Carey’s own attempted deception of his master was thus discovered and as a result: “I was therefore exposed to shame, reproach, and inward remorse, which increased and preyed upon my mind for a considerable time. I at this time sought the Lord perhaps much more earnestly than ever; but with shame and fear.”

The Lord graciously used that painful and humiliating event to help Carey realize his need to believe in and receive Christ Jesus as his Savior from sin. Not long after, when Carey was seventeen years old, he was born again spiritually through personal faith in Jesus.

This Christmas season as we celebrate the coming of Christ Jesus into the world, may we also be deeply grateful to God for showing us our own need for the Savior and for drawing us to saving faith in Him.

Copyright 2015 by Vance E. Christie

Christmas gift book pix 2
Recently I heard of a mother who is buying four gifts for each of her children this Christmas: something to wear; something they need; something for fun; something to read. Sounds like a good balance to me.

As one who has a great appreciation for (and writes) historic Christian biographies, allow me to promote that type of book in the “something to read” gift category. Such biographies are not only interesting and entertaining but also spiritually inspiring and instructive.

They relate the fascinating real-life stories of some of the most outstanding and significant Christians in the history of the Church. The examples of such faithful, fruitful Christian servants encourage and challenge us to love Jesus more deeply and to serve Him more actively, even sacrificially. We’re encouraged not only to be faithful but also faith-filled in our service of Christ.

Christmas gift books pix 1There are lots of good historic Christian biographies that have been published for younger children and older youth. Check out Christian Focus Publication’s Trailblazer series (under its CF4Kids imprint), YWAM’s Christian Heroes Then & Now series, as well as similar series by other publishers.

Plenty of great Christian biographies have been published for adults also. Be sure to peruse the outstanding biography offerings of Christian Focus Publications (including its History Makers series), EP Books (including its Bitesize Biographies), and Banner of Truth Trust. A number of other evangelical Christian publishers offer additional quality biographies.

When giving a biography as a gift, of course, it’s important to give a book that we think the recipient will find interesting. That could be about a person they’ve already heard of. Or it could be about an individual who, though unknown to them, had such a compelling story that we know they’ll find it engaging. It could also be a biography that really ministered to us, and we’re confident it will do the same for them.

Christmas gift books pix 3While children’s and youth biographies tend to be fairly consistent in story-like style and briefer length, adult biographies can differ more widely. Some adult-level biographies are intended for a popular audience and are of more manageable length. Others are more scholarly and extensive. Again, it’s good to give a biography according to the interest level of the person receiving it as a gift.

Biographies are good gifts not only for family members but also for friends. Biographies make great gifts for people we appreciate in ministry and for those who are preparing for vocational Christian service.

Of the biographies I’ve written, here’s who I think they would especially appeal to:

Hudson Taylor, Gospel Pioneer to China and John and Betty Stam, Missionary Martyrs – Great for youth (as opposed to very young children) and anyone interested in missions. Young adults processing the issues of marriage and call to vocational ministry may find the John and Betty Stam biography especially beneficial.

Women of Faith and Courage – Christian women and older girls will appreciate this collection of abbreviated biographies on Susanna Wesley, Fanny Crosby, Catherine Booth, Mary Slessor and Corrie ten Boom.

Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians – This collection of short, true stories from the lives of outstanding Christians on a variety of key themes (such as Family, Prayer, Service, Adversity, etc.) appeals to adults and youth alike. Great for personal reading or family devotions.

David Brainerd: A Flame for God, Adoniram Judson: Devoted for Life, and Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa – These somewhat longer volumes (300+ pages) are probably best suited for somewhat older and more serious biography readers. All three of these biographies would be encouraging reads for pastors, missionaries and lay leaders.

Happy shopping and beneficial reading to you and yours this Christmas season!

Copyright 2015 by Vance E. Christie

Young Andrew Murray

Young Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) is best known by Christians today as the author of several still-popular devotional classics. In his lifetime, however, he was equally well-known as a prominent, powerful preacher.

Throughout his active preaching career of some six and a half decades, hundreds and even thousands of people eagerly gathered to hear him preach. His sermons were characterized by overwhelming intensity, depth of spiritual insight and evident empowering by God’s Spirt that stirred, instructed and challenged his hearers.

Beginning in his early twenties, Murray conducted ministry tours to Dutch pioneers in the frontier regions northeast of Cape Colony, South Africa. Dutch settlers would assemble by the hundreds at pre-arranged meeting sites to hear the dynamic young preacher. An early Murray biographer related of his tremendous fervency on such occasions: “When preaching, so absorbed was he in his message that should he by his violent gestures knock down Bible and reading desk of the impromptu pulpit, he would not notice it.”

Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray

Once an indigenous tribesman watched Murray closely as he preached with his habitual earnestness. The native did not understand a single word of what he heard but afterward stated his impression of what he had observed: “I never thought that the white men stood in such dread of their chiefs. Look at the young chief yonder [Murray]. He points his finger at the people; they sit quiet. He threatens them; they sit quiet still. He storms and rages at them; they sit as quiet as death!”

In 1895, at age sixty-seven, Murray was invited to speak at a number of prominent Christian conferences in Europe and America. An article in a popular British publication provided this description of his intense preaching:

“When preaching or conducting a service his whole being is thrown into the task, and he glows with a fervency of spirit which it seems impossible for human flesh to sustain. At times he startles and overwhelms the listeners. Earnestness and power of the electric sort stream from him, and affect alike the large audience or the quiet circle gathered round him. In his slight, spent frame, of middle height, he carries in repose a volcanic energy which, when he is roused, bursts its barriers and sweeps all before it. Then his form quivers and dilates, the lips tremble, the features work, as from the white-hot furnace of his spirit he pours the molten torrent of his unstudied eloquence. … Audiences bend before the sweeping rain of his words like willows before a gale. The heart within the hearer is bowed, and the intellect awed.”

Andrew Murray

Older Andrew Murray

Well into his eighties Murray continued to be a powerful, popular preacher who ministered at numerous churches and Christian conferences. He once was the featured speaker at a conference in which a new missionary enterprise to Sudan was being launched. One of the missionary candidates, who was well acquainted with Murray’s preaching ministry, reported:

“A lady was sitting close to me, and as Dr. Murray went up the pulpit steps, frail and gray and old, she asked: ‘Who is that old man? What a shame to make him go up those steps to preach.’  I smiled inwardly and thought, ‘My dear lady, you will be surprised tonight.’ Dr. Murray got up, he seemed to grow tall and majestic. In regard to the new work in the Sudan he once more spoke according to the oracles of God. ‘Forward!’ was his cry. Well, my lady was surprised, and more than surprised, pity made way for esteem. ‘What a voice for such a body!’ she exclaimed.”

Murray’s fervent preaching was reflective of his intimate, earnest personal relationship with the Lord.  His preaching was carried out—through dependence upon and empowering by the Holy Spirit—in the context of an extremely demanding ministerial career. By reading a complete account of Murray’s life and ministry (such as my recent biography, Andrew Murray, Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa) one is able to glean the keys to his powerful preaching ministry as well as the many other fruitful aspects of his Christian service.

Copyright 2015 by Vance E. Christie

Shaun Tabatt Show Ep 28 Vance Christie Andrew Murray Christian Focus

Last week I got to visit with Shaun Tabatt and share about my new book on the life of Andrew Murray. Listen to our interview below.

-Download the MP3: http://ow.ly/SMDUz
-Read the show notes: http://ShaunTabatt.com/028
-Subscribe to The Shaun Tabatt Show on iTunes: http://ow.ly/Pxz1x

To find out more about Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa, visit the Andrew Murray book page on my website.

Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray

Why is it worthwhile to read an account of the life and ministry of Andrew Murray (1828-1917), the distinguished pastor-devotional writer from South Africa? Here’s a brief rundown of my top ten reasons:

  1. Andrew Murray became the most prominent South African minister of his day. He is almost certainly the premiere pastor ever to serve in that country. It’s certainly worth our while and to our benefit to get acquainted with such an outstanding Christian servant.
  2. Murray provides an inspiring example of active service of Christ, even under challenging circumstances, clear to the end of life. His entire adult life (age 20 to 88) was spent in consecrated Christian service. He often ministered under difficult pioneer conditions, despite personal health challenges, and under enormous ministry pressures. When he retired from full-time pastoral ministry at age seventy-eight, he continued right on in his active speaking and writing ministries for another decade.
  3. Murray also has much to teach us about the devotional-contemplative side of the Christian life. He was a man of prayer who maintained daily time for personal prayer and who prayed “without ceasing” by weaving prayer all through his many activities of the day. His mind was saturated with and continually fixed on Scriptural truths. That pronounced biblical focus resulted in his publishing nearly 240 works (including over seventy full-length books) on scores of different subjects, all from a sound spiritual perspective.
  4. Dutch Reformed Church of Wellington

    Dutch Reformed Church of Wellington, where Andrew Murray pastored for thirty-five years.

    Both during his lifetime and to this day Murray’s books have been widely read and appreciated by Christians throughout the world. His books are thoroughly spiritual, devotional and practical in nature. But because Murray’s books contain virtually no autobiographical material, many people who have greatly appreciated and profited from his writings know very little about his life and ministry. However, they can get to know the man behind the pen by reading a biography about him.

  5. Pastors will benefit from considering the ministerial career and powerful preaching ministry of this faithful fellow under-shepherd. Murray pastored four congregations over the course of fifty-seven years, including his last pastorate of thirty-five years. The settings for his pastoral ministries ranged from an isolated frontier settlement to the capital city of South Africa.  In addition to ministering to his own congregations, Murray was a popular preacher who carried out extensive speaking ministries at churches and Christian conferences throughout South Africa, as well as in Europe and America.
  6. Ministry leaders of various types will appreciate and learn from Murray’s vibrant, visionary leadership of numerous Christian causes. He served six terms, totaling some twenty-five years, as the Moderator of his denomination, the Dutch Reformed Church of Cape Colony. Murray threw his tremendous energies into: establishing schools throughout the Colony; actively evangelizing European settlers; founding foreign missionary societies to minister to unreached tribal groups beyond the Colony’s borders; supporting home mission endeavors that ministered to military personnel, the poor and moral outcasts; developing and promoting student ministries and the Higher Life Movement.
  7. Murray lived through two periods of bona fide spiritual awakening. As a twelve-year-old boy, while pursuing his education in Scotland, he witnessed the widespread revival that took place in that country in 1840 through the ministry of William Burns. Twenty years later, as a pastor in Worcester, South Africa, Murray participated in and helped promote the awakening that occurred throughout Cape Colony. The accounts of those two revivals are truly dramatic and stirring.
  8. Another great benefit to reading an account of Murray’s life is the opportunity to consider his amazingly-consistent Christlike character. In public and in private, whether dealing with hearty supporters or harsh critics, Murray manifested patience, kindness and gentleness. Throughout his ministry career he actively sought to promote Christian love and unity in the churches, communities and countries where he served, often in the face of deep divisions between various parties.
  9. While three other full-length biographies were previously written on Andrew Murray, two of those have been out of print for many decades. All three of those earlier biographies related only about half of Murray’s life in chronological order. They treated the ministry emphases of the latter half of his life (such as his promotion of education, evangelism and missions) in topical but non-chronological fashion. The biography I have written on Murray is the first to offer a chronological account of his life from start to finish, presenting the events and developments of his life and ministry in the order in which they unfolded.
  10. Historic Christian biography is an enjoyable and easy way to learn some history, both sacred and secular. As one reads the account of Murray’s life, a lot is learned about (to list only four of many subjects): the establishment and spread of Christianity in South Africa; some of the battles within the Christian Church in South Africa and Europe against encroaching theological liberalism; the settlement of European people groups in South Africa and their conflicts with indigenous tribes; tensions between the British government and Dutch settlers that led to South Africa’s tragic Boer Wars.

I hope you’ll read my recently-published Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa. Murray’s is an inspiring and instructive example well worth considering.

Copyright 2015 by Vance E. Christie