E-book: Holiness and missions

by Susan N. Fitkin

In 1915 Susan Fitkin emerged as the first president of Nazarene Missions International. This 1940 booklet sounds one of Fitkin's major themes. Minor editing has been done to increase readability.

 

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Chapter 2: Practiced in devotions

     David, the psalmist, has been called the "sweet singer of Israel." His poetry and songs were able to calm even the troubled spirit of King Saul. The Book of Psalms, which ends with a doxology, is the inspired prayer-and-praise book of Israel.

God's call

     One day the prophet Samuel was commanded to go to Bethlehem to anoint a new king who would be chosen from among the sons of Jesse. A feast was provided and seven sons were called together. As the eldest, tall and dignified, stood before Samuel, the prophet thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed stands here," but he was warned, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:6-7) The other six sons were also rejected and Samuel asked Jesse:

"Are these all the sons you have?"
"There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, but "he is tending the sheep."
Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives." (1 Samuel 16:11)

As soon as the lad David arrived, "The Lord said, Rise and anoint him; he is the one." Samuel obeyed and "from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power" (1 Samuel 16:12-13)

     While alone on the Judean hillsides, David had become acquainted with God and loved and trusted in Him. As he afterward declared, he won victories through faith in God. God had been with David and had helped him while he was guarding the sheep to slay both a lion and a bear.

     God had still greater in store for David. So we find him delivering the army of Israel from the challenging giant, Goliath. David did so, not as a soldier in armor and with a sword, but as a mere lad with a sling and a few pebbles; not in his own strength but "in the name of the Lord Almighty." (1 Samuel 17:45)

     The beautiful Book of Psalms, a great deal of which was written by David, has been a blessing to God's people down through the centuries. Its poetry gives us glimpses not only of divine leading and protection for David, but of Christ's kingdom and God's plan for the salvation of a lost world.

The world vision

     Psalm 2 has a divine revelation of Christ's kingdom. It would seem one day that David might have been looking about upon world conditions, when he wrote, "Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kinds of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. Let us break their chains,' they say, and throw off their fetters.'" (Psalm 2:1-3)

     Then looking up and remembering the power and majesty of God, David declared, "The One enthroned in heaven laughs . . . . [He] terrifies them in His wrath." (Psalm 2:4-5) Suddenly David was permitted to listen in to a conversation in heaven. He heard God the Father saying, "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill." And God the Son replies, "I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, You are my Son . . . Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession." (Psalm 2:6-8) David's viewpoint had been changed; henceforth he saw not just the Hebrew nation. He saw God's plan and provision of redemption for the whole human race.

     Psalm 22 contains a graphic picture of death by crucifixion. The circumstances described are precisely what was fulfilled by the cross on Calvary. Then, the words of verses 27-28 introduce the idea of world evangelism: "All the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations." [ more on Psalm 22 ]

      In Psalm 46:10 we have that wonderful verse, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

A new revelation

     Psalm 51 shows King David agonizing in prayer as he confessed to God that he had yielded to temptation and sinned against Him and as he pleaded for forgiveness. Also, at this time David was evidently given a vision of the depravity of his own nature, for he cried out:

"Surely I was sinful at birth . . . Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. . . . Create in me a pure heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me. . . . Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you." (Psalm 51:5-7, 10, 13)

     David thus links a plea for his own inner holiness to a promise to bring sinners to the Lord.

     In Psalm 57 David testified victoriously, "My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music . . . Awake harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples." (Psalm 57:7-9) Also in Psalm 101:2: "I will walk in my house with blameless heart." Then follows a prayer in Psalm 67 which picks up the traditional "blessing" from Numbers 6 and interprets it as a way of enlarging God's kingdom, emphasizing the responsibility upon God's people for its accomplishment:

"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known upon earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy; for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him."

A new song

     In Psalm 96 there a beautiful song combining the themes of holiness and missions:

"Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth, . . . Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. . . . Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, 'The Lord reigns' . . . he shall judge the peoples with equity."

     Psalm 72 portrays the glory, power and extent of Christ's kingdom:

"He will rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. . . . May His name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. All nations will be blessed through Him, and they will call Him blessed. Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and amen."

     David's prayers are still being answered. Songs of victory are being sung around the world as the blessed gospel light penetrates dense heathen darkness.

Revivals in China and Japan

     About 10 years ago, revival fires were kindled in several sections of China, the largest mission field in the world. Revival came after God's people had spent seven years of agonizing prayer. [Editor's note: Susan Fitkin wrote this about 1940 ] At the time believers began praying China was in the grip of a revolution which threatened its destruction. One writer declared, "China was like a turbulent sea" with waves of lawlessness and disaster following each other. Famines in several provinces left over 50,000,000 people destitute and dying. A little later, a great flood spread over sixteen provinces and left 30,000,000 more homeless and despairing. Then, to add to the discouragement of the Christians, nearly half of the foreign missionaries were recalled.
     Despite such testing times, the churches in China, in an inter-church conference, made plans for the Five-year Forward Movement. Their goal was to revive the churches and win many more souls, with a vision of doubling their overall membership in five years. It was an outstanding statement of faith, for they had been over one hundred years in gathering members that now numbered a half a million. They adopted the prayer slogan: "Lord, revive Thy Church, beginning with me." The prayer for a revival became a heart cry to God and soon revival fires were spreading over many mission fields.
     Some of my readers may have heard of the unusual manifestations of God's Spirit in North China, where a humble little Norwegian missionary, Marie Monson, was the instrument used in stirring many churches. As the holy fires spread, it was estimated that at least 3,000 converted to God.
     At the outset the enemy made desperate attempts to hinder. A ship on which Marie Monson was traveling was captured by bandits, but she was marvelously protected during the twenty-three days she was held captive.
     In her account of the event, Marie Monson tells how the Lord prepared her for the emergency by directing her to purchase several pounds of apples. Friends had sent her four packages of chocolate. This and a few dry biscuits provided food for the first nine days, for she refused to eat the stolen food the bandits offered her. Then, the bandit leader brought her some eggs, assuring her he had bought them with his own money. These she accepted and prayed God to make them not only to satisfy her hunger, but that they should take the place of vegetables, fruit and meat that she needed. She found them sufficient!
     She was also marvelously protected when the robbers came to her room, demanding her watch and even threatening her life. God gave her promises from His Word again and again. These she firmly believed, and He fulfilled them to her. She took these promises literally for her present need, reading Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not, Marie, for I am with thee: be not dismayed, Marie, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee, Marie; yea, I will help thee, Marie; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."1
     Thus was God's messenger protected and preserved to be used to start a gracious revival. Later, when many had been saved and had begun to read their Bibles, they asked if they might have the baptism with the Holy Spirit. One of the good holiness preachers from our Nazarene field was invited to come and preach holiness to them. He reported 24 missionaries were seeking the blessing in addition to a large number of the converts.
     Another outstanding evangelist was Sung Shang Dzieh (or Dzien). This man, John Sung, has been called the "John the Baptist" of China, His life story is intensely interesting. He held a revival at our central station in Tamingfu. When he arrived at the compound, hundreds gathered to welcome the great Dr. Sung, educated in America. Expecting a very dignified and wonderful personage, they were astonished to see a young looking man, without a hat, dressed in the dark blue cotton garments that the poor people wear. But they were not disappointed. Day after day Dr. Sung preached the wonderful gospel in the big tabernacle holding a thousand people. He illustrated his messages on a large blackboard, so that all might understand. God was there and soon hundreds were seeking at the long altar of prayer.
     At the close of this revival several Evangelistic Bands were organized. These bands have visited many new villages and report 1,600 seeking God this past year. Thus, the revival was continued. Then, came the inexpressibly sad invasion by the Japanese into this densely populated country. That invasion brought misery and destruction to the homes and lives of thousands of these peace-loving people.
     Did the Chinese Christians lose their faith in the God of heaven? No. They said, "This is China's Gethsemane; this is China's Calvary."
     We get a glimpse of the loyalty of the Christians through the story of a Japanese soldier entering a Christian home. He found it occupied only by a mother and her young daughter. He raised his bayonet, pointing it at the heart of the young girl. The mother quickly exclaimed, "Daughter, don't be afraid to die, remember, Jesus died for you." At the name of Jesus the soldier lowered his bayonet and hurriedly left the house.
     Many missionaries remained at their stations at the risk of their lives. Hundreds of wounded soldiers were saved in military hospitals, for the government gave orders that military hospitals welcome all Christian workers. Generalissimo and Madam Chiang, Christian rulers of this republic, urged missionaries to visit these hospitals and added, "Be sure to tell these sufferers of the One who suffered for them, more than they could possibly suffer, that they might have eternal life."
     On our own Nazarene field in China, the revival has continued. In one church, three hundred were recently seeking the Lord. Last year, all the young people desiring to enter the Bible Training School could not be accommodated, although new buildings had been erected and the number of students had been doubled. They are hoping to double the number of students again this year. Many have been converted in our hospital. Missionaries and native evangelists are gathering in a harvest of precious souls.

Japan

     In Japan, a revival began more than a generation ago, when natives, trained by the Oriental Missionary Society and inspired by God, visited every home in Japan. They witnessed for the Lord, prayed, and left portions of Scripture, As a result, several thousand gave themselves to God. Today, Christianity will be listed as one of the religions of the Japanese empire.
     On our Nazarene field, great advance has been made during the past ten years. New churches have been planted and many souls won to Jesus. When we were there, we visited one of our three churches that are organized and have regular native pastors. We also visited in tuberculosis hospitals as well as the church in a leper hospital where souls were seeking God.
     One of the missionaries told us of a man who was so anxious to be baptized that he came again and again to inquire how soon he might become a full member of the church. He was told that soon there would be a class ready, but he could not wait. One day he rushed into the mission home breathless, his face beaming, to announce that he had been baptized. Could he now join the church? The missionary inquired when and where he had been baptized. The man then confessed that he could not wait longer, so he had gone down to the river and baptized himself, "just as you do," he said, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." The missionary was sure God was there and had put His seal on it, so the man was received into the church.
     The past two years have been trying ones for the Christians. Seven of our pastors and other Christians were drafted into the army. When these pastors reached China they told the officer in charge that they had come to serve their country and were willing to do any kind of work except to kill men. They requested that they not be required to carry a gun. Their request was granted and they were sent to the front. This testimony which was sent back home reveals their spirit: "Even in muddy trenches, God's grace is in my heart. Between battles, my soul communes with God and I seek after spiritual blessings found in His Word."
     One pastor was killed by a bursting shell while trying to rescue a wounded soldier. Others were wounded and some were in hospitals for weeks. There, they testified and prayed and won precious souls. One of our preachers, while convalescing, held a revival in Tientsin in a Christian home. So many were saved that he was requested to remain with them as their pastor, and is there today. Three other Japanese preachers have gone to China, have held revivals and established churches. So we now have four churches in China; one is among the Chinese. The Japanese pastor is learning their language.
     The following incident will help us to understand how hard it is for Christian Japanese to be forced to kill their Chinese brothers who have done them no harm. A missionary wrote:

     "One day a Japanese soldier knocked on the mission door. When I opened it he asked, 'Are you busy; could I talk with you?'
     "It was not unusual for Christian Japanese soldiers to call at the mission for counsel and prayer. So I replied that I was not busy and would be glad to have him come in.

     "He came into the hall. As I opened the living room door and bade him enter, he said, 'Wait a minute, these not good.' He unfastened his belt and laid it with his gun and sword on a chair. He then came in. We talked together about his home and family. He told me he had a wife and two little girls. I asked if his father was still living. He said, 'He was when I left, but he has died since I left.' His face became sad. He was thinking about the war and said, `This war very, very sinful. Soldiers very cruel; I can't help.'

     "Then we talked about the Lord. I happened to mention David, our splendid Chinese evangelist, and he asked quickly, 'Could I see him?'

     "I sent for David. I wish you could have seen those two men as they met.

     The Japanese spoke first, 'Are you evangelist?' he asked. David replied that he was. `I glad to see you,' the soldier said and reached out his hand and grasped David's hand.

     "I was called out for a little time. When I returned, the two men were earnestly talking. The soldier had his well-worn New Testament in his hand. I listened a few moments as they talked about the heavenly kingdom.

     "The soldier said, `This earth kingdom not good, make lots of trouble.' David agreed and the soldier continued, 'In heavenly kingdom we all brothers, God our Father.'

     "David answered, 'Yes, and we must pray that His Kingdom may come on earth.' We three knelt -- an American, a Japanese and a Chinese -- and poured out our hearts to our Father in heaven.

     "After prayer I asked our friend if he would like to visit the military hospital. He said he would. A nurse escorted us through the wards filled with the wounded. Presently he inquired, 'Any soldiers here wounded by Japanese bullets?'

     "The nurse said yes,' and led us over to one corner where a young Chinese lay on a cot. She explained one leg had been shattered.

     "'Could I see?' he asked. She turned the cover back. He leaned over and put his hand on the bandaged limb, and said, 'This war very, very sinful. I so sorry.' Before leaving, he pressed a one yen bill in the hand of the wounded man, who smiled faintly his thanks. Before leaving the mission, he insisted on giving me a ten yen bill, 'Five,' he said, 'for the wounded soldiers and five for the poor little children.'" . . . [ continue reading ]

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1For more information on Marie Monson,see Women of Awakenings : The Historic Contribution of Women to Revival Movements by Lewis and Betty Drummond, published in 1996 by Kregel Publications

Holiness and missions in the prophets

Next chapterIsaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Joel and Jonah all illustrate how the themes of holiness and missions are inseparable twins. [ read more ]

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