19세에 도미 유학하여 이미 26세에 미 오하이오 주립 대학에서 화학학 박사 학위를 땄으나 하나님의 그리스도 십자가 사랑을 깨닫고 완전 회심하여, 인생의 가장 시급한 문제가 회개함으로 다시 출생함에 있음을 알고 박사 학위를 헌신짝처럼 버리고 오로지 여생을 복음 전파에 진력, 3년만에 10만여명을 회개시키고 중국, 동남아시아 등을 누비며 하나님 말씀을 외치다가 만 43세에 이생을 마쳤던 인물이다.
이 노래는 아래와 같은 송박사의 가사에 붙인 곡이다.
靈裡生活 : 歌詞 ( Spiritual Life lyrics )
Chinese lyrics with English translation
( I have been put to death on the cross with Christ )
( Buried and risen with him )
( Be with him in the heavenly )
( Still I am living, but no longer I )
( The Lord lives in me and is my all in all )
( I see things as He sees them, talk as He talks )
( Want as He wants and do as He does )
( Jesus Christ is my Lord )
( No need to strunggle with my own strength )
( He is in me and works through me )
( Not trying to be like Him in my own)
( He is in me and through His power I go forward )
( He lives in me and every achievement owes to Him )
( His love is my own love, His joy my joy )
( His grief is my own grief, His bearing is my bearing )
( His mind is mine own )
( We are not yoked together with unbelievers )
( We rejoice in working together in Him )
( We don't seek our own )
( We increase and abound in love one toward another )
( The Lord lives in us and wants us to be one in Him )
( We all with one mind give ourselves up to prayer )
( We are working together in love )
( We are one in Christ )
이 모든 내용은 위 주소의 글에서 베껴 온 것입니다
John Sung (1901 - 1944)Read freely text sermons and articles by the speaker John Sung in text and pdf format. John Sung was born on September 27, 1901 in Hinghwa of the Fukien province in southeast China. He was the son of a respected Methodist minister and was converted as a young boy at the age of nine. In 1920 John Sung at age nineteen left for America to study at Wesleyan University of Ohio. He later went on to study at Ohio State University and Union Theological Seminary. Within five years and two months from the day he entered college, he earned three academic degrees, all while doing menial labor on a full time basis. However, these high honors did not come without taking a great toll on his spiritual life. After a few years in America, sitting under a steady diet of worldly philosophy and liberal theology, John Sung found himself backslidden and doubting everything that his father had taught him.
On February 10, 1927, John Sung recommitted his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. This was just the beginning of a much deeper work. After repenting of his sins, he immediately began to preach to all his classmates and professors. This drastic change in John Sung's behavior made some believe that he had become mentally unbalanced. He soon found himself being committed to an insane asylum by the seminary authorities. He was allowed to take with him only his Bible and a pen. He would later refer to that asylum as his true theological seminary. John Sung was incarcerated for 193 days. During that time he read the Bible from beginning to end forty times. He devoted almost every waking hour to reading the Bible and prayer. Through those months, the Holy Spirit was carefully laying the foundations for John Sung's revival ministry. He was being prepared to participate in one of the mightiest revivals of the twentieth century.
China was in turmoil. The Boxer Rebellion, civil wars, foreign aggressions, Anti-Christian movements, liberal theology, the Second World War...one event after another erupted over that vast land. Just when China needed a nationwide spiritual revival, God blessed China with a man who was utterly fearless and dedicated in the manner of those ancient prophets: Dr. John Sung.
Dr. Sung (1901-44) came from a family with 11 children. His father was a poor, rural pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church in Fukien province (opposite Taiwan). With the encouragement and support of friends, John Sung went to the United States, enrolling at Ohio Wesleyan Univer¬sity in 1919. He graduated with top honors. He continued at Ohio State University for his Master's and Doctor's degrees in chemistry--a unique accomplishment for a Chinese of that time.
Confronted with the claims of the Gospel ministry, he was encouraged to go to Union Theological Seminary. Its doctrine and teaching distressed him. But as he studied the Bible through the night, he experienced a transformation of soul that caused him to weep and shout for joy.
The seminary thought he had gone crazy and threw him into the insane asylum. For some 6 months, he was confined there...but he read the Bible over 40 times! Upon the intercession of an American friend and the Chinese Embassy, he was released and headed back to China.
When his ship entered the China Sea, John Sung made a crucial decision. Taking his doctor's degree, academic gold key, and other certificates of scientific attainments, he dumped them all into the sea! From now on, he was to follow Jesus Christ completely…no turning back!
John Sung preached extensively all over China. He early decided NOT to preach the social gospel, which was in vogue at that time. He confined his messages to the subjects of the Cross, salvation, filling of the Holy Spirit, the power of Jesus' blood, etc. His best preaching was on "Sin," where hundreds would cry out for salvation, repent, and changed their old lives. He dug deep into the Scriptures and had a devotional approach to Bible interpretation.
Dr. John Sung was part of an evangelistic band which went all over China. Half a million people heard the Gospel. All over the China coast, north and south of the Yangtze River, infaraway Northeast China, and overseas into Southeast Asia, as far as Indonesia. Today, thousands of Chinese all over Asia still speak lovingly of his ministry and effects on their lives.
John Sung was the greatest evangelist China ever had before or after. What was the secret of his success? Writer Bobby Sng of Singapore cited five reasons:
(1) ”He had a Bible-Centered Ministry”. He spoke from the Bible. His spiritual and pictorial presentation brought life to his messages. As one church leader stated, "One reason why Chinese churches are conservative theologically is that we have learned to take the Bible seriously"
(2) ”He Took SIN Seriously”. At each meeting, he would mention specific sins like opium-smoking, concubinage, adultery, gambling, cheating and a multitude of other...and invite the audience to repent by raising their hands. Many would be reduced to tears. It was said that the income tax department always knew when John Sung was in town...
(3) ”He Emphasized Witnessing”. The Gospel Bands were his outstanding creation. After prayer and some preparation, he would immediately organize his converts into bands of 205 persons, assigning them districts to witness, and encourage them to go out weekly.
(4) ”He was Utterly Fearless”. He never hesitated to speak out against pastors, church leaders, and missionaries if he detected inconsistencies in them. Sometimes, he did this during his meetings. Many would bow their heads in tears and shame. He did alienate people, but his over-riding concern was to please God not man.
(5) ”He was A Man of Prayer”. He would pray aloud, intimately with God, like someone was in the room with him. He knew God like he knew a close friend.
Dr. Timothy Tow of Singapore tells of his having several big suitcases of about 10,000 names--ªpeople who had written him on a particular need, desiring his prayer, and attaching a photograph.
John Sung died at age 43, dying from the effects of pouring out his life unceasingly in strenuous preaching and Christian service.
Foreword, by JOHN R. W. STOTT
Preface to the 4th Edition
Part I. Years of Preparation, 1901-1927
1. Childhood, 1901-1909
2. The Hinghwa Revival, 1909-1913
3. The Little Pastor, 1913-1919
4. Student Days in America, 1919-1923
5. Inner Conflict, 1923-1926
6. The Blinding Revelation, 1926-1927
7. Into Arabia, 1927
2. The Hinghwa Revival, 1909-1913
3. The Little Pastor, 1913-1919
4. Student Days in America, 1919-1923
5. Inner Conflict, 1923-1926
6. The Blinding Revelation, 1926-1927
7. Into Arabia, 1927
Part II. A Burning and a Shining Light
8. Beginning at Jerusalem, 1927-1930
9. And in Samaria, 1930-1931
10. A Night to be Remembered
11. With Bethel in Manchuria, 1931
12. With Bethel in South China, 1931-1932
13. With Bethel in North China, 1932-1933
14. Last Months with Bethel
15. A Voice Crying, 1934-1935
16. Not Without Honour
17. The Lame Walk
9. And in Samaria, 1930-1931
10. A Night to be Remembered
11. With Bethel in Manchuria, 1931
12. With Bethel in South China, 1931-1932
13. With Bethel in North China, 1932-1933
14. Last Months with Bethel
15. A Voice Crying, 1934-1935
16. Not Without Honour
17. The Lame Walk
Part III. Preparing the Way of the Lord
18. Casting up the Highway, 1935
19. Shaking the Nation, 1935-1935
20. He Must Increase, 1936-1938
21. Burning Out for God, 1938-1939
22. The Uttermost Parts, 1939
23. Life of No Account, 1940-1944
19. Shaking the Nation, 1935-1935
20. He Must Increase, 1936-1938
21. Burning Out for God, 1938-1939
22. The Uttermost Parts, 1939
23. Life of No Account, 1940-1944
THIS is an honest biography of an extraordinary man. No attempt is made either to conceal or to camounage the idiosyncrasies and spiritual defects in John Sung's personality.
At first sight it is almost surprising that God should have been pleased to prosper his ministry so greatly. He had a strong will and a hot temper. He was independent to the point of being sometimes stubborn. A rebel as a boy, he remained an individualist all his life. He could be abrupt and even rude. His wife and family must at times have felt neglected. He was certainly a scholar, with remarkable academic attainments, but his Biblecal preaching was never "scholarly" and could be grotesque. His personal appearance was not particularly prepossessing. Everyone noticed a lock of unruly hair falling over his forehead. His dress was simple and his voice harsh.
And yet Mr. Lyall calls him "the greatest evangelist China has ever known". God used him in widening circles of influence throughout Southeast Asia, and caused him to bear fruit which has remained. Members of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship of the C.I.M., now deployed in Formosa, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaya, are constantly meeting Chinese Christians today who owe their conversion to John Sung's itinerant ministry. Many churches too, given to prayer and preaching today, look back to a visit from John Sung as the time when reviva! came and the fire began to spread.
Is there any explanation of John Sung's great power? Can any clues be found to the interpretation of this paradoxical figure? Why did God bring salvation to so many sinners, fulness of life to so many believers and revival to so many churches through his comparatively brief ministry of only fifteen years? Can we learn from his experience what are the conditions of divine blessing?
These are the questions one is prompted to ask on reading this striking biography. They are pertinent questions. The study of religious revivais always fascinates the Christian because he is anxious to discover the secrets of power for holiness and service.
Some believers, like C. G. Finney, have held that revival can come at any time to any church whenever it is prepared to fulfil the necessary conditions. Other students have detected in the timing of revivais a certain arbitrariness, suggesting that the sovereign Lord brings revival not just when the Church is pleased to desire it but when He is pleased to give it. Certainly the spiritual movement associated with the name of John Sung came just when the Chinese Church needed to be quickened and strengthened to meet its present fiery ordeal. At the same time it cannot have been altogether independent of the character and work of John Sung himself.
When D. L. Moody died, Dr. R. A. Torrey wrote a searching booklet entitled, Why God used D. L. Moody, giving seven reasons. Today Christian people are asking, "Why is God so signally blessing Billy Graham?" This book will make every reader ask, "Why did God honour the ministry of John Sung?" Every reader will reach his own conclusions, but it is particularly interesting to notice four outstanding features of Dr. John Sung's character and ministry which are also to be found in those of Dr. Billy Graham.
Firstly, John Sung was a dedicated man. This is the theme upon which Mr. Lyall has rightly laid emphasis. He has seen in John Sung an illustration of James Denney's words, "There must be great renunciations if there are to be great Christian careers". John Sung's feet may often have slipped, but his heart was fixed. He knew what it was to deny himself and follow Christ. To him the Cross was not just to be embraced, but to be shouldered.
It was not only an escape from sin and death through Another's crucifixion, but a challenge to the crucifbdon of himself. No one can fail to be moved by the painful struggle which led him finally to turn his back on a career of academic distinction, to throw the symbols of his brilliance into the sea and to resist the attempts even of his parents to make him recant. He was no seeker of fame and no lover of money. He had no hunger for popularity. He hated flattery. He might often have said to his congregations as Billy Graham says nightly in his crusades, "You haven't come to see a man". If his pulpit and platform style was sensational, it was always to enforce the truth and never to advertise himself. Like his Master before him, he sought not his own glory. He was willing to be a fool for Christ's sake. He was quite fearless. Indeed his apparent rudeness was certainly at times a fierce means of self-protection. He desired to live unto God only and was alarmed by the plaudits of the crowd. He was on fire for God, "a living flame of gospel zeal". He never spared himself. He travelled tens of thousands of miles and preached to hundreds of thousands of people. He rose early and ate simply.
He would go on preaching until his clothes were wet with perspiration, and would ignore the pain of his illness, resolved if possible to die on the platform. God needs Christian workers of this calibre today. So much of our service is vitiated by secret self-seeking. We want to gain a reputation for successful evangehsm. We want our mission or society or church to be honoured. We thrive on the praise of men, and wilt when we lose it. We are fired with worldly ambitions. We crave power and popularity and distinction. John Sung loved God and souls. That was all.
Secondly, John Sung knew the place of power. He had remarkable natural gifts of mind and personality, but he did not reply upon these for effect. He had learned what St. Paul teaches in i Cor. i. i 7 to ii. 5, that there is power in the Word of God, the Cross of Christ and the Holy Spirit. He also knew in his own experience the great power of prayer. Tremendous spiritual power is, in fact, generated when all these four secrets are combined and the word of the Cross is preached in the Holy Spirit and with prayer.
Certainly John Sung's message was the word of the Cross. He loved the Bible. Ever since his soiourn in an American mental home, when he began to devour it avidly, the Bible was Sung's daily food. He would read about a dozen chapters every day and soak his heart and mind in their divine teaching. Indeed, he read nothing else except the daily newspaper. It was for this reason that he was able so effectively to employ his favourite method of expounding whole chapters and even books at a time. It is true that his preaching was sometimes fanciful (especially in his use of allegory), but it was always biblical. Even if in some details it was pecuhar, it was comprehensive and wonderfully balanced, and it always centred on the Cross. It was usually accompanied by some striking actions and dramatic gestures, but it was in the power of the Spirit. It was also bathed in prayer. He preached for a verdict, but he prayed for one as well. His prayer life was disciplined. He would rise at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. daily, and his intercessory prayer was amazingly systematic as he worked through lists of converts whose names were usually illustrated by photographs, Dogmatic expository preaching is a crying need in the churches today. The word of the Cross is still the power of God and the wisdom of God. The gospel of Christ is still the power of God unto salvation. The Holy Spirit still demonstrates in the conscience of the hearers simple words stammered in human weakness. God still answers prayer.
Thirdly, John Sung was real. I have no doubt that what impressed the people and captured the press during the Greater London Crusade was the earnest sincerity of its chief figure. Now John Sung may have been rude, but he too was real. There was in him no trace of the humbug. Like Jesus he loathed hypocrisy. He never hesitated to denounce with scathing candour the hollow mockery of nominal Christianity in people and pastor alike.
He learned from John Wesley that the first mark of revival was a conviction of sin and "a thorough confession of sin", and he looked for both. He was quite fearless in his exposure of human sin, and was even known occasionally to point out individuais in the congregation, to their great embarrassment but for the furtherance of blessing. He played the part of John the Baptist in his fierce rebukes, and was particularly outspoken in his condemnation of ministers who were preaching another gospel or contradicting the truth by their Hves. Nor was he satisfied with denunciation. His preaching was always practical. He sought to expose sin in order that it should be confessed and forsaken. He insisted that sinners seeking salvation should make restitution wherever possible and put wrong relationships right.
Pharisaism also haunts the churches of the West. It is a gruesome spectre. It is a spirit which invades us all at times. We need to be on our guard. It ruins true religion, for reality is an indispensable condition of God's blessing. We must be more honest before God, more open with each other and more real in ourselves if we are to expect God to use us.
Fourthly, John Sung worked through the churches. He may have been of an independent temperament himself. He may have been an individualist. But he never lost sight of the corporate nature of Christianity. Being unhampered by denominationalism, he went wherever the churches invited him. He worked with them and through them. Wherever he went, he left behind him not only converted Christians but revived churches. "Numerous baptisms followed Dr. Sung's departure." "The church as a whole had experienced revival." These are typical statements in Mr. Lyall's narrative. One of the most interesting features of his work was the organization of converts into preaching bands, each usually composed of three people, pledged to go out at least once a week for Christian witness. At Hangchow "50 preaching bands were formed". At Foochow "96 new preaching bands were formed". "In Amoy and Kulangsu 147 preaching bands were organized." In Singapore "halfway through the campaign ... 111 evangelistic teams consisring of 3 persons or more were organized, with a total membership of 503". In Taichung and Tainan dollars and jewellery were given "for the support of the 295 evangelistic bands that were formed". Not content with this activity, John Sung arranged conventions, Bible Institutes and schools for the inspiration and instruction of beHevers, longing that they should be holy and effective through the fulness of the Holy Spirit.
God raised up John Sung to blaze a trail. But thousands followed after. He knew that evangelism was not a work only for the ordained minister or even for the experienced Christian. The New Testament makes every believer, however young and immature, a witness and a soul-winner. China could not be evangelized by John Sung, or even by a dozen such men, but only by the active witness of every Christian. God's purpose is that every local Christian congregation should be organized for witness as well as for worship, and that every single Christian should have a share in the work. What is true for China is true for England also, and for every country. "To the whole Church and to every member of it belongs the duty and privilege of spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God and the message of salvation through Jesus Christ" (from the Constitution of the Church of South india).
Perhaps we are experiencing in the West through Dr. Billy Graham what came to the churches of the East recently through Dr. John Sung. But we should be making a sad mistake if we supposed that power for effective service was available only for a few giants like them. God's transforming power is at the disposal of all who will pay the price and by faith embrace it. We need therefore to ponder carefully the qualities of the worker whom God blesses and the character of the work which He prospers.
JOHN R. W. STOTT.
ALL SOULS' CHURCH, LANGHAM PLACE, LONDON, W.i.
ON August 18th, 1944, just before his forty-third birthday John Sung finished his course. The ten years which intervene have provided ample evidence that his work lives on in lives redeemed and in churches revived through his ministry. In the remarkable kfe story of this great Chinese evangelist there seemed to be a message for the churches of the West.
When the task of composing a biography was put in hand, only the most fragmentary material was available. An appeal was sent out through the pages ofThe Millions, and diere was a widespread response from Chinese andmissionaries who hadknown Dr. Sung, or been present during his campaigns. University authorities in the United States were co-operative in affording the facts about Dr. Sung's Scholastic career. Dr. Sung's own pubhcation, entitled Mv Testimony, was the basis of the story in Part One. A manuscript continuation of this autobiographical matter came to light at the last moment and supplemented the story in some detail up to 1934. The annual reports of the Bethel Mission afforded much valuable information. Most of the facts about Dr. Sung's two visits to the Netherland East Indies (Indonesia) were obtained from a booklet entitled Dr. Sung, Een Reveil op Java, by Miss C. Baarbe, or from articles in Dutch magazines, kindly provided by Dr. H. D. J. Boissevain, former Secretary of the Dutch Mission Study Council. But Dr. Sung's personal journals and the material dictated in Peking before his death to his intimate friends, which would have been the main source of information, remain out of reach in China. A Chinese biography has long been contemplated, but has not yet appeared. The present story has therefore been pieced together with great difficulty, and the result is far from being a complete picture. There are considerable gaps in the story - as, for example, the details of Dr. Sung's visits to Burma and growing number of churches and schools under his supervision.
His conversion and the inspiration for his life work both derive from Dr. Sung's ministry. And tliis is also true of Dr. Tow, his brother, one of the foremost surgeons in the city and an influential and active layman. The roll call of similar men and women is" all too long to give in detail here. It would be impossible to trace back to their source the many streams of blessing that flowed from Dr. Sung's ministry in Malaya. They have become wide and deep with many tributaries.
In the cities and in the villages, some of the most active and energetic Christians are Sung converts. Mr. Yap Oon-tham is a teacher in the Kuala Lumpur Government Language School, but he is also the pastor of a church and the principal of a Bible School. It was in a Sung mission in China that he found Christ as Saviour and in another Sung campaign in Kuala Lumpur that he dedicated his life to Christ. Then there is Mr. Wee, senior deacon of the church in Triang, who was converted under the impact of Sung's preaching at Batu Pahat. Mrs. Tan Bee-kun of Klang, a devoted Christian worker, and her whole family were brought to Christ through Dr. Sung's ministry.
In Bangkok, the Rev and Mrs. Lim Pu-yi, experienced Christian workers, maintain a vigorous witness for Christ. Through their earlier ministry churches were established in Alor Star, North Malaya, and in Haadyai, a junction town in South Thailand. Mr. Lim was a Sung convert in China and Mrs. Lim was converted in a Sung campaign in Singapore. It required a thrice repeated dream before Mrs. Lim, a proud "Straits Chinese" could be persuaded to marry Mr. Lim, a mere mainlander, but together God has used them as true pioneer missionaries in two countries.
Nor was it only Chinese who were deeply influenced by Dr. Sung. Rev. Boon Mark Getesarn is exercising a wide influence in Thailand today among the Thai churches and he owes much of the spiritual inspiration of his life to this Chinese evangelist. In the extreme north of Thailand, the chief spiritual force in the church at Chiengrai is Dr. Pipat, the head doctor of the Presbyterian hospital, another Sung convert. In an off-the-beatentrack village, Gae Wang, the headman, treasures a Thai translation of Dr. Sung's commentary on Mark's Gpspel - a dog-eared and much loved volume. His father was saved in a Sung campaign and the son shares his father's spiritual fervour. "Were there many Thai converted under Dr. Sung's ministry?" I asked. "Many, many!" he replied. Spiritual life in the Thai church today is at a low ebb and the witness of the Church feeble. God has sent two pastors from Korea for such a time as this - Mr. Kim and Mr. Choy. Their message to the churches is one of repentance and already they are being accused of preaching too much like John Sung! Would to God that there were many such preachers in Thailand today, for the Church needs the cleansing fires of repentance if it is to meet the greater challenges and difficulties of the future.
In Saigon, it was very providential that I found myself one Sunday afternoon in a meeting addressed by a man whom God is greatly using throughout Vietnam, Mr. Le Kwang Phu. This meeting was memorable for the quiet sense of God's presence and the searching power of the Holy Spirit at work in the hearts of the young people present - such outpouring of prayer and such an overflowing of tears! Later the same evening I was reporting to a gathering of missionaries on the evidences I had found of the lasting results of Dr. Sung's ministry. They could hardly wait till I had fmished to tell me that Mr. Phu, the preacher of the afternoon, was yet another fruit of Dr. Sung's labours - converted at the age of sixteen. In Cholon, the pre-eminently Chinese twin city of Saigon, Dr. Sung's memory is revered by many who came to new life in Christ during one of his campaigns there.
Manila, capital city of the Philippines, has a big Chinese community. The large!Christian high school in connection with the Westminster Church was startcd by three sisters all of whom were converted in a Sung campaign. The older generation of Christians will all react warmly at the bare mention of John Sung. His boorishness and peculiarities are long forgotten and the man of God is remembered.
But it was in Indonesia that one could not escape from the universal influence of Dr. Sung whose two evangelistic journeys in 1939 stirred the entire Chinese community. The Chinese churches owe their present vitality entirely to his powerful ministry. Books could be filled with testimonies of God's mighty acts. Not only were men and women spiritually healed and continue as active witnesses for Christ today, but those who were physically healed have also continued well and strong without any relapse. The Surabaya Preaching Band functions regularly every week and all four dialect congregations using the same church building look back to Dr. Sung's ministry as a turning point. "Before Dr. Sung came we were just church-goers! We knew nothing of repentance. Prayer was a mere ritual and we had scarcely heard of the Holy Spirit. But Dr. Sung taught us what repentance meant, what real prayer is and the necessity of the Holy Spirit's power in the Christian's life!" In Malang the pastor of the largest Chinese church had been Dr. Sung's interpreter: "There was nothing remarkable about his preaching. His repertoire of sermons was small and his presentation was almost childish.
But - there was tremendous power flowing from him. As his interpreter I was deeply conscious of the fact." Several of the students in the Southeast Asia Bible College, whose principal is himself a Sung convert, could tell remarkable stories of the conversion of their parents in the Sung campaigns, resulting in the transformation of their homes and their own subsequent training for Christian service. In Bandung, Rev. Gouw Kwan-Yang, minister of the largest Chinese church in this predominantly Chinese city, told me how, as a prosperous business man, and living a life of worldiness, he was wonderfully converted to God through a sermon on Galatians 2.20. The wife of a university lecturer said to me, "I too am a John Sung convert!" It was a Chinese Christian in Bogor, scene of a memorable Sung campaign, who led a Muslim terrorist to Christ in the gaol where he was also baptized.
On his return to the remote Sundanese district where he lived, a minor mass movement began and it was a Sung convert from Sukabumi, a travelling salesman, who week by week taught the young believers and so nurtured the infant church. Nor was this movement of the Holy Spirit confined to Java alone. The outer islands were visited and there were great triumphs of the Gospel over pagan superstition and Christian inertia.
Finally, the campaigns in Formosa were scarcely less remarkable. I travelled home on the MV Asia from Hongkong to Singapore with an American missionary who was much too young to have known John Sung. But one day at table he said to me, "I hear you are the author o£john Sung!" "Yes," I replied.
"Have you read it?" "No, not yet. But it seems that wherever I go in Formosa I hear his name. People never gather together for a social church occasion but his name comes up. One of our finest evangelists in Taichung owes his conversion and evangelistic passion to the ministry of a man who only paid one brief visit to the island, but a visit which none who met him can ever forget - twenty-five years ago! The Formosan pastors who are travelling with me to a conference in Malaya all owe a great debt to John Sung and speak of him with aifection and gratitude."
Is there any new light on the secret of Dr. Sung's success? In Tainan I was remarkably and almost accidentally guided to the home of the lady worker in the South Gate Presbyterian Church in Tainan, one of the finest workers in Formosa. Her father had been a pastor in Amoy and had entertained John Sung in his Amoy home, a visit from which Miss Wang dates her own conversion as a girl of twelve. Miss Wang recalled the deep impression made on her by John Sung who, after a day of preaching - probably four times and for at least two hours each time (including interpretation) - would go to his room and study the Bible, his pen writing down continuously the thoughts that would come to him. He could hardly tear himself away to eat!
And late at night he would sometimes fall back on his bed fully dressed and utterly tired out. The old pastor would then come and remove his shoes and coyer him over. Very early in the morning, however, Dr. Sung would be awake to give two or three hours to prayer before the day's ministry began. "And prayer for John Sung was like a battle. He prayed until the sweat poured down his face," said Miss Wang. A man of the Word and a man of prayer. The simple but rarely achieved formula for a man of power. To make time for prayer and the Word, John Sung could afford to neglect social intercourse and empty Christian gossip, the superficial conventions of polite society and to turn from the adulation and hero worship which have been the downfall of many another man whom God has used. Because he concentrated on the essentials, his* name lives on and his work abides in the life of the Church in Asia.
AS usual, the summer rains had washed out the mud roads carved out of the loess cliffs of the Fen River Valley. Bus traffic was halted until the weather changed and the roads dried up. So the departure of the tired team of preachers at the conclusion of their campaigns in South Shansi was delayed. Dr. John Sung, the illustrious member of the team, impatient at the delay, angrily rated the bus station manager for the non-arrival of the bus and then slumped down like a coohe by the roadside to wait. There had just been a week of the most powerful preaching Hungtung had ever heard. Delegates from all over the district attended the conference and witnessed a rare manifestation of the Holy Spirit's power. The Bethel Band had pajd a previous visit to the province but this was Dr. Sung's first time in Hungtung.
Speaking by interpretation and switching from one dialect to another (and even to English when he wanted to drive home his point to the missionaries) he preached one day on the revival in Samaria, comparing the failure of Phikp's ministry to the failure of the work of the missionaries, despite the spectacular reports which reached Jerusalem - and the home constituency, in missionary magazines. The one thing essential in missionary work was lacking - the power of the Holy Spirit. Another time, the perilous times of which Paul warned Timothy were compared to waves threatening to swamp the church's little boat, and with each new wave drawn on the blackboard the preacher would leap into the air and land on the thin board of the platform covering the baptistry with a thunderous noise until the audience feared lest the next leap would see the preacher disappear. The closing address described the fluctuations in Jairus' faith and compared them to the rise and fall of a patient's temperature, and depicted them on the blackboard in the form of a chart. And we sang one of the preacher's popular choruses, "Don't trust men, don't look at circumstances, but put your trust in the Lord alone". That morning at the bus station, it looked as if John Sung's faith had fallen to zero.
Missionary hospitality during these remarkable meetings was brusquely refused and the best eiforts of the Chinese leaders to provide warm entertainment coldly received. The Chinese were as perplexed as the missionaries. But they recognized that here was a man with no time for social niceties, his whole heart and mind being absorbed in his task. And God honoured this devotion and poured out His blessing. One unforgettable day, the platform was crowded with both missionaries and Chinese Christians all confessing their conscious failure and seeking the Spirit's power.
Missionaries were growing accustomed to watching Chinese Christians kneel in penitence at convention meetings but hitherto they themselves had held back. Now the barriers of pride were swept away and Englishmen and Americans knelt by the side of their Chinese brethren in a common need. The revival which was already on the way received a tremendous impetus and was to continue and grow in momentum during the coming years, preparing the Shansi church to survive the long trials which lay ahead.
Many a life was cleansed and transformed as a result of the ministry of this unusual servant of God. In 1885, Edwin Joshua Dukes, a Church Missionary Society missionary to Pukien Province wrote: "One needs to be a Chinese in order to think as a Chinese, and to use such illustrahons and references and phrases as will make public speech effective.... China will never be converted through the lips of the foreigner.... Not thousands of Englishmen or Americans are needed, but thousands and tens of thousands of Chinese with consecrated lips and hearts. Not so much scholars as men are needed. If the scholar is tacked on to the man, well and good, but it is the man that is needed, the brave, true-hearted, consecrated man who can stand alone.... It is time to look for China's apostle. He has not yet given signs of his coming. When the apostle comes, he will be a Chinese and not a foreigner. Will he come out of one of the theological colleges or will he come from some unexpected quarter, as God's ambassadors often do?
We cannot tell; but may he come soon! and may he shake the nation as did the Baptist in the desert!" China had to wait for many years for its apostle. And when he came, what an unusual character he was! A flaming evangelist, but a man uncouth in appearance and seeming to lack the ordinary Christian graces. A scholar and a scientist of the highest academic attainments, but a man whose simple gospel sermons never bore a trace of erudition or display of learning. A man who persistently advocated the custom of family worship, yet who would fain have remained single himself and who found little joy in family life. Noisy and acrobatic and full of humour on the platform, but silent and almost morose off it. Owing much to missionaries and other foreigners, but so critical of them and so off-hand with them that many regarded him as anti-foreign. Denouncing sin vehemently wherever he found it, but able as no one else to move audiences widi the message of God's love. A born organizer and leader who resisted the temptation to found a new organization of his own. A man greatly beloved, yet greatly hated; bitterly criticized, yet utterly careless of criticism, Such was the greatest evangeHst China has ever known.
Like John the Baptist, John Sung died in his prime. His active ministry was limited to fifteen years. And yet within that time he shook the Church in China and Southeast Asia. His converts were numbered in tens of thousands. In several countries the Chinese churches survived the war with Japan solely because of the work of John Sung, to whom most of the spiritual life which flows through them can be traced.
In every province of China and among the overseas Chinese communities in the islands of the South China Sea, in the U.S.A., in the West Indies, in Great Britain, and wherever Chinese Christians are to be found, the enquiring traveller will discover that very many leaders in the Church todaywere eitherconverted or had their lives greatly changed in the campaigns conducted by this extraordinary servant of God.
I HAVE an impression that a great deal of what is called "interest" in the church is artificial, and that when it comes to the point of doing anything it is exceedingly difficult to get it done. The Protestant Church has perhaps taught too exclusively the duty of consecrating to God the life we are born into, and left too little room for the truth that in this present evil world there must be great renunciations as well if there are to be great Christian careers. There is infinitely more talking about missions among young people than there used to be, much more knowledge, too, and more of what are supposed to be ideas; but the Student Volunteer Movement has fostered this. I question if it has increased by an atom the kind of enthusiasm which has the sense of duty in it, and which will materialize in self denial. I hope I am not unkind to anyone in saying this. Unhappily, I think there is reason.
JAMES DENNEY, D.D.
From a letter to Sir W. Robertson Nicol, igio.
THE village of Hong Chek in the prefecture of Hinghwa, Fukien Province, in south-east China, lies in a green valley of paddy fields within a rim of tree-covered and flower-decked mountains. It was there that, on September 27th, 1901, a sixth child came to the home of Pastor Sung, a minister in the Methodist Church.
The unborn babe had already been dedicated to God's service and, as this was the first child to be born since Mrs. Sung's conversion, he was named Ju-un ("God's Grace"). The appearance of the baby was, however, strange. The head was unusually large and the lower part of the face small. This, with the darkcoloured skin, caused father Sung to take a dislike to the child.
Moreover, the baby had arrived at a time when the family was passing through one of its periods of greatest poverty and this extra mouth to feed at such a time was not entirely welcome.
Pastor Sung was the youngest of four brothers who in 1886 had started a church in their village. They were all young men at the time and had only recently embraced Christianity.
"Use a room in my home for the services," said one brother.
A second had a Gospel of Matthew and could read.
"Let me read the lessons on Sundays!" was his contribution.
The third brother's part was to lead in prayer.
"Fourth Brother has 'mouth ability' (eloquence)," the three older brothers decided. "He can be our preacher, even though he is only sixteen!"
The brothers decided that the youngest brother should be sent to the Foochow Theological College to study for the rninistry, and in due course he made the long journey to the capital, travelling on foot over tree-covered mountains and along verdant valleys. Their terraced and well-irrigated slopes were a patchwork of rich colours in the harvest sunshine. Above him, beyond the line of cultivation, moorland and purple heather merged into the grey and purple pile of granite rock which thrust itself four thousand feet into the clouds.
The time at Foochow was one of spiritual struggle, but it was there that the young man finally came into a Hving experience of Christ through the new birth after two barren years of study. After his graduation, "Mr. Sung Fourth Brother" returned to the Hinghwa district to commence a lonely ministry of faithful and unremitting toil among the farming folk of his own hills and valleys.
Hinghwa in Putien County had always been a great stronghold of Buddhism, and the first challenge to the powers of darkness there was made in 1862. A young catechist of the Church Missionary Society preached the Gospel, and in 1887 there came into being the first little church. In 1890, this church was handed over to the American Methodist Episcopal Mission. As Dr. Brewster of that mission crossed from Foochow into the district of Hinghwa, he stopped, and looking over the country he vowed: "Here I will know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
It was in association with this mission that Pastor Sung served God all his life. Seven years after his graduation, Pastor Sung was married to a member of a family of ardent Buddhists to whom he had been betrothed before his birth. The wedding, however, was a Christian one, though it was years before Mrs. Sung came to share her husband's Christian faith. This took place following the still birth of her fifth child and her own remarkable restoration after everyone had despaired of her life.
While Pastor Sung travelled widely and pursued his pastoral ministry, Mrs. Sung laboured on their little family farm where rice was grown to supplement the inadequate family income.
There were many hard struggles as the family grew. After the birth of the first child, a girl, Pastor Sung had been sorely tempted to give up his arduous and unremunerative life as a country preacher and exchange it for the less precarious life of a scholar in the city. But as he knelt in prayer early one morning he seemed to hear a voice from the Lord saying to him on the whispering breeze: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. My servant, fear not, you have Me! I already know your need! Rebuked and repentant, he told his wife of his experience and never again looked back.
Fukien is a province of spectacular beauty. Mountains rising to 8,000 feet separate it from the rest of China and send out spurs across the province and into the South China Sea in the shape of bold promontories. Gorges of exquisite grandeur break the outline of the ridges from which numerous streams rush down to the sea. Strange rocks like gigantic statues of men and animais appear to crown the mountain summits. Access to the province from the neighbouring province of Kiangsi is by river through the celebrated natural gates formed by the high cliffs on either bank.
The valleys are carpeted with the emerald green of the paddy fields and the hill slopes covered with the tea bushes which have given fame to the province and formerly attracted the tea clippers to the ports of Foochow and Amoy. The coast is dotted with innumerable rocky islands.
The people of Fukien bear a resemblance to their landscape. They are more rough and vigorous than the people of the northern plains. Those living inland where the peaks are highest have become energetic and daring through their long struggle with the difficulties and dangers of that rugged region. Nearer the coast, the people seem to combine the qualities of the mountaineer and the mariner. Such were the men of Sung.
Pastor Sung had been a man of hasty temper and his son soon showed that he had inherited a similar temperament. As the child grew to boyhood there were constant clashes between him and his father. The bamboo rod was used freely until the child's undisciplined soul would rebel and seek ways to vent his anger on his parents.
Once, in a fit of rage, the lad butted his head against one of the earthenware water-jars standing in the courtyard and it fell to pieces! On another occasion, the two little brothers were sitting in the courtyard eating their breakfast rice when a quarrel started and Ju-un threw his hot rice into his brother's face in anger, scalding him and breaking the bowl! Terrified of the caning he was sure would follow, the culprit decided to jump down the well - a popular Chinese way to spite the family! But he could not get the cover oif in time, so instead he hid under a bed all day long while his parents conducted an anxious and vain search. At night he came out of his hiding place and duly received the whipping he deserved. His father then disappeared into the little study whose walls were lined with a library of paper-backed books. Peering through a crack in the door young Sung was amazed to see his father, with his head in his hands, weeping. This was unbearable and rushing in the lad burst out, "What's the matter with you?
You whip me. I don't cry; but you cry! Why is this?" To which the only reply was: "God's love can be compared to the love of a father!" In spite of such clashes of temperament, the home seemed to have been a happy one on the whole. Ju-un was the second of six sons, and there were four older daughters in the family. Life for this large family of children took an even course. There were " many joyful days spent on the hills among the flowers and birds or fishing in the streams. There was beauty everywhere.
Taught to regard all this as God's handiwork, the children received indelible impressions of the power of the Creator. About 1907, Pastor Sung was appointed Assistant Principal of the Methodist Bible School in Hinghwa and the whole family moved into the city to live. Ju-un, now five or six years of age, began to go to Sunday School, and his intelligent and impressionable young mind was so fascinated by the stories and illustrations he heard that he found it easy to retain them in his memory, and years later they were the store from which he drew for his own sermon illustrations. His teacher loved and understood children and was above all a true believer who exercised a strong influence on his scholars.
At the church day school, young Sung soon showed signs of exceptional ability. This pleased his father, for few of his other children had shown much aptitude for leaming. The other children, to young Sung's disgust, soon gave him the nickname of "Big Head." As his head was seldom shaved in the manner of Chinese boys, it was usually covered with a mop of black hair, some of it flopping over his eyes, making his head appear even larger than it really was. He was a perfectly natural, healthy boy, full of fun and daring, and many a time his parents had cause to thank God for His protecting care over this lively youngster of theirs.
Then suddenly a great sorrow came to the Sung family. Ju-un arrived home from school one evening to find his parents weeping over the dead form of his youngest sister. As he clasped her cold hand in his, he was, for the first time, brought face to face with the mystery of death.
"Where does man go to after death?" he asked.
"To Jesus!" was the reply. But it did not quite satisfy him and the fear of death continued to cause him nightmares for a long time to come.
The coffin in which the body of his sister was placed to be buried on the lonely hillside seemed to his young mind to be the end.
THE HINGHWA REVIVAL 1909-1913
PLEASE pray for revival in Hinghwa!" was the plea to some friends in America from one of the missionaries in Hinghwa. Two elderly ladies took up this appeal aiid prayed through to an assurance that there would be a quickening work of the Holy Spirit in the Hinghwa church. They received an assurance that this work would begin on Good Friday and they wrote to their friend in China to tell her so. But the letter was delayed and only arrived after Easter. Sure enough, however, the revival had already broken out - and it was on Good Friday that this had happened!
The preacher on that morning had earned no reputation as an evangehst of any extraordinary gifts. But he was a consecrated man and one whom God could safely use. As he told the story of the Saviour's passion, he himself broke down and began to weep, realizing as never before his own sinfulness. Conviction spread to the whole congregation and soon everyone was on his face before God confessing his sin. Reconciliation and restitution. followed. People who had been enemies for years became friends. A purified church became a witnessing church and within a month or two there were 3,000 conversions. Many new chapeis were built throughout the district and the churches of Hinghwa were lifted out of their former coldness and formality on to a new plane of Christian experience. This was the first time that revival had ever come to this church.
Ju-un was prcsent that Good Friday morning and he could never, all his life long, forget that sermon. Its theme was: "Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane". The preacher graphically described the scene: the agony of the Saviour and His obedience unto death, in contrast with the sleeping Peter and the other disciples. In His darkest hour, the Saviour could find no sympathy from those who were His nearest friends. The fearlessness of Jesus in the face of His captors contrasted strongly with the treachery of Judas and the cowardice of the disciples who forsook Him and fled.
The words of the preacher were like sharp arrows in the hearts of his hearers, who saw themselves portrayed only too clearly in Peter and Judas and the rest. They wept with remorse and the grief of true repentance. Among the mourners was Pastor Sung's httle nine-year-old son. His bitter tears, he tells us, soaked through the lapel of his coat. The events of that Good Friday were so evidently the work of the Holy Spirit that services had to be continued, and day after day men and women sought relief in tearful confession from their burden of sin. Hearts were cleansed and lives were changed by the hundred in those wonderful days.
John Sung liked to attribute his first experience of the new birth to his great spiritual crisis in America many years later. But there seems to be httle question, judging from all the evidence, that God began a good work in his life at the age of nine. If it is true that no man can call Jesus Lord except by the Holy Ghost, then undoubtedly the boy became a son of God by faith about this time. His life was soon marked by an excepcional love for the Word of God, an unusual desire to pray and a passion to preach which could scarcely be the fruits of an unregenerate nature. It was a feature of the general revival of more recent years to call in question all earlier experiences and to confuse the putting away of sin from the life with the new birth. Even after John Sung's spiritual crisis in America, he once came to the front in a meeting led by Rev. Andrew Gih after an address on the new birth. It was not clear why. One can only suppose that there was some doctrinal confusion which made him discount that evident work of grace in his heart at the time of the Hinghwa revival.
The news of the revival in Hinghwa spread far and wide and brought people from all over Fukien, even from the large cities of Amoy and Foochow, to see what was taking place and to share in the grace which was being so abundantly provided. Delegates even came from America to see this extraordinary work of the Spirit which became known as the "Hinghwa Pentecost". The chapei became too small to accommodate the crowds and a tent to hold three to four thousand people was erected. Few went away without having met with God in a new way. What impressed Ju-un was that all this should be the result of the prayers of Christians in America. Those exciting and glorious days remained throughout his life the happiest memories of his childhood. After he became a famous preacher himself, it was always his prayer that the Holy Spirit of Pentecost might so rest on him that wherever he went the parched soil of many hearts rnight become like gardens in spring-time after the refreshing showers, just as in those memorable days in Hinghwa.
Pastor Sung was among those who experienced a fresh infilling of the Spirit at this time. The need for more prayer for his own family and for the church became a burden, and early every morning he used to chmb a neighbouring hill-top to be alone with God. His young son would follow him and, praying with his father, he learned to pray himself. Prayer became very real to the lad and he experienced many answers to prayer. Communion with God became a joy, and both together shared the secrets of the Father's presence. It was not long after the end of the revival meetings that Pastor Sung became seriously ill with asthma, the result of a chill contracted in a storm when he was travelling home from Foochow.
As death cast its dark shadow over the home, Mrs. Sung, too grief-stricken to pray for herself, said to her sorrowful little son: "Don't cry! Quickly go and pray for your father! Prayer will be answered!" In his desolation, the little lad went to his room and poured out his heart for his father. Prayer was immediately answered; the father made a speedy recovery, and had no further recurrence of this complaint. How the family rejoiced at this signal answer to prayer! Ju-un could never dpubt that God was both willing and able to hear the prayer of faith and to heal the sick. Even a later period of scepticism and backsliding failed to destroy the belief in the efiicacy of prayer which this and similar experiences had given him.
Born again in a revival, with the godly, praying example of his father always before him and with such outstanding experiences of God's intervention in human circumstances, it is little wonder that John Sung was such a man of prayer to his dying day.
The Little Pastor 1913-1919
HERE comes the 'little pastor'! It's his turn to preach today!" This became a familiar cry around the Hinghwa villages about theyear 1913. Pastor Sungwas by then the senior city pastor in charge of a very large work which included, in addition to the church itself, an orphanage, two Bible Schools for men and for women respectively and boys' and girls' high schools. Ninety per cent. of the scholars were from Christian homes, and there was scarcely a village where it was not possible to gather a few Christians together for a time of fellowship and prayer, perhaps in a home or perhaps in a temple room.
Such was the effect of the "Hinghwa Pentecost". This movement had not been ephemeral, but marked the beginning of a period of wonderful progress and rapid growth in the church. Every Sunday country Christians poured into the city, some coming over the mountains from long distances to worship.
The original chapei became far too small and there had to be three morning services. "The Word of God increased and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly." It is always so when the power of the Holy Spirit is thus liberated. A large new chapel was eventually built and the Christians of Hinghwa had favour with God and man.
It was under these circumstances that the young high school lad found himself drawn into the work of the church as his father's unofficial junior assistant. His name was included among the local preachers and he had a place on the circuit plan. His energy was tireless and it was his great delight to accompany his father to the villages on his preaching trips. Should his father be prevented from fulfilling an engagement, his young son was only too glad to substitute. His retentive mind remembered sermons he had heard and with the store of illustrations gathered in Sunday School he found no difficulty in composing good Scriptural sermons which, in the early days, he used to read with great composure. God used His own Word to the conversion of men and women. Open-air preaching, giving out tracts, selling Bibles, conducting the singing: all these he loved. Though still a schoolboy, he was never happier than in his role as the "little pastor".
But Ju-un was discovering, like many another young person, that it was easier to appearan earnest Christian away from home than to live a consistent Christian life among his own family. There were still fits of bad temper, exhibitions of pride and selfish habits unconquered. Pastor Sung did not feel that his son was suited to the ministry, and decided to launch him on a naval career.
The entrance examination for the Fukien Naval College was to be held at Foochow, 400 miles to the north over rough mountain roads. Young Sung had no fearful anticipations of failure, however many the competitors. Was he not an unusually good scholar with a good physique? Was he not always head of his class to the envy of some of his rivais who assured him that he worked too hard and would one day work himself to death? And did not his teachers assure him of success?
However, "Man proposes, but God disposes". As the time for the long journey in the steps of his father long ago drew near, the lad became ill and his legs were so swollen that he should never have attempted the journey. But sheer dogged determination forced him over the long trail, only to render his physical condition on arrival so poor that he failed to pass the medical examination. And when it came to the essay, he failed in this too. The subject was "The princely man does not strive" - a statement from Confucius. Though he failed, God used his thinking on this subject to teach him a lesson in humility. And, moreover, God had other plans for young Sung than a naval career and it was He who closed the door to the fulfilment of this ambition.
Back at school, Ju-un gave himself diligently to his studies. In fact, he had no time for the political activities in which the average schoolboy was engaging with patriotic fervour. Those were the days of rising anger against Japan following the notorious Twenty-one Demands and the Washington Conference. Sung beheved he could serve his country best by studying hard, and he was content to be ostracized for an apparent lack of patriotism. He was, however, editor of the weekly school newspaper, though his literary bent was used to better purpose when he became assistant editor of his father's magazine Revival, which had a wide circulation.
Sung was a great reader and loved books and this task appealed to him greatly. Many an hour did he spend in his father's study reading the latest acquisitions to the library there. It was also about this time (1917) that he began systematically to write a journal or diary, a habit which he kept up all the rest of his life.
During the holidays and in all his spare time, Sung gave first place to the preaching of the gospel. One summer he held a reading class for a hundred illiterate country children and taught them to read the Bible. Another summer, he held an evangelistic campaign in a village and fifty or sixty people were converted.
Thus the "little pastorY' reputation grew by leaps and bounds. But school-days were drawing to an end. The schoolboys of those days were not the smart young fellows one sees today in Western dress or school uniform, but bare-headed, bare-footed youngsters who paid httle attention to their personal appearance.
The Sung family had no extra cash for luxuries and Ju-un himself, being a book-worm, was not fastidious about his dress. But the promise of a new blue gown for Graduation Day spurred him on, and he was gratified to find his name at the top of the list of graduation students. So on Graduation Day at Memorial High School young Sung wore his new gown for the first time as he went up to receive bis diploma. This gown went with him on all his subsequent travels in China and was worn on all special occasions.
Sung had planned to take the entrance examination to Ginling University in Nanking after finishing at high school. All the necessary preparations for die journey had been completed when his eldest sister died quite suddenly. Once again. Ju-un was reminded of the uncertainty of life and, for the time being, he lost all ambition to continue his studies. The journey to Nanking was never taken. Instead, he became the chief editor of Revival and widi this combined continuous village preaching. He used to organize bands of high school boys to take turns in visiting the village schools to hold services for the children. Such was their zeal that they would sometimes implement their passionate denunciations of idolatry by breaking down the idols in the Buddhist temples and then hacking off their hands and feet!
Despite all this zeal and activity, young Sung's heart was not completely satisfied. He was not living a fully victorious life and the work he Was doing he described as "spectacular as the blue of a kingfisher's feather, abundant as summer foliage, but without a single plucking of fresh fruit to ofFer to the Lord Jesus".
Student Days in America
"FATHER, I have decided that I want to go to America to study!" Old Pastor Sung was at first too taken aback to speak. Then the indignant protest poured out: "Don't think that I have money earned by the sweat of my brow for you to go and spend, eating foreign ink and filling your head with wind! Who do you think I am? Don't forget that your father is not the mandarin of Hinghwa, but a poor preacher!"
The year 1919 was one of deep unrest in China. The Versailles Peace Conference of 1919 had disillusioned China and given rise to bitter anti-foreign sentiment. The high-handed and threatening attitude of Japan was also creating intense hatred in China for her eastern neighbour. The student world was in a ferment and strikes were frequent in schools all over the country to demand this and that from the Government. Young Sung, now eighteen years of age and ambitious to attain the highest honours, realized diat in a Chinese university he would not be able, in those troublous times, to pursue bis studies uninterrupted. It was for this reason that he had made the great decision to join some other young men from his home town who were planning to continue their studies in the U.S.A. Nothing daunted -by the rebuff from his parent, young Sung resorted to his trysting place on the hill, where he told his Heavenly Father of his desire to study in America and afterwards to serve Him in China as a preacher of the Gospel.
For a whole week he cried to God to open the way. Then, one day, a letter arrived from Peking. From whom could it be? He opened it and, to his amazement, it was from an American lady missionary and contained a promise to secure for him entrance into Ohio Wesleyan University with free tuition! She also promised to make arrangements for his board and lodging. Armed with this letter, which seemed to him a sufficiendy convincing argument, he again approached his father in high spirits. But old Pastor Sung was unmoved.
"All very well, but who is going to pay your fare to America? In thirty years in the ministry I have not saved enough money to buy you even a one-way ticket - even if I wanted to!"
So back to his hill-top went the young man, and again prayer was heard. Many of Pastor Sung's former students in the Bible School were now in the ministry themselves, and when they heard about the situation they began to send in gifts in varying amounts. Young Sung made a careful record of each one, fully intending to repay them all as soon as possible. There was a grand total of over $500. And when the American gold dollar suddenly fell in value to 95 Chinese cents, Sung had more than enough to buy his ticket to America, with something over to purchase a simple outfit of Western-style suits and clothing.
Pastor Sung gave his grudging consent to the proposal and plans went ahead. There was a final hitch when it was discovered that Sung had trachoma! This would have barred his entry into the United States, so he immediately started the painful copper sulphate treatment while praying earnestly for healing. One day, while he was having his hair cut the barber noticed his eyes and offered to give him the traditional treatment for which Chinese barbers have long had a reputation. Sung consented. With a bone instrument - doubtless unsterilized! - the barber scraped the cyelids and washed out the eye. This was repeated several times at short intervals and complete healing resulted. Sung thus had frcsh confirmation that God was hearing prayer and had removed the last obstacle in the way of his going to America.
The day of departure arrived - February ioth, 1920. He was to travei with seven companions. His father was away from home .it the time and his heavy-hearted mother hardly looked up from lirr work to say "Goodbye." His brother and some friends Korted him to the wharf and saw him safely on board the little coasting steamer. He felt this parting from home keenly, though he little knew that it would be seven years before he was to see his parents again.
Sung was the only Christian in his party. In Shanghai, the others spent the time waiting for their boat to America in a round of gaiety. They had money to spend. Sung, having no money to spend, scarcely stirred from his hotel, even to visit the huge department stores on Nanking Road where his hotel was. He spent the two weeks of waiting quietly, following his normal daily routine, Bible reading and prayer, reading the newspapers and writing up his diary, and suffered much ridicule from the other young men in consequence.
On March 2nd, the S.S. Nile sailed. Sung had a comfortable cabin to himself and thoroughly enjoyed his first experience of such luxury. He did not even go ashore with the others at the Sandwich Islands, but continued his strict daily discipline. Noticing what a place the writing up of the daily diary had in his life, the other Chinese students contrived to steal the precious little book and he never saw it again, to his keen disappointment.
Life was made as miserable as possible for him by the others in his party. And there were no regrets when Sung saw the last of them after the ship had docked at San Francisco on March 22nd. But now a great sense of loneliness overcame the new arrival. His English was poor and he was largely ignorant of Western manners and customs. To make matters worse, he found on arrival in Delaware during April that the missionary who had promised to be of assistance to him was still in Peking! This was a great blow to a stranger in a strange land.
But his first thoughts were for those who had made it possible for him to travei to America. He now had $246 in his possession, so, keeping only $6 for himself, he returned the balance to his father at the first opportunity. The Chinese dollar equivalem of this sum was enough to refund all his kind friends for the S500 they had collected for him!
The Registrar of Ohio Wesleyan University set Simg's rpind at rest about his fees, and "Siong-Ceh Sung" was soon enrolled as a student. But it was hard to see where he was to raise $1 a day to pay for his board. With only $6 in his pocket, the situation was desperate. He set ofFto look for lodgings and to find employment immediately. So soon was this young visitor from China facing the hard realities of life! This was hardly what he had expected, but the experience cast him much on God and brought out those qualities which were so typical of the man.
His first job was as a shop-cleaner at 25 cents an hour! Later, during the summer months, he obtained employment with the Westinghouse Company, working eleven-hour shifts for $27 a week. The manager heard about the young Chinese who sang such haunting Chinese melodies as he worked and sent for him. When he heard what it was that had brought Sung to America, he ofFered him a difficult machine to operate at $1 an hour. This, together with a job as a janitor in a hotel for $27 a week in return for board and lodging, enabled him to earn about $600 during the summer - enough to keep him through his Freshman year.
All Sung's first four years in America were a struggle against poverty and ill-health. Dr. Rollin H. Walker, Professor of Bible at Wesleyan, became Sung's warm friend, and a great mutual aiFection and esteem existed between the two men. Sung looked upon Dr. Walker as his "American father" and loved him dearly.
He profited greatly from his Bible teaching in class. Dr. Walker and his colleagues took a great interest in Sung, and they were often concerned about this strongly independent young man who often declined the assistance which was sometimes ofFered. They found it difficult to ensure that he was getting proper food and lodging. He used to prepare his own food and it was of the simplest kind. Rather than be financially dependent on others, Sung would work at the most menial tasks - dish-washing, scrubbing floors, beating carpets and cutting grass. When he was more fortunate, he obtained employment in iron foundries or factories. His faith in God and his dependence on prayer were often tested, but never disappointed.
As a student, Sung showed "unique and extraordinary scholarsliip" with a marked proficiency in chemistry. He originally embarked on a pre-medical and a pre-theological curriculum, but, realizing this was attempting too much, he dropped the pretheological course and decided to specialize in mathematics and chemistry. It was his ambition to complete his degree course in three years instead of the normal four, but when he proposed this to his supervisor of studies the reply was that, in view of his poor English, it might be nearer five years! However, at the end of his Freshman year, Sung was top of his class with "A" grades and the goal did not seem so unattainable after ali! Sung had become known for his "marvellous powers of concentration" and his brilliant mind. Teachers and students alike respected this young genius from China. What is more, "everybody liked him".
The year 1921 in America was one of financial crisis and widespread unemployment. Sung found it hard to find any remunerative work that summer, and the burden of his material needs weighed heavily upon him. To make matters worse, his older brother had now come to America to join him and work had to be found for them both. Just at this time of anxiety over their daily bread, Sung developed an abscess at the base of his spine, with an accompanying fever. The doctor ordered an operation. Sung was almost desperate. How could he afford an operation, with weeks in hospital to follow? But his friends finally persuaded him that he must take medical advice. The kindness of a Christian nurse, visits from church friends and the success of the operation lightened the weeks of convalescence and, to crown it all, two Christian friends paid all his hospital expenses! His fears were rebuked and his heart filled with gratitude to God.
But the demands of his class studies, the necessity to earn his own bread and butter and increasing physical weakness and ill-health led to periods of deep melancholy. Only his Christian activities kept his head above water. He went to church regularly. Encouraged by a girl fellow-student, he did a lot of preaching on Sundays for which he was in great demand. He also organized evangehstic bands among the students and was their leader on preaching excursions to the country on occasions like Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas, when the college had holidays.
This was work he enjoyed intensely and it was while engaged in it that he made many of his closest friends. He was deeply impressed with what he saw of Christian home life in some of the homes where he stayed and he longed to see such homes set up in China. Secretly, he promised himself that one day it would be one of his tasks to promote Christian home life among the Christians of China.
It was in the home of a friend at Smithville, Ohio, that Sung had an experience on Thanksgiving Day, 1922, that made a deep and lasting impression on him. In a dream he saw himself back at Hinghwa on the hill-top he loved so well. From the river which flowed into the sea not far away he suddenly heard a cry of distress. He tore down the hillside to rescue the drowning person, but found himself in danger of drowning until a cross was planted in the stream. Then, with his feet planted firmly on it, he engaged in the work of rescue: not just one person, but many - so many that they could not be counted. Finally, the scene changed and he found himself among a joyful throng in Heaven, all clasping his hand in gratitude and singing praises to God. To Sung this dream was an allegory of his own life and he frequently related it when giving his testimony of God's dealings with him.
The final term before graduation was one of great pressure. Sung was under constant strain. His whole mind was on his coming examinations and he had to find extra time to give to study. So Bible study and prayer began to be neglected. And this soon began to tell in his personal life. He grew arrogant and mipatient towards his brother. His behaviour was, he confesses, unbearable. He failed ih other ways too. At the factory where he was working he made false returns of the hours he had worked so as to have more time for study. And, what caused him equal remorse, he fell into the common practice among students of luating in one of his exarnination papers. These lapses remained in Sung's memory like blotches marring his life record.
In the 1923 examinations for his bachelor's degree, Sung 11 iiluated with highest honours and was one of the four students M the head of a class of three hundred. He had a point average of 2-73 on a 3-00 basis, which was an outstanding achievement. He was awarded the gold medal and the cash prize for physics and chemistry and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa,* graduating on June 13, cutn laude.
As this was the first time that a Chinese student had achieved such distinction and, in spite of his handicaps, had graduated in a trine over three years instead of the customary four, Sung's photo and accounts of his prowess appeared in United States papers all over the country and brought him overnight fame. Indeed, his fame spread to Europe, where most of the national newspapers carried the story of this brilliant young Chinese scientist.
The University of Minnesota at once offered Sung a post as demonstrator and assistant in chemistry with a comfortable salary. He was also offered $1,000 a year if he would study medicine at Harvard. Yet another offer was to study theology.
He somehow felt he ought to have accepted this offer, but the fame which had come to him had blunted, for the time being, his desire for such things. He finally decided to accept a scholarship worth $300 a year to study for his M.Sc. degree at Ohio State University. This had been offered him on the recommendation of the assistant in the department of chemistry at Wesleyan who was brother-in-law to one of the Hinghwa missionaries.
Sung's troubles should have been over and the future bright with hope. But deep in his heart there was no peace. A growing spiritual unrest showed itself in periods of deep depression.
* Some colleges and universities in the United States of America elect those few whose scholarship is of the highest to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Fraternity, an exclusive society of the foremost scholars in the country. Membership carries with it a gold key, the well-recognized badge of great distinction.
Inner Conflict 1923-1926
DURING the summer vacation of 1923 there was to be an international student convention at Lake Geneva. Sung and one of his evangelistic band friends decided to attend.
Sung in particular was hoping to find the answer to his own problems there. Lake Geneva was several hundred miles away, so "hitch-hiking" was the only way two penniless students could hope to make the journey. As it happened, a young honeymoon couple who offered them a hft were both graduates of Wesleyan, and they were delighted to find that one of their passengers was the Chinese student of whom they had read in the newspapers a few days previously. So the journey to Chicago was assured, and from there to the conference centre was no great distance.
Sung found the convention meetings little to his taste. They were not exclusively devotional and in some of the discussion groups there was much heated argument scarcely calculated to quench the spiritual thirst of a needy soul. Sung sought out the keen Christians present and asked them to pray for him that the Lord would grant him the ease of heart and mind for which he longed.
Finding nothing to help him in the meetings, he went out on to a hillside overlooking the lake to pray in private and to read the Scriptures. Was it the scene which presented itself to his eyes that reminded him of the Feeding of the Five Thousand in the Gospel story? At any rate, it was this story which was now made real and living to him as he read and re-read it with increasing joy.
God showed him the needy multitudes of the world and the tragedy of helpless, empty-handed preachers having nothing with which to feed them. Then he saw what the Lord could do with the little which even a child might place in His hands. All the Lord needs is all that we have, and with this He who made the world out of nothing can meet the need of a world. Rom. xii.i came to Sung with tremendous force as he read the need to present his body in the need which Jesus had of the five loaves and two fishes. He could do nothing without them, but anything with them. Our bodies must be holiness unto the Lord and sanctified for His service alone. In a typically allegorical interpretation, he tpok the five loaves to represent our "five senses, five internal organs, five fingers and five toes"! All must be for God. The two fishes were likewise our "two ears, two eyes, two hands and two feet"! God will marvellously transform a body so presented to Him and cause multitudes to find satisfaction through us, and many hungry and thirsty after righteousness will be comforted and filled. This was enough for Sung. His heart was filled with joy as he saw the possibilities of a life wholly yielded to God.
God had met him at Lake Geneva - not in the convention, but by the lake. The Convention over, Sung returned to Delaware, planning to earn some money during the rest of the summer. But after a few days in a factory he began to feel unwell and to run a temperature. The doctor warned him that he was threatened with tuberculosis and must get work in the open air. A minister friend secured him work on a farm, but after three weeks for which he received no pay at all he found the work too hard and he had to give it up. Back he went to the city, sick at heart and sick in body. The twin spectres of poverty and disease were once again before him.
His next job was washing dishes in a lodging-house, but that did not last long, because his proud spirit of nationalism could not tolerate being treated like an illiterate coolie by the man under whom he worked. But mowing the grass verges on the highway was employment which kept him in the open air all day and brought him 45 cents an hour. This did him a world of good and all signs of his lung trouble seemed to disappear. Unable to afford "luxuries" like cod-liver oil or drugs, he was especially grateful to God for his restoration td health. With restored health came restored spirits and he faced the autumn's studies in a new university with keen anticipation.
Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, was Sung's new alma mater. Here he found a cosmopolitan student body of over 10,000, representing thirteen difFerent countries. He took a leading part in student activities and was instrumental in reviving the International Students' Association, of which he was soon elected President. He was also a member of the International League for Peace. In connection with the former, Sung organized concerts to raise funds and started a dinner club at which it was possible to sample the national dishes of any country represented in the Association. One of the objects of the Association was to campaign against the colour bar and racial discrimination in the universities. Banqueis were given at which coloured and white students sat together at table.
But Sung was coming increasingly under the subtle influences of a hberal theology and of those who advocated a purely "social gospel". He thought of Jesus as a noble example, while the Blood of Christ as the sole ground of man's acceptance with God he began to trample under foot. He had no message for men and women caught in the toils of sin, though he devoted all his energies to the improvement of race relations and the ideal of social service.
The fame of the Association spread, and similar associations came into being in other universities. Sung's leadership in this movement gave him publicity of a new kind and he was described in the Press as "G*hio's most famous student"!
In spite of the distractions of these activities, Sung completed the reading for his M.Sc. in nine months and took his degree kl June, 1924. His name was again at the head of the list of successful candidates and he was awarded the Science Society's medal and gold key. As the smiling, dark-skinned Oriental with the typical lock of hair over his eyes walked out of the Assembly Hall after the conferring of degrees, a row of gold decorations on his coat, he attracted general attention.
Sung's interests were now increasingly centred in chemistry, and more especially in the chemistry of explosives. He felt that in this field he might perhaps serve his country. His aim was to obtain his Ph.D. degree and then return to China. But for this he needed to know both French and German. French he had already studied, but of German he knew nothing. That summer he remained in residence when the College was otherwise empty and concentrated on the new language. After two montlis he found that he could understand the general sense of a German chemistry book. In due course he applied to take the examination and was given a large volume on chemistry to translate into English. This he did so quickly and so well that the examiner thought he must have studied German for years!
Sung was a popular personality and had a wide circle of friends. At picnics and parties he was always there, enjoying himself immensely. His fame brought him many invitations to address meetings of various kinds and he was lavishly feted and entertained.
The Chinese Government had by now taken notice of this brilhant student and was contributing to his support, so that, with the salary he was earning as an assistant lecturer, Sung was no longer harassed by want. By dint of rising constantly at dawn and sometimes working in the laboratory right through the night, Sung covered all the work for his doctorate within a year and nine months after receiving his M.Sc. His degree was conferred in March, 1926, before a large and distinguished assembly and he was showered with congratulations. Yet Sung tells us that in the midst of it all he felt a litde conscience-stricken that, when he should have been devoting his whole time to his studies, he had been spending so much time in a round of social and religious activities!
Dr. Sung was retained at the Ohio State University on the staffandhe was also asked to assist the Professor of Chemistry in the preparation of an important new book. Later the American Government invited him to make a study of chemical factory laws. His thirst for new knowledge was insatiable.
An attractive invitation now came from Germany, with the offer of a research fellowship and all expenses paid. Almost at the same time, Peking University, on the recomniendation of Ohio State University, sent an urgent invitation to Dr. Sung to become Professor of Physiological Chemistry in the School of Medicine. Drawn as he naturally was to return to China and under pressure from his father to help in the education of the other children, he nevertheless felt that he had still not acquired enough knowledge, and he declined the invitation from Peking. He had almost made up his mind to go to Germany.
One evening as he sat in the moonlight, thinking wistfully of his homeland and his home and dehberating what course he should take, he seemed to hear again the voice of God saying to him: "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and iose his own soul?"
The very next morning after hearing this warning voice, the Rev. Wilbur Fowler, the Wesley Foundation representa tive at Ohio State University, called in to visii him and almost immediately made the remark: "You know, you are not a bit like a scientist! You look far more like a preacher!"
During the conversation which followed, Sung disclosed his original purpose in coming to America and his experience of the night before. Mr. Fowler at once challenged Sung to go to New York to study religion at the Union Theological Seminary, and with but a moment's hesitation Sung gave his assent. The thought of going to the great city of New York was frankly attractive.
And was not the famous Columbia University there too? Surely in New York he would find something to satisfy him! He planned how he might combine theological studies at Union, where he was subsequently offered a scholarship, hving-rooms and a generous living allowance, with further scientific studies at near-by Columbia.
It is doubtful whether Dr. Sung even now had any heart for the ministry. Was there, perhaps, some thought of satisfying his friends by taking a year's theology and then, on the pretext that he was not suited to such a calling, of returning to a scientific career? That may have been, but certain it is that he had no fixed purpose witbin his heart where there was little but turmoil and darkness. So far had he strayed from God and so full was his mind of doubts and questions that Dr. Sung, in spite of all his earlier spiritual experiences, felt that he could no longer call himself a child of God. Here was a true Prodigal who had wandered far from the FatherY Home; still a son, but a wayward and back-sliding one!
The Blinding Revelation 1926-1927
THE autumn of 1926 found Dr. Siong-ceh Sung, M.Sc, Ph.D., enrolled at Union Theological Seminary amid the skyscrapers of New York City. Dr. Henry Sloan Coffin had just been installed as the new President of the Seminary and Dr. Henry Pitney Van Dusen and Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick were among the lecturers. On his way to New York Dr. Sung had stopped at Niagara to see the Falis, The sight of that great mass of water roaring over the high cliffs was awe-inspiring. And standing there he prayed: "Lord, may the rivers of living waters so gush from my heart in an unending stream!"
Union Theological Seminary is well known for its liberal theology, but among the students there were a few who maintained conservative, evangelical convictions and some of these used to meet for prayer in the apartment occupied by Dr. and Mrs. C. S. Deming, missionaries on furlough from Seoul, Korea. Dr. Deming had been Professor of Theology in the Union Methodist Theological Seminary there, and he and his wife went out of their way to befriend Dr. Sung, who became a frequent visitor in their home.
Dr. Sung plunged at once into his theological studies with all his powers of concentration and intellectual grasp. Instead of the usual three-years course, he started on a special one-year course which necessitated severa! hours more study a day than the other students. He soon found that the approach to the Bible and to the Christian faith was largely philosophical. Every problem was discussed in the light of human reason. Anything in the Bible which could not be justified scientifkally was rejected as being unworthy of belief. Genesis was held to be unhistorical and belief in miracles unscientific. The historical Jesus was presented as an ideal to imitate, while the substitutionary value of His death and His physical Resurrection were denied. Prayer was regarded as largely subjective in value. To dissent from such views and opinions was to become an object of pity or derision. The other students were surprised that a doctor in science should want to come and study theology, but Dr. Sung explained that, having acquired much of the world's wisdom, he now wanted to learn more of the wisdom which comes from God. At the end of the first term Dr. Sung's record was:
Subject Points Grade New Testament (79)
General Introduction (1)
English Bible (23)
English Bible (27)
English Bible (37)
Philosophy of Religion (91)
Christian Ethics (21)
Christian Ethics (41)
Vocal Culture (11)
Vocal Culture (17)
For his practical work Dr. Sung had been assigned to take a class in a Sunday School at the Universal Church attended by chinese children. He dehghted to play games and sing with them and he enthralled them with his stories.
But all the time Sung was rapidly losing his faith and had reached the point where he had nothing but scorn for the evangelical pastors of New York churches who sometimes visited the Seminary. His habit of daily prayer was stdll maintained, but it had degenerated to a formality. It was no longer a power in his life. As his confidence in Christiajtiity had been shaken to its foundations through the teaching he was receiving, Sung turned again to the ancient religions of the East. In the Seminary library he found many volumes on Buddhism and Taoism. He translated into English the famous Taoist classic (Teh Ching) and wondered if the "way of chastiy and quietness" advocated by Lao-tze might not bring him the peace he sought. He read paper to his class on this philosopher. Mysticism attracted him and he even resorted to chanting the Buddhist Scriptures in the secret of his own room, hoping that through self-denial he might obtain the salvation of which Buddha spoke. He completed the manuscripts of several books on religion. But his own heart remained in utter darkness. Looking back over several years of intensive scientific study, followed by these months of religious search, he concluded that neither science nor religion could bring him any comfort or joy. In his search for light he made the round of the many cults and theosophic societies in which New York abounds, but in vain. The world seemed altogether vanity and life only trouble and misery. "My soul", he wrote, "wandered in a wilderness.
I could neither sleep nor eat. My faith was like a leaking, storm-driven ship without captain or compass. My heart was filled with the deepest unhappiness." In this state of mind he sought consolation in the friendship of a Chinese classmate and the friendship deepened into love. But the fact that he had been betrothed in China to a girl of his parents' choice prevented the contemplation of any serious romance.
The emotional strain of this friendship, added to the other burdens of his mind, made life intolerable. But the darkest hour precedes the dawn. And dawn was at hand. Shprtly before Christmas, Dr. Sung had accompanied some fellow students to a special evangelistic campaign at Calvary Baptist Church of which Dr. Haldeman was pastor. He expected to hear an eloquent and learned preacher, but instead the speaker was a fifteen-year-old girl! As she came on to the platform, read the Scriptures and led in prayer, Sung beCame aware of something in the atmosphere that was different; the presence of God could be felt. The Gospel was presented clearly and powerfully and the Cross was uplifted. "Even I, a proud man, was moved by her", said Sung, "and my souTs thirst was somewhat slaked." After the sermon, many from all walks of life went to the front to seek salvation and with tears of repentance. Dr. Sung's companions scoffed, but he himself was so impressed that he went back for four more consecutive evenings, and each time the tremendous power in the young evangelista preaching gripped him. He would have given anything to possess such power in prayer and in preaching. He determined at all costs to discover for himself the secret of that power.
During the winter vacation Dr. Sung turned to Christian biography to investigate the secret of the success of great Christians of the past. He determined to share their secrets and began to give himself increasingly to prayer in his search for God. On New Year's Eve the words "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning will I bring to nought" suddenly flashed into his mind with great conviction; as he applied the words to himself he trembled with fear. That night he could not sleep as he contemplated the emptiness of worldly wisdom and human ability. All his distinctions had not brought him a step nearer God, the fountain of all true wisdom.
During this Christmas vacation a convention of seminary students was held in the Middle West. The English clergyman and famous chaplain of World War One, "Woodbine Willy", or the Rev. Studdert Kennedy, was one of the speakers. The student delegates who had attended the convention and who returned to make their reports were divided in their opinions about him, some being deeply impressed and others very antagonistic. One of those who had been unfavourably impressed was a professor from Teachers' College and a follower of the behaviouristic mechanism school of psychologists. In his report he described Studdert Kennedy's references to the Cross as pure sentimentality.
There was evident antagonism to the Cross and its message in his eye and in his voice. As the speaker finished there was a moment's silence. Then Dr. Sung stood to his feet and with deepest emotion gave witness before the assembled professors and students of what the Cross of Christ meant to him. There were others present who had felt promptings to make the protest, but fear had held them back and it was left to a Chinese Christian to take this bold and magnificent stand. It was Sung's opportunity to make his protest at the attacks on his faith which were causing him such anguish of soul.
In spite of his intellectual convictions, however, Dr. Sung's heart had still not found peace. The strain brought on by the bitter spiritual struggle following the years of intense and concentrated study and the recent acute emocional experience over his friendship were undoubtedly disturbing the balance of his mind. Sung was both a genius and a man of great emotional intensity. That type of mind is always on the borderland of a neurosis. In My Testimony he wrote: "The heavy burden of my soul became heavier day by day untdl on February ioth I got to the point when I no longer had any desire to live." He wrote several letters to his old teacher at Ohio Wesleyan University, Dr. Rollin Walker, the one friend in whom he felt he could confide something of the fierce spiritual connict through which he was passing. Of one of these letters Dr. Walker wrote: "At Union he studied with feverish intensity, trying to do three men's work at the same time. In the course of the year he sent me a letter which struck me as incoherent and as the product of an overstrained brain. I enclosed it to Dr. Coffin, suggesting that he needed medical attention." Dr. CofHn took no immediate action, but kept Sung under close observation.
Meanwhile, Sung had determined to give up everything else in order to seek the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit so that he could go out and witness for the Lord. He absented himself from lectures and spent the time in prayer. Day after day went by in this way. Then on the evening of February ioth light broke on his darkened soul. He saw all the sins of his life spread out before him. At first it seemed that there was no way to get rid of them and that he must go to Hell. He tried to forget them, but he could not. They pierced his very heart. He searched in his trunk for his neglected New Testament and began to read it again for the first time for months. He turned to the story of the Cross in Luke xxiii, and as he read the story came alive. So vivid was the sight of the Saviour dying for his sins that he seemed to be there at the foot of the Cross and pleading to be washed from all his sins in the Precious Blood. It was to him a vision as clear as the one the Apostle Paul saw on the Damascusroad. He continued weeping and praying until midnight. Then he heard a voice saying, "Son, thy sins are forgiven," and all his load of sin seemed to fall at once from his shoulders. A feeling of intense relief came over him and he leapt to his feet with a shout of "Hallelujah!"
Forgetting that it was midnight and that others were sleeping, he rushed out into the halls of the dormitory, shouting and praising God for dehverance! He was conscious that into the cleansed room of his heart, the Heavenly Guest, the Holy Spirit, had entered in His fullness. From now on his name was to be John, afterjohn the Baptist, the Forerunner. John Sung now understood that he was called to be a herald of the Corning King, to prepare His way before Him.
The morose, brooding Chinese student with whom his classmates had become familiar appeared the next morning as a changed man. Joy was written all over his face and he boldly testified to bis teachers and fellow students alike of what God had done for him. At the first possible opportunity he asked permission to give a five-minute testimony of what Christ had come to mean to him at a meeting of the intemational club of which he was a member. His sole desire now was to preach Christ to everyone. He began to go out daily to witness to everyone he met, urging them with tears to come to Christ and confess their sins if they would enjoy eternal life. He systematically visited all the ministers he knew and urged them too to confess their unfaithfulness and sloth in preaching the Gospel.
He invited them to pray with him and to seek the Lord's forgiveness and the cleansing of the Precious Blood. Though he was well received by only a few, he was encouraged to go on with what he believed to be his God-appointed duty. Not many days after this tremendous crisis, John had a strange dream. Looking into an open coffin, he saw that the corpse was himself, dressed in academic cap and gown and holding a diploma! He heard a ^roice say, "John Sung is dead - dead to the world!" Then the corpse began to stir and awaken and angels above began to weep, until he called out, "Don't weep, angels! I will remain dead to the world and to self!" All the remaining years of his life show how sincerely he carried this out. Another striking thing happened to him within a week of his midnight experience. A complete stranger one day presented him with a globe of the world, which he took to mean that the Lord had called him to carry the Gospel to the whole earth. He continued to pray the more earnestly that God would enable him to fulfil His will for his life.
Songs of joy filled his mouth and praises overflowed from his lips. He tossed aside all his theological books and gave himself solely to the reading of his neglected Bible. He would walk up and down the corridors repeating Scripture passages to himself. In his room he would pace the floor and pray aloud, often far into the night. He was a transformed personality, so faled with the Spirit that life seemed to him to have begun anew. It was like a second conversion!
Into Arabia 1927
PATIENT NO. X is missing from homicidal ward. Must be traced and brought back immediately. Urgent!"
This message was flashed to the police from the mental hospital at White Plains, N.Y. Searchers were immediately sent out with police dogs, and No. X, a Chinese, was soon discovered hiding in a wheatfield a few miles from the asylum.
So it was that John Sung found himself back again in the dreadful atmosphere of a ward of dangerous, fighting, swearing maniacs. It was because he had not been able to endure a moment longer the mental anguish of living in such a company that John had planned an escape. The failure of his attempt to get away cast him into a dejection so intense that dark thoughts of ending his own life suggested themselves to him. Even as he harboured such thoughts, God's voice was heard in rebuke. How could he contemplate so grievous a sin?
"But, Lord," he replied, "I wanted to serve Thee and to repay my debt of gratitude. Instead of that, here I am shut up in a place where there is never a moment's quiet! What use is there in going on living?"
"All things work together for good to them that love God," came back the answer. "If you can endure this trial patiently for 193 days you will have learned how to bear the Cross and to walk the Calvary road of unswerving obedience!"
John saw his ordeal in a new light, and now the glory of the Lord seemed to shine around him, transforming his prison house into a training ground for future service. Following the supreme spiritual crisis of his life on February 12th the depression and gloom of the past months had suddenly given place to an unrestrained and light-hearted exuberance which confirmed the suspicions of the Union Theological Seminary authorities that the years of intensive study and the recent emocional strain had upset the balance of Sung's mind. Dr. Coffin therefore followed the suggestion made by Dr. Walker, John Sung's old friend, and arrariged for an examination by a psychiatrist.
The outcome was that Sung was persuaded to go "to a sanatorium" for a time of rest. John consented, but only under protest: "There is nothing wrong with my head! The trouble has been in my heart, but that is all right now!"
Dr. Sung was at first placed in the psychopathic ward of Bloomingdale Hospital, where he enjoyed good food and complete leisure to read his Bible. He was also given to understand that he would be there for about six weeks only. He was undoubtedly tired and was only too glad of this enforced rest. But he found the repeated examinations by the doctors, being treated as a mental case, and the close investigation of all his correspondence intensely annoying. However, he put up with this and gave himself to the reading of his Bible and getting to know some of the other patients. After all, his six weeks would soon be up!
When the six weeks expired, John asked for his discharge. But, to his dismay, the request was refused. Feeling that he had been deceived, he argued angrily with the doctor. His old fiery temper flared up. And the doctor was confirmed in his opinion that this patient was indeed mentally unbalanced. He ordered him to be transferred to the ward for violent patients!
A week after his attempted escape, Sung was able to have a reasonable talk with the doctor in which he satisfied him about his fit of anger and subsequent reasons for trying to escape. He was then returned to his original ward, where there was peace and quiet again. Through the spring months and the hot, steamy days of summer, while news of flood disasters and soaring prices filled the newspapers, God kept John free from all anxiety about his daily bread and freed his mind to concentrate on his Bible. He devoted almost all his waking hours to reading it through from beginning to end - which he did forty times! Each time he used a difFerent scheme of study. And the more he read it the more enjoyment he derived from it. He seemed to be shown a key to the understanding of every one of the 1,189 chapters of the Bible. He made comprehensive word studies of a great variety of topics and recorded all his findings in numerous notebooks.
When he found that hospital brderlies were prying into his English notes, he changed ovef to the Chinese language, and thereafter all his Bible study notes were written in Chinese character. The Holy Spirit taught him much both through the Word of God and also in dreams and visions, material which he stored up in his mind and in his journals for future use.
The mental hospital thus became John Sung's real theological college! It was there that he began to appreciate the deep truths of God's Word and it was there that he was taught the difficult lesson of quiet submission to the will of God.
"He disciplined me to become His submissive seirvant. He took away my very obstinate and bad temper." Sung was permitted after a whiie to write to his friends, Dr. Rollin Walker among them. Dr. Walker described these letters as "beautiful, humble, Christlike letters ... absolutely free from any morbidity".
There seems every reason to suppose that the resort to the advice of a psychiatrist on Dr. Sung's behalf was excusable on the ground of his intense morbidity, whatever its cause may have been. It is equally clear that it was a spiritual release which effected his cure, and for this he owed nothing to the treatment received in the mental hospital. When sin had been confessed and put away and when the Holy Spirit had taken full possession of Dr. Sung's heart and mind, there was no longer any need for the services of a mental specialist!
However, God allowed Sung to spend over six months in retirement in order to teach him truths which he could never have learned at Union Theological Seminary. He used to refer to August 30th, 1927, the day of his discharge from the mental hospital, as the day when he received his highest degree! This was exactly 193 days after his entry into the hospital and 200 days after his spiritual crisis in February.
The release was brought about largely through the intervention of the Chinese Consul and of Dr. Walker, who negotiated with the hospital Superintendem and with the State of New York Health Authority. Dr. Walker himself became Dr. Sung'"s guarantor, and the latter was discharged on condition that he should leave the United States and return to China.
As far as Union Seminary was concerned, John had virtually severed his own connections with the place when he burned his theological books as "books of demons" and ceased to attend lectures. The Seminary had long since officially removed his name from the roll of students. It has never been proud S'f its connection with the "Wesley of China". Said one of the professors: "Union Seminary has nothing to do with John Sung!"
After his discharge, John went with Dr. Walker to Delaware, where he was Dr. Walker's house guest for a month. During this time the Commencement exercises of his old college, Ohio Wesleyan University, took place. But John's thoughts were now back in China. He was daily in prayer about the unknown future and seeking the revelation of God's will for his life.
On October 4th John sailed from Seattle for Shanghai, after saying "Goodbye" to his good friend, Dr. Rollin Walker. He had been seven and a half years in the United States. He was now a man of outstanding Scholastic attainments, and doubtless any of the national universities of China would have welcomed his services in the sphere in which he had specialized - namely, chemistry. But through deep travail of soul John Sung had come to a knowledge of God which he knew he must share with his own countrymen. God had so dealt with him that he had not a shadow of doubt that he had been called to the task of preaching the gospel in China, and perhaps in other lands also.
As he thought back over his experiences, he remembered the vision of the drowning men and the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. He recollected the dream of himself lying in a coffin in cap and gown afnrming, "I will remain dead to the world and to self!" And with the memory came the thought of the diplomas, the gold medals and the keys of honour stored in his baggage. Every Chinese sets great store by such evidence of finished scholarship, and John was no exception. They would, he knew, be an open sesame into a career which might be as brilliant as it would be remunerative. He was moved, too, by the knowledge of the debt he owed to his parents and to his family. Might he not serve God in the sphere for which his education had fkted him? Might not the chair of chemistry in some great university be a more erTective and influential pulpit than any from which his father had preached?
As the ship sailed steadily westward, the conilict continued to rage in his breast. He had already yielded his all to God. Was not that enough? Surely God would be able to make use of his consecrated talents and degrees without making further demands upon him! Yet John, with the clarity of insight which constant prayer gives, saw the dangers of his position. He anticipated the subtle temptations which awaited him: the insistent urge of his family and the nattery of friends. And he thought of the words of the Apostle Paul: "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." Like Paul, he would renounce the world and its fame once for ali: he would burn his bridges behind him.
One day, as the vessel neared the end of its voyage, John Sung went down to his cabin, took out of his cabin trunk his diplomas, his medals and his fraternity keys and threw them overboard. All except his doctor's diploma, which he retained to satisfy his father.
This was later framed and hung in his old home. The Rev. W. B. Cole saw it there about 1938. Dr. Sung noticed Mr. Cole looking at it one day and said: "Things like that are useless. They mean nothing to me!"
"There must be great renunciations ... if there are to be great Christian careers." Dr. Denney's words might have been written with Dr. John Sung in mind. It is probably the chief secret of John Sung's career that there came a day when he made just such a renunciation of all that this world holds dear. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast Save in the Cross of Christ my Lord: All the vain things that charm me most I sacrifice them to His Blood.
Beginning at Jerusalem 1927-1930
JOHN SUNG disembarked at Shanghai, where he at once discarded his European dress. When he went on board the little coasting steamer bound for Hinghwa he was indistinguishable, in his simple cotton gown, from the other travellers.
Old Pastor Sung, accompanied by his four youngest sons, met John at the wharf. Did the father look for his son as a scholarly gentlemen in a lounge suit and tie? If so, he was disappointed. But greater disappointment awaited him.
At home, Mrs. Sung prepared a feast of welcome at which all the family gathered. It was nearly over seven years since they had parted. The table was heaped with such dehcacies as the home conld afFord. The conversation turned on the many things seen in America and the recent voyage. But before the evening ended Pastor Sung spoke what was on his mind:
"Ju-un, now that you have your diploma, I hope you will accept a position in a Government university. I have been a Bible teacher all my life. I have received only $30 a month as salary. Unless your mother had provided the rice, we could never have fed our ten children. Now I hope you will help to educate your younger brothers!"
Things were just as John had feared. But his decision had been made, and he replied respectfully: "Father, I cannot do this, for I have dedicated my life to the prcaching of the gospel!" The whole family wept their disappointment. Pastor Sung had been informed by the Union Theological Seminary of his son's detention in a mental hospital, and this news suggested that there might be some truth in the report of his mental derangement.
After spending seven years acquiring degrees and fame, was it possible that he was to turn his back on a career of such promise? For a week the parents observed their son's behaviour closely.
He gave most of his time to prayer and to the study of his Bible, daily adding to the notes of his discoveries in his notebooks. Finally, from what they saw, they were convinced that he was both sound in mind and had had a deep experience of the work of God in his heart. Half reluctantly, they accepted his momentous decision and gave him their blessing and encouragement as he faced his life-work.
At the first opportunity, John visited his old school and was invited to address the boys at a special assembly. The school was naturally proud of its distinguished son, but everyone was not a little surprised to hear an address, not on America or science or patriotism, but on the Feeding of the Five Thousand!
Soon after, John accepted a part-time appointment on the staff of this school - the Methodist Christian High School - to teach chemistry and Bible for three days a week. He did this in order to assist his younger brother through college. The remaining four days a week he planned to devote to evangelistic work in the district.
It seems to have been about this time that General Chang Tso-lin, the warlord of Manchuria, hearing that Dr. Sung had returned to China, offered him a lucrative post in his arsenal at Mukden in connection with the manufacture of explosives. But now nothing could distract him from his sole ambition to preach Christ.
A sore trial now awaited John - his wedding! From a Chinese point of view, the marriage which had been arranged for him byhis parents could not be delayed anylonger. The parents of the bride-to-be had waited long enough, and it was high time the girl was married and transferred to her husband's home! John accepted the inevitable, but with no joyful anticipation. He did not know the girl, and did not even know whether or not she was a true Christian. But the day arrived. The ceremony was performed.
The numerous friends and relatives gathered to share in the festivities and to offer their congratulations. And, very reluctantly, John entered upon the responsibilities of a married man. Three days later he was in the home of the Rev. and Mrs. Frances P. Jones, Methodist missionaries in Hinghwa and John's former high school teachers. Mrs. Jones asked another young man present if he were married too. When the reply was "No!" John was heard almost to groan, "I wish I were not!"
This was not a propitious beginning to married life, but in fact Mrs. Sung became John's faithful companion through all their eighteen years of life together. There were three daughters and two sons born to them. John was rarely able to be at home for long, but he wrote frequent letters to the family, sending money and showing real concern for their welfare.
During the extensive travels of Dr. Sung's later career, the family home was in Shanghai. There the children naturally learned the local dialect, but they were never allowed to forget their native Hinghwa tongue. They were all given ordinary Chinese names, but the father insisted on their having Scriptural names too. The first four were therefore called Genesis, Exodus (a boy), Leviticus and Numbers. But when it came to the fifth, another boy, he skipped Deuteronomy because of the implication in the name that there might be a "repetition" of the early death of the first boy and called him Joshua. John once told a friend that his favourite child was Leviticus, because Levi was wholly given up to the service of God! He was least fond of Numbers, he said, because Numbers was full of spiritual declension!
Throughout that winter and spring of 1928, John Sung devoted all his spare time to open-air preaching and Bible teaching in Hinghwa and the surrounding district. The boy preacher who had been so well known when in high school was everywhere given a warm welcome. But nationalistic and anti-Christian agitation ran high in those days and when Sung began to denounce as idolatry the weekly ceremony of bowing to the portrait of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the father of the Chinese Revolution, he ran into a political storm. The Nationalist Party, the Kuomintang, had local offices everywhere, and when in one city the zealous local officials got wind of Sung's denunciations, police were ordered to arrest him as a counter-revolutionary! But Sung escaped arrest because he had already beeh guided to take his departure before the police arrived! The next step taken by the Party, therefore, was to star up the staff and boys in his school against the new teacher so as to have him dismissed. By false report and bribery, the boys were persuaded to go to the teacher's room to make trouble. But just as they were on the point of beating him up, a sudden thunderstorm broke and the mob scattered. Sung, however, decided to resign from his position on the staff rather than cause continued unpleasantness.
As a marked man in the eyes of the Party Bureau, John was now compelled to avoid the larger cities and to give his time to the smaller towns and villages. He was joined by other young men and women who had been brought to Christ through the first visit to Fukien in May, 1928, of one of the Bethel Bands from Shanghai, under the leadership of the Rev. Andrew Gih. John had been delighted to meet the Bethel Band and also Dr. Joseph Flacks, a converted Jew, who happened to be visiting Sienyu at the same time. These men, on fire to preach Christ, had warmed John's heart, and he had rejoiced in the revival blessing which had accompanied their ministry. And now the little evangelistic band, under Sung's leadership, began to see for themselves all the signs of a true work of the Holy Spirit.
Sung had closely observed both the preaching of Dr. Flacks and the methods of the Bethel Band. But, though influenced by what he saw, Sung was no mere imitator. He took over methods, adapted them and made them his own. In the village missions Sung used to preach and the others used to testify of the grace of God in their lives. Conviction and confession of sin resulted and clear evidences of the new birth were soon seen in many Hves. His voice reduced to a hoarse whisper, John returned to Hinghwa to report with overflowing joy what they had witnessed. That this was a work of God was evident, for, humanly speaking, the times were most unfavourable. All over China, including Fukien, the anti-Christian movement was so strong that in some places chapeis were being torn down and Christians were everywhere under attack.
Reports of John Sung's ministry and the blessing which was attending it reached the headquarters of the Methodist Mission in Foochow. The Rev. Frank T. Cartwright, Director of Evangelism, made a special two-day journey by boat and on foot to watch John in action. Mr. Cartwright found the team in a large market town living on the coarsest of food. Sung's extraordinary leadership of the group of young high school boys at once impressed the visitor - even more than his preaching. The young people looked to him as Timothy and Silas might have looked to the Apostle Paul. Mr. Cartwright recalls his impressions thus:
"The meetings themselves were noisy and characterized by the singing of simple songs specially composed to emphasize.the theme for each meeting: the existence of God, the love of God, Christ the Saviour, sin, repentance, faith and the Christian life. John's preaching was impassioned and strangely patterned on the preaching and pulpit mannerisms of Billy Sunday (whom John may have heard preach in America). He would race back and forth on the platform or leap over the Communion rail and stand in the aisles. Or he would walk down the aisles and point his finger in the face of someone in the audience, then rush back to the front of the church and perhaps stand on the Communion rail to finish his sermon! People in considerable numbers came forward after every meeting to pray and to accept Christ."
The secret of the success of the young evangelist was twofold: his devotion to prayer and his intense earnestness. The team spent much time together between the meetings in earnest pleading with God on behalf of cold churches and nominal Christians. And they saw such churches and Christians revived. Many who had hitherto been merely formal church members were born again and became living witnesses for Christ.
John Sung was deeply concerned too that the young converts should be well established in the Word of God. To this end he enlisted his missionary friends to help him with some special Bible study classes to follow up the revival meetings. These were held in 1928 in the "Heavenly Horse Mountains" near Hinghwa and the fifty young people present profited greatly from the eight days of soiid Bible teaching. They afterwards scattered with a plan to visit each of the 100 little country churches in the district and to share with them the truths they had been learning themselves.
The same summer, Dr. Sung, feeling his need of spiritual refreshment for himself, made the joumey to a lovely mountain resort overlooking the River Yangtze to attend the annual summer convention there. Kuling is beautifully situated and is a place of hallowed memories for many of the leaders of the Chinese Church. While he was there, John was invited to give his testimony.
This was his only pubhc appearance but it was also his first introduction to a wider Christian public. Back in Fukien again, John was joined by a missionary and a Chinese friend and together they went round the churches leading meetings and investigating the general conditions of the church life. John was saddened by seeing so many theological college graduates who were failing to exercise an effective ministry in the churches for which they had a spiritual responsibility. He saw only too clearly that a mere intellectual training without the Spirit's grace and power produced only unspiritual hirelings who were unable to conserve die fruits of revival, to build up Christians on the Word of God or to establish a strong church life.
In order to meet this need in a small way, Sung started an "itinerant theological college". Starting with five students, he divided the time between Bible study and evangelism. Their first field of operations was an island ofFthe coast on which were many villages. There, idols were destroyed, many believed on the Lord and much valuable experience was gained by the students.
Returning to Sung's native village and birthplace, the "college" took a hand in the farm life. It was harvest-time and the teacher and the students alike worked all day in the field helping the farmers, then in the evenings preached to a full chapei with great effect. Thus, from place to place the "theological college" moved, meeting with a varying response but always seeing some true conversions. There were churches, however, which were obviously more interested in the literacy movement than in spiritual renewal, and Sung was saddened by the cold reception they received.
John Sung's fame had already reached distant parts of his own province. Early in 1929 he had responded to an invitation to visit Amoy, Chuanchow and Changchow in the south. The seal of God,was manifestly on His servant's ministry there and the vision grew clearer in his own mind of a wider ministry in other provinces of China and perhaps, eventually, outside China. But the time was not yet ripe. Again, in the spring of 1930 he paid a visit to the north of the province, where at Shunchang, Yenping and Yangkou he was greatly used to bring comfort to many churches exposed to the danger of anti-Christian hatred and general lawlessness. At Yenping, there was a warm response from many of the students, but there was again strong opposition to the message from the local Party Bureau, who determined to arrest Sung. The evening before action was to be taken, John was taken ill and the doctor ordered him to stop work immediately and to go home to rest. He therefore took ship early the next morning and was not to be found when the police arrived an hour or two later to take him!
Still deeply concerned about the oversight of the churches in his own neighbourhood, Sung worked out a plan for the systematic training of local preachers. He was anxious that they should themselves be better taught in the basic truths of the Bible. So he divided the 100 or so village churches into groups of ten and then devoted a whole year to visiting each group in turn. At every centre, forty to fifty representatives were summoned to attend a training class at which Sung gave instruction on family worship and taught them how to use new methods and materiais. There were also special classes for young people to instruct them in ways in which they could assist their leaders and pastors.
In one centre, Dr. Sung was going through John's Gospel with a class of young people, and he asked them to bring in some little object, like a flower, a plant or just anything from outside. When the class began, he noticed that the number of the objects brought was exactly the number of the verses in the chapter for study that day! So he contrived to make every object an illustration for each verse in the chapter! As he spoke he suggested to the students and to a missionary friend afterwards that there was something wonderful, even supernatural, in this coincidence! The missionary quietly replied that, far more wonderful than Dr. Sung's ingenuity was the power of the gospel he preached to transform a soul. There was always a tendency to make the Bible fit into Dr. Sung's system, and he was never a theologian! He was always at his best when expounding the Scriptures verse by verse. He once held a class of high school students spellbound for an hour and a half on the story of Naaman.
One result of the training classes for local preachers was that family worship was started in over 1,000 homes. Sung was greatly encouraged by the response he met with among the rank and file of the churches, but he found the paid pastors a much more difHcult and unresponsive field. He felt much sympathy with them in their difEculties. They were usually underpaid and consequently tempted to augment their salaries in secular employment.
The pastors seemed to have neither the time nor the qualifications to foster true spirituality and to carry out faithfully their pastoral duties. On the contrary, a hired ministry of this type was all too often a stumbling-block to Christians and to those outside the Church alike.
Easter, 1930, came around. John Sung had been back in China for two and a half years. All this time he had been engaged in constant travei and had worked very hard indeed. He now had two children, a girl and a baby boy. As a voluntary worker, he had been receiving no regular salary, and it had been difEcult to make ends meet. He and Mrs. Sung had to think twice before making the smallest expenditure of money. It is little wonder that sometimes the Tempter suggested to John's mind the thought that all this time he could have been earning a handsome salary from the Government. Why, then, in serving the Lord, was his reward so meagre? This temptation assailed him afresh one day in Passion Week. But as he thought of His Lord going all the way to the Cross, he seemed to hear Him say, "Cannot you obey Me to the full? Cannot you surrender your all to Me? I know all about your cares. Remember that after the shame and pain of the Cross there comes the glory of Resurrection! Be patient a while longer and all will be well!"
But patience was not easy for John Sung to learn. When, soon after this, invitations began to come to him from Nanchang, the Kiangsi provincial capital, and from Nanking, the national capital, he was eager to be away. God's word, however, was: "My child, wait a little longer. My time has not yet come!"
An outbreak of painful boils served to curb his impatience. He had been all packed up and ready to start, but the Lord had to hold him in with bit and bridle. A cholera epidemic struck Hinghwa and John was one of the victims. In his distress, he confessed his impatience and his sin in desiring to run ahead of God's guidance.
He told God he would gladly spend the rest of his life as an unknown country preacher if such should be His will. After his recovery, John again accepted an invitation to conduct a mission - this time a children's mission in Haitan, at which many found Christ as Saviour. Then he was asked to lead a retreat for church leaders on one of the coastal islands, where many were stirred up to serve God in a new way. The whole island felt the impact of the new evangelistic impetus which resulted.
God had accepted John Sung's unconditional surrender. And He was now about to open the doors into wider fields of service. Prior to Sung's return home, life in the country around Hinghwa had been rendered perilous in the extreme by banditry. Murder and pillage were the order of the day. But for the past three years the young scholar-preacher had been able to carry on his work freely. Peace and security had reigned. Now, however, the province was again thrown into panic by an invading army of rebel-soldiers. The Methodist missionaries had to move to the larger centres. The litde band of fellow workers who had laboured in such close fellowship with Sung scattered to their homes. The door for country evangelism was again. closed. Sung's bridges had been cut behind bim and there was notbing to do but press on to new battle-grounds.
But bis testing time was not yet over. Very soon after Sung's own recovery, Mrs. Sung and the baby of only three montas, Exodus, both became very ill. The baby died after a short illness and the sorrowing parents sought comfort in the story of Moses, who was cast adrift on the water three months after birth and the assurance that their little son Exodus had "gone out" of the world to be with Christ.
Three days after the funeral, John Sung left home. God had at last given the word: "Arise, my son! The time has come! Leave your country and go to the place whither I will lead you!"
"Without further delay", John writes, "I said farewell to my wife who was still on a bed of sickness and to my family and took a ship to Shanghai. I dared not look back to see my ailing, sorrowing wife but steeled myself to follow Christ in the way of the Cross."
And in Samaria 1930-1931
DR. SUNG had in 1930 joined the Hinghwa Conference of the Methodist Church. At the first conference after his return from America he had already been invited to preach the conference sermon. Anti-Christian agitation was then at its most violent phase, and in choosing the story of Jonah for his subject, Dr. Sung had compared Jonah's ship to the Church in the midst of the storm and, of course, the sleeping prophet, oblivious of the dangers, was representative of the preachers!
Such an outspoken sermon was unpalatable to some, but john Sung was never one to seek popularity, and he soon earned for himself notoriety for his slashing attacks on preachers who were not faithful to their responsibility to preach the Gospel and to win men and women to Christ.
He saw the situation in China only too clearly. The weakness of the system by which foreign missionaries educated, trained and appointed men as employees of missionary societies was everywhere apparent. To men without a clear call of God to the ministry and even without a personal and saving experience of Christ, the Christian ministry was merely a profession, a means of employment. The efiect on the Chinese Church as a whole of having leaders of this type was disastrous. And John Sung realized how little could be done so long as unconverted or unspiritual men were in control. Revival among the rank and file might be nvalified by pastors and preachers opposed to revival. Hence his devastating attacks on church officials and mission schoolteachers wherever he went. These attacks were often unwarranted and tended to alienate some who would have been his best friends.
But only too often they were justified and aroused the very natural antagonism of those who were unwilling to accept his strictures. As John Sung entered a wider sphere of ministry as Evangelist at-large of the Hinghwa Conference, lie was fully aware of his call to be a John the Baptist and to denounce sin wherever it might be found; nor did he shrink from his difhcult task. He believed that God had given him just fifteen years in which to fulfil his ministry, and never once in those fifteen years did he spare himself or turn aside from his commission.
The journey which took Dr. Sung far from home for the first time on Christian service was occasioned by a special mission to Peking. The Methodist Bishop of Foochow appointed him to study theological education and the mass education experiment initiated by Dr. James Yen at Tinghsien, near Peking. The intention was that he should return to direct the Mission literacy project throughout the Methodist field.
On reaching Shanghai, he heard of an East China conference of the Christian Home Movement to be held at Huchow in Kiangsu Province, organized by the National Christian Council. There were over ioo provincial delegates attending. Dr. Sung went there unannounced to see what he could learn. Wearing his coarse, homespun cloth gown or an old suit of foreign clothes and with his swarthy complexion, he looked most unlike an ofEcial delegate. For a day or two, not knowing the local dialect, he hardly spoke to anyone and took no part in the discussions. But then, one day in a prayer meeting, the urge to lead in prayer came upon him, and that prayer was so full of power that Mrs. Frank R. Millican of the American Presbyterian Mission and the Christian Literature Society sought John out and was surprised to find a man who could speak fluent English! An opportunity was at once given to this distinguished guest who had been living among them incognito to speak at one of the discussion groups about his past three years' work in Fukien, especially the extraordinary growth of the practice of family worship. Invitations followed to give his testimony to the delegates and to speak in local churches, schools and hospitais.
Huchow thus became the first place outside his native province where the doors for testimony were opened to him. The conference over, Dr. Sung went first to Hangchow and from there back to Shanghai to stay with the Rev. and Mrs. Frank Millican, who arranged for him to address the Christian Literature Society on village evangelism, family worship and the literacy movement. But as soon as possible Dr. Sung continued his journey to Peking. At Nanking, the national capital, he broke bis journey to visit his former headmaster at the Memorial High School in Hinghwa, Rev. Francis P. Jones. Mr. Jones was now on the faculty of the Theological School connected with Ginling University, the college John had once hoped to attend. After a few days spent with Mr. and Mrs. Jones investigating the course of theological training and the latest textbooks, he crossed the Yangtze River and journeyed north over the broad, brown plains of North China to Tientsin. It was the month of December.
John felt like a stranger in a strange land. He was unfamiliar with the northern Mandarin dialect and he had not adequately prepared himself with warm clothing to face the icy winter winds which blew down from the Siberian plains. His first visit was to the Rev. H. E. Dewey, a missionary at Changli, near Tientsin. Mr. Dewey was also a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and knew all about John Sung. This friend urged John not to spend too much time over the literacy movement.
The need of the Church, he said, was for revival among the leaders and the rank and file alike. After a brief visit to Shanhaikwan, where the Great Wall of China reaches the sea, John went on to Peking with an introduction to the Rev. R. W. Backus, who invited him to speak to a preachers' training class then in progress about his three years' rural work in Fukien.
Proceeding to Paoting, John suffered terribly from the bitter cold. There he found church life at a low ebb, and only half a dozen of the over 500 school children attended a meeting to hear him speak! He went on to Tinghsien to visit the renowned Dr. James Yen. Dr. Yen was the originator and director of the experiment in mass education which had become world-famous. Dr. Sung was deeply impressed with what he saw, but in a dream God spoke to him and showed him, in the well-known picture of the fig tree which had leaves but no fruit, that this vast undertaking, though successful in its own way, was without any spiritual value. So instead of staying one or two months as he had intended, he stayed only two days. He returned to Peking with a deepened awareness of his call to awaken sleeping and lukewarm churches. Never before had he been so convinced that China's supreme need was nothing but the simple gospel of the grace of God. Other diings might have their place, but this need was paramount.
Refusing an invitation to stay on in Peking, John hastened back to Shanghai, where the well-known Japanese Christian, Dr. Tojohito Kagawa, was lecturing at Shanghai Christian University. Dr. Sung went to hear him and was disappointed to discover that his theme was the "social gospel". When the two doctors met, the Japanese D.D. at once invited the "Chinese Kagawa" to address a prayer meeting. John, with regretful memories of his wasted years in America preaching the "social gospel", spoke faithfully on the power of the Blood of Jesus, the efficacy of the Cross, the necessity of the new birth and the importance of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Sensing that this message was quite unwelcome to those who were sponsoring the meetings for Dr. Kagawa, John Sung declined to speak more than once. His position was already crystal clear.
At the South Gate "Pure Heart" High School of the American Presbyterian Mission, where Mrs. Millican had arranged meetings, Dr. Sung's personal testimony and his expositions of Scripture resulted in some of the boys and girls being awakened to their need. There were further opportunities for testimony at the Christian and Missionary Alliance church in North Szechwan Road and elsewhere. But John was dissatisfied with himself and without any confidence in his message.
As reports of Dr. Sung's presence in the city and of his unusual testimony spread, invitations to speak at diiferent churches began to reach him from all parts of the city. One place that John wanted to visit especially was the Bethel Mission. Dr. Mary Stone and Miss Jenny Hughes, the leaders of this work, had already heard from the Rev. Andrew Gih reports of Dr. Sung's work in Fukien, and recognized in him one who was in complete sympathy with the Bethel vision for the evangelization of China.
It was during special meetings conducted in Shanghai in 1922 by Rev. Seth Rees and his son, Dr. Paul S. Rees, later to be associated with Dr. Billy Graham in his great crusades, that Andrew Gih was brought into an experience of the Spirit-filled life. In 1925, when Mr. Paget Wilkes from Japan was one of the speakers at another series of convention meetings, Andrew Gih heard the call to form the Bethel Worldwide Evangelistic Band. This and other Bands had for five years been travelling far and wide with their message of revival for the churches and salvation for the multitudes still outside the Church.
John Sung was given a warm welcome at Bethel and was at once invited to address a meeting of high school and nursing students at the daily chapei service. He spoke on the Feeding of the Five Thousand and challenged his hearers afresh with China's need and the only way in which it could be met. John swept away every argument for not accepting Christ from their minds and completely captured their hearts. When he was asked to continue with some Bible study meetings, he did so, but although he excited enthusiasm over his original expositions he felt that there was no power in the message. The problem on his mind was how the power to bring people to Christ could be released.
When Andrew Gih and Frank Ling invited him to go north with them on one of their tours, he felt that he could not accept. It seemed that his first duty was to return home to Hinghwa.
A Night to be Rememeered
IT was still mid-winter and John Sung was anxiously awaiting a ship to take him back home, when a pressing invitation reached him from Nanchang, provincial capital of Kiangsi, from the Rev. William E. Schubert of the Methodist Episcopal Mission.
"I recognized in die invitation to Nanchang", John records, "the clear guidance of God. This was to be the turning-point in my whole ministry - the end of going round in circles in the atmosphere of talk about 'movements' and 'education', 'sacrifice' and 'service'. Had I returned to Hinghwa, I might never have accompHshed anything for God. All my work up to this time had been lacking in direction and purpose. I had been trying to serve God within the framework of liberal Christianity. I did not fit in, but I saw no way out! My visit to Nanchang brought the light and direction I needed and the future suddenly seemed bright with promise! The Lord Jesus said of Himself: 'The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.' Alas, many Christian workers spend their time talking about 'movements'; one new movement follows another and when all has been said and done men's hearts remain unmoved and souls remain unsaved.
They forget that the Lord came to save sinners. The salvation of sinners is the only thing that matters!" Civil war was raging in Kiangsi between the Nationalists and the Communists, and the Bethel friends strongly advised him against making the journey. But, assured that this was a call from God, he postponed his return home and, braving the dangers of which he had been warned, he set off up the River Yangtze by steamer. Little did he know that Mr. Schubert and a Chinese colleague had prayed for a whole mondi in 1930 for revival in their church, but without any apparent results. On January ist, 1931, they had begun to pray again, and continued to do so for fifty days, pleading with God for new life to be brought to a dead church. Then, in the middle of February, John Sung arrived!
Revival meetings were comparatively unknown in Nanchang and the first week found only eighty or ninety people present. There were no particular results evident. During the second week, Dr. Sung spoke to the children in the schools, but again without any results. He began to examine himself and to ask why it was that people were not being saved. He admitted to himself that hitherto be had often been content with giving people what they wanted to hear, but now he desired only their spiritual profit.
One night after he had retired he heard the sound of praying upstairs. It was his host pleading with God for revival: "Lord, let me see revival in Nanchang or let me go home to America!" John Sung got out of bed, got dressed and he too knelt by his bed to pray: "Lord, what about me? Do I really want to see revival? Oh, reveal Thy power! Use us! We are looking to Thee!"
In answer to this prayer, God showed John that if the light of eternity was to shine into hearts, it was for him to draw aside the curtains of sin. He was to attack the strongholds of sin in the human heart before any victory could come to the Christian Church. What a memorable night that was - March 5th, 1931!
He had at last received die direction he had so long sought. No longer was he merely to expound the "mysteries" of God's Word, but he was to deal with sin's power over men's lives. That same night God gave to him clear messages based on the stories of the Gadarene demoniac and the Prodigal Son, and a message on hypocrisy - messages which were to be repeated again and again with undiminishing efFectiveness in bringing people to repentance.
There was a further week of meetings in Nanchang, when there were immediate signs of the Spirit's working. John had not yet reached the point of inviting people to come to the front, but he used to give an opportunity for anyone who wanted to lead in prayer to do so. Some of those prayers were never fmished, except in tears. It is only when people are convicted of sin that they gladly recognize their need of a Saviour. But at this stage John encouraged those under conviction to go home and confess their sins to God alone, as he himself had done. He asked for no public demonstration of their desire to repent.
As the attendance and the blessing grew, the leaders decided to call in all the church workers and evangelists in the district for special meetings. The church leaders wired to Hinghwa for an extension of Dr. Sung's leave of absence, and Dr. Sung, while waiting for the commencement of the special meetings, went further up the river to visit Kiukiang.
At Kiukiang, the soil seemed to have been well prepared. The church was more alive. About 400 attended the first meeting and received Dr. Sung with enthusiasm. Almost all the Methodist High School boys and girls - about 220 of them - turned to the Lord during the subsequent meetings and organized evangelistic bands to witness for Christ in their spare time. Kiukiang had never experienced anything like this before!
Returning to Nanchang, Dr. Sung insisted that he must have the full prayer backing of the missionaries and the church and school leaders if the walls of this particular Jericho were to fall. He was never tired of insisting that revival blessing depended less on the preacher than on the prayers of the Christians.
In the week's meetings for the school children and the teaching staff which preceded the main conference he preached on the subject of sin every night. Mercilessly he exposed the sins of unbelievers and professing Christians alike. The Holy Spirit added His conviction and young and old were completely broken down. John had had no thought other than of a quiet work of the Spirit in the hearts of the children. He had never expected any outward evidences of the Spirit's power or that He would lay hold of people in such a spectacular way. But that is what happened. There were many outward signs of deep distress.
Children and their teachers were alike affected and altogether 180 came to Christ in confessions of their sins and were added to the church. The children confessed their sins to God and to one another, while the Principal of the school and his colleagues confessed their faults to one another. Sin was put away, restitution was made where required and many were freed from a terrible bondage.
During the second week, the main conference meetings were specially for the church workers and members of the Evangelistic Society. Dr. Sung preached daily about the need for being clean vessels if they were to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit for Christian service. The young people who had got right with God during the first week were still present and were now praying for their parents and elders that they and all the workers in the church might become holy vessels in God's service. This was too humiliating and too shocking to the conservative Chinese mind and strong opposition was expressed to such an unheard-of practice. Some who refused to repent accused Dr. Sung of stirring up the children against their parents!
As soon as term ended for the Spring Festival, John took many of the young people to a nearby mountain resort for a training school in evangelism. Then together they went out in bands into the villages proclaiming Christ and praying for the people. The enthusiasm grew. Some of the offended evangelists and schoolteachers overcame their prejudices and joined the young people, until finally there were over 200 out preaching the gospel. On the last day, they were all caught in a thunderstorm and were soaked to the skin, but at the farewell meeting for Dr. Sung the same night all barriers seemed to be broken down. The showers of spiritual blessing now fell. Those who had been most critical came under conviction of Divine judgment and cried to God with tears for forgiveness. Everyone joined together in praying for the filling of the Holy Spirit.
When the news of the revival in Nanchang reached Kiukiang, the Kiukiang church insisted on Dr. Sung returning there for several days to bring them a like blessing. As a result of the faithful prayers of God's people and the searching preaching of the evangeKst, the dead, cold churches of Nanchang and district were wonderfully revived and a great victory won. One of the missionaries wrote in the summer of 1931: "We are having a Bible revival in Nanchang and Kiukiang.
... Dr. Sung can take any Bible passage you suggest and make it live as I have heard almost no other man do. He still spends hours daily with the Book, and that is the secret of his success." John Sung himself was coniirmed even more clearly in his own mind that his was to be a message to the churches of China which would expose sin and declare God's remedy for it in the Cross.
He felt commissioned to emphasize the uselessness of an empty rehgious profession without an experience of new life in Christ through the new birth. Said John after the time in Nanchang: "The experience here has taught me the three secrets of revival:
(1) A thorough confession of sin.
(2) Prayer for the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
(3) Public witness for Christ.
I had previously read John Wesley's biography and how, every time he preached, people were convicted and came to Christ. I had often longed for the same experience. Now I had begun to witness something like it. May the Spirit of Truth lead me on to greater things for the glory of God and the salvation of men!"
The testimonies of converts in Nanchang began to find their way into Christian periodicals and Dr. Sung's reputation spread. Invitations from widely scattered places poured in upon him. He first went to Wuhu. Then he fiafilled several engagements in Shanghai, where the first was an eighty-day retreat for church leaders of all churches at the Bethel Mission. John Sung was the main speaker, but was assisted by some of the Bethel workers. It was here that he began to invite people out to the firont to get right with God. There were again all the signs of a real work of the Holy Spirit. O ver 300 people went forward in deep distress to confess their sins to God. When they had made a clean breast of all sin, joy filled their hearts and the Holy Spirit in His fullness came in. John concluded that "an evangelist must always give the people an opportunity to express their decision openly and to confess their sins. Then he must be ready to comfort the broken-hearted."
There followed meetings in the Moore Memorial Church, a fine building opposite the Racecourse. There were over' 1,000 present, and many went to the front to seek salvation. In some of these meetings, the Rev. Beverley Ho, who later served God in Java and the Philippines, was the song-leader.
An invitation now came from Nanking. There he was at first invited to speak from 11 to 12 a.m. daily at the second session of a retreat for preachers and Bible-women of the five Methodist Mission districts. The invitation was later extended to two sessions daily, so greatly was Sung's message needed and appreciated. The speaker who led the first session in the morning before Dr. Sung was a sophisticated, scholarly professor from Yenching University in Peking. Both men were guests of Rev. and Mrs. F. P. Jones. The professor had heard aboutjohn Sung and out of curiosity decided to hear him. The first few days he was rather criticai. Then one noon at luncheon he remarked: "You know, I have not been reading my Bible enough lately!" Before the retreat was over, John Sung had completely won him to a new life of dedication to Christ.
At Nanking, John was very tired and had some trouble with his heart. He was invited back to Bethel for a week's rest, but accepted the invitation on condition that he should be allowed to preach once a day! So meetings were arranged for the Bible School students. But soon the 200 nursing students were deserting their lectures to attend. Preaching with tremendous energy, his words flowed out like a mighty cascade. The Holy Spirit carried home the message, and not only were no young people saved, but a Nightingale Club was formed to pray for the conversion of every student nurse and every patient in the hospital. Mere interest on the occasion of John Sung's first visit was now real revival. The Bediel leaders had no hesitation in inviting Dr. Sung to return to Bethel to take part in the great annual Bible Conference in August.
The doctor advised a six mondis' rest on account of his heart, but John felt that this trouble had a spiritual origin. What he was really sufFering from was pride! While at Nanking Miss Ella Leveritt of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Changchow, a city near the silk manufacturing town of Wusih, had invited him there. Thinking that the city was only a small place, John had declined the invitation. The Bethel Band, he now discovered, went anywhere, whether the place was small or big and the people few or many. So John decided that there were things he could learn from them and that they had a contribution which would make up for his own deficiencies. The Bethel Band had hastily returned from Shantung for the funeral of "Mother" Stone who was translated on April 25. They now accepted the invitation which he had refused, so he decided to go along with them to Changchow. Though he only preached once a day, his heart suddenly pained him again one day as he was preaching. But he carried on. If this was to be his last sermon on earth, he would give himself to it, he would discharge his debt to the lost, he would seek God's glory alone! "Praise to our wonder-working God", he says. "He had mercy on my physical weakness and healed me even as I was preaching with my usual vigour. Henceforth I will Hve only for the One who saves me and heals all my diseases."
The Rev. Andrew Gih, leader of the Band, who had been delayed in Shanghai by the illness of his mother, now joined the team to interpret for Dr. Sung. This was the beginning of a happy and fruitful association between the two evangeHsts. He arrived just after the evening meeting and, still wearing his raincoat, he led to Christ a girl who later went to the China Bible Seminary in Shanghai and dedicated her life and gifts to the service of the Lord. She became one of Dr. Sung's most faithful fellow workers - the first-frait of the joint efForts of the two men!
On returning to Shanghai, John was met with invitations from many churches to conduct meetings, but he decided to accept the renewed invitation from the Worldwide Bethel Evangelistic Band to return with them to Shantung. At the port town of Tsingtao, new problems confronted him. The so-called "Spiritual Gifts" movement was strong there and many were seeking the fullness of the Spirit with outward manifestations: the speaking with tongues; spiritual songs; visions; dreams and similar phenomena. It was regarded as a mark of spirituality to seek these things. John was mystified. He wanted to help them, but he did not know how. So he began to pray for wisdom and light on this problem and for a fresh understanding of Divine truth. From Tsingtao, the Band went on to Tahsingting, die veteran Pastor Ting Li-mei's home town.
"When we reached Tahsingting", John recalls, "my mind was in such confusion that I had no heart to preach. I preferred to sit and listen to Andrew Gih. One day, as Andrew preached on the Samaritan woman, I saw the light. The fullness of the Holy Spirit means that the believer has a spring within and that the rivers of living water flow out unto everlasting life! Yes; that was it! Many thirsty people do not know how to come to the Lord to drink from this inexhaustible spring. Instead they exert tremendous effort carrying dieir clumsy buckets to some distant well whose water gets less and less, while the weight on their shoulders gets heavier and heavier. Will they ever find rest? After they have drunk they must draw again; the more they draw, the thirstier they become. Draw-drink-weariness - the endless cycle! And still no rest! After they have done all they can, dieir thirst remains unquenched! Dear brethren and sisters, why don't you see that when sin goes out the living waters flow in? Don't go on carrying your load of sin to the stagnant waters of the well. The blessing of God is not in seeking satisfaction in tongues and dreams, but in becoming, an empty, clean channel through which the water of the Spirit can flow out to the dry and thirsty hearts around, causing them to become fruitful too. Thus 'give up' is the secret of 'get'. A love-inspired witness is the true way to seek and to maintain the fullness of the Spirit. For me, the Tsingtao problem was solved!"
At Tsimu, the Band heard with sorrow of the death of Miss Dora Yii, one of China's leading Christian women. Andrew Gih also received news of the illness of his grandmother and, leaving John Sung in charge, he left for Shanghai. It was here that John began to make the emphasis that God had recently shown him.
And it was here that the first preaching band was organized since he had been working with the Bethel Band. Moving on to Tsinan, the provincial capital, he again preached on the Samaritan woman with great freedom and power. Sung had been gaining confidence steadily and now felt that he was really finding his feet. The experimental period was ending.
From Tsinan, the Band went on to Taian, the city at the foot of one of China's famous mountain beauty spots. The grave of Confucius lies close by. Though previously a strong centre of Christian life, Satan had been very busy making havoc of the church. A wave of anti-Christian animosity had swept over the community; churches had been wrecked, mission schools forced to close and some of the pastors compelled to flee with their families. One day in June the Bethel Band arrived and put up in a house which had been thoroughly looted of all the furniture except the brick bed which is a part of the structure of most houses in North China. Here, in this centre where the Christians were greatly discouraged after their terrible experiences, Dr. Sung was greatly used of God. There were 103 new converts. One of them was a youth of only nineteen who had broken every one of the Ten Commandments, but who heard the sermon on the Prodigal Son and came back to God in true repentance. And there were many others like him.
In response to an urgent appeal from a missionary in another part of the same province the Band went, tired as they were, and embarked on a programme of seven meetings a day! The church was a large but cold and formal one. However, things soon began to change. The bright music attracted the crowds. The first response was among the boys and girls m the mission schools and every child professed to accept Christ. At the meetings for the adults, the Holy Spirit broke in in an amazing way. Conviction of sin, confession, cleansing in the Precious Blood, great joy and spontaneous testimony were again the features of His working.
Every night the people went out into the streets on their way home, singing as they went. But not everyone was in sympathy. One of the missionaries in this city told Dr. Sung that he did not believe in the Second Corning of Christ, that the Old Testament was unreliable and that he objected to talk about the Blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Not knowing Dr. Sung's history, he asked him one day what his opinion was about science and religion. Dr. Sung's reply was: "Science is good, but it cannot save people from their sins!"
And when the missionary suggested that the highest type of Christian was represented by men like Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick and Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Sung's response was: "China does not need the teaching of Fosdick or Gandhi. The teaching of Confucius is better far than theirs. What the Chinese need is Jesus Christ and His Cross. People talk about Fosdick, but what do they know about him? I have studied under him and I rejected his teachings utterly and finally." At the service which followed, Dr. Sung preached on Calvary, and over ioo stayed to pray and to pledge themselves to take up the Cross and to follow Christ. What better illustration of his thesis than this could there have been!
The city of Tenghsien was the chief centre of one of the biggest missions in China. There were several large educational institutions there: a theological seminary for men and women, a Bible School, a high school and a primary school. The seminary was one of the few in China at that time true to the whole Bible. None of the four young evangelists had completed a theological training and the prospects of this campaign were rather formidable.
At the early meetings government school students, filled with the current anti-Christian sentiment, came to make trouble but they were won over and many accepted Christ in the following days. Then the meetings moved to the Seminary and God began to work in the hearts of many of the students there as one after another was convicted of sin and was led to make confession.
One night there were 300 people seeking to get right with God and with one another, amid scenes of deep distress and tearful repentance. The news of this revival spread and many more came in from the country to attend the meetings. The largest building in the city was filled to overflowing. As sin was confessed and put away, waves of joy seemed to sweep through the congregation.
Praises mingled loudly with the prayers. The girls of the high school rose from their knees and stood in groups with their arms around one another singing praises to the Lord. The sermons were sometimes cut short by someone who could not wait to make restitution or confession to someone else present. One aged pastor confessed a sin of thirty-seven years previously which had been weakening his power as an evangelist. The Registrar at the hospital had for years been misappropriating funds and he now reckoned up the total amount of his thefts and made full restitution to the hospital there and then. "Praise the Lord!" sounded from many lips as testimonies to God's working in hearts were given. People set free from sin's bondage sang exuberantly: Jesus breaks every fetter! Jesus sets me free!
The glory of the Lord seemed to fill the place and there were many who opened their hearts to the infaling of the Holy Spirit for the first time. August drew near. The prospects for a large attendance at the Shanghai Bible Conference were not very bright. Civil war and large-scale banditry were disrupting Communications and discouraging travei. But the plans went ahead. Preachers and Christian workers from all the centres Dr. Sung had visited during the year as well as from elsewhere sent in registrations in such numbers that there was difficulty in arranging accommodation for them all.
Over 700 delegates came, some from long distances which necessitated dangerous journeys. With the crowds who came from all over Shanghai to attend, there were over 1,200 people crowded into the Bethel Church. Dr. Sung had been asked to draw up a tentative programme. The key word was "Revival". The speakers were to be the Rev. Andrew Gih, Dr. John Sung and the Rev. L. C. Ting. The topics at the sessions throughout the day were Prayer Revival, Song Revival, Bible Revival, Service Revival and Testimony Revival. At the Bible Revival session, Dr. Sung spoke on "A Bunch of Keys to the Word". Then under the title of "Service Revival" he expounded theBook of Acts.
Over 700 delegates came, some from long distances which necessitated dangerous journeys. With the crowds who came from all over Shanghai to attend, there were over 1,200 people crowded into the Bethel Church. Dr. Sung had been asked to draw up a tentative programme. The key word was "Revival". The speakers were to be the Rev. Andrew Gih, Dr. John Sung and the Rev. L. C. Ting. The topics at the sessions throughout the day were Prayer Revival, Song Revival, Bible Revival, Service Revival and Testimony Revival. At the Bible Revival session, Dr. Sung spoke on "A Bunch of Keys to the Word". Then under the title of "Service Revival" he expounded theBook of Acts.
The emphasis through the entire conference was on the need for a nation-wide evangelism in China. Every speaker urged that China must be evangelized quickly. There was no time to waste. To this end, everyone present was challenged to get right with God, seek deliverance from sin and claim the power of the Holy Spirit to do great things in the Mame of Christ. Dr. Sung, despite the great heat that sent him from the platform after every service with his cotton garments drenched in perspiration, preached with his characteristic originality and drama. With intense fervour, he spoke of the importance of becoming holy if evangelism was to bear fruit. At the end of every address, he would appeal in his rasping voice and with deep feeling: "O friends, are you ready for the task? Are your hands clean for the work? Do you know the power of the Holy Ghost in your lives? Call on God for it!
Prepare for the work! Pray! Stand up and pray! Reach out and take hold of God!" And the great company would rise and, all praying out loud together, would plead for themselves and for the Christless millions of China. Every province but one was represented. As hands were upraised in supphcation, it seemed as if, like Esther of old, these people were reaching out to touch the sceptre of the King for their loved country's sake. Oh, how they prayed! Not once a day, but after every session, until it could be seen from the shining faces of the delegates as they left the church that their prayers had been answered. The closing testimony meeting went on for hours. No one could stop it.
Pastors of leading churches testified with shame to fruitless lives, to indifFerence to the condition of those without Christ and to lack of real interest in God's work. But they could also speak of the new vision that had come and the new purpose that had been born to spend and be spent for God. Schoolboys and girls, too, testified to their conversion and determirution to win all their schoolfellows to Christ. Those were hallowed days of blessing and great joy. It was more than ever clear that Dr. Sung was an instrument God had raised up for such a time in the history of the nation and of the Church in China.
With Bethel in Manchuria 1931
IN the autumn of 1931, the political tension was almost at breaking-point. Japan's designs were already clear and Manchuria was under the threat of aggression. Andrew Gih, the leader of the Bethel Worldwide Evangehstic Band, had intended to visit Manchuria and Mongolia in the spring, but open doors in other provinces had kept the Band fully busy right up to the time of the Conference. It now seemed even more urgent for the Band to go to the "Three North-eastern Provinces", the name by which all Chinese know Manchuria.
The other original members of the Band were Frank Ling from Foochow, Lincoln Nieh and Philip Lee. The two latter were in their late teens and all three were musical, especially Philip Lee, who had a trained tenor voice and could play almost any wind or stringed instrument. After the Summer Conference, Andrew Gih invited John Sung to join them formally, even though he well knew that he himself, the leader of the Band, would henceforth be less prominent than the now famed Dr. Sung.
As a result of the Summer Conference, the Bethel Bands had agreed to emphasize in all their campaigns four important features of a healthy church life: the Watch-tower or prayer meeting; Evangehstic Bands, composed of new converts and others; Bible Classes for effective foliow-up work; and the institution of family worship in the home. The influence of Dr. Sung's experience in Fukien and Central China is plain. A "Watch-tower" was set up in a room at Bethel where every day from early morning until late at night someone was always at prayer for the work of the the several Evangehstic Bands. The plan of campaign was for the regular members of the Worldwide Evangelistic Band to leave for Manchuria at the end of August, while Dr. Sung returned to Fukien to take his wife home. Then John Sung and Frank Ling were to meet the other three at Dairen. Let John Sung relate the story of his journey home in his own words:
"Now tliat I had a message, I was ready to go anywhere to lead revival meetings. But God still had a lesson of obedience to teach me. As a result of this experience, it was indelibly impressed on me that I could all my life safely place myself in the keeping of a loving, almighty, unchangeable Lord who never makes a mistake, I had but to walk in His ways and He would bear the full responsibihty of caring for me. Even if this took me through the valley of the shadow of death, there would be nothing to fear; so long as the Lord was with me.
"My wife had also been one of those attending the Bethel Conference. I myself had not yet formally joined the Bethel Worldwide Band, but in order to set myself free for the work, I decided to take my wife back home to Hinghwa. Even before we started on the journey I had a God-given premonition that some special danger lay ahead. Was it to be pirates? or shipwreck? or serious illness? or violeiit death? I did not know. When the sailing of our ship was delayed, many of the passengers who had come from Fukien to attend the conference, decided to go ashore to buy sweets and biscuits etc. I jokingly tried to persuade them not to, saying that the sea was going to be rough. But they just smiled or rebuked me for saying such an unlucky thing! They could not be blamed. Had we known the danger that lay ahead, none of us would ever have gone on board. But to know God's will and not to obey robs us of peace. It is better to obey the will of God and die in the doing of it than to disobey and live. However, I felt in my own heart that the coming danger, whatever it was, would not be unto death. My life work was not to end so soon!
"The name of the boat was Tong Kang. I had lost $10 soon after going on board. I was afraid and wanted to run away, but God would not let me. So I had to follow on. The first day out, the wind and the sea were calm, the ship was well loaded and there was no motion. Everyone was happy. Then the second day, one of the boilers exploded. The ship took on a dangerous list and most of the passengers became seriously alarmed. I suggested a prayer meeting, but there was little response. Then the second and last boiler exploded too and the ship came to a standstill.
The hull sprang several leaks and the sea poured in. The crew jettisoned the cargo to lighten the ship but the water continued to gain ground and pumping could not keep pace with it. The noise of agonized weeping was now heard on all sides and everyone feared that there was no hope. The ship would normally sink in a few hours' time.We must pray! I again called a prayer meeting and some of the non-Christians joined us. We prayed and I silently looked to God, thinking inevitably of St. PauTs journey to Italy. Believing that God was going to answer prayer, I, like Paul, comforted the passengers. Meanwhile we looked out over the ocean, hoping to see another vessel coming to our rescue.
About noon we sighted a large ship in the distance and everyone was as overjoyed as if they had discovered a new continent! But, to our great dismay, it turned out to-be a Japanese vessel! Would they save us or leave us to perish? Joy gave place to renewed fear. Death seemed nearer than ever. Finally, I led the passengers in shouting "Help us! Help us!" in English, while we waved a red flag. The Achiyama Maru then turned in our direction and came within hailing distance. She only had one lifeboat to hold ten so had to make a number of trips. The passengers, fearing that the ship would sink before it returned, surged to the front to be the first to be taken ofF. One woman who had with her her life savings of $600 in goods which she would have to leave behind jumped into the water and was drowned. One of the men was careless and fell overboard as the boat listed and was also drowned. Another man who was being hauled up the side of the rescue vessel did not have enough strength to hold on and fell back into the sea. What sights those were! And when men are sinking in a world of sin, it is just the same. They cannot trust in their own strength or save themselves. Unless they cast away their worldly gains and go on board the ark, how can they hope to reach the other side of this sea of sorrow safely?
" When everyone had been taken on board the Japanese vessel, the Tong Kang still did not sink. Something seemed to be keeping her afloat. (She was subsequently towed into port by the Watt Hsiang and the passengers were able to recover their personal baggage.) Though we had been saved, food was very short, but we were soon in Amoy, where we were all cross-examined about the accident and kept for a day or two before we could go our several ways.
"After such an experience, how could I not think of God's will as good and perfect. 'All things work together for good to them that love God ' God had enabled me to obey His will in a great trial and should I not all the more despise the world and earnestly seek that inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away. I had also been used to comfort others and to see more clearly than ever the task which had been entrusted to me: that of saving men, at all times and in every place."
When the news of this adventure became known, there was deep gratitude to God in the hearts of Christians all over China that John Sung's life had been spared. At home old Pastor Sung was surprised and delighted at the evident change in his son and the new power in his preaching. But John could not tarry. He had an appointment in Manchuria for which he was already late.
He took leave of his family once more and proceeded to Shanghai to join Frank Ling with an inward conviction that in Manchuria there were bitter experiences and heavy cross-bearing ahead. But, for himself, he says, inspired by his recent experience, he was determined that "as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death'.
The two men joined the other members of the Band, who had already had good meetings in Dairen, at Fengfangchen. The triennial conference of one of the Lutheran missions was in progress, with 200 delegates from all over Manchuria present.
The invitation to the Band to speak was somewhat reluctant. Lincoln Nieh led the singing and introduced the people to some of the Bethel choruses, while Philip Lee sang. Then John Sung gave his testimony, speaking with great power. When an appeal was made, twenty-five Chinese and two missionaries went to the front. They there poured out their hearts in prayer before God, confessing their sins with many tears. But some of the missionaries objected to the "excitement" and the loud praying. The next day, they sent a Chinese deputation to say that no further invitations to preach would be given to the Band unless they lowered their voices, used no gestures and prayed quietly. How could men whose hearts were aflame accept such limiting restrictions? When it was announced that business meetings would take the place of all other planned meetings on the Monday, the Band packed up their belongings and, thanking God that they had been accounted worthy to suffer shame for His Name, left on the night train. They were seen offjust before midnight by many of the delegates and one of the missionaries, who was almost heartbroken over what had taken place. A Post Office ofHcial who was meeting the train came up to Dr. Sung to tell him that, listening to him outside the chapei the night hefore, he had decided to trust Christ. Their wimess had not been in vain!
One of the things that saddened Dr. Sung was that the missionaries had used the threat of the withdrawal of funds to the church if they did not withdraw their invitation to the Bethel Band. This led Dr. Sung to write in his journal: "Beloved fellow workers and fellow Christians! Why do you still depend on the financial support of foreigners? You should look to the Lord of all things and realize that the time has come for the church to be selfpropagating, self-governing and self-supporting - truly independent!"
From Fengfangchen, the Band went to Mukden,arriving a week ahead of Schedule. As things turned out, their visit proved to be just on the eve of the "Mukden incident", when the Japanese Imperial Army seized the city as a prelude to occupying the whole of Manchuria. This was the event which enraged China, shocked the world and eventually led to war with China after the League of Nations had failed to act to stop aggression. At this crisis in the city's history and in contrast to what had happened at Fengfangchen, the Band was to be God's instrument in bringing about the greatest revival the Church in Mukden had ever experienced.
And this is not overlooking the revivais that had attended the ministry of Jonathan Goforth in Manchuria. At first, attendance at the meetings was small, but ten responded to the appeal the first evening. The next morning at 5.30 a.m. the church was full.
Twenty-seven meetings were held in all and over 1,000 people confessed their sins and made profession of faith in Christ. There was increasing joy as the days went on at the great things God was doing for that city. Dr. Sung wrote to Dr. Mary Stone, Jr., and Miss Hughes:
"... Before leaving Shanghai for Manchuria the Holy Spirit foretold me that we should be led by Him into the wilderness to be tried. Now we find we are really in the wilderness, and actually have met three kinds of temptation.
"The first trial is to change stones into bread. We thought that the Conference to which we had been invited to speak would give us an open door to Manchuria because in that Conference all the preachers and workers of that Mission throughout Manchuria can be reached But this is not the way of our Lord. He did not allow us to change the stones into bread. The missionaries with fixed ideas and those preachers with traditional opinions are in the eyes of the Lord merely stones. The Lord can change them into bread, but they would not let Him do it. We are glad we were driven out from that place because this experience has helped the young evangelists to be humble, not to be too ambitious and try to turn the world upside down in one minute's time.... All that I left there was my personal testimony....
Of course, after leaving there we prayed more for the Holy Spirit's guidance. "Thank God, the name of the next place we came to means 'Listen to the Will of Heaven'! Several great evangelists have been here. They helped create a spiritual appetite. On our part our previous experience taught us to trust more in prayer and living upon the Word of the Lord, for one day we prayed together eight or ten times, something we had never done before. Here we found the key for revival. After the shame of the Cross there was the glory of the Resurrection and for this reason we have had about 1,000 sound conversions and 279 beautiful testimonies have been handed to me. Now Bands have been organized among the converts. This is the greatest revival I have ever seen in my life. Praise His Holy Name!. .. "
The campaign over, the train carrying the Band to their next destination in Heilungkiang Province pulled out of Mukden on the morning of September 18th. It was the last train to leave the capital before the Japanese took over control of the city! Chaos and confusion reigned there, but in the hearts of hundreds of new believers there was nothing but the peace and joy of sin forgiven.
Everywhere the fear of widespread hostilities caused the Christians to advise the Band to go back home, but as doors opened in city after city they felt that God was leading them on.
"This may be our last opportunity - and Manchuria's!" It was - before Manchuria became a puppet Japanese state. Right up to Hailar, last big city on the railway before it crosses the Russian frontier at Manchuli to join the Trans-Siberian Line, the Band went. Fear of bombing was keeping people from travelling and the trains were almost empty. Officials were suspicious of the five young men so near the frontier and interrogations gave opportunities for many a personal testimony. At Hailar, the church was in a sad condition under "an unconverted pastor and two worldly elders", one of whom was engaged in smuggling. At the first meeting thirty people professed faith in Christ, and there might have been many more had the Band not been forced to leave the city by news of heavy bombing of the railways and the possibility of being cut off. Harbin was therefore reached two weeks ahead of schedule.
Prior to the arrival of the Band in Harbin, the Chinese National Council and the Synod of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Mukden had raised a sum of money for a special retreat for all the Harbin Chinese churches which were in danger of isolating themeslves from fellowship with the other churches of Harbin and China. They were sadly divided among themselves and torn by bitter rivalry. Three of them had driven out the missionaries in an endeavour to prove that the Church was not the "running dog of the foreigner". The difEculties were so great that the proposed retreat seemed doomed to failure. Pastors of the larger churches where the meetings would have to be held refused to agree to the speakers suggested, and the missionaries who were behind the plan were almost in despair.
Dr. and Mrs. Derning were stationed in Harbin at the time. Just as Mrs. Deming was at her wits' end, the pastor of the Chinese Methodist Church led in the five young men, who had arrived so unexpectedly following the curtailed Hailar campaign. Dr. Deming was away, but Mrs. Deming soon recognized in Dr. Sung the same young man whom she and her husband had befriended in New York at Union Theological Seminary and of whom they had read such glowing reports in the Bible Union for China magazine.
Would the local Christians receive these young men after rejecting other "big speakers"? They did, and all the churches except one decided to unite for meetings to be held in the large Union Church. It was Saturday when the Band arrived. The same evening, the first hastily arranged meeting was held. A Japanese plane had been circling over the city during the day and during the meeting there were two loud explosions. But no one took any notice. The cheerful singing and the happy team work of the Band held the attention of everyone. Dr. Sung preached, and at once gripped his audience with his graphic style and burning zeal.
As he iinished, wet with perspiration in spite of the winter temperature outside, Andrew Gih gave the appeal and conducted the after-meeting. Meetings were arranged from seven to nine every morning and from five to seven every evening, Pastor Gih preaching in the mornings and Dr. Sung in the evenings.
During the hours between, the individual members of the Band were free to visit the many churches of the city - Chinese, Korean, Russian and even German. Only one of the churches frowned on their indecorous evangelism and refused their cooperation.
The campaign brought to Harbin the first real revival the Chinese churches of the city had ever experienced. Among those who found Christ personally for the first time were several leading laymen and lay preachers and a Y.M.C.A. secretary who had been creating serious trouble among the churches. Missionaries, pastors and church workers, some of whom had not spoken to one another for months, met at the communion rail and asked forgiveness of one another. There was a great putting right of wrongs, an unreserved consecration of many young lives, hundreds of conversions and hundreds more seeking the infilling of the Holy Spirit. The people crowded to the fiont of the church after every appeal to pray and to receive personal help.
The last meetings in the great church were packed and the people would hardly let the young evangelists go. The main meetings over, Dr. and Mrs. Deming urged the Band to stay on for a few days, partly for a rest and partly to lead meetings in the newly erected Korean Methodist Church at which Dr. Deming interpreted from English into Korean.
Twenty Koreans decided for Christ. The Band moved over from the Chinese Y.M.C.A., where they had been staying, to the Demings' home. Dr. Sung and Philip Lee were given the sittingroom and the other three occupied Dr. Deming's study. Mrs. Deming delighted to attend to the personal needs of the Band: laundry, sewing, mending and the like. A young out-of-work tailor was employed to help the men and he was surprised and dccply impressed to observe that the Band rose at 4.30 every morning for prayer and Bible study.
Dr. Sung daily went over his message with Frank Ling, his interpreter, however often he may have preached a similar icrmon before. By the time the evening meeting was over John w;is so completely exhausted that he would fling himself on the bed to rest. As Mrs. Deming used to see the weary forni lying there the Scripture came to her mind: "This is my body which is In ok cu for you." John Sung was already living up to the limit of li is strength and, like his Lord, pouring out his life for God and His hungering children.
He was never long firee from pain from the old wound left by the operation on his back in America and the pain always retumed when he was overtired or upset. But, like Paul, he regarded this as his "thorn in the flesh" and was able to glory in his own weakness. "Were it not for this", he once wrote, "it would have been impossible to restrain my proud disposition." But after a rest John used to kneel up at the diningroom table, under a good light, and in fine, beautiful Chinese characters write up his journal. Wherever he went, this was an essential part of his daily routine.
He was never long firee from pain from the old wound left by the operation on his back in America and the pain always retumed when he was overtired or upset. But, like Paul, he regarded this as his "thorn in the flesh" and was able to glory in his own weakness. "Were it not for this", he once wrote, "it would have been impossible to restrain my proud disposition." But after a rest John used to kneel up at the diningroom table, under a good light, and in fine, beautiful Chinese characters write up his journal. Wherever he went, this was an essential part of his daily routine.
Frank Ling, who knew Dr. Sung so intimately, says of his life during his public ministry: "It was very simple: praying, writing up his diary, preaching and personal dealing and three meais a day. He wrote an average of several thousand words a day in his diary, including fresh gleanings from the Scriptures. No Chinese can ever have devoted so much time and gone into such detail. Once, for example, after a meai in a Christian home, John's flickering writing-brush paused for a moment while he asked the name of one of the dishes they had eaten! Dr. Sung believed that no detail of his life was too small to be unimportant in relation to his work. A peculiar habit of his was to finger a few cubes of bamboo from chopped-up chopsticks as he wrote his diaries or prepared his sermons. Some of these diaries were lost during the Sino-Japanese War, but the rest remain in the possession õf his family.
John was not an easy guest to entertain and lacked all the social graces. Among other things, he invariably ordered chicken prepared in the Chinese fashion in rich chicken soup at least once a day. This earned him the nickname of "the chicken preacher"! But Mr. Ling explains: "If you have ever attended his meetings and seen how he preaches, often three times a day and as long as two hours at a time, exerting every ounce of his physical and nervous energy from beginning to end, you could not blame him for asking for chicken soup to sustain him. Without special nourishment, he could never have kept up his strenuous work."
Describing the Mukden campaign, Dr. Sung continued in bis letter to the Bethel headquarters: "... Then we came to Harbin. God just prepared workers and preachers for us to work with. He wanted us to learn how to work step by step and build the revival upon the rock.... We helped them realize the wondcr and stability of the Bible. When this battle was won invitations came not only from the Chinese but from the Russian, Korean and German Churches.... Now we are beginning to meet our third temptation, 'Kneel down and you can have everything'. We could stay in Harbin and work on with the Russian and German churches, thus opening the way for world-wide evangelism, but God wanted us to go forward and we have come to a small, cold place called Hulan. There is a hard battle ahead of us. Pray that we may be humble enough to meet this third and hardest trial.... Yours in soul-saving service, John Sung."
When Dr. Sung left Harbin he took with him a large floursack full of letters and the Band undertook in time to answer them all. Most of them were just testimonies of blessing received, but some were asking for help in spiritual problems. The Harbin churches, once so divided, immediately arranged for united prayer meetings to be held in all the churches in rotation. Attendance at these meetings jumped and there was great joy at the reunion which the Holy Spirit had brought about and great liberty in prayer. Prayer groups were also formed in private homes to keep the fires of revival burning.
After Harbin the Band divided into two: Dr. Sung, Frank Ling and Philip Lee went to Hulan and Suihwa, while Andrew Gih and Lincoln Nieh went to Asahur. At Hulan, the Principal of a large school run by the Y.M.C. A. and four of his teachers were converted together with most of the boys. Dr. Sung also preached on the Five Loaves and Two Fishes in a Russian church. As the Russian pastor interpreted, many were in tears and, at the invitation, fifty Russian Christians dedicated their lives for the evangelization of the Russians of Manchuria. There was also a remarkable case of a demon-possessed man who had ten times burned his Bible at the demon's behest being completely delivered after prayer and the laying on of hands. The Chinese church only numbered about forty, but there were eighteen new conversions during the three days' meetings.
At Suihwa there was a hospital, a school, a church and several missionary residences all on the same "compound": a typical "mission station". Three meetings a day were arranged. As elsewhere in China, the spirit of intense nationalism was high and the workers, Chinese and missionary, were hopelessly disunited.
Dr. Sung, conscious that he was under the direction of the Holy Spirit, was quite fearless and, as he so often did, acted in a most unexpected way. Having sensed the situation, Dr. Sung at one meeting took the step of calling all the leading nurses, doctors, teachers, Bible women, pastors and missionaries to stand in front of the large congregation. Then, addiossing the people, he asked, "Do you love your leaders?" and, receiving the answer "Yes", he asked again: "Then what is your prayer for them?"
"That they may be united in love and work together in unity!" came the answer. So everyone knelt to pray. As the people prayed, the leaders wept, but still would not confess their faults. The people prayed still more fervently while Dr. Sung asked each in turn: "Have you anything in your heart against anyone?" "Yes," several admitted. "I hate the missionary!" "Then go and tell him so and ask his forgiveness!" was the reply. And they did so. Then, turning to the missionary, he said: "You must have some sin to confess or all these people would not be hating you!" So the missionary confessed his faults. As Dr. Sung spoke to each, the Holy Spirit seemed to bring immediate conviction. Many of them came to his room later in, an agony of conviction, begging him to pray for them. Some of the workers spent hours in prayer and confession before the peace of pardon came. As the meetings ended there was unbounded joy everywhere in place of the previous atmosphere of mute antagonism. Dr. Sung's train was to leave at 7.30 a.m., so, not to be deprived of one more meeting, about seventy gathered for a farewell service at 5.30 a.m., before daylight!
The two sections of the Band met again at Harbin for a few devotional meetings. Time was getting short, and it was evident that they would have to divide forces again if they were to respond to the invitations which were reaching them. But there seems to have been some disagreement about their plans and to setde the matter they drew lots. As a result, Andrew Gih went to Chaoyangchen while John Sung remained in Harbin for a day or two and then was to go to Changchun and Kirin.
It is clear that the Enemy of souls was doing his best to hinder the work of the Holy Spirit by introducing differences of opinion among the five members of the Band. But they were aware of these attacks and no serious dissension was permitted to arise. Dr. Sung gave his last messages to the church leaders in Harbin on the Book of Acts, teaching them the trudis about the Holy Spirit. When the time came to leave by the night train, the Christians escorted them to the station to see them off. Right to the last moment Dr. Sung, leaning out of the carriage window, was giving texts widi their references to all who asked for them, while Philip Lee, lying in the upper berth of the sleeper, shone an electric torch on the open Bible. The chorus singing was so lusty that the station guards came rushing up to see what was going on!
Other groups of Japanese and Russians were seeing off important ofEcials. But who was this Dr. Sung who was arousing such enthusiasm? At Changchun, where Andrew Gih had already held meetings, Dr. Sung was invited to speak in the leading Chinese church, although the pastor said, "I do not believe in appeals and do not want anything emotional!" But as the Holy Spirit worked during the meetings the whole congregation rushed to the front to confess sin. Among them was their pastor who confessed especially the sin of dictating to the Holy Spirit.
At Kirin, Japanese troops were already in oceupation. The Korean Christians had all been scattered or arrested and the churches were full of apprehension. But one of the pastors, himself a well-known preacher, gave Dr. Sung a welcome. His was a flourishing church which had already been behind Dr. Sung in prayer and sympathy. From this pastor, Dr. Sung learned the Chinese phrase for "laying hold" of God and His promises and he began to expect God to "lay hold" of sinners. He prayed with new faith in the promises of God. And there was manifestly a working of the Spirit of God in this city too. One pastor of another church had forbidden his congregation to attend Dr. Sung's meetings. But on the last night he came. God "laid hold" of him and he pubhcly confessed that for six years he had neither read his Bible nor had a rnorning "quiet time". There was a Christian doctor in the city, too, but he was too proud to kneel when he prayed. One day, while operating in the theatre, his arm refused to respond to his brain. He fell immediately on his knees and cried to God to restore his arm and save the life of the patient. God heard his prayer. There was another man in the meetings who had been a "Boxer" in the 1900 uprising and had been guilty of the murder of a missionary. His arm had been paralysed ever since. One day he heard Dr. Sung ask, "Do you think that the Lord who saved the thief on the Cross can save you?" He immediately shouted out "Yes!" and instantly he recovered the use of his arm! The news of this miracle spread and many gave glory to God.
It was in Kirin, too, that Dr. Sung was greatly exercised about the question of baptizing new believers. He and the pastor, against the custom of the missionary society which insisted on a long period of"trial before baptism, decided to baptize the 200 converts on the basis of such verses as "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" and "What doth hinder me to be baptized?
... If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." John Sung had never done such a thing before and so it was something of a red-letter day.
The weather was by this time getting very cold and John had insufficient warm clothing. So he "laid hold" of God's promises and asked for a skin-lined gown such as is worn in the north in the winter. Within a very short time, one of the Christians gave him the very thing he had asked for!
From Kirin, John and Frank proceeded to the Band rendezvous at the port city of Yingkow, calling at Chaoyangchen en route. At Yingkow, the Band again used the method of casting lots to decide who should go to the Bible School for meetings and who should hold meetings in the church. John went to the Bible School and was soon in fresh difEculties. His first address to the students was on the "new birth" and many came to the front to confess sin and get right with God. The School principal objected to Dr. Sung's preaching, claiming that all the students were already "saved". There was a theological argument. But among the students theological niceties had no place. They were experiencing a new work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Many prayed through the night and were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Both Dr. Sung and the students learned much of praying through to victory and of spiritual warfare. Though his audiences at the Bible School were not large, the results were very farreaching.
To fulfil a promise, Dr. Sung returned to Chaoyangchen for a few days. It was here that he preached for the first time his famous sermon on "Open the coffin!" It was not enough, he insisted, to listen to a sermon. The coffin of our hearts had to be opened and the dead works taken out, one by one! Many church leaders, some of whom had come over from Kirin, responded and made public confession of sin. As Dr. Sung prayed for them and laid hands on them, they were filled with the Spirit, many of them receiving the gifts of healing and of casting out demons. They returned to their own districts to exercise a powerful witness for Christ. The glory of God was once more revealed.
"First the Cross, then the glory!" seemed to summarize the campaigns in the "Three North-eastern Provinces", which were henceforth to be known as Manchukuo so long as the Japanese remained in control. Over 3,000 people altogether had professed conversion in those few autumn months of 1931 and at a time when the whole area was in a state of warfare and turmoil. The Manchurian churches had begun to think in terms of an annual Bethel Conference in Manchuria, seeing that it was so difEcult for Manchurian Christians to travei to Shanghai. Plans were also set on foot for the Band to go to Korea during the summer of 1932, but political developments prevented these plans from ever being realized.
While the other members of the Band hurried back to Shanghai via Dairen, Dr. Sung returned to Shantung in response to a special invitation from the American Southern Baptist Mission in Hwanghsien. This was a large mission centre with schools and a hospital. Here the missionaries were in complete sympathy and the hearts of the people hungry and ready for the blessing of the Lord. The Spirit of God worked and many hearts of stone became hearts of flesh. From Hwanghsien John went to Pingtu and found that God had already begun to work. The people had been holding prayer meetings and some had been convicted of sin.
So when the message was proclaimed through God's servant, there was a great outpouring of the Spirit. It was here that one of the missionaries urged John to pray for some sick people, especially a Mrs. Lo, who had been paralysed for eighteen years.
After prayer and the laying on of hands, this woman was completely healed and for three more years continued to go around the countryside witnessing to the great thing God had done for her. Though an illiterate woman, her testimony lit the fire of revival all over the Pingtu district. Tsinan was also revisited and the results of the earlier campaign were still evident in a greatly quickened church. As there had been a certain amount of speaking in "tongues" and singing "spiritual songs", there were those who placed John Sung in the "Spiritual Gifts" category of preachers.
But John was well known for not advocating such things. His emphasis was not on such externai experiences but on the life of witness. In Tsinan, John was invited to meet some of the Cheloo Christian University students in the home of Dr. Thornton Stearns. Forty or fifty of them found Christ in a few days. From Tsinan John would have returned by rail to Shanghai, but the service was interrupted. So he had to go by sea via Tsingtao.
This gave him the opportunity to hold a few days' convention meetings there. He was especiallycareful to avoid suspicion of any extravagant doctrines and earnestly warned the Christians against one-sided teaching. He urged them above all to follow the way of love. And so, after a remarkable tour in Shantung, he returned to Shanghai.