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Lowell Brueckner

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A life-size image of a small Indian woman, Pandita Ramabai.
I should have gone to India in December of 2009, but I had not thought about getting a visa, so the plan changed and I went two or three months later. When I returned from India, I was convinced that I had not gone principally to share something there, but to observe what the Lord had done and tell the story to others. If I had gone in the original plan, I would not have come to the Pune region, where the mission begun by Pandita Ramabai is situated and I would not have known the story that follows:

Kedgaon, 55 kilometers east of Pune is a village difficult to find on a map of India. It is another place like Nazareth, without importance, but chosen by God as the place where He would pour out of His Spirit and revive the church. Those who know the ways of the Lord, will understand that that is a characteristic of His work.

Besides, God chose, not a man, but a woman, despised in the culture of those days, prepared her and worked through her to carry out His eternal plans. She was the daughter of a teacher of the Hindu scriptures, born on Abril 23, 1858, into the high Brahma caste. Her name was Rama. Against the customs of the time, this man taught his wife to read, who in turn taught her daughter. Her childhood was very hard and her father, mother and a sister died during a time of famine, before she was 20 years old. Finally the only remaining member of her family, a brother, also died, and she was left alone.

That same year, at 22 years of age, she married a lawyer from a low caste (which raised a social storm for her) and found among his books a Gospel of Luke. Reading it, it was easy for her to recognize the superiority of Christianity compared to Hinduism, however her husband refused to permit her to become a Christian. Two years after their marriage, her husband died and left her with a baby daughter seven months old. In 1883, she went to England with a desire to be a doctor. There she embraced Christianity and was baptized. Soon afterwards, she visited the United States and in those two countries, she told her burden to help the women of India… above all, the child widows, who were so badly treated.

As far as I could see,  the mission 
walls lined both sides of the street,
With the help of churches, she was able to buy a large tract of land in Kedgaon and began to receive these children. In fact, not too long afterwards, she was inundated with 2,000 girls and women, when a famine of two years duration struck. They built makeshift sheds in order to attend them.

(It must be understood that this mission concentrates on the enormous needs of India’s women, as well as on orphans. The women were considered evil and unworthy to receive an education. The only god that they could have were their husbands and they were to give all their life-long devotion to them. For example, many times a child was sold cheaply to an old man to be his wife. When the husband died, the in-laws blamed the little girl, then would enslave her, treat her badly, sometimes even branding her with a hot iron. Ramabai, above all else, dedicated herself to help these “child widows”, but also reached out to retarded girls, blind women, etc. Although these conditions have become better in modern India, the old mentality dies hard.)

In 1891, Ramabai began to understand the spiritual implications of Christianity. She wrote, “One thing I knew by this time… that I needed Christ and not merely His religion… I was desperate… What was to be done? My thoughts could not and did not help me. I had at last come to an end of myself, and unconditionally surrendered myself to the Saviour, and asked Him to be merciful to me, and to become my righteousness and redemption, and to take away all my sin…”

(click to see large images of all photos)
In 1898, she attended the famous Keswick Convention, which continues to take place every year in England. For the first time, she heard about revival and afterwards someone sent her the written history of the great revival in Wales. She saw that God was doing a tremendous work in His children and rejoiced to think that He could do it among the Indians. Then she heard that God was moving in India in Khassia and the Jayantia Hills. About three years before God poured out of His Spirit upon the mission, 70 people in the mission voluntarily began to form a prayer circle.

God began His work silently, but surely. The number gradually increased to 700. A spirit of prayer was poured out upon them. In the night of June 28, 1905, one of the matrons had a dream (although she didn’t make it known until July 12). She saw the church building surrounded by live coals with flames of fire. Many of the girls wanted to quench the fire, but she told them not to, until they learned what this meant. Then another woman said that they should not put out the fire at all, because it was not a common fire, but it was the fire of the Holy Spirit, who they need to receive, because God wanted to give Him. The following day, June 29, was very significant. There is the background and what follows, will be the words of Rama herself (Ramabai, as she was called), and then the words of other witnesses of the events of those days will follow:

“At 3:45 am (June 29), J.B. had received the Holy Spirit and had sent for me. All the girls were assembled. I went over, and J.B. sat there exhorting the girls to repent, and telling them she had received the Spirit. There was real power in her testimony. The girls were praying and confessing their sins. J.B was weeping. She said, ‘Oh Lord, I am full of joy, but forgive and cleanse my sisters as you have me, give me strength to bear this sorrow for their sins. Then she would exhort them, and then break out in some new and beautiful praise.”

Inside this door at 3:45 a.m., revival fires engulfed a seeker.
If I am not mistaken, J.B. was the one, whose roommate was awakened at the early-morning hour, mentioned above, to see her companion engulfed in flames. She ran for a bucket of water, but when she returned, she found her roommate in the same condition, as when she left. This fire, as that which burned in the bush that Moses saw, did not harm her body, but consumed her sin and purified her gold.  

“In the evening prayer meeting on the 30th of June, the Spirit of God came on those praying people with such power, that it was impossible for them to keep silent. They burst out in tears; loud cries, were heard in all parts of the church building, and we were awe-struck. We wondered what was going to happen next. Little children, middle-sized girls and young women wept bitterly and confessed their sins. Some few saw visions and experienced the power of God, and things that are too deep to describe. Two little girls had the Spirit of prayer poured on them in such great torrents, that they continued to pray for hours. They were transformed with heavenly light shining on their faces.”

“Since that time the work of the Holy Spirit is deepening among us. One of the old girls who had sinned against light and was greatly hardened, came under the mighty hand of God, and was wonderfully saved. On the 5th of July, this girl… was suddenly taken from among us. There was not the slight indication of illness about her. She did her usual work, and attended the school…. She was suddenly taken ill and died within an hour. The doctor and nurses did their very best to save her life, but her spirit fled to be with God. She was quite conscious till the last moment and told one of the nurses, that the Lord stood by her and was calling her to go to Him.”

“There had come upon us a time of depression… The Spirit of God revealed to me, that the depression had come, because we had refused to give glory to God, by not allowing Mr. Ward to publish the account. I made up my mind to praise God, and give Him glory in public, the first time He would make it possible for me to testify before people outside of our home. The depression left me immediately after this.”

Some testimonies from others:
Live coals were seen around the church building.

“I have never seen such repentance, such heart-searching, such agony over sin, and tears, as they cried for pardon and cleansing and a baptism of the Holy Ghost. It was a time of intense suffering, and they seemed to have their eyes opened to see ‘the body of sin’ within them. And then came a strong realization of Christ’s work on the cross; then peace, followed by intense joy. It often took a soul hours to pass through all these experiences. They cared neither for food nor sleep. One soul after another came into light and joy, and soon half of the room was full of girls jumping, praising, clapping, but so unconscious of self and so conscious of the presence of Christ! It seemed a sight too holy to look upon.”

The joy was as overjoying to behold as the repentance and soul-wrestling was distressing. The Lord used the word that night greatly, and the work went on thus rapidly for three days . Satan was also busy, and sought to counterfeit all we say. Some who saw the joy of the others thought they could get it by imitating what they had seen the others do. All manner of erroneous ideas, coming from heathenism, had had to be corrected… Yet the work goes on. Yesterday and today (Aug. 16) I should say that 25 or 30 have received a baptism of the Holy Spirit. A spirit of prayer and supplication for a revival in India has been poured out like a flood… The whole company burst forth simultaneously in audible prayer which constantly increased in volume. It went on for three hours without a break. (Another witness testifies that in the midst of all this praying of many at one and the same time, there was yet no sense of confusion or disorder)… Many little children joined in this long season of prayer, sustained in it by the power of the Holy Spirit. The work is of God, and man cannot stop it, so long as He can find receptive souls. But it is just like Him to choose the foolish, the weak, the base, the despised, and bestow upon them His might, that He may be gloried (1 Cor. 1:26-29)…”

“During these seasons there are usually some confessing their sins, often with bitter weeping that is painful to hear and bear, but when God begins to work, how can we, even if we dared, do anything? The same Spirit who has shown them their sins will also point them to Christ. Many of these who have such a vision of their sins and repent so deeply, have been Christians for years. The burning work has to go on to cleanse and empty them for the filling of the Holy Spirit… Truly the evil spirits are being cast out. There is much that one cannot understand at first, but one grows, by His grace, into the work, and learns to distinguish, by the outward signs, as well as the Spirit’s inward teaching, the false from the true. Satan counterfeits all the Lord does, and is working hard in every way to hinder and spoil the work of God, but he is a conquered foe.”

“Showers of blessing! Even young girls are stricken down with the spirit of repentance. They cannot eat, sleep or work until they go to the bottom of things. They seek the peace of pardon, and immediately begin to seek sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They search, and weep before God until He shows them the state of the heart. They repent, restore, confess, and finally come forth into such joy that it knows no bounds. They call it a baptism of fire. They say that when the Holy Spirit comes upon them it is almost unbearable – the burning within. After the burning they are transformed, their faces light up with joy, their mouths are filled with praise. One little girl of 12 is constantly laughing – her face plain, even ugly, is beautiful and radiant. She does not know it, but is occupied with Jesus. This transformation is marked. You think you have looked on an angel face. She has been seeking for days. Many are full of joy – transformed. The Bible school is full of Spirit-baptized girls. Only a very few are left. They are seeking. I think at least 400 have received the Holy Spirit. Many are seeking. The inquiry room is seldom vacant, often the work goes on half of a night, or begins at 2 or 3 in the morning, and twice it has gone on all night. I spent all of Thursday night in the inquiry room. All night long the matrons kept sending in stricken girls. They came into great joy, sang, jumped, praised – the holiest sight I ever saw. The work goes on apace. Some claim to have
It seemed to me that every blind person, who
entered for their special meetings, carried a
huge smile. 
seen the Lord – one of them a blind girl. All speak of His coming soon. One sang hymns, - composing them as she sang – lovely hymns – to native airs. Yesterday afternoon many of the children could not go to school, they were so full of joy, so occupied with praise or so burdened for souls. Those who went, clapped hands, praised, jumped; others were praying for conversions with streaming eyes. The masters fled outside in consternation and sent for aid. I went and started a meeting and Manoramabai
(Ramabai’s daughter) came about two minutes later and helped me. The teachers fled, but Manoramabai invited them to come back. Some few came. I felt as though the Lord opened my mouth as He opened Peter’s on the day of Pentecost.”

“The Lord has shown us… that the works we are doing will all be burned. We have worked, and worked, and worked! Worked ourselves almost to death, and there has been no fruit unto the Lord. We must confess we are unprofitable servants. Our works have mostly been works of the flesh, and very little of the Spirit, ‘and they that are in the flesh cannot please God.’ Our work will bear a lasting fruit if we work less and pray more. So for the present the Lord would have us spend more time in prayer. The school work and industrial work have suffered much by letting the girls go to the inquiry room or stay up all night and most of the day praying for others and for themselves. The Lord wants us to give time to our children to enquire into the state of their own hearts. In doing this, we have excited much criticism, but we are content to be criticized.”
Ramabai again:
“Most of us have been wanting to have a revival and praying for it. Are we willing that the revival should come in God’s way and not ours? I am nothing but a babe in Christ, just out of dark heathenism. I am not in a position to teach old Christians and missionaries, who have had years and years of Christian teaching to help them in life. But I am certain of one thing, that those, who like me, are newly born in Christ, need a word of warning. I beseech you dear brethren and sisters, not to lay down rules for God as regards the way in which He shall send the much desired revival among us. The revival will certainly come all over India. It will pass by us, if we do not allow it to get in us. The Spirit of God will work in the Indian Christian church if only He is allowed to have full liberty.”

“I tried to lay down some rules for God’s work at the beginning of the revival at Mukti. I soon found out that I stopped the work of the Holy Spirit by interfering with it. I want to be very proper and conduct meetings in our old civilized ways. But God would have none of my ways. He laid His hand on me, and put me low down in the dust and told me that I had better take my proper place, that of a worm (Is. 41:14); He said, ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways.’ I humbled myself under His mighty hand after receiving this severe rebuke and took my hand off the work. The Holy Spirit has full liberty to work in us, and He takes charge of the revival meetings at Mukti.”

“Some 700 girls and women out of the Mukti people, have given themselves to prayer and to the study of God’s word, that they may go places where God sends them to give the Gospel.”
A poster outside our bedroom on the mission grounds.
Manoramabai ( Ramabai's daughter) writes:
“I am not aware that anything like the present Holy Ghost revival, has ever visited India before the year 1905. God the Holy Ghost, is visiting us in a very special manner, and the Spirit of prayer and supplication has been, and is being poured on our children and ourselves. We realize more and more, that this is the time when we should give ourselves to prayer, and to the study of God’s Word, and to do His bidding…”

“I see that God is doing great things for us and among us. We are so situated in an out-of-the-way place, that our people here do not come in contact with the outside world, and what has happened here, during this revival, is not an imitation of anybody. Had these people who have come under the power of the Holy Ghost been mere imitators, they would certainly have shown their inclination toward that way before the revival came. For some of them lived here for ten, some for seven some for five years, and yet they did not imitate the Christian missionaries, working here, or visiting this place, either in prayer or preaching. We have all very closely watched them, and we do not find many such hypocrites among them. There are certainly some bad people living here, who pretend religiousness, but they can be easily distinguished from the true-hearted Christians. They know well, that they are known to many, and do not attempt to appear too religious.”

“A spirit different from that which used, formerly, to be felt now pervades the atmosphere, and while there has not been very great progress in the educational line, we feel we can say with confidence that the past year has been one of real spiritual growth. And since education is not the whole aim of the work, but is only one of the many things which help to form character, the fact that as much time as usual has not been given to regular school work this year will surely not make us feel that time has been lost. It has not been lost, but rather gained; for the days of faithful study, and the increased patience and perseverance which must naturally follow as a result of any deep work of grace will undoubtedly more than make up for anything that may at the time have seemed to be a loss.”
Others write:
“We are now seeing the results of God’s work in our midst, in transfigured lives, marked by prayer, intercessory prayer, Bible study, and in more preaching of the gospel to the heathen. Bible study and prayer have characterized the work here from its beginning; and were the preparation for the revival; yet both have been deepened by the revival.”

“There is increased humility and unity among the girls and workers; an increasing desire to be approved unto God; and a closer union with the dear Lord Jesus… It was noticed one day, that some of the girls in the praying band, were praying in different tongues. I had heard of the gift of tongues having been given to God’s children in some other part of the country, so I was not surprised to hear about our girls praying in new tongues… One Sunday, as I was coming out of the church, after the morning service, I saw some girls standing near the door of a worker’s room. They seemed greatly excited and wondering. I soon found out the cause of their wonder. A girl was praying aloud, and praising God in the English language. She did not know the language. Some of us gathered around her in the room, and joined her mentally in prayer. She was perfectly unconscious of what was going on, her eyes were fast closed, and she was speaking to the Lord Jesus very fluently in English… The gift of prophecy was also given to many of the praying girls… A few have given addresses in unknown tongues giving the interpretation sentence by sentence… A marked feature of this revival was the confession and putting away of sin. ”

Pandita Ramabai translated the New Testament in Marathi,
the language of 100 million Indians. 
“As we read the Scriptures, and compared our experiences with them, we saw how far we came short of what we saw in the Acts of the Apostles… the Holy Spirit had been poured out mightily, because they saw that evil spirits cried out, and came out of those possessed, and they saw opposers fall under the mighty power of God. Many saw their own sins and unbelief, confessed and forsook them. Yet they and we felt that we had not yet received a mighty Pentecost.”

“We shall pray that our fellow Christians, who like ourselves, have become cold and lukewarm may be aroused from their deadly sleep and begin to pray, that the Lord may send a lasting revival among them. To do this the school work will have to be sacrificed largely, the chief workers will have to be sent away and there will be seeming disorder in every department. But we must be willing to spend and be spent for others, if thereby we may be used to awaken some souls and encourage them to do work for the Lord… We need to keep very close to Him, and cleave unto dust, that He may be glorified in us. The devil is very busy hindering the Lord’s work among us and among other people.”

“Those who are in the praying band are not as a rule excused from their work, but they are allowed to stop their studies for a time, if God so leads them. Thus it may be seen that only those who are ready to be losers for Christ’s sake are received into the praying band. Little girls as well as big girls from the different classes, who are called to spend their time in prayer instead of cultivating their mental powers are received into the band and excused from school for a time… Many of those who attend school regularly, spend much of their leisure in prayer for themselves and others, and in the study of the Scriptures, often robbing themselves of sleep or food for this purpose... We are asking God to teach us so to pray, that souls may be saved and brought into the kingdom.”

“If any proof were needed of the reality of the revival which took place at Mukti in 1905 it might be abundantly found in the enduring character of the work done in the hearts of the girls of the Mukti bands who have been helping us at Pandharpur in the spread of the gospel during the last seven or eight years. Many of them have lived a sustained spiritual life since then, and are with us now, going on praying and telling the story of God’s love as earnestly as when they first yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit… We have visited more than 150 villages in the district around us, pitching our tents at twelve different centers and evangelizing the country round about.”

Ramabai: “The attendance is voluntary, and the girls feel it very much if, for any reason, they were kept out of the meeting. They are willing to be punished or forego anything, rather than be kept out of the (prayer) circle.”

Paul, a Romanian, who has been my host three times in India,
where he serves the Lord, and an Indian Bible teacher. 
Another writes:
“Nowhere in the Indian church have I found that Christians have yet grasped the spiritual truth that God chooses, calls, and separates His own workers. The thought in the church here is that Christians may choose a calling for themselves as preachers, Bible women, etc… 122 young women volunteered to prepare for Christ work. A goodly portion of them showed no evidence of spiritual life, let along fitness for Christian work. Some seemed to think that anyone who can talk well, read well, and has some Bible knowledge is ready to become a Christ worker. I confess that the problem was too great for me; I did not know how to choose those who should prepare, and so committed it to the Lord, asking Him daily to weed out the bad, and from among His own to call, separate, and anoint a little company for his service. The weeding process has been going steadily on… Many who remain are still in the process of breaking up the rocky soil and making it fertile. This work in the heathen heart must precede seed-sowing and springing forth of life.”

Ramabai writes:
“We are living in a strange time. There is a famine, not of food and water, but of the word of God. India is no exception to the rule. God’s word has been robbed of its supreme authority. Some of the missionaries, who came to preach the truth as it is in Jesus, to a lost people in this country, are now preaching higher criticism. Our Indian Christian churches have become cold and lukewarm. The power of the living God which brings a radical change in a converted man, is not in them. The Christian religion is certainly preached, as also are other religions. It is not with us as St. Paul said:

“I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified… And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

Large church, born in Kedgaon revival, most sit on the floor.
“Many of our preachers have now-a-days determined to know everything save Jesus Christ. They think our faith must stand in the wisdom of man. The foundation of our faith is not to be the word of God, but science! They have determined to know what the higher critics have to say about our God and His word. Everything that the world has to teach us , they think we must know. Now the question is, why must they do this and preach Christ as well? Can they not be out-and-out for the world and deny Christ, if they wish our faith should stand in science and not in demonstration of the Spirit and of power? If we as Christians are to witness for Christ, why must we do everything as the world would have us to? Is there no power in our God which can deliver us from the bondage of the world?”

“The Indian church of today is like the church of Sardis or Laodicea. The preachers, catechists, Bible women, pastors and preachers must do so much work. The children in school, must do so much work. That is the rule we have made. We must relax our rule a little bit, and give time to look after their souls and ours too. Unless the heads of Christian institutions are willing that the Spirit of God should work in their people, and unless the work of saving souls is entrusted to Him, He is not going to do it.”

“One of Sunderabai Powar’s converted girls, while testifying in the meetings at Pune said, she and her sisters would never have got the blessing unless the head of the school had been willing to let them stop work, and come to the prayer meeting.”

“The heads of Christian institutions may learn much from her. They will keep their people out of the Kingdom of Heaven if they will not allow them time for fasting and prayer. Nor is this enough. The heads themselves must search their own hearts and see if their works are found perfect before God.”

“They must also learn not to interfere with God’s work by laying their hands on it.”


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