Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Southern Baptist Revival Story

One night in China, Southern Baptist missionary C.L. Culpepper stayed up late for devotions, but as he tried to pray he felt hard. Finally he asked, “Lord, what is the matter?”

Culpepper then recounts, I had opened my Bible to Romans 2:17. It seemed the Apostle Paul was speaking directly to me when he said, “But if you call yourself a Christian and rely upon the Gospel, and boast of your relation to God, and know His will, and approve what is excellent; and if you are sure you are a guide to the blind, a light to those in darkness, a correction to the foolish, a teacher of children – you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself”

The Holy Spirit used this verse like a sword to cut deeply into my heart. He said, “You are a hypocrite! You claim to be a Christian! What have you really done for Christ? The Lord said those who believed on Him would have rivers of living waters flowing from their inmost being! Do you have that kind of power?”

Culpepper awakened his wife, and they prayed into the night. The next morning at a prayer meeting with fellow Southern Baptist workers, he confessed to pride and spiritual impotence, saying his heart was broken. The Holy Spirit began to so convict the others of sin that they could hardly bear it.

I watched their faces grow pale, then they began to cry and drop on their knees or fall prostrate on the floor. Missionaries went to missionaries confessing wrong feelings toward one another. Chinese preachers, guilty of envy, jealousy and hatred, confessed their sins to one another.

The revival spread through the seminary, the schools, the hospital, and the area churches. Perhaps the deepest impact was made on Culpepper’s friend Wiley B. Glass, a highly respected missionary. As Glass sat in the meetings, a man’s face came before him and God seemed to be asking Glass about his attitude toward that man. Wiley had hated the man for many years, and suddenly the Holy Spirit brought him under deep conviction.

In great anguish, Glass went to Culpepper, fell on his shoulder, and said, “Charlie, pray for me!” Both men went to their knees, but Glass was so distressed he couldn’t express his problem. He was pale as death and kept groaning in his anxiety. I prayed with him and for him several times during that day and the next. In the evening of the second day he came running to me and threw his arms around me.

“Charlie, it’s gone!” he exclaimed.

I said, “What’s gone?” He replied, “That old root of bitterness.”

He told me that thirty years earlier, before he came to China, the man had insulted his wife. The insult had made him so angry he felt he could kill the man if he ever saw him again. He realized a called servant of God should not feel that way, and it had bothered him for years. Finally he just turned the man over to God. When the Holy Spirit began moving in his heart during that week, the question came/, “Are you willing for that man to be saved?”

He answered, “Lord, I’m willing for You to save him . . . just keep him on the other side of heaven!” Finally, he came to the place where he said, “Lord if that man is alive, and if I can find him when I go on furlough, I will confess my hatred to him and do my best to win him to you.” When he reached that decision, the Lord released the joys of heaven to his soul, and he was filled with love and peace. He became a more effective preacher for the lord, and during the next few years he led hundreds to Christ.

Could it be that what we really need in the SBC is genuine revival? Could it be that intentional attempts to damage the reputation or wish harm on others is the very thing for which we need to repent? And could it be that “The Shantung Revival” may very well be a good model for us all?

Food for thought prior to Greensboro.

In His Grace,


Accounts of “The Shantung Revival” taken from Spirit of Revival, October 1991, pp 10-15; also from Higher Ground: The Biography of Wiley B. Glass, Missionary to China by Eloise Glass Cauthen p. 152, and Nelson’s Complete Book of Illustrations by Robert J. Morgan, p. 70.3


Anonymous said...

This is your best blog yet. I have been reading with many questions in my mind. One of them was when is someone going to say what we need is revival. Oh, Lord how we need revival. There is no other hope.
Ted Kersh

Wes Kenney said...

Good words, brother. They will impact my prayers.

God bless.

Jack Maddox said...



Glen Alan Woods said...

Dear Pastor Wade,

I cannot speak for anyone else, especially those in the SBC since I am not in the SBC myself. But as I read your post I felt the Holy Spirit convicting my heart of my own wrong attitudes. Will you please pray for me that God does what he needs to do in my heart to bring me to a place of revival and renewal in the Lord?



Bob Cleveland said...


Could this be what God's been up to? I do seem to recall that most of the "great revivals" were preceded by great travail in prayer.

Here's hoping.....

Anonymous said...

I'm a denominational servant, have been for more than 15 years. I know that this goes back a few days, but just wanted to clarify an issue on John Floyd's pension. IMB does provide a benefit to both home office and missionary employees, but it is fully vested at the point of contribution for missionaries. And, missionaries have the right to add to their pension via personal contributions. So, I think it is safe to say in John Floyd's situation that he is drawing a benefit that is partially, but not fully, derived from IMB contributions. But, he "owns" the benefit and it is being paid from assets held with GuideStone and not with IMB.
I think the bigger issue with Floyd will be that of cooperation with the leadership team of IMB. Will there be synergy by his appointment as trustee chair? Will it heal division and allow IMB to focus on what is truly Kingdom work?

Anonymous said...

I find it rather interesting that in your blogs that you seem to believe the SBC issue is a spiritual battle. It is a power/political battle. Yes, spiritual words are used. For example, we were told by the press that God's man for SBC President was in Arkansas by pastor from Ga. Now it seems God's man is in Nashville. It was reported that he prayed all night about this...If you believe you can fight the folks in control by talking about a revival of some years ago, well, good luck. I would love to see someone with the record of Page given the opportunity to lead SBC. Hope he can stand the heat over next days....I believe it was last year a Judge from Al. got standing ovation from SBC pastors. This week in Al. he got so few votes...Why? Politics can swiftly change when truth is known. It just takes time....Blessings in days ahead....Wayne, from Alabama

Anonymous said...

So many thoughts Wade. We are called to be faithful and to be ready to serve; always ready to give an account of our lives in Christ. Yet how can we if our hearts are full of pride....the base of all bitterness, jealousy, and envy? How often are we ever truly and completely available for His service?

I think we are afraid of revival. I think we are afraid that God would require a little more than we are willing to give; time, money, love, forgiveness. We are a selfish lot. We want the benefits of His love, but not the responsibility that comes along with those blessings.

It's time, I agree with you. I trust my earthly shepherd prays for his flock daily, to want revival in their hearts. It is my prayer, for my church and for myself.


J. Guy Muse said...

The whole "Shantung Revival" story is one of the most inspiring and needed mission stories that needs to be told afresh for this generation. In our last gathering of local M's on the field we listened to an audio recording of part of C.L. Culpepper's testimony. We too were struck by our own sense of powerlessness and sin in our own lives. We spent most of the afternoon praying on our knees together that God would do the same in our own hearts.

scripturesearcher said...

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Genuine spiritual, scriptural revival is the great need of all God's people - including all the truly regenerated members of every Southern Baptist church on earth!

LORD, send a real revival and let it start in ME!

volfan007 said...

i had the joy of hearing dr. charlie culpepper preach a campus revival meeting at the mid-america baptist seminary while i was a student there. what a joy to hear this great man of God. he taught some at the seminary, and spoke in classes during the latter years of his life. what a blessing it was for me to be around him. everyone should read the book that was written about the shantung revival.

Scotte Hodel said...

Years ago Don Franscisco sang the song "Everybody else but me ..."

You've hit me squarely in my weakest point. Thanks for this post. My colleagues here at work appreciate the word as well.

Anonymous said...

What a Blessing to be reminded that the focus is on HIS Purposes and our availability.... I also appreciated the commentary for the "Denominational Servant" Anonymous! though I think most already knew the situation relating to John Floyd's retirement income.... I also note, that Anonymous Wayne from Alabama must have Information, but I felt saddened that his reference in a negative context failed to inform as he remarked concerning the Judge. I personally stood as one of those pastor's he referred to.... and still feel it was a great message! Yes, I do love the Lord and have seen some evidence of HIS powerful presence..... but, I'm still amazed that HE let's us see anything, yet, it must be because of His Great Love and Mercy! And, HE does say that about HIMSELF in Exodus 34:6-7! I pray that HE will show a little of HIMSELF in our midst at Greensboro and that we will be appropriately responsive!

Anonymous said...


That was a cute story about Kade on Dorcas' blog. I wonder where he learned to apply that kind of logic... :-)

Tim Dahl said...

Mr. Anonymous

I have to say that I believe it is an intensly spiritual battle. It always has been. No matter what form it takes, it is always a battle against principalites, powers and such.

If it is human, it is spiritual. If it is political, it is spiritual. If it is familial, it is spiritual.

So, I must say... This is spiritual. I pray that the Lord moves.


Anonymous said...

May God bring to our hearts what we so desperately need - a return to our first love. God have mercy and may it begin with me. I am undone.

Anonymous said...

The Shantung Revival has been called the greatest revival movement Southern Baptists have ever experienced. A revival led by women at that. Bertha Smith (oh no, a private prayer language person), Martha Franks, and others were used mightily of God to usher in the Holy Spirit's work there. Interestingly enough, the move of God was marked by what today many would call "charismatic" practices including speaking in tongues and other miraculous manifestations. The Foreign Mission Board sent a representative to check out these questionable activities. When he experienced what God was doing, he went home and reported to leave those people alone because God was at work.

How sad that many times in our quest for "pure religion," we major on minors and miss the point. I wonder what advice Ms. Martha and Ms. Bertha would have for us today?

Todd Nelson said...


Thanks for this reminder about the Shandung Revival. I had the privilege of having Dr Baker James Cauthen for a History of Missions class at SWBTS in 1983. My wife and I heard some similar stories from him. What an inspiration!

With your permission, I'd like to post here what I just posted on "W"s blog regarding "non-essentials". I realize it's a bit long, but I'm concerned that the SBC is excluding people who have had experiences like those of Bertha Smith and Jerry Rankin, and myself (tho I don't put myself in their league! :-)


Thanks for your kind words of encouragement and your prayers.

Just a point of clarification: we have been receiving prayer and financial support from four SB churches for many years -- and several individual Baptists.

I want to speak to the issue of cooperation over non-essentials, specifically "charismatic" giftings.

Though they are few in number, there are SBC churches who are fully charismatic (e.g., James Ave Baptist, Ft Worth, and Forest Drive Baptist, Columbia, SC) and others who are open to learning from movements like The Vineyard. The Vineyard blends the best of the Baptist emphasis on the truth of the Word and the charismatic emphasis on the power of the Spirit -- all in a very biblical theology of the Kingdom of God. (See John Wimber's Power Points, for instance; or Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology for a fellow Baptist's interpretation of charismatic gifts.)

I know that there are Baptists who, like my former church treasurer, cannot fathom such a blend. I also know that there are extreme charismatics and Pentecostals with whom I disagree theologically. There have been abuses and hurts caused by condescending attitudes as well as dogmatic stances on both sides of this debate.

Nevertheless, I think it's unfortunate that the SBC is the only large American denomination who has not made room for people with "charismatic" giftings. I know it is possible to be Baptist and prophecy in a biblical manner, and pray in an unlearned language, and heal the sick, and cast out demons -- in short, to carry out the ministry Jesus commissioned the apostles and us to do.

Now I'm starting to preach. :-)

I just hope and pray that the SBC will eventually open up to the biblical use of all the spiritual gifts, and not further restrict the circle of cooperation -- not for fellowship in an association nor appointment as a missionary.

There may not be very many SBs who have this charismatic issue under their skin to the degree I have, but I do think it's relevant as we talk about "non-essentials".

Thanks for letting me vent. I am praying for the SBC, particularly for the shining of God's light on the proceedings, for His wisdom to prevail, and for revival and spiritual awakening.


Chuck Andrews said...


Thanks, Wade, for your ministry and your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

I’m amazed anytime God shows us a glimpse of His workings. Your post took me back 25 years to the first time I read “The Shantung Revival.” Another blog that God used this week to touch me was by someone I disagreed with last week. Spiritual Discernment at Greensboro at The Most Excellent Way speaks of a personal revival of love and a desire to see a love revival at Greensboro.

Revival doesn’t change our differences or our disagreements. It changes us and the way we view each other. It makes man’s agenda subservient to God’s agenda. Unity does not make us identical to one another. It links us to the One in whom we each have our identity.

May God grant us “to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord [we] may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ro 15:4-6)

May God amaze us again in His workings! Wouldn’t it be humbling if God wrote “The Greensboro Revival” as a chapter in our beloved SBC? No one taking credit. No group claiming victory.



Pastor Larry Thompson said...

I am so blessed by how the Lord has used you and I am rejoicing that the Father has taken a humble servant, who seeks only true spiritual revival and renewal in our nation and denomination. It is true...God honors the man who honors Him. Bless you!
Larry Thompson
Fort Lauderdale

Unknown said...