This is the day that … Fredrick Franson died in Idaho, Colorado in 1908.
Born in Sweden on 17 June, 1852, Fredrick grew up in a Christian environment. His family emigrated to Nebraska in 1869. At the age of 20 he was converted after reading Romans 10:6,7 and was later baptised in the Swedish Baptist Church.
It was, however, the reading of Romans 10:6,7 that led to his conversion. By this time he was 20 and had emigrated to America.
He worked as a counsellor to enquirers at some of D.L. Moody’s meetings, and became a member at the Moody Church, Chicago.
By the age of 23 he was involved in missionary work among entire communities of Swedish speaking folk in Minnesota. He was seen as a missioner to the Scandinavians in the same way Moody was gifted for reaching Americans.
Ministry in Salt Lake City led to his writing a 212-page book – Mormonism Unveiled, discussing 70 texts the Mormons miss-handle in the Scripture – and then, in 1880, he went back to Colorado.
The Westmark Evangelical Free Church records, “Westmark Church was organized November 19, 1880 by Swedish missionary-evangelist Fredrick Franson. The homesteaders and immigrant farmers of this rural community met in sod homes for Sunday School and Worship Services until the first building was erected on this location in 1883. The Swedish language was used in worship services and business meetings until it was officially changed to ‘the American language’ in 1929.”
Franson then spent nine years in Scandinavia preaching the gospel. His ministry at the Bethlehem Church in Oslo resulted in the formation of the Mission Covenant Church of Norway.
During his time in Scandinavia Franson gained the honour of being the first missionary appointed by the Moody Church, led by Dwight L. Moody, on February 5, 1878.
He returned to America on 7 September, 1890 and on 14 October, 1890, a meeting took place under his guidance in the Swedish Pilgrim Church, Brooklyn, New York, where “The Evangelical Alliance Mission” was born. That mission is now known by its acronym, TEAM and by the end of the 20th Century this mighty missionary organisation had about 1000 missionaries serving on 29 fields.
Franson continued in missionary activity, visiting several fields and is cited as part of the Korean revival in Wonsan, where a hunger for the Holy Spirit led to Korea’s first Pentecostal outpouring in 1903. “In the subsequent Bible Study meetings led by Frederick Franson, many Korean believers also confessed their sins. Confession of sins was an outstanding feature of the meeting.” (Korean Pentecostalism, Yeol Soo Eim, Gospel Theological Seminary)
This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.