Arthur Walkington Pink Calvinist Writer

Arthur Walkington Pink was born to Christian parents on April 1, 1886, in Nottingham, England.  Early in his life he became involved with the Theosophical Society, even becoming one of their chief speakers for this occult gnostic group.

But conversion at the age of 22 (1908) through his father’s patient admonitions from Scripture – based on Proverbs 14:12 – broke the bondage of this cult and set his feet in a new direction. Influenced by Moody and Sankey’s 1880 British tour, Arthur Pink enrolled in the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago.  Six weeks later he “dropped out”, telling a lecturer that he felt he was “wasting his time”.

There followed various pastorates in California, Kentucky, South Carolina and Australia, starting with Silverton, Colorado – he moved some 16 times between 1910 and 1940 – preaching and studying the Word of God.

He bade farewell to the dispensational theology of Moody Bible Institute and became adamant in his Calvinistic viewpoint.  He also harshly criticised the Scofield Bible.

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He married Vera E Russell in 1916. His first major published work was Divine Inspiration Of The Bible (1917). The following year he published The Sovereignty Of God, selling less than 2000 copies.

During a three year stay in Australia he ministered with the Baptist Union of New South Wales, until they asked that he state his views at a special Ministers’ Fraternal meeting on 8 September, 1925.  This resulted in a “unanimous resolve” that Pink was out of Baptist circles!  (Reformation Today, August, 1972).

Pink returned to England for a year then spent eight years engaged in itinerant ministry back in the USA.

Eventually he moved to the Isle of Lewis, at the northern tip of Scotland, where he lived an isolated life and died of anaemia in Stornoway, Scotland on 15 July, 1952.

For 30 years he had written, and published, Studies in the Scriptures – a monthly magazine with less than 1000 regular readers.

His volumes on Genesis, Exodus, Elijah and Elisha, and the Sovereignty of God, are still widely read.  Iain Murray has penned Pink’s biography (Banner of Truth Publications), and many of his books are still in print. Murray noted that “the widespread circulation of his writings after his death made him one of the most influential evangelical authors in the second half of the twentieth century”. Pink’s books prompted renewed interest in expository preaching and biblical living.

Warren Wiersbe writes: “He was not a great theologian, and some of his exegesis was weak, but it is impossible to miss the author’s love for Christ…” (Good News Broadcaster, December, 1983).


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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Find hundreds of succinct Church History posts at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/topics/ministry/church-history

Dwight Lyman Moody the Greatest Evangelist

Dwight Lyman Moody was born February 5, 1837, in Northfield, Massachusetts, USA, to solid New England Puritan Stock. He was the sixth of nine children. For 200 years seven generations of his ancestors had lived in the Connecticut Valley, and it was to his hometown of Northfield that Moody loved to return and there he hosted much of his teaching, including the successful Northfield Conferences.

His father died when he was but 4 years of age, leaving the mother destitute. Creditors even took the firewood, so the children stayed in bed until school time, in order to stay warm. From age 13 there was to be no more schooling. Moody’s mother demanded that her children attend church, keen to see them find salvation. Moody had the fear of God and wanted to please Him, although he did not know how to find salvation in Christ.

In the back room of his uncle’s shoe store in Boston 16 year-old Moody was led to Christ by Edward Kimball, his Sunday-School teacher. When Kimball presented Moody with the love of Christ the young man was keen to respond and the transformation was immediate. Moody recounts of the transformation, “Before my conversion I worked towards the Cross, but since then I have worked from the Cross; then I worked to be saved; now I work because I am saved.”

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Moody was illiterate, unable to read or write at the age of 17. But he became a dedicated student and gained much from his attention to life and to lessons. His zeal for the Lord made little impression on his church, which saw theological knowledge and correct doctrine as important for salvation. A year after his conversion Moody was denied church membership, since he was “not sufficiently instructed in Christian doctrine”.

The following year found him in Chicago, working with the Plymouth Congregational Church where he became a fervent soul-winner. He rented a pew and filled it each Sunday. Then he rented more, until each week he filled four pews.

When Charles Finney’s great awakening reached Chicago Moody was more than ready for action. At the same time his employment was also blessed, as he became such a successful shoe salesman that he was promoted to commercial traveller.

His next venture was to join a Sunday School which had more teachers than students. He set out to find his own pupils and quickly grew a huge gathering. He followed that with a second Sunday School project which outgrew its hall, so it kept expanding. Then, by reaching out to the parents of the students, he was able to build up a huge audience which thrilled to his excellent and powerful preaching. From the base of 1,500 students Moody was able to build his first church.

However, despite the popularity of his preaching, Moody had his critics among the pedantic folk who were offended by his poor grammar and illiterate modes of speech.

To one man who told him he had bad grammar, Moody replied, “I know I make mistakes and I lack many things, but I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got.” He then gave the man a searching gaze and asked, “Look, here, friend, you’ve got grammar enough — what are you doing with it for the Master?”

Moody gave up his successful employment to work for the Lord full time. He became very active and successful with the YMCA work – when the “C” meant “Christian” in those days – the building up his remarkable Sunday-School … ministering in the Civil War to soldiers of both sides … and with his association with Ira D. Sankey.

In 1867 Moody went to Britain to hear Spurgeon preach, meet George Mueller and well known evangelist, Henry Varley. At a public park in Dublin Varley told Moody, “The world has yet to see what God will do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully consecrated to Him.” Moody was struck by the fact that the “man” Varley described did not have to be great, learned or smart, but just ‘a man’. Moody decided to be that man.

Moody met Sankey through the YMCA in 1870 and invited Sankey to sing for some open air meetings. Sankey soon gave up his own work and together Moody and Sankey became the world’s best-known evangelistic team on both sides of the Atlantic.

This semi-literate preacher founded the Chicago Bible Institute (today known as the Moody Bible Institute) – a mighty publishing house that is still to the forefront in issuing evangelical literature – and Bible conferences in his hometown. World famous speakers were invited to speak (like Campbell Morgan) and, alas, some not so evangelical (like Henry Drummond).

Moody’s life and his famous Northfield Conferences associate him with many great names of Christian ministry. One that bears special mention is the famous English boy preacher, Henry Moorehouse, who preached on the love of God so constantly and with such compelling words, that Moody’s own preaching and ministry were greatly deepened by the impact.

It is interesting to note that the salvation message of Moody’s Sunday School teacher, Edward Kimball, was also centred on the love of God. This one message seems to be very significant in impacting Moody’s life and ministry.

In 1871 Moody met two ladies in his congregation who prayed earnestly that he would be filled with the Spirit. This created a great hunger in him which he carried during the great Chicago Fire tragedy. While in New York raising funds for those in need he experienced a touch from God which greatly increased his effectiveness. The same messages now brought much greater results. Of that experience Moody said, “I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.”

Moody and Sankey drew the largest crowds ever during their first British tour. From then on, both in England and the USA, they spoke to and led to Christ multiplied thousands. On at least one occasion 30,000 people stood outside a meeting hall, because there was no room for them inside.

Moody died on 22 December, 1899. “If this is death, there is no valley …” his friends heard him say. “This is glorious, I have been within the gates, and I saw the children. Earth is receding; Heaven approaching. God is calling me! Hallelujah!”

It has been estimated that before he died – aged 62 – “one million people were converted to Jesus Christ” as the result of his ministry (Hall of Fame, by E. Towns, page 133).

Find hundreds of succinct Church History posts at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/topics/ministry/church-history

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Isobel Selina Miller Kuhn Tells Her Story about Missions in Asia

Isobel Selina Miller Kuhn was born on December 17, 1901, in Toronto, Canada, to a Presbyterian

home, where her father was a lay-preacher and her grandfather a Presbyterian minister.

Yet when her English professor at University of British Columbia sneered at her faith she quickly became agnostic, to avoid the shame of Christ. However, she was distressed to find that the man she planned to marry was not only cheating on her but intended to do so once they were wed. This led her to thoughts of suicide, but also to reaching out to God. She found peace through prayer and thus began a slow journey into a dynamic faith.

In the summer of 1924 she met a missionary conference speaker who became her mentor and friend, James O Fraser. Thus Isobel ended up at Moody Bible Institute, where she met her future husband, John Kuhn, and from there she went to China.

For 27 years she worked in Asia with the China Inland Mission. Her experiences are told in a series of eight best-selling autobiographical volumes.

By Searching tells of her early life in Canada, the clash with the English professor during her university days, her studies at Moody Bible Institute, and subsequent application to C.I.M. And their rejection of her application: “You are proud, disobedient and likely to be a trouble-maker” (page 98).

But the book concludes with her sailing for China, on 11 October, 1928.

China Inland Mission is a mission organisation set up by English missionary Hudson Taylor on 25 June 1865 in Brighton, while he was on leave from his own exploits in China. Isobel worked among the Lisu people of Yunnan Province, China.

Her second volume, Vistas, takes up the story of her missionary adventures, her marriage on 4 November, 1929, to John Kuhn (an “irresistible force collides with an immovable object” is how she described it!) More than once she “put on her hat and coat” and walked out on him! But she always came back.

“Without God’s help,” wrote her biographer, “most marriages would not have endured the shattering experiences she and John shared” (One Vision Only, by C. Canfield. Vistas, by I. Kuhn is included in this volume).

Isobel made a significant impact in China, especially through her innovative “Rainy Season Bible School”, which taught the locals who were inactive during the wet season. From these classes evangelists were raised up who took the gospel across China. Of the 18,000 Lisu who lived in Fugong in 1950 – 3,400 professed faith in Christ. As of 2007, there are estimated to be 80-90 percent of the 70,000 making the same profession.

Forced to leave China around 1950 due to “violent guerrilla warfare”, the Kuhns continued their missionary work in Thailand. The story is told in Ascent to the Tribes.

But in 1955 Isobel was flown home to the United States, where she died of cancer in March, 1957.

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Blind Helen Howarth Lemmel Turns Our Eyes

Helen Howarth Lemmel was born in Wardle, England to a Wesleyan Methodist pastor and his wife on November 14, 1863.

Twelve years later the family migrated to America. Helen lived briefly in Mississippi before settling in Wisconsin. Helen’s singing ability soon became evident, gaining her a reputation as a brilliant singer, even studying private voice in Germany for four years. She traveled widely throughout the midwest during the early 1900′s, giving concerts in many churches.

In time, she married a wealthy European and taught voice at the Moody Bible Institute and then at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. When she became blind her husband abandoned her, which was just one of the many heartaches Helen struggled with during midlife.

A brilliant singer and musician, Mrs. Lemmel’s remarkable literary abilities were also widely recognized. She composed more than 500 hymns and poems and also authored a very successful book for children, ‘Story of the Bible’, and composed many musical pieces for children. She continued her musical and literary pursuits until her death just 13 days before her ninety-eighth birthday.

One day, in 1918, when Helen was aged 55, a missionary friend gave her a tract entitled “Focused.” It contained a statement that had a profound impact on her. “So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.”

“I stood still, ” Helen recalled, “and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody. The verses were written the same week, after the usual manner of composition, but nonetheless dictated by the Holy Spirit.”

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in his wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.

Helen’s new hymn was published in London, England in 1918, in the form of a pamphlet. Four years later, it was included in a collection of sixty-seven of Helen’s songs, titled Glad Songs. This year at the Keswick Bible Conference in northern England the hymn was introduced and became immediately a popular favourite. It has since been included in most evangelical hymnals and been translated into many languages.

Those who knew Mary in her later years tell of her joy and enthusiasm. Though living on government welfare in a sparse bedroom, whenever asked how she was doing, she would reply, ‘I’m doing well in the things that count.’ Mary was always composing hymns but she had no way of writing them down so she would call friends at all hours and get them to record her lyrics before she forgot them.

Helen had a small plastic keyboard by her bed. There she would play, sing and cry. “One day God is going to bless me with a great heavenly keyboard,” she’d say. “I can hardly wait!”

Helen died on November 1, 1961, in Seattle, Washington, almost 98 years of age.

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. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

John and Betty Stam Martyred in China

This is the day that John and Betty Stam married, in 1933.

John Stam was born in 1907 in Paterson, NJ, and Betty (Scott) Stam was born in 1906 in Albion, MI. They met during their years at Moody Bible Institute where both felt a call to China. Both decided to go under the auspices of the China Inland Mission.

Betty had graduated a year earlier than John and sailed for that distant land in the autumn of 1931. The following year John completed his studies and sailed for China, but was stationed in a different region to Betty.

They met again … and were united in marriage just over a year later.

Baby Helen Priscilla was born in a Methodist hospital in Wuhu in September 1934 at a time when the civil war between government forces and the communist Red Army had already begun.

In November the Stams returned to the remote brick-walled village of Tsingteh, in South Anhwei, where they had set up a small shopfront house as their preaching chapel. Tsingteh was accessible to the outside world only by stone paths cut through the mountains.

John proved to be an able linguist, not only learning the language but being able to reproach conference messages he had heard, in Chinese.

In early December rumours ran rife that communist rebels were in the area. The village leaders hastily fled, fearing for their lives. The Stams were unsure what to do or even if the rumours were true.

The bandits entered the village through the unguarded East Gate and then beat down the door to the Stam’s home. John urged the invaders to sit at the table while he served them tea.

The couple were ordered to leave and then paraded down the street in their underwear, with Betty holding baby Helen. They journeyed for 12 miles and were then locked in a mud hut overnight. A ransom of $20,000 was demanded – to no avail.

Overnight John wrote a letter to the CIM leaders. “My wife, baby and myself are today in the hands of communist bandits. Whether we will be released or not noone knows. May God be magnified in our bodies, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:20″

Betty fed and wrapped her baby, putting money and food into her blanket, then hid the child in a pile of heavy winter bedding. On 6 (or 8?) December, 1934, they were beheaded.

A courageous Christian, Mr Lo, followed the trail, once he thought it was safe to do so, and found the Stam’s bodies. He did not know what had become of the baby but found her quite by accident. The baby had slept without a cry for 27 hours, saving it from death.

All that remained of this heroic couple was laid to rest by faithful Chinese believers, who also cared for baby Helen Priscilla until she could be returned to the United States.

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. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.