Heard about Hans Nielsen Hauge?
Does this name sound familiar? No? How come you've missed out on one of the greatest European heroes of faith? John Wesley? Check. William Booth? Of course. Charles Spurgeon? Definitely. Hans Nielsen Hauge. Say again?
The truth is, not many Europeans have heard about him either. Unless you are from Norway like me. The truth is, often our understanding of revival history and what God has been doing through the centuries is limited to whatever information is available in our language. Because of this simple fact, much of the understanding of how one perceives the kingdom of God in the English-speaking world is seen through the lens of the English language.
Take one example: William Carey is usually called the founder of modern missions, right?
He started his Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen in 1792, but what about Count Nicolaus Zinzendorf? Widely known for initiating a 100-year-long 24/7 prayer meeting in Herrnhut, Germany, this prayer movement also released a massive sending of missionaries, starting 60 years before William Carey. A German as the founder of modern Protestant missions? Maybe. Some will say that Zinzendorf was inspired by the Danish/Norwegian pioneer missionary Hans Egede's work in Greenland. Perhaps there is yet another amazing pioneer somewhere whose story is only available in a language I do not understand.
Back to Hans Nielsen Hauge. He was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1796, when he was 25.
One man turned Norway upside down. He went on foot all over Norway, preaching the gospel. He hated idleness and was known to both knit and teach people while he was walking from village to village. His preaching activities were illegal, as only Lutheran priests were authorized to preach. He still preached, ending up in jail numerous times and spending a total of 10 years in prison. No one was allowed to start churches, but Hauge and his followers started thousands of house churches in farms across the nation. In a nation that at the time had just above 800.000 inhabitants, Hauge's books were circulating in 300.000 copies!
His unique gift was not limited to preaching, writing and organizing a huge house-church movement. He was Norway's foremost business entrepreneurs. He saw opportunities everywhere in what was then Europe's poorest country. The revivalists became business owners and creative thinkers. Socialist historians usually downplay his role in transforming Norway, claiming it was the labor movement that accomplished the task. But it was a 25-year-old who "pledged allegiance to the Holy Spirit," as the monument in front of his house proclaims.
In 1825, the first ship with immigrants went from Norway to America. It was a ship full of revivalists! One-third of all Norwegians immigrated to the U.S., a great many of whom were impacted by this revival.
What was the long-term effect of this revival? The one thing that is the product of any true revival: Missions! Jesus to the nations! Thousands of prayer houses were eventually started all over Norway were missions agencies gathered groups who prayed for the missionaries, collected money and organized fund-raising activities for missions around the world. To this day, Norwegian missionaries can be found in every corner of the world. It all started with one man encountering God. His name was Hans Nielsen Hauge.
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