In 1903 a little-known single American missionary, Louisa Vaughan, held her first Bible class for women enquirers at a village called Dongjia'an in the mountains of Shandong. She soon found the task an impossible one, for most of the women were completely illiterate, "not knowing one character from another." One old woman informed the missionary that she could teach her nothing" "My mind and heart are as hard and dark as mahogany wood."1
Some of the women had poor eyesight, while others simply didn't believe it was possible to learn anything at all, having been told they would be ignorant their entire lives. Deeply discouraged, Vaughan went to prayer, and the Holy Spirit challenged her to have faith for a miracle, and to let her confidence rest in Him and not the impossible situation confronting her. She asked the Heavenly Father to save the women and pour out His Spirit upon them, that they might return home and be shining witnesses to their families.
Vaughan records that the first day of meetings passed without any sign that God had heard her prayer. In the afternoon of the second day, however,
"One of the women began to weep out a confession of her sins. She asked that she might be forgiven and cleansed in the precious blood of Jesus and that the Holy Spirit would come into her heart and dwell there. In a few moments we rose from our knees to greet a new creature in Christ Jesus. In the course of the next few days woman followed woman in a similar experience until the entire class rejoiced in their salvation. They were marvelously transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and they were now so eager to learn of Christ that I could scarcely find time to satisfy them."2
A Chinese Christian teacher with her students at Weixian, early 1900s.
Jesus and the Drunkard
On one occasion Louisa Vaughan met a Chinese Christian woman who despaired for the salvation of her alcoholic husband. Vaughan asked the woman if she was able to believe God to save him, to which she replied that he had been a drunkard for their entire 31-year marriage and he was a hopeless case.
Every day for the next two weeks all the women in the prayer group presented this need before God's throne of grace, asking Him to do a miracle and to make a way where there seemed to be no way. When the class ended the woman returned home and received such a severe beating from her intoxicated husband that she was unable to get out of bed for a month.
One day, however, the man came home confused after an incident had taken place that day. He asked his wife is she thought he had lost his mind, explaining that after completing his business in the town he decided to enter the wine shop. The very moment he lifted his foot across the threshold to enter the shop, the man said,
"A voice inside my body said very loudly, 'Don't go in there. Go home! Don't go in there, go home!' I was so startled that I dropped my purse and spilled all my coins on the ground....
I went across the street and searched a man's courtyard and looked carefully around the corners of his house to find the boys who had called to me, but there was not a soul in sight.... I was very much puzzled and called myself a fool. But again as I lifted my foot over the threshold there came that voice, louder and more insistent than ever, 'Don't go in there, go home!' I came home as fast as I could. I am very much frightened. Do you think I am losing my mind, or am I already mad?"3
The man's long-abused wife explained he had heard the voice of Jesus, and shared how the Bible class had prayed for two weeks that he might surrender his life to God. The man was struck to the core and realized the Living God had intervened in his life. He repented of his sins and gave himself to the Lord Jesus Christ, vowing to never touch alcohol again.
The man was thoroughly converted, and was never again found drunk. He became a strong church member and brought the rest of his family to faith in Christ, and sent his children to the Christian school.
1. Louisa Vaughan, Answered or Unanswered? Miracles of Faith in China (Philadelphia, PA: Christian Life Publishing Fund, 1920), p. 1.
2. Vaughan, Answered or Unanswered, p. 4.
3. Vaughan, Answered or Unanswered, p. 7.
© This article is an extract from Paul Hattaway's book 'Shandong: The Revival Province'. You can order this or any of The China Chronicles books and e-books from our online bookstore.