You have given me the heritage of those who fear, revere and honor Your name. Psalm 61:5
This month, on April 2nd, I gave thanks, once again, for a life changing event that continues to have an effect even today. Let me share…
April 2, 1922, was the day long ago when my father gave his life to Christ in the midst of a revival that had come to Belfast, Northern Ireland. My dad’s family had been an active part of their Presbyterian church. Yet, when William P. Nicholson, nicknamed “the Tornado of the Pulpit” came to Belfast to preach his fiery message, “it was as though I had never heard the Gospel before,” my father remarked.
In the early 1920s, Northern Ireland passed through a period of great strife and bloodshed. There were times of great apprehension and despair. Fear gripped the hearts of many and even spread to the churches.
William Nicholson was a man of prayer, often spending hours and hours in communion with God. From the prayer closet he mounted the pulpit endued with power from Heaven.
He was a fearless individual who had a burning zeal to see God’s people rise in the power of the Kingdom and become all-out for God. Two favorite themes of his messages were “God’s love” and “God’s hell.” He preached the love of God with great warmth and tenderness, but for those who might reject the message of good news, he offered the only alternative, God’s hell. He preached on every aspect of hell with such zeal and passion that his hearers claimed to be able to almost smell the burning sulphur.
My father was working in the nearby Harland & Wolff shipyard, when revival came to Belfast. He would tell of leaving the shipyard and going directly to the evening services at his church, so fascinated was he by the fiery Irish evangelist, Reverend Nicholson.
As the service went on, Reverend Nicholson, in his zeal and boldness, had no patience for the formality of the church. He would invite, no urge, his listeners to stand to their feet and shout out with a loud voice, “I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior.” Years later, preaching from his own pulpit, my father would still weep as he told of the night he stood to proclaim his decision for Christ.
The hunger for God grew within his heart. He was a student of the Word. He was a powerful preacher, greatly anointed by the Holy Spirit. I can remember many times at the end of a Sunday morning service, after listening to his message, feeling that I couldn’t move from my seat. He delivered the Word with such a riveting effect. It created a hunger in my own heart to know God as he knew God. That hunger remains to this day. The desire for more…more revelation, more insight, more of the Holy Spirit, more of God, to overtake my life in increased ways. It never leaves me. It has only increased through the years.
You have given me the heritage of those who fear, revere and honor Your name, speaks of a precious heritage. Heritage speaks of something that is, “handed down, or transmitted by, or acquired from, a predecessor." While we understand that salvation is not inherited, but is every individual’s personal decision, I believe that hunger for the things of God can be encouraged. “To transmit” means to convey from one person to another, to hand down, to cause or to allow to spread.
I am so thankful for my heritage and for the hunger that was transmitted. It began with the preaching of a fiery, bold Irishman, who touched the life of my father in such a way that it continues yet today through me, my children, and grandchildren.
My prayer is for that kind of zeal in preaching to return to the church, and for that kind of fearless, bold description of “God’s Love,” and “God’s Hell” to overtake us, effecting and transmitting everyone in our path.
Will Aglow allow the Holy Spirit to blow a new fire in our midst?
My response is YES! COME HOLY SPIRIT!!
Jane Hansen Hoyt