ANDREW MURRAY

Born MAY 9, 1828

Andrew Murray [PD-1923]

Andrew Murray [PD-1923]

Andrew was born in South Africa. His Scottish father pastored the Dutch Reformed Church in Graaff Reinet. The combination of geopolitical environment and spiritual experiences prepared young Andrew for his life’s work. God would use him to draw people of varied ethnic back-grounds around the world into deeper Christian faith (in both belief and practice).

TO CAST MYSELF ON CHRIST

When Andrew was 1o, he and his older brother, John, were sent to Aberdeen, Scotland. They lived with an uncle while receiving their formal education. After earning their degrees from Aberdeen University in 1845, the brothers went to Holland.

In a letter to his parents, Andrew announced, “I am confident that as a sinner I have been led to cast myself on Christ. I call on you to praise the Lord with me.” In Utrecht, Holland, he studied theology and the Dutch language.

Andrew Murray was the first pastor of this, his first church. Image: slagaar.

Andrew Murray was the first pastor of this, his first church. Image: slagaar.

In 1848, on Andrew’s 20th birthday, he and John were ordained as clergy in the Dutch Reformed Church. They returned to South Africa. Then came Andrew’s ministry appointment: the area between the Orange and Vaal rivers that had recently been named the Orange River Sovereignty (current day Free State of South Africa).

Andrew pastored in a specific building, but also like the Apostle Paul, travelled long distances to reach those who needed the gospel. He forged his way through difficult terrain that included dangerous animals and the constant threat of ethnic conflict. He volunteered his vacation time to minister to groups of immigrants in Transvaal, outside his regular jurisdiction.

The tireless preacher won plenty of converts. He discipled them to grow spiritually  through prayer and Bible study followed by careful obedience to God’s word.

REVIVAL FIRES

Along the way, Andrew met Emma Rutherford from Cape Town, South Africa. They married in 1856. They would raise nine children. In 1860, Andrew accepted a church in Worcester, not far from Cape Town.

Photo by Styeve Evans.

Photo by Styeve Evans.

Meanwhile, in the United States, a prayer-meeting revival had ignited in New York in 1857. The spiritual awakening had spread to other states. It had reached south to Jamaica. It had leaped across the Atlantic to Great Britain and to India. In 1860, God answered Andrew’s long-standing prayer for a spiritual revival in South Africa.

Many attended long prayer services, hungry to draw closer to God. Night after night, Andrew’s sermons won many to the Christian faith. He joyed seeing the gospel win converts by cutting across ideological lines.

WORDS AND WISDOM

One of Andrew’s oft-quoted sayings is, “The world asks, ‘What does a man own?’ Christ asks, ‘How does he use it?'” God handed the Scottish, Dutch Reformed, South African pastor new opportunities for using his gifts of words and wisdom.

Andrew began writing what would become no fewer than 240 devotional books and pamphlets. They struck a chord with the general public and with other ministers. A fellow pastor of his day, F. B. Meyer, praised Andrew’s book The Key to the Missionary Problem. He said, “If it were read universally throughout our churches by ministers and people alike, I believe it would lead to one of the greatest revivals of missionary enthusiasm that the world has ever known.”

Phrases from his writings that are quoted today include, “Our love to God is measured by our everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays,” “Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part,” and “The link to Redemption and Holiness is Obedience.”

The Dutch Reformed Church tapped Andrew’s spiritual leadership to make him the moderator of its annual synod meeting in 1862. In that capacity, Andrew oversaw a debate in which another minister questioned the doctrinal acceptance of the sinfulness of mankind. Andrew later led the annual meetings of 1877, 1883, 1886, 1890, and 1894.

RISING TO THE OCCASION

One Christmas Andrew had an opportunity to preach at an institution to 200 thieves before they ate their holiday meal. He started preaching. They didn’t want to hear it, so they started coughing. He responded with, “As the sailor said to the minister while the donkey brayed, either you or the donkey. So I will give you five minutes to cough and you will give me five minutes to preach.” When it was his turn, his preaching held their attention without any further coughing.

Cape Town YMCA building. Photo by Discott.

Cape Town YMCA building. Photo by Discott.

Andrew cared about providing for social needs. While at Cape Town, he started a YMCA. During his pastorate at Wellington (1871-1906), he established the Huguenot Seminary for women and a boarding school for boys. He started a missionary training school for the local tribes.

When Emma died in 1906, Andrew retired from pastoring to devote his time to travelling and preaching. He conducted meetings in his home country and elsewhere. Andrew Murray labored for God as long as he could. He died January 18, 1917.

LASTING INFLUENCE

God used Andrew Murray to reach people in South Africa who would not otherwise have been reached. Andrew’s devotional sermons and books raised the spiritual temperature of his home country and of untold lives around the world. Preaching tours in Europe and the United States added to his influence.

His emphasis on spiritual piety contributed as well to the holiness movement. A personal experience in the 1880s affected Andrew’s theology. After a throat illness disabled him from preaching for two-years, he sensed God’s healing touch.

While Christians continue to read his writings, South Africa fondly remembers a favorite son. For years his name has been connected to awards given anually for the best books written in South Africa. Currently, the award for Christian theological writing “in any official language of South Africa” is called the Andrew Murray/Desmond Tutu Prize. The Wellington Museum in South Africa honors Andrew Murray’s contributions to education in that country (http://media1.mweb.co.za/wellingtonmuseum/education.html).

L4G—————————————————-L4G—————————————————–L4G              LET ME KNOW:  How has Andrew’s story informed, encouraged, or otherwise helped you? I welcome your comments.

Bibliography———————————————————————————————————-

  • Fisk, Samuel. Forty Fascinating Conversion Stories. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1993.
  • Larsen, Timothy, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
  • Moyer, Elgin S. The Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church. Chicago Il: Moody Press, 1982.
  • W. M. Douglas, Andrew Murray and His Message, (Liverpool, England: C. Tinling & Co, 1926)  (http://archive.org/details/AndrewMurrayAndHisMessage-ByW.M.Douglas.

Books-

Texts of books and Sermons online-

Audio books online-

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About William E. Richardson

I'm married to a wonderful woman named Deb. We're the parents of a son and daughter who bring great joy to our lives. I currently pastor the Assembly of God church in Afton, Iowa.
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