The DNA of the church in China

Marie Monsen (1878-1962) is known as "the mother of the Chinese house churches”. She was a Norwegian missionary who served in China between 1901 and 1932. She was used by God to bring powerful revival to parts of China in the 1920s and 1930s. Part of her work was in southern Henan, an area of China from which many house church leaders have emerged. God has made that area a centre of revival throughout China.

There is a lesson in her life which can help us to pray for the church in China during these days as the believers face yet more increasingly strict religious laws. New laws came into force on September 1st of this year. 

Marie Monsen went to China in 1901, no doubt full of expectation that the Lord would soon use her to bless the Chinese. But a month after arriving in China, Marie fell down an iron staircase and was seriously concussed. Her doctor forbade her from both language study and teaching for two whole years. She then contracted malaria which the physicians thought would be fatal. 

Thus “she had an apparently disastrous first trip to China.” We can only imagine how painful that must have been, how frustrating. In that difficult situation she must have questioned the love and the goodness of the Lord. But in time the Lord used these events to bring her to surrender fully to His will. She was healed of malaria on the day she fully surrendered to Him.

Her ministry that brought revival to many was birthed from this experience of fresh surrender to the Lord. From that time it was said that “she was fearless, traveling thousands of miles through bandit-infested territory to share the Gospel and to show great faith, love, and courage wherever she went.” Some in the church of that day were discouraged, feeling God had abandoned them. Some had lapsed into doubt; others had tolerated sin in their attitudes and relationships. In that discouraging situation Marie “greeted the Chinese and the missionaries alike with the probing question, 'Have you been born again?' The question insulted some and angered others. When their anger subsided, the Holy Spirit began to search hearts." Monsen's messages were followed by deep confessions of sin and practical acts of repentance. As they repented and accepted God's love, mercy and forgiveness, many experienced overwhelming relief and joy. These believers were now able to share the reality in Jesus that they had found in their own lives. As a result, thousands of people, seeing the difference in the revived believers, put their trust in the Lord.”

If Marie Monsen is “the mother of the Chinese house churches”, could her experience of painful setback through concussion and malaria leading to a fresh revival and experience of God be a template for what the Lord wants to do in China in these difficult days? Is the DNA of the Chinese church one which responds to hard and difficult times by drawing near to God and experiencing fresh life and even revival from the hand of the Lord? It has happened before. After the unspeakable suffering of the Cultural Revolution which ended in 1976, powerful revival spread across China, with multitudes drawn to faith in Jesus Christ. “Lord, do it again, today, in China.”


Give thanks for missionaries like Marie Monsen who with the help of the Lord saw setback and struggle become new life and revival in the Chinese church.

Pray for those in China who under pressure and persecution have been tempted to turn away from the Lord. Pray that they might find the Lord in a new way.

Pray for the Lord to anoint this generation of Chinese house church leaders that they might experience the Lord in the way that Marie Monsen did.

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