Pyongyang Revival and crime reduction

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The Korean Revival of 1906-1907 saw societal improvements similar to those in Wales through decreased crimes of all sorts, and continued conversions to Christianity.[1]

There is a significant body of research indicating that religion reduces criminality (see: Religion and crime reduction)

Larry Brown in his paper entitled The Welsh Revival And Other Revivals Worldwide, 1900-1905 wrote:

In 1906-1907, sparked by news from Wales and Los Angeles, Christian leaders in Korea redoubled and intensified their prayer efforts. As a result, revival broke out in a way that almost frightened the leaders with its unexpected depth and breadth (Towns and Porter, 41-42). The Korean Revival saw societal improvements similar to those in Wales through decreased crimes of all sorts, and continued conversions to Christianity. By 1910, Korean church membership had increased four-fold, and the Korean church’s emphasis on prayer paid spiritual dividends throughout thetwentieth century: by the year 2000, a third of Koreans belonged to a Christian Church (Towns and Porter, 44-46).[2]

Testimonies of Koreans repenting of their criminality during the Pyongyang Revival

Below are some testimonies of Koreans repenting of their criminality during the Korean Revival of 1906-1907:

A doctor had boasted that he had one of the most honest cooks in Korea (in the East, cooks do all the marketing); but when the cook was convicted he said, "I have been cheating the doctor all the time; my house and lot have been secured by cheating the doctor." The cook sold his home and paid all back to the doctor.

A teacher had been entrusted to buy some land for the mission. He secured it, and said the price was $500. The missionary paid the bill, though objecting to so big a price. In the revival that teacher confessed he had secured the land for $80. He now sold out all he had and paid back the $420 out of which he had cheated the mission.

Mr. Mackenzie, the war correspondent, had a boy who cheated him out of less than four dollars. That boy, when convicted, walked eighty miles and had a missionary send that money to Mr. Mackenzie. Is it any wonder that Mr. Mackenzie became a strong believer in the kind of Christianity they have in Korea?...

A deacon, who was looked upon as almost perfect, seemed to get very uneasy as the revival progressed, and he confessed to the stealing of some charity funds. All were astonished, but expected him to get peace; however, he descended into deeper distress and then confessed to a breach of the seventh commandment...

Such extraordinary happenings could not but move the multitude, and the churches became crowded. Many came to mock, but in fear began to pray. The leader of a robber band, who came out of idle curiosity, was convicted and converted, and went straight to the magistrate and gave himself up. The astonished official said, "You have no accuser; you accuse yourself; we have no law in Korea to meet your case"; and so dismissed him. [3]

Pyongyang Revival and repentance

CBN News reports:

On January 14, 1907, a group of Korean Christians and Western missionaries met in Pyongyang for a Bible study in a church on the outskirts of the city.

Halfway through, God began to move.

"They knew that the only way to survive was to depend on God," Rev. Ji Il Bang of North Korean Church said.

One by one, the men confessed their sins to each other-- sins of racial prejudice, hate, anger, and jealousy.

Bang said ,"They knew that nothing was impossible with God, and so they called on Him for forgiveness."

God answered and revival broke out. In the ensuing months, thousands repented publicly, including elders of churches and foreign missionaries serving in Korea.

"And out of that, they say, they think came the work of the Spirit that finally broke out as at Pentecost," Prof. Samuel H. Moffett, son of a missionary to Korea, said.

Thus began the Great Pyongyang Revival of 1907.

"In 1907, Pyongyang became known as the 'Jerusalem of the East,'" Bang said.

Churches sprouted up everywhere, and they grew fast.

The prayers of repentance swept across the Korean Peninsula. People walked hundreds of miles to attend revival meetings.

"In other words, the spiritual change was a repentance movement. Believers confessed their sins and were born again," Pastor Han Hum Oak, from Korean National Association of Christian Pastors, said. "They even apologized to non-believers who they were at odds with."

The revival lasted some 40 years touching all levels of society including those in political power.[4]

See also