Spiritual Awakening in England
The 1870’s saw the beginnings of a deep revival and spiritual awakening in England. While many factors contributed to this shift, two prominent movements in particular galvanized much of what the Lord had been preparing.
D. L. Moody
Between 1872–1875, the great American Evangelist, D. L. Moody, made several extended trips to the United Kingdom. Ira Sankey accompanied him as his song leader and was just as much a contribution to the Lord’s work as Moody. England had never seen the kinds of crowds they attracted, from frequent meetings of 2,000 and 4,000 to the estimated 30,000 near the end of these endeavors. Thousands were meeting Christ for the first time.
At the same time that many who were unconverted were coming to Christ, many who were faithful church members and church leaders were awakening to their own spiritual weakness and to their hunger for a fuller Christian life. Also originating from America, W. E. Broadman’s book, The Higher Christian Life, and Hannah Whitall Smith’s The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life drew many invitations for them to visit England and teach according to their experiences of sanctification. Conventions for The Higher Christian Life were springing up all over England with what eventually became the Keswick Convention beginning in 1875. Keswick began with the Pearsall Smiths in view but was fortified by the ministries of Evan Hopkins, Bishop H. C. G Moule, and other ministers from across the denominational spectrum. Under the banner “All One In Christ Jesus,” Keswick drew Christians together from all corners of the broader church and taught them to seek and to find the ground of sanctification for the filling of the Holy Spirit unto a life of service.
Reaped by Missionary Societies
In the 1880’s, missionary societies began to be burdened to drastically increase the number of missionaries who were sent into the field. The need for the gospel in foreign lands was immense. The answer to their petitions was supplied by the fruit of the two aforementioned movements. God had been preparing the answers to these many prayers.
The Church Missionary Society
The Church Missionary Society is a prime example. Stock’s history of the Society states, “The Church Missionary Society owes a whole succession of missionaries to the influences of that period.”1 Stock continues to describe the impact of D. L. Moody, the “Cambridge Seven” he stirred up (1882), the Seven’s testimony at Keswick and elsewhere as a part of the China Inland Mission with Hudson Taylor, etc. So many strands of God’s work weave together in this story. And surely Miss Barber was affected by this. Though she was not sent out to China until 1896 at age forty, did write that this desire had been in her heart for ten years.
These two concurrent movements in England, one for regeneration and one for sanctification, awakened thousands to the need for a richer experience of Christ. In response, many were led to fully consecrate themselves to the Lord’s service. Margaret E. Barber was one of many in her generation to be awakened to answer the call of the Lord’s need in this way.
1 - Stock, Eugene, The History of the C.M.S. Vol 3 pg. 284