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Andrew Murray, Jr. and Stellenbosch

Andrew Murray buries himself in a book.

IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, a number of Afrikaner Protestants were troubled. (Afrikaners were South Africans of Dutch descent.) The Dutch seminaries in the Netherlands from which they drew their pastors were graduating many clergy who did not believe the miracles and teachings of the Bible. The British, who had conquered South Africa, encouraged the Afrikaners to employ Scottish ministers instead. That is why Scottish preacher Andrew Murray, Sr. was invited to South Africa where he learned Dutch and Afrikaans (the Afrikaner language), and revitalized the church. His sons Andrew, Jr. and John continued in his steps, injecting “a new evangelical enthusiasm.”           

Andrew Murray, Jr. began his ministry at twenty, touring the Orange Free State and Transvaal to teach a population of twelve thousand Dutch settlers who had no pastors. He soon realized he lacked spiritual power and longed for something better. A friend encouraged him with the words, “If God puts a desire in your heart he will fulfill it.” Murray eventually sought to live continually in God’s presence. 

A strong advocate of education for both men and women, Murray encouraged the creation of schools and centers of higher learning. Between 1856 and 1877 he helped found the University College of the Orange Free States, the Huguenot Seminary, and the Wellington Missionary Training Institute. On this day, 3 November 1857, Andrew and John Murray joined in founding another school, the Stellenbosch Theological Seminary. Some pastors opposed the seminary, saying European theological developments would be lost to its students. Since many other Christians thought those developments were going the wrong direction, they were happy to accept the loss. Within a few years, South Africa was turning out its own evangelical ministers. 

Three years after founding Stellenbosch, Andrew Murray preached to a group of young people on  sobering Bible texts, including Mark 16:16, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” His apathetic listeners woke to their danger and began crying out to God for mercy. Murray at first tried to quiet them, but quickly realized this was a work of the Holy Spirit beyond his control. Revival swept across South Africa. Lives were changed. Everywhere people began to pray. Months later churches and prayer meetings were still overflowing. Many young converts entered Stellenbosch Theological Seminary to become ministers, evangelists, and missionaries. 

By his death in 1917, Murray had authored two hundred and forty books. Best known of these were Abide in Me and The True Vine. They point Christians to Christ: “The only way to obey the command ‘abide in me’ is to have our eyes and heart fixed on him.”

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