It was in April of 1902 that R. A. Torrey, the well known Bible teacher and successor to D. L. Moody in Chicago, held his great Melbourne Mission. The churches of Melbourne had been a long time in preparing for the meetings. Their organisation was so strong and their preparation so thorough that every house in Melbourne had been visited twice! The city was divided into fifty sections, each division having it’s own meeting place set up with an Australian evangelist assigned to preach in that meeting. The main meetings downtown were held at first in the Melbourne Town Hall, but after a short time were moved to the great Exhibition Building which could seat 7,000 people.
The schedule was intense with up to four meetings a day being held at the main Exhibition Building throughout the campaign. Charles Alexander, who was personally selected by Dr. Torrey to organise the music for the campaign, led a choir of over 1,200 voices each evening. Alexander would sometimes arrive at the Exhibition Building two hours before the evening service only to find a large congregation waiting for him and eager to sing. He would immediately launch an impromptu song service which would continue until the service began two hours later. (A Romance of Song & Soul Winning, 53)
One man described what the Lord was doing in Melbourne. “Whole families were brought to Christ, as well as infidels, publicans, and actresses. … A policeman averred that since the mission opened in his district, he and his fellow constables had had practically nothing to do. Theatrical managers declared that if the mission continued they would have to close their establishments.” (Spirit of a Nation, 60)
As you might guess, such meetings were preceded by much prayer. Dr. Torrey described the prayer that led up to the meetings: “When Mr Alexander and I reached Australia we found that there was a group of about ten or twelve men who had been praying for years for a great revival in Australia. … We also found that a lady in Melbourne had read a book on Prayer and had been very deeply impressed by one short sentence in the book, ‘pray through,’ and that she had organised prayer-meetings all over the city before we reached the place; indeed, we found when we reached Melbourne that there were 1,700 neighbourhood prayer meetings being held every week in Melbourne.” (Spirit, 60-61)
God worked mightily in the city of Melbourne and by the time the great Melbourne Mission came to a close on 10 May, the weekly attendance was at a quarter of a million people. The population of the entire state of Victoria was only one million at this time. Dr. Torrey reported that 8,642 definite professions of faith had been made throughout the campaign (R. A. Torrey, Apostle of Certainty, 144).
There are those who suggest that it can’t happen in Australia. But it has happened in Australia. May we be stirred with that revival spirit that drives believers to submit wholly and passionately to the work of God in their lives so that God Himself will be lifted up once again in our nation. Do it again, Lord. Please. Do it again.
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About Jason Harris
Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church.
You can contact Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org.