1745 REVIVAL AMONG THE DELAWARE INDIANS

1745 REVIVAL AMONG THE DELAWARE INDIANS

Initial Stages

Lenape tribe (Delaware) cutting up meat.

►Previously, the Native Americans in the American colonies never had exposure to the Gospel. Their religion was generally classified as animistic, which is a belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess spiritual powers.

►Their social lives were filled with marital strife, dishonesty, injustice, drunkenness, and witchcraft.

►They had no hope and were without God in the world (Eph. 2:12b).

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Seal of the Delaware Indians

Extraordinary Prayer by David Brainerd
The 27-year-old missionary, David Brainerd, began his work among the Delaware Indians (Lenape) on April 1, 1743. His diary reveals that he had an overwhelming commitment to prayer and fasting.

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What Happened

August 8, 1745 (Crosswicks, NJ)
The below phrases are Brainerd’s words that describe the effect his preaching had on the Indians and whites who heard him preaching:

They wept much the whole time of the divine service.

The Divine truth seemed to make very considerable impressions upon several of them.

Some were much concerned, and discovered vehement longings of soul after Christ, to save them from the misery they felt and feared.

A few words about their soul’s concerns would cause tears to flow freely and produce many sobs and groans.

Most were much affected, and many in great distress for their souls; and some few could neither go nor stand, but lay flat on the ground, as if pierced at heart, crying incessantly for mercy.

Lenape women weaving baskets

I stood amazed at the influence that seized the audience almost universally and could compare it to nothing more aptly than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent, or swelling deluge, that with its insupportable weight and pressure bears down and sweeps before it whatever is in its way. Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarce one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation.

She seemed like one pierced through with a dart and cried out incessantly. She could neither go nor stand, nor sit on her seat without being held up. After public service was over, she lay flat on the ground praying earnestly, and would take not notice of, nor give any answer to any that spoke to her. I hearkened to know what she said and perceived the burden of her prayer to be…, “Have mercy on me, and help me to give You my heart.” Thus she continued praying incessantly for many hours together.

There appeared to be a powerful divine influence in the congregation. . . So that there was great mourning in the assembly, many heavy groans, sobs, and tears.

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Results
On November 20, 1745, Brainerd described the revival at Crosswicks, New Jersey.

Their pagan notions and idolatrous practices seem to be entirely abandoned.

They are regularly disposed in the affairs of marriage.

They seem generally divorced from drunkenness…, although before it was common for some or other of them to be drunk almost every day.

A principle of honesty and justice appears in many of them; and they seem concerned to discharge their old debts.

Their manner of living is much more decent and comfortable than formerly.

Love seems to reign among them.

Within a year the Indian church at Crosswicks had 130 members and they subsequently relocated to Cranbury, New Jersey where they established a Christian community for themselves.

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Legacy
Though Brainerd isn’t credited with huge numbers of converts in five years of working among the Native Americans, his diary has inspired countless other missionaries, including William Carey, who is called “the father of modern missions,” Jim Elliot, the twentieth century missionary who gave his life ministering to the Auca Indians, and Adoniram Judson, who spent almost forty years in Burma (Myanmar).

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David Brainerd

Early Death
David Brainerd’s ministry was continually hindered due sicknesses brought on by his battle with tuberculosis. The last days of his life were spent in the home of Jonathan Edwards, in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he died on October 9, 1747 at the age of 29.

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Stories like this, with additional detail, are told during our “Only 1 Spark Revival Seminars.” Contact us to enquire about having this seminar conducted in your community.

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Sources:

The Life of David Brainerd

Tested by Fire by John Piper