As I studied the history about what God has done in this part of the world, I discovered the amazing story of a missionary who changed an entire nation with his prayers.
John Hyde: His Prayers Changed a Nation
John Hyde was an American missionary who ministered in northern India and Pakistan over one hundred years ago. Today, he is known as “Praying Hyde.”
In 1896 Hyde traveled to many villages in the state of Punjab. He wrote, “This year there were no conversions in the villages. There were last year. What is the reason?” His solution was to fall to his knees in prayer. He began to cry out to God for lost souls. He often prayed all day long and through the night, foregoing food and sleep. He was often seen crying as he prayed, “O God, give me souls or I die.”
Hyde saw a need to encourage and train pastors so he invited a group of local pastors to the city of Sialkot for a convention in 1904. Before the first meeting, Hyde spent thirty days on his face before God in prayer. In this prayer-saturated environment, there was a great outpouring of God’s Spirit. Many confessed their sins and pledged themselves to seek God.
At the Sialkot Convention in following years, there was great “brokenheartedness for sin” and a burden for lost souls. One brother who attended the convention describes what he saw, “Oh, what an awful vision I have had! Thousands of souls in this land…being carried away by the dark river of sin! They are in hell now. Oh, to snatch them from the fire before it is too late.”
In 1908, John Hyde announced at the Sialkot Convention he was believing God for at least one soul to be saved everyday. He asked God to give him, not just a seeker, but “a soul saved, ready to confess Christ in public and be baptized in His Name.” In a nation where some churches went years without any conversions, many thought his goal was impossible. But, John Hyde began to pray and travel and preach. He encouraged those who worked with him to save the lost.
One of his friends reported that Hyde “would engage a man in a talk about his salvation. By and by he would have his hands on the man’s shoulders and be looking him very earnestly in the eye. Soon he would get the man on his knees, confessing his sins and seeking salvation. Such a one he would baptize in the village, by the roadside, or anywhere.”
By the end of that year, over four hundred new believers had been baptized! In 1909, John Hyde asked God for an even more audacious request. He wanted two souls to be saved every day. If the daily quota was not filled, his response was to stay up all night in prayer crying out for God to give him souls. As he focused on soul winning, he found himself drawing closer to the heart of God. He preached, “When we keep near to Jesus it is He who draws souls to Himself through us.”
Over eight hundred people were saved that year and at the Sialkot Convention in 1910 the vision was enlarged once again. That year, Hyde set a goal of leading at least four people to Jesus every day. His example challenged other pastors and missionaries. Some ministries that had experienced years of little or no fruit suddenly saw hundreds coming into the kingdom of God. Much of what God has done in Pakistan and northern India in the past one hundred years can be traced back to the original Sialkot Convention and John Hyde.
Will you pray for souls to be saved?
This year 2009, I have been invited to be a speaker at the historic Sialkot Convention. We are holding open-air meetings next to the house where John Hyde used to pray. I believe God is bringing us to the epicenter, ground zero, of what He has done in Pakistan.
This is not by accident. God is raising up a new generation of preachers who are passionate about soul winning. The prayers of John Hyde still ring true! The greatest harvest of souls in Pakistan is still ahead and my wife and I are privileged to play a part in what God is doing.
John Hyde made a difference with his prayers and you can make a difference with your prayers! Would you commit to pray for us for the next three weeks as we minister in Pakistan and Afghanistan?
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