Don't you sometimes feel there could be a lot more to your Christian life? When Hans Nielsen Hauge was nearing twenty-five, he felt that way. The young carpenter had done a lot of religious reading. He was afraid of hell and longed to be established on "the spiritual rock, Jesus Christ." He even fell to his knees in his father's fields praying for this.
Suddenly, on this day, April 5, 1796, while singing "Jesus, I Long for Thy Blessed Communion," he was filled with divine joy. "...my mind became so exalted that I was not myself aware of, nor can I express, what took place in my soul. For I was beside myself. As soon as I came to my senses, I was filled with regret that I had not served this loving transcendentally good God. Now it seemed to me that nothing in this world was worthy of any regard. That my soul possessed something supernatural, divine, and blessed; that there was a glory that no tongue can utter..." Not only did he know for certain that he was saved from eternal damnation, but he felt a "living faith" spring up in him.
Enraptured, Hauge asked the Lord what He wanted him to do. The answer that came to his mind was, "You shall confess My name before the people; exhort them to repent and seek Me while I may be found and call upon Me while I am near; and touch their hearts that they may turn from darkness to light." Hauge was obedient.
He left his parent's home to spread the gospel through Norway. This task was made harder by the fact that the established church was afraid of enthusiasts and had forbidden all religious services (under the Conventicle Act) except those under the supervision of regularly posted clergymen. Consequently, Hauge spent much time in jail. Some of his incarceratations lasted several months. But although men sought to thwart him, God so endorsed Hauge's preaching with the power of the Holy Spirit that spiritual renewal followed wherever he went. Often this was accompanied by economic renewal, for Hans was gifted with many skills and strong business-sense and helped Norway's peasants develop industries.
Eventually he won the support of several bishops. However, he was once held in prison from 1804-1814 although all charges against him fell through. His enemies (among them certain godless bishops) called for his death.
He traveled 10,000 miles in Norway with the gospel and is regarded as the founder of Norwegian Pietism. Norwegians immigrating into the United States brought Hauge's teachings with them, influencing Lutheranism in the New World. A group also sailed settled in the Natal, South Africa, carrying Pietist ideas there.
Hauge's first wife and three of his four children died before him. Worn out, bleeding from the lungs. and otherwise broken in health, he himself died in 1824 at the relatively young age of 53. His last words, spoken with a face that shone with light, were, "O Thou eternal, loving God!"
- Arden, Gothard Everett. Four Northern Lights; men who shaped Scandinavian churches. Illus. by Jordan Lang. Minneapolis, Augsburg Pub. House, 1964.
- Barrows, John Henry, ed. The World's Parliament of Religions. Chicago: Parliament Publishing co., 1893. Source of the image.
- Gordon, Ernest. Book of Protestant Saints. Chicago: Moody, 1946.
- Hallqvist, Brit. G. "A word from one of the authors of Captive and Free." Augsburg Now. Fall 1997, Vol. 60, No. 1 http://www.augsburg.edu/now/archives/fall97/word.html.
- Hauge, Hans Nielsen. Encyclopedia Britannica. Britannica Corp., 1911.
- Kiefer, James E. "Hans Nielsen Hauge, Renewer of the Church." http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/122.html.
- Various internet articles.