Our Cumbrian friend Henry Vyner-Brooks unearthed this great story from Norway. We love Cumbria and the Vyner-Brooks family!
Norwegian Christians draw inspiration from early pioneer Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824), a poor farmer from the Oslo region who was used by God to ignite a revival, both spiritually and economically, and paved the way to Norway's independence. Hauge spearheaded a movement that profoundly influenced the development of a people that for centuries had been steeped in poverty, collective hopelessness, and suppression by its neighbors.
In 1796 he had a decisive encounter with the Holy Spirit. God ignited such a fire within him that in the next 7 years he walked 15,000 kilometers across Norway to reach all cities and counties. He started house churches and helped people develop businesses. Whilst walking to the villages he knitted, and on arrival gave villagers hats and scarves and then, rather than immediately preaching, rolled his sleeves up and began working with the farmers out in the fields. Hauge helped the farmers develop more advanced planting techniques that he had learnt in Denmark.
A movement of common people started that was deeply spiritual. People turned to Christ and had life-changing conversion experiences. The meetings were held in homes, and challenged the control of the government-run state church. It turned out to be unstoppable. Norway’s population at that time was approximately 900.000, and possibly half the population turned to Christ. (Today, Norway has almost 5 million people.) Hauge wrote 33 books, selling 200,000-300,000 copies, so that by the time of his death, most homes throughout the land had a Bible and one of his books. Hauge paid a high personal price though. As lay preaching was forbidden, he spent much of 1804-1811 in prison.
What distinguished this movement, was also that it was deeply reformational.Everywhere Hans Nielsen Hauge went, he helped the people to start factories, mills, schools and banks. Historians agree that Norway's independence in 1814 would never have happened without this movement. Several members of the Constitutional Assembly in 1814 were directly or indirectly influenced by the Hauge revival. Christian values became strongly rooted in the constitution. Norway gradually developed from being 'the poor house' of Europe to one of the wealthiest nations on earth, and one of the top three missionary sending nations in the world.