We will then go back to the first activity (verksamhet) in Grand Rapids, which carries us 30 years back in time. The Swedish immigrants began to settle here in the 60s (1860). Augustana denomination was the first Swedish church in the city. A few of their members later joined the Mission Church. The Lord led events strangely, as He always does, when He will forward His work. The first mission pastor, who preached here was C. J. Magnuson from Lake Station, Indiana. He traveled through Grand Rapids and stayed with a family named Hampels. There he happened to see a copy of the paper "Missions- Vannen", -at that time it was published in book form. Magnuson asked if they subscribed to that publication. He was told that a family named Rose had moved in from Chicago not long ago. Mr. Magnuson visited Mr. Rose at his work place in the factory and they decided to meet later. For this first meeting the Augustana Church was opened. That church was then on Sinclair Street. Some of its members were along, but others were afraid "because he was not a real priest". This was an edifying meeting because the believers were "hungry" (uthungrade) "to hear the Word of Life". This was the first meeting here of a missions "predikant" (pastor) and happened in February 1875.
After this first meeting Pastor Magnuson came here for several years for meetings. The second time he came he ordained (vigde) Hans Johnson so that he was considered "a real priest". That he then broke "the bread of life" for the people was understood. This time they met in the Episcopal church on Turner Street.
Each time a visiting pastor (predikant) came, the friends must go out and invite people to the meetings. They were then very few -four families: Roses, Hans Johnsons -he was not in the beginning a child of God but "seeking" and got to be (forstlingskarfven) "first to be saved", who received "peace with God", John Johnson and Andersons. They had to carry the responsibility for the economy also. These friends asked Pastor Magnuson to send them a pastor (predikant) whenever opportunity occurred. Then a young, gifted man came here. They complained and cried saying: "we starve to death". He answered: "I cannot understand why you had to move to Michigan and starve to death". That was all the consolation he could offer. But he preached so effectively that many unsaved people became saved and wanted to start a church.
In 1876 Pastor J. Danielson from Lockport, Illinois, visited Grand Rapids many times proclaiming the Word of Salvation. Another pastor, who often visited here, was N. P. Sakrison from Lake Station, Indiana. His visits were always highly appreciated. He was loved by all. It was festival when they received these visits. It happened quite often, that they did not come home from the meetings before eleven or 12:30 in the morning. Nobody, at that time, complained about too long meetings. Sakrison sometimes was genial in his expressions. To one, who be- longed to another church and complained that he did not get (in the sermon) what he needed he answered: "Where the cow gets the best forage, there is where she stays". A sensible advice. Another pastor, one of the first who visited here was Chr. Nygren, just arrived from Sweden. He was advised by the Mission-Synod to visit this field. He also held meetings in Whitehall, Muskegon, Sparta and Cadillac. It was during the years 1877-1878. In May 1879, Rose was attending Missions-Synod's meeting in Chicago to get some "predikant" (preacher) to come here. He was promised a Mr. Widen, who later joined the Augustana-Synod. He came here and stayed 3 months only. During that time there were not very many preachers and the friends were thankful for every visit.
During this period of time '75-'79, the believers met some in homes here and there, some in a rented hall, some in a church or some school house. Often not any more attended the meetings then the believers, who were few. The enmity toward "lasare" (readers) was also great. In one meeting, that was held in a saddlemaker Nelson's house on Front Street, the enemy showed up in form of threats and noise. They called out Mr. Rose and asked him why he had engaged such "farm-preachers". They (the enemies) were so angry that they "gritted their teeth". Many of the Swedes at that time were raw and impudent.
The mission field, therefore, was considered "hard" to work in. God's work appeared to go slowly. The friends often shed tears when considering the slow progress of the work. Often very few came to the meetings. But the "flock" had increased by a few who had joined the group. A few had come from Sweden, among them John Tournell and a few had come alive. At one meeting they asked God in prayer to either save a few or send some saved ones from Sweden. That prayer was heard. In the spring of 1880 seventeen believers arrived from Sweden at one time. One of those was Mr. Nels Johnson, the church's present chairman. He had also prayed to be sent where he was needed the most. How God's wonderful guidance in leading His flock was manifested. As they now had their number increased they decided to organize a FORSAMLING (church)...
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