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James O. Fraser

"Must you go to China? How much nicer it would be to stay here and serve the Lord at Home!" She then made it plain at last that she would not go to China."  J. Hudson Taylor's new ex-girlfriend

"With many Christians, if their conversion ever was an entering through a strait gate, their life since never was, in any sense, a laying aside of everything that might hinder their spiritual growth. They never heeded the Word: He that forsaketh not all that he hath cannot be My disciple. But this is what we are called to as indispensible: Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us..."  Andrew Murray

"The man...looking at him with a smile that only half concealed his contempt, inquired, ‘Now Mr. Morrison do you really expect that you will make an impression on the idolatry of the Chinese Empire?' ‘No sir,' said Morrison, ‘but I expect that God will."  Robert Morrison

"If you are sick, fast and pray; if the language is hard to learn, fast and pray; if the people will not hear you, fast and pray; if you have nothing to eat, fast and pray."  Frederick Franson to young missionaries

"If I had 1,000 lives, I'd give them all for China."  J. Hudson Taylor

The year was 1908, a ship had just set sail from England. On board was a man who graduated top in his University, a graduate engineer and one who could hold thousands spell bound as he played classics on the piano. He had a promising career ahead of him in either engineering or as a concert pianist or both. A life of wealth and luxury was set before him. The ship was not on a voyage to an exotic island but was headed for Shanghai and then to Hong Kong. The passenger on board was J. O. Fraser (Frasier) the British Protestant Missionary. You see, all that was in his life he counted as dross (worthless, nothing) and he was giving his life to Jesus Christ and become a pioneer to the heathen Lisu people of Southwestern China.

James O. Fraser is a forgotten missionary. Most Christians have never heard of him. His life's work was unknown and he lived and suffered in obscurity. Yet he was a precious servant of the Lord, struggling behind the great mountain ranges of China preaching to the forgotten souls of the demon-worshipping Lisu people of far west China. No articles were written about him, no Sunday School lessons about his sacrifices were taught, when missionaries of old are mentioned his name is usually not among them. One book on his life, which is now out of print, "Mountain Rain" was written by his daughter, Eileen Fraser Crossman. It is the biography of a man totally forgotten and relying and fully depending on God for everything. He wasn't disappointed. Because of one man's obedience and fortitude, a people who from the beginning of time were under the dominion of the devil and generations upon generations were cast into an eternal hell, today, according to the Chinese Government, are estimated to be at least 300,000 strong practicing Christians. That is over 90% of the total Lisu population in China. To God be the Glory!

Fraser was 22 years old when he set out for China. Many friends and confidants berated him and said he was "absolutely wrong to waste and bury his gifts on the mission field." Fraser could not change his mind. He was shaken to the core by the Holy Spirit that changed his entire life-plan. One day, a friend he met while in school gave him a pamphlet with a strange title, DO NOT SAY, in which were the words that shook Fraser to his knees:
"A command has been given: ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.' It has not been obeyed. More than half the people in the world have never yet heard the Gospel. What are we to say to this? Surely it concerns us Christians very seriously. For we are the people who are responsible... If our Master returned today to find millions of people un-evangelized, and looked as of course He would look, to us for an explanation, I cannot imagine what explanation we should have to give...of one thing I am certain that most of the excuses we are accustomed to make with such good conscience now, we should be wholly ashamed of then."
As he read these words they burned his inner man because this was the exact attitude that he was taking by the way he was living and planning his future. It was then that he dedicated his life, wholly, as a disciple of the Lord. Nothing he had ever done or was about to do in his life mattered but a wholehearted submission to Jesus Christ. In today's Church there is a hymn called, "I Surrender All", we sing it...Fraser did it.

Whatever Fraser set his mind to do he persevered until he reached his goal. On a dare he once walked 44 miles in one day to London and back, on another occasion he rode a bicycle 199 miles without getting off to rest. His love for music was birthed in him at an early age and he soon had the ability to play classical music on the piano without any scores for hour upon hour. In college he excelled in mathematics and took the London University Matriculation and finished twelfth in all of England. He faced the missionary field with the same doggedness and immediately after graduating from the University he applied to the China Inland Mission, founded by J. Hudson Taylor. There he received the training to prepare him for overseas missionary service.

Now in Southwestern China, Fraser was selected to work in a backward rural area called the Yunnan province. He immediately immersed in the Chinese way of life, the dress, the culture and the language. Fraser met many different tribal representatives as he walked and preached throughout the province. One day he noticed a few people who did not speak Chinese, wore different traditional costumes and lived hidden behind the great mountain ranges of China's far west. These people had never heard of the Lord, Jesus Christ and now Fraser knew his purpose for being there. The Lisu people lived in complete poverty and for centuries had been devout demon worshippers. Fraser had his work cut out for him. Fraser had dared to invade satan's kingdom that was undisputed for ages. The kingdom of God was about to lay hold of this area by force and Fraser would eventually succeed because he would learn how to touch God through intense prayer:

"I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel that it would be truer to give prayer the first, second, and third place, and teaching the fourth.

From his biography we read:

"To know the real Fraser one needed to hear him in prayer. Prayer was the very breath of life to him, and in prayer he seemed to slip from time into eternity."

Climbing the mountains he suffered many hardships, both physical and spiritual, and upon arriving at that unholy location he set up a mission base in the city of Baoshan and began to take the Word of God, by horseback, to the Lisu people. It would prove to be one of the hardest ordeals he had ever undertaken. At first Fraser had difficulty reaching the Lisu because they did not speak Chinese or English, they had their own dialect so he had to master the difficult language and taught them his own "Fraser Script" or "Fraser alphabet." He also translated the Scriptures into the Lisu dialect. This took years during which he suffered from hunger, sickness, bouts of loneliness and depression and plenty of discouragement. With all his work and preaching, still the Lisu would not give up their demon-worship. Years had gone by and not one convert to show for it and not even a church had been founded. There was a time when Fraser actually questioned his faith and his calling to be in this forsaken part of the world. He thought, surely satan had this place in his hands for so long it would take a stronger man than he was to shake it loose. The mission office even offered to send him elsewhere and surrender the people to the devil. It was a tempting opportunity in a different part of the world:

"Perhaps this is not God's time for this place. Is it right for me to stay on, waiting and praying when workers are urgently needed in more fruitful fields."

He could not and would not turn his back on the Lisu. He would not allow the devil, a defeated foe, to gain a counterfeit victory. So isolated and alone he turned to his only help and supplier and prayed. He was compelled to seek God for his every need. He prayed fervently and continuously day and night promising to not let God go until he blessed the Lisu. It was told of Fraser:

"Frequently the mountainside would witness the piercing, importunate (persistent) pleadings of this man who counted his prayer time not by minutes but by hours."

He agonized in prayer, he travailed in prayer, he wept in prayer, he pleaded in prayer, he received in prayer. He wrote in his journal:

"How much of our prayer is of the quality we find in Hannah's bitterness of soul, ‘when she prayed unto the Lord?' How many times have we ever ‘ WEPT SORE' before the Lord? We have prayed much perhaps, but our longings have not been deep compared with hers. We have spent much time upon our knees, it may be, without our hearts going out in agony of desire. But real supplication is the child of heartfelt desire, and cannot prevail without it; a desire not of earth nor issuing from our own sinful hearts, but wrought into us by God himself. Oh for such desires. Oh for Hannah's earnestness, not in myself only but in all who are joining in prayer for these poor heathen aborigines."

When we threaten the kingdom of darkness the spiritual battle becomes intense. Being alone, with no other Christians to encourage him, Fraser became the object of an intense demonic attack. He often found himself slipping into a paralyzing depression and despair. Finding all the strength he needed in God he knew by the power and the blood of Jesus victory was assured. The will of the Father is that all men come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and he knew if he prayed according to the will of the Father he would receive his petitions (1 John 5:14-15). Because of this faith he persistently asked God for the salvation of the Lisu people and then walked in the deep and confident conviction that he had already received the answer. It would be years before the Lisu would come to the faith and Fraser remarked:

"Some may now say that my prayer was finally answered but that would be incorrect, I received the answer to my prayer the day I prayed it."

He would go months without any mail or outside correspondence then one day he received a magazine called the "Overcomer" produced by Jessie Penn-Lewis. This magazine was a gift of God in his spiritual struggle:
"What it showed me was that deliverance from the power of evil one comes through definite resistance on the ground of the Cross. I am an engineer and believe in things working. I want to see them work. I had found that much of the spiritual teaching one hears does not seem to work...we need different truth at different times. ‘Look to the Lord,' some would say. ‘Resist the devil' is also Scripture (James 4:7). And I found it worked! That cloud of depression dispersed. I found that I could have victory in the spiritual realm whenever I wanted it. The Lord Himself resisted the devil vocally: ‘Get thee behind Me, satan!' I, in humble dependence on Him, did the same. I talked to satan at that time, using the promises of Scriptures as weapons. And they worked. Right then, the terrible oppression began to pass away."

Stuart Simpson writes:

"Fraser learned the importance of the prayer of faith and realized much time had been wasted through ineffective praying, believing God would answer instead of knowing that he had answered already and therefore receiving the answer when the prayer is God taught him about prayer and faith, he shared these truths with his prayer partners in England. Having others praying for him and his work among the Lisu was a key factor to seeing the breakthrough among the Lisu. Started by Fraser's mother, over time a prayer team developed back in Letchworth, England. Fraser wrote to them, ‘ I will not labor the point. You will see from what I am saying that I am not asking you just to give ‘help' in prayer as a sort of sideline, but I am trying to roll the main responsibility of the prayer warfare on you. I want you to take the burden of these people upon your shoulders. I want you to wrestle with God for them."

The battle was long and hard but Scripture says, "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart." (Luke 18:1). Fraser persevered knowing that his prayer for the Lisu had been answered and God in "due time" would bring it to fruition. It took six years. Six years from his first prayer when suddenly the power of the Holy Spirit broke in on the lives of the Lisu that within a short while over 600, representing 129 families had turned away from satan and demon-worship and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. Six years of nothing and now scores of families were converting to Christianity. Fraser started organizing the people into strong indigenous churches. Family evangelism was rampant and word among the Lisu was spreading like a flood. Within two years over 60,000 believers had been baptized. Fraser translated the Gospel of Mark and a book of hymns for the people to carry as they traveled throughout the countryside preaching their new found faith. The conversion of the Lisu is one of the greatest stories in mission history.

In 1924, Fraser went back to England on furlough, he was 41 at the time. While at home two incidents occurred one was his marriage to Roxie Dymond, the daughter of a Methodist missionary stationed in China, the other was an unction of the Holy Spirit that left him dissatisfied. David Smithers write in detail about this time in Fraser's life:

"He began to feel increasingly dissatisfied with what many considered successful ministry. He recognized like never before the tremendous need for true revival on the field and at home. His heart now longed for a powerful visitation of the glory of God. When God creates a fresh desire within us, we can always be confident that He is getting ready to move. While on furlough, Fraser's longings were confirmed through the opportunity to hear the missionary-revivalist Jonathan Goforth."

After that spirit changing meeting, Mrs. Fraser describes the event:

"As the old man of God stood up to preach, an overwhelming sense of the presence of God filled the room, and as he spoke we were all but melted under the power of his words, for Goforth had been endued with a divine unction from God Himself and it was unmistakable. Fraser had heard before of the great revivals Goforth had witnessed in his work in China, but to hear him speak was unforgettable and left a deep burden on his soul."

It was now the early 1930s and Fraser was not alone in his desire for revival. The Holy Spirit was quickening His people and the cry for revival was now rising from the hearts of many. So back to China, went Fraser and his wife, with a new burden, God's burden. Again Mrs. Fraser writes about her husband:

"He saw the teeming millions of unreached Chinese and the tiny handful of missionaries, but great as was the need for more missionaries there was even a greater need, that those of us who were out there should be endued with far greater power...Fraser was burdened because the Church both at home and abroad seemed to be making so little impact on the world. He spent hours in prayer..."

By this time the hearts in China had been made hungry for God. Evangelists from among the Lisu people themselves were having wonderful success in spreading the Word. On arriving in China, Fraser teamed up with other revival hungry missionaries and locals such as Andrew Gih and John Sung, and Anna Christiansen from Denmark. They enjoyed powerful times and prayer together that often lasted into the early morning hours. Then with a power that rocked a nation God broke forth. Fraser writes that this time was the "Happiest experience in China" he witnessed. It was the glory days of the Shantung Revival and thousands and thousands came to the Lord daily. It was total victory through the blood of Jesus and the power of persistent prayer. Even though other missionaries came to assist in the work, the bulk of the conversions happened as a result of the Lisu evangelists covering the ground and reaching not only Lisu but also Kachin and the Yi people.

Fraser now had a strong desire to see far greater works and a deeper demonstration of the Holy Spirit. He wanted the Church to walk as it did in the Book of Acts, so he shut himself away and spent hour after hour in secluded prayer for just that. It was during this time, surrounded by his wife and three children, J. O. Fraser died of cerebral malaria at age 52. A memorial has been erected in Weixi County in far Northwestern Yunnan. It is inscribed in Lisu, Chinese and English saying:

JAMES O. FRASER 1886-1938
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news"

In 1992, the Chinese government officially recognized the Fraser alphabet as the official script of the Lisu language.

"Solid lasting missionary work is done on our knees."  James O. Fraser

James O. Fraser dared to invade satan's kingdom, undisputed for ages and declared his authority over that area, null and void. He stood before the devil and reminded him that he was already a defeated foe by the sacrifice of the Cross. And by intense prayer he stood his ground and with the authority given to him by the blood of Jesus Christ he faced the devil nose to nose, eye to eye...and the devil blinked.

Luke 22:31-32 ..."Simon, Simon! Indeed, satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you..."

JJ(Dark) Di Pietro
Cane Creek Church