I was born in a poverty-stricken village in the Black Forest. It took five hours to travel from our village to Möttlingen. The morals and economy had sunk so low through the widespread chronic drunkenness, that nearly everyone was in want. The pastor was a heavy drinker and the mayor of the village practically lived in the local bar, along with the other village officials.
The village was saved out of its apathy through the ministry of Pastor Blumhardt, although he was five hours traveling time away. The fire of his ministry did not only spread to our village, but caught hold of practically all of the Black Forest area.
This is how it all began. My father was a farmer in the Black Forest and a notorious practical joker. Sometimes he would play such clever jokes that people all over the area laughed about it for weeks. He had an infectious sense of humor and was practically idolized by the villagers. He was also a heavy drinker. In the tavern where he spent most of his time the owner’s wife had facial cancer around her nose. She heard of the wonderful healings that were taking place in Möttlingen so she went to that town too. My father did not believe that she would be healed, but when she returned she was truly healed. That made my father really take notice. A mentally disturbed person was also taken to the pastor and he returned healed. This made my father think even more. He realized that something unusual was happening. More and more sick people went and nearly all returned healed bringing new life with them. The wife of the tavern owner also showed signs of having received new spiritual life.
My father decided to make a secret visit to Möttlingen. No one was supposed to know about it. The first sermon that he heard disturbed him so much that he would speak to no one afterwards. My mother did not know what was wrong with him. During the mealtime he suddenly began to speak and said, “We are all lost and going to hell; things can’t stay the way they are. We must begin a new life.” His life was completely changed after that.
At first my mother thought he had gone crazy. Word spread throughout the Black Forest that “old Seitz has gone crazy. He’ll be in the insane asylum soon.” But not much later my mother also was converted. My father who had earlier been renowned for his ability to curse, became the instrument that God used to bring the holy fire to the village. At the urging of the Holy Spirit he visited the neighbors. A great number of farmers and their families were converted. Meetings were started in my home. More and more folks traveled to Möttlingen. The movement began to spread. It was often that forty or fifty people would travel to Möttlingen on a Sunday from our village. Every Sunday we saw miracles. On the way home we sang songs of praise.
Blumhardt had a phenomenal ability to stir people. Many others had a similar experience as my father. Blumhardt did not preach for long, but what he said was so powerful that even after a few words people broke down and repented. He had a wonderful power over the hearts of men, over sickness and over evil spirits.
A completely new way of life began in my village. One family after another left their life of sin. The greater part of the village inhabitants became converted. The blessing affected the children of the village also. For a long time no marriage was celebrated with the sound of dance music, not even among the unconverted.
Blumhardt’s faith was infectious. To God’s glory I can say that my father was in our village in a small way what Blumhardt was in the big city. Miracles accompanied him and had a great effect on the people around us. Later he lost this gift because he did not remain true. But for a number of years he had such faith that anything could happen. It was a time of grace and judgment.
Life no longer centered around the tavern. All the church members spent a week in prayer for their pastor. On the following Sunday the pastor testified to what God had done in his life He began to work in fellowship with his congregation.
On one occasion a wedding was to be celebrated with dance music. My father visited the bride and groom and asked them to begin their married life with the Lord rather than with the Devil. The couple promised that they would, but others persuaded them to do otherwise. On the wedding day they invited a large number of musicians to play and dance on the street in front of the parsonage. My father was crushed and went dejectedly to the pastor. But he said, “Seitz, don’t get upset. God has revealed to me that this family will not stay together for long. God will bring judgment on this village.”
And the judgment began on that very day. The bride was thrown out of the wagon and broke her foot. On the day following the wedding the groom became sick. But before he died he turned to the Lord. He asked for my father to come and he repented. The sickness spread throughout the village and a third of the villagers were ill. Whole families perished. Those who had danced at the wedding were particularly affected.
It was a wonderful time. The Holy Spirit came in power into the lives of people. Years later another wedding was celebrated with the same dance music. The pastor said to my father, “I have had another revelation given to me. The husband will go bankrupt and he will have an accident.” And that is also what happened.
These are just some of the things that happened in my village as a result of the ministry in Möttlingen. My whole family came out of a life of sin because of what happened in Möttlingen. Many received new life in our village. My father took me to Möttlingen with him often. On one Sunday in winter people were gathered together out of forty towns and villages. In summer a whole sea of people would surround the church and Blumhardt would preach so loud that those standing outside could hear too.
If someone knew a person living in sin we would simply take him to Möttlingen. People believed that a visit to Möttlingen was all that was needed to change a person’s life, and in fact this was true of the majority of those that came.