During his lifetime, Aril Edvardsen was the most famous Scandinavian evangelist in the world. Today I interview Harald Mydland, who wrote a book about the history of this great evangelist. On today’s episode of the Evangelism Podcast, you will discover the exciting faith and visionary thinking of one of God’s heroes.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:00):
Welcome to the Evangelism Podcast. I’m Daniel King and I’m excited about telling people about Jesus. Today I have a very special guest with me, Harold Midland. Thank you for being on the Evangelism Podcast.
Harald Mydland (00:12):
Thank you so much.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:13):
Now we are sitting in a very historic place in the nation of Norway. It’s a very small village. And help me with, what is the name of the village
Harald Mydland (00:24):
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:25):
Okay. And we are in the headquarters of a ministry of one of the greatest European evangelists who has ever lived. And so tell me about how this place got started and what God has done.
Harald Mydland (00:42):
His name was Aril Edvardsen and he was born in this place. He grew up as an ordinary kid, a young boy. And in the age of 17, 17 years old, he received Jesus. And he was saved in a very powerful way because he was supposed to go to see a movie at cinema. But a guy convinced him to come to a meeting in a local church. He came with him and was listening to the message. I think he was called by God listened to the message. And when they gave the altar call, he came forward. He gave his life to Jesus. And when he explained afterwards what happened, he said that he felt that God’s power hit him in such a powerful way that he understood if I let this happen to me, I will never be the same. It’ll be so. It was so powerful. It was so, he knew very well, I have to make a decision. Will I go for this or will I stop it to happen? So he surrender himself to Jesus. And he was born again in a very powerful way. And the same evening his wife were at the local hospital.
She had just given birth to the first child and she was laying in the room, ar came into the room and said, Curry, I have given my life to Jesus and you have to give your life to Jesus as well. And she was totally shocked. But he prayed for her and led her to Jesus the same evening. And
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (02:27):
Then so the first person he led to Jesus was his own wife, his
Harald Mydland (02:29):
Wife, his wife. And then very soon he started to preach in the local area. And God’s power were really over him. He was anointed in a powerful way. He was very bold. So he started to do campaigns in the local area, but the tent campaign, he had the tent oral, put it up many places and went around. And then in 1960, he was 21, 22 years old, came to my place, my church, my home place, just one hour from here by car. And he was, they called him to be an evangelist to staying in our church for four months. And then in March 26th of March, 1960, in the afternoon before he was supposed to have a meeting in the evening, he was staying in a room and God’s Holy Spirit came into that room. It was so powerful. He just laid down on the floor and go start to speak to him. I said, I call you to be a world evangelist, to go to the nations and you are going to do it by supporting and working together with local native people around the world. Very powerful. So the same evening, he decided to start support his first national evangelist in Brazil. And after that,
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:04):
So how did he know about the evangelist of Brazil?
Harald Mydland (04:06):
He found a paper, a Christian magazine. So he continued to preach. He also went also to Europe in a pioneer journey to see the mission field in Europe. He came back in 1961, but in 1962, something very special happened in a dream. One night he was dreaming and he saw himself in a dream walking up on a mountaintop close to this area. On the other side of the, well, there is a mountain top. He saw himself walking up on that mountaintop and he stood there watching and he saw this area. He saw this well in his stream. God showed him that. Well, it was like a journal at that time, many Ian bushes and nobody had thought about using it to anything. So God spoke to him and said, from this place, you’re going to put up a mission center and it’ll be a mission center to influence the whole world. It’ll be a place for the people in Scandinavia to come together in unity and to show Jesus Christ as a savior, but it’ll be a mission center to all the world from this place.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:20):
And so we’re talking about the place we’re sitting now. The place
Harald Mydland (05:23):
We’re sitting now in
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:24):
English, it’s called the Valley of Sharon. How do you say it in Norwegian. And it’s evidence of great faith because here in this place, there are more seats than there are people in the village. And so to make a place like this in a small village and to trust that God can fill the place, it shows that Ariel was an evangelist who had great faith.
Harald Mydland (05:50):
He had, it was not immense vision, it was not a vision. It was God’s vision given to him. And he really took it and made it his own. So the next day he went off to the mountain and saw the place and he saw the place. And then he went to, the two brothers owned the place. So he went to them and said, I want to buy your land. And he paid $3,000 at that time, a huge amount of money. I had no money. He had no money. He said when he said, I will pay it, give it, I will buy it and the money will come. So he started to give a magazine and write about it in a magazine. And people started to give. And he also came as volunteers because they made a first hall in the beginning. And they used it for many years, a small hall in the beginning. And the first summer convention took place in 1963. Not in this place because even was not prepared, they were not fulfilled. But 1963, there was some convention for the first time in the town, just over here. But from 1964, every year, one week, every year there has been an annual conference and get many people from many nations. But step by step earlier as written in my book, this is the story about, yeah, you have
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (07:14):
Really become the historian of the
Harald Mydland (07:17):
Movement. Yeah. This is the story about from year you can follow the work and the waves in a way, year by year, everything what happened, the main lines and also summary for each year, what happened. Now
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (07:30):
Your book is only in Norwegian.
Harald Mydland (07:32):
Yes. I’m sorry.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (07:34):
You must put it in English so that the English speaking world can hear the story because I think still this story has the power to inspire
Harald Mydland (07:43):
People. Yeah, it’s so inspiring by it because he has supported thousands after thousands of native workers. He has done crusades, he has done seminars and conferences. They started with radio, radio, Luxembourg. If some people know about radio Luxembourg, it was very famous radio. Many years ago, he started to broadcast on radio Luxembourg Evangelical message. Yes. And then step by step, he had his own radio work. And then after a while, television, when television came, he saw in the beginning there was only state television, only one channel. Not only all those channels we have today, but in the beginning only one channel. But God talked to him in Nairobi, in a hotel in Nairobi, 1970s, God spoke to him or eighties, God spoke to him and said, very soon mon, you say monopole, it’ll fall and he’ll be able to cover the world with the gospel using television. So he started to broadcast and he prepared and made a studio in this place below in the basement. And they were able to, Visian was to cover the world with the gospel from this place within two seconds, broadcast from here in two seconds all over the world. So he started, and from this place, they have been able to influence or impact almost all the world, more than 200 nations, radio, television campaigns, native workers, supporting them.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (09:26):
And so at the height of the ministry, how many native workers would they have supported?
Harald Mydland (09:36):
They have tens of thousands altogether. I think today they have, I’m not sure because I’m not follow it so close today, but they have thousands in many nations. They have very, and so
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (09:48):
Over the course of the ministry, tens of thousands. And what does that look like? Is it finding people that have just graduated from Bible school and helping them to go plant a church?
Harald Mydland (10:02):
The first thing is they need a calling. They need a passion. They need the calling from God to go out to raise the people in their own country. And then by that time got that vision. It was not common in Norway to support native workers. A missionary was a white man crossing the borders and coming to Africa or some places not using the natives. So he received a lot of opposition and doth because people didn’t believe in him or that kind of ministry. But it has proven itself so many times, very effective. And they have reached thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions, and planted so many churches all over the world, very effective.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (10:50):
Wow. Talk to me about what he was like when he was preaching. What was the main message that he preached?
Harald Mydland (10:59):
I will call him. He was the Norwegian or the European Billy Grham. Very simple gospel message, simple to understand, but at the same time, very deep. But he was able to preach it very simple in a way like Jesus. He used the parables and all, used a very, very simple language. But he was not formal educated, but he was able to talk with any professor in so many, many topics because he read books. He was really clever. And so he had a simple gospel Methodist, very powerful. And he was very clever to preach it. And also at the seminars, this is a second part of his ministry, the seminars. I follow him, many masons. I listened to him and he gave his sermons and teaching at the seminars. And he was not only given a seminar seminar in a way, he gave you his passion. When you sit, you sat down and listened to him. You received the teaching. And then also his passion, his power, his anointing. At the same time, it was very special. It’s not always, you can listen to a person and you receive not only his words, but his life, his passions is everything. Very interesting. So he has been able to influence so many people all over the world, many, many times again and again with seminars, Africa, India, Pakistan.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (12:41):
So what were some of the countries where they had a great effort in
Harald Mydland (12:46):
Africa? Of course, many, many places. I was with him to Rwanda. We were in Malawi, many places. He supported people in Kenya for many, many years. Kenya is one of the main in Africa, but also in India, in Pakistan or China. Nowhere is the are in China. They have been in Vietnam. They are all over the Asia, Myanmar or Burma, Bangladesh, many, many places in Asia or in Africa, all over the world.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (13:21):
What were some of the things that he would say to people that would really connect with them? Do you remember a particular story or some of the things that he would say that would really inspire people?
Harald Mydland (13:39):
I think the main thing is the simplicity of the gospel. Because he was so centered on the cross of Jesus. He had many messages about the four persons close to his cross, Mary and Mary and all the four ladies. And they representing the four corners of the world. So he was so close and he was so concentrated on the cross of Jesus. So he’s preaching about Jesus. That was his main, that’s the power of the gospel of course. And he was very centered at the cross of Jesus, preaching Jesus up and down and describing everything. This is on the cross before the cross, all the pain. He went through all the suffering, everything. And he described everything and he was really painting it for you so you could follow it. You follow his steps and follow everything. So the cross of Jesus and the center of the gospel, that was all
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (14:40):
I heard. He had a very unique way of working with Muslims and building relationships with them. Talk to me about
Harald Mydland (14:49):
That. RG said that we have a common world, a common earth to share so we can cooperate with any person to make the world a better place for everybody. So he never spoke against any religion. He respected all the religions. He even wrote a book called Priests to the Kingdom where he described how you can approach Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims. So you have to know the culture, have to, he said many times you have to swim in the culture. You have to communicate with them in a nice way. So he had a passion, he had a capacity. He was so able to communicate with so many people. And I was with him several times. He arranged those peace conferences. Here we were in Pakistan, we had the Taliban people sitting in the conference. The extreme Muslims came to the conference because it was a peace conference. He was talking about peace and working together in unity, respecting each other, et cetera. And they sat down all these Taliban people and many extreme people came. And he did the same in many places in Africa as well call it peace work. And I was with him in 1998 when we went to Arafat to Gaza
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (16:22):
Erfa? Yes. Head of the Palestinian Authority.
Harald Mydland (16:25):
Yes. We went to his headquarter. We had some meetings in Israel and also in the Palestinian areas, GAA Bethlehem. We had a meeting in Bethlehem in the city center. And the mayor gave his love to Jesus where he was preaching. And then we went to Gaza. And while we were just walking on this beach, there’s a beach in Gaza, somebody called him from the office of aat, Joshua Rafat and invited us. We were 105 Scandinavian people in buses and a invited all of us to his office, the famous office. We came there and ar and Arafat, they sat together and Ariel spoke and said some words. And when we left that office, he went through the door and he took the hands of everybody and shake our hands. I know some of them felt a little bit, it was a little bit tough afterwards. We have shaken the hands of Arafat. But when I saw Arafat, I saw that little, he was in a way trembling and he didn’t look like he was 100% well. So I felt compassion with him in a way. This is the man who has terrified so many people. If we can say it, I dunno, we can say it on television, but when I saw him, I felt the compassion felt sorry for him.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:14):
And you come with peace.
Harald Mydland (18:17):
We came with
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:17):
Peace in the Prince of Peace.
Harald Mydland (18:19):
Yes, in the Prince of Peace. And we greet the people with peace.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:23):
And so evangelist er, he said he never wanted to retire. He wanted to go out with his boots on. Yes. And it turned out that that’s
Harald Mydland (18:32):
What happened. And what happened that happened, he went to Africa and he had a campaign outside Africa and it was the last campaign. And he was so tired, very tired. And he and his wife were supposed to have some days free off after the campaign, had to go to Mombasa. But he was so tired. And during the campaign several times he asked his son, Runa, who is in charge now, to come and take the article and take the finish of the meetings because he was so tired. But nobody was thinking that he was at come to the end of his life. But after the campaign on sbar, they went to Ka, went to Mombasa to spend some few days together before they came home. But during that day, the first day they said they made a summary, where are we now? What happened with our family?
And they were talking about all their grandchildren and the grand grandchildren and everybody. And they did a kind of a summary what have of their lives. But that night, that night after that, he suddenly became sick and Ka understood something is happening. So he died in Mombasa after that last campaign at Sanbar. Sorun was in Africa. Rooney son was in Africa. Kari called Ro and Rooney came to their place and he has talked about that many times. And also at summer conference this year, he came back to the same things that happened when he came to the place. When he saw his father laying in a terrible place. He saw his father there and die had died. And his mother stood at his side and car said to, can you feel what’s happens happening in the air? And Carl said, the calling is here.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (20:57):
The calling is
Harald Mydland (20:58):
Here. So you have to take over. The calling is still here. The calling to go to them. Well with a mission.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (21:06):
And so the ministry has continued to have a big impact around the world. And so Ariel has gone to heaven now. But talk to me about what the ministry continues to do today.
Harald Mydland (21:20):
Well, we can see it here today because the founder, Richard Gunney from Belfast, he founded Ace Association of Campaign Evangelist Lists in 2002.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (21:33):
Yeah, I read Richard Dunning’s autobiography. And he from Ireland came here and learned Norwegian went to Bible school here. And that was really the start of his ministry was being influenced
Harald Mydland (21:48):
By the ministry here. It was the start. And he came as a student at the Bible school, opened the Bible school in 1968. And through all the years there’s so many evangelists and pastors and leaders has attended the Bible school. So Richard Gunning came to the Bible school in the 1980s. And there was a man from Africa, from Kenya because by that time they sent two people from Kenya. They came here for free to the Bible school. And Peter Carrano was one of them. And Peter rha became good friends. Rich was able to talk Norwegian and understand Norwegian. So he was the interpreter for Peter when he came in of the teaching at the Bible school. And after they finished the Bible school, they felt the calling both of them to go back to Kenya and to establish that reached the unreached ministry. And they started that ministry over 25 years ago up to today.
They have now by their work they have been doing all these years, they have founded 1400 churches in Kenya. But it started here at the Bible School. And then something very interesting happened because I started to work here in 1998. In year 2000, I went to Kenya. I met Peter, I met many other persons. And then I said to Arle, when I came home, can we invite Peter and Richie to the next convention and all? I said, yes, you can invite them. And they came here in 2001 and they shared a meeting. After the meeting they asked Arle, can you lay, put your hands on us and bless us. And he did. And after they went to the room and then God spoke to them, to Richard and said, now you’re going to expand your ministry. And that was the foundation that was in a way that how Ace became a reality.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (23:50):
Yeah. So we’re actually here for an ACE conference. Ace is the Association of Campaign evangelists. And many, it was in this place. Many Scandinavian evangelists are part of it. Yes. And yeah. Wow.
Harald Mydland (24:03):
It was founded. It was founded in the heart of Richard. But it happened here. After a meeting in this hall, he went to the room, spoke to him. He start to call some few of us. I was there the first time, the first year in 2002 in Belfast and some other guys also. And from that, it’s 21 years now. So now I think this is the biggest conference. After 21 year, 50 people for many nations and so many have come and they’re not here today. They come to be influenced and inspired. And
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (24:37):
So when you look at the history going all the way back to when Arro was 17 years old and gave his life to Jesus for the evangelist today, a young evangelist who wants to go and reach the world, what are some lessons that a young evangelist could learn from his life in ministry?
Harald Mydland (25:00):
There’s many thing, of course, but the main thing is that God can use anybody. It doesn’t depend on us. It depends on the calling. If God has called you, he will give you the ability and he will give you the power. He will give you the message. So we need to be open to receive his calling and say yes to his calling and follow Jesus. Jesus said, follow me. I will make you physic of man. Live close to Jesus. Read your Bible and open your heart to receive from him and follow in his footsteps. He can use anybody to change the world. Why not? Bunker did many big, big crusades in Africa. And he’s a very famous example for us nowadays. And of course Daniel NDA and many other many also people here. Also you.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (25:51):
I, well, I’m so inspired by his life and ministry and it’s really wonderful to come here and to see the vision. I mean, this is a place where revival has spread around the world. And I think maybe he is one of the greatest evangelists. Even the airline of Norway. I saw a picture, they painted his face on the tail tail of one of their huge planes. And I think he might be the only evangelist to be honored in that way
Harald Mydland (26:29):
In history. In fact, we have two, that’s a second, but early is there. So it tells about, and when,
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (26:38):
I mean what a thing to say that the evangelist was so good that the national airline honors him in such a way. Yes.
Harald Mydland (26:45):
When we had the funeral of our, in this place, the national tv broadcasted life, everything
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (26:56):
Across the whole country. Yes. Wow.
Harald Mydland (26:58):
They were here. So many guests.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (27:01):
If God can use a man from a small village in Norway, he can use anyone. He can
Harald Mydland (27:06):
Use anyone. Absolutely.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (27:08):
Harald Mydland (27:08):
Yeah. His life is a testimony. Yes. Very simple person, but well, it’s, it’s like Mary more than Mary. Why did God choose Mary? Nobody knows what he did to us. Nobody knows, but he make us. I will make you physicians of man. So a willing heart. He will make
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (27:32):
A, what was he like in person when you interacted with him?
Harald Mydland (27:35):
He was so informal. When you come home to him, he will be relaxed like that. He was very informal. Very informal. And he was himself. I think when he talked with presidents in head, head of states, many places he at rest him like we are sitting here, not as the big man, but he talked to him like a human being. He was normal. I dunno how to explain it in English, but I think he moved their hearts. He reached their heart because he was so a human being and totally relaxed and very nice person, personality. He respected everybody and he behaved in a very nice way. He could talk to anybody. And they liked him. They liked him. So he became a friend to many, many people high up in the society, head of states. Wow. He was a friend. Yeah.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (28:47):
Well, thank you so much for sharing his story. I think we can all be inspired that God can do something great even from somebody who starts out in even just a small village. Yes, exactly. Thank you for being on the Evangelism podcast. Okay.