Divine Coincidence – Learning about Marie Monsen

Norway - Marie Monsen Grave I The day had been long.

Michael and I were sitting in a booth on the train back to Bergen. The sun was low in the sky, and I sat with my head rested against the window pane, immersed in the passing pines and lakes in the soft evening light.

Michael took down a book from his bag, and began to read.

The Heavenly Man – the story of Brother Yun.*

Michael opened at chapter one and after a few moments, nudged me a little with his elbow. “Read this!” he said, handing me the book and pointing to the first paragraph.

I began to read.

“One morning in autumn 1999, I awoke in the city of Bergen in western Norway …” *

How amazing is that?! I thought. Here we were, on a train to this very city, and we happen to start reading this life story of a remarkable man of God with its opening incidents set in this very place!

On that first page, Brother Yun described the way he had been speaking throughout churches in Scandinavia. Whilst in Bergen in Norway, his hosts asked if he would like to visit the grave of Marie Monsen, a Lutheran missionary to China whom God had used greatly to bring revival to parts of this country in the early part of last century.

Brother Yun’s description of this woman of God was inspiring.

“Miss Monsen was small in stature, yet a giant in God’s kingdom. The Chinese church was not only impacted by her words, but also deeply challenged by her sacrificial lifestyle. She was a fully committed, uncompromising follower of Jesus Christ, who showed us an example of how to suffer and endure for the Lord.” *

As I read more about how powerfully this missionary had been used by God, I became really intrigued.

Later, I read articles on the internet and pictured this woman’s life in the early 1900s travelling across the world in possibly dangerous circumstances to follow God’s call. I read about her utter faith in God’s promises, literally believing that in her times of need the Lord would provide. And He always did. The way that she would spend the first two or three hours of the day in prayer, and heard from Him so clearly. I found all of this so inspiring.

What an unexpected blessing. To learn about Marie Monsen in the city from which she came, and the city where she is interred. A divine ‘coincidence’ maybe.

We felt that the Lord had blessed us with this experience, and that if it was possible, it would be wonderful to visit this missionary’s grave, as a mark of respect and thanks for her life.

After a bit of investigating, it turned out that the cemetery was literally minutes from where we were staying. Our host kindly drove us.

We found where Mary Monsen was laid to rest.

Brother Yun described in his book how the grave had had no headstone when he visited, and that he had insisted to the Christians whom he was with that one be built to properly honour this woman of God.*

This was another highlight of our time in Norway – standing before this beautiful headstone, and learning about the life of a heroine of the faith.

P.S. Please excuse the poor lighting in the photo, we were trying our best with a little makeshift camera and I am not sure if the flash worked properly – eek.

*References:  The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun  by Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway, Monarch Books, 2002 pp *15; *15; *16-17.


~ by Birgit on August 28, 2008.

20 Responses to “Divine Coincidence – Learning about Marie Monsen”

  1. Awesome!!

  2. Thank you Birgit. I have been struggling with gender issues lately. This was such a nice reminder that I just need to be obdient. God will use me even if I am a woman.

  3. That book is amazing. And what a sublime experience to be able to see her grave site and to contemplate the impact she made in the world. Phenomenal. Wow.

    P.S. I am writing about and showing images of where I live right now; I will include some about the mountains. I grew up in the plains land of Nebraska in the United States where the corn and grass stretched out like a sea that never ended. Our little mountains are a stark difference from my childhood surroundings.

  4. That s quite an amazing coincidence! I think God really wanted to bless you with this:) My mom is forever talking about that book, I must read it…

  5. I never did believe in coincidence. God always has a plan. Now I am curious as to where He’ll lead you next. He didn’t bring this up for no reason. :)

  6. Now I want to read that book. Thanks!!

  7. BJ – there are no co-incidences! x

  8. I’m with Hope…I never believe in coincidence either….His plan is laid out from before the beginning of time..Anxious for the next chapter!!! thank you for sharing this…love you!

  9. Right now, 3 more copies of the book “Heavenly Man” are staring at me from the shelf.. Petrus bought a few copies of the book after he read it because he felt Brother Yun’s testimony have to be shared! And now I think the time has come for his wife to read it! Would love to know what Michael and your thoughts were after reading the book.

  10. Thanks so much to each of you for your lovely replies, it’s been a bit busy these past few days, but I hope to be back to reply with a bit more detail, God bless.

  11. Thanks Sands :)


    Hi Tawny, that is so good that Marie Monsen’s example has ministered to you, as a woman who seemed to have a profound impact for God’s kingdom during her life. It’s wonderful it’s given you hope in His purpose for you, God bless :).


    Hi @ngie, it really was a wonderful experience, I am so thankful that God led us to learn about this missionary’s life.
    Your descriptions of where you grew up are beautiful – I love the image of those fields of corn and grass :). I’m enjoying the photos of where you live :)


    Hi rg, yeah, I really felt the same, that God wanted to bless us with this experience. It showed me how involved He is in every one of our experiences, and that He has a purpose :)


    Hi Hope, it was funny because our host used the word ‘coincidence’ about this experience, and even though I can understand that it may seem like that, I think the same as you, that our God has gone before us and ordered our steps, I love that He has a plan :)


    Hi Michelle, me too :) I’ve heard how amazing Brother Yun’s story is. Please let me know your thoughts if you do read it :).


    Hi Aunty Lorraine, you’ve always said this, and I agree ;)


    Hi Debs, I love how deliberate our God is, how awesome to think that His plan for each of us existed before our creation, He is so good! Love you :)


    Hi Des, yes, I remember seeing the many copies on the shelf in your office :). How great that Petrus was inspired so much by it. Yeah definitely, we will have to chat about it after both reading it :)

  12. The thing to remember about Miss Monsen was that burning question she asked so many druing the revival. Have you been born again? Not just a white wash but that true inward conversion that takes place at salvation she had become aware of the numbers of lost people in the churches. therefor the question have YOU been born again?

  13. Dear Birgit,
    Thank you for the story and the photo. When did you visit the grave? I am reading the Heavenly Man now and I was astonished there was no grave. Do you know how the story ended? Who actually finished the Marker? Brother Yuns friends or the Nors? Very remarkable how you came to see it as well, thankyou so much!

  14. Dear Christy, it’s lovely to hear from you, and so sorry not to reply to your comment sooner, as I’ve not been around for the past few days. We visited the grave about 18 months ago. As you will have read in ‘The Heavenly Man,’ Brother Yun was grieved by the unmarked grave of Marie Monsen, so he spoke with the group he was with about building a new grave and headstone in memory of Miss Monsen, or that he would arrange for some Christian brothers “to walk all the way from China to Norway to build one” (pp17). Unfortunately I’m not sure who, in the end, did build this new grave and headstone.
    It really was a blessing and privilege to be able to go and visit it while we were in Bergen, and to be inspired by the life of this woman of God.
    It’s lovely to hear from you, and many blessings to you.

  15. Another “Divine Coincidence”? Just 3 days ago, on Sept 1, 2011, I was introduced to Marie Monsen through Kay Arthur’s book “As Silver Refined.” While praying earlier today, I felt compelled to “google” her name at some time TODAY to find out if her book “A Wall of Fire” was available. This website came up along with a few others. I first read the “wiki” entry which said she began her ministry in China on Sept 1, 1901. One hundred and ten years after she began her work in China in obedience to God, He divinely used her in a powerful way in my life confirming that He is indeed interested and active in our lives moment by moment . Thank you for writing about your “Divine Coincidence” on the train. Looks like I will be looking into “The Heavenly Man” by Brother Yun as well as “A Wall of Fire”. May God bless you in all you do for Him.

  16. Hi Candance, this is all really amazing! What incredible coincidences you’ve had recently, that I can so see God in! :)
    That’s so lovely you came across this post, and that you’ve also found ‘A Wall of Fire’ to learn more about Marie Monsen’s life.
    May God continue to inspire you through this, and really bless you, Birgit :)

  17. I’m also Lutheran ,and had never heard of Marie before last week. I called a friend who is wanting to past around books about Hero’s of Faith from different faith.ON internet search was first I had heard of “The Heavenly Man” was going to order. My friend told me he had a copy. While reading it is when I heard of Marie.While I was at a prayer meeting the next day someone spoke of the book “The Heavenly Man”. I finished reading in less that 24 hours I couldn’t put it down. Now I’m learning of Marie. America needs to be awaken from the slumber it is in,and repent before the Lord Jesus.

  18. Hi Linda, thanks for your reply. It’s really wonderful hearing about how much of an impact Brother Yun’s story has made in your life! And thank you for your thoughts and encouragement here, lots of blessings to you.

  19. I started attending a Christian (Lutheran) book club last summer; The Heavenly Man is our book for this month so, yes, I, too, read about Marie Monsen and then also googled her finding her Pirate Story, where she talked about claiming God’s promise to be a “wall of fire” for her and how he was in that situation but not finding that actual book but finding your post about her. I was particularly interested in this book after hearing a minister speak to us about Christians in other lands, especially in light of what Linda said, that America is in slumber (actually I’m not sure I’m that hopeful, but maybe so)

  20. Hi Donna, sorry about the delay in my reply, and just to say thanks for your thoughts and for sharing about the impact ‘The Heavenly Man’ has made as you read this in your book club! I’ve not come across the Pirate Story that you mention here, but I met a pastor once who prayed for a “wall of fire” as a kind of protection, spiritually, and I’ve always remembered it! I hope you’ve been able to find the story in the meantime :) Lots of blessings to you.


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