An orderly account of the origins and early spread of Christianity
An apologetic emphasis: Christianity was not politically dangerous
A reconciliation of Gentile and Jewish Christianity
An answer to Jewish opposition
A statement of the work of the Risen Lord by His Spirit through the Church
3 The Author of The Acts
Principal reasons supporting Lukan authorship:
1 Acts is by the same author as the Gospel of Luke
2 Similar style and vocabulary
3 Use of medical term in Acts
4 Luke was a companion of Paul
5 The “we-sections” in Acts suggest Luke
6 Luke’s name is missing: another would refer to him
7 Luke with Paul in Rome, where he could have completed the book.
8. Luke, the man: Gentile; physician, historian, spiritual
Two others theories regarding authorship
4 The Date of The Acts
Arguments favouring an early date, especially in the 60s
1 Conclusion of the story before the death of Paul
2. Luke’s two years in Rome would allow him to complete the work
3 The vivid descriptions of the “we-sections” suggests immediate recording
4 Details regarding Caesarea would have been collected or recorded early
5 No mention of the devastation of Jerusalem in 70 AD
6 No reference to Paul’s letters
Arguments favouring a date about 75-85
1 Passages in Luke’s gospel which preceded the Acts
2 Synoptic issues affecting Luke’s earlier work
Arguments favouring a later date, about 95–100 AD
Luke may have used Josephus’ history published about 93 AD
5 The Sources of The Acts
1 The historical sections:
records in Jerusalem and Antioch
2 The biographical sections:
6 The Setting of The Acts
Alexander’s conquests – a cosmopolitan society
The spread and use of the Koiné Greek – a common language
Stable world government
The Roman Peace
The System of Roads
The Slave Economy
The Jews :
Herod and his sons
The Roman Procurators: Pilate, Felix and Festus
The Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees
The Jews of the Dispersion
Paul in this setting.
7 The Contents of The Acts
Historical and Biographical
Preparation for the witness (1:1-26)
The witness in Jerusalem (2:1 – 8:3)
The witness in Judea and Samaria (8:4 – 12:25)
The witness to Jews and Gentiles (13:1 – 28:31)
A Comparison and General Summary
An accurate history
Luke’s closing sentences
Translations of Acts 1:1-9
Good News Bible
Today’s New International Version
J B Phillips Translation
The Amplified Bible
Buk Baibel (PNG)
Inter-linear Greek-English New Testament
Renewal Journals and Books
Luke and The Acts are two volumes of one astounding history – the story of Jesus and his church. Luke, “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14), often travelled with Paul in their pioneering missionary journeys. Luke gives us a concise preface in the beginning of his writings, and then introduces the second part of his story with a short introduction linking the two.
Luke’s own preface reads: “The Author to Theophilus: Many writers have undertaken to draw up an account of the events that have happened among us, following the traditions handed down to us by the original eyewitnesses and servants of the Gospel. And so I in my turn, your Excellency, as one who has gone over the whole course of these events in detail, have decided to write a connected narrative for you, so as to give you authentic knowledge about the matters of which you have been informed” (Luke 1:1-4, New English Bible).
Continuing his connected narrative, he commences part two with a sentence linking both: “In the first part of my work, Theophilus, I wrote of all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen, He was taken up into heaven” (Acts 1:1-2, NEB).
In his preface to the combined work, the author:
* revealed his subject – the Word;
* gave the sources of his information – eyewitnesses and ministers;
* described his method – accurate tracing of the course of all things, writing them in order;
* and declared the purpose – that of giving certainty to Theophilus (Morgan, p.7).
So here in my book we explore these issues mentioned by Luke himself, and examine the title, aim, author, date, sources, setting, and contents of The Acts of the Apostles.
What a great story! Luke traces the amazing growth of Jesus’ church from its beginnings in Jerusalem to its impact throughout the Roman Empire.
That story continues today. We are part of it. The God they worshipped is our God. The Lord they served is our Lord. The Holy Spirit they obeyed is in and with us.
This story of the Acts of the Holy Spirit continues today through the same Spirit of God. It fulfils Jesus’ last promise: You will receive power then the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
The following sample verses describe the acts of the Holy Spirit in both Luke and The Acts.
The Acts of the Holy Spirit
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Luke 3:16).
And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Luke 4:1)
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region (Luke 4:14).
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:18-19).
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight (Luke 10:21).
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).
This crucial theme continues in The Acts.
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen (Acts 1:1-2).
John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5).
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4).
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).
Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business (Acts 6:3).
And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke (Acts 6:10).
But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55).
Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17).
Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot” (Acts 8:29).
Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39).
And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17).
Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied (Acts 9:31).
While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you (Acts 10:19).
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:38).
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word (Acts 10:44).
And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also (Acts 10:45).
Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? (Acts 10:47)
Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house (Acts 11:12).
And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning (Acts 11:15).
Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 11:16).
For he [Barnabas] was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord (Acts 11:24).
Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar (Acts 11:28).
As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2).
So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus (Acts 13:4).
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52).
So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us (Acts 15:8).
For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things (Acts 15:28).
Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia (Acts 16:6).
After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them (Acts 16:7).
When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 18:5).
He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:2, 6).
When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome” (Acts 19:21).
And see, now I go bound in the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there (Acts 20:22).
the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me (Acts 20:23).
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).
When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles’” (Acts 21:11).
So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying, ‘ Go to this people and say:
“Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;
And seeing you will see, and not perceive …”’” (Acts 28:25-26)
Then Luke concludes his story abruptly with, “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.”
His closing reference to the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ brings us full circle to how Luke began The Acts. He tells us that the risen Lord taught his followers about the kingdom of God for 40 days and then promised them the power to continue teaching about the kingdom and demonstrating the kingdom, as Jesus had done.
This focus on the kingdom of God is another major theme in both Luke’s Gospel and The Acts.
Just as Jesus taught and demonstrated God’s kingdom on earth in the power of the Holy Spirit, so did his followers.
Author of A Preface to The Acts
Dr Geoff Waugh is the founding editor of the Renewal Journal and taught Ministry and Mission and Revivals at Trinity Theological College (part of the School of Theology at Griffith University) and at Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia.
In this very helpful and timely book, the Rev Dr Geoff Waugh takes up the implications of these issues and applies them to ministry within and beyond the church, the Body of Christ. As the framework above indicates, Dr Waugh’s analysis, evaluation and application of the theology of the living Body of Christ inevitably is no less than truly revolutionary, as is his analysis, evaluation and application of the theology of the living Spirit’s work.
Dr Waugh has had a long and distinguished mission career, especially in education, in addressing the central Christian issues outlined above. It has been my honour and my privilege to have served alongside him for eight years (1987–1994) in Trinity Theological College, in the Brisbane College of Theology, and in the School of Theology of Griffith University, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He has been a dear and valued friend, and especially one who day-by-day in his life has lived out what he taught. Moreover, he has had vast experience in his long teaching ministry, not only in Australia, but throughout the South Pacific, Asia, and in Africa.
His work is thus very important reading indeed for us all.
From the Preface to Part 1: Body Ministry,
by Rev Dr Col Warren
by Rev. Dr Colin Warren, Former Principal of Alcorn College, Senior Pastor of Rangeville Uniting Church before retirement and founder of Freedom Life Centre, Toowoomba.
In this brief Preface, I acknowledge that Geoff has had a very big impact on my life, both by the witness of his own life and by the quality of his teaching. I pray that you and your church will be greatly blessed as you read and put into practice these basic biblical principles to reach and bless the people who are searching for the living Christ but often do not know what it is they are searching for.
Geoff and I have worked with students and on mission enterprises together over many years. His writing has come from years of practical experience and a vast amount of prayerful study. He has pioneered a work the results of which only eternity will reveal. He has never sought recognition for his tireless and faithful service in honouring the Lord, in continuing to teach and to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. He writes out of varied experiences.
He was the inaugural Principal of the Baptist Bible College in Papua New Guinea (1965-1970). He has taught at Alcorn College and Trinity Theological College (1977-1994) and at Christian Heritage College School of Ministries (from 1995). He is the author of many books, mostly in Christian Education with the Uniting Church, but also on Renewal and Revival.
In this important work, Geoff explores the ministry of the whole body of Christ when Holy Spirit gifts are recognised and are encouraged to be exercised. Then the artificial division between clergy and laity or pastor and non-pastor is removed. At the same time there is the recognition of Holy Spirit endowed leadership gifting such as that between Paul and Timothy. This means that Kingdom authority is expressed through Divine headship. His emphasis on body ministry thus becomes a reality.
Geoff illustrates this clearly with his Case study Number 2 on page 34. There the church no longer consists of passive pew sitters but participants in fulfilling the command of Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach repentance, heal the sick and cast out demon spirits, having the certain knowledge that He is with them as He promised “to the end of the age”.
Geoff points out that if the church is to live and grow in today’s world, it must recognise the need to emphasize relationships and adapt to change. This change will include such simple things as the way men and women both old and young dress, and allow others the freedom to dress differently as they attend places of worship in a non judgmental atmosphere.
There is, too, the need to realise the reality that many are affected by a global sense of fear of nuclear destruction and of accelerated and constant change and uncertainty. The church can provide an atmosphere of security through rediscovering the unchanging gospel in a changing world.
Denominations that once were able to be exclusive and hold their numbers in rigid theological disciplines, have been invaded via cassettes, CD’s, DVD’s, and the internet that have widened the thinking horizons of their often theologically bound members, resulting in communication at spiritual levels not possible previously.
Geoff points out that if we are going to fulfil the Great Commission, we must first live the life of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is only then that we can do the work of fulfilling Christ’s command to go.
I commend Body Ministry for you to read. All Christians will benefit greatly from reading this insightful book.
From the Preface to Part 2: Ministry Education,
by Rev Dr Lewis Born
By Rev Dr Lewis Born, former Moderator of the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia and Director of the Department of Christian Education.
Body Ministry and Open Ministry Education come at the right time for adult education, gospel communication, and the growth of the church.
Open Education promises to become the most commonly used adult educational methodology of the new millennium. The demand is likely to increase. This indicates that the work of Geoff Waugh is a significant contribution to the current educational enterprise. It is particularly valuable to Christian Educators. The author’s orientation is theological and his target audience is the faith community, its nurture, growth and outreach.
To this point in time the educative process has been inhibited by dependence on structured courses, the classroom and qualified teachers. Accelerated technology, as Mr Waugh observes, has made modern resources commonly available to individuals, churches and schools in every village community. By this medium Open Education for the first time in history is able to offer high quality education from the world’s best teachers to people in their own lounge, church or local group meeting place.
All this coinciding with the renewal movement has stimulated interest in theological learning to an unprecedented degree in the history of Christendom. The incredible numerical religious revival in the illiterate Asian and Latin church has been stimulated and served by modern technology.
This gives Open Ministry Education and therefore Mr Waugh’s work a global relevance, which he has applied in the Australian context.
As a fellow Australian I am appreciative. My appreciation is greatly enhanced by a deep respect and affection for the author. He is a competent teacher, an excellent communicator, an informed, disciplined renewalist and an experienced extension educator.
All these qualities combine to commend the author and his work.
Author Geoff Waugh has been generous by providing several books encompassing body ministry. Each has a different flavor but all draw you closer to the concept of what today’s ministry needs to entail. Whether in church or in home groups all must center, he states, on relationships and using the varying gifts of the body to build up God’s kingdom. Just like Jesus taught on kingdom living we too need to break out of comfortable tradition, dissolve the gap between clergy and laity, and not conform to the world but be an agent of transformation to the world.
Servant leaders, Waugh believes, are called and anointed to equip others for ministry. It is not about position, hierarchy, or authority but a question of function and service. As the order of service is dictated by the Spirit’s outpouring, there are new songs in worship that can emerge as well as inspirational insights to edify the body.
The contrast given between traditional leading and 21 st century servant leadership is very informative. It allows pastors and leaders to evaluate the way things are done and help them lead in supportive ways.
The media and educational access via technology has allowed information at our fingertips and Waugh shares how the purpose of education has changed and what adult learners most appreciate today. This resource will be of benefit to all ministry leaders and teachers. I recommend it for positive change and for allowing the Holy Spirit, the Great Teacher, to have full reign.
Part 1: Body Ministry
I. Body Ministry with II. Body Organization
1. Kingdom Authority with 6. Divine Headship
2. Obedient Mission with 7. Body Membership
3. Mutual Ministry with 8. Servant Leadership
4. Spiritual Gifts with 9. Body Life
5. Body Evangelism with 10. Expanding Networks
Part 2: Ministry Education
11. Open Education: From narrow to wide
12. Unlimited Education: From centralized to de-centralized
13. Continuing Education: From classrooms to life
14. Adult Education: From pedagogy to self-directed learning
15. Mutual Education: From competition to co-operation
16. Theological Education: From closed to open
17. Contextual Education: From general to specific
18. Ministry Education: From pre-service to in-service
Foreword: Prof Dr James Haire
Prologue: Change Changed
Part 1: Body Ministry
Preface to Part 1, Body Ministry: Rev Dr Colin Warren
Section I. Body Ministry: From few to many
Chapter 1. Kingdom Authority: From meetings to ministry
1. Church and Kingdom
2. Signs of the Kingdom
Chapter 2. Obedient Mission: From making decisions to making disciples
Chapter 3. Mutual Ministry: From spectators to participants
Chapter 4. Spiritual Gifts: From limited to unlimited
Chapter 5. Body Evangelism: From programs to growing churches
1. Program Evangelism
2. Power Evangelism
Section II. Body Organization: From some to all
Chapter 6. Divine Headship: From figurehead to functional head
1. The Written Word
2. The Living Word
Chapter 7. Body Membership: From firm to flexible structures
1. The Organism
2. The Organization
Chapter 8. Servant Leadership: From management to equipping
2. Equipping for ministry
Chapter 9. Body Life: From passive to active
1. Concern for People
2. Concern for Task
Chapter 10. Expanding Networks: From maintenance to mission
1. Congregational Structures
2. Mission Structures
Case Study: China miracle
Part 2: Ministry Education
Preface to Part 2, Ministry Education: Rev Dr Lewis Born
Introduction: Ministry Education in the Body of Christ:
From traditional to open ministry education
Chapter 11. Open Education: From narrow to wide
1. Open Ministry Education
2. Distance Education
Chapter 12. Unlimited Education: From centralized to decentralized
2. Problems and Solutions
Chapter 13. Continuing Education: From classrooms to life
1. Increasing Change
2. Increasing Choice
Chapter 14. Adult Education: From pedagogy to self-directed learning
Available onThe Book Depository– free airmail postage
Word and Spirit was born of personal concern about misunderstanding and disunity in the Body of Christ with regard to charismatic beliefs. The booklet encourages Christians to be both faithful to the Word and open to the Spirit.
Word and Spirit has the potential to bring healing to Christian disunity concerning the role of the Holy Spirit. . . . She shows that the truth of God is clear.
James Brecknell (Journey)
Her biblical treatment is . . . balanced, and avoids . . . legalism.
Robert J. Wiebusch (The Lutheran)
Alison Sherrington has written a book on charismatic renewal which is eminently sensible and intelligently presents a discussion of issues raised by non-charismatics. An excellent book.
Geoff Strelan (New Day)
Alison Sherrington’s Word and Spirit: Coming to Terms with the Charismatic Movement “is intended as an encouragement to be both faithful to the Word and open to the Spirit.”
Her book provides an excellent introduction to contemporary concerns raised by charismatic renewal. It rejects a false dichotomy between Word and Spirit, places experience under the scrutiny of revealed theology, acknowledges a dynamic exegesis which refuses to be contained within our Western conceptual framework (for the wind blows where it will), and explores spiritual gifts in terms of God’s sovereign presence in all of life – not merely as theories confined to our paltry categories.
As a comment on faith and obedience, the book calls for courageous openness to God’s work in his world in the power of his Spirit. This involves change for us all no matter what our pet categories may be. God’s ways cannot be confined to ours. We are encouraged to seek the Giver even more than his gifts. He is Lord. He gives charis (grace) and chaismata (gifts of grace) more liberally and more comprehensively than any evangelical or Pentecostal theology can categorize.
Alison Sherrington affirms the importance of both Word and Spirit and challenges any dividing or emasculating of both. She does not attempt an exhaustive exegesis, but calls for faith in God founded on obedience to the Word of God empowered by obedience to the Spirit of God.
This book is useful as a guide for those confused by the legalism of much current debate (on all sides) because it affirms the primacy of God’s Word revealed and interpreted by his Spirit.
Geoff Waugh (Renewal Journal)
Foreword by Rev Dr Geoff Waugh
Experiences of theHoly Spirit
The charismatic claims
Does experience matter?
The stumbling-block of terminology
Are there Scriptural parallels?
Is there Biblical support for experiences today?
Are modern experiences of the Spirit genuine?
What are the results of such an experience?
What descriptive terms should be used?
Baptized with (or in) the Spirit
Giving and receiving the Spirit
Filled with the Spirit
Have I been baptized (filled) with the Spirit?
Do you want a baptism (filling) with the Spirit?
Being baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit
The Gifts of the Spirit
What are spiritual gifts?
The relationship of Spirit-baptism and gifts
When are the supernatural gifts to cease?
Why do some believe certain gifts have ceased?
The proper use of spiritual gifts
Which Way Ahead?
About the Author
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His answer is not always what we expect or even want, but bigger and better than our asking.
Call to me and I will answer you; and show you great and mighty things, you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
As I lay in bed last night, thinking/meditating/praying with soft instrumental worship playing on my CD, ‘it came to me’ that I would love to read a book of the best revival stories from the many issues of the Renewal Journal. So here it is. Being editor, I get to choose the ones I especially like. Many more great stories are in my other books such as Transforming Revivals. This editorial has another great story about living faith, miracles and answered prayer.
Helen Roseveare, a missionary doctor to the Congo, recorded this story in her book, Living Faith. She also wrote books about the Belgian Congo (now Zaire) revival of the 1950s.
One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labour ward; but in spite of all we could do she died leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator) and no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts.
One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. “And it is our last hot water bottle!” she exclaimed.
As in the West it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.”All right,” I said, “Put the baby as near the fire as you safely can; sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.
The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. “Please, God,” she prayed, “send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.”
While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by way of corollary, “And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?” As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, “Amen”? I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything. The Bible says so. But there are limits, aren’t’ t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a parcel from home; anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!
Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the verandah, was a large twenty-two pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly coloured, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas—that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend. Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the . . . could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out – yes, a brand-new, rubber hot water bottle! I cried. I had not asked God to send it. I had not truly believed that He could.
Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, “If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!” Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted. Looking up at me, she asked: “Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give this dolly to that little girl, so she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?
That parcel had been on the way for five whole months. Packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God’s prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child – five months before – in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it “that afternoon.”
“Before they call, I will answer!” (Isaiah 65:24)
Dr Helen Roseveare (1925-), an English missionary to the Congo from 1953 to 1973, suffered terribly through the political instability in the early 1960s and as a prisoner of rebel forces for five months in 1964. After her release she headed back to England but returned to the Congo in 1966 to assist in the rebuilding of the nation. Now retired she lives in Northern Ireland. The film Mama Luka Comes Home documents her return visit to Zaire in 1989.
Revivals abound with such stories of answered prayer and miracles. This book contains a few of those stories.
John Greenfield’s book, Power from on High, sparkles with the vibrant evangelism and mission of the Moravian revival which flamed into the Great Awakening and Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century.
Carl Lawrence graphically describes an example of revival in China ignited by two teenage girls. Djiniyini Gondarra traces the humble beginnings of the Aboriginal revival in Australia. David Yonggi Cho recounts his experience of explosive revival in communist Russia.
Richard Riss gathered extensive reports of revival awakenings in North America and England, and David Hogan testifies to amazing revivals in Mexico
We too can participate in prayer and revival in vital ways:
We can Ask God for a great harvest as we pray.
We can Believe God. He is able to do far more than anything we ask or even think about.
We can Commit our way to God who is the Lord of the harvest.
I pray that this book will both inform and inspire you. We can all join the millions praying “… Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. … For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.”
Reviewed by Dr. Vinson Synan, Dean of the School of Divinity, Regent University, Virginia. From the Foreword.
Eddie Hyatt’s new book, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, is Hyatt’s most important work to date. It isa fine historical survey of the charismatic history and nature of the church. His treatment of the originsand fate of the cessation of the charismata theory is well researched and convincingly presented. As the subtitle suggests, this volume is indeed “a 21st century look at Church History from a Pentecostal/Charismatic perspective.” Of particular value and interest are Hyatt’s sections on Charles Fox Parham, the formulator of Pentecostal theology, and the crucial part played by followers of Alexander Dowie who left Zion City to found important Pentecostal movements around the world.
Hyatt’s work is another in a stream of scholarly works that are driving nails in the coffin of the Warfield theory of the cessation of the miraculous signs, wonders, and miracles after the end of the apostolic age. He writes well and convincingly.Ifeel that this book brings together the most recent research on the subject and presents it in a popular way that any reader can understand.
I commend 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity to all who look for deeper understanding of the modern Penteconal/Charismatic movements that have exploded in the 2Oth Century to become the second largest family of Christians in the world.
www.eddiehyatt.com – Hyatt International Ministries Mailing Address: P. O. Box 3877, Grapevine, TX 76051 USA
(c) Renewal Journal 12: Harvest, 1998, 2011.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.
These brief global reports are snapshots from the end of the 20th century
An entire village in Thailand became Christians after a prayer for rain was answered, according to Sowers Ministry. Lun Poobuanak, a Thai missionary among the Buddhists and animists in Kalasin Province, said a village leader interrupted a Christian service, promising that if the Christian God would bring rain to save their crops, all 134 village families would become Christians. Lun and the other Christians prayed and fasted for three days, and on the fourth day, an intense cloudburst flooded the canals and rice fields.
Source: IRN News, January, 1998
Revival in an Indian Village, 1998
Report from Dr Paul Pilai, Founder of Indian Inland Mission.
One of our mission stations in a village in central India, named Tarti, was under the gripof fear of an evil spirit that destroyed the crop every year. Three families came to know Christ and a small church was established in a hut. The church prayed for the safety of the crop and no damage took place last year.
The whole village is turning to Christ and a great revival is taking place there. Most of the villagers wanted to receive Christ as their Lord and God. They stopped all the animal sacrifices to the evil spirits and the demons. None of the evil spirits attacked the crop or the villagers. They are learning Christian songs and pray loud to Jesus to make the demons know that the true God is in the midst of them. The Lord’s presence in the midst of them is known everywhere.
How meaningful it was when Elijah prayed before the Baal worshippers “let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel and that I am thy servant, and that 1 have done all these things at thy word” (1 Kings 18:36).
We praise the Lord that our ministry started in that unknown village at God’s word and command. He proved to His servants that He is the Lord God Almighty, the only true and living God, yesterday, today and forever the same.
Indian Inland Mission Newsletter, July 1998, pages 3-4.
30,000 decisions for Jesus in New Delhi
Christ for all Nations were in New Delhi from 25 February to 1 March, 1998.
New Delhi is a city of ten million people and is the capital city of the nation of India, as well as the political nerve centre for the whole country. In addition to this, it is known as a Hindu stronghold, a fact that is made even more significant by recent advances in the national political arena for the Hindu political party. The CfaN team headed to this city only two weeks after the end of national general elections, to hold a Gospel outreach in the huge Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. The event was billed as “The Good News Festival.”
The Festival was launched with a VIP banquet that was held the night before the stadium meetings began. Two hundred and fifty local and international dignitaries attended, among them a number of ambassadors from other countries. Reinhard Bonnke preached a direct and clear Gospel message and many leading citizens were seen to respond publicly to the salvation call.
250 churches participated
Pastors and churches from across the city joined together to host the event and Pastor Robert Jeyaraj was appointed as chairman of the event, overseeing the activities of the two hundred and fifty participating churches. It was also planned that running simultaneously with the evening meetings in the stadium, pastors and church workers from the region would be invited to attend a Fire Conference, which would be held each day during the week. An idea of the excitement generated by the whole event can be gauged by the fact that over four thousand delegates registered for the Fire Conference, many travelling considerable distances to be present. Reinhard Bonnke, Peter van den Berg and Brent Regis handled the Fire Conference sessions. On the final day, this particular event culminated with Reinhard Bonnke personally laying hands on the four thousand delegates before they each received a complimentary copy of the book Evangelism by Fire. There is power in the prayers of the righteous!
Despite restrictive security measures at the stadium entrances and unseasonable cold weather, tens of thousands of people flocked to the meetings nightly to hear the Good News of the Gospel as Reinhard Bonnke preached. The meetings were characterised by an amazing attentiveness among the large crowd, transfixed by the Word of God as the Gospel message rang out across the vast arena. Each night the power of the Word was seen as thousands upon thousands responded positively to the invitation to receive Jesus Christ as their Saviour, to the exclusion of all other gods. The two thousand counsellors were kept very busy, sometimes late into the night, handling the many respondents. By the final meeting, over thirty thousand decision cards had been handed in, and these were immediately funnelled into the follow-up system to be incorporated into the local churches. The follow-up material was available in both English and Hindi, the predominant local language.
After the presentation of the Gospel message each night, a public prayer was offered for all those who were sick. The crowd was amazed at the testimonies that followed as people pressed forward to report what God had done for them. Of the many hundreds healed, only a small number could be interviewed publicly due to time restraints, but the crowd shouted with joy as each person, together with witnesses, gave glory to God for their healing. A young man by the name of Mr. Patel came with his father to report that his right eye, which had been totally blind for five years, could now see perfectly. Everyone rejoiced as he correctly imitated the preacher by lifting his fingers to the sky. A woman with tears in her eyes reported that a cancerous lump in her right breast was now completely gone. The crowd erupted in a shout of praise. Miss Naidoo, a young Hindu woman, was brought by her relatives to show that despite the fact that she had been deaf from birth, she could now hear very clearly. Reinhard Bonnke demonstrated this by whispering into her ear and she was able to shout out the reply.
Fanatics opposed to the Christian message were so incensed by the miracle testimonies, that they printed out special handbills denying the validity of what was happening inside the arena each night. These they proceeded to hand out to the thousands who were standing in line at the stadium entrances. What the people thought about it all was graphically illustrated at the close of each meeting by the fact that while thousands of the handbills lay discarded on the ground, not a single follow-up booklet was picked up by the cleaners!
When the time finally came for the CfaN team to leave New Delhi, the general feeling of all involved could be summed up in the words of the Festival Chairman Rev. Robert Jeyaraj. AWe have seen the power of the Gospel in action during these days in Jawarhal Nehru Stadium, and we will reap the benefits for many months to come.” Only the Lord of the harvest knows the full extent of the harvest. You, our Missions Partners, are a vital part of this harvesting team and we praise God for each and every one who is faithful in prayer and financial support. He is the One who sees and He is the One who rewards. To God be the glory!
Source: Asuza, Global Revival News
Responses to Words of Hope’s radio outreach efforts to Tibetan Buddhists nearly tripled in 1997. Vice President for Broadcasting Lee DeYoung told Mission Network News on 23 February, 1998 that his group received over 700 letters from Tibetans in both 1995 and 1996. Last year that number jumped to over 2,000.
Source: Global Revival News, March 1998.
A Christian ministry in Syria, known in the USA as Syrian Evangelistic Educational Development, reports that a great revival has broken out due to prayer and fasting by the believers of that ministry. As a result, many Muslims have accepted Jesus as their Saviour. Additionally, for the first time in recent history, the government has allowed this ministry to print and distribute thousands of New Testaments. To help, contact <email@example.com>.
Source: FIA News, 5 March, 1998
Last night they wouldn’t let me into church! The service was supposed to begin at 7 pm, and in Egypt this meant that most people would arrive around 7:30. So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived on time only to find dozens of people walking away from the church!
Hundreds of people were in the street trying to make their way through the gate into the church and were being told that there was no more room. It was very difficult to fight my way through the crowds into the church courtyard which was packed full of people watching the service on a very large screen. I finally went into the church and found one seat saved for me by a friend.
The place was absolutely packed and the worship time was in full swing even though it was only a few minutes past 7:00 pm. I knew that every Sunday school room and meeting room in the church as well as the parking lot at the back had closed circuit television screens transmitting the service to them. It was the first night of the Luis Palau revival meetings in this church, which is the largest Protestant church in the Middle East. Probably more than 3000 people were packed into the compound!
In Egypt, Christian meetings have to be held in Christian facilities so it was impossible to consider renting an auditorium or stadium for this event. But as the pastor was introducing the American Argentinean-born Evangelist, he reminded the audience that Luis would have a nightly hearing of more people than would fit in the large Cairo soccer stadium! How was this?
Through an ingenious program developed by this particular church, the complete service is video taped and after the service dozens of people work all night to make hundreds of duplicate videos. Early the next morning, couriers travel to all parts of Egypt to deliver one or more tapes to the 570 churches that have agreed to take part in this outreach! It is expected that around 150,000 participated each day.
Pray for the tens of thousands of people in hundreds of churches across this country. Also pray for God’s protection.
Source: FIA News
Despite the harsh Arabization and Islamization policy by the government, the Christian Church in Sudan is growing fast. In the slums of Khartoum a revival has started. Small churches, often built of clay, mushroom everywhere. The Jesus Film is shown every night in another church. Twenty years ago only 5 percent of the Sudanese population was Christian. Ten years ago this number had grown to 10 percent. Now about 20 percent of the people in Sudan is Christian! The Anglican Church has grown from 4 congregations in 1984 to 280 now. Because of the arabization policy a strong Arab speaking Christian Church is arising which has the fire to spread the gospel even to other countries in the Middle East. These Christians risk severe persecution and even death.
Sudanese Muslims receive dreams
Many Muslims come to faith in Jesus through God-given dreams. Like an influential Nuba Muslim in Sudan. One night he received a clear dream. He saw himself getting baptized in a Christian church, while the believers sung a beautiful hymn in Arabic. He remembered the last part of this song very well: “Receive Jesus and you will be happy.” Then the door of the church opened and he woke up. “I noticed that the door of my dormitory was open, but I know for sure that I had closed it the night before.” He shared his dream with his wife and she couldn’t sleep that night. The next morning his son of 13 told him that he had had a similar dream. “I was in a dark room when suddenly there appeared a light. Then I saw daddy with a cross in his hand, where this light came from.” When the Nuba man heard this, he decided the get baptized. His whole family is now receiving Bible lessons. These kinds of stories come in from all over Sudan.
More freedom of religion in Sudan
While in South Sudan a civil war is going on and the rights of Christians are trampled, Christians in the North speak of more freedom of religion. According to an evangelist in Khartoum, the constitution was changed recently and now guarantees freedom of religion, freedom to evangelize and freedom to plant churches anywhere in the country. He tried this out immediately: in March he held a street evangelism campaign of a few days in the north of Khartoum. The population is mainly Muslim there. About 3,000 to 5,000 people showed up at the campaign that included a showing of the Jesus Film. “People were even standing on the roofs to be able to see the film,” according to the evangelist. “The gospel was not hindered at all. This is a miracle of God and a fruit of your prayers for us. Just because of the war many Muslims come to faith in Jesus.”
Source: Joel News, 25 April, 1998
“Please ensure that Bibles are distributed in all corners of this country to give every Zambian the opportunity to have the Scriptures in their respective local language,” was the challenge issued by State President FTJ Chiluba on the occasion of the Bible Society of Zambia’s (BSZ) Annual General Meeting held on Saturday March 7, 1998.
The President continued: “The Word of God has life and power that can shape families and society. As people search for truth they need to experience the liberating power of the Gospel.” He pointed out that the Society’s work of translating, printing and distributing the Scriptures was of vital importance and that there was a pressing need for an increase in local fundraising.
The President said it was “embarrassing” for the church in Zambia to always rely on external assistance, and he pledged 100 million kwatcha (US$60,000) to the Bible Society to be made available during the current budget year. He challenged all Christians in Zambia to contribute generously to God’s work. Lack of giving to the work of God was the reason that many people failed to balance their budgets, the President said. “You can only expect to receive God’s blessing if you give back to him from what you have earned,” he added.
The Rev Peter Ndhlovu, National Chairman of the Bible Society in Zambia, commended the Government for its commitment to the Bible cause as he thanked President Chiluba for such a challenging message.
Source: ChristianNet ChristianNet@christiannet.demon.co.uk 18 March 1998.
Charles Carroll reports:
One of my favorite verses is Habakkuk 1:5, where God says, “Look at the nations and watch-and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” I want to give you a beautiful illustration of this. In January someone sent me a copy of a speech given recently by Y. K. Museveni, president of Uganda. Reuters news agency says Museveni has emerged as one of the most articulate champions of change in Africa (21/1/98). I think you will find this speech both amazing and encouraging.
Remarks by President Museveni
Thank you, Your Excellencies, for the opportunity to share some thoughts about the spiritual condition of the peoples of Africa. As I observe the tribal differences, religious divisions, poverty and disease, lack of sufficient educational opportunities for our children, political upheaval and racial strife, it becomes obvious that the principles of Jesus Christ have not penetrated Africa enough!
It may seem strange for some of you to think that I would say this about Christ, because I know many of you may think this is too religious and not a very practical solution to the problems I have just mentioned. Furthermore, I know that most of you do not think of me as a very religious man – in fact, I do not think that about myself. My wife is a much better believer and prayer than I am, and those who have known me through the years know that I have had problems with religious people. As I have grown older, I realize that all of the problems have not been theirs, but I do think that those of us who claim to love God ought to love one another – this is one of the most basic attributes of a follower of Christ.
As the years have gone by, however, even though I have not become a member of any special religious group, I have decided to follow Jesus Christ with my whole heart. I find in him the inner strength, the precepts and the lifestyle that can help me and all the people of Uganda to solve the problems we face individually and as a nation. It is one of the interesting facts about Jesus Christ that people in every nation of the world regardless of religion, whether one is a believer or a non-believer, consider Jesus the greatest authority on human relations in history. His views on that subject have transcended all religions and cultures. It is remarkable that the person of Jesus Christ is accepted by everyone – even when they are not attracted by institutional religion.
With that in mind, I want to stress at least three significant precepts that Christ taught and modelled, which if practised, will help Africa: forgiveness, humility and love.
Forgiveness – Jesus Christ is the only person ever to come up with the idea of unconditional forgiveness, even of one’s enemies. He went so far as to say, if you don’t forgive, God won’t forgive you. In countries where animosity and division go back for generations and even thousands of years, how can peace come to a person, a group of persons or a nation if at some point we do not forgive and let God take the vengeance on our enemies – if that is what he decides to do? It has also been discovered that if we do not forgive, in the final analysis, it hurts us more to hate than it does those we hate. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that the message of Christ on forgiveness is the only practical solution to healing a nation’s wounds and bringing unity.
Humility – This is one of the most important attributes necessary to become a good leader. When you observe leaders at all levels of society, throughout Africa and I suppose throughout the world, you find them being overcome by power, greed and self-interest. Somehow, after they have attained the prominence and positions of trust, they forget the people, their poverty and need. They forget that they could become a great instrument to help their country, and instead they begin to live like little kings and dictators. Only with a humble spirit, one which recognizes that we who have been given opportunities greater than most are in fact servants of God and the people rather than masters, will we be able to help our countries move from Third World status and lead the people to a new day. As the Scripture says, God resists the proud and gives help to the humble. If you have time to pray for me, please pray that God will give me the strength, wisdom and sense to be a humble servant.
Love – It has been fascinating to me to discover that for centuries people who have been the most thoughtful, the most respected, and who have made the most lasting contributions to the human race have all agreed that the highest and greatest purpose for their lives has been to seek to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. These are people like Moses – the great lawgiver; Abraham – the man of faith and father of nations; William Wilberforce – the leader against the slave trade; Mother Teresa – and on and on. Jesus Christ said the sum of all the law and prophets is to love God and love one another. If love for God and one another were the rule and the prevailing attitude in our nations and communities, all problems would move gradually to resolution. Even when love is not the rule for most of the population and only exists among the few, great things happen that give hope and life in a world starved for love and caring.
Today, as we meet together, let’s resolve to take Jesus Christ out of the religious setting in which we have imprisoned him and walk with him along the dusty roads of Africa where he feels much more at home.
Source: Awakening, 18 March 1998 <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Healings in Uganda
Bishop Grivas K. Musisi, a Ugandan Christian leader claimed in an interview in the USA in April 1998 that “God has healed 223 people from AIDS” in his country. Each one of these healings,” he says, “has been confirmed medically.” Bishop Musisi, senior pastor of the Prayer Palace Church in Kampala, Uganda, and who oversees of 75 other charismatic non-denominational churches throughout the country, stated that he believes that God can do the same for people who are HIV positive or have full-blown AIDS in the United States. Musisi stated: “I believe that the solution is to come back to God. If a person can turn to God, God is willing to heal that person. He did it to the people with leprosy and he can do it with those with AIDS. God has been kind enough to confirm it through his Word. It has become a calling to everyone at the church to preach and pray for the sick and see people get healed, not just from AIDS, but from many other diseases as well. Daily, over 500 intercessors cry to God for healings at the Prayer Palace Church.”
Source: Dan Wooding via IRN News
Pastor Aré J. Van Eck reports: Our Congregation is called Nuwe Lewe Christensentrem, that is the Afrikaans for New Life Christian Centre. We are in no way a large congregation, with attendance seldom more than 80 and normally around 35 – 45. Part of this is due to the fact that we are in a rural area, which is church-riddled, but mostly because we are multi-racial. Most of our attempts to try and work with other congregations fail, because we love souls more than skin colours! What I want to share about is the way in which God is visiting us.
As for most preachers, I also went to local conferences (not being able to travel abroad) and had people like Benny Hinn, John Arnott, Rodney Howard-Browne and Randy Clark, pray over me and my wife, but always without any real manifestations. There was the occasional “going under” but not laughing, crying or being drunk for days – just to get back home and to find that God comes and touches his people anyway.
Imagine an Afrikaans scene with Afrikaans speaking to coloured farm workers, normally the poorest people you can get, sitting cramped in a 3 roomed house (no, not 3 bedrooms, but only 3 rooms) some totally illiterate, about 16 in the one room singing Vineyard and Hillsongs which they have been taught and of which the words have been properly explained to them. Minutes later, they
themselves start to pray, reading spontaneously out of the Word and laying prostrate under the power of the Holy Spirit, small children laughing in the Spirit, mom & dad repenting freely of hurts and sin. Praise be to God alone.
I am no person of wealth, charisma or above average education. I was a policeman for almost 18 years; it is all of God. We are near a black residential are as well. Now there are small black kids that run away from home to attend church. Some of them got spankings because of it, but they keep coming. I am talking children from 6 years up to about 14 years of age.
When I first ministered to a very small one who reacted on an altar call, I was annoyed to found that he did not even understand Afrikaans or English. All he said was “Jesu, Jesu.” The moment I started to pray for him, that little heart broke. He wept, fell under the power, and while lying on the ground, started to pray in his mother tongue, Xhosa. I asked one of his older friends to interpret. He was praying for a drunken mother and a father that left them on their own.
An elderly black man got saved, and asked prayer for his child that has vanished more than three years ago. The police had closed the case as they had no leads to follow. We prayed and within two weeks she surfaced in a town 300 kilometres from us, after being taken away by somebody who promised her a job. They had her delivered to her parent’s house, and we had the privilege of leading her to the Lord as well! Is God good or is he good?
Source: IRN News, 5 February, 1998
Neil Anderson reported in March 1998.
We have just returned from a very fruitful trip to the northern provinces of China. People are on the move, and political and spiritual changes are occurring in the country. The meetings with the believers had to be secretly held at night, because as you know in China it is against the law to meet in homes for church services. In these houses, the rooms are very small. In every place we went they were packed to the limit, so much so that the people were practically sitting on each other. But it didn’t matter as the people sang and worshipped the Lord. There were some new people there who were coming to a meeting like this for the first time. At the end of the meetings all of them gave their hearts to the Lord. People heard the Word with much interest and excitement. Every night we prayed for people to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and to be healed. All who were prayed for received the Holy Spirit, and spoke in tongues.
We were able to minister to many of the church leaders in China and listened to what God is doing in their lives and ministry. Brother Bi, one of the key leaders of many of the house churches based in the northeastern part of China has a total of 20 full time workers working with him in 50-60 different churches in the area. He told us this story:
In January a sister name Lan was going to see her brother, along with her little nephew. On the way to this place, it got dark and there was no light on their path. It was cold, foggy and nothing could be seen more than a foot in front of them. Suddenly a bright light shown before them. It was about 5 meters wide and this light led them all the way to her brother’s house. As soon as they stepped in to her brother’s house, the light disappeared. After they told this news to their family, five of them gave their lives to Jesus.
Source: Hong Kong & China Report.
Churches in Inner Mongolia are experiencing phenomenal growth. The region, located along China’s northern border, had 2,000 Christians in 1984, Lee DeYoung of Words of Hope radio told Mission Network News. Today there are 150,000 believers and at least 40 large churches, he said. DeYoung, who visited the capital city of Hohhot recently, said there is no explanation for the growth other than the work of the Holy Spirit.
Source: Global Revival News, March 1998.
The light of Christ is beginning to dawn in Japan. Christians say they sense “a new beginning” as churches cooperate in prayer and evangelism, Paul Ariga of the All Japan Revival Mission told Religion Today. About 1,000 churches participated in the All Tokyo Revival Mission 18-27 September, 1998. Charismatic, evangelical, and Pentecostal congregations worked together to plan the event. Almost 20,000 “prayer warriors” — some from other countries — logged hours of prayers in preparation. About 1,000 people conducted evangelism outreaches in the months before the crusade.
It was the first time that Japanese Protestants of all denominations worked together. Workers delivered Christian literature to 3 million homes in Tokyo in preparation for the crusade. Well-known Japanese Christian writer Ayako Miura wrote the tract, called “From Discouragement to Hope”. Another one million tracts were distributed at street meetings in the city.
The crusade drew more than 120,000 people to 24 meetings. About 56,000 non-Christians attended 10 evangelistic services at the Nihon Budokan, and almost 6,000 made first-time professions of faith in Jesus Christ, Ariga said. Two outreaches were held for women and children. About 60,000 Christians attended revival services intended to deepen their commitments to Christ and inspire them to spread their faith.
The number of responses is high for Japan. About 2.5% of the population is Christian and most churches average 30 members, Operation World says. There are 3,000 Protestant churches in Tokyo, a city of 30 million, and 7,700 Protestant churches in Japan. Some cities and towns do not have a Christian church.
Most Japanese claim no personal religion, but follow the customs of traditional religions including Shinto, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. About 100 New Age style offshoots of those religions spring up every year. Those influences, and Japan’s history of offenses during World War II and other eras, have created a “spiritual bondage” that hinders people from receiving God’s grace, Ariga said.
It takes the “spiritual warfare” of prayer, fasting, and confession of sins to break that bondage, he said. About 19,000 people have been praying for Tokyo since 1992. More than 1 million hours of prayer have been offered on behalf of the city in five years. To prepare for this year’s crusade, leaders asked the people to add 377,750 hours — one for every square mile of the city. About 3,000 people took part in a 40-day fasting chain prior to the event.
Ariga and other leaders have visited other nations to confess Japan’s sins against them. He has visited Australia, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan in the past two years to ask forgiveness for the country’s brutal behavior in occupied territories. Christian leaders in each of those nations accepted his apology and pledged to mobilize people to pray 1 million hours for Japan.
Reconciliation among Christians “breaks the bondage and the power of darkness and makes it easier for people to receive the message of Christ,” Ariga said. “We drew so many people—more than expected—from all over the island.” Before the revival, seven of Ariga’s eight relatives in Tokyo were not Christians. “Now I have eight relatives in Tokyo who are believers — that is the result of prayer.”
Source: Baptist Press, Religion Today; Joel News, 16 October, 1998.
In the Soviet Union, in 1989, there were 550,000 evangelicals, then by 1998 there are 2.3 million in Russia alone!
Source: Hands for Christ; IRN News.
Slavic Ministries and YWAM Norway are launching an initiative to reach the unreached living at the world’s extremes. The Arctic, Siberia and the Caucasus are rugged regions where numerous still-unreached indigenous peoples live. The Arctic is home to more than 20 indigenous nomadic & mostly unreached people groups. A School of Foreign Missions (SOFM) at Borgen, YWAM’s northernmost base, in Norway’s far north, was be led by the mission’s pioneers among the nomadic Nenets in April, 1998. Siberia, the ultimate godforsaken territory where thousands of political prisoners were sent to the gulags, and the Caucasus region, with the greatest concentration of unreached peoples in Europe, are the two other target areas of this thrust.
Source: Europe NOW, Mon, 16 February, 1998.
Bible in 2197 languages
The Bible or portions thereof has now been printed in 2197 languages, 30 more than in 1996 reports the German Bible Society in Stuttgart. The Bible is not only the most sold book in the world, but also the most translated. The complete Old and New Testament is available in 363 languages. 135 groups are working on a further 681 translations.
Source: Hope for Europe, February, 1998.
Pastor Marc Lebrun from France reports:
Our visit to Toronto in 1995 has changed our lives and put our ministry in such a dynamic that we couldn’t expect before.
When we came back the power of the spirit fell in the place and hit our little church in such a power that it is a wonder it remained. We organized soon renewal services and many people from around the Paris area and even further visited the church. Many were healed up, refreshed, with a new love for Jesus. The church grew and we needed twice to move our facilities. Our revival meetings draw around 200 people and the power of the Holy Spirit is increasing toward the revival outbreak we expect to come soon. Intercessory prayer, fasting, gifts of the spirit, have grown up and have become a normal way of life now.
The prophetic anointing is tremendous. Lately during a four days revival with David Herzog (David is an American evangelist missionary to France) a word of knowledge revealed that some people in the crowd had a spirit of suicide. We had a call for those people to come forward, the spirit resisted, nobody came, but when we rebuked the spirit of death, several people were hit and fell onto the ground, screaming. Some of our people went into intercession. Then seven people came forward and the power of death was broken. At the altar call 13 people gave their lives to Jesus. Some were children, youth and some adults. A young boy was delivered from a spirit of violence and death, he saw a vision of angels, his mother says he is completely changed. When Naomi, a 13 month old baby girl with second degree burns was healed through prayer, it resulted in the healing of all other children that were next to her in hospital. Please pray for us. We expect revival to explode and touch many people and churches around. If you have France on your heart, please pray with us and let us know.
Sourcehttp://members.aol.com/christlum/homecln.html via Awakening
Tessa de Ruiter from Elim Pentecostal Church in Hilversum, Holland, reports to have seen and heard angels: On 8 March 1998 during the worship-singing I heard voices singing that I had never heard before in church. These voices were the most beautiful ones I had ever heard, clear and pure. I knew that the voices did not come from the congregation for I know those, who are close to the platform, very well. After the preaching, when the invitation was given, my eyes were continually attracted to the platform, then I saw an angel on either side of the platform. I closed my eyes quickly and was thinking: “Lord, this cannot be real…” A voice within me said: “Look once more.” I looked and they were still there, beautiful, with gold-blond hair, clothed in white. In their hands they had a large golden horn, full of pure oil. I asked the Lord what they were doing and the answer was: “I have send them to serve and to anoint with my oil.” I asked him what they were waiting for and the answer was: The sign to start. “But, Lord, who will give that sign?” The reply: “You. When you will go to the front and tell the people what you see, then they will begin to move.” As a result many came forward, there were tears and Jesus touched everybody deeply – the anointing was powerful.
Source: Joel News
Youth unity initiative in Ireland
Protestant and Catholic young people joined forces in a marathon prayer walk round the borders of Northern Ireland, seeking peace for the long-divided communities. While sectarian marches have frequently sparked violent clashes during the years of “The Troubles”, organizers of The Reconciliation Walk-Northern Ireland hoped that linking young Christians from different traditions in the trek would serve as a symbol for a united future. The Rec Walk was for Christian young people, between the ages of 16 and 25, who wanted to walk together with other young people and pray for reconciliation, unity & peace in Northern Ireland. The 600-mile journey started in Belfast and basically followed the border of Northern Ireland, taking participants through former trouble spots like Londonderry and Eniskillen – sites of some of the worst violence during the years of conflict. Local youth events focusing on peace, reconciliation and unity were staged along the way. The event was promoted by Youth With A Mission, whose Northern Ireland leader Mike Oman hopes to see up to 1,500 young people taking part – some for one week and others for the entire route. He said that the walk was intended to build on the fragile sense of hope for the future that had been building in Northern Ireland over the past couple of years – which had largely seen an absence of violence. Mike Oman <email@example.com>
Report by Diarmuid O’Neill.
What happened in Ireland with the peace agreement on Friday the 10th of April, 1998, was something I never thought I would see in my lifetime, it was and is something amazing. It is a wonderful opportunity that God has given the people of Northern Ireland and the people on the island of Ireland as a whole, for peace, healing and restoration. This healing and restoration is also needed for the church of Jesus Christ in Ireland, to be a whole body the way Jesus intended it to be.
God has done an amazing thing and I hope that he will richly bless each one of you who has been praying for however long for peace in Ireland – as an Irish man I am so grateful to you and praise God for all he has done through your faithfulness.
But it’s only the beginning. Its the dawn of a new day, the ushering in of a new era, that is if we continue to cry out to God for grace and mercy to be given out in abundance to all those involved.
God has blessed us with leaders in the political realm who were prepared to take risks and lay down some of their own ideals, aspirations, agenda’s and pride. The church needs to learn from these men and women so that the church will do the same and will be prepared to stick its neck out and take risks and stop trying to be always politically correct. Let us pray that from within the church will come the role models for every stratosphere of community life, especially for the up and coming generation who have known nothing but trouble and violence. 65% of the population in the South of Ireland are young people looking for answers. New Age and alternatives to Christ flood the market place. These young people need your prayers that the Christians in the North will share with them their new life.
God can powerfully use leaders and Christians who are prepared to say “your will – not mine be done”, and they are the type of people the island of Ireland needs right now. Pray that God will give leaders favour with their people, so that they will be able to persuade them to vote in favour of the peace deal.
God is without a doubt blessing Ireland (North & South) in many ways during this time and he has said much about how he will bless Ireland in the future and how he will use the people of Ireland to bless again nations all over the world. Pray that once again revival will sweep the land, remembering that it was the people of this island who kept the gospel alive while the rest of Europe was being over-run by Vandals, Barbarians and such like. God used Irish people powerfully to bring the gospel all over Europe, may He do it again as continental Europe now, like then, sits largely in darkness and is in desperate need of Gods love and grace.
We need to keep praying that all of these things will come to pass. That the people of Northern Ireland will be healed of all the pain and be restored. We also need to be prepared to go and just listen and be alongside them, we need to take risks and be brave and go and face the powerful emotions of hatred, anger, loss, mourning, fear, bitterness and many more besides. This process of restoration is not just for the people of Northern Ireland, but for the people of the South of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England and beyond. The eyes of the world are watching and God will use all that this troubled land and people have learnt through this torrid, terrible time to bring restoration and healing between peoples, churches, Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Gentile.
We need to keep praying too that nothing else will fill the void left by terrorism and intimidation by all paramilitaries. Since the first ceasefire in 1992 the drug scene in Ireland has become drastically worse. Believe it or not: because of the vigilante tactics adopted in the North by paramilitary organisations, the crime rate in Northern Ireland has been one of the lowest in Europe.
So please, please keep praying for Ireland North and South and all the people in it, that people’s fears of this being yet another failed attempt will not be realised. Rather that this will be what we have been hoping and waiting for for nearly 30 years and then maybe we will be able to heal all the other wounds which stretch back over centuries! We want to challenge the church to keep praying and fasting for this crucial time in the history of the island of Ireland – don’t stop praying, in fact pray even more.
‘Sowing the Seeds of Revival’ has continued over the last five months, four nights a week at the Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, Westminster on Wednesday to Saturday nights since the 1st of June, 1997. Well over 55,000 people have been through the building and over 6,000 have come forward to ‘Get right with God’. Twelve dustbins full of pornography, illegal drugs, weapons, Masonic jewellery, clothing and personal effects have been collected. Scores have been converted to Christ and dozens baptised. Some have been so overcome by the Holy Spirit they have been unable to get out of the pool. Members of the House of Lords, House of Commons and staff at Buckingham Palace have been present as well as the homeless and hungry off the streets of London. Over 500 bags of food have been distributed to the hungry and homeless over that period of time. —
David Culley reports from Glad Tidings Assembly in Vancouver, Canada.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh …” We are seeing it! For the past months Glad Tidings in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada has been experiencing the same renewal that is happening all over the world. Yesterday, we crossed over into full blown revival. The morning service started much like any other. The worship was annointed as usual, and we had a visiting revival minister as we often had before. The thing that was different was the sea of turbans and saris in the building. Vancouver is a multi-national city with a large Sikh population, and over 200 had come to our morning meeting.
Our guest minister, Charles Ndifon from Nigeria and New York, had been in Victoria, British Columbia, for some meetings a few weeks ago, and a young Sikh woman, who had been invited by her Christian husband was healed of blindness and deafness. She went back and brought her favorite uncle, Charnjit, who was dying of cancer, and he left the meeting healed and saved.
Since then Charnjit has been witnessing to all his relatives, and when Charles Ndifon came to our church in Vancouver, this man invited his whole extended family. Yesterday, after watching many people be healed of athsma (as an example of how simple it is for God to heal anything), and a 90 year old woman receive a new ear-drum, about 200 Sikhs came forward to give their hearts to God. And it’s real. They had already heard the Gospel from Charnjit, and to make sure, the altar call was translated into Punjabi. After the service, the people were so excited to have found Jesus, and to be so accepted by these white people. At the evening service another 104 Punjab Sikh people responded to the altar call.
We saw many miracles. A 14 year old boy born blind saw his mother for the first time, deaf ears were opened, cancers were healed. But the greatest miracle of all was that God now seems to be bringing in the Sikh population that we have been so unable to reach for all this time.
26 October 1998. Source: Awakening.
Bob Brasset from Victoria, Canada, writes about the move of the Holy Spirit in British Columbia:
The outpourings continue. In fact, it seems to be getting stronger. We now meet four nights a week. The response of the pastors in the area is simply an overwhelming gratitude for the goodness of God for deigning to visit us in such an awesome way. There is an amazing, astounding hunger in North America right now. People know that we are on the edge of not only Revival but a genuine Awakening: perhaps the greatest since the day of Pentecost. This Awakening, I feel, will be characterized by the very kabod (Hebrew for weighty, laden down with treasure, riches, glory, and wealth), glorious presence of God coming and abiding in a room, a church and even a city, or a whole region (as in Charles Finney’s revivals). The worship in our services now continues and flows for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, unabated with spontaneous songs of the Lord from worship team and congregation. Bodies lie on the floor, prostrate in worship. People report seeing angels. Visions, mighty, inspiring ones, are plenteous. Healings happen during the preaching of the word or worship without anyone praying or laying on hands. We are not advertising this. People are just coming. Salvations are happening in each service – even when we don’t give specific calls. We now have reported healings of fibromylagia, diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, ears opening, many necks and backs healed and severe allergies.
Source: Global Revival News, Bob Brasset <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Revival is breaking out in the Lee County jail in Arkansas. In just one year, chaplains and volunteer staff oversaw 161 services in the chapel and 118 services in the jail itself. As a result 1,459 people made decisions for Christ. Currently, 218 inmates are enrolled in Bible studies and some 6,900 individual Bible studies have been distributed. “There is a hunger for God inside me that is more powerful than any hunger I have ever known,” said AOG Chaplain Patrick McCowan. “The Lord is teaching me so many things in these days about servanthood,” McCowan said.
Source: The Assemblies of God News Service
Ken Lawson reported:
Bethel Temple Assembly of God has been experiencing a move of the Holy Spirit since April 1996. Church membership is 2,200. Revival meetings are held Wednesday, Thursday & Friday. In April of 1996 the Sunday 7:30 am service started and did not end till 3:24 pm which bypassed the 10:30 am service. Church members were repenting, numerous people converted to Christ, and many were delivered of evil spirits.
Hampton, Virginia is the oldest English speaking settlement in America. Bethel Temple Church is racially diverese: 40% African-American, 50% white, 10% Hispanic and Asian.
In 1996 the Senior Associate Pastor, Don Rogers, had an open vision of the Holy Spirit coming to Hampton. He saw the Spirit of the Lord coming like a storm and it blew into their church. In his vision when this happened it blew out a glass window in the church.
Fourteen months later, in June of 1997 the Sunday service at Bethel Temple was starting. Senior Pastor Ron Johnson was praying and asking God to come “like a pent-up flood”. Suddenly Pastor Johnson looked at his hands and oil was dripping from his hands. The pastor began to tell the congregation of what was happening to his hands. The head usher told the pastor the front window of the church just blew out.
The pastor began telling the congregation of what happened. People ran to the altar. Many publicly repented of sins. God’s manifest presence filled the building. Marriages are being restored, sexually broken people healed, myriad conversions to Christ, and many being filled with the Holy Spirit.
The vision was beginning to be fulfilled. Part of the interpretation of the glass breaking signified the Spirit of the Lord blowing into Bethel church and blowing out. The mission of Bethel church is to proclaim God’s glory to the nation. The breaking of the glass window is a prophetic symbol of God’s power to release the church to carry the gospel to the nations. Also that week, several “signs and wonders” happened. An unexplained earthquake tremor and circular rainbow 360 degrees appeared over the city.
Unity of churches in the Hampton area is growing. Twenty churches gathered for Easter Services this year in the town’s coliseum. According to Pastor Don Rodgers it’s unprecedented to get twenty churches to lay down the most important service of the year. Eleven thousand people attended.
Source: Awakening, 13 April, 1998
By Ken Owen, Senior Pastor of First Assembly of God Greenville, South Carolina.
In April 1995 a first wave of revival began to crest over the congregation at First Assembly of God, Greenville, South Carolina. Nightly meetings were held for a month with Ed Nelson. Since then a number of waves have rolled in, building into what is now a sunami of revival.
In August, 1997, the tide began to significantly deepen. I called Ed – a director of a mission work to unreached peoples – to return immediately. On October 11, 1997, Ed returned to us from Asia. The Sunday morning service flowed like a mighty river — hundreds came forward to repent of sins. The meeting carried on through the day till 4:00 pm. With an hour break, it began again at 5:00 pm with a large prayer meeting and evening service. Since then there has been no let up, only an increase.
More than two thousand people have repented of sins, converts being baptized weekly. Many miracles and healings are accompanying the revival.
People from a variety of church backgrounds and denominations are driving to the meetings from several cities and states as momentum continues to strengthen. There has been almost no promotion of the revival, but word-of-mouth has brought thousands of people to the meetings.
IRN News, 5 February 1998. Source: IRN – http://www.revivalnet.com
(c) Renewal Journal 12: Harvest, 1998, 2011.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.
The closure of a pub through lack of customers is big news in Australia. This is what drew the media to a small town called Nullagine in the far north of Western Australia. But the media didn’t know quite how to report the religious revival that is keeping people out of the pubs‑as well as the jails and hospitals. Aboriginal church worker Craig Siggins wrote this account of the spiritual awakening that is changing Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.
“Kuurti yarrarni kuwarri ngangka mungkangka” (“Holy Spirit, we welcome you in this place tonight”) is the first line of a song being sung at many Aboriginal communities around the Pilbara. It was composed by Len “Nyaparu” Brooks, also known as Kurutakurru, one of the many leaders God has raised up among the Martu Wangka, Nyangumarta and other peoples of the Pilbara.
A spiritual awakening took place in many communities last year, in 1997. Things started at Warralong, where many became Christians and were baptised after being influenced by three Christian Aboriginal leaders. Then just before Christmas, Kurutakurru joined two other leaders at Nullagine, and many from Nullagine and other communities became Christians and came across to the dam at Newman to be baptised.
Many communities started having meetings almost every night and prayer meetings every day. Leaders travelled to different communities for the meetings and to encourage people, sometimes holding meetings at night after a funeral service when hundreds of people were gathered. Some meetings went on for eight hours or more as people shared in song, testimony, prayer, Bible reading and preaching.
When Franklin Graham visited Perth in early February, over 200 Martu people travelled the 1150 km for his meetings. It was like one long church service all the way there and back. Everyone was bursting to sing and witness to the people in Perth.
When we got back there were more meetings and baptisms, even from communities that had previously rejected Christianity. Old people, Aboriginal elders, were turning to Christ and being baptised. Four hundred people gathered at the Coongan River near Marble Bar for three days of meetings, with many more being baptised.
Police, hospitals and others have noticed a decrease in alcohol related incidents. The media has begun to take notice. Nullagine, which had the record of being the arrest capital of Australia, became news when the pub went broke, apparently because so many had given up the grog. ‘A Current Affair’ came up and did a television spot at Nullagine.
Amazingly, a simultaneous and apparently quite separate revival began at about the same time among the Pintubi people and others across the border in the Northern Territory. A team from Kiwirrkura, just on the WA side of the border, travelled across the desert and joined up with the Pilbara meetings, arriving early for our Easter Convention held in a wide dry river bed near Newman. More than 1000 people from different communities and Christian traditions came together to celebrate.
Why the revival? It is nothing more or less more than a work of the Holy Spirit. It has similarities to the revival that spread to many Aboriginal communities in the early ’80s, which reached the Pilbara but never really took hold. Like that revival, people have had dreams and visions. Recently Mitchell, a leader from Punmu, got up and read from Acts 2 about Joel’s prophecy and said it was being fulfilled. Not long ago, people told me they had seen a cross in the sky one morning. And like the ‘80s revival, it is the Aboriginal people taking the Wangka Kunyjunyu (Good News) to their own people in their own way and their own language.
Aboriginal leaders empowered by the Holy Spirit are leading the revival. These leaders would like to see the revival reaching the wider Kartiya (non‑Aboriginal) society. But for these shy desert people to reach out to Kartiya in these days of Mabo, Wik and the struggle for reconciliation will only be by the hand of God.
Reprinted with permission from On Being ALIVE Magazine, PO Box 434, Hawthorn Victoria, 3122, Ph: 61 3 9819 4755, No. 5, June 1998, pages 8‑10.
Spiritual Awakening in the North-West
Craig Siggins gives a more detailed account of the Pilbara revival in this article.
Beginnings at Elcho Island
Revival! In some Christian circles it is like the Holy Grail – something to be sought after at all cost. But perhaps few realise that a revival did come to Australia – or that there is again a revival happening right now. Perhaps few realise this because both revivals began in remote areas among Aboriginal people.
In 1979 a revival began on Elcho Island off the Northern Territory. In 1981 it came to the Warburton Ranges in Western Australia, and then spread to many Aboriginal communities around Australia. I was privileged to have been a witness to that revival.
In 1981/82 at the height of the revival in Western Australia I was teaching at the Christian Aboriginal Parent-directed School at Coolgardie. All of the students became Christians and there were prayer, praise and testimony meetings most nights. My present work as a pastor/missionary is a direct result of that revival. The revival has been well documented in Ian Lindsay’s Fire in the Spinifex and John Blacker’s Fire in the Outback. The effect of that revival nearly 20 years on is still strong in many communities – Aboriginal Christian leaders, committed Aboriginal Christians and Gospel seeds sown in many places and many lives, including the Pilbara.
Resistant people respond
My wife, Lyn, and I came to the Pilbara in 1993, settling in the town of Newman. Our vision was to see a strong, indigenous Aboriginal church raised up amongst the Martu Aboriginal people of this area. But we had not expected to see it so soon. We had expected a long, slow struggle before anything of significance developed.
Some communities were strongly anti-Christian. At one community we were told by some white Christians not to be too overt in our Christian witness. Two years later Aboriginal leaders from our Parnpajinya Church at Newman baptised many from that community. At another community a clause against teaching Christianity was written into the school constitution. Two years later we were having Christian meetings on the school verandah. Aboriginal people told me how some of the old men had threatened Christians with spears. Some of these same old men have now accepted Christ.
Against all expectations we found the Martu people to be really open to the Gospel. The seeds were sown by the 1981 revival, by the witness of the Apostolic Church and by the work of the late Jim Marsh, a gifted linguist with a pastoral heart, much respected by the people.
Winter rains refreshing
We began our own language efforts modestly, by walking up to Aboriginal people and speaking a few words we had picked up in the Goldfields and then, with practice, gradually expanding our vocabulary. Church also began slowly, but some believed and then were baptised. We thought things were happening too quickly, even then, so we didn’t rush to baptise anyone.
Teams of Aboriginal Christian men from the Plibara Aboriginal Church of Roebourne (Apostolic) came over from time to time and helped. Leaders developed. More were baptised. I became committed to taking teams from Parnpajinya (Newman) to various communities. Gifts were developed. More and more became Christians and were baptised, but the revival hadn’t really come as yet. It was like the winter rains refreshing us before the main summer rains came. Communities – too many to cope with – were crying out for visits.
One of our leaders – Kerry Kelly (KK) – had gone to Warralong and teamed up with a couple of other strong Christians. Warralong has a community that had been opposed to Christianity. But the Spirit moved there and many were baptised. We had Christian meetings (the first ever). At one meeting nearly the whole community came forward to dedicate or re-dedicate their lives to Christ. KK, less than two years old as a Christian, became one of the main leaders at Warralong and for the revival. In 1996 I had taken KK over to a Men’s Training Camp in the Northern Territory. This interaction helped solidify KK in his Christian walk. KK often leads at the Lord’s Supper, and when many communities come together this has been a unifying factor.
At Parnpajinya (Newman), just before and after Christmas 1997, many people were coming to the Lord and we were having multiple baptisms at the Ophthalmia Dam. This was about the time the revival really took off. People from Jigalong and other communities were also coming to be baptised, including some of the old men. Many nights we were having meetings that went to early in the morning. Some communities were having meetings every night and prayer meetings every day! Some still are.
The ‘arrest capital’ of Australia
Nullagine, which had the dubious distinction of being called “the arrest capital” of Australia, asked us to come there, which we did. Len (Nyaparu*) Brooks, known as Kurutakururru, Walter Crusoe (Wari) and Billy (Nyaparu*) Landy took up the leadership at Nullagine. Many people there who had become Christians were asking to be baptised.
So one weekend I drove the old church bus to Nullagine, picked up as many people as could be squashed into the bus and, two flat tyres later, drove back to Newman. Many were baptised. Our practice is to have two doing the baptising together – usually one who knows the words to say and another who might be a learner. For cultural reasons, we have men baptising men and women baptising women. So we picked out two men and two women from each community. When the baptisms finished, we found out the lady leader from Nullagine doing the baptisms hadn’t been baptised herself, so we turned around and baptised her!
After that we travelled again to Nullagine and baptised a number of people there, including people from remote communities and some more of the old men. Parnpajinya, Nullagine, Punmu and Warralong, with some from Jigalong and Parnngurr, were spearheading the revival. I travelled around with leaders such as Alistair (Jaliku) Sammy, Chrissie Sailor, Clarrie Robinson and Lizzie Jones to different communities encouraging the believers and holding meetings that at times went for hours. Sometimes hundreds would stay on after a funeral and all join together for a Christian meeting. In October 1997 1 had taken Clarrie Robinson and Willie Bennett to a Men’s Training Camp in the Northern Territory. The topic was ‘Preaching’. Clarrie came back and began preaching for the first time. Willie went back to Kiwirrkurra near the Western Australia / Northern Territory border. Incredibly, a revival had sprung up at Kiwirrkurra and other Pintubi communities in the Northern Territory at about the same time as the Western Australia revival, but quite unconnected. Willie Bennett became a leader of that revival.
A week-long revival
Someone heard that Franklin Graham was coming to Perth for a Festival, and the Aboriginal Christian leaders decided it would be good to go to hear him. The only thing was, Perth was 1150 kilometres away! But people chucked in money and somehow over 200 people crammed into 4 coaster buses, 2 mini-buses and a motley fleet of assorted 4WDs and other vehicles and got to Perth (and back!).
We were there for a week, but it was like one long revival meeting. We sang and prayed all the way down and had meetings every morning and night where we were camped (when we weren’t listening to Franklin!) Kurutakurru, a gifted singer and song-writer himself, had the idea of singing outside to the crowds waiting to get in the Burswood Dome where Franklin was speaking. So we arrived early each night, gathered in a group and sang away in English and Martu Wangka to the kartiyakaja (white people). They seemed to appreciate it. The style was a bit different to the precision programming that happened inside the Dome, though!
When we got back, some communities had the idea of holding a mini-convention before our main Easter Convention. After some hesitation (over finding a place with enough water for baptisms!) a gorge near Warralong was chosen. Over 50 people were baptised including some old men who had been opposed to Christianity previously. Two old men and an old lady, too crippled to enter the water, kneltdown while water was poured over them with a cup (this was after some discussion as to whether such a baptism was okay). It was a stirring witness! Meetings went on morning and night. Even a rain storm and lightning strike one night didn’t dampen the enthusiasm.
A pub with few patrons
Our Easter Convention (1998) was a wonderful time of celebrating Jesus. Over 1000 people came, including many new Christians from communities that had never come before. The meetings went nearly non-stop over the Easter period. Singing is a prominent feature of the revival. There is a real sense of joy that comes out in song. Many new songs have been written and many old songs translated into Martu Wangka, Nyangurnartu and other languages. Everywhere you go you bear kids singing and tapes playing songs of the revival.
So many people were becoming Christians and giving up the grog that the pub in Nuilagine lost a lot of its business and went into receivership. The story made news around Australia. Nyaparu Landy and I were interviewed on Perth radio! A Current Affair went to Nuilagine.
But the revival has not stopped. The Martu people themselves are reaching out to other Martu people. Neilie Bidu from Yandeyarra came back, fired up from
hearing Franklin Graham, to reach out to his own community. He began a small prayer meeting and then invited Kurutakurru and other leaders from Warralong and Punmu to help him. So they went to Warralong and many there became Christians. Yandeyarra people in turn have reached out to Banjima people near Tom Price. Other communities have also been reached, including some that were closed to Christianity. Some of these communities had turned away Crusade teams from the 1981 revival. Now they have turned to the Lord.
Why revival, and why now?
Only the power of the Holy Spirit can explain this revival. It is a miracle, an incredible revival happening. Mitchell Biljabu, a leader from Punmu, has likened it to the prophecy of Joel in Acts 2.
I asked Milton Chapman, another leader from Punmu what, apart from the Holy Spirit, is bringing about the revival. He replied that it was Aboriginal leaders bringing the message of Good News to their own people. Many have responded to the powerful witness of changed lives. Alistair and Chrissie wrote their testimony for Today magazine and said: “For a long time we were drinking and gambling… We started to think about Mama (Father) God… we gave our hearts to the Lord. We have kept following Mama God right up to now.”
The example has had a strong impact on their extended families, nearly all of whom have become Christians. Prayer has been another major factor in the revival. The Martu pray simple and sincere prayers for all sorts of things. The prayer meeting at Nullagine every morning helped keep the believers strong.
Some excesses and difficulties
But there have also been some excesses and difficulties in the revival. Some still struggle with alcoholism and some have gone back to the drink. Many are new Christians with little knowledge of Christianity. Even the leaders are in the main untrained. Some are illiterate. And other groups have come in with different ideas and practices that have caused division even within families and have led to much debate and argument, some of it bitter. One is a legalistic group that stresses the keeping of the 10 commandments, especially the fourth (keeping the Sabbath). Another is a fairly extreme charismatic group.
Then there are issues of a more cultural nature. Some couples who have become Christians are married the wrong way in a tribal (though not biblical) sense, including some leaders. What to do? What to do about some of the tribal laws and ceremonies? Reject them all? Keep some? These are big issues to be worked through.
We are encouraging the leaders to read the Bible for themselves and to come to solid biblical conclusions as they struggle through these issues with the help of the Holy Spirit, but it will take time. Pray for the people and the revival!
Used with permission from Vision, the magazine of the Australian Baptist Missionary Society, July 1998, pages 12-15.
Grog replaced by gospel
Reports by Mairi Barton
Mairi Barton is a reporter with The West Australian newspaper in Perth. These reports were written in April 1998.
A religious revival among Aboriginal people in the remote North‑West town of Nullagine ‑ once labelled the arrest capital of Australia ‑ has drastically reduced the number of arrests and jailings.
Police in Nullagine, 184 km north of Newman (in WA), claim drunken domestic fights which once dogged the community have virtually disappeared and the residents seem happier and healthier.
The only sufferer is the local pub, the Conglomerate Hotel, which once kept six staff busy. Last month the lessee went into receivership after the town’s 100 to 150 Aboriginal people turned to Christianity in November.
Since then, the Aboriginal community has reduced the number of arrests to just a handful and there have been no jailings. They gave up alcohol and labelled the hotel “the devil’s place”.
Instead of going to the bar each night to drink, they sit happily in circles under the stars, pray and sing gospel songs at the Yirrangkaji community on the outskirts of the town.
When The West Australian visited last week, they were eager to share their new‑found love of God and talk about the positive changes they have made to their lives.
Gary Marshall, who leased the hotel and adjoining shop for 2 years, said the arrival of religion spelt disaster for his business, but he did not hold it against the Aboriginal people.
“I couldn’t sit here and say it was a bad thing,” he said. “If they are better off, then it’s a wonderful thing.” …
The two men believed responsible for their religious conversion ‑ local Aboriginal men who left town a couple of years ago and returned late last year as changed men, keen to share the Christian message ‑ were out of town.
Senior Constable Mal Kay, the officer in charge at Nullagine, said the drop in crime could be explained in part by the fact that the population dropped every time big groups from the community left town to attend religious meetings around the Pilbara and in Northam.
Most arrests in town in the past have been assaults and woundings stemming from alcohol.
Mother sees her life in a new light
Mother‑of‑two Lisa Dalbin used to be a weekly visitor to the Nullagine police lockup for assault, anti‑social behaviour or just to sober up. The 26‑year‑old would spend her pension on alcohol, get jealous over her man and find herself in punch‑ups with women who were her friends when she was sober. That was before she found Christianity and gave up drinking last November.
“We pray and sing every morning and every night,” she said. “We have church meetings every Wednesday and Saturday.”
Miss Dalbiii has worked off her fines through community work, picking up rubbish and working in the children’s kitchen ‑ where the children have breakfast, shower and change into their uniforms before school.
Her favourite drink used to he port and she freely admits that it made her act mad. She does not miss it. She is happier, has money in her pocket to go shopping and takes better care of her sons, aged five and eight, now she is sober. She is even studying to get her driver’s license, a privilege which seemed out of reach to her a few months ago. The only time she sees the police now is when they stop to say hello in the street.
Her cousin Phillip Bennell, 39, who spent much of his youth behind bars because of alcohol‑related strife, has also been sober for about four months since “he saw the light”.
God is his master now, not grog, he says. “To follow the Lord is good, you know. It keeps you away from trouble. Alcohol is a killer for anybody, but especially the Aboriginal people. I was one of the worst blokes, locked up all the time away from my kids. I spent 21 years of my life in and out of prison.”
Mr Bennell said it would be easy for him to turn back to drink, but he did not want to because he had realised the damage it could do. “I had two feet in the grave and what I was doing was adding a final nail in the coffin,” he said. “But when I found the Lord I gave it all away. I didn’t want to die a young bloke.”
He said he no longer wanted to drink because he had a 12‑year‑old daughter and her life was more important to him than alcohol.
Mr Bennell said the footpath outside the Conglomerate Hotel had been the site of many arguments and brawls, but now the community held prayer meetings across the road. If they ventured into the pub, it was only to get a cool drink.
“There used to be a lot of tough drinkers at the reserve,” he said. “They gave it away because they found a bit of peace and a better way of life. A lot of people here want their health, and their children brought up in a good environment.
The West Australian. Used with permission.
(c) Renewal Journal 12: Harvest, 1998, 2011.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.
Writer Joel Kilpatrick describes revival in Mobile, Alabama.
After five years of prayer and some dry stretches,
God came mightily
Cecil Turner was a shy man with a stutter – a pipe-fitter with no Bible college education – when God called him to lead Calvary Assembly of God in Mobile, Alabama, in 1963. Even family members questioned whether or not Turner could pastor the young congregation.
Now, 34 years later, the church literally overflows with people coming to see what’s been happening since Sunday, 29 September, 1996, when God’s presence came in power during the church’s annual “campmeeting.”
“I’ve thought we’d close out a number of times,” Turner says. “But the Holy Spirit says we’re going on.”
The church has been in continuous revival from week to week, meeting Tuesdays for intercessory prayer, and Wednesdays through Fridays for services that draw 250 to 300 people. Sunday mornings draw 400, the maximum number they can pack into the sanctuary.
Some services are exuberant and intense; others so heavy all they can do is “lay on the ground.” Sometimes the Spirit is so strong during praise and worship that they throw open the altars.
“We come in each night and never know what’s going to happen,” Cecil says, pausing for a moment. “I like it.”
The church started praying for revival in 1992, says Cecil’s son Kevin, who has been on staff for 11 years.
“At times we wondered if revival would happen,” Kevin says. “But we saw the intensity and the hunger growing.”
After five years of prayer and some dry stretches, God came mightily when a travelling evangelist, Wayne Headrick, came to preach. God spoke to Headrick that if they got out of the way, God would make something happen.
That “something” keeps on happening.
“It seems like it’s accelerating,” Headrick told the Mobile Register in May 1997. “Each service there’s more . . . anointing and more of the power of God.”
Unchurched people are coming in droves to this church that sits at a 3-way stop on the western city limit of Mobile. “They may not understand it,” says music pastor Kevin Turner, Cecil’s son, “but they want more of it.”
Many come from other denominations: Nazarene, Catholic, Methodist, to name a few.
“We agreed from the beginning that this wasn’t an Assembly of God revival – it was for the whole church,” Cecil says.
People are saved in every service – and some 150 were saved in the last two months alone, Kevin says. Some say afterwards that they felt a need to come, and several testify that they were drawn in as if to a beacon. One man pulled into the parking lot, not fully understanding why he was there. The congregation prays regularly that people will be drawn by the Lord’s presence.
Stacy Tanton, 26, says that the revival has “totally transformed” her life. Her husband no longer drinks alcohol, and now serves as an usher during weeknight services. Others have been delivered from alcohol, healed, and delivered from demons.
The Mobile revival is redefining Calvary’s concept of pastoral leadership, steering them away from man-generated structure and teaching them to encounter God together.
“It’s like God said, ‘I’ve been trying to move. Now get out of the way,'” says Kevin. “It’s liberating for both pastors and the people.”
Kevin, who grew up a pastor’s kid, testifies that the move of God now enveloping their church has brought him to a new level of faith.
“I’ve always loved the Lord, but this has changed my life,” Kevin says. “I want to be intimate with him.”
Revival has also redefined his ministry. Kevin and his 10-piece music team keep a greulling schedule, sometimes singing for 3 hours straight. Before revival began, Kevin would lose his voice after a week of services, he says. But he asked God to sustain him, and has gone 10 months with few problems.
Revival has also forced him to be more in tune with the Holy Spirit before leading worship.
“I make a song list, but often it gets tossed out,” he says. “Some nights it’s like being held over a cliff. I know God wants to do something, and I’m asking, ‘What is it?’ I’ve had to become comfortable with silence. Sometimes he just says to wait.”
The revival is not personality-driven. Headrick is often gone for weeks at a time, and the river continues to flow. The pastors say the move of God keeps changing colours as God takes the church to different places in him.
“There have been two or three times when the revival has shifted gears,” Kevin says. “It’s hard to describe, but the intensity goes up a level.”
Glenn McCall, pastor of Crawford United Methodist church, frequently takes members of his congregation to Calvary for revival services. “[People] are looking for something, and only God can meet that need in their spirit,” he says. “I feel like it’s a nationwide thing. I’ve heard a lot of testimonies from around the country and the world. There’s some phenomenal things happening in the church world.”
McCall believes the fact that Calvary is drawing from other denominations signifies that America is ready for awakening. “I think people are wanting a revival regardless of what the name is on the [church] doorpost. They’re willing to crawl through barriers to get a touch from God,” he says.
Reported in the Mobile Register, May 10, 1997
Beth Cumbie, 26, prayed for her daddy all her life. “He was hard-hearted,” she says. “A good man, be he never wanted to surrender.”
Beth’s mother, a Christian, had endured decades of disbelief, but never put her husband down.
“We thought some tragedy would have to push him to God,” Beth says. “Finally we said, ‘God, do it your way.’”
In April 1997, while closing his produce store for the night, Beth’s 62-year-old father turned to his wife with tears in his eyes and asked for prayer. When they got home he fell on his face and cried out to God to save his soul. After he had received Christ, Beth’s mother came to the revival service where Beth was on the music team, ran down the aisle with the news, and together they wept.
“I didn’t care what anybody thought,” Beth says. “That was a long-time prayer answered.”
Now the family is at church nightly, and Beth’s father is able to cry, hug his children, and express his love.
“In some ways it’s strange, but in others, so natural,” Beth says. “Dad wants to go to the altar every night.”
Reproduced from the Pentecostal Evangelist.
(c) Renewal Journal 12: Harvest, 1998, 2011.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.
Writer Joel Kilpatrick describes revival in Smithton, a small Missouri town.
Thousands of lives have been changed
How Revival Came
Like thousands of pastors across America, Steve Gray was discouraged and disappointed. He was even considering leaving the ministry. For twelve years he had pastored the Smithton Community Church in the sleepy little town of Smithton, Missouri, nestled among the wheat. Steve Gray was discouraged and disappointed. He was even considering leaving the ministry.
For more than a decade, Gray felt his ministry was like riding a stationary bicycle. He was pedaling real hard, but he wasn’t going anywhere. He says that all he was thinking about was “out, out, out.” Pastor Gray had even lost hope. He knew he could not continue doing what he was doing and unfortunately he gave God no other options. Steve Gray was ready to quit.
Knowing he had to get away from the church for some “R and R,” he chose revival over relaxation. In March 1996, he drove from Missouri to Florida to visit the Brownsville Outpouring that was then in its 37th week. Gray attended the services each night and spent the days in his motel room, praying and seeking God’s face.
During the Tuesday night prayer meeting, while hundreds gathered around the “Pastor’s Banner” to pray for the nation’s shepherds, Gray was praying especially for one pastor, himself. He knew if he continued in the ministry, he had to be restored. After about three days, he felt some recovery and his focus began to change. God was restoring his hope and he found this to be the first signal of his personal revival.
Before this change in focus, Gray didn’t even know what to ask from God. Gray says he came to Brownsville not to “get something” but to “see something,” as Moses went to “see” the burning bush. After several more days, Gray was “seeing” again. One night, in what Gray described as a “perfect atmosphere,” God spoke to him and said, “I want you to have a revival.” The very thought was too much to accept. Smithton, Missouri, is not Pensacola, Florida, and Gray could not imagine himself in the role of revivalist. Then God spoke again, “I didn’t say I want you to be a revival, I said I want you to have a revival.”
On Sunday morning, 17 March 1996, Pastor Kilpatrick shared part of his personal testimony of how revival came to Brownsville. Gray reached the place of faith and could believe “there is a place for me in revival.” He observed Kilpatick as he was “watching, guiding, and pastoring a truly sovereign move of God that was changing the world.” Kilpatrick’s words and example showed Gray that “revival needs to be pastored and can be pastored.”
After Sunday worship, Gray called his wife, Kathy, and said, “I have just been in the best Sunday morning service I have ever been in. Tell our church.” Near the end of his second week in Brownsville, Gray headed for home, repentant and on the road to revival and restoration.
While God was working on Gray, he was also working on the members of Smithton Community Church. For two and one-half years the church had held a Tuesday night prayer meeting, but as God prepared the church for revival, the prayers became more intense. Associate Elder Randy Lohman says there was “lots of brokenness” in the months immediately preceding the outpouring.
As the pastor sought God in Florida, the congregation sought him at home. On Sunday night, March 17, Kathy Gray relayed the pastor’s message about the great Sunday morning service in Brownsville. David Cordes, one of the elders, was deeply convicted. Weeping, he asked the congregation, “Why should our pastor have to travel a thousand miles to be in the best service he has ever been in?” He fell on the floor in repentance. Soon he was followed by several other men in the church, repenting for their lack of support and crying out to God to do the same thing at Smithton that he was doing for the pastor in Florida. God continued his work on Wednesday night as a five year old girl prophesied and said, “It’s coming! It’s coming!” The Lord had seen their brokenness.
When the pastor arrived on Sunday night, the glory fell. To be exact, at 6:12 p.m. on 24 March 1996 God the Holy Ghost arrived in his awesome power at Smithton Community Church. They will never be the same. Immediately they added services to their church schedule. Now, the outpouring has continued for two years with five services every week. Visitors have come from all fifty states and many foreign countries, often in numbers that vastly exceed the population of the town.
Thousands of lives have been changed. Sick bodies have been healed. Visiting pastors have taken the fire back to their congregation. Steve, Kathy, and teams from the church are taking the revival all around the world. As for the future of the revival, Lohman said, “God started it and we are going to let him do what he is doing.”
Steve and Kathy Gray
When a two-year revival breaks out in any church, the lives of the pastors are forever changed. This is especially true for Steve and Kathy Gray, pastors of Smithton Community Church in Smithton, Missouri. The Grays pioneered this small country church twelve years ago, after seven years travelling the country in a singing, preaching, and teaching ministry.
Not only does Gray have the responsibilities of pastoring the church and preaching in revival services that are held five nights each week, but the revival has opened many doors for his ministry. Although he seldom is gone from the Smithton pulpit on Sunday morning, he and Kathy often minister across the country and around the world on his “days off.” They have also appeared on many national and local religious television programs. In the past six months, Steve has travelled to Israel three times. Gray says his travels have had a good effect on the church, “keeping them nationally and world minded.” To be sure the church shares in the expanded ministry; he often takes teams of four to twenty with him as he travels.
According to Gray, “The longer we are in this (revival), the more I realize how badly it is needed. I didn’t realize how sick the church in America is.” The biggest challenge he has had, according to Gray, “Is to keep out the wolves that come to ruin the purity and unity.” The revival has had persecution and critics, but Gray feels that is to be expected.
He was surprised, however, that he has had to “mobilize staff” to beware of “others who come to infiltrate and cause division.” Gray realizes that God is doing a great work in many places today and is glad God has raised the level of humility in the church “so we can bless those who are being blessed even if we don’t do it the same way they do.” Despite all the changes and challenges, Gray says the last two years have been “the best years of our lives.”
Samuel Autman wrote this article in the Everyday Magazine, a Sunday paper in Missouri, on 7 June 1998.
Tiny Smithton in Missouri has no sidewalk, no coke machines, no gas > stations, > no traffic lights, no motel rooms, no restaurants. But 100,000 people > believe > it’s where you go to find the Holy Spirit.>
And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on > all > mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will > dream > dreams, your young men will see visions. And even on the male and female > servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. > Joel 2:28
Under sweltering skies on a late spring Friday evening, more than 500 > worshipers are packed into the Smithton Community Church for powerful > encounters with the Holy Spirit. For two years now, seekers have driven or > flown in from all 50 states and every corner of the globe to this > white-frame > country church. Easily 100,000 have traveled from as far away as Africa, > Canada, France, Japan, Germany, Australia, Korea, Israel, England and > Malaysia.
This night, not unlike many others, the church will cram in more souls > than > live in this mid-Missouri town, population 532, seven miles east of > Sedalia > on > Highway 50. > The audience is in high gear for another Pentecostal revival meeting.
Outside, men in vests, walkie-talkies in hand, circulate through the > gravel > parking lot, directing traffic. Inside the gymnasium-turned-sanctuary, > fathers > and mothers clutch their small children. People embrace newfound friends. > It’s > a yackfest before the holy explosive celebration begins.
By 7:30 p.m., a joyful musical roar goes up. Hundreds of bodies bounce > up > and down in unison, vibrating as if at a rock concert. They clap their > hands. > They speak in tongues. They dance and they shriek. The volume is > deafening. > Elderly women and small children alike lift their hands.
“Praise the Lord!”
“Thank you, Jesus!”
The four-hour Pentecostal service has only begun.
Eyes look toward heaven to see the slides projected overhead. That’s > where > the song lyrics are displayed. > In one voice they yell: “Revival is in the land! Come and see what the Lord has done! Revival! Revival! Revival!”
Eric Nuzum, 28, a former forklift driver turned associate pastor, leads > a > full band with drums, guitars and synthesizers on the stage. The music > blares. > The room reverberates.
An hour and a dozen songs later, quiet blankets the room after the > high-octane worship. The shouts have ceased. Nuzum leads a one-word chorus > slowly of “Hallelujah” on his acoustic guitar. All over the building, they > are > singing and swaying in unison.
After a few announcements, the offering is taken. The music picks back > up. > The bespectacled pastor, Steve Gray, 46, jumps to the lectern and sings > “One More Time” and “Return to the Lord,” two songs he wrote himself.
He opens his Bible to Mark, chapter 1, verse 1.
“The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Gray, is an unassuming man in a 5-foot-8 frame, with ocean-blue eyes > and > fiery blond hair. He is intent on not becoming a celebrity or drawing > attention to himself. He berates what he called the American humanistic > gospel, which has taken the focus off Jesus Christ. His oration goes for > an > hour.
“It’s not about us! It’s the gospel about Jesus Christ,” he thunders.
“Amen!” the crowd responds.
“We are missing the point,” Gray says, raising his voice. “Jesus didn’t > say > ‘I have come to follow you.’ He said ‘Get behind me. Follow me. Do what I > do. > Go where I go. Feel what I feel. Pray what I prayed. Live how I lived and, > if > necessary, die how I died.’”
It’s an old-fashioned message that was spelled out in the book of Acts. > Gray sprinkles in comments about hellfire.
The ‘Smithton outpouring’
Like many Christian groups, Pentecostal and charismatic Christians > believe > that the Bible is the inspired word of God; that salvation comes through > Jesus > Christ, the Son of God; that baptism is accomplished through total > immersion. > They believe that all people will be raised from the dead to face a final > judgment, and then eternal salvation or damnation.
What distinguishes the charismatics/Pentecostals is not simply > believing > in > the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, but allowing the Holy > Spirit > to manifest himself through physical behavior such as speaking in tongues, > casting out demons and singing in words inspired by the power of the > Spirit.
Jesus is the center of their religious attention; worship of Him is greatly enhanced by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. > Throughout the preaching, and in subsequent conversations, Gray stresses that when anyone puts aside self-interest and assumes the interests of > God, > things happen.
He’s not interested in numbers, he says, only spiritual > intensity. He believes that God has selected the little church in Smithton > to > prove that revival can occur anywhere.
“These are men and women, that when they pray, fire from heaven falls. When they pray, blind eyes are open. When they pray, lives are changed. When > they > pray, miracles happen. When they pray, the whole world is stirred up and > whole > cities are changed,” Gray said.
The “Cornfield Revival” or “Smithton Outpouring” has stirred up this Pettis County community, so tiny it barely shows up on a map. There are no soda > machines, traffic lights, gas stations or sidewalks in sight. At least > seven > times a day, trains zip across the track, blocking entrance to the town.
The international attention, the high-octane music and the snarled > traffic > anger Smithton residents. However, travellers needing food and shelter are > welcomed by the motel and restaurant owners in nearby Sedalia.
‘Slain in the Spirit’
Once Gray’s preaching concludes, he turns the service over to trained > prayer leaders. The prayer sessions seem violent. > Many worshipers pray, weep, tremble and are knocked to the floor by > what > they consider to be the hand of God. By evening’s end, this room will > resemble > a battlefield littered with human bodies, many supine on the gray carpet, > “slain in the Spirit.”
They say they are so overcome by the Holy Spirit, they shake, quake, > roll, > jerk or even faint. > Within minutes, a jubilant energy fills the room, almost like > electricity. > The faithful believe the Spirit has come with power to heal broken hearts, > to > transform lives and get them on the road to glory.
Tears roll down many cheeks. > Cheeks are mostly white, although there are a few black and yellow > faces > in > the mix. Upper and lower income. Young and old. Urban and rural dwellers, all under one roof.
The Rev. Robert Clement drove 1,700 miles from San Diego. His own > church > has been struggling. He has wrestled with fear, rejection and failure. > “Each time I go up and get prayer, it’s like layers peeling off,” he > said. > “Layers of fear, failure and rejection.”
Missouri ties to movement
Smithton is the third place in North America in the last four years to > be > engulfed in one of the longest Pentecostal revivals of this century. All > three > sites have Missouri ties.
In January 1994, Randy Clark, pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of St. Louis, Missouri, was ministering at the Airport Vineyard Church in Toronto, Ontario, when the so-called “Toronto Blessing” hit. People in the > congregation > burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter. Others fell into people’s arms > and > shook. That revival is ongoing.
On Father’s Day 1995, an appearance by visiting evangelist Steve Hill > at > the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, marked the similar > emotional manifestations. More than 1.5 million seekers have made > pilgrimages > to Brownsville, where the revival is ongoing. Springfield, Missouri, is the > worldwide headquarters of the Assemblies of God.
As the century and the second millennium of the Christian era draw to a close, Pentecostal revivalists say more is to come. Newsweek magazine said there were 20 million Pentecostals/charismatics in the United States and 400 million worldwide (600 million by 2010).
Revivalism seems to be characterized by an expectation of Jesus Christ’s returning to Earth. At the end of the 19th century, there were similar expectations of some cataclysmic event, and there was revival fever.
“There will be a great revival before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ,” said Clark. “This could be the beginning of it, but I am not saying it is.”
With revival comes stinging backlash. The California-based Vineyard Fellowship ousted the Toronto organization for going “over the edge.”
The lightning of the Spirit
Steve Gray grew up in Sedalia, a town of 20,000 well known as the site of the Missouri State Fair. He and his wife, Kathy, to whom he’s been married 23 years, spent seven years in a travelling music ministry. Then in 1984, the Grays stopped their itinerant ministry and opened a church in a building that had been closed for four years.
The building, now called Smithton Community Church, had been built as the Christian Church in Farmer’s City in 1859. As people deserted Farmer’s City and moved to the nearby “Smith City” because of the railroad, the church moved. In 1873, the building was disassembled into into four parts and pulled by ox cart to what is Smithton today.
The Christian Church changed hands a number of times by the time it closed its doors in 1980. By 1996, the Grays’ ministry and marriage had reached crisis point. They had considered splitting. Gray had wondered whether pastoring in a rural community had been the right choice.
“I was ready to quit,” Gray said.
Gray drove 1,000 miles to the revival in Pensacola, hoping to figure out a way to dissolve his ministry and maybe to sell insurance or become a teacher.
For 10 days, he waited in his hotel room for an experience with God. At night, he went to meetings at the Brownsville church. Ultimately, Gray felt that God wanted him to return to his community and have a revival. He was slightly hopeful.
When he arrived back in Smithton, he walked into his church after an > evening service had concluded. He took eight steps toward Kathy and the lightning of the Spirit hit him, he said. His hands shot up in the air. The people in the congregation rushed forward and began weeping and rejoicing.
As the story goes, the entire congregation of the church at Clay and Chestnut streets in Smithton was transformed by the Spirit. They started to gather day after day to pray. By the third week, the curious showed up. The multitudes followed from outside of Smithton in Missouri and way beyond.
Jennifer Dieckmann remembers. Before the revival, Dieckmann, 23, described her life as miserable. Her family had been kicked out of a church in Sedalia in a theological dispute, and she was resentful.
“I was happy holding on to anger and bitterness and hate,” Dieckmann said. “When the revival hit, it hit me personally.”
Now she talks about forgiveness and loving her enemies. “In an instant, it was like the weight was gone,” she said. “I have forgiven those people who kicked us out of our church.”
Linda Byrd, 28, is co-pastor of Jubilee Worship Center in Junction City, Kansas. She and her husband drive down many weekends for spiritual refreshment.
“Most Americans know religion is their effort to find God,” she said. “What is happening here is not just talk about Christ but demonstrations of Christ. He demonstrated that He was the Son of God. He did not say ‘Take my word.’ He proved it through miracles. That’s what this is, demonstrations.”
‘I realized God loves me’
Rhonda Wagner, 44, of Springdale, Arkansas, was back. She had come once before in March. Wagner had attended the Toronto meetings some time ago.
“We kept going to the Lord with our problems, but we never actually gave them to him. I can’t tell you all of the dynamics of what happened to me in Toronto, except it was up there I realized God really loves me.”
In the process of receiving prayer there, she shook for 12 hours. What made her shake?
“The spirit of the Lord is way more powerful than an electric shock. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, our physical bodies will react by shaking, shouting or falling.”
Her friend Kathy Johnson, 48, of Amarillo, Texas, has now been to all three revival hot spots. She said a hunger and thirst for spiritual things cause her to travel to revival meetings.
“I have realized that I have only just begun to know him who draws me to Pensacola, to Smithton and Toronto. He’s so much bigger than I thought.”
Reproduced from the Awakening e-mail, 9 June 1998.
(c) Renewal Journal 12: Harvest, 1998, 2011.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.
When Baltimore pastor Bart Pierce cried out for more of God in January 1997, he had no idea the Holy Spirit would change his life-and his congregation-forever.
Bart Pierce will never forget the day the Holy Spirit fell at his church in the rolling suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland. It wasn’t gradual, nor was it subtle. God showed up during the Sunday morning service on January 19, 1997.
Pierce, pastor of Rock Church in Baltimore, and his wife, Coralee, had just returned from a pastors’ retreat in St. Augustine, Florida. Pierce says he went to the retreat with “a desperate, deep hunger for more of God.”
While there, he heard Tommy Tenney recount an event that occurred in a Houston church a few months earlier. Without warning, during the early morning service on 20 October, 1996, God had sovereignly split a Plexiglas pulpit in two before the amazed congregation (see Charisma, June 1997; Renewal Journal #10, page 14; Flashpoints of Revival, page 144). Afterward, an unusual movement of repentance broke out at the Houston church.
Tenney, a third-generation travelling evangelist, told the gathered pastors that the drama of the split pulpit was totally eclipsed by the awesome presence of God that filled the sanctuary immediately after the supernatural event. “The revival,” Tenney told them, “was characterized by a deep sense of humility, brokenness and repentance.”
While Tenney spoke, many of the pastors, including Pierce, fell on their faces weeping. Pierce spent much of his time at the retreat prostrated and weeping before the Lord. When it ended, he asked Tenney to come back to Baltimore with him for the weekend.
On the 18-hour drive home, Pierce, his wife and Tenney had “an encounter of God as we talked about what God was doing and what we believed,” Pierce says.
“We would sit in the car and weep,” recalls Tenney. They reached Baltimore on Saturday night, filled with a hunger for more of the Lord.
Turned Upside Down
The next morning Pierce knew something was up as soon as he got to the church building. “Two of my elders were standing inside the door weeping,” he says. “We started worshiping, then people began standing up all over the building crying out loud.” Some came forward to the altar; others would “start for the altar and crumple in the aisle.”
Even those outside the sanctuary were affected. “Back in the hallways, people were going down under the power of God. We never really got to preach,” Pierce says. Tenney and Pierce were supposed to be leading the service, but both were too overcome by the intense presence of God to do anything but cry.
“There was a deep sense of repentance that grew increasingly more intense,” Pierce recounts. At 4 p.m. there were still bodies lying all over the church floor. Pierce and Tenney tried several times to speak, but each time they were overwhelmed by tears.
“Finally,” says Pierce, “we told our leadership team, ‘We’re going home to change clothes.’ We were a mess from lying on the floor and weeping.”
The two men went home and changed. When they got back to the church at 6 p.m., people were still there, and more were coming. That first “service” continued until 2 in the morning.
Monday night, people returned, and the same thing happened. It happened again Tuesday night.
“Many people simply crawled under the pews to hide and weep and cry,” remembers Pierce. “At times the crying was so loud, it was eerie.”
Pierce noticed new faces in the congregation. “We didn’t have a clue as to how they knew about the service, because we don’t advertise at all,” he says. When he asked, some of the visitors told amazing stories.
One man said he was driving down the road when God told him, “Go to Rock Church.” Another woman said she was sitting at her kitchen table when she got the same message. She didn’t know what a “Rock Church” was, but she found a listing in the phone book. After the service she tearfully confided that she had been planning to leave her husband the next morning.
“God had totally turned her heart,” says Pierce. “She and her husband have been totally restored.”
For the first few weeks, Pierce says, “every ministry at the church was turned upside down.” The church has always been known for its mercy ministries – its homeless shelter for men, its home for women in crisis, its food distribution program, which moves 7 million pounds of food a year, and its ministry to revive Baltimore’s inner city.
But when the revival started, everything took a back seat to what God was doing. Pierce would find his staff lying on the floor in the hallways or hear a thump against the wall and find someone lying on the floor in the next room, crying uncontrollably.
People reported supernatural events in their homes, too. One woman’s unsaved husband had a dream in which everyone spoke Chinese. He came downstairs and found his wife lying on the floor speaking Chinese. His son, who was supposed to be getting ready for school, was lying on the floor in the living room, weeping and crying. That day, the man got saved.
One night a boy from a local gang came forward weeping while Tenney was still preaching. “He came to the front, looked up at me and said, ‘You’ve got to help me, because I just can’t take it anymore,'” Tenney recalls.
“This type of brokenness is what draws God’s presence,” he says. “God will never turn away from a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”
Pierce agrees. He believes the congregation has “opened the heavens somehow by our crying for him. He has become our pleasure.” Both he and Tenney say they have “turned to seek his face, from seeking his hands,” meaning they are seeking to know God intimately rather than seeking him for his benefits.
The Power of his presence
“We don’t have any agenda,” says Pierce. “We come in and begin to worship, and his manifest presence comes in. It is overwhelming. Sometimes there is nothing any of us can do. We have turned from trying to control the meeting to letting him be the object of why we have come.”
Tenney calls it “presence evangelism.” He explains, “We understand ‘program evangelism,’ where you pass out tracts or put on an evangelistic play or host Alpha classes. John Wimber helped us understand ‘power evangelism,’ where people encounter the power of God as you pray for the needs in their lives.
“But what happened in Houston and what is happening in Baltimore we call ‘presence evangelism.’ The presence of God becomes incredibly strong to where people are literally overwhelmed. They are drawn to his presence. They aren’t drawn by the preaching; they aren’t drawn by the music; they are drawn by the presence of God. It is hard to talk about without weeping.”
The church doesn’t keep figures on the numbers of people who have come to faith in Jesus since the revival started because they encourage people to go back to their home churches. Many pastors bring their people to the services in Baltimore because they know that Rock Church won’t steal their flock.
In contrast to the Toronto Blessing services that have drawn people by the thousands from all over the world to the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in Canada, most of the people who have come to the Baltimore revival services have been from the local area, including pastors from other churches. “On any given night we have 12 to 20 pastors from the Baltimore area,” Pierce says.
Still, some do come long distances. One night they looked out and saw 47 Koreans who had chartered a plane to come. Another time a group from Iceland was there. They have had visitors from Britain, Germany, the Ukraine and all across America.
Before Easter, the church put on a play about heaven and hell called Eternity. Crowds filled the 3,000-seat sanctuary. Some nights several hundred people had to be turned away because there was no more room.
And during one two-day period, more than 700 came forward to give their lives to Christ. The church originally planned to host the play for two weeks, but they continued an extra week because of the tremendous response.
A dual pull on the Spirit
Tenney believes there is “a connection between what the Rock Church has traditionally done” – meaning the church’s strong ministries to hurting people outside the church – and the way the heavens have opened in Baltimore.
“It came to me one day that when Jesus was in Bethany he was always at Mary and Martha’s house,” he says. “Mary cared for the divinity of Jesus, while Martha cared for His humanity. Martha made sure the bed was clean and the food was there.”
Mary chose the better part – sitting at his feet – but that didn’t mean Martha’s part didn’t have to be done, he says.
A church that does both – sits at Jesus’ feet and ministers to the needs of the hungry and hurting – exerts “a dual pull on the spirit realm,” Tenney says. “There is a special visitation of God that accompanies it. When Mary and Martha called Jesus, he came and raised their brother from the dead.”
Today, services in Baltimore are quieter and gentler than they were during the first few months of revival. But the worship music is powerful, and the singing draws the congregation to Jesus. Most of the songs were written by people in the church after the revival began.
After an hour or so of worship, Tommy Tenney takes the microphone and begins to preach. He asks the audience to worship Jesus in a way they never have before – to worship Him the way Mary did when she broke the alabaster jar, poured the ointment on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair.
“We have turned our churches into a ‘bless me’ club where people come to get something,” he tells the crowd. “They are always wanting to receive. They fall with their blessing-of-the-month, then get up and continue on as though nothing has ever changed.”
As Tenney continues to speak, people begin to cry, most quietly, but some more openly. He invites people to come forward. Almost everyone does, either kneeling or lying with his face on the floor before the altar.
“Just for one night in your life, worship Him,” Tenney encourages them. “He wants to manifest himself to his people. For once in your life set aside what you want from God, and give him the glory.”
Those looking for dramatic supernatural displays won’t find them here. But they will feel the intense presence of God.
The impact of the revival is seen in the lives that have been changed for eternity. There have been physical healings, healed marriages, burned-out people empowered to follow God, prodigals returned and hundreds of people who have found Jesus for the first time.
“Extreme celebration can come only after extreme repentance,” Tenney cautions. “The world is tired of us calling them to repentance when we are standing in hypocrisy. We need to repent.
“It is not for us to point the way to a lost world. It is for us to lead the way. If the church will begin to walk in humility and repentance, then the world will see his glory.”
Reprinted with permission by Charisma, July 1998. Strang Communications Co., USA.
Resting in his presence
Church member David Jehl, an engineer, sent these e-mails reports in July and September 1998.
Baltimore: For the last decade the Rock Church in Baltimore has sought to care for the ones nobody wants; the homeless, the hungry, the unwed mother, the prisoner, the sick. In this search to provide hospitality for the unwanted, God has been teaching us how to entertain his presence. Learning to minister to humanity and divinity, like Martha and Mary, will cause Lazarus to come forth.
There’s something about the format of Monday and Tuesday meetings in Baltimore that transforms the sanctuary into an entertainment center for the Lord’s presence. The worship team seeks to entertain him rather than a crowd. In the meetings there is no hype but an opportunity for an encounter, no pressure but wooing from God’s Spirit to yours.
First time visitors’ expectations are sometimes shocked by the format of the meetings. There are no introductions of speakers or important visitors. The Lord is the one we have come to meet. There is no agenda for the meetings, no announcements, no distractions to stop you from going deeper and deeper into his presence.
Tommy Tenney has not preached a traditional sermon in Baltimore, but encourages and facilitates people to a place where they can have an encounter with the manifest presence of God. After a long period of worship, Tommy will quietly take the microphone and begin to explain how to get closer to God. The worship team will sometimes sing the same song for a very long time. This helps the congregation move from corporate praise and worship to a place where each person finds an individual expression of worship and conversation with God in a personal encounter.
The meetings have been characterized by deep repentance, changed lives and a strong overwhelming presence of God. Many people report that as they approach their seat, they are hit by waves of His glory and presence. As they stand and begin to sing they become breathless, humbled in His presence. No longer able to sing, they sit down, unloading all the concerns of the day, all the appointments of tomorrow, and now they are swept to a place beyond the church building. Now at the feet of Jesus, the chair melts away and it only seems right to lay prostrate on the ground before a Holy God.
This place of an intimate individual encounter with the manifest presence of God is where Tommy Tenney loves to lead people. It’s a true breakthrough, suddenly people find themselves in the garden of the Lord, in the throne room of God, in the third heaven, or at the feet of Jesus. They don’t get a word of wisdom from Tommy, nor a bless me prayer from the prayer team. They get a meeting with God, an opportunity to worship him and talk to him. This contagious hunger and strong presence of God is not limited to time in the sanctuary, but can be found by those who seek him in prayer time at home, at work, or in the car. Visitors take it with them around the world. It takes repentant worship and sacrifice to sustain it.
Here’s a quote from Charles Finney, Hindrances to Revivals, that will be helpful: “A revival will decline and cease, unless Christians are frequently re-converted. By this I mean, that Christians, in order to keep in the spirit of revival, commonly need to be frequently convicted, and humbled and broken down before God, and “re-converted”. This is something which many do not understand, when we talk about a Christian being re-converted. But the fact is, that in a revival, the Christian’s heart is liable to get crusted over, and lose its exquisite relish for Divine things; his unction and prevalence in prayer abate, and then he must be converted over again. It is impossible to keep him in such a state as not to do injury to the work, unless he passes through such a process every few days. I have never labored in revivals in company with any one who would keep in the work and be fit to mange a revival continually, who did not pass through this process of breaking down as often as once in two or three weeks.
“Revivals decline, commonly, because it is found impossible to make Christians realize their guilt and dependence, so as to break down before God. It is important the ministers should understand this, and learn how to break down the Church, and break down themselves when they need it, or else Christians will soon become mechanical in their work, and lose their fervour and their power of prevailing with God.”
During the 14 July, 1998, meeting, in the midst of glorious worship, Tommy Tenney gave an altar call for “extravagant worship”. Wherever a person stood, there became an altar, each pushing past any visitation they ever had. The dancers danced more, the criers weeped more, each one expressing their love in the most extravagant way. The tangible sense of his presence was stronger than anytime in the past 18 months of visitation. In past e-mails I have talked about heavenly visitors (angels) to our meetings. This time through powerful corporate worship, we became visitors in heaven. Pastor Bart Pierce, sensing a powerful impartation of intercession asked for all to pray. A powerful birthing process began as each prayed for revival in their city, or for their families. I, being a typical engineer type, don’t understand intercession at all, but I felt the call to prayer in my bones.
In Baltimore we spend a lot of time worshipping God, and entertaining his presence, but then we get up from the carpet and go to the worst places in the city to help those in need. We want the revival to go to the streets.
Pursuing his presence
Baltimore – Psalm 27:4-5: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me upon a rock.”
In Baltimore, we spend a lot of time doing one thing, worshipping. To get a hold of the one thing, we are learning to get rid of the other things. Prayer time is spent in repentance, cleansing the hands and heart of the corruption of the day. The next things to cast off are the concerns of the day and the appointments of tomorrow. Turn off the beeper, shut down the cell phone, remove your watch, take off your glasses, change your focus from this world to the next, pass from time to eternity.
On Monday and Tuesdays we have a special reservation with the Lord. We spread a table for the Lord and ask him to come. In danger of oversimplification, I would say we spend three hours worshipping, and in the middle somewhere Revivalist Tommy Tenney or Pastor Bart Pierce will spend time encouraging us to be better worshippers. There are no introductions of speakers, no recognition given to famous visitors from, no fancy preaching, no solo singers, no announcements of any kind, no display of a people or their talents. During worship people bring their offering and cast it upon the altar of sacrifice. The worshippers give when they are ready for a breakthrough into radical, intense, repentant worship.
During the 29 September 1998 meeting, Tommy Tenney said, “God is taking away choices till all we have left is one thing. He wants to purify our pursuit till we are after only him. Tonight’s service is about pursuing his presence.” In Baltimore, God is overwhelming us with His Presence. Like Mary, we spend a lot of time pouring our love upon the Lord.
The Martha’s might ask, “Do you spend time helping the needy in Baltimore?” The answer is yes. ‘A Can Can Make a Difference’ moves over six million pounds of free food per year to the hungry, assisting 60 food pantries in Maryland. ‘Nehemiah House’ is the only men’s shelter in Baltimore County and assists 300 homeless men per year. ‘The Hiding Place’ is our seven bed home for adolescent girls in crisis or facing pregnancy; 260 babies have been born through the program. Through ‘Adopt-a-Block’, Baltimore pastors, congregations from different denominations, and businesses, gather to reach hurting communities.
Worshipping and serving together, pastors joined in unity are learning to pastor the city, not just their own local congregations, forming city wide the church of Baltimore.