Final Decade, Twentieth Century Revivals:
1. Eighteenth-Century Revivals: Great Awakening & Evangelical Revivals
2. Early Nineteenth-Century Revivals: Frontier and Missionary Revivals
3. Mid-nineteenth Century Revivals: Prayer Revivals
4. Early Twentieth Century Revivals: Worldwide Revivals
5. Mid-twentieth Century Revivals: Healing Evangelism Revivals
6. Late Twentieth Century Revivals: Renewal and Revival
7. Final Decade, Twentieth Century Revivals: Blessing Revivals
8. Twenty-First Century Revivals: Transforming Revivals
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Final Decade, Twentieth-Century Revivals: Blessing Revivals:
Revival movements of the twentieth century’s last decade continue to demonstrate specific impacts of the Spirit on Christian communities, often described as Blessing Revivals or the River of God. These Spirit movements have been largely localized revivals affecting churches and local communities, particularly where churches co-operate in an area. Some local revivals became influential worldwide, such as the ones in Toronto in Canada, Brompton and Sunderland in England, and Pensacola in North America.
1992 – Buenos Aires, Argentina (Claudio Freidzon)
1993 – May: Brisbane, Australia (Neil Miers)
1993 – November: Boston, North America (Mona Johnian)
1994 – January: Toronto, Canada (John Arnott)
1994 – May: London, England (Eleanor Mumford, Nicky Gumbel)
1994 – August: Sunderland, England (Ken Gott)
1994 – November: Mt Annan, Sydney, Australia (Adrian Gray)
1994 – November: Randwick, Sydney, Australia (Greg Beech)
1995 – January: Melbourne, Florida, North America (Randy Clark)
1995 – January: Modesto, California, North America (Glen Berteau)
1995 – January: Pasadena, California, North America (Che Ahn)
1995 – January: Brownwood, Texas, North America (College Revivals)
1995 – June: Pensacola, Florida, North America (Steve Hill)
1995 – October: Mexico (David Hogan)
1996 – March: Smithton, Missouri, North America (Steve Gray)
1996 – April: Hampton, Virginia, North America (Ron Johnson)
1996 – September: Mobile, Alabama, North America (Cecil Turner)
1996 – October: Houston, Texas, North America (Dr R Heard)
1997 – January: Baltimore, Maryland, North America (Bart Pierce)
1997 – November: Pilbara, Australia (Craig Siggins)
1998 – August: Kimberleys, Australia (Max Wiltshire)
1999 – July: Mornington Island, Australia (Jesse Padayache)
1992 – Buenos Aires, Argentina (Claudio Freidzon)
Beginning from 1982, especially following the trauma of defeat in the Malvinas (Falklands Islands), revival stirred in Argentina. Large crowds attended meetings with Carlos Annacondia, a businessman turned evangelist. His healing evangelism included thousands reporting healings, deliverance from demons, and miracles including teeth being filled. Thousands of people accepted Christ as Saviour and virtually every church grew. Pastors meet every week to pray with Annacondia for revival in the nation and the world.
In 1992, another movement of revival began with Claudio Freidzon, founder of a Buenos Aires church that in four years grew to 3000 people. Freidzon experienced a deep encounter with the Holy Spirit, after which his ministry became famous for the manifested presence of God, long services of worship and adoration, and a dramatic increase of healings and deliverance in the worship and ministry.
A significant feature of Freidzon’s ministry has been that people have received an unusual anointing when Freidzon laid hands on them and prayed for them. Their own ministries in turn became more effective in evangelism, healings and imparting anointings of the Spirit to others around the world.
Freidzon’s ministry began small with much discouragement, but became global. He reports:
For seven years my congregation stayed at seven people. During some worship services I was completely alone; not even my wife could be present. Sometimes other pastors who were friends of mine came to visit and would find me alone in the meeting. I felt like dying: I wished I could disappear. …
One day I thought, This isn’t for me. I’m going to give up this pastoral work. I’m going to resume my engineering studies and get myself a job. But deep down I knew that was not God’s plan.
I visited the superintendent of my organization with the purpose of handing in my credentials. … That day the superintendent spoke to me before I could tell him what I had come to see him about. “Claudio, I have something to say to you. God has something wonderful for you. You don’t see it, but God is going to use you greatly.” This man was not one to go round saying such things. He continued, “Look – I started in a very precarious house and had no help from anybody. Sometimes I had nothing to eat and I suffered greatly. But we prayed and God provided for each day. We felt grateful. I knew we were doing God’s will. And when I think of you, Claudio, I know you are going to be useful to God and that you are within His will. I don’t know what your problems are, but keep on. By the way, what brings you here today?”
I put my credentials back into my pocket and said, “Well, nothing in particular. I thought I would just come by and share a moment with you.” I couldn’t say anything else. When I got home Betty was weeping. I said, “Betty, we’re going to continue,” and I embraced her tightly. We started all over again. …
In 1985 I had a vision of God in my room. It must have been two or three o’clock in the morning. I was asleep. Suddenly God woke me up and showed me a vision on the wall, right before my eyes. I saw the picture of a public square in the district of Belgrano in Buenos Aires. The square was filled with people who were celebrating an evangelistic campaign similar to the ones that Carlos Annacondia undertook. And the Lord said to me, “This is your new field of work.”
Freidzon began holding meetings in Belgrano from February 1985. Immediately from the first meeting large numbers were converted and healed, including the crime boss in the area, to the astonishment of the police. Soon crime diminished as hundreds, then thousands, were converted in Freidzon’s meetings. His church grew to over 4,000 in a decade.
The Argentinian revival ministries of Claudio Friedzon, Hector Giminez, Carlos Annacondia and Omar Cabrera have won hundreds of thousands to the Lord. All of them have powerful ministries in evangelism with many signs and wonders, healings and miracles. Not only do these and other evangelists make an astounding impact on the nation, but ordinary people in hundreds and thousands are praying for revival in Argentina and around the world.
Before the ‘Toronto Blessing’ erupted their church in Toronto, Canada, John and Carol Arnott visited Argentina seeking a fresh touch from the Lord. Various leaders prayed for them, but so did converted prisoners, a significant example of the current revival impact on crime and society. John Arnott reported:
In La Plata, near Buenos Aires, there is a maximum security prison for 4000 inmates. This prison was out of control, and basically run by gangs within the prison. But permission was given to hold meetings there. They had pastors who were given responsibility over the converts. This was under the auspices of Carlos Annacondia.
Over a period of five years, a Christian floor developed in the prison, of eight hundred people. This floor had round the clock prayer meetings, and 180 people were always praying at any given time, waiting before the Lord, and asking God to have mercy. Over the course of five years, 600 men completed their sentences, and only one was later re-arrested. Other prisoners always want to go to the Christian floor of the prison because it is safe and clean. They have corking on the bars to make things more comfortable. So others get saved as a result of going to the Christian floor. When they think they are ready, the prisoners apply to be transferred to another prison, and then start some of the same things in other prisons.
Describing Argentina as a flashpoint of revival, C. Peter Wagner, wrote:
Like a burning, dry tinder, the Spirit of God has ignited an extraordinary spiritual bonfire in Argentina over the last ten years. From the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) to breathtaking Iguazu Falls in the northeast, the flames of revival have blazed through Argentina and beyond, making the country one of the flashpoints of church growth in the world today. …
Argentine evangelist Carlos Annacondia began his crusade ministry in 1982, the year of Argentina’s defeat in the Malvinas, just as the Spirit of God began to spark spiritual renewal. Since then, over a million and a half people have made public commitments to Christ during the course of Annacondia’s ministry.
Hector Giminez was a drug-addicted criminal when God called him into the Kingdom. He began ministering to troubled youth; and within a year, was leading a congregation of 1,000. Since 1986 his church in downtown Buenos Aires has exploded in size to over 120,000 members, making it the third largest church in the world.
The world’s fourth largest church is also in Argentina. Omar Cabrera and his wife Marfa began their ministry during the tough years of the 1970s. Long before most Argentine pastors, they began experiencing God’s blessing as they learned the power of prayer to liberate people from sin, sickness, and the forces of evil. Now their church, centred in Santa Fe, ministers to 90,000 members in 120 cities.
The revival that began in the early 1980s has touched virtually every evangelical denomination. … The stirrings of revival have drawn Argentine Christians into unprecedented forms of unity. ACIERA, the national association of evangelical Christian churches, and the monthly evangelical tabloid El Puente (The Bridge) has helped believers focus on common goals.
Unprecedented unity, fervent prayer, and New Testament ministries of signs and wonders give Argentina’s revival worldwide impact now. Leaders from around the world visit such flashpoints of revival, receive inspiration and impartation, and ignite others as they preach and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus taught the disciples to do.
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1993 – May: Brisbane, Australia (Neil Miers)
Jill Austin from Kansas City in America spoke at the pastors’ conference for Christian Outreach Centre in New Zealand in April 1993 where Neil Miers, the President of Christian Outreach Centre, also spoke.
Jill Austin is a part of the prophetic ministry team at Metro Christian Fellowship, an independent church strongly influenced by the revival in Argentina. Their leaders have visited Argentina regularly and they have had Argentinian speakers in Kansas.
Neil Miers and Christian Outreach Centre leaders from the Pacific region were strongly impacted by the Spirit in New Zealand, causing drunkenness in the Spirit, visions, prophecies, laughter, tears, and people overwhelmed on the floor.
Neil and Nance Miers returned to Brisbane, Australia, their headquarters, to lead the national conference for their regional pastors. Neil preached at their headquarters church in Brisbane on Sunday night 2 May.
Darren Trinder, editor of their magazine A New Way of Living (now Outreach), reported,
Some staggered drunkenly, others had fits of laughter, others lay prostrate on the floor, still more were on their knees while others joined hands in an impromptu dance. Others, although showing no physical signs, praised the Lord anyway, at the same time trying to take it all in. People who had never prayed publicly for others moved among the crowd and laid hands on those present.
“When we first saw it in New Zealand early in April we were sceptical,” said Nance Miers, wife of Christian Outreach Centre International President, Pastor Neil Miers. “I’ve seen the Holy Spirit move like this here and there over the years. But this was different. In the past it seemed to have affected a few individuals, but this time it was a corporate thing.”
Neil Miers himself was physically affected, along with several other senior pastors, early in this Holy Ghost phenomenon. Later he viewed the series of events objectively. “It started in New Zealand and then broke out in New Guinea, and now it’s here. If I know the Holy Ghost, it will break out across the world wherever people are truly seeking revival. For the moment this is what God is saying to do, and we’re doing it. It’s that simple.”
But despite the informal nature of the events, Pastor Miers, adopting his shepherd role, was careful to monitor the situation. “There are some who are going overboard with it; just like when someone gets drunk on earthly wine for the first time. The next time it happens they’ll understand it a little better.”
God is doing many things. He’s loosening up the church. He’s working deep repentance in certain individuals, and healing deep hurts in others. Just like the outpouring in Acts, it was the public ministry that followed which really changed the world. First God has to shake up the church and then He uses these people to shake up the world.
Splashes of this revival have touched people’s lives throughout the Christian Outreach Centre movement around the nation and the world.
This unusual Spirit movement at Christian Outreach Centre in Brisbane affected people deeply for weeks. Office staff when prayed for were overwhelmed, resting on the floor, so sometimes the phones rang unanswered. The Bible College cancelled lectures as staff and students were powerfully affected, often “drunk in the Spirit”. They had vivid visions and prayed for others constantly. Children in the primary and high schools were similarly overwhelmed, saw visions, and worshipped and prayed as never before. Many people now in full-time ministry were powerfully impacted then.
This fresh impact of the Spirit spread through the pastors to Christian Outreach Centres in every state of Australia within two weeks, and the Christian Outreach Centre movement continues to grow rapidly internationally, with over 200 churches in Australia and over 600 overseas. They have developed an international education facility from pre-school to tertiary offering accredited degrees in Education, Arts, Social Science, Business and Ministry to post-graduate level.
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1993 – November: Boston, North America (Mona Johnian)
Another early version of the current revival, typical of hundreds, then thousands, around the world since, touched the Christian Teaching and Worship Centre (CTWC) in Woburn, Boston from November 1993. Mona Johnian and her husband Paul lead the 450 member church.
Revival broke out in their church after they attended revival meetings led by Rodney Howard Browne in Jekyll Island Georgia, in November of 1993. At first, Mona was not impressed by the various phenomena she observed there, but she was surprised that her own pastor, Bill Ligon of Brunswick, Georgia, fell to the floor when Rodney Howard Browne laid his hands upon him. “Bill is the epitome of dignity, a man totally under control,” she said. The first chapter of her book describes a meeting at her church in which revival broke out while Bill Ligon was there as a guest minister. From the Johnians’ church, the revival spread to other churches, including Bath Baptist Church of Bath, Maine, pastored by Greg Foster.
In a video entitled Revival, produced in his church in August of 1994, Paul Johnian said, “We cannot refute the testimony of the Church. … What is taking place here is not an accident. It’s not birthed by man. It’s by the Spirit of God. … The last week in October of 1993, Mona and I went down to Georgia. We belong to a Fellowship of Charismatic and Christian Ministries International, and we went down there for the annual conference. And hands were laid on us. And we were anointed. And I’m just going to be completely honest with you. What I witnessed there in the beginning I did not even understand. I concluded that what was taking place was not of God … because there was too much confusion. … I saw something that I could not comprehend with my finite understanding. And it was only when I searched the Scriptures and asked God to show me and to reveal truth to me that I saw that what was taking place in the Body of Christ was a sovereign move of the Almighty. And I, for one, wanted to humble myself and be a part of the sovereign move of the Almighty. And I came back. I really didn’t sense any change within me. But I came back just believing God that He was going to be doing something different in our congregation.”
That story has now been multiplied in various forms in thousands of churches touched by this current impact of the Spirit. This was one of the early reports of recent revival phenomena that then became well known from 1994.
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1994 – January: Toronto, Canada (John Arnott)
One of the most widely publicized Spirit movements in the nineties began in a congregation of 120 in January, 1994. John Arnott, senior pastor at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (then called the Toronto Airport Vineyard Christian Fellowship) tells about the beginnings of what they call the Father’s blessing:
“In October 1992, Carol and I started giving our entire mornings to the Lord, spending time worshipping, reading, praying and being with him. For a year and a half we did this, and we fell in love with Jesus all over again. …
“We heard about the revival in Argentina, so we travelled there in November 1993 hoping God’s anointing would rub off on us somehow. We were powerfully touched in meetings led by Claudio Freidzon, a leader in the Assemblies of God in Argentina. …
“We came back from Argentina with a great expectation that God would do something new in our church.
“We had a taste of what the Lord had planned for us during our New Year’s Eve service as we brought in 1994. People were prayed for and powerfully touched by God. They were lying all over the floor by the time the meeting ended. We thought, “This is wonderful, Lord. Every now and then you move in power.” But we did not think in terms of sustaining this blessing.
“We invited Randy Clark, a casual friend and pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in St. Louis, Missouri, to speak because we heard that people were being touched powerfully by God when he ministered. We hoped that this anointing would follow him to our church.
“Yet Randy and I were in fear and trembling, hoping God would show up in power, but uncertain about what would happen. We were not exactly full of faith but God was faithful anyway.
“On January 20, 1994, the Father’s blessing fell on the 120 people attending that Thursday night meeting in our church. Randy gave his testimony, and ministry time began. People fell all over the floor under the power of the Holy Spirit, laughing and crying. We had to stack up all the chairs to make room for everyone. Some people even had to be carried out.
“We had been praying for God to move, and our assumption was that we would see more people saved and healed, along with the excitement that these would generate. It never occurred to us that God would throw a massive party where people would laugh, roll, cry and become so empowered that emotional hurts from childhood were just lifted off them. The phenomena may be strange, but the fruit this is producing is extremely good.
People were saved and healed, more in the next two years than ever before. Other visitors experienced this renewal, discovering a new deep love for the Lord which they then passed on to others.”
Word spread. Thousands flew or drove to visit the little church at the end of the runway at Toronto international airport. The church had to relocate into larger premises. The blessing still continues. British journalists called this renewal the “Toronto Blessing” which soon became the term used worldwide.
Salvation. Healing. Release from oppression. Weeping. Laughter. New zeal for the Lord. Leaders impacted by the Spirit of God finding their own churches similarly impacted. These results have been reported by hundreds of thousands of visitors to Toronto.
It is controversial. As with all strong moves of God’s Spirit, people react in many ways. The media highlight anything unusual or strange. However, the vast majority of people prayed for at Toronto report profound blessing, and in turn bless others with their zeal for God.
Thousands of people continue to travel to Toronto and related centres of this renewal, its speakers are invited to many countries, and books and audio and video cassettes proliferated.
The Vineyard conferences of the eighties with John Wimber and his teams opened much of the conservative church to the importance of the supernatural in renewal and revival in what Peter Wagner described as the Third Wave. During the nineties the phenomena associated with Rodney Howard-Browne and Toronto spread widely in western churches involved in renewal.
Now, after more than 20 years of the spread of this renewal and its pockets of revival this Spirit movement has demonstrated enduring renewal of hundreds of thousands of Christians and the beginnings of revival influences in the community with conversion and social transformation. Toronto in Canada, Sunderland in England, and Pensacola in North America have become the most visible centres where renewal in the church has begun impacting the community with conversions and affecting crime rates and social order.
It is likely to be recorded, like Azusa Street, as a pivotal event in transmitting revival phenomena around the world, raising the expectation and experience of millions of people concerning authentic Spirit movements in revival leading into a fresh awakening.
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1994 – May: London, England (Eleanor Mumford, Nicky Gumbel)
The Anglican Church, Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) near Kengsington in London has been powerfully affected by the current awakening and widely reported in the media.
Eleanor Mumford, assistant pastor of the South West London Vineyard and wife of John Mumford (the pastor and the overseer of the Vineyard Churches in Britain), told a group of friends about her recent visit to the Toronto Airport Vineyard in Canada. When she prayed for them the Holy Spirit profoundly affected them.
Nicky Gumbel, Curate of Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), was there. He rushed back from this meeting with his wife, Pippa, to the HTB church office in South Kensington where he was late for a staff meeting. The meeting was ready to adjourn. He apologised, told what had happened, and was then asked to pray the concluding prayer. He prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill everyone in the room.
The church newspaper, “HTB in Focus,” 12 June 1994, reported the result:
The effect was instantaneous. People fell to the ground again and again. There were remarkable scenes as the Holy Spirit touched all those present in ways few had ever experienced or seen. Staff members walking past the room were also affected. Two hours later some of those present went to tell others in different offices and prayed with them where they found them. They too were powerfully affected by the Holy Spirit many falling to the ground. Prayer was still continuing after 5 p.m.
The church leaders invited Eleanor Mumford to preach at Holy Trinity Brompton the next Sunday, 29 May, at both services. After both talks, she prayed for the Holy Spirit to come upon the people. Some wept. Some laughed. Many came forward for prayer and soon lay overwhelmed on the floor.
Multiplied hundreds of cassette tapes of those services circulated in many hundreds of churches in England. A fresh awakening began to spread through the churches involving over 7,000 churches in England alone, and spreading through Europe and internationally through visitors to centres of renewal and revival. These are some of Eleanor Mumford’s comments:
A Baptist pastor [Guy Chevreau], was involved in this remarkable move of the Spirit of God which seems to be taking place in eastern Canada. He’s written this: “At meetings hosted by the Airport Vineyard, Toronto, there has come a notable renewal and revival of hope and faith and of expectation. Over the past eighteen weeks, now about 130 days consecutively, the Spirit of God has been pouring out freedom, joy, and power in the most remarkable ways. Six nights a week,” because they take a day off for Monday, six nights a week “between 350 and 800 people at a time gather for worship, testimony and ministry. Re-dedications are numerous. Conversions are recently being witnessed and ministry to over 2,000 pastors, clergy, and their spouses has been welcomed by a diverse cross section of denominational leaders.” …
And with all of this there has come a renewing of commitment, and enlarging and clarification of spiritual vision, and a rekindled passion for Jesus and for the work of His kingdom. Some of the physical manifestations accompanying the renewal are unsettling for many people, leaving them feeling that they have no grid for evaluation and no map to guide them, which is a sort of safe way of saying there are very bizarre things going on. …
And so when I went forward on the first night, because they said on the first night, “Anyone who’s not been here before we’d like you to come first for us to pray for you.” And I went up unapologetically and the lovely pastor said to me, “What would you like? What are you here for?” And I said, “I want everything that you’ve got. I’ve only got two days, and I’ve come from London,” sort of defiantly. And behind this I was saying, “I’ve paid the fare and I’m determined to get my money’s worth. So what will you do?” …
The whole climate of this thing is surrounded with generosity. God has poured His Spirit out on a people in an improbable little church, and they are now spending their time from morning to night giving away as fast as they can what God is giving to them. And as new people hit town, and as pastors hover across the horizon, they sort of savour as if it were fresh meat and they just long to come to you and lay their hands on you and give you all that God has given them, which I take to be a mark of the Lord. I just take it to be the generously of Jesus to His people. …
These are ordinary people ministering in the name of an extraordinary God. And their pastor, John Arnott has said, “God is just using nameless and faceless people to minister His power in these days.” And that’s what I love. There is no personality attached. There’s no big name involved. There’s no one church that’s got a corner in the market. This is something that Jesus is doing. And the people and the church are simply preoccupied with the person and the power of the Lord Jesus. No personalities. Just Him. And I love that, because I’m tired of all that stuff. I’m tired of the heroes and the personalities. I just want Jesus. I just want Him and His Church straight. And that’s what I think I received. I saw the power of God poured out, just as it was in the books of Acts, and as I said this morning, I didn’t see tongues of flame, but I suspect it was because I wasn’t looking. And I have heard recently in this country of a meeting which took place where the Spirit of God was poured out and the building shook. The building shook, and three separate witnesses quite independently, came home and said the building actually shook. So we’re in the days of the New Testament. This is kingdom stuff, and it’s glorious. But it’s not new.
And so I scurried back to Scripture and I scurried back to Church history and I have discovered glorious things in the writings of Jonathan Edwards, who was the initiator of the Great Awakening in America during the mid eighteenth century, and he wrote this, which is remarkably similar to what I saw in Toronto just last week, two weeks ago. “The apostolic times seem to have returned upon us. Such a display has there been of the power and the grace of the Spirit.” Jonathan Edwards speaks of extraordinary affections of fear, sorrow, desire, love, joy, of tears, of trembling, of groans, loud cries, and agonies of the body, and the failing of bodily strength. He also says we are all ready to own that no man can see God and live. If we, then, see even a small part of the love and the glory of Christ, a very foretaste of heaven, is it any wonder that our bodily strength is diminished? …
I have discovered a new heroine in the last few days, who is the wife, or was the wife, of Jonathan Edwards. And she was a very godly and wonderful woman. And she fell under the power of the Spirit of God to such a degree in the 1740s, that for seventeen days, she was insensible. She was drunk for seventeen days. She could do nothing. (Now the Baptist pastor in Toronto had had to do all the school runs and all the school picnics for two days, because his wife was out for the count for forty eight hours. And he was driving, and he was packing the lunches, and he was doing their homework he was doing everything and he said, “God, when are you going to lift off my wife, so that this home can get back into order?”) But poor Jonathan Edwards had seventeen days in which his wife was insensible. And on one occasion she decided it was time to arise from the bed and to try and minister to the household, and they had a guest. So she got dressed in her best . . . and she went downstairs and lurching a little while, and as she passed the study where the door was open and Jonathan Edwards was talking to his friend about the Lord, as she heard the name of Jesus, her bodily strength left her, and she hit the floor. So they carried her back to bed, and there she stayed. And as it’s said in the history books, no one recorded who made the lunch. So this thing is taking people over in the most remarkable way. And at the end of this time, Jonathan Edwards’ wife said, “I was aware of a delightful sense of the immediate presence of the Lord, and I became conscious of His nearness to me, and of my dearness to Him.” And I think it’s this one phrase that has impressed itself upon my Spirit in the last week, and what I think is the key to this whole thing, is that the Lord in His mercy is pouring out His Spirit in order to persuade us, His people, of “His nearness to me, and of my dearness to Him.” …
I heard a story just this afternoon of a woman who had left a meeting rather as I had done, but she was reeling, and unwisely, she decided to drive home. This was all over the place, and she was stopped by the police. Honest to God, this is true. She was stopped by the police, and she got out of the car, and the policeman said, “Madam, I have reason to believe that you’re completely drunk.” And she said, “Yes, you’re right.” So he said, “Well, I need to breathalyze you,” so he got his little bag, and as she started to blow into it, she just fell to the ground laughing. At which point, the policeman fell, too, and the power of God fell on him, and he and she were rolling on the freeway laughing under the power of God. And he said, “Lady, I don’t know what you’ve got, but I need it,” and he came to church the next week and he found Jesus. He got saved.
And this is happening. People are going out and telling each other about Jesus with a recklessness that they’ve never known before. I don’t know about you, but when people say ‘evangelism’ the hairs in the back of my neck go up and I get guilt and I feel awful and I feel destroyed and defeated. Evangelism is a breeze, people. It’s such fun like this. So there was a woman who had left one of the meetings and she had been laughing on the floor for two hours, and she got really hungry. So she went to the Taco Bell … and she sat down … and she looked across, and she saw a whole family eating burritos. And she said to them, … “Do you want to be saved?” And they all said, “Yes!” All of them! And they were all saved and led to Christ on the spot.
And another man left a meeting and he went into a restaurant, and a man was watching him, and for about ten minutes, he watched him. And he had this … young man who came up to him and said, “Excuse me, but are you a Christian?” And this chap had just left the meeting he said, “You bet.” And he said, “Well, my wife has just left me. I’ve just lost my home. I’ve just lost my job, and I’m about to take my life. … What can help me?” And he led him to Christ. And … this is good news, people. This is news for the people out there. People are getting saved right and left. And they are now discovering even in the Toronto area that there are several hundreds of people that are getting saved. People right and left are coming to know Jesus, because Jesus is the joy of our lives. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. …
People are being restored by the mercy and the sweetness of God. And, quite honestly, whether one stands or falls, whether one laughs or cries, whether one shakes or stands still, whether you go down could matter not, it just doesnt matter a bit. It doesn’t matter how you go down. What matters is how you come up. It doesn’t matter what goes on in the outside. What counts is what Jesus is doing in our bodies and in our souls, in our hearts and in our spirits.
We have a woman in my prayer group who is a hair dresser. And she’s married to a Muslim, and her life is not easy. And she said that in the course of the last week, she’s been reading her Bible like never before. But she said, “I’m not reading it.” She said, “I hear the voice of Jesus reading it to me. As if I were a child, Jesus reads me His book.” Wonderful things. …
I think if we come receptive and childlike, there is infinite blessing for the people of God at this time. I’ve discovered in myself a love for Jesus more than ever. I’ve discovered in myself an excitement about the kingdom I wouldn’t have believed possible. I’ve discovered that I’m living in glorious days. There’s no other time; there’s no other place where I would have chosen to be born and to live than here and now.
The church newsletter describing that Sunday’s services circulated widely and triggered publicity in the media. Crowds flocked to the church in the following weeks including large numbers of church leaders involved in charismatic renewal, especially Anglican and other denominational ministers. A HTB staff member referred to the ‘Toronto Blessing’ a term the media quickly adopted to describe this enthusiasm and fervour for God. This renewal, refreshing or touch of revival has been reported often as spreading to over 7,000 churches in England within two years.
Another significant initiative emerging from HTB is the charismatically based Alpha course prepared by Nicky Gumbel. This 10-14 week introduction to Christianity includes sessions on being filled with the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit such as healing. HTB’s leadership in Anglican charismatic renewal has helped spread the Alpha course to over 14,000 locations in 105 countries by 1999 including 640 Alpha courses in New Zealand and 1,000 in Australia.
Along with other expressions of the deep impact of God’s Spirit, this blessing helps to bring fresh vitality to Christian life and witnessing around the world. The huge influence of ‘HTB’ stems from its leadership in charismatic Anglican churches and its prestige asan historic church in Kensington in the heart of London. Its leadership has shown statesmanship in nurturing this renewal in the churches, and its influence through the Alpha course continues to proliferate.
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1994 – August: Sunderland, England (Ken Gott)
Ken and Lois Gott founders of Sunderland Christian Centre (SCC) in 1987 in the north east of England, felt dry and worn out in 1994. Ken Gott and four other Pentecostals visited Holy Trinity Brompton in London. The presence of God among Anglicans humbled and amazed those Pentecostals. Bishop David Pytches prayed for them and they caught new fire. Their Sunderland church then sent Ken, Lois and their youth leader to Toronto for a week of soaking in God’s anointing.
On August 14th, the first Sunday morning back from Toronto, the effect on the church was staggering. Virtually the whole congregation responded to Kens appeal to receive the same touch from God that he and Lois had received. They decided to met again in the evening, although normal meetings had been postponed for the summer recess. The same experience occurred. They gathered again the next evening and the next … in fact for two weeks without a night off. Quickly, numbers grew from around a hundred and fifty to six hundred. Word reached the region and, without advertising, people began the pilgrimage to Sunderland from a radius of around 70 miles.
By September a pattern of nightly meetings (bar Mondays) was established and each night the same overwhelming sense of God was present. That pattern has continued ever since, with monthly leaders’ meeting on a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon (with usually around 300 in attendance) and a daily ‘place’ of prayer being added.
The effect on many churches and on thousands of individuals has been profound.
The church began two meetings a day with a daily afternoon prayer meetings from January 1995. Many former criminals were saved, and crime dropped in the community. Within two years a youth group of 60 former criminals had been established in the church, led by ‘Jim and Marie’ a converted criminal and his wife.
Philip Le Dune, an associate pastor at Sunderland, sent this e mail message in August, 1996:
Sunderland Christian Centre is located in a high density low cost housing area with all the problems associated with inner city deprivation. Prior to the start of Renewal we had had very little contact with the local population, and gave very little indication that we really wanted anything to do with them! The church was heavily protected against burglary with shutters and polycarbonate windows, and a high security fence and video cameras helped the security guards protect the cars not a very welcoming sight to any would be church attenders from the area. Our neighbours saw us turning up in our nice cars, wearing our smart clothes and carrying big black bibles. Many of the on lookers had no car, no nice clothes and some had no food.
Renewal has changed us forever. When God pinned a local gangster to the floor of the church one evening, only God knew that he was soon to be employed by the church, together with his wife, as youth workers. Jim & Marie now hold daily “meetings” with the people from the local community who are increasingly coming to see SCC as “theirs”.
Recently the atmosphere in the youth club, held upstairs in the church hall while the Renewal meetings are held in the sanctuary downstairs, changed significantly. The youths, many of whom are already well experienced in criminal activities, had begun to take less interest in the usual youth club activities like pool and became much more interested in the ministry time that Jim & Marie had introduced. Last week all of the kids decided to stay behind for prayer and the Holy Spirit turned up! One young lad, aged about 12, called Billy received prayer, and the Holy Spirit laid him out on the carpet.
Billy is notorious in the area and is considered by many, including his social workers to be beyond control. He has tried to break in to the church on numerous occasions and has been involved in petty theft as well as assaulting members of the church staff! Despite this he has been welcome to join with his peers in the youth meeting and has been enjoying himself! Jim asked him, “Why do you come out for prayer Billy?” and he replied, “It’s the only time in the week I feel clean.”
A few days ago three teenagers turned up one evening to the youth meeting. They were well known as “hard cases” in the community and they stood at the bottom of the stairs mocking Jim and his team and calling them “Bible bashers” and other less savoury names! Jim invited them up, but when it came to ministry time they stayed put in their seats, laughing at the others who were receiving prayer. Jim called them out. “I’m going to pray for you three now,” he said. “What are you going to do?” they asked. “I’m going to do nothing. I’m not even going to touch you. I’m just going to pray and the Holy Spirit is going to do the rest.”
Jim began to pray and the three of them froze. After 16 minutes, with everyone else having left the room Jim came back and the three of them were still standing stock still, eyes closed in total silence. When they came round one of them said, “Well, what can you say? Now I know that God exists, but what do I do about it?” Jim was able to explain what he should do and he went away with a lot to think about, but came back the next night saying, “I want Jim to pray for me again!”
One of his two companions described how he had felt hands pressing on his chest and face but when he’d opened his eyes there was no one there. The other said he felt like he’d been “pulled in all different directions inside”.
Keep praying, as this is surely the start of the Youth Church that we want to establish here in Sunderland.
The awakening or refreshing or renewal which impacted Sunderland Christian Centre also spread to churches across Europe and as visitors from around the globe visited them and as they took teams to many countries, that same fire ignited people and churches worldwide. Then 1995 saw a further explosion of revival fire.
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1994 – November: Mt Annan, Sydney, Australia (Adrian Gray)
Pastor Brian Shick, a member of the staff at Christian Life Centre Mount Annan, Sydney, reported on the beginning of this renewal in their church in November, 1994, where Adrian and Kathy Gray are the senior pastors.
Having desired for some time to find a permanent home for the church which Adrian and Kathy Gray have pastored since February 1975, the current property was purchased in 1984 … An outstanding prophetic sign occurred a short while before this outpouring took place when a helicopter flying over the church called the fire department reporting our building on fire. Thirteen fire trucks screamed up the church driveway looking for the fire to extinguish, but there was no fire. When the realization came that it was a spiritual fire that had been witnessed great awe came upon the church. This happened at the conclusion of ten days of prayer and fasting for revival.
At the arrival of the move of the Holy Spirit on the first weekend of November 1994, like the church in Toronto, Canada could only be described as sovereign. Randwick Baptist Church, which is in more central Sydney, experiencing the same outpouring at exactly the same time testifies to the reality of it being a sovereign event. In fact there were numbers of churches around the nation that experience a similar occurrence about the same time.
For many months the church had been praying for a visitation of God without perhaps really realising what that meant. An evangelistic crusade with an “end-times emphasis” had been planned for that weekend. The evangelist, recently returned from Toronto, Canada, preached his evangelistic message and called people forward who wanted a fresh touch from God. Immediately over 300 people responded and as the evangelist and pastors prayed the presence of God came. The Father’s heart of love was revealed to the people and as hands were gently laid on them they fell to the floor under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. They lay there for a long time and when they got up there were dozens of amazing testimonies of healing and restoration and life changing transformations. The next day, Sunday, the Holy Spirit came again, and then again on Monday and Tuesday and in every meeting held since that time. The anointing was so strong that many people in those first months would fall to the floor as soon as they came through the door.
Renewal did not just become an appendage to the existing program, it became the entire program. The Holy Spirit is free to move however he wants in any of the services. While most pastors would say that this is the case in their churches, many have actually limited the style of meeting that is characteristic of this current move, to one or two services a week and the other meetings are “normal”.
Mid week services were started almost immediately and have continued. These are held Wednesday 10.30 a.m. and 7.30 p.m. and Friday 7.30 p.m. On Saturday nights there is a youth service at 7.30 p.m. There is also the Waves of Power International Ministry School at 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday nights. These services and the ministry school attract many people from other denominations much like the renewal/revival meetings around the world. Every occasion that the church gathers is a revival time.
Approximately 200,000 people have attended in the first four years since the outpouring began. The official membership has grown from 300 prior to renewal to 700 at present. With all the services added together, 1,200 people are ministered to per week with many more during conferences.
The church emphasizes team and ‘body ministry’ – the whole body of Christ using all the spiritual gifts. In four years the staff expanded from three to nineteen full and part-time members. The youth group expanded from 25 to 90. Their predominantly lay pastoral care team involves 60 people and the worship team involves 90 people.
The church has a prayer ministry team of approximately 120 members who are trained to pray for people at the five services each week and at the various conferences. They hosted around 20 conferences over in the first four years, bringing international revival speakers within the reach average believers here in Australia.
Whereas the similar Spirit movement in the Christian Outreach Centres of May 1993 touched mainly that movement and was regarded by other churches as rather excessive, this Spirit movement in an established Pentecostal church found greater acceptance within pentecostal groups, attracting visitors from around the nation.
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1994 – November: Randwick, Sydney, Australia (Greg Beech)
Another outpouring of the Spirit transformed the mildly charismatic Randwick Baptist Church in Sydney the same weekend. The minister, Greg Beech, discussed this in their church magazine a year later, reporting on these events:
Many Christians are talking about a significant work of God that is sweeping the church today which has become known as the Toronto Blessing. At Randwick Baptist Church (hereafter RBC), some of these phenomena have been present in lesser degrees for about nine years. They occurred spontaneously and without prompting or discussion.
Late 1993 and the first seven or eight months of 1994 had been a considerable time of change for RBC involving difficult decisions, change of staff, relational tensions, loss of some members, and a rethink of the church’s vision. The ‘ship’ of the church had slowed and was making a careful, yet sure change, in direction.
Factors leading up to the outpouring at RBC include :
• A gradual renewal of the church’s prayer life with new prayer meetings and a number of people joining the ‘prayer watch’.
• A four month teaching series on the Holy Spirit was undertaken on Sunday evenings.
• A stronger sense of ‘grace’ in the church.
• A sense of expectation. We had been feeling spiritually dry for sometime. We believed in the work of the Spirit but were not seeing much power. A sense of a new day dawning.
• A couple in the church visited Toronto and were dramatically touched by the Holy Spirit. Upon arriving home on 1st November they prayed for some of us. We were powerfully ministered to. They also brought back from Toronto some resources, in particular three videos. Watching one of these I was touched with joy by the Holy Spirit.
• Sunday, 6th November, was a remarkable day for a number of reasons. In the early morning prayer meeting there was a sense of expectation. At the worship service an American Pastor, Roy Kendall and his family, (who pastor a church in Jerusalem) led a wonderful time of praise. Roy spoke on the subject of praise including a word about spiritual dryness, and thirst for God. A number of people received ministry after that service but it wasn’t until the evening service that we saw power being poured out. Chris Acland preached on Isaiah 55, Steve and Cathy testified on their experience in Toronto, and afterwards we saw some of the signs that have since increased in intensity and breadth.
We recognize and wish to emphasize that the outpouring was not so much a result of anything we did but was a sovereign movement of God. The outpouring seems to have transferred from the Toronto Airport Vineyard, and is being transferred to churches around the world. We have been thrilled to learn of other churches in Sydney also being touched.
While we had prayed for the outpouring of the Spirit, it still caught us by surprise! The sheer intensity and broad sweep of the Spirit’s work has been staggering.
The current refreshing is not some kind of new ‘latest and greatest’ programme which has been introduced to revitalize church services. The ‘refreshing’ is not something that pastors introduce to see if new life can be breathed into their church. We believe what we are witnessing is a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. It was with considerable amazement that we stood back and watched God pour out His Spirit in November 1994 at R.B.C. We found it difficult to come to terms with the sheer power and intensity of God’s work.
For over a year we have pastored this movement, prayed for discernment, discussed, theologized, debated with our critics, searched the Scriptures, and carefully watched and examined the fruit. We are convinced this is a true work of God. However, we acknowledge that any work of God which involves a human element, will encounter sinful tendencies, perhaps demonic attack, and therefore must be carefully dealt with.
There are a number of ‘streams’ of refreshment and renewal that God is using around the world. For example, God is using the Toronto Airport Vineyard to refresh his church. We have been greatly blessed by them although we ask that people assess RBC based on what we teach and practice, not on what another church does. Each stream of the movement needs to be assessed on its own merits. The conclusions and positions we have reached, both in theology and practice, may well be rejected by other churches. We do not believe that ours is the only orthodox position.
This Spirit movement gained significance as one of the first of the current revival phenomena reported in an Australian denominational church. As such it stirred considerable press interest. A broadening stream of personal and church witnesses testify to the significance of this Spirit movement for personal and church growth and life.
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1995 – January: Melbourne, Florida, North America (Randy Clark)
Five local churches in Melbourne, Florida, invited Randy Clark as guest speaker at the Tabernacle Church on Sunday, 1 January, 1995. Unusual revival broke out including large numbers falling down, laughter, weeping, and many dramatic physical healings. Thousands flocked to meetings held six days a week. Pastors and musicians from fifteen different congregations hosted the meetings in a new expression of co-operation and unity. Randy Clark reported:
In 1994 I spent about 150 [days] in renewal meetings. During that time I never was in a meeting which I felt had the potential to become another Toronto type experience. That was until I went to Melbourne, Florida [on] January 1, 1995. Another revival has broken out. Many sovereign things have occurred which indicate this place too will be [the site of] unusual renewal meetings. I shall share some of these.
First, what made me expect something special at these meetings? I never schedule over four days for meetings, but I scheduled fifteen days for this meeting. Why? I believed there were things going on which indicated a major move of the Spirit was imminent. The Black and White ministerial associations merged a few months prior to my going. The charismatic pastors had been meeting together for prayer for six years, and pastors from evangelical and charismatic and pentecostal churches had been meeting and praying together for over two years. There was a unity built which would be able to withstand the pressures of diverse traditions working together in one renewal/revival meeting.
The meetings are held at the Tabernacle, the largest church in the area. It holds 950 comfortably. This was Jamie Buckingham’s church, now pastored by Michael Thompson. The church sanctuary is filled by 6:15 with meetings beginning at 7:00. About 1,200 are crowded into the sanctuary, another 150 fill a small overflow room, and another 200 300 sit outside watching on a large screen.
Staff of the Christian radio station WSCF, FM 92 at Vero Beach, Florida, an hour’s drive south of Melbourne, interviewed Randy Clark on Friday, 6 January, 1995. The General Manager of the radio station, Jon Hamilton, reported on that visit. The report is significant concerning the specific impact of the Spirit on the staff and the subsequent impact on listeners and on the community including impacting unchurched people. Hamilton reports as an experienced, mature, sceptical, cautious participant-observer:
Dear Friend of Christian FM 92:
I had already put the finishing touches on my first letter of 1995. I really liked it. It was full of optimism and inspirational resolutions for the New Year.
It will never make it to the printer.
Instead, I am compelled to offer to you a testimony and witness as to a most remarkable day. I pray that it may serve to encourage those who seek God, and terrify those who oppose Him.
January 6, 1995 began in a rather ordinary way. It was Friday, it had been a busy week, but I was looking forward to a slow day. As I was leaving the house, I actually told my wife, “There’s not much on my calendar, I may try to take the afternoon hours off and come home early.”
I had agreed to interview a pastor from St. Louis, Randy Clark that morning. Randy was the guest speaker at The Tabernacle Church’s renewal services nightly, and since “The Tab”is a good friend of FM 92 (and many other area churches were participating in the meetings), we had decided to clear a slot on the morning show for a brief interview.
My guest was one of the leaders of the so called “Toronto Revival”. I had read about the Toronto meetings, but frankly, I’ve heard a lot of “revival rumours” over the years and have learned not to pay much attention. Normally, I don’t do the interviews myself, but I was feeling cautious and let the “morning guys” know I’d be there during the show.
The interview was innocent enough at first. The subject turned to a discussion of the Holy Spirit’s manifest presence in a meeting (as opposed to His presence that dwells within our hearts always). Rather suddenly, something began to happen in the control room.
It began with Gregg. He was seated behind me listening, and for no apparent reason, he began to weep. His weeping turned to shuddering sobs that he attempted to muffle in his hands. It was hard to ignore, and Randy paused mid sentence to comment “You can’t see him, but God is really dealing with the fellow behind you right now.” I looked over my shoulder just in time to see Gregg losing control. He stood up, only to crash to the floor directly in front of the console, where he lay shaking for several minutes.
I don’t know if you have ever tried to conduct a radio interview in such circumstances, but let me assure you I never have. I was mortified. We have always attempted to avoid any extremes at FM 92, so it was difficult to explain to our listeners what was happening. I had always known Gregg to act like a professional, so I knew something was seriously going on. I did my best to recover the interview under the embarrassing circumstances. I thanked the guest and wrapped it up. (And thought of ways to kill Gregg later!)
After when we have a guest minister in the station, we ask him to pray for the staff.
Before Randy Clark left, we asked him to say a word of prayer.
We formed a circle and began to pray for the staff one by one. My eyes were shut, but I heard a thud and opened them to see Bart Mazzarella prostrate on the floor. He had fallen forward on his face. What amazed me most was that Bart was known to be openly sceptical. He simply did not accept such things. Within seconds, another and another staff person went down. Even those that remained standing were clearly shaken.
When they prayed for me, I did not “fall down”. What did happen was an electric sensation shot down my right arm, and my right hand began to tremble uncontrollably. My heart pounded as I became aware of a powerful sense of what can only be called God’s manifest presence.
Remember, our staff is not primarily Charismatic. We are Episcopalian, Nazarene, Evangelical, Pentecostal …. and a couple of “not quite sure”. While I personally am associated with an Assembly of God church, I’m quite the skeptic when it comes to “weird stuff”. I don’t watch many evangelists on TV, because too often I am turned off by what I see. This was completely new to us.
Randy was scheduled elsewhere, so after just a few minutes of prayer, he thanked me graciously and left quickly. Our staff remained in the control room, staring at each other wide eyed, and hovering over Bart, who still appeared unconscious on the floor. (He was completely immobile for over half an hour).
There was a sweet atmosphere of worship in the room, so I told someone to put one of the Integrity Worship CD’s on air while we continued to pray together.
I thought the atmosphere would abate after a few minutes and return to normal… but instead, our prayers grew more and more intense. The room became charged in a way that I simply cannot describe. After an hour of this, we realized that it was 10:30, the time we normally share our listener’s needs in prayer.
I switched on the mike, and found myself praying that God would touch every listener in a personal way. After prayer, with great hesitation I added This morning God has really been touching our staff, so we’ve been spending the morning praying together. If you’re in a situation right now where you are facing a desperate need, just drop by our studios this morning and we’ll take a minute to pray with you.” This was the first time we had ever made such an invitation.
This is where everything went haywire.
Within a few minutes, a few listeners began to arrive. The first person I prayed with was a tall man who shared with me some tremendous needs he was facing. I told him I would agree with him in prayer. As I prayed for his need, a voice in my head was saying “It’s a shame that you don’t operate in any real spiritual gift or power. Here’s a man who really needs to hear from God and you’ve got nothing worth giving him!” I continued to pray, but I was struggling. I reached up with my right hand to touch his shoulder, when suddenly he shook, and slumped to the floor. (He lay there without moving for over 2 hours.) I was shocked and shaken.
Two others had arrived at this point, and staff members were praying with them. Suddenly they began weeping uncontrollably, and slumped to the floor. This scene was repeated a dozen times in the next few minutes. It didnt matter who did the praying, whenever we asked the Lord, he immediately responded with a visible power, and the same manifestations occurred.
I didn’t know whether to be terrified or thrilled, but clearly, something completely unusual was going on. A young man cautiously entered the room, and began to tell us that he was “just happening” to be scanning the radio dial when he heard “something about prayer”. He reported that he was immediately overcome with conviction. Years before, he had contemplated going into the ministry, and had even attended a couple of years at a Christian College, but he had since strayed from God. As a chill of conviction swept him, he felt God suddenly tell him it was now or never. He drove to the station. We prayed with him to receive Christ as Lord, and afterward, he too slumped to the floor.
One by one they came. We continued to play praise oriented music, and every hour (sometimes on the half hour) we’d invite people to come.
Fairly early in all this, we ran out of room. The radio station floor was wall to wall bodies… some weeping, some shaking, some completely still. People reported that it was like heavy lead apron had been placed over them. They were unable to get up. All they could do was worship God.
Fortunately, our offices are inside of the complex at Central Assembly, so when the crowd began to grow, we moved across into the Church, leaving the radio station literally wall to wall with seekers.
Some teachers at Indian Christian School had heard what was happening, and asked us to pray for certain children they were bringing in the room. As we prayed for the kids, many began to shake and fall to the floor. Some would begin to utter praises to God. Others lay completely immobile for periods of over an hour. (If you’ve ever tried to make a seven year old lay still, you know it’s a miracle!) A few simply experienced nothing at all.
By now I was convinced that we were experiencing a bona fide move of God. I had read about such manifestation experiences being common in the revival meetings of great men like Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley. I had also read of the great camp meeting revivals in the early 1800’s, where thousands upon thousands experienced being ‘slain’, but I never imagined I would really live to see it.
The crowd continued to grow, and lines began to form. The power of God continued to fall on those coming. It was almost like being in a dream. I would look up and see our staff members … eyes red, faces puffy, and hands trembling, but with a fire in their eyes and the power of God upon them. I couldn’t believe it was the same people I knew and worked with. In a matter of hours, something we never even dreamed of (much less aspired to) was happening.
The floor in front of the sanctuary was soon covered with men and women, boys and girls. The aisles began to fill and we were pushing aside chairs for more floor space. Usually, one of our staff would ‘catch’ the person as they fell, but on quite a few occasions we were caught by surprise and people fell hard on the floor. Frankly, we had no idea what we were doing. (I’m not sure I want to learn!)
At some point I looked up and saw a local Baptist Pastor walk in the door. I must confess that my first thought was, “Oh Boy…I’m in trouble!” While I knew this brother to be a genuine man of God, nevertheless I was concerned about how a fundamental, no nonsense Baptist might take all these goings on. (Besides, I didn’t have an explanation to offer!) I walked up to greet him. He just silently surveyed the room, and with a tone of voice just above a whisper said, “This… is…God. For years I’ve prayed for revival… This is God.”
Within minutes more local pastors began to arrive. Lutheran, Independent, Assembly of God… The word of what was happening spread like wildfire. As the pastors arrived, they were cautious at first, but within just minutes, they would often begin to flow in the same ministry. The crowd was growing and pastors began to lay hands on the seekers, where once again the power of God would manifest and the seeker would often collapse to the ground.
It did not seem to matter who did the praying. This was a nameless, faceless, spontaneous move of God. There were no stars, no leaders, and frankly, there was no organization. (It’s hard to plan for something you have no idea might happen!)
Eventually, word of what was occurring reached Fred Grewe, the Melbourne pastor who had brought Randy Clark to the station earlier that morning. He and Randy, along with several other Melbourne pastors, jumped into the car and headed down to Vero Beach. At this point, we started broadcasting live from the Church. As the group from Melbourne arrived, more and more people also began to show up asking for prayer. It seemed like there were always more than we could get to.
Amazingly, unchurched, unsaved people were showing up. I got a fresh glimpse of the power of radio as person after person told us “I’m not really a part of any church…” A few were sceptical at first, and later found themselves kneeling in profound belief.
Sometimes people would rise up, only to frantically announce to us that they had been healed of some physical problem. One woman’s arthritic hands found relief. Neck pains, jaw problems, stomach disorders and more were all reported to us as healed.
We have received at least a dozen verified, credible, reliable comments from people who told us that when they switched on the radio, they were suddenly, unexpectedly overwhelmed by the presence of God (even when they didn’t hear us say anything). Several told us that the manifest presence of God was so strong in their cars that they were unable to drive, and were forced to pull off the road.
The “falling” aspect of this visitation was the most visible manifestation, but it was not falling that was important. What was important was the fact that people were rising up with more love for God in their hearts than ever before. They were being changed, and their hearts set ablaze. I have lost count of the numbers of people who told me of the change God worked in their life.
It’s hard to imagine the impact this has had on our staff. It seems like God has almost given me a new staff, composed entirely of men and women to tremendous zeal for God. What is occurring in our local churches is even more amazing. My phone is ringing with the calls of excited pastors. At least a dozen area churches from completely different ends of the theological spectrum are already experiencing this powerful move in their church. The leaders of many, many other local fellowships have been visiting these churches to “check it out”, and they too are being touched to “take it back” with them. It’s almost like a tidal wave has hit this area of Florida.
If you are sceptical, I understand and forgive you. (I might have thrown a letter like this one away just days ago.) I share this only to try and offer a faithful rendition of what has really happened.
I only ask that you remain open to whatever God wants to accomplish through you.
Christian history is full of accounts of those times when God elected to “visit” His people. When He has, entire nations have sometimes been affected. I believe you’ll agree, our nation is ripe for such a revival. For such a time as this, let us look to God with expectancy.
With warm regards, I am,
The revival in Melbourne continued with an astounding mixture of white, black, Asiatic, Hispanic, and American Indian people being touched by God, filled with the Spirit and witnessing to others. It became another clear example of the ecumenical and inter-racial effects of these impacts of the Spirit.
Renewal meetings five days a week continued for nine months in 1995, then eased back to weekly or monthly gatherings. Combined renewal ministries have included racial reconciliation initiatives, united campaigns and chaplaincies in the schools, a Space Coast Prayer Network of Christians united in prayer for revival and combined church gatherings for renewal and special events.
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1995 – January: Modesto, California, North America (Glen Berteau)
Glenn and Debbie Berteau, pastors of Calvary Temple Worship Centre in Modesto, California, from January 1994, strongly sensed the Lord would give them revival there. Early in 1994, they challenged their congregation with that vision. After the ‘Vision Sunday’, individuals committed themselves to fast on specific days as the congregation became involved in a forty day period of prayer and fasting. In early January 1995, they had a three day fast. The church building remained open for prayer, and people prayed over names on cards left on the altar. Those able to do so met together daily for prayer at noon. Many pastors in the area began meeting each week to pray for the city.
On Sunday 15 January 1995, the church began holding performances of the play, Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames. It was scheduled for three days originally but continued for seven weeks with 28 performances. Jann Mathies, pastoral secretary of Calvary Temple reported in April:
As of this writing, approximately 81,000 have attended the performance with 90% each night seeing it for the first time. At time of printing, 33,000 decision packets have been handed out, and of that, (confirmed) 20,000 returned with signed decision cards. Over 250 churches have been represented with hundreds of people added to the churches in our city and surrounding communities in less than one month. People come as early as 3:30 pm for a 7 pm performance. There are over 1,000 people waiting to get in at 5 pm, and by 5:30 pm the building is full. Thousands of people have been turned away; some from over 100 miles away. … Husbands and wives are reconciling through salvation; teenagers are bringing their unsaved parents; over 6,000 young people have been saved, including gang members who are laying down gang affiliation and turning in gang paraphernalia. . . . The revival is crossing every age, religion and socio economic status. . . . We have many volunteers coming in every day, and through the evening hours to contact 500 to 600 new believers by phone; special classes have also been established so that new believers may be established in the faith.
The play became a focus for revival in the area. Some churches closed their evening service so their people could take their unsaved friends there. One result is that many churches in the area began receiving new coverts and finding their people catching the fire of revival in their praying and evangelising.
One church added a third Sunday morning service to accommodate the people. Another church asked their members to give up their seats to visitors. Bible book stores sold more Bibles than usual. A local psychologist reported on deep healings in the lives of many people who attended the drama.
That play continues to be used effectively around the world. For example, churches in Australia have performed the play with hundreds converted in a local church. Hardened unbelievers with no place for church in their lives have been converted and now live for God.
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1995 – January: Pasadena, California, North America (Che Ahn)
From January, 1995, John Arnott of the Toronto Airport Vineyard and Wes Campbell of New Life Vineyard Fellowship in Kelowna, British Columbia began speaking for two or three days each at Mott Auditorium on the campus of the U. S. Centre for World Mission. By 24 March people gathered for meetings five nights a week, usually going very late.
John Arnott conducted powerful meetings there on Friday Sunday 24 26 March, hosted by Harvest Rock Church, a Vineyard Fellowship. Then the combined churches in the area continued with nightly meetings from Monday 27 March. Later that settled to meetings from Wednesday to Sunday each week. Then Wednesdays were reserved for cell groups and meetings continued from Thursday to Sunday nights.
Che Ahn, senior pastor of Harvest Rock Church wrote in their monthly magazine Wine Press in August 1995:
I am absolutely amazed at what God has done during the past five months. After John Arnott exploded onto the scene with three glorious and unforgettable renewal meetings, he encouraged the pastors of our church to begin nightly protracted meetings. My mind immediately rejected the idea. I thought to myself, “The meetings were great because you were here, but how can we sustain nightly meetings without someone like John Arnott to draw the crowd?” The answer to my question was an obvious one. Someone greater than John Arnott would show up each night at the meetings Jesus. And each night since we began March 27, 1995, God has shown up to heal, to save, and to touch thousands of lives. There is no accurate way to measure the impact that the renewal meetings are having in our city. I do believe that we are making church history, and we are in the midst of another move of the Holy Spirit that is sweeping the world. From March 27 to July 27, we have had 99 nightly renewal meetings. We have averaged about 300 people per night, some nights with more that 1200 people and others with a small crowd of 120.
More than 25,000 people have walked through the doors of Mott Auditorium, many of them happy, repeat customers. We have seen more that 300 people come forward to rededicate their lives or give their hearts to Jesus Christ. These statistics don’t come close to representing other evangelistic fruit of those who have attended the meetings. For example, two church members, Justine Bateman and Jeff Eastridge, had an outreach at Arroyo High School and more than 60 young people gave their hearts to the Lord!
We have seen marvellous healings from the hand of the Lord, many of them spontaneous without anyone specifically praying for the healing. I wish I had the time and space to share all the wonderful fruit I have seen at the renewal meetings. Seeing the need to share what God is doing, I felt that we are producing this church newsletter to share these testimonies of lives that have been impacted by God during this current outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Internet: Harvest Rock Church).
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1995 – January: Brownwood, Texas (College Revivals)
Richard Riss gathered accounts of revival sweeping colleges across America beginning with Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas.
On January 22, 1995, at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood, Texas, two students from Howard Payne University, a Christian institution, stood up and confessed their sins. As a result of this incident, many others started to confess their own sins before the congregation. On January 26, a similar event took place on the campus of Howard Payne. Word quickly spread to other colleges, and Howard Payne students were soon being invited to other college campuses, which experienced similar revivals. From these schools, more students were invited to still other schools, where there were further revivals. …
One of the first two students from Howard Payne to confess his sins was Chris Robeson. As he testified about his own life and the spiritual condition of his classmates, “People just started streaming down the aisles” in order to pray, confess their sins, and restore seemingly doomed relationships, according to John Avant, pastor of Coggin Avenue Baptist Church. From this time forward, the church began holding three and a half hour services. Avant said, “This is not something we’re trying to manufacture. It’s the most wonderful thing we’ve ever experienced.” …
At Howard Payne, revival broke out during a January 26 ‘celebration’ service, as students praised God in song and shared their testimonies. Students then started to schedule all night prayer meetings in dormitories. …
Then, on February 13 15, during five meetings at Howard Payne, Henry Blackaby, a Southern Baptist revival leader ministered at a series of five worship services, attended by guests from up to 200 miles away. On Tuesday, February 14, more than six hundred attended, and student leaders went up to the platform to confess publicly their secret sins. About two hundred stayed afterward to continue praying. One of the students, Andrea Cullins, said, “Once we saw the Spirit move, we didn’t want to leave.” …
After Howard Payne, some of the first schools to be affected were Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Forth Worth, Texas, Beeson School of Divinity in Birmingham, Alabama, Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Ill., The Criswell College in Dallas, Moorehead State University in Moorehead, Ky., Murray State University in Murray, Ky., Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La., Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. In each case, students went forward during long services to repent of pride, lust, bondage to materialism, bitterness, and racism.
These revivals continued throughout and beyond 1995. They were marked by large numbers repenting publicly of sin and students witnessing enthusiastically. This Spirit movement among students has similarities to former revival in college campuses, especially those of the early nineteenth century in America. Both produced commitment to witnessing and mission. Modern technology has enabled hundreds of young people, including students, to communicate rapidly and travel widely, including short term mission visits.
Youth With A Mission (YWAM) has provided one avenue for this kind of mission and currently has a staff of over 6,000 leaders involved in conducting short term mission training programs. Significantly, YWAM began with Loren Cunningham, the international director, taking teams on outreach from the pentecostal church where he was the youth pastor. This remains a growing characteristic of pentecostal and charismatic groups, including youth groups and student groups.
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1995 – June: Pensacola, Florida, North America (Steve Hill)
Over 26,000 conversions were registered in the first year of the ‘Pensacola Revival’. Over 100,000 conversions were registered in the first two years.
On Father’s Day, Sunday 18 June 1995, evangelist Steve Hill spoke at Brownsville Assembly of God, near Pensacola, Florida. At the altar call a thousand people streamed forward as the Holy Spirit moved on them. Their pastor, John Kilpatrick, fell down under the power of God and was overwhelmingly impacted for four days.
That morning service, normally finishing at noon, lasted till 4 pm. The evening service continued for another five and a half hours. So the church asked Steve Hill to stay. He cancelled appointments, continued with nightly meetings, and relocated to live there, where he continues to minister in revival.
John Kilpatrick, pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God Church, reported:
Corporate businessmen in expensive suits kneel and weep uncontrollably as they repent of secret sins. Drug addicts and prostitutes fall to the floor on their faces beside them, to lie prostrate before God as they confess Jesus as Lord for the first time in their lives. Reserved elderly women and weary young mothers dance unashamedly before the Lord with joy. They have been forgiven. Young children see incredible visions of Jesus, their faces a picture of divine delight framed by slender arms raised heavenward.
I see these scenes replayed week after week, and service after service. Each time, I realize that in a very real way, they are the fruit of a seven year journey in prayer, and of two and a half years of fervent corporate intercession by the church family I pastor at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida.
The souls who come to Christ, repenting and confessing their sin, the marriages that are restored, the many people who are freed from bondage that has long held them captive these are the marks of revival and the trophies of Gods glory. No, I am not speaking of a revival that lasted one glorious weekend, one week, one month, or even one year! At this writing, the ‘Brownsville Revival’ has continued unbroken, except for brief holiday breaks, since Father’s Day, June 18, 1995! How? Only God knows. Why? First, because it is God’s good pleasure, and second, perhaps because the soil of our hearts was prepared in prayer long before revival descended on us so suddenly.
On that very normal and ordinary Sunday morning in June of 1995, I was scheduled to minister to my congregation, but I felt weary. I was still trying to adjust to the recent loss of my mother, and my years long desire for revival in the church seemed that morning to be so far off. So I asked my friend, Evangelist Steve Hill, to fill the pulpit in my place. Although he was scheduled to speak only in the evening service, Steve agreed to preach the Father’s Day message. We didn’t know it then, but God was at work in every detail of the meeting.
The worship was ordinary (our worship leader, Lindell Cooley, was still ministering on a missions trip to the Ukraine in Russia), and even Brother Hill’s message didn’t seem to ignite any sparks that morning until the noon hour struck. Then he gave an altar call and suddenly God visited our congregation in a way we had never experienced before. A thousand people came forward for prayer after his message. That was almost half of our congregation! We didn’t know it then, but our lives were about to change in a way we could never have imagined.
We knew better than to hinder such a mighty move of God, so services just continued day after day. We had to adjust with incredible speed. During the first month of the revival, hundreds of people walked the isles to repent of their sins. By the sixth month, thousands had responded to nightly altar calls. By the time we reached the twelfth month, 30,000 had come to the altar to repent of their sins and make Jesus Lord of their lives.
At this writing, 21 months and over 470 revival services later, more than 100,000 people have committed their lives to God in these meetings only a portion of the 1.6 million visitors who have come from every corner of the earth …
If the prophecy delivered by Dr David Yonggi Cho [given in 1991] years before it came to pass is correct, this revival, which he correctly placed as beginning at Pensacola, Florida, will sweep up the East Coast and across the United States to the West Coast, and America will see an outpouring of God that exceeds any we have previously seen. I am convinced that you, and every believer who longs for more of God, has a part to play in this great awakening from God.
Pastors, leaders and Christians have been returning to their churches ignited with a new passion for the Lord and for the lost. The awesome presence of God experienced at Pensacola continues to impact thousands from around the world. Although the methods used are typical pentecostal approaches to church life, a significant difference is the intensity of the Spirit’s impact on people’s lives, the depth of repentance, and the dynamic enthusiasm of new converts and established Christians witnessing to friends and praying with them.
1995 – October: Mexico (David Hogan)
David Hogan, founder of Freedom Ministries, a mission to remote hill tribes in Mexico told in a sermon about the outpouring of the Spirit there. Particularly significant in this account is the determination of Hogan to shield the tribes from imported renewal or revival experiences. He allowed no visitors to report on revival in Toronto, Pensacola or other Spirit movements in the current awakening. He regards the Spirit movement in the Mexico hills as fully indigenous.
This account is particularly important as it provides a typical and powerful example of thousands of current indigenous Spirit movements throughout the world, most of which are still unreported, but evident through the enormous expansion of pentecostal-charismatic Christianity globally, especially since the eighties.
I visited an outlying village. It took four hours in a 4 wheel drive and then two hours on foot, uphill very remote. There’s no radio, no T.V., no outside influences. I’m sitting up there in this little hut on a piece of wood against the bamboo wall on the dirt floor. Chickens are walking around in there. And this pastor walks up to me. He’s a little guy, and he’s trembling. He says, “Brother David, I’m really afraid I’ve made a mistake.”
I hadn’t heard of any mistakes. I was wondering what had happened in the last few days. He’s got four little churches in his area. He said, “Man, it’s not my fault. I apologize. I’ve done everything right, like you taught me. I pray everyday. I read the Bible. I’m doing it right. What happened is not my fault.”
I said, “What happened? Come on, tell me what happened.” He was trembling. Tears were running out of his eyes. He said, “Brother David, I got up in our little church. I opened my Bible and I started preaching and the people started falling down. The people started crying. The people started laughing. And it scared me. I ran out of the church.”
That’s what I was looking for. That’s what I was waiting for, when God came in our work; not because somebody came and preached it; not because I said it was okay or not okay, because I was neutral about it. I knew it was all right, but I wanted to see it in our work not because I ushered it in, but because the Holy Spirit ushered it in. And he did.
I got together with my pastors and we made a covenant to do a month’s fast in September 1995. This was as well as the three days on and three days off fast that we had been doing that year anyway, so we were ready for whatever God wanted to do. God hit me on the third day of that month of fasting, but I continued the fast and on the seventh day he hit me again greater than I’ve ever been hit in my life up to that point. But we continued fasting for the whole month.
We were in an awesome time. I didn’t know how deep we were in the river of God. I’d been fasting for a month, and I didn’t know what was happening. So I decided to get my pastors together in each section. We had groups of about 30 75 pastors in each section. I went into the most conservative area of our mission first, because I wanted to see what would happen. At the first meeting, with about 75 of my pastors I got up, opened my Bible, and I shared one or two verses. Suddenly I felt: that’s enough. They’re used to me preaching two hours sometimes, but it hadn’t been ten minutes.
I said, “Stand up.” And they stood up. I said, “Receive the River of Life.” You should have seen it! It looked like someone was hitting them with bats in the stomach and the head. But nobody was touching them. People were lying over benches, forward, backward, all over the place. I was trying to help, but I couldn’t help. People were just flying everywhere. And these were ministers.
So I went through all the sections like that. I got into one section, and they were glad to see me. They hadn’t seen me in a few months. I stood up. I opened my Bible. I read one verse about the fire of God, and the people started shaking. I thought, “Oh God, this is way out.”
So I said, “Stand up.” They tried to stand up. Some of them couldn’t stand up. I just said the word “Fire.” And the whole place fell. It was getting more and more scary to me. But people were getting healed without anybody touching them. A man in that meeting had been deaf for 27 years. I didn’t know the man. He fell over and hit his head on a bench, and fell underneath the bench. He got up from there after a few minutes and he took off running out of the room. His ears had unstopped and he was running from the noise!
After I had been through all the sections, introducing this softly, it finally came time to call all the pastors together from the whole work. A couple of hundred of our pastors came. I wish you had been there to see what we saw! It was amazing.
On the first day, Wednesday 25 October 1995, there were about 200 pastors there, and the whole church that was hosting us. That made about 450 people. The first day was awesome. God hit us powerfully. There were healings. I was happy. The people were encouraged.
The second day, Thursday, was even better. It was stronger. I thought we were peaking out on the second day. I got there at eight o’clock in the morning and left a ten o’clock at night, and there was ministry all day. We were fixing problems, and God was working through the ministry. It was wonderful. But I tell you, I was not ready for the third day.
I don’t have words to describe what happened to us when the Holy Spirit fell on us on Friday 27 October 1995. If you had been there, you wouldn’t have words to describe it either. It’s an awesome thing I’ve been able to witness. The river of God is here, and it’s full. There’s plenty for all.
We were coming in from different areas. The Indians were all there. I didn’t know they had been in an all night prayer meeting. I didn’t know that the Holy Spirit had fallen on them and they couldn’t get up. I didn’t know that they had been pinned down by the Holy Spirit all night long, all over the place, stuck to the ground. Some of them had fallen on ant beds, but not one ant bit them.
I was staying about 45 minutes away. I got in my 4 wheel drive and as I drove there I began listening on the two way radio. Some of our missionaries were already there, and were talking on the two way radio saying, “What’s happening here. I can’t walk.”
As I listened to them on the radio I felt power come on me. And the closer I came, the more heat I felt settling on me. I could feel heat, and I had my air conditioner going! When I got to the little church, I opened the door of the truck and instantly became hot. Sweat poured off me. I was about 300 yards from the church. The closer I got, the more intense was the heat. I could hardly walk through it, it was so thick. I’m talking about the presence of God. That was 7.30 in the morning!
I walked around the corner of the building. People were all over the place. Some were knocked out. Some were on the ground. Some were moaning and wailing. It was very unusual. By the time I got to the front of the church where the elders were I could hardly walk. I was holding on to things to get there. I could hardly breathe. The heat of the presence of God was amazing.
The people had been singing for two hours before I got there. At 8.15 on the morning of October 27th, 1995, I walked up there and lay my Bible down on that little wobbly Indian table. Hundreds were looking at me. Some were knocked out, lying on the ground. I could hardly talk.
I called the nine elders to the front and told them the Holy Ghost was there and we needed to make a covenant together, even to martyrdom. We made a covenant there that the entire country of Mexico would be saved. They asked me to join them in that pact. When we lifted our hands in agreement all nine fell at once. I was hurled backward and fell under the table. When I got up the people in front fell over. In less than a minute every pastor there was knocked out.
We were ringed with unbelievers, coming to see what was going on. The anointing presence of God came and knocked them all out, dozens of them. Every unbeliever outside, and everyone on the fence was knocked out and fell to the ground. There were dozens of them. From the church at the top of the hill we could see people in the village below running out screaming from their huts and falling out under the Holy Ghost. It was amazing.
We always have a section for the sick and afflicted. They bring them in from miles around, some on stretchers. There were 25 30 of them there. Every sick person at the meeting was healed: the blind, the cancerous, lupus, tumours, epilepsy, demon possession. Nobody touched them but Jesus. There was instant reconciliation between people who had been against each other. They were lying on top of each other, sobbing and repenting.
I was afraid when I saw all of that going on. I looked up to heaven and said, “God what are you ?” and that was the end of it. He didn’t want to hear any questions. Bang! I was about three or four metres from the table. When I woke up some hours later, I was under the table. When I finally woke up my legs wouldn’t work. I scooted myself around looking at what was going on. It was pandemonium! When some people tried to get up, they would go flying. It was awesome.
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1). I saw that river. I actually saw the river, it’s pure water of life from God’s throne. If I could see it again I would know it, I saw it, I experienced it, I tasted it.
We had five open eyed visions. One small pastor was hanging onto a pole to hold himself up. He was there, but he wasn’t there. He said to me, “Brother David, look at him. Look at him, Brother David! Who is it? Look how big he is! Oh, he’s got his white robe on. He’s got a golden girdle.” It was Jesus. He said, “Brother David, how did we get into this big palace?”
I looked around. I was still on the dirt floor. I still had a grass roof over me, but he was in a marble palace, pure white. I crawled over to look at him. He was seeing things we could not see. Another of the elders, a prophet from America, who had been working with me for thirteen years, crawled over and we were watching this pastor who was in a trance. It was amazing.
The three of us were inside something like a force field of energy. Anybody who tried to come into it was knocked out. It was scary. The pastor said, “He’s got a list, Brother David.” And the pastor started reading out aloud from the list. I was looking around, and as he was reading from the list people went flying through the air, getting healed and delivered. It was phenomenal, what God was doing. And he’s done it in every service in our work that I’ve been in since then. It’s been over a year. It’s amazing. Wonderful.
Between 150 and 500 people per month are being saved because of it, just through what the North American missionaries are doing.
David Hogan reported these events in Brisbane just over a year after that powerful visitation of God in their work. The transforming presence of God continues among them with an increase of conversions and miracles, particularly healings, but also some villagers raised from the dead. Although the language of his discourse is early style pentecostal, the accounts are both modern and biblical exemplifying God’s overwhelming intervention often seen in revival movements.
1995 – Cali, Columbia (Julio Ruibal)
1996 – March: Smithton, Missouri, North America (Steve Gray)
The small rural town of Smithton, with a population of around 500, thirty miles from Kansas City in the wheat fields of Missouri, became a ‘mecca’ for over 100,000 visitors in the first two years of a revival Spirit movement there. The Smithton Community Church hall has been crowded six nights a week with 500-800 people since 1996. The continued influence and growth of the little church led them to relocate to Kansas City in 1999.
After twelve years in the church, 34 year old Steve Gray the pastor was feeling discouraged, so he visited the Brownsville revival in Pensacola for ten days in March 1996 hoping for renewal. He was particularly impressed with how John Kilpatrick pastored the revival at Brownsville. He found himself revitalised and phoned his wife Kathy on Sunday 17 March saying, “I have just been in the best Sunday morning service I have ever been in. Tell our church.” David Cordes, one of the elders, was deeply convicted, saying, “Why should our pastor have to travel a thousand miles to be in the best service he has ever been in?” He and others fell on the floor in repentance for their lack of support and encouragement. That spirit of repentance and brokenness continued in the Smithton church meetings that week.
Gray left Brownsville after the morning service on Sunday, 24 March to drive back, and walked into the Smithton Church at 6:12 p.m. while the congregation was worshipping at the beginning of their 6 p.m. service. They reported that at that moment Holy Spirit fell on the whole church. Everyone crowded to the front in repentance, tears, joy and deep commitment to God. Immediately they added revival services to their church schedule. The outpouring continued for with five services every week. Visitors came from all fifty states of America and many foreign countries, often exceeding the population of the town.
Thousands testify to significant change, renewal, conversion and healing. Visiting pastors have taken the fire back to their congregation. The church sends teams to many places asking for a visit. Gray says, “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 faces, according to Gray, is to keep unity and purity in revival and protect people from ‘wolves’ who cause division and dissention.
The mounting demands of national and international exposure, increasing numbers, and access to city facilities led the Smithton church to relocate to Kansas City in 1999, and it continues with further influence in the city, attracting visitors, and interacting with others in renewal.
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1996 – April: Hampton, Virginia, North America (Ron Johnson)
The 2,200 member Bethel Temple Assembly of God in Hampton, Virginia, experienced a revival movement from April 1996. Revival meetings were held Wednesday, Thursday & Friday. In April of 1996 a Sunday 7.30 a.m. service started and did not end till 3.24 p.m. which by-passed the 10.30 a.m. service. Church members were repenting, numerous people converted to Christ, and many were delivered of evil spirits.
Bethel Temple Church is racially diverse with 40% African-American, 50% white, and 10% Hispanic and Asian, located in Hampton, Virginia, the oldest English speaking settlement in America.
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, as the Sunday service at Bethel Temple was starting. Senior Pastor Ron Johnson prayed, asking God to come “like a pent-up flood”. Suddenly Johnson looked at his hands and oil was dripping from his hands. The head usher told the pastor the front window of the church has just blown out. Johnson began telling the congregation what had happened. People ran to the altar, many publicly repenting of sins. God’s manifest presence filled the building. The church reports restored relationships especially the healing of marriages and sexually broken people, large numbers converted, and many being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Unity of churches in the Hampton area is growing. By 1998, twenty churches gathered together for Easter Services in the town’s coliseum attended by 11,000 people.
A growing phenomena of this current revival is repentance and unity. Centres of the revival report significant co-operation between churches touched by this Spirit movement. At times, as in Hampton, this is initiated through a strong and unusual impact of the Spirit in a church which has been praying for revival and growing in its response to the convicting moves of the Spirit among the people.
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1996 – September: Mobile, Alabama, North America (Cecil Turner)
Calvary Assembly of God in Mobile, Alabama, is another example of one church experiencing a strong Spirit movement which then involves other co-operating churches and begins to influence the community through conversions, healings, and the related publicity.
Cecil Turner, the pastor, was a shy man with a stutter, a pipe-fitter with no Bible college education, when God he sensed the call of God to lead the small congregation from 1963. Now the church has become a centre for revival since a strong Spirit movement erupted in their annual “camp meeting” convention in the church on Sunday, 29 September, 1996. From then, meetings were held every night except Mondays, drawing 250-300 people, with 400 attending the Sunday services church, 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.”
The band music is geared to reached the ‘unchurched’ people who 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 attend from other denominations. Conversions have been recorded continually, 150 in the two months prior to the May 1997 report. 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. Testimonies of transformed lives, set free from addictions to alcohol, drugs and immorality, have a strong effect in the community.
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 are some phenomenal things happening in the church world.”
Spirit movements transcend denominational differences. This phenomena continues to foster a fresh ecumenism, not of doctrine, but of the Spirit.
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1996 – October: Houston, Texas, North America (Dr R Heard)
Dr R Heard led the Christian Tabernacle in Houston in growth from 250 to 3,000 members. On Sunday October 20, 1996, a move of God exploded in the church which dramatically affected it. This event is particularly significant as an example of the ‘fear of the Lord’ and reverent awe generated in God’s manifest presence.
During the previous year the church had a strong emphasis on knowing Christ intimately. Then in August of 1996 Hector Giminez from Argentina ministered there with great power and many significant healings. Awareness of the presence and glory of the Lord increased during October, especially with the ministry of an evangelist friend of Heard, Tommy Tenny. He had spoken on the previous two Sundays, and was to speak that morning. Heard was preparing to welcome him and had just read about God’s promise of revival from 2 Chronicles 7:14 when God’s power hit the place even splitting the plexiglas pulpit.
Tenny told how these unique events filled the church with awe:
This body of believers in Houston had two scheduled services on Sundays. The first morning service started at 8:30, and the second one followed and began at 11.
When I returned for the third weekend, while in the hotel, I sensed a heavy anointing of some kind, a brooding of the Spirit, and I literally wept and trembled.
The following morning, we walked into the building for the 8:30 Sunday service expecting to see the usual early morning first service “sleepy” crowd with their low-key worship. As I walked in to sit down in the front row that morning, the presence of God was already in that place so heavily that the air was “thick.” You could barely breathe.
The musicians were clearly struggling to continue their ministry; their tears got in the way. Music became more difficult to play. Finally, the presence of God hovered so strongly that they couldn’t sing or play any longer. The worship leader crumpled in sobs behind the keyboard. …
God was there; of that there was no doubt. But more of Him kept coming in the place until, as in Isaiah, it literally filled the building. At times the air was so rarefied that it became almost unbreathable. Oxygen came in short gasps, seemingly. Muffled sobs broke through the room. In the midst of this, the pastor turned to me and asked me a question.
“Tommy, are you ready to take the service?”
“Pastor, I’m just about half-afraid to step up there, because I sense that God is about to do something.”
Tears were streaming down my face when I said that. I wasn’t afraid that God was going to strike me down, or that something bad was going to happen. I just didn’t want to interfere and grieve the precious presence that was filling up that room! …
“I feel like I should read Second Chronicles 7:14, and I have a word from the Lord,” my pastor friend said. With profuse tears I nodded assent and said, “Go, go.”
My friend is not a man given to any kind of outward demonstration; he is essentially a man of “even” emotions. But when he got up to walk to the platform, he appeared visibly shaky. At this point I so sensed something was about to happen, that I walked all the way from the front row to the back of the room to stand by the sound booth. I knew God was going to do something; I just didn’t know where. …
My pastor friend stepped up to the clear pulpit in the center of the platform, opened the Bible, and quietly read the gripping passage from Second Chronicles 7:14 … “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 …”
Then he closed his Bible, gripped the edges of the pulpit with trembling hands, and said, “The word of the Lord to us is to stop seeking His benefits and seek Him. We are not to seek His hands any longer, but seek His face.”
In that instant, I heard what sounded like a thunderclap echo through the building, and the pastor was literally picked up and thrown backward about ten feet, effectively separating him from the pulpit. When he went backward, the pulpit fell forward. The beautiful flower arrangement positioned in front of it fell to the ground, but by the time the pulpit hit the ground, it was already in two pieces. It had split into two pieces almost as if lightning had hit it! At that instant the tangible terror of the presence of God filled that room.
While all of this happened, the ushers quickly ran to the front to check on the pastor and to pick up the two pieces of the split pulpit. No one really paid much attention to the split pulpit; we were too occupied with the torn heavenlies. The presence of God had hit that place like some kind of bomb. People began to weep and to wail. I said, “If you’re not where you need to be, this is a good time to get right with God.” I’ve never seen such an altar call. It was pure pandemonium. People shoved one another out of the way. They wouldn’t wait for the aisles to clear; they climbed over pews, businessmen tore their ties off, and they were literally stacked on top of one another, in the most horribly harmonious sound of repentance you ever heard. Just the thought of it still sends chills down my back. When I gave the altar call then for the 8:30 a.m. service, I had no idea that it would be but the first of seven altar calls that day.
When it was time for the 11:00 service to begin, nobody had left the building. The people were still on their faces and, even though there was hardly any music being played at this point, worship was rampant and uninhibited. Grown men were ballet dancing; little children were weeping in repentance. People were on their faces, on their feet, on their knees, but mostly in His presence. There was so much of the presence and the power of God there that people began to feel an urgent need to be baptized. I watched people walk through the doors of repentance, and one after another experienced the glory and the presence of God as He came near. Then they wanted baptized, and I was in a quandary about what to do. The pastor was still unavailable on the floor. Prominent people walked up to me and stated, “I’ve got to be baptized. Somebody tell me what to do.” They joined with the parade of the unsaved, who were now saved, provoked purely by encountering the presence of God. There was no sermon and no real song – just His Spirit that day.
The service continued to 1 a.m. Monday, and people met in the church every night for two months, repenting and seeking God. Richard Heard, the pastor, spoke about it by telephone in November, 1996, with Norman Pope of New Wine Ministries in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
I felt the presence of the Lord come on me so powerfully I grabbed the podium, the pulpit, to keep from falling, and that was a mistake. Instantly I was hurled a number of feet in a different direction, and the people said it was like someone just threw me across the platform. The pulpit fell over that I had been holding for support, and I was out for an hour and a half. … I could not move. And I saw a manifestation of the glory of God. … There were thick clouds, dark clouds, edged in golden white and the clouds would there would be bursts of light that would come through that, that would just go through me absolutely like electricity. … There was literally a pulsating feeling of as though I was being fanned by the presence of the glory of God. … There were angelic manifestations that surrounded the glory and I didn’t know how long I was out. They said later that I was there for an hour and a half.
In the meanwhile, all across the building people, they tell me, were falling under the presence of God. That’s not something that has happened much in our church, but people were stretched out everywhere. And the altar. We have three services on Sunday and people would enter the hallways that lead to the foyer and then into the auditorium and they would enter the hallways and begin to weep. There was such a glory of God and they would come into the foyer and not stop they would just go straight to the altar people stretched out everywhere. … There were all kinds of angelic visitations that people had experienced. And we’ve got professional people in our church doctors, professors, their bodies were strewn everywhere.
When I felt the glory of God lift, I tried to get up and couldn’t. It was as though every electrical mechanism in my body had short circuited. I couldn’t make my hands or my feet respond to what I was trying to tell them to do. It was as though I was paralyzed. … And we had one service that day, and the service literally never ended it went all the way through the day until 2:00 that morning. It had started at 8:30, and we decided to have church the next night, and I didn’t want to be presumptuous, but we went on a nightly basis on that order, just announcing one night at a time, and as we got deeper into the week I could begin to see that God was doing something that was probably going to be more extended. …
There have been numerous healings. The evangelist didn’t speak at all that Sunday. In fact, the entire week he spoke maybe twenty minutes. There’s been a really deep call of God to repentance. People come in and they just fall on their faces. …
We had a great choir. We’re a multi-ethnic congregation. A Brooklyn Tabernacle kind of sound, if you’re familiar with that. Great worship and praise. Sunday morning there wasn’t a choir member standing on the platform. They were all scattered like logs all over the platform. And we go in [musicians] begin to play, to lead us into the presence of the Lord, and they play very softly. Because of our background, usually our worship is very strong, very dynamic, a lot of energy. Not any more. It’s like you’re afraid to even lift your voice.
Like they even the notes on the piano they want to play very gently and then the Lord sweeps in. Five nights last week I wasn’t even able to receive an offering. So I mean, when He begins to move there’s not one thing you can do. You just get out of the way and let Him work. …
We’ve cancelled everything that we had planned. We have a lot of outside activities. We have 122 ministries within the church that have helped our church to grow, and these ministries were primarily either for getting people here or holding people once they’ve converted. … I was telling our staff they were asking, “Are we going to have Christmas musicals and children’s pageants ever?” And we do a big passion play every year that brings in thousands and thousands of people. And I asked them, “Why do we do all of this?” and they said, “Well, we want people to come here so they can encounter God.” I said, “Look at what’s happening. We’ve got people storming in here that we’ve never seen, never heard of, never talked to. And God’s doing it in a way that is so far superior to what we could do that whatever we’ve got going on, we’re cancelling everything.” And that’s literally what we’ve done. … And there hasn’t been a single objection. That’s what amazes me.
I think that this is probably going to end up whatever this season is that the Holy Spirit is bringing us through in terms of our commitment to Him and the deep searching of our own hearts, it has the feeling at this point like it’s going to like it’s building toward even a greater evangelistic outpouring.
A year later people were still being converted, often 30-40 a week. Richard Heard commented that everywhere in the church the carpet is stained with the tears of people touched by God and repenting. These kind of reports are beginning to multiply across America and around the world as the power of God moves upon his repentant people who seek him above all else.
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1997 – January: Baltimore, Maryland, North America (Bart Pierce)
As with the centripetal influence of Azusa Street from 1906, centres of revival in the current developments influence ever widening areas receptive to it.
A significant, on-going example is the influence of revival in places such as Houston on other areas. Bart Pierce, pastor of Rock Church in Baltimore, Maryland, with a 3,000 seat auditorium, invited Tommy Tenney to speak at his church. Charisma magazine reported:
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. …
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.
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.
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. … “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. …
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.
The convicting presence of God draws people to this church which also invests heavily in social caring ministries. Like other centres of revival, it has seen thousands make commitments to Christ, lives transformed, and it continues to minister to people in need. Bart Pierce is the co-founder of Global Compassion Network (GCN), an organization that networks USA and foreign nations for the purpose of reaching those in crisis. He offers apostolic oversight to churches throughout the US, and in nations such as Ukraine, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, India and Pakistan.
Many countries worldwide have been experiencing similar Spirit movements in which a specific impact, anointing or ‘baptism’ of the Spirit on a group of people ignites a revival movement. This includes Australia.
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1997 – November: Pilbara, Western Australia (Craig Siggins)
Craig Siggins, an Aboriginal Baptist pastor, reported on Spirit movements in Western Australia which caught the attention of the secular media, especially through the closure of a hotel at Newman, Western Australia, in the wake of the revival movement there.
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.
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 baptized. I became committed to taking teams from Parnpajinya (Newman) to various communities. Gifts were developed. More and more became Christians and were baptized, 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.
A spiritual awakening took place in many communities 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 baptized.
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, 1998, 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 baptized.
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.
Similar to the Aboriginal led revival of the eighties in Arnhem Land of Northern Australia, this Western Australian revival movement spread through other aboriginal communities.
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1998 – August: Kimberleys, Western Australia (Max Wiltshire)
Max Wiltshire, the Assemblies of God Australian Aboriginal Outreach (AAO) co-ordinator, reported on revival in the Kimberley region of north-west Australia at the Assemblies of God state conference in August 1998.
A number of Aboriginal leaders had accompanied him to the conference, including Kenny Boomer who received his ministry credential. Their national magazine, The Australian Evangel, carried Max Wiltshire’s story.
The Kimberleys are ablaze. The fire of God in the hearts of his people burns brighter than ever, new churches have been started, others have doubled in size – one leaping from 10 percent of the community to 90 percent in just a few weeks. Further afield in the Pilbara area the move of God has been so intense that the local hotel went into receivership.
This move has seen the number of Christians doubled in the area over the last twelve months, which means our conventions are climbing toward a thousand people in the evening meetings. Are the manifestations still occurring as at first in this move of God? Yes, in fact the increase that we are seeing is in direct relationship to the outstanding manifestations of the Spirit.
But – what manifestations are we talking about? The usual? Yes, laughing, shaking, rolling, crying, running and so on continue. However, if these are the normal, what are the outstanding ones? In truth, some would make you cry in awe and wonder. Such as seeing people falling under the power of the Spirit as they give their offering to the Lord. As they have come to the front and put their offering in the containers, they ‘fall out’ there and then as the blessing of giving overcomes them.
After a recent crusade, one Aboriginal lady handed a ministry offering to the speaker on behalf of the church, and fell at his feet, again under the power and blessing of giving.
We have also seen folks falling out in the opening prayer as the very name of Jesus is mentioned. They just fall from the seats to the floor, not knowing they are meant to wait until the altar call before they let the Lord touch them. Back up singers are unable to stand, also people bringing items are unable to finish them because the anointing is so great.
These reports of spirit movements among Aboriginal communities reflect different emphases in theology and ecclesiology, one conservative Baptist and one Pentecostal, but both indicate the profound impact of revival on personal and communal life.
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1999 – July: Mornington Island, Queensland (Jesse Padayache)
Brian Pickering, Australian prayer co-ordinator gathered reports of revival in aboriginal communities in North Queensland. Jesse Padayache, an Indian from South Africa, now living in Australia, has led meetings in these communities and reported on revival at Mornington Island, Arakun and Weipa in the Gulf of Carpentaria, North Queensland, as well as on Psalm Island north east of Townsville.
Mornington Island was noted for its drunkenness and violence. Iranale Tadulala, a Fijian Pastor was posted there as the Uniting Church minister in 1994. During 1997 he had a vision of an angel appearing to him who told him that there was to be a revival on Mornington Island and he was to facilitate it. However it would not be easy.
He began a 40 day fast from 1st June until 11th July, 1999. A colleague visited Mornington Island when Iranale Tadulala was 28 days into his fast and was deeply challenged just being with him because he was so committed, close to tears all the time.
A Christian man had been martyred in the early days of the Mission on Mornington Island. At the end of his 40 day fast Iranale Tadulala believed he had to go out to the site of the killing and fast there a further seven days. This was a rather harrowing experience which he described as doing battle with cosmic forces throughout that prayer and fasting.
At the conclusion of the fast, only days after a national prayer gathering at Uluru (Ayres Rock) in July a team began meetings at Mornington Island which began on 27th July. At the end of the first meeting 100 stayed behind for prayer and counselling. By the end of the crusade there had been 300 conversions (25% of the population) and they were still going on with 500 reported converted by September.
Five pastors in the team included three Fijians (from Palm Island, Weipa, and Mornington Island), an Australian from Townsville and the Indian South African from Brisbane. They are working on discipleship, want Bibles, and are already getting phone calls from surrounding areas asking them to go there, but are saying: “When God says it is right!”
Jesse Padayache, the South African Indian, has ministered in Australia for many years. His wife Cookie was healed miraculously from a tumour on the brain through prayer. They have medical x-rays showing the tumour and the total healing.
In February and May, Jesse had spoken at revival meetings in Palm Island north east of Townsville, among the tribes there, where there has been much drunkeness. Many were converted, delivered and set free from addiction to alcohol, tobacco and fornication. A man, angry with Jesse because his de-facto wife was converted in February and wanted to get married, was later converted. He asked Jesse to marry them during the meetings in May. Now money formerly spent on addictions is spend on food, clothes and shelter and many people are prospering for the first time.
News of the revival meetings on Palm Island then reached Mornington Island. In Mornington Island, alcohol abuse has been extreme. Drunkenness was everywhere. The place was littered with piles of beer cans. The Fijian pastor Iranale Tadulala, had been discouraged, facing continual opposition. About 10 people attended the services.
On the first night, Tuesday, 27 July, 1999, the team was casting out demons till midnight. People were healed including the deaf, cripples, and people with back pain, diabetes, blood pressure, and heart diseases. Many committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and were prayed with to be set free from generational curses. A report from the pastors says: “Spirits of suicide, alcoholism were driven out and old curses of sorcery and witchcraft were broken.”
On the second night, Wednesday, an angry lady with a beer can came in abusing Jesse Padayache and the team for casting out spirits. She yelled, “Me and my beer, we live together. Don’t listen to this man.” But the people wanted to be delivered because of the changes they saw in their friends. Many were healed and delivered. Two healed people threw away their crutches. A lady with a stroke was healed and freed from her wheelchair. The drunken lady saw the healings and eventually wanted prayer. She committed her life to Christ and became instantly sober. She said, “Pastor, I don’t want this stupid habit” and gave her six pack of beer to the pastor.
Their report tells how a young boy, born disabled – dumb, deaf and unable to walk – was healed, running around. His first word was “Mom”. A woman with a stroke who could not speak and could hardly walk is walking around testifying about what God had done for her. A woman came to the meeting with a walking frame, but left the frame and walked home without it when the Lord healed her.
They have a Women’s Refuge which is usually full on Thursday and Friday nights through domestic violence following the people spending welfare cheques on beer. It had only one lady there that week. Around midnight one night, a man called his family together and spoke of what God had been doing in bringing the whole family to the Lord, saying, “Everyone is welcome in this home, but from now on there’s never to be any alcohol in this house.”
A white policeman came to a meeting, drawn to what Aborigines were experiencing but feeling too ashamed to go forward. Next day, a pastor found him sitting in a corner, spoke to him about his shame, took him home and ‘led him to the Lord’. The hotel shut an hour early, with no customers. Next day there was no one at the women’s shelter – they didn’t need that sort of help any more!
Many leaders in the community were saved, and the sale of beer dropped dramatically. Around 500 in that community of 1200 became Christians. Now former enemies are reconciled. Revival has brought reconciliation between blacks and whites also. Community leaders encouraged people to ‘kick out the demon drink’ and give themselves to God.
A young man, lying in bed at home heard the loud speakers, and so came to the meetings to give his life to God. On Sunday the church was packed with people standing outside to listen. Many were healed in the morning, and many more on Sunday night.
Large numbers, formerly in de-facto relationships, have now married. The pastor has been busy performing marriages. Within weeks, beer consumption dropped by over 9,000 cans a week.
On the Monday they started classes for believers. More were converted then also. A drunken man came from the ‘pub’ to the believers class, seeking God. The believers also follow up each other, because they all know who is involved.
When Jesse Padayache passed through Weipa on his way to Arakun in the gulf country of north west Queensland in August, he met an aboriginal lady from a community of 400 people in Marpoon, north of Weipa. Her 34 year old son, looking wild, saliva dripping, and shaking, had been in a psychotic state receiving treatment for six years. He’d been separated from his de-facto wife and children for that time. The pastor saw them at the shopping centre so invited them to his place for healing prayer. The son was frightened of the pastors, staring with wild eyes. They bound spirits and cast them out. When he went back to the hospital he was pronounced totally healed. He now lives with his family and got married.
The mother asked for prayer also. She had asthma, a heart monitor, sugar diabetes, and a huge lump like a rock melon on her stomach. The lump disappeared, and the arthritis, asthma, diabetes and blood pressure were all healed immediately, medically verified. Later she came back to Weipa for meetings with a bus load of people, all seeking God because of those healings. Most of that bus load were saved, and now a church as been started in Marpoon. The previous church had been destroyed in the 1960s, and the people there had hated the gospel, till now.
The pastors caught the small plane from Weipa to Arakun. Many were drunk there. People ignored or hated the church, regarding Christianity as a religion for whites. Only about six members attended the church.
One the first night of meetings at Arakun, about 50 came into the hall with another 40 people sitting around outside listening. Noisy dogs came in. An old man, deaf in his left ear and partially deaf in his right ear was totally healed. Three weeks earlier, in a dream he had seen the dark skinned Jesse pray for his healing, and he knew he would be healed at that meeting. Then, nearly all in the hall and some from outside gave their lives to Christ that first night. Many were healed, including a man lame in his right leg.
Word spread fast. Everyone knows what is happening in the community. The next night the church was packed. Crowds stood around outside. By the end of the meetings, 170 aboriginals had given their lives to Christ for the first time. Many were healed including people blind or partially blind and deaf. Great joy filled the community. Many were delivered from alcohol addiction.
One of the council officers in the building next door told the community leaders that Jesse and the pastor needed to go on casting out demons because so many people were being delivered of drunkenness and diseases.
They reported that demons associated with suicide came out of a man who had tried to kill himself four times. Now he is whole. Everyone talked about the changes in the atmosphere of the community. Then he returned to his de-facto wife and was married. His witness brought large numbers to the Lord.
Back again at Weipa for meetings, the same things kept happening. A young white lady in her twenties was delivered with loud cries and healed on the second night of the meetings in Weipa, to the surprise of the aboriginals who thought only aboriginals had demons. The news spread like wildfire, and many more came for salvation, deliverance and healing.
The bus load from Wapoon north of Weipa – brought by the lady and her son who had been healed at the pastor’s home previously – returned full of saved, healed and delivered people, determined to start their church in their community, which they have done.
Just as revival on Elcho Island in 1979-1980 sparked revival across Arnhem Land, and teams went out to many aboriginal communities, so this revival is touching many communities in north Queensland.
This report provides a significant closing account for this historical survey of specific impacts of the Spirit in revival. It demonstrates again the characteristics of revival and Spirit movements identified in the introduction, especially how God takes the week, poor, unknown and those who are nothing to shame the wise, humble the proud, and pull down the mighty. It demonstrates the transforming possibilities of Spirit movements for individuals, families, churches and communities.
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised in the world,
things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are,
so that no one might boast in the presence of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:27-29)
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BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)
BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)
BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)
BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)
BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)
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Final Decade, Twentieth-Century Revivals: Blessing Revivals: