Twenty-first Century Revivals:
Revival explodes globally now. Where God’s people take his Word and his promises seriously in repentance, unity and commitment, revivals of New Testament proportions blaze like wildfire across the nations of the earth.
This chapter gives some examples of current transforming revivals where whole communities and even the ecology have been totally changed.
Snapshots of Glory (George Otis Jr.)
See also Snapshots of Glory by George Otis Jr.
George Otis Jr presents vivid stories of the transformation of cities and regions in the two DVDs Transformations 1 and 2, and other DVDs of The Sentinel Group. This transforming revival now spreads world wide in the twenty-first century. Otis summarises some outstanding examples, rooted in the late twentieth century, and blossoming now.
For some time now, we have been hearing reports of large-scale conversions in places like China, Argentina and Nepal. In many instances, these conversions have been attended by widespread healings, dreams and deliverances. Confronted with these demonstrations of divine power and concern, thousands of men and women have elected to embrace the truth of the gospel. In a growing number of towns and cities, God’s house is suddenly the place to be.
In some communities throughout the world, this rapid church growth has also led to dramatic socio-political transformation. Depressed economies, high crime rates and corrupt political structures are being replaced by institutional integrity, safe streets and financial prosperity. Impressed by the handiwork of the Holy Spirit, secular news agencies have begun to trumpet these stories in front-page articles and on prime-time newscasts.
Of those on file, most are located in Africa and the Americas. The size of these changed communities ranges from about 15,000 inhabitants to nearly 2 million.
Miracle in Mizoram
One of the earliest and largest transformed communities of the twentieth century is found in Mizoram, a mountainous state in northeastern India. The region’s name translates as “The Land of the Highlanders.” It is an apt description as a majority of the local inhabitants, known as Mizos, live in villages surrounded by timbered mountains and scenic gorges.
The flora is not entirely alpine, however, and it is not uncommon to see hills covered with bamboo, wild bananas and orchids. The Mizos are hearty agriculturists who manage to grow ample crops of rice, corn, tapioca, ginger, mustard, sugar cane, sesame and potatoes.
But it is not farming prowess that sets Mizoram’s 750,000 citizens apart. Nor, for that matter, is it their Mongol stock. Rather it is the astonishing size of the national church, estimated to be between 80 and 95 percent of the current population. This achievement is all the more remarkable in view of the fact that Mizoram is sandwiched precariously between Islamic Bangladesh to the west, Buddhist Myanmar to the east and south, and the Hindu states of Assam, Manipur and Tripura to the north.
Before the arrival of Christian missionaries in the late nineteenth century, local tribes believed in a spirit called Pathan. They also liked to remove the heads of their enemies. But in just four generations Mizoram has gone from being a fierce head-hunting society to a model community – and quite possibly the most thoroughly Christian place of comparable size on earth. Certainly in India there is no other city or state that could lay claim to having no homeless people, no beggars, no starvation and 100 percent literacy.
The churches of Mizoram currently send 1,000 missionaries to surrounding regions of India and elsewhere throughout the world. Funds for this mission outreach are generated primarily through the sale of rice and firewood donated by the believers. Every time a Mizo woman cooks rice, she places a handful in a special ‘missionary bowl.’ This rice is then taken to the local church, where it is collected and sold at the market.
Even the non-Christian media of India have recognized Christianity as the source of Mizoram’s dramatic social transformation. In 1994 Mizoram celebrated its one-hundredth year of contact with Christianity, which began with the arrival of two missionaries, William Frederick Savage and J. H. Lorraine. On the occasion of this centennial celebration, The Telegraph of Calcutta (February 4, 1994) declared:
Christianity’s most reaching influence was the spread of education … Christianity gave the religious a written language and left a mark on art, music, poetry, and literature. A missionary was also responsible for the abolition of traditional slavery. It would not be too much to say that Christianity was the harbinger of modernity to a Mizo society.
A less quantifiable but no less palpable testimony to the Christian transformation of Mizorarn is the transparent joy and warmth of the Mizo people. Visitors cannot fail to observe “the laughing eyes mid smiling faces,” in the words of one reporter, on the faces of the children and other residents of Mizoram. And nowhere is this spirit of divine joy more evident than in the churches, where the Mizo’s traditional love of music and dance has been incorporated into worship. The generosity of the people is also seen in their communal efforts to rebuild neighbours’ bamboo huts destroyed by the annual monsoons.
Eighty percent of the population of Mizorarn attends church at least once a week. Congregations are so plentiful in Mizoram that, from one vantage point in the city of Izol, it is possible to count 37 churches. Most fellowships have three services on Sunday and another on Wednesday evening.
In the mid-1970s, the town of Almolonga was typical of many Mayan highland communities: idolatrous, inebriated and economically depressed. Burdened by fear and poverty, the people sought support in alcohol and a local idol named Maximon. Determined to fight back, a group of local intercessors got busy, crying out to God during evening prayer vigils. As a consequence of their partnership with the Holy Spirit, Almolonga, like Mizoram, has become one of the most thoroughly transformed communities in the world. Fully 90 percent of the town’s citizens now consider themselves to be evangelical Christians. As they have repudiated ancient pacts with Mayan and syncretistic gods, their economy has begun to blossom. Churches are now the dominant feature of Almolonga’s landscape and many public establishments boast of the town’s new allegiance.
Although many Christian visitors comment on Almolonga’s “clean” spiritual atmosphere, this is a relatively recent development. “Just twenty years ago,” reports Guatemala City pastor Harold Caballeros, “the town suffered from poverty, violence and ignorance. In the mornings you would encounter many men just lying on the streets, totally drunk from the night before. And of course this drinking brought along other serious problems like domestic violence and poverty. It was a vicious cycle.”
Donato Santiago, the town’s aging chief of police, told me during an October 1998 interview that he and a dozen deputies patrolled the streets regularly because of escalating violence. “People were always fighting,” he said. “We never had any rest.” The town, despite its small population, had to build four jails to contain the worst offenders. “They were always full,” Santiago remembers. “We often had to bus overflow prisoners to Quetzaltenango.” There was disrespect toward women and neglect of the family.
Pastor Mariano Riscajché one of the key leaders of Almolonga’s spiritual turnaround, remembers, “I was raised in misery. My father sometimes drank for forty to fifty consecutive days. We never had a big meal, only a little tortilla with a small glass of coffee. My parents spent what little money they had on alcohol.”
In an effort to ease their misery, many townspeople made pacts with local deities like Maximon (a wooden idol rechristened San Simon by Catholic syncretists), and the patron of death, Pascual Bailón. The latter, according to Riscajché, “is a spirit of death whose skeletal image was once housed in a chapel behind the Catholic church. Many people went to him when they wanted to kill someone through witchcraft.” The equally potent Maximon controlled people through money and alcohol. “He’s not just a wooden mask,” Riscajché insists, “but a powerful spiritual strongman.” The deities were supported by well-financed priesthoods known as confradías.
During these dark days the gospel did not fare well. Outside evangelists were commonly chased away with sticks or rocks, while small local house churches were similarly stoned. On one occasion six men shoved a gun barrel down the throat of Mariano Riscajché. As they proceeded to pull the trigger, he silently petitioned the Lord for protection. When the hammer fell, there was no action. A second click. Still no discharge.
In August 1974 Riscajché led a small group of believers into a series of prayer vigils that lasted from 7 p.m. to midnight. Although prayer dominated the meetings, these vanguard intercessors also took time to speak declarations of freedom over the town. Riscajché remembers that God filled them with faith. “We started praying, ‘Lord, it’s not possible that we could be so insignificant when your Word says we are heads and not tails.’”
In the months that followed, the power of God delivered many men possessed by demons associated with Maximon and Pascual Bailón. Among the more notable of these was a Maximon cult leader named José Albino Tazej. Stripped of their power and customers, the confradías of Maximon made a decision to remove the sanctuary of Maximon to the city of Zunil.
At this same time, God was healing many desperately diseased people. Some of these hearings led many to commit their lives to Christ (including that of Madano’s sister-in-law Teresa, who was actually raised from the dead after succumbing to complications associated with a botched caesarean section).
This wave of conversions has continued to this day. By late 1998 there were nearly two dozen evangelical churches in this Mayan town of 19,000, and at least three or four of them had more than 1,000 members. Mariano Riscajché’s El Calvario Church seats 1,200 and is nearly always packed. Church leaders include several men who, in earlier years, were notorious for stoning believers.
Nor has the move of God in Almolonga been limited to church growth. Take a walk through the town’s commercial district and you will encounter ubiquitous evidence of transformed lives and social institutions. On one street you can visit a drug-store called ‘The Blessing of the Lord.’ On another you can shop at ‘The Angels’ store. Feeling hungry? Just zip into ‘Paradise Chicken,’ ‘Jireh’ bakery or the ‘Vineyard of the Lord’ beverage kiosk. Need building advice? Check out ‘Little Israel Hardware’ or ‘El Shaddai’ metal fabrication. Feet hurt from shopping? Just take them to the ‘Jordan’ mineral baths for a good soak.
For 20 years the town’s crime rate has declined steadily. In 1994, the last of Almolonga’s four jails was closed. The remodelled building is now called the ‘Hall of Honour’ and is used for municipal ceremonies and weddings. Leaning against the door, police chief Donato Santiago offered a knowing grin. “It’s pretty uneventful around here,” he said.
Even the town’s agricultural base has come to life. “It is a glorious thing,” exclaims a beaming Caballeros. “Almolonga’s fields have become so fertile they yield three harvests per year.” In fact, some farmers I talked to reported their normal 60-day growing cycle on certain vegetables has been cut to 25. Whereas before they would export four truckloads of produce per month, they are now watching as many as 40 loads a day roll out of the valley.
Nicknamed “America’s Vegetable Garden,’ Almolonga’s produce is of biblical proportions. Walking through the local exhibition hall 1 saw (and filmed) five-pound beets, carrots larger than my arm and cabbages the size of oversized basketballs. Noting the dimensions of these vegetables and the town’s astounding 1,000 percent increase in agricultural productivity, university researchers from the United States and other foreign countries have beat a steady path to Almolonga.
“Now,” says Caballeros, “these brothers have the joy of buying big Mercedes trucks -with cash.” And they waste no time in pasting their secret all over the shiny vehicles. Huge metallic stickers and mud flaps read ‘The Gift of God,’ ‘God Is My Stronghold’ and ‘Go Forward in Faith.’
Some farmers are now providing employment to others by renting out land and developing fields in other towns. Along with other Christian leaders they also help new converts get out of debt.
How significant are these developments? In a 1994 headline article describing the dramatic events in Almolonga, Guatemala’s premier newsmagazine Cronica Semanal concluded “the Evangelical Church … constitutes the most significant force for religious change in the highlands of Guatemala since the Spanish conquest.
The Umuofai of Nigeria
The Umuofai kindred are spread out in several villages situated near the town of Umuahia in Abia State in southeastern Nigeria. A major rail line links the area with Port Harcourt, about 120 kilometers to the south. Like most parts of coastal Africa, it is distinguished by dense tropical flora and killer humidity.
The interesting chapter of the Umuofai story began as recently as 1996. Two Christian brothers, Emeka and Chinedu Nwankpa, had become increasingly distressed over the spiritual condition of their people. While they did not know everything about the Umuofai kindred, or their immediate Ubakala clan, they knew enough to be concerned. Not only were there few Christians, but there was also an almost organic connection with ancestral traditions of sorcery, divination and spirit appeasement. Some even practiced the demonic art of shape-shifting.
Taking the burden before the Lord, the younger brother, Chinedu Nwankpa, was led into a season of spiritual mapping. After conducting a partial 80-day fast, he learned that his primary assignment (which would take the good part of a year) was to spend one day a week with clan elders investigating the roots of prevailing idolatry – including the role of the ancestors and shrines. He would seek to understand how and when the Ubakala clan entered into animistic bondage. According to older brother Emeka, a practicing lawyer and international Bible teacher, this understanding was critical. When I asked why, Emeka responded, “When a people publicly renounce their ties to false gods and philosophies, they make it exceedingly undesirable for the enemy to remain in their community.”
The study was finally completed in late 1996. Taking their findings to prayer, the brothers soon felt prompted to invite kindred leaders and other interested parties to attend a special meeting. “What will be our theme?” they asked. The Master’s response was quick and direct. “I want you to speak to them about idolatry.”
On the day of the meeting, Emeka and Chinedu arrived unsure of what kind of crowd they would face. Would there be five or fifty? Would the people be open or hostile? What they actually encountered stunned them. The meeting place was not only filled with 300 people, but the audience also included several prominent clan leaders and witch doctors. “After I opened in prayer,” Emeka recalls, “this young man preaches for exactly 42 minutes. He brings a clear gospel message. He gives a biblical teaching on idolatry and tells the people exactly what it does to a community. When he has finished, he gives a direct altar call. And do you know what happens? Sixty-one adults respond, including people from lines that, for eight generations, had handled the traditional priesthood.”
When the minister finished the altar call, the Nwankpa brothers were startled to see a man coming forward with the sacred skull in his hands. Here in front of them was the symbol and receptacle of the clan’s ancestral power. “By the time the session ended,” Emeka marvels, “eight other spiritual custodians had also come forward. If I had not been there in the flesh, I would not have believed it.”
As Emeka was called forward to pray for these individuals, the Holy Spirit descended on the gathering and all the clan leaders were soundly converted. The new converts were then instructed to divide up into individual family units – most were living near the village of Mgbarrakuma – and enter a time of repentance within the family. This took another hour and twenty minutes. During this time people were under deep conviction, many rolling on the ground, weeping. “I had to persuade some of them to get up,” Emeka recalls.
After leading this corporate repentance, Emeka heard the Lord say, ‘It is now time to renounce the covenants made by and for this community over the last 300 years.” Following the example of Zechariah 12:10-13:2, the Nwankpas led this second-phase renunciation. “We were just about to get up,” Emeka remembers, “and the Lord spoke to me again. I mean He had it all written out. He said, ‘It is now time to go and deal with the different shrines.’ So 1 asked the people, ‘Now that we have renounced the old ways, what are these shrines doing here?’ And without a moment’s hesitation they replied, ‘We need to get rid of them!’”
Having publicly renounced the covenants their ancestors had made with the powers of darkness, the entire community proceeded to nine village shrines. The three chief priests came out with their walking sticks. It was tradition that they should go first. Nobody else had the authority to take such a drastic action. So the people stood, the young men following the elders and the women remaining behind in the village square. Lowering his glasses, Emeka says, “You cannot appreciate how this affected me personally. Try to understand that 1 am looking at my own chief. I am looking at generations of men that I have known, people who have not spoken to my father for thirty years, people with all kinds of problems. They are now born-again!”
One of these priests, an elder named Odogwu-ogu, stood before the shrine of a particular spirit called Amadi. He was the oldest living representative of the ancestral priesthood. Suddenly he began to talk to the spirits. He said, “Amadi, I want you to listen carefully to what 1 am saying. You were there in the village square this morning. You heard what happened.” He then made an announcement that Emeka will never forget.
Listen, Amadi, the people who own the land have arrived to tell you that they have just made a new covenant with the God of heaven. Therefore all the previous covenants you have made with our ancient fathers are now void. The elders told me to take care of you and I have done that all these years. But today I have left you, and so it is time for you to return to wherever you came from. I have also given my life to Jesus Christ, and from now on, my hands and feet are no longer here.
As he does this, he jumps sideways, lifts his hands and shouts, “Hallelujah!”
“With tears in my eyes,” Emeka says, reliving the moment, “I stepped up to anoint this shrine and pray. Every token and fetish was taken out. And then we went through eight more shrines, gathering all the sacred objects and piling them high.
“Gathering again back in the square I said, ‘Those who have fetishes in your homes, bring them out because God is visiting here today. Don’t let Him pass you by.’ At this, one of the priests got up and brought out a pot with seven openings. He said to the people, ‘There is poison enough to kill everybody here in that little pot. There is a horn of an extinct animal, the bile of a tiger and the venom of a viper mixed together.’ He warned the young men, ‘Don’t touch it. Carry it on a pole because it is usually suspended in the shrine.’ This was piled in the square along with all the ancestral skulls.” Soon other heads of households brought various ritual objects-including idols, totems and fetishes-for public burning. Many of these items had been handed down over ten generations.
Emeka then read a passage from Jeremiah 10 that judges the spirits associated with these artifacts. Reminding the powers that the people had rejected them, he said, “You spirits that did not make the heavens and the earth in the day of your visitation, it is time for you to leave this place.” The people then set the piled objects on fire. They ignited with such speed and intensity that the villagers took it as a sign that God had been waiting for this to happen for many years. When the fire subsided, Emeka and his brother prayed for individual needs and prophetically clothed the priests with new spiritual garments. Altogether the people spent nine hours in intense, strategic-level spiritual warfare.
Emeka recalls that when it was over, “You could feel the atmosphere in the community change. Something beyond revival had broken out.” Two young ministers recently filled the traditional Anglican church with about 4,000 youth. And in the middle of the message, demons were reportedly flying out the door! Having renounced old covenants, the Umuofai kindred have made a collective decision that nobody will ever return to animism. “Today,” Emeka says, “everybody goes to church. There is also a formal Bible study going on, and the women have a prayer team that my mother conducts. 0thers gather to pray after completing their communal sweeping.”
In terms of political and economic development, good things have begun to happen
but not as dramatically as in Almolonga. Still, there is evidence that God has touched the land here much like He has in the highlands of Guatemala. Shortly after the public repentance, several villagers discovered their plots were permeated with saleable minerals. One of these individuals was Emeka’s own mother, a godly woman whose property has turned up deposits of valuable ceramic clay.
For years this searing valley in southern California was known as a pastor’s graveyard. Riddled with disunity, local churches were either stagnant or in serious decline. In one case, street prostitutes actually transformed a church rooftop into an outdoor bordello. The entire community had, in the words of pastor Bob Beckett, “a kind of a nasty spiritual feeling to it.”
The Hemet Valley was fast becoming a cult haven. “We had the Moonies and Mormons. We had the ‘Sheep People,’ a cult that claimed Christ but dealt in drugs. The Church of Scientology set up a state-of-the-art multimedia studio called Golden Era, and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi purchased a property to teach people how to find enlightenment.” The latter, according to Beckett, included a 360-acre juvenile facility where students were given instruction in upper-level transcendental meditation. “We’re not talking about simply feeling good; we’re talking about techniques whereby people can actually leave their bodies.”
These discoveries got Beckett to wondering why the Maharishi would purchase property in this relatively obscure valley and why it would be located in proximity to the Scientologists and the spiritually active Soboba Indian reservation. Sensing something sinister might be lurking beneath the town’s glazed exterior, Beckett took out a map and started marking locations where there was identifiable spiritual activity.”
The deeper this rookie pastor looked, the less he liked what he was seeing. It seemed the valley, in addition to hosting a nest of cults, was also a notable centre of witchcraft.
Nor were cults the only pre-existing problem. Neighborhood youth gangs had plagued the Hemet suburb of San Jacinto for more than a century. When pastor Gordon Houston arrived in 1986 the situation was extremely volatile. His church, San Jacinto Assembly, sits on the very street that has long hosted the town’s notorious First Street Gang. “These were kids whose dads and grandfathers had preceded them in the gang. The lifestyle had been handed down through the generations.”
“We were one of the first school districts that had to implement a school dress code to avoid gang attire. It was a big problem. There were a lot of weapons on campus and kids were being attacked regularly. The gangs were tied into one of the largest drug production centres in Riverside County.”
It turns out the sleepy Hemet Valley was also the methamphetamine manufacturing capital of the West Coast. One former cooker I spoke to in June 1998 (we’ll call him Sonny) told me the area hosted at least nine major production laboratories. The dry climate, remote location and ‘friendly’ law enforcement combined to make it an ideal setup. “It was quite amazing,” Sonny told me. “I actually had law officers transport dope for me in their police cruisers. That’s the way it used to be here.”
The spiritual turnaround for Hemet did not come easily. Neither the Beckerts nor the Houstons were early Valley enthusiasts. “I just didn’t want to be there,” Bob recalls with emphasis. “For the first several years, my wife and 1 had our emotional bags packed all the time. We couldn’t wait for the day that God would call us out of this valley.”
The Houstons didn’t unpack their bags to begin with. We drove down the street, took one look at the church and said, “No thank you.” We didn’t even stop to put in a resumé.” It would be three years before the Houstons were persuaded to return to the Hemet Valley.
“God asked if we would be willing to spend the rest of our lives in this valley. He couldn’t have asked a worse question. How could I spend the rest of my life in a place 1 didn’t love, didn’t care for and didn’t want to be a part of?”
Yet God persevered and the Becketts eventually surrendered to His will. “Once we made this pact, Susan and 1 fell in love with the community. It might sound a little melodramatic, but 1 actually went out and purchased a cemetery plot. I said, “Unless Jesus comes back, this is my land. I’m starting and ending my commitment right here.” Well, God saw that and began to dispense powerful revelation. I still had my research, but it was no longer just information. It was information that was important to me. It was information I had purchased; it belonged to me.”
Now that the Beckets had covenanted to stay in the community, God started to fill in the gaps of their understanding. He began by leading Bob to a book containing an accurate history of the San Jacinto mountains that border Hemet and of the Cahuilla Nation that are descendants of the region’s original inhabitants. “As 1 read through this book I discovered the native peoples believed the ruling spirit of the region was called Tahquitz. He was thought to be exceedingly powerful, occasionally malevolent, associated with the great bear, and headquartered in the mountains. Putting the book down, I sensed the Lord saying, “Find Tahquitz on your map!”
“When 1 did so, I was shocked to find that our prayer meeting 15 years earlier was held in a cabin located at the base of a one-thousand-foot solid rock spire called Tahquitz peak! I also began to understand that the bear hide God had showed me was linked to the spirit of Tahquitz. The fact that it was stretched out over the community was a reminder of the control this centuries-old demonic strongman wielded, a control that was fuelled then, and now, by the choices of local inhabitants. At that point I knew God had been leading us.”
Bob explained that community intercessors began using spiritual mapping to focus on issues and select meaningful targets. Seeing the challenge helped them become spiritually and mentally engaged. With real targets and timelines they could actually watch the answers to their prayers.
The facts speak for themselves. Cult membership, once a serious threat, has now sunk to less than 0.3 percent of the population. The Scientologists have yet to be evicted from their perch at the edge of town, but many other groups are long gone. The transcendental meditation training centre was literally burned out. Shortly after praying for their removal, a brushfire started in the mountains on the west side of the valley. It burned along the top of the ridge and then arced down like a finger to incinerate the Maharishi’s facility. Leaving adjacent properties unsinged, the flames burned back up the mountain and were eventually extinguished.
The drug business, according to Sonny, has dropped by as much as 75 percent. Gone, too, is the official corruption that was once its fellow traveller. “There was a time when you could walk into any police department around here and look at your files or secure an escort for your drug shipment. The people watching your back were wearing badges. Man, has that changed. If you’re breaking the law today, the police are out to get ya. And prayer is the biggest reason. The Christians out here took a multimillion-dollar drug operation and made it run off with its tail between its legs.”
Gangs are another success story. Not long ago a leader of the First Street Gang burst down the centre aisle of Gordon Houston’s church (San Jacinto Assembly) during the morning worship service. “I’m in the middle of my message,” Gordon laughs, “and here comes this guy, all tattooed up, heading right for the platform. I had no idea what he was thinking. When he gets to the front, he looks up and says, “I want to get saved right now!” This incident, and this young man, represented the first fruit of what God would do in the gang community. Over the next several weeks, the entire First Street family came to the Lord. After this, word circulated that our church was off limits. ‘You don’t tag this church with graffiti; you don’t mess with it in any way.’ Instead, gang members began raking our leaves and repainting walls that had been vandalized.” More recently, residents of the violent gang house across from San Jacinto Assembly moved out. Then, as church members watched, they bulldozed the notorious facility.
Nor are gang members the only people getting saved in Hemet Valley. A recent survey revealed that Sunday morning church attendance now stands at about 14 percent – double what it was just a decade ago. During one 18-month stretch, San Jacinto Assembly altar workers saw more than 600 people give their hearts to Christ. Another prayer-oriented church has grown 300 percent in twelve months.
The individual stories are stirring. Sonny, the former drug manufacturer, was apprehended by the Holy Spirit en route to a murder. Driving to meet his intended victim he felt something take control of the steering wheel. He wound up in the parking lot of Bob Beckett’s Dwelling Place Church. It was about 8 o’clock in the morning and a men’s meeting had just gotten underway. “Before I got out of the car,” Sonny says ruefully, “I looked at the silenced pistol laying on the seat. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, what am I doing.’ So I covered it with a blanket and walked into this prayer meeting. As soon as 1 did that, it was all over. People are praying around me and I hear this man speak out: ‘Somebody was about to murder someone today.’ Man, my eyeballs just about popped out of my head. But that was the beginning of my journey home. It took a long time, but I’ve never experienced more joy in my life.”
As of the late 1990s, Hemet also boasted a professing mayor, police chief, fire chief and city manager. If this were not impressive enough, Beckett reckons that one could add about 30 percent of the local law enforcement officers and an exceptional number of high school teachers, coaches and principals. In fact, for the past several years nearly 85 percent of all school district staff candidates have been Christians.
And what of the Valley’s infamous church infighting? “Now we are a wall of living stones,” Beekett declares proudly. “Instead of competing, we are swapping pulpits. You have Baptists in Pentecostal pulpits and vice versa. You have Lutherans with Episcopalians. The Christian community has become a fabric instead of loose yarn.”
Houston adds that valley churches are also brought together by quarterly concerts of prayer and citywide prayer revivals where speaking assignments are rotated among area pastors.
One fellowship is so committed to raising the profile of Jesus Christ in the valley that they have pledged into another church’s building program. To Bob Beckett it all makes sense. “It’s about building people, not building a church. In fact, it is not even a church growth issue, it is a kingdom growth issue. It’s about seeing our communities transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
For years Colombia has been the world’s biggest exporter of cocaine, sending between 700 hundred and 1,000 tons a year to the United States and Europe alone. The Cali cartel, which controlled up to 70 percent of this trade, has been called the largest, richest and most well-organized criminal organization in history. Employing a combination of bribery and threats, it wielded a malignant power that corrupted individuals and institutions alike.
Randy and Marcy MacMillan, co-pastors of the Communidad Christiana de Fe, have labored in Cali for more than 20 years. At least 10 of these have been spent in the shadow of the city’s infamous drug lords.
“These people were paranoid,” Randy recalls. “They were exporting 500 million dollars worth of cocaine a month, and it led to constant worries about sabotage and betrayal. They had a lot to lose.”
For this reason, the cartel haciendas were appointed like small cities. Within their walls it was possible to find everything from airstrips and helicopter landing pads to indoor bowling alleys and miniature soccer stadiums. Many also contained an array of gift boutiques, nightclubs and restaurants.
Whenever the compound gates swung open, it was to disgorge convoys of shiny black Mercedes automobiles. As they snaked their way through the city’s congested streets, all other traffic would pull to the side of the road. Drivers who defied this etiquette did so at their own risk. Many were blocked and summarily shot. As many as 15 people a day were killed in such a manner. “You didn’t want to be at the same stoplight with them,” Randy summarized.
Journalists had a particularly difficult time. They were either reporting on human camage – car bombs were going off like popcorn – or they were becoming targets themselves. Television news anchor Adriana Vivas said that many journalists were killed for denouncing what the Mafia was doing in Colombia and Cali. “Important political decisions were being manipulated by drug money. It touched everything, absolutely everything.”
By the early 1990s, Cali had become one of the most thoroughly corrupt cities in the world. Cartel interests controlled virtually every major institution – including banks, businesses, politicians and law enforcement.
Like everything else in Cali, the church was in disarray. Evangelicals were few and did not much care for each other. “In those days,” Rosevelt Muriel recalls sadly, “the pastors’ association consisted of an old box of files that nobody wanted. Every pastor was working on his own; no one wanted to join together.”
When pastor-evangelists Julio and Ruth Ruibal came to Cali in 1978, they were dismayed at the pervasive darkness in the city. “There was no unity between the churches,” Ruth explained. Even Julio was put off by his colleagues and pulled out of the already weak ministerial association.
Ruth relates that during a season of fasting the Lord spoke to Julio saying, “You don’t have the right to be offended. You need to forgive.” So going back to the pastors, one by one, Julio made things right. They could not afford to walk in disunity – not when their city faced such overwhelming challenges.
Randy and Marcy MacMillan were among the first to join the Ruibals in intercession. “We just asked the Lord to show us how to pray,” Marcy remembers. And He did. For the next several months they focused on the meagre appetite within the church for prayer, unity and holiness. Realizing these are the very things that attract the presence of God, they petitioned the Lord to stimulate a renewed spiritual hunger, especially in the city’s ministers.
As their prayers began to take effect, a small group of pastors proposed assembling their congregations for an evening of joint worship and prayer. The idea was to lease the city’s civic auditorium, the Colisco El Pueblo, and spend the night in prayer and repentance. They would solicit God’s active participation in their stand against the drug cartels and their unseen spiritual masters.
Roping off most of the seating area, the pastors planned for a few thousand people. And even this, in the minds of many, was overly optimistic. “We heard it all,” said Rosevelt Muriel. “People told us, ‘It can’t be done,’ ‘No one will come,’ ‘Pastors won’t give their support.’ But we decided to move forward and trust God with the results.”
When the event was finally held in May 1995, the nay-sayers and even some of the organizers were dumbfounded. Instead of the expected modest turnout, more than 25,000 people filed into the civic auditorium – nearly half of the city’s evangelical population at the time! At one point, Muriel remembers, “The mayor mounted the platform and proclaimed, ‘Cali belongs to Jesus Christ.’ Well, when we heard those words, we were energized.” Giving themselves to intense prayer, the crowd remained until 6 o’clock the next morning. The city’s famous all-night prayer vigil – the ‘vigilia’ – had been born.
Forty-eight hours after the event, the daily newspaper, El Pais, headlined, “No Homicides!” For the first time in as long as anybody in the city could remember, a 24-hour period had passed without a single person being killed. In a nation cursed with the highest homicide rate in the world, this was a newsworthy development. Corruption also took a major hit when, over the next four months, 900 cartel-linked officers were fired from the metropolitan police force.
In the month of June, this sense of anticipation was heightened when several intercessors reported dreams in which angelic forces apprehended leaders of the Cali drug cartel. “Within six weeks of this vision,” MacMillan recalls, “the Colombian government declared all-out war against the drug lords.” Sweeping military operations were launched against cartel assets in several parts of the country. The 6,500 elite commandos dispatched to Cali arrived with explicit orders to round up seven individuals suspected as the top leaders of the cartel.
“Cali was buzzing with helicopters,” Randy remembers. “The airport was closed and there were police roadblocks at every entry point into the city. You couldn’t go anywhere without proving who you were.”
Suspicions that the drug lords were consulting spirit mediums were confirmed when the federalés dragnet picked up Jorge Eliecer Rodriguez at the fortune-telling parlour of Madame Marlene Ballesteros, the famous ‘Pythoness of Cali”. By August, only three months after God’s word to the intercessors, Colombian authorities had captured all seven targeted cartel leaders.
Clearly stung by these assaults on his power base, the enemy lashed out against the city’s intercessors. At the top of his hit list was Pastor Julio Ceasar Ruibal, a man whose disciplined fasting and unwavering faith was seriously eroding his manoeuvring room.
On December 13, 1995, Julio rode into the city with his daughter Sarah and a driver. Late for a pastors’ meeting at the Presbyterian Church, he motioned to his driver to pull over. “He told us to drop him off,” Sarah recounts, “and that was the last time I saw him.”
Outside the church, a hit man was waiting in ambush. Drawing a concealed handgun, the assassin pumped two bullets into Julio’s brain at point-blank range.
“I was waiting for him to arrive at the meeting,” Rosevelt remembers. “At two o’clock in the afternoon I received a phone call. The man said, ‘They just killed Julio.’ I said, ‘What? How can they kill a pastor?’ I rushed over, thinking that perhaps he had just been hurt. But when 1 arrived on the scene, he was motionless. Julio, the noisy one, the active one, the man who just never sat still, was just lying there like a baby.”
“The first thing 1 saw was a pool of crimson blood,” Ruth recalls. “And the verse that came to me was Psalm 116:15: ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.’ Sitting down next to Julio’s body, I knew 1 was on holy ground.”
Julio Ruibal was killed on the sixth day of a fast aimed at strengthening the unity of Cali’s fledgling church. He knew that even though progress had been made in this area, it had not gone far enough. He knew that unity is a fragile thing. What he could not have guessed is that the fruit of his fast would be made manifest at his own funeral.
In shock, and struggling to understand God’s purposes in this tragedy, 1,500 people gathered at Julio’s funeral. They included many pastors that had not spoken to each other in months. When the memorial concluded these men drew aside and said, “Brothers, let us covenant to walk in unity from this day forward. Let Julio’s blood be the glue that binds us together in the Holy Spirit.”
It worked! Today this covenant of unity has been signed by some 200 pastors and serves as the backbone of the city’s high profile prayer vigils. With Julio’s example in their hearts, they have subordinated their own agendas to a larger, common vision for the city.
Emboldened by their spiritual momentum, Cali’s church leaders now hold all-night prayer rallies every 90 days. Enthusiasm is so high that these glorious events have been moved to the largest venue in the city, the 55,000-seat Pascual Guerrero soccer stadium. Happily (or unhappily as the case may be), the demand for seats continues to exceed supply.
As the kingdom of God descended upon Cali, a new openness to the gospel could be felt at all levels of society – including the educated and wealthy. One man, Gustavo Jaramillo, a wealthy businessman and former mayor, told me, “It is easy to speak to upper-class people about Jesus. They are respectful and interested.” Raul Grajales, another successful Cali businessman, adds that the gospel is now seen as practical rather than religious. As a consequence, he says, “Many high-level people have come to the feet of Jesus.”
Explosive church growth is one of the visible consequences of the open heavens over Cali. Ask pastors to define their strategy and they respond, “We don’t have time to plan. We’re too busy pulling the nets into the boat.” And the numbers are expanding. In early 1998, 1 visited one fellowship, the Christian Centre of Love and Faith, where attendance has risen to nearly 35,000. What is more, their stratospheric growth rate is being fuelled entirely by new converts. Despite the facility’s cavernous size (it’s a former Costco warehouse), they are still forced to hold seven Sunday services. As I watched the huge sanctuary fill up, I blurted the standard Western question: “What is your secret?” Without hesitating, a church staff member pointed to a 24-hour prayer room immediately behind the platform. “That’s our secret,’ he replied.
My driver, Carlos Reynoso (not his real name), himself a former drug dealer, put it this way: “There is a hunger for God everywhere. You can see it on the buses, on the streets and in the cafes. Anywhere you go people are ready to talk.” Even casual street evangelists are reporting multiple daily conversions – nearly all the result of arbitrary encounters.
Although danger still lurks in this city of 1.9 million, God is now viewed as a viable protector. When Cali police deactivated a large, 174-kilo car bomb in the populous San Nicolis area in November 1996, many noted that the incident came just 24 hours after 55,000 Christians held their third vigilia. Even El Pais headlined: “Thanks to God, It Didn’t Explode.”
Cali’s prayer warriors were gratified, but far from finished. The following month church officials, disturbed by the growing debauchery associated with the city’s Feria, a year-end festival accompanied by 10 days of bull fighting and blowout partying, developed plans to hold public worship and evangelism rallies.
“When we approached the city about this,” Marcy recalls, “God gave us great favour. The city secretary not only granted us rent-free use of the 22,000-scat velodrome (cycling arena), but he also threw in free advertising, security and sound support. We were stunned!” The only thing the authorities required was that the churches pray for the mayor, the city and the citizens.
Once underway, the street witnessing and rallies brought in a bounty of souls. But an even bigger surprise came during the final service which, according to Marcy, emphasized the Holy Spirit “reigning over” and “raining down upon” the city of Cali. As the crowd sang, it began to sprinkle outside, an exceedingly rare occurrence in the month of December. “Within moments,” Marcy recalls, “the city was inundated by torrential tropical rain. It didn’t let up for 24 hours; and for the first time in recent memory, Feria events had to be cancelled!”
On the evening of April 9, 1998, I had the distinct privilege of attending a citywide prayer vigil in Cali’s Pascual Guerrero stadium. Arriving at the stadium 90 minutes early, I found it was already a full house. I could feel my hair stand on end as I walked onto the infield to tape a report for CBN News. In the stands, 50,000 exuberant worshipers stood ready to catch the Holy Spirit’s fire. An additional 15,000 ‘latecomers’ were turned away at the coliseum gate. Undaunted, they formed an impromptu praise march that circled the stadium for hours.
Worship teams from various churches were stationed at 15-metre intervals around the running track. Dancers dressed in beautiful white and purple outfits interpreted the music with graceful motions accentuated by banners, tambourines and sleeve streamers. Both they and their city had been delivered of a great burden. In such circumstances one does not celebrate like a Presbyterian, a Baptist or a Pentecostal; one celebrates like a person who has been liberated!
“What you’re seeing tonight in this stadium is a miracle,” declared visiting Bogota pastor Colin Crawford. “A few years ago it would have been impossible for Evangelicals to gather like this.” Indeed, this city that has long carried a reputation as an exporter of death is now looked upon as a model of community transformation. It has moved into the business of exporting hope.
High up in the stadium press booth somebody grabbed my arm. Nodding in the direction of a casually dressed man at the broadcast counter he whispered, “That man is the most famous sports announcer in Columbia. He does all the big soccer championships.” Securing a quick introduction, I learned that Rafael Araújo Gámez is also a newborn Christian. As he looked out over the fervent crowd, I asked if he had ever seen anything comparable in this stadium. Like Mario, he began to weep. “Never,” he said with a trembling chin. “Not ever.”
At 2:30 in the morning my cameraman and I headed for the stadium tunnel to catch a ride to the airport. It was a tentative departure. At the front gate crowds still trying to get in looked at us like we were crazy. I could almost read their minds. Where are you going? Why are you leaving the presence of God? They were tough questions to answer.
As we prepared to enter our vehicle a roar rose up from the stadium. Listening closely, we could hear the people chanting, in English, “Lift Jesus up, lift Jesus up.” The words seemed to echo across the entire city. I had to pinch myself. Wasn’t it just 36 months ago that people were calling this place a violent, corrupt hell-hole? A city whose ministerial alliance consisted of a box of files that nobody wanted?
In late 1998, Cali’s mayor and city council approached the ministerial alliance, with an offer to manage a citywide campaign to strengthen the family. The offer, which has subsequently been accepted, gives the Christians full operational freedom and no financial obligation. The government has agreed to open the soccer stadium, sports arena and velodrome to any seminar or prayer event that will minister to broken families.
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As remarkable as the preceding accounts are, they represent but a fraction of the case studies that could be presented. Several others are worth mentioning in brief.
Topping this list is Kiambu, Kenya, one-time ministry graveyard located 14 kilometres northwest of Nairobi. In the late 1980s, after years of profligate alcohol abuse, untamed violence and grinding poverty, the Spirit of the Lord was summoned to Kiambu by a handful of intercessors operating out of a grocery store basement known as the “Kiambu Prayer Cave.”
According to Kenyan pastor Thomas Muthee, the real breakthrough came when believers won a high profile power encounter with a local witch named Mama Jane. Whereas people used to be afraid to go out at night, they now enjoy one of the lowest crime rates in the country. Rape and murder are virtually unheard of. The economy has also started to grow. And new buildings are sprouting up all over town.
In February, 1999, pastor Muthee celebrated their ninth anniversary in Kiambu. Through research and spiritual warfare, they have seen their church grow to 5,000 members – a remarkable development in a city that had never before seen a congregation of more than 90 people. And other community fellowships are growing as well. “There is no doubt,” Thomas declares, “that prayer broke the power of witchcraft over this city. Everyone in the community now has a high respect for us. They know that God’s power chased Mama Jane from town” (26).
Vitória da Conquiste, Brazil
The city of Vitória da Conquiste (Victory of the Conquest) in Brazil’s Bahia state, has likewise, experienced a powerful move of God since the mid 1990s. As with other transformed communities, the recovery is largely from extreme poverty, violence and corruption.
Vitória da Conquiste was also a place where pastors spent more pulpit time demeaning their ministerial colleagues than preaching the Word. Desperate to see a breakthrough, local intercessors went to prayer. Within a matter of weeks conviction fell upon the church leaders. In late 1996 they gathered to wash one another’s feet in a spirit of repentance. When they approached the community’s senior pastor – a man who had been among the most critical – he refused to allow his colleagues to wash his feet. Saying he was not worthy of such treatment, he instead lay prostrate on the ground and invited the others to place the soles of their shoes on his body while he begged their forgiveness. Today the pastors of Vitória da Conquiste are united in their desire for a full visitation of the Holy Spirit (27).
In addition to lifting long-standing spiritual oppression over the city, this action has also led to substantial church growth. Many congregations have recently gone to multiple services. Furthermore, voters in 1997 elected the son of evangelical parents to serve as mayor. Crime has dropped precipitously, and the economy has rebounded on the strength of record coffee exports and significant investments by the Northeast Bank.
San Nicolás, Argentina
Ed Silvoso of Harvest Evangelism International reports similar developments in San Nicolás, Argentina, an economically depressed community that for years saw churches split and pastors die in tragic circumstances. According to Silvoso, this dark mantle came in with a local shrine to the Queen of Heaven that annually attracts 1.5 million pilgrims.
More recently, pastors have repented for the sin of the church and launched prayer walks throughout the community. They have spoken peace over every home, school, business and police station and concentrated intercession over 10 “dark spots” associated with witchcraft, gangs, prostitution and drug addiction. The pastors have also made appointments with leading political, media and religious (Catholic) officials to repent for neglecting and sometimes cursing them.
As a result of these actions the Catholic bishop is preaching Christ and coming to pastors’ prayer meetings. The mayor has created a space for pastors to pray in city hall. The local newspaper has printed Christian literature. The radio station has begun to refer call-in problems to a pastoral chaplaincy service. The TV station invites pastors onto live talk shows to pray for the people. In short, the whole climate in San Nicolás has changed.
Villages, cities, countries
In other parts of the world God has been at work in villages (Navapur, India; Serawak, Malaysia [Selakau people]; and the North American Arctic) in urban neighbourhoods (Guatemala City; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Resistencia, Argentina; Guayaquil, Ecuador) and even in countries (Uganda). The United States has witnessed God’s special touch in places as far-flung as New York City (Times Square); Modesto, California; and Pensacola, Florida.
Early in my ministry I never thought of investigating transformed communities. I was too preoccupied with other things. In recent days, however, I have become persuaded that something extraordinary is unfolding across the earth. It is, I have come to realize, an expression of the full measure of the kingdom of God. Finding examples of this phenomenon has become my life. And the journey has taken me to the furthest corners of the earth.
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Transforming Revivals in the South Pacific
Transforming revival is now spreading through large numbers of villages and communities in the South Pacific, as elsewhere in the world. Pastors from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji tell the amazing and inspiring story.
Teams of pastors and intercessors now travel in the islands to lead whole communities in repentance and unity. Many of them use a process they call Healing the Land (HTL). This involved at least a week of teaching, prayer, confession, reconciliation, and renouncing the idolatry and witchcraft which is common in village communities.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea lies directly north of eastern Australia. Tribal people with over 700 different languages inhabit its coastal lowlands and towering highland ranges. Rev Walo Ani and his wife Namana describe community transformation through revival and Healing the Land (HTL) on the south coast of Papua New Guinea.
It was a very exciting week in August 2006 where we saw the Lord move mightily in the lives of the village elders, chiefs, church leaders and the people. A group of dedicated young people’s prayer ministry team started praying and fasting from 1st of July for the HTL Process. We witnessed repentance, forgiveness and reconciliations between family and clan members, and between individuals.
The Lord went ahead and prepared the hearts of people in every home as we visited. They were ready to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness from each other and reconcile. In some homes, members of families gave their hearts to the Lord. Visitation of homes took two days. On the third morning, after the dedication of the elements of salt, oil and water, the village elders and chiefs publicly repented as they identified with sins of their forebears; and each of them publicly gave their clans to the Lord.
Three dinghies and a big canoe with people all went in different directions up several rivers and along the nearby coast to anoint specific places for cleansing that had been defiled through deaths and killings in the past.
That night there was a time of public confession and renouncement of things that were a hindrance in the lives of the people around a huge bonfire. It was a solemn night; the presence of the Lord was so powerful that people were coming forward and burning their witchcraft and charms publicly. No one could hold back, even the deacons and church elders, village elders, women and young people were all coming forward. Young people started confessing their sins and renouncing and burning drugs, cigarettes and things that were hindering their lives from following Christ.
A young man, who had murdered another young man about 11 years ago, came forward and publicly confessed his sin and asked for forgiveness from the family of the murdered man. That was a big thing; there was a pause and we waited and prayed for someone from the other side to respond. Only the Lord could do this.
The younger brother of the man who was killed came out finally, and offered forgiveness. We could hear crying among the people; it was a moving moment where God just took control. Mothers, brothers and members of both extended families became reconciled in front of the whole village. We could sense the release upon both families and village. It was an awesome time; the meeting went on into the early hours of the next morning. At the end of all this at about 2am the pastor stood up and said the prayer to invite Jesus into the community.
The village is not the same; you can sense the release and freedom of Christ in the lives of the people. The Holy Spirit is still moving in people’s lives and they are coming to their pastor for prayer. Recently, a young man surrendered two guns to the pastor. News of what God has done and is still doing has spread to neighbouring villages. God birthed a new thing in our area and I believe that many more villages will see the transforming power of God because they are hungry and desperate to see change in their communities.
There were a lot of testimonies arising seven months after the HTL Process. Two water wells which had a salty taste were anointed with oil and now have good fresh water in them. One of the rivers that was anointed and prayed for now has fresh water instead of salty water half way up the river.
Alukuni, one of the villages which experienced their pigs being stolen by the Karawa young people over the years, testified that since HTL in Karawa none of their pigs had been stolen so far. Righteousness is rising up in the village.
The king tides in January to March usually caused floods in the middle of Karawa village dividing the village in two. After the HTL Process last August, the 2007 king tides have not caused any flooding. Praise the Lord!
A barren woman conceived after one of the visitation teams dealt with the generational curses holding her in bondage for sixteen years. Nine months after the Karawa HTL Process she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Simon.
There is abundance of fruit and garden food and two harvests of fruit on the orange trees have been observed so far.
A hunger for prayer has risen among the young people. Straight after the HTL Process young people from one of the clans started a prayer group which is still going on. Two other clans started prayer groups after a lot of struggle to get going over the years. The HTL team was the main support behind “Kids Games” which were held December 2006 in the neighbouring village of Keapara.
The studies were on Joseph and when they came to the section on forgiveness the Lord moved in a powerful way and revival started among the children. They stood and asked for forgiveness from their parents. There was crying and reconciliation between children and parents. The Lord is arresting the hearts of the young, the old and the children and there is no holding back.
Karawa is still experiencing the blessings of God with abundance of crabs, fish and garden produce. The economic life of the village is growing stronger.
One of the things prayed for was good education for their children, especially the smaller ones who do elementary schooling and did not have proper classrooms. Nine months after the HTL Process, Karawa which was the second last on the list of applications for school funding, was brought up to second priority and their application was approved. A semi-trailer loaded with building materials for two classrooms worth K75,000 (Kina, about AU$35,000) arrived in the village. The classrooms have now been built and the children are using them. Only the Lord could have done this.
Makirupu is about 2 hours drive east of Port Moresby, with a population of about 600. The United Church was the established church there and CRC and AOG have also planted churches there in recent years which caused a lot of offences between families.
In March 2007, we had eight days for the HTL Process, two teaching sessions in the mornings and one at night. From 2 5.30 pm for four days the prayer team did house to house visitation of all of the 126 homes in the village. The HTL team of seven and the prayer team all fasted and prayed for those eight days. The teaching was done in the language people understood very well. The Lord moved in a mighty way convicting people of land disputes, immorality and fornication, fear of witch¬craft and sorcery (fear was at its peak when the HTL Process began), lies, gambling, stealing, marriage problems, witchcraft, sorcery and charms and many other issues. Miracles of healing started from day one; people who were deaf began to hear, their ears were healed.
From research I had done we discovered that the mission land was defiled by three previous pastors who had minis¬tered in the village and who had committed adultery and fornication in the last 30 years, the last one about 18 months ago. This involved the last pastor and a young girl in the church behind the pulpit areas in the church building. That pastor was suspended from ministry. There was a court case between the family of the young girl (who defended her saying she was innocent) and the deacons of the church. There was actual physical fighting as well. This case involved the whole village; almost all the young people left the church. Because of this, the life and attendance of the services were affected. The life of the church was slowly dying away. This issue was never resolved properly; it was like a dark shadow hanging over the whole village. Our first focus of prayer would be the cleansing of the mission land.
On the second night of prayer we had a time of identification repentance and the current pastor came forward and repented on behalf of the three former pastors of adultery and fornication. Something happened in the heavenlies. A deacon came forward and repented on behalf of the deacons, followed by a women’s leader all repenting of the same sin and their involvement in it. More people came out and confessed.
The presence of the Lord was very heavy in the church. I asked if there was anyone to repent on behalf of the young people and the young girl who had committed fornication and adultery with the last pastor came for¬ward, trembling and crying, confessing, repenting and asking for forgiveness from God and the whole village. The people were amazed at what God was doing. Only He could do that.
The girl who had denied outright what she had done 18 months ago was arrested by God’s presence and could not hide any more. A Sunday School representative came forward and repented and asked for forgiveness. A former deacon could not hold back. He came forward and confessed that he had been the messen¬ger boy for the pastor and the girl and he said sorry to the Lord for denying Him.
Because of this incident 18 months ago, all the young people had left the church but when the air was cleared, the next day all the young people came and the church building was full to capacity. The fear of the Lord entered the hearts of the people. That same night the anointing elements were mixed and the mission land was anointed, cleansed and rededicated to God. It was an awesome time.
The AOG pastor also asked for forgiveness from the United Church for leaving the church and causing division. He and his wife and all his church members were part of the prayer warrior team right from day one of the Process. A couple of days later the CRC members started joining us and by the end of the Process all three churches were united to see change in the community. The prayer warrior team grew from 7 to 40. Praise God!
The next day news of what had hap¬pened had reached everyone in the village and the nearby villages and more people came for the meetings. They were hungry to hear the Word of the Lord. The next few days people were seeing signs and wonders, something they had never experienced before. Revival had started and the fear of God came upon the people. Also on the third day the village chief invited Jesus into the community.
On the last day the whole village gath¬ered at the spot where the village was started some five or six generations ago. Anointing oil was mixed and all the chiefs and village elders were anointed and reinstated. After that, groups of people and prayer team took oil to certain places previously defiled because of blood¬shed in the past on garden land. They anointed these places while deacons took oil to the boundaries of the village and the beach and dedicated the land back to God.
After lunch everyone came back to the village and started a bonfire. Church deacons and leaders were the first ones to come forward with confessions of adultery, immorality and witchcraft. Families with land disputes came out and reconciled with people they had taken to court. Young people came out with charms and magic and burnt them in the fire. A mother came out with her ten year old daughter and confessed she had handed down her sorcery and magic to her and said she was sorry, asking for forgiveness from God. Both were prayed for. Husbands and wives reconciled, artefacts of magic and idolatry were burnt. God was doing His cleaning up in the lives of the people.
The next day we had a time of celebra¬tion and you could see the release and freedom in people’s lives; singing was coming from their hearts and joy was bubbling over. The Lord had again touched people’s hearts and His presence was so evident that the people did not want to stop celebrat¬ing, although it was getting dark and there was no light.
The land and the people are being healed. The day after the Process a cou¬ple of men went crabbing and caught bigger and more crabs than usual. A week later a lady went to her garden to find that the bad weed which had been a prob¬lem to most gardens had started to wither and die. She went back to the village and told everyone. The fear that had gripped the hearts of the people had also been broken in prayer and now women are going to their gardens on their own – something they could not do before. A few days after the HTL Process, men began to go fishing and to their surprise they were catching more and bigger fish than before.
There has been a case of instant healing of a patient with a stroke after the AOG pastor and his wife shared with her fam¬ily about Roots and Foundations and how curses come into lives. The whole family confessed, repented and recon¬ciled with each other. The pastor’s wife had some of the oil that was mixed in the village the week before and began anointing the lady while they prayed. To their surprise, she was healed instantly. She began to speak and eat on her own. The pastor said he had never experi¬enced anything like this before. The presence of the Lord was so great they all started worshipping Him and time was not an issue any more. Praise God for this miracle!
During the Process, the pastors of the AOG, the United Church and an Elder of the CRC church, standing on behalf of the pastor, all repented of all the offences and misunderstandings between them in the past. So now the three churches have decided to have a combined service once a month in the middle of the village. The young people from all three churches are already having combined prayer meetings and they are in the process of building a big shelter in the middle of the village for the combined church services.
A couple of months after the HTL Process a security firm from the city turned up in the village and recruited all the unemployed ‘rascal’ young men who had been stealing and causing problems. These young men had been stealing pigs and other things and then reselling them in the city. One of them could not fit into city life so he went back to the village. He stole a pig and when his family found out they chased him out of the village. He went to stay with relatives in another village and in the process found the Lord there!
The villagers reported there has not been any stealing since the men were employed. There has also been increase in their garden produce, fruit and nut trees. The people are able to see their own produce come to maturity and sell it, whereas in the past it would have been stolen.
Makirupu and one of the nearby villages are known for getting floods during heavy rains. One month before we got there, it had been raining heavily but the Lord has kept the floods away. It surely is amazing!
Kalo is the village where in 1881 four Cook Island missionaries and their families were killed. The killings were led by the chief of one of the clans. Since the killings this particular clan has been under a curse and the whole village is also affected by it. The leaders and the people of this clan know that they are under a curse and they are desperate to be freed from it. There have been unexplained deaths, not many of their children go beyond high school; those that go to work in towns don’t last long and they lose their jobs.
The outcome of the talks is that the leaders of this clan called all their families together, from far and near to come and start the repentance and reconciliation Process. This was supported by the pastor and all the Church and clan leaders of Kalo. It was a moving occasion and the leaders agreed to proceed with the HTL Process and a bigger reconciliation event with the relatives of the Cook Island missionaries present in the near future.
Every year at their Church anniversary the Kalo people used put on the play of the landing of the Cook Island missionaries and their killings but straight after putting on this play, someone always died. They cannot explain it and they don’t put it on any more. After talks with Walo, they have decided to do the play again but this time including a time of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation after the play.
Healing the Land involved community repentance, reconciliation and rededication of all the people to God, along with acknowledging our stewardship under God for the land and the sea. This commitment continues to spread throughout the South Pacific islands, especially in Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and also the Solomon Islands.
Many revival movements continue to spread throughout the villages of the South Pacific, as in the Solomon Islands, an archipelago of almost 1,000 islands, scattered west of Papua New Guinea to Vanuatu. Leaders of revival movements in the Solomon Islands often take that fire to other South Pacific nations as well.
2003 – April: Western District
The Lord poured out his Spirit in fresh and surprising ways in New Georgia in the Western District of the Solomon Islands in 2003, and touched many churches in the capital Honiara with strong moves of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit moved powerfully especially on youth and children. This included many conversions, many filled with the Spirit, many having visions and revelations. Churches began to grow with new vigor.
Ethnic tension (civil war) raged for two years to 2002 with rebels armed with guns causing widespread problems and the economy failing with the wages of many police, teachers and administrators unpaid. In spite of this, and perhaps because of it, the Holy Spirit moved strongly in the Solomon Islands.
An anointed pastor from Papua New Guinea spoke at an Easter Camp in 2003 attended by many youth leaders from the Western Solomons. Those leaders returned on fire. The weekend following Easter, from the end of April, 2003, youth and children in the huge, scenic Marovo Lagoon area were filled with the Spirit, with many lives transformed.
Revival began with the Spirit moving on youth and children in village churches. They had extended worship in revival songs, many visions and revelations and lives being changed with strong love for the Lord. Children and youth began meeting daily from 5 p.m. for hours of praise, worship and testimonies. A police officer reported reduced crimes and said that former rebels were attending daily worship and prayer meetings.
Revival continued to spread throughout the region. Revival movements brought moral change and built stronger communities in villages in the Solomon Islands, including these lasting developments:
1. Higher moral standards. People involved in the revival quit crime and drunkenness, and promoted good behaviour and co-operation.
2. Christians who once kept their Christianity inside churches and meetings talked more freely about their lifestyle in the community and among friends.
3. Revival groups, especially youth, enjoyed working together in unity and community, including a stronger emphasis on helping others in the community.
4. Families were strengthened in the revival. Parents spent more time with their youth and children to encourage and help them, often leading them in Bible readings and family prayers.
5. Many new gifts and ministries were used by more people than before, including revelations and healing. Even children received revelations or words of knowledge about hidden magic artefacts or ginger plants related to spirit power, and removed them.
6. Churches grew. Many church buildings in the Marovo Lagoon have been pulled down to be replaced by much bigger buildings to fit in the crowds. Offerings and community support have increased.
7. Unity. Increasingly Christians unite in reconciliation for revival meetings, prayer and service to the community.
A team of law students from the University of the South Pacific CF in Port Vila, Vanuatu, visited Honiara and the Western Solomon Islands in mid 2003. Sir Peter and Lady Margaret Kenilorea hosted the team in Honiara. Sir Peter was the first Prime Minster of the independent Solomon Islands, and then the Speaker in the Parliament.
Dr Ronald Ziru, then administrator of the United Church Hospital in Munda in the western islands hosted the team there, which included his son Calvin. The team had to follow Jesus’ instructions about taking nothing extra on mission because the airline left behind all their checked luggage in Port Vila! They found it at Honiara after their return from the western islands.
The team first experienced the revival on an island near Munda. Two weeks previously, early in July, revival started there with the Spirit poured out on children and youth, so they just wanted to worship and pray for hours. They meet every night from around 5.30 p.m., and wanted to go late every night! The team encouraged the children to see school as a mission field, to pray with their friends there, and learn well so they could serve God better.
At Seghe and in the Marovo Lagoon the revival had spread since Easter. Some adults became involved, also repenting and seeking more of the Holy Spirit. Many outpourings and gifts of the Spirit emerged, including the following:
Transformed lives – Many youths that the police used to check on because of alcohol and drug abuse became sober and on fire for God attending daily worship and prayer meetings. A man who rarely went to church led the youth singing group at Seghe. Adults publicly reconciled after years of old rifts or strife.
Long worship – This included prophetic words or actions and visions. About 200 youth and children led worship at both Sunday services with 1,000 attending in Patutiva village where the revival began. They sang revival songs and choruses accompanied by their youth band.
Visions – Children saw visions of Jesus (smiling at worship, weeping at hard hearts), angels, hell (with relatives sitting close to a lake of fire, so the children warned them). Some saw Jesus with a foot in heaven and a foot on earth, like Mt 28:18 – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” One boy preached (prophesied) for 1½ hours, Spirit-led.
Revelations – especially ‘words of knowledge’ about hidden things, including magic artefacts and good luck charms. Children showed parents where they hid these things! If other adults did that there would be anger and feuds, but they accept it from their children. One boy said that a man accused of stealing a chain saw (and sacked) was innocent as he claimed, and gave the name of the culprit, by word of knowledge. The accused man returned to work.
Spiritual Gifts – teaching sessions discussed traditional and revival worship, deliverance, discernment of spirits, gifts of the Spirit, understanding and interpreting visions, tongues, healing, Spirit-led worship and preaching, and leadership in revival. Many young people became leaders moving strongly in many spiritual gifts.
These revival effects continued to spread throughout the Solomon Islands.
2006 – June: Guadalcanal Mountains
Revival in the Guadalcanal Mountains, the main island in the Solomon Islands, started at the Bubunuhu Christian Community High School on Monday, July 10, 2006, on their first night back from holidays. They took teams of students to the villages to sing, testify, and pray for people, especially youth. Many gifts of the Spirit were new to them – prophecies, healings, tongues, and revelations (e.g., about where magic items were hidden).
South Seas Evangelical Church (SSEC) pastors Joab Anea (chaplain at the high school) and Jonny Chuicu (chaplain at the Taylor Rural and Vocational Training Centre) the led revival teams. Joab reported on this revival.
We held our prayer in the evening. The Spirit of the Lord came upon all of us like a mighty wind on us. Students fell on the ground. I prayed over them and we were all praying for each other. The students had many gifts and saw visions. The students who received spiritual gifts found that the Lord showed them the hidden magic. So we prayed about them and also destroyed them with the power of God the Holy Spirit. The students who joined in that night were speaking and crying in the presence of God and repenting.
We also heard God calling us to bring revival to the nearby local churches. The Lord rescues and released many people in this time of revival. This was the first time the Lord moved mightily in us.
Pastor Jonny Chuicu teaches Biblical Studies and discipleship at the Taylor Rural and Vocational Training Centre. He teaches about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and is using the book: Understanding Our Need of Revival, by Ian Malins.
Some of the people (who are all students) have gifts of praying and intercession, worship, healing, preaching, and teaching.
Another revival ministry team of 22 visited the Solomon Islands for a month, in November-December 2006, most coming from Pentecost Island, Vanuatu, on their first international mission. The rest came from Brisbane – an international group of Bible College students (from Holland, England, Korea, and Grant Shaw who grew up in China) plus Jesse Padayachee, an Indian healing evangelist originally from South Africa, now in Brisbane, who joined the team for the last week. Jerry Waqainabete and his wife Pam (nee Kenilorea), participated in Honiara. Rev Gideon Tuke, a United Church minister, organized the visit.
In the Solomon Islands the revival team of 15 from Vanuatu and 6 from Brisbane visited villages in the Guadalcanal Mountains, three hours drive and seven hours trekking from Honiara, and held revival meetings in November 2006 especially to encourage revival leaders. They walked up mountain tracks to where revival was spreading, especially among youth. Now those young people have teams going to the villages to sing, testify, and pray for people. Many gifts of the Spirit are new to them. The team prayed for the sick and for anointing and filling with the Spirit. They prayed both in the meetings and in the villages.
2006 – December: Choiseul Island
Gideon, Grant and Geoff participated for five days in December, 2006, at the National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) in the north-west at Choiseul Island – 2 hours flight from Honiara. Around 1500 youth gathered from across the nation, many arriving by outboard motor canoes. The group coming from Simbo Island in two canoes ran into trouble when their outboard motors failed. Two of their young men swam from noon for nine hours in rough seas to reach land and get help for their stranded friends.
The Friday night convention meeting saw a huge response as Grant challenged them to be fully committed to God. Most of the youth came out immediately so there were hundreds to pray for. The anointed worship team led the crowd in “He touched me” for nearly half an hour as prayer continued for them, including many wanting healing.
Here is Grant’s description of that youth crusade night:
We were invited to speak for their huge night rally. Geoff began and God moved on the young people in a special way. Then he handed it over to me at about half way and I gave some words of knowledge for healing. They came forward and we prayed for them most of them fell under the Spirit’s power and all of them testified that all the pain left their body. After that I continued to speak for a bit and then gave an altar call for any youth who choose to give their lives fully to Jesus, no turning back!
Most of a thousand youth came forward, some ran to the altar, some crying! There was an amazing outpouring of the Spirit and because there were so many people Geoff and I split up and started laying hands on as many people as we could. People were falling under the power everywhere (some testified later to having visions). There were bodies all over the field (some people landing on top of each other). Then I did a general healing prayer and asked them to put their hand on the place where they had pain. After we prayed people began to come forward sharing testimonies of how the pain had left their bodies and they were completely healed! The meeting stretched on late into the night with more healing and many more people getting deep touches.
It was one of the most amazing nights. I was deeply touched and feel like I have left a part of my self in Choiseul. God did an amazing thing that night with the young people and I really believe that he is raising some of them up to be mighty leaders in Revival.
A young man healed that night returned to his nearby village and prayed for his sick mother and brother. Both were healed immediately. He told about that the next morning at the convention, adding that he had never done that before.
The delegation from Karika, in the Shortland Islands further west, returned home the following Monday. The next night they led a meeting where the Spirit of God moved in revival. Many were filled with the Spirit, had visions, were healed, and discovered many spiritual gifts including discerning spirits and tongues. That revival has continued, and spread in the Shortland Islands.
2002 – April: Port Vila
The Lord moved in a surprising way at the Christian Fellowship (CF) in the School of Law in Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital, on Saturday night, April 6, the weekend after Easter 2002. The university’s CF held an outreach meeting on the lawn and steps of the grassy university square near the main lecture buildings, school administration and library. God moved strongly there that night.
Romulo Nayacalevu, then President of the Law School Christian Fellowship reported:
The speaker was the Upper Room Church pastor, Jotham Napat who is also the director of Meteorology here in Vanuatu. The night was filled with the awesome power of the Lord and we had the Upper Room church ministry who provided music with their instruments. With our typical Pacific Island setting of bush and nature all around us, we had dances, drama, and testified in an open environment, letting the wind carry the message of salvation to the bushes and the darkened areas. That worked because most of those that came to the altar call were people hiding or listening in these areas. The Lord was on the road of destiny with many people that night.
Unusual lightning hovered around in the sky that night, and as soon as the prayer teams had finished praying with those who rushed forward at the altar call, the tropical rain pelted down on that open field area.
God poured out his Spirit on many lives, including Jerry Waqainabete and Simon Kofe. Both of them played rugby in the popular university team and enjoyed drinking and the night club scene. Both changed dramatically. Many of their friends said it would not last. It did.
Later, Jerry became prayer convenor at the CF and Simon its president. The very active CF at the School of Law regularly organised outreaches in the town and at the university. About one third of the 120 students in the four year law course attended the weekly CF meeting on Friday nights. A core group prayed together regularly, including daily prayer at 6 a.m., and organised evangelism events. Many were filled with the Spirit and began to experience spiritual gifts in their lives in new ways.
A team of eleven from their CF visited Australia for a month in November-December 2002 involved in outreach and revival meetings in many denominations and as well as in visiting home prayer groups. They drove 6,000 kilometres in a 12-seater van, including a trip from Brisbane to Sydney and back to visit Hillsong.
The team prayed for hundreds of people in various churches and home groups. They led worship at the daily 6 a.m. prayer group at Kenmore Baptist Church in Brisbane. That followed their own 5 a.m. daily prayer meeting in the house provided miraculously for them.
Philip and Dhamika George from Sri Lanka bought that rental house with no money and made it freely available. They had befriended a back-packer stranger who advised them to buy a rental property because Brisbane house prices then began to increase rapidly in value. They had no spare money but their new friend loaned them a deposit of $10,000, interest free, to get a bank loan and buy the house. They sold the house two years later for $90,000 profit, returned the deposit loan, and used the profits for Kingdom purposes especially in mission.
The law students from the CF grew strong in faith. Jerry, one of the students from Fiji, returned home for Christmas vacation after the visit to Australia, and prayed for over 70 sick people in his village, seeing many miraculous healings. His transformed life challenged the village because he had been converted at CF after a wild time as a youth in the village. The following December vacation, 2004, Jerry led revival in his village. He prayed early every morning in the Methodist Church. Eventually some children and then some of the youth joined him early each morning. By 2005 he had 50 young people involved, evangelising, praying for the sick, casting out spirits, and encouraging revival. By 2009 Jerry was a lawyer and pastor of a church in Suva and had planted a new church in his village as well.
Simon, returned to his island of Tuvalu, also transformed at university through CF. He witnessed to his relatives and friends all through the vacation in December-January, bringing many of them to the Lord. He led a team of youth involved in Youth Alive meetings, and prayed with the leaders each morning from 4 a.m. Simon became President of the Christian Fellowship at the Law School from October 2003 for a year.
2003 – May: Pentecost Island
In May 2003 a team from the CF flew to Pentecost Island in Vanuatu for a weekend of outreach meetings on South Pentecost. The national Vanuatu Churches of Christ Bible College, at Banmatmat, stands near the site of the first Christian martyrdom there.
Tomas Tumtum had been an indentured worker on cane farms in Queensland, Australia. He was converted there and returned around 1901 to his village on South Pentecost with a new young disciple from a neighbouring island. They arrived when the village was tabu (taboo) because a baby had died a few days earlier, so no one was allowed near the village. Ancient tradition dictated that anyone breaking tabu must be killed, so they were going to kill Tomas, but his friend Lulkon asked Tomas to tell them to kill him instead so that Tomas could evangelise his own people. Just before he was clubbed to death at a sacred mele palm tree, he read from John 3:16, then closed his eyes and prayed for them.
Tomas became the pioneer of the church in South Pentecost, establishing many Churches of Christ there.
God opened a wide door on Pentecost Island (1 Cor 16:8-9). Chief Willie Bebe invited the team and hosted them at his bungalows on South Pentecost island. The weekend with the CF team brought new unity among the competing village churches. The Sunday night service went from 6-11 p.m., although it had been ‘closed’ three times after 10 p.m., with a closing prayer, then later on a closing song, and then later on a closing announcement. People just kept singing and coming for prayer.
Another team of four students from the law school CF returned to South Pentecost in June 2003 for 12 days of meetings in many villages. Again, the Spirit of God moved strongly. Leaders repented publicly of divisions and criticisms. Then youth began repenting of backsliding or unbelief. A great-grand-daughter of the pioneer Tomas Tumtum gave her life to God in the village near his grave at the Bible College.
Evening rallies were held in four villages of South Pentecost each evening from 6 p.m. for 12 days, with teaching sessions on the Holy Spirit held in the main village church for a week. The team experienced a strong leading of the Spirit in the worship, drama, action songs with Pacific dance movements, and preaching and praying for people.
Mathias, a young man who repented deeply with over 15 minutes of tearful sobbing later became a worship leader in revival meetings. When he was leading and speaking at a revival meeting at the national Bible College on South Pentecost island, a huge supernatural fire blazed in the hills directly opposite the Bible College chapel in 2005, but no bush was burned. It was seen as a sign of God’s Spirit moving there.
Pentecost Bible College
By 2004, the Churches of Christ national Bible College at Banmatmat on Pentecost Island became a centre for revival teaching. Pastor Lewis Wari and his wife Marilyn hosted these gatherings at the Bible College, and later on Lewis spoke at many island churches as the President of the Churches of Christ. Lewis had been a leader in strong revival movements on South Pentecost as a young pastor from 1980-81. An older pastor evangelist, Wilson, also led many revival meetings there and on other islands in the 1980s and 1990s. Again from in March 1995 the Spirit of God moved powerfully in South Pentecost in meetings led by Pastor Lewis and Youth Evangelist Rolanson Tor.
Leaders’ seminars and youth conventions at the Bible College focused on revival. The college hosted regular courses and seminars on revival for a month at a time, each day beginning with prayer together from 6 a.m., and even earlier from 4.30 a.m. in the youth convention in December, 2004, as God’s Spirit moved on the youth leaders in that area.
Morning sessions continued from 8 a.m. to noon, with teaching and ministry. As the Spirit moved on the group, they continued to repent and seek God for further anointing and impartation of the Spirit in their lives. Afternoon sessions featured sharing and testimonies of what God is doing. Each evening became a revival meeting at the Bible College with worship, sharing, preaching, and powerful times of ministry to everyone seeking prayer.
Every weekend the team from the college led revival meetings in village churches. Many of these went late as the Spirit moved on the people with deep repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and prayer for healing and empowering.
Another law student team from Port Vila, led by Seini Puamau, Vice President of the CF, had a strong impact at the High School on South Pentecost Island with big responses at all meetings. Almost the whole residential school of 300 responded for prayer at the final service on Sunday night October 17, 2004, after a powerful testimony from Joanna Kenilorea. The High School principal, Silas Buli, prayed for years from 4 a.m. each morning for the school and nation with some of his staff.
The church arranged for more revival teaching at their national Bible College for church leaders. Teams from the college held mission meetings simultaneously in seven different villages. Every village saw strong responses, including a team that held their meeting in the chief’s meeting house of their village, and the first to respond was a fellow from the ‘custom’ traditional heathen village called Bunlap.
Those Bible College sessions seemed like preparation for further revival. Every session led into ministry. Repentance went deep. Prayer began early in the mornings, and went late into the nights.
Chief Willie Bebe, host of most revival teams, asked for a team to come to pray over his home and tourist bungalows. Infestation by magic concerned him. So a prophetic and deliverance team of about six local intercessors prayed there. Mathias reported this way:
The deliverance ministry group left the college by boat and when they arrived at the Bungalows they prayed together. After they prayed together they divided into two groups.
There is one person in each of these two groups that has a gift from the Lord that the Holy Spirit reveals where the witchcraft powers are, such as bones from dead babies or stones. These witchcraft powers are always found in the ground outside the houses or sometimes in the houses. So when the Holy Spirit reveals to that person the right spot where the witchcraft power is, then they have to dig it up with a spade. When they dug it out from the soil they prayed over it and bound the power of that witchcraft in the name of Jesus. Then they claimed the blood of Jesus in that place.
Something very important when joining the deliverance group is that everyone in the group must be fully committed to the Lord and must be strong in their faith because sometimes the witchcraft power can affect the ones that are not really committed and do not have faith.
After they finished the deliverance ministry they came together again and gave praise to the Lord in singing and prayer. Then they closed with a Benediction.
Village evangelism teams from South Pentecost continue to witness in the villages, and visit other islands. Six people from these teams came to Brisbane and were then part of 15 from Pentecost Island on mission in the Solomon Islands in 2006.
Pentecost on Pentecost
Grant Shaw accompanied Geoff Waugh to Pentecost Island in Vanuatu in September-October 2006. Grant grew up with missionary parents, saw many persecutions and miracles, and had his dad recounting miraculous answers to prayer as a daily routine. They often needed to pray for miracles, and miracles happened. From 14 years old Grant participated in mission teams travelling internationally in Asia. Then he attended a youth camp at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship which has had revival since 1994. He then worked there as an associate youth pastor for 18 months before studying at Bible College in Brisbane, and then became the youth pastor at a Christian Outreach Centre church in north Brisbane. So he is used to revival – all his life! In Vanuatu he had clear words of knowledge, and saw people healed daily in meetings and in the villages. That inspired and challenged everyone.
Raised from the dead
In Port Vila, Grant and Geoff attended the Sunday service at Upper Room church. That night the pastors were away in Tanna Island on mission so the remaining leaders felt God sent these two Australian visitors to preach that night! Great warning! It was fantastic, with strong worship and waves of prayer ministry for healing and anointing.
At sharing time in the service Leah Waqa, a nurse, told how she had been on duty that week when parents brought in their young daughter who had been badly hit in a car accident, and showed no signs of life. The monitor registered zero – no pulse. Leah felt unusual boldness, so commanded the girl to live, and prayed for her for an hour, mostly in tongues, and after an hour the monitor started beeping and the girl recovered.
The mission trip continued on South Pentecost once more, based in the village of Panlimsi. The Spirit moved strongly in all the meetings. Repentance. Reconciliations. Confessions. Anointing. Healings every day. The healings included Pastor Rolanson’s young son able to hear clearly after being partially deaf from birth. Rolanson leads evangelism teams, and helped lead this mission.
South Pentecost attracts tourists with its land diving, men jumping from high towers with vines attached to their ankles – the genesis of bungy jumping! Grant prayed for a jumper who had hurt his neck, and the neck crackled back into place. That young man and his father prayed there on the village track to receive Christ. Grant prayed in the village for a son of the paramount chief of South Pentecost from Bunlap, a heathen village. He was healed from a painful groin and his father then invited the team to come to his village to pray for the sick. No white people had ever been invited there to minister previously.
The team, including the two Australians, trekked for a week into mountain villages. They literally obeyed Luke 10 – going with no extra shirt, no sandals, and no money. The trek began with a five hour walk across the island to Ranwas on the eastern side. Mathias led worship, with strong moves of the Spirit touching everyone in many times prayer times. At one point the preacher spat on the dirt floor, making mud to show what Jesus did once. Marilyn Wari, wife of the President of the Churches of Christ, then jumped up asking for prayer for her eyes. Later she testified that the Lord told her to do that, and then she found she could read her small Bible without glasses.
Glory in a remote village
The team trekked through the ‘custom’ heathen village (where the paramount chief lived), and prayed for more sick people. Some had pain leave immediately, and people there became more open to the gospel. Then the team trekked for seven hours to Ponra, a remote village further north.
Revival meetings erupted there! The Spirit just took over. Visions. Revelations. Reconciliations. Healings. People drunk in the Spirit. Many resting on the floor getting blessed in various ways. When they heard about healing through ‘mud in the eye’ at Ranwas some came straight out asking for mud packs also!
One of the girls in the team had a vision of the village youth there paddling in a pure sea, crystal clear. They were like that – so pure. Not polluted at all by TV, videos, DVDs, movies, magazines, worldliness. Their lives were so clean and holy. Just pure love for the Lord, especially among the young.
Angels singing filled the air about 3 a.m. It sounded as though the village church was packed. The harmonies in high descant declared “For You are great and You do wondrous things. You are God alone” and then harmonies, without words until words again for “I will praise You O Lord my God with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name for evermore” with long, long harmonies on “forever more.” Just worship.
The team stayed two extra days there – everyone received prayer, and many people surrendered to the Lord both morning and night. Everyone repented, as the Spirit moved on everyone.
Grant’s legs, cut and sore from the long trek, saved the team from the long trek back. The villagers arranged a boat ride back around the island from the east to the west for the team’s return. Revival meetings continued back at the host village, Panlimsi, led mainly in worship by Mathias, with Pastor Rolanson organising things. Also at two other villages the Spirit moved powerfully as the team ministered, with much reconciliation and dancing in worship.
Some people in the host village heard angels singing there also. At first they too thought it was the church full of people but the harmonies were more wonderful than we can sing.
The two Australians returned full of joy on the one hour flight to Vila after a strong final worship service at the host village on the last Sunday morning, and reported to the Upper Room Church in Port Vila on Sunday evening. Again the Spirit moved so strongly the pastor didn’t need to use his message. More words of knowledge. More healings. More anointing in the Spirit, and many resting in the Spirit, soaking in grace.
The Upper Room church has seen strong touches of God in the islands, especially Tanna Island. They planted churches there in ‘custom’ villages, invited by the chiefs because the chiefs have seen their people healed and transformed. During missions there in 2006, many young boys asked to be ‘ordained’ as evangelists in the power of the Spirit. They returned to their villages and many of those young boys established churches as they spoke, told Bible stories, and sang original songs inspired by the Spirit.
All through these islands of Vanuatu revival continues to spread, not only transforming individuals and churches but also whole communities. The Healing the Land teams report on some of that below.
Healing the Land (HTL)
Pastors Walo Ani and Harry Tura tell how revival transformed whole communities in Vanuatu, including healing of the land.
Hog Harbour, Espiritu Santo
The island was named Espiritu Santo because that is the island where over 400 years ago in May 1606 Ferdinand de Quiros named the lands from there to the South Pole the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit. It had a huge American military base there in World War II. James Michener was based there and included descriptions of it in his book, Tales of the South Pacific.
Pastor Walo Ani describes how God moved in the whole Hog Harbour community in the north east of Espiritu Santo island in Vanuatu.
After hearing about the Healing the Land stories of Fiji, Pastor Tali from Hog Harbour Presbyterian Church invited the Luganville Ministers Fraternal to run a week of HTL meetings in Hog Harbour village.
In April 2006 the Fraternal, under the leadership of Pastor Raynold Bori, conducted protocol discus¬sions with the Hog Harbour community leaders and explained to them what the Process involves. In May 2006 six pastors from Luganville did the HTL Process and God’s presence came on the people that week.
Here are some of the stories of Healing the Land in a village of 800 people:
• Married couples were reconciled.
• Schools of big fish came to the shores during the reconciliation.
• A three year old conflict, bloodshed and tribal fighting that could not be stopped by the police, ended with reconciliation.
• The presence of the Lord came down on the village.
• In June of 2006, 12 pastors from the Luganville Fraternal were invited by the Litzlitz village on Malekula Island to do the HTL Process there. These pastors spent three weeks teaching and doing the Process during which many instances of recon-ciliation and corporate repentance were witnessed. Village chiefs and the people committed their community to God.
One year later the President of Vanuatu re-covenanted the Nation to God on the island of Espiritu Santo.
Litzlitz Village, Malekula Island
Pastor Harry Tura, an indigenous pastor of the Apostolic Church in Vanuatu, adds his comments about transforming revival on the island of Malekula in Vanuatu. Malekula is a large island just south of Espiritu Santo Island.
I wish to indicate to you what God is doing now in Vanuatu these days as answers to your prayers, and ask that you continue to pray for us.
I went to Litzlitz village community on the island of Malekula on Sunday, June 4, 2006, and the Transformation activities started on the same day. The study activities and the process of healing the land closed on the following Sunday, June 11. The presence of the Lord was so real and manifested and many miracles were seen such a people healed, dried brooks turned to running streams of water, fish and other sea creatures came back to the sea shores in great number and even the garden crops came alive again and produced great harvests.
Pastor Walo Ani adds his observations. He joined a team of pastors from Luganville (Vanuatu’s second largest town) on Espiritu Santo island in visiting Malekula Island:
In June of 2006, 12 pastors from the Luganville Fraternal were invited by the Litzlitz village on Malekula Island to do the HTL Process there. These pastors spent three weeks teaching and doing the Process during which manyh instances of reconciliation and corporate repentance were witnessed. Village chiefs and the people committed their community to God.
Miracles happened three days after the HTL Process:
• The poison fish that usually killed or made people sick became edible and tasty again.
• The snails that were destroying gardens all died suddenly and didn’t return.
• As a sign of God’s transforming work a coconut tree in the village which naturally bore orange or red coco¬nuts started bearing bunches of green coconuts side by side with the red ones.
• A spring gushed out from a dried river bed and the river started flowing again after the anointing oil was poured on it when people prayed and repented of all the sins of defilement over the area.
• A kindergarten was established in the village one week after the HTL Process took place.
• Crops are now blessed and growing well in their gardens.
One year later the President of Vanuatu re-covenanted the nation to God on the island of Espiritu Santo.
Vilakalak Village, West Ambae Island
Pastor Harru Tura continues his story of transforming revival in Vanuatu as he experienced it on Ambae Island. Ambae Island can be seen to the east from Espiritu Santo Island on clear days.
On Tuesday June 20, 2006, I flew to Ambae Island to join the important celebration of the Apostolic Church Inauguration Day, June 22. After the celebration I held a one-week Transformation studies and activities of healing the land at Vilakalak village community. It began on Sunday June 25 and closed on Saturday July 1, 2006. A lot of things had been transformed such as people’s lives had been changed as they accepted Christ and were filled with the Holy Spirit for effective ministries of the Gospel of Christ.
The Shekinah glory came down to the very spot where we did the process of healing the land during the night of July 1. That great light (Shekinah glory) came down. People described it as a living person with tremendous and powerful light shining over the whole of the village community, confirming the Lord’s presence at that specific village community area. On the following day people started to testify that a lot of fish and shell fish were beginning to occupy the reefs and they felt a different touch of a changed atmosphere in the village community. I flew back to Santo on Tuesday, July 4.
The lands and garden crops then started to produce for great harvests, and coconut crabs and island crabs came back in great abundance for people’s daily meals these days. The people were very surprised at the look of the big sizes of coconut crabs harvested in that area. I went there a month later to see it. You can’t believe it that the two big claws or arms were like my wrist when I compared them with my left wrist. That proved that the God we serve is so real and he is the owner of all the creatures.
We started the Transformation studies and activities at my church beginning on Monday, July 17, and closed on Sunday, July 23, 2006. After the Transformation studies and activities had been completed, we did the final process of healing the land on Sunday, July 23. As usual the Shekinah glory of the Lord’s presence appeared the following night of Monday, July 24. The people were amazed at the scene. That confirmed that God is at work at that specific area. A lot of changes are taking place at our church base and its environment – the land, the sea, and the atmosphere above us. People experience the same blessings as the others had been through.
On Sunday, August 13, 2006, I took a flight to West Ambae again because the Walaha village community had requested me to carry out the Transformation studies and activities and healing of the lands in their area. The Transformation studies started on Monday, August 14. Again the presence of the Lord came down (Shekinah glory) on the whole village community early on Wednesday night and they all witnessed the scene the following day. They were very excited and began praising God all over the place. I took a flight back to Santo on Tuesday, August 22.
The revival is now taking place at that particular community and lives are totally changed and people turned out to be experiencing a mighty difference of atmosphere and have been transformed to people of praise and worship. All sorts of fish are coming back to the reef and garden crops came green and are now beginning to produce a great abundance of harvest at the end of this year by the look of it now. This is all the hand of the Lord who does the work which is based on the transformation key verse in 2 Chronicles 7:14, which reads: “If my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.”
Lovanualikoutu Village, West Ambae
Walo Ani and a team conducted more of the HTL Process in Vanuatu.
In 2004 Walo was invited by a pastor in West Ambae to do the HTL Process there. It wasn’t until May 2007 that a small team consisting of Pastor Walo Ani, Deryck and Nancy Thomas of Toowoomba Queensland and Tom Hakwa from Lovanualikoutu village (who then worked for Telekom Vanuatu in Port Vila) flew to West Ambae to do the HTL Process. The protocol was done by Tom some months before the team’s arrival and a prayer team was already praying and fasting a month before the actual event took place. Deryck and Nancy coordinated the home visitation teams and saw many miracles of people restored to the Lord and witchcraft destroyed. The Chief said the sinner’s prayer on behalf of the community one night and they all surrendered their lives to the Lord as he invited Jesus into the village.
In the morning of the last day one of the teams was trying to pray down a stronghold in the bush when a bone fell through a hollow tree, taking them by surprise. They all jumped back but then stepped forward and dealt with it once and for all. Many taboo (sacred) places were demolished and items of witchcraft and idolatry were burnt in a bonfire as reconciliations flowed till after midnight.
Also on that morning a team of people swam out to sea with the anointing oil to worship there and dedicate the sea and reef back to God. The day after the team’s departure from the village a pastor who went out spear fishing saw a large migration of fish. He in fact reportedly speared two fish together at one stage. When he reported this to the Chief there was dancing and rejoicing under the cocoa trees where the Chief and some young people had been working.
During the reconciliation when the Chief began to speak, a light shower fell from the sky. There were no clouds but only a sky full of millions of stars. Surely God was in this Process! The prayer team continues to see visions and witness miracles of more reconciliation and repentance. Harvests from sea and land have begun to be more abundant than ever before witnessed.
The Sentinel Group’s DVD Let the Seas Resound vividly describes revival transformation in troubled Fiji, a land of regular military coups. This brief update describes recent revivals in the Fiji islands, similar to revivals multiplying in the twenty-first century with significant healing of the land. Rev Ratu (Chief) Vuniani Nakauyaca reports here on many transformed communities in Fiji. The most powerful events in this ongoing revival are the direct results of repentance, reconciliation and unity.
One of the first instances of this oc¬curred in 2002, when Chief Mataitoga of Sabeto village (between Nadi and Lautoka) had a dream from the Lord. The village had a lot of social problems as well as enmity and divisions. As a result of the dream, he called his people together to pray and fast to seek God for answers and healing. Over a period of two weeks, many of the clans spent time with the Chief to sort out their differences. They had meetings every night and God brought about rec-onciliation and unity in the church and village, many relationships being healed.
There had only been one church in the area until the Pentecostal revival of the 1960s which spread across the cities and towns and into the rural areas dur¬ing that period. Because of the rejection of the Pentecostal experi¬ence by some people, many villages had two churches, one Methodist and one Pentecostal. This caused division be¬tween friends and family, with many people not communicating and carrying bitterness and resentment for decades.
When Ratu Mataitoga directed his people to come together as one, there was a move of the Holy Spirit with real repen¬tance and forgiveness. Unity in the village was restored. The long term results of this action were only revealed with the passing of time. Productivity of the soil increased and long absent fish varieties returned to the reef. Mangroves that had died and disappeared have begun to grow again. The mangroves are very important for the ecology, providing shelter and breeding grounds for all kinds of fish and crabs, which were part of the staple diet of these villages.
The Healing the Land (HTL) Process, as it is now officially recognized, really started on the initiative of Pastor Vuniani Nakauyaca. For him it was a personal journey that resulted from an accumulation of various events.
The Pacific Prayer movement had a desire to see that prayer, repentance and reconciliation were carried out where nec¬essary on location – where missionaries had been killed or where tribal conflict had taken place. These were all based on a bottom up or grass roots approach to bring healing and reconciliation.
Vuniani had visited Argentina and seen the beneficial results of reconciliation with the British over the Faulklands war. He also visited Guatemala to see the Al-molonga transformation (see Transformations 1 DVD). This was a singularly dramatic community change. Jails and public bars closed, land fertility increased and crop production levels had to be seen to be believed.
What he saw brought a deeper desire in his heart to see this happen in Fiji, to give room for God to bring about com¬munity and national transformation in similar ways to what he had seen over¬seas. He saw the need to appropriately respond to the circumstances and use the spiritual tools available to see the nation transformed.
Nuku Village, Viti Levu
After returning to Fiji, he called some people together to seek God for solutions. They felt they should begin at Nuku, and this took place on April 1-10, 2003. Nuku is about 65 kilometres north of Suva, on the main island of Viti Levu.
The inhabitants of Nuku had been suf¬fering feuds, infertility, mental illness and social problems for decades. The water of the stream that flowed through the village had been polluted since a day 42 years previously, the water and banks being filled with slime. At that time, children were swimming in the stream when the water suddenly turned white and they all ran for their lives. Fish died and grass died. Vuniani, as a child, was swimming in the river when this happened, so he knew the background story. It was believed that the polluted water caused blind¬ness, infertility, madness and even death.
Vuniani and the team went up to Nuku to activate the Process. The key Scripture they went with was 2 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 from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land”.
They had two weeks of prayer meetings, the Methodist, Assemblies of God and Seventh Day Adventist churches being represented. They spent time studying Bible refer¬ences on defilement and Healing the Land. This lead them to repent and con-fess their sins and the sins of their fore¬fathers, in the same way as Nehemiah did. These included killing and cannibalism, idolatry, witchcraft, bloodshed, and immorality.
They went to the high places in the area to cleanse them of the sinful acts that had taken place there. The elders con¬fessed sins of their forefathers. Rec¬onciliation first took place within fami¬lies, then clans and finally within the tribe. The chief of the area led a corporate prayer of repentance with the whole tribe.
On the third day of the Process, some women came running and shouting into the village, announcing that the water in the stream had become pure again. It is still pure today.
Nuku village had been heavily populated, but because of feuds and disputes, peo¬ple were chased out or just left and went to live in other villages. Deputations were sent out to these to apologise for the past offences. A matanigasau (traditional apology) was sent to two villages, inviting the people to return if they wished.
The whole community now counts them¬selves as very blessed. The productivity of the land has increased. The stream water is pure and since that time shrimps and fish have returned to the waters. The fertility of the banks and agriculture has radically improved. Some people have even reported that the water has demonstrated healing properties.
Nabitu Village, East of Nausori
What occurred in this village was very much a follow on from what was hap¬pening around the country at the time. There was a split in the tribe and there were a lot of unresolved issues. During a business meeting in the local church, which was situated right in the middle of the village, a fist fight broke out. There was always a heaviness in the vil¬lage, like a hovering dark cloud. This affected people negatively and there were not a lot of jobs available.
On the advice of chiefs, the people came together on their own initiative for a time of corporate repentance. A lay preacher in the Methodist Church facilitated the Process. There was instantly a change in the atmosphere. The heaviness that had been there had lifted and everyone could feel it. The division in the church was healed.
The lesson learned from there is that Satan’s hold over people and places is tenuous to say the least. It only takes one man to lead many into forgiveness and healing. Satan has to leave, along with the oppression and curses.
Vunibau, Serua Island, at the Navua River
The HTL Process in this place was scheduled over a 14 day period. During the Process the mixture of elements was poured out onto the sand on the beach. Later that day, an elderly lady and her son went fishing on the beach. They cast the net out but when they tried to haul it back in, it seemed to be stuck. They thought that perhaps it had been caught on a stump or rock, but they found that the net was actually so full of fish that they could not pull it in.
They started walking back to the village to tell everyone, and the lady was fol¬lowing her son walking along the beach. Wherever his footprints were in the sand a red liquid appeared. As she walked in his footsteps she was healed of migraine, knee ailments and severe back pain, all of which she had suffered for many years. This healing has been per¬manent. As soon as they returned to the village she told the whole community what had happened.
All the people rushed down to the beach to see this phenomenon, including the HTL team that was still there at the time. To their amazement, right on the spot where the elements had been poured onto the sand, there was blood coming out of the sand and flowing into the sea. A backslidden Catholic man gave his life to the Lord on the spot. Photos were taken. Vuniani was called from Suva (about an hour away) and he also witnessed the blood coming out of the sand. This actually happened twice.
It was understood to be a confirming sign from the Lord that He was at work in the reconciliation and healing Process: 1 John 5:6-7, “There are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, the water and the blood.” This was similar to the miracle of the healing of the waters in Nuku, which was also recognized as a sign of God’s cleansing and healing that was taking place amongst the people. God is authenti-cating what he is doing.
At Vunibau many other signs quickly followed. Large fish returned to their fishing grounds. On one occasion, con¬siderable quantities of prawns came ashore so that people could just pick them up. Crabs and lobsters have also returned, and they have been able to sell the large lobsters for up to $25-$30 each.
After this sign of the blood, Pastor Vuniani recalled the scripture in Acts 2:19 where the Lord had spoken through the prophet Joel that “I will grant wonders (signs) in the sky above, and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire and vapour (pillars) of smoke” (NASB). He wondered what would come next after the sign of the blood and felt that the next sign would be fire.
Nataliera, Nailevu North
In Nataliera village there were four churches. There was no communication between their mem¬bers, affecting even closely related families within the village. Traditional witchcraft was still being practised and there were about eight sorcerers there. In addition, there had been many more deaths than would be normal.
After forgiveness and reconciliation, the members of these four churches would meet every Wednesday for prayer and fasting. On the first Sunday of every month, the four congregations would combine for one large gathering. An Eco Lodge, previously closed, is now prospering after the HTL Process.
For many years the fishing on the reef had become lean. Large fish were very scarce and for many years the catch had only ever comprised “bait fish” – the very small ones. Much of the coral reef was dead and what was left seemed to be dying.
After reconciliation, on two separate occasions fire was seen to fall from the sky onto the reef. After this, large fish returned in abundance. The coral is now regenerating and new growth can be seen in abundance.
When stormy weather strikes and the boats can’t go out, the women pray and large fish swim in close to the shore and become trapped in a small pond so that the women are able to just wade in and catch them. When women from neighbouring villages heard of this, they tried praying for the same provision, but without the same result.
Draubuta, Navosa Highlands, north of Sigatoka
Vuniani’s son, Savanaca, was working with two teams in the highlands. While they were there, pillars of smoke descended on the villages. This was seen by many neighbouring villagers who described it as thick bloodstained smoke. This sign was seen at almost exactly the same time as fire was seen to fall on the reef at Nataliera.
In this area there were many marijuana plantations. The Nadroga council had been trying to prevent the plantings. During the HTL Process, a deputation of marijuana growers approached the team and asked what the Government would do for them if they destroyed their crops. They had a list of demands which they presented to the team.
The marijuana crop was large, and esti¬mated to be worth about $11 million. There were 9 growers involved. The team leaders told the farmers that it was their choice, that they should obey God and trust him for their livelihood, without any promises from anyone to do any¬thing for them. If they could not, then they should not participate in the Healing Process.
By the time the Process had finished, the people had destroyed the crop as part of the reconciliation Process. After the HTL ministry, a total of 13,864 plants were uprooted and burnt by the growers themselves. There were 6,000 seedlings as well.
These are a few of the many miraculous events that have occurred in Fiji since 2001. Every week, more such events are happening as the forgiveness, reconcilia-tion and HTL processes are being experienced.
The theme text of the Healing the Land process and transforming revival still applies powerfully today: If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
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