This Renewal Journal continues to discuss controversial issues, such as the current ‘blessing’ transforming thousands of churches and multiplied thousands of people in the last few years.
People often have strong and opposite opinions about whether it is indeed a ‘blessing’ or not.
What can we make of it all?
Important cautions need to be made. To endorse and swallow everything that is happening as good would overlook the usual excesses, theological imbalances, and human sin. We are never free of that. It is present in all we do.
So we need to recognize our own bias to sin and to blindness. We all need the light of God’s grace and mercy.
Often those who most strongly assert their own theological purity may tragically disobey the most important commandments of all – to love God and love others. Theological purists, of all traditions, tend to judge others in direct contraction to Jesus command (Matthew 7:1 – judge not).
Having said that, we do need to exercise wisdom and discernment.
Some groups are excessively emotional and gullible. Other groups are excessively intellectual and proud. Others toss around like the waves of the ocean, riding the latest fad. None of us are free of a blind spot or two. So we need to walk humbly with our God, open to correction and willing to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
God gives grace to the humble and wisdom to the meek, but he resists the proud. The discernment we need is available but hidden from the worldly wise and haughty. That is a key to understanding this current ‘blessing’.
Thousands of God’s people testify to the humbling grace of God transforming their lives, even with and often through strange manifestations. Hard hearts are softened, and people weep – then joy comes in the morning. Burdened souls find release in joy unspeakable, full of glory and wonder, including laughter. Broken lives find a peace that passes understanding even in the midst of uncertainty; worry dissolves into exultant faith.
A common thread in the blessing of the mid-nineties is the empowering grace of God multiplied to those who hunger and thirst after what is right.
More than most of us have ever seen, we now see, hear about and read of significant changes in people and in churches where the current blessing has burst into bloom.
Pastors confess their sins of control, pride, theological rigidity, jealousy and fear of people’s opinions. Many are reconciled and work publicly together for God’s glory, not for the glory of their own denomination or theological stance. Churches which once competed, blamed others for ‘sheep stealing’ and criticised each other, have confessed their sins of division and hatred, found reconciliation and an astonishing love for one another. Many of them now co-operate to minister this blessing together.
Blessing in the nineties catapulted so many of us into new dimensions of renewal and revival in the 21st century. This century opened with renewal and revival transforming individuals, churches and whole communities. The Renewal Journals document some of those recent changes.
The current ‘blessing’ has been around long enough for us to assess its fruit in thousands of churches and lives. Ask around. You may be amazed at the people who will tell you of God’s grace bursting into their lives in these days, of new zeal for the Lord, of worn out leaders refreshed and renewed, of timid Christians finding surprising boldness and joy.
The high and mighty are being brought low, and the lowly made strong. Such is the Kingdom of God. Surely it is logical that if the glory and power of God touches us even a little, we will be undone, shake, tremble, weep or laugh for sheer joy.
The Renewal Journal, Number 5, on ‘Signs and Wonders’ included comment on the current blessing from overseas by Derek Prince, John Wimber, Jerry Steingard and others. It included some early Australian observations on this blessing. This issue, Number 7, gives Australian testimony and comment from leaders involved in it.
Owen Salter describes developments in Australia and overseas. Greg Beech, and Ron French add historical reflection to their testimonies. Dennis Plant, Alan Small, Andrew Evans and David Cartledge give their perspectives on the impact they have seen in the church. Charles Taylor and John Court offer wise counsel, and I comment on our discoveries in current renewal ministry.
The Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (formerly Toronto Airport Vineyard Christian Fellowship), which during the first two years of the current blessing impacted about 100,000 people a year continues to minister in its significant expression of this current blessing. The Vineyard Churches also continue to minister that blessing in their unique way which has brought blessing to thousands around the world. Others minister this blessing in their own ways also, such as the Anglicans at Holy Trinity Brompton in London, the combined churches in Sunderland in England, Melbourne in Florida, Pasadena in California, and various Pentecostal expressions of this impact such as ministries of people like Rodney Howard-Browne, Benny Hinn, Argentine healing evangelists, and many others.
And you? And me?
If, as multiplied thousands testify, God is blessing his people in profound ways right now, may we not miss the day of our visitation. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. They shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).
Every revival is born in prayer, in seeking the Lord earnestly together. Every revival is sustained in prayer, as people continue to seek God and bring others into praying, believing, obeying communities of God’s people.
Young George Whitefield, converted at 21 in 1735 wrote in his journal in 1737:
We began to set apart an hour every evening, to intercede with the Great Head of the Church to carry on the work begun… Once we spent a whole night in prayer and praise: and many a time, at midnight and at one in the morning, after I have been wearied almost to death in preaching, writing and conversation, and going from place to place, God imparted new life to my soul, and enabled me to intercede with Him for an hour-and-a-half and two hours together… I cannot think it presumption to suppose that partly, at least, in answer to prayers then put up by His dear children, the Word for some years past, has run and been glorified, not only in England, but in many other parts of the world. [George Whitefield’s Journals (1960:91)]
The Spirit of the Lord was poured out on one of those praying groups in January 1739. Within two months the crowds which gathered to hear George Whitefiled preach at Kingswood near Bristol had grown from 200 to 20,000 as God’s Spirit moved upon them. John Wesley began his famous open air preaching with those crowds and continued that for fifty years.
I recently visited Elcho Island, east of Darwin, with a team of 15 for their annual Thanksgiving Weekend on the anniversary of the revival there in 1979. God’s Spirit moved most strongly that weekend, I believe, when we waited on the Lord together, with Aboriginal leaders responding sensitively to the Spirit’s leading. We worshipped and prayed. Small clusters of people prayed for those who sought prayer, and God touched them gently and strongly.
The small communities there impressed me. Many people pray constantly, for hours a day, still. In some of those remote places the presence of the Lord is strong. The fires of the Spirit burn.
We can all do that – in our home groups, house churches, and meetings. We can wait on the Lord in worship and prayer and respond to his Spirit among us.
May revival fires be blown by the wind of the Spirit across this great south land of the Holy Spirit, igniting thousands of communities of the King.
God’s Spirit now moves like gusts of wind blowing and like waves breaking over us. It can be turbulent.
Many people report that their lives have been profoundly disturbed lately. Props and false securities are being shaken. False foundations crumble revealing what is built on the Rock.
This issue of the Renewal Journal explores some of the emerging developments as human structures are shaken and eternal issues emerge. In radical small communities people are learning to be the church, to pray in faith, to use spiritual gifts, to serve one another, to reach out in love. Increasingly, small groups are becoming the church in the home and the work place for many people. Some are linked with congregations. Some are house churches.
Communities of the King multiply. God is raising up a new breed of people committed to him and to one another, loving and serving in the power of the Spirit.
The articles in this issue of the Journal describe that. Charles Ringma, Dorothy Harris and Tim McCowan call us to discipleship in community life. Shayne Bennett and Adrian Commadeur report on charismatic communities among Catholics. Ian Freestone, Spencer Colliver and Col Warren outline emerging patterns of house churches and Barbara Nield examines the amazing growth in China’s house churches. Brian Edgar tells of renewal in a Bible College community and Darren Trinder reports on Spirit waves in Christian Outreach Centres across Australia.
God moves in many ways, including the multiplying of these emerging small communities of committed people. Thousands are praying as never before. Reports continue to come of God’s Spirit stirring.
All across this land the Spirit of God is leading people to wait on the Lord in worship, prayer and faith, then minister in the Spirit’s power. This journal strongly encourages that.
A lady in Belmont, Victoria wrote, ‘We thoroughly enjoy reading the Renewal Journal and have started a prayer group for revival.’
A husband and wife in Newtown in Victoria were blessed by the Journal and as a result they started a prayer group for renewal in their Reformed Church.
A young man in Brisbane bought extra copies of the Renewal Journal to distribute to his leaders’ group at his church and has urged them to spend more time seeking the Lord together.
This Renewal Journal strongly encourages prayer – personally, in groups and families, and in networks of praying people.
The phone rang as I sat to type this page. A man from Norfolk Island who had attended a ‘Catch the Fire’ renewal service held at Tingalpa Uniting Church in Brisbane phoned me to say how he was delighted with the meeting. He said “The worship at that meeting rode the wind like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).
I had the privilege of speaking there, and found (as seems common now) that stories today of God’s current acts continually illustrate comments from Acts 3:19-21 where Peter called for repentance so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. They still do.
The church was full at that meeting, so after extended times of worship and teaching we stacked the chairs at the sides, leaving room for our prayer team from the Renewal Fellowship to pray for all who desired it. Many did. I prayed for minsters and their wives. The Lord seemed to touch many deeply, as he is doing all over the world. The host minister said later that he could not rise from the floor. While there the Lord spoke clearly into his heart, telling him he was loved just as he was, not for what he did, for he is a child of God.
We continued to worship late into the night with songs of love and compassion, including some spontaneous love songs. The pianist played harmonies as I read from Daniel 7 and Revelation 7 about the majesty and glory of the Lord. That prophetic music not only magnified the reading and exalted the Lord, but ministered powerfully into people’s lives.
The man from Norfolk Island attends the Uniting Church there, where this kind of worship and ministry has been happening recently this year. They had not seen that since the days the island was founded by the Pitcairn people. The church on Norfolk Island began in such revival. People were regularly overwhelmed by the Spirit then as they cried out to God in their need.
Increasing numbers of people now report on these fresh touches of God and the deep refreshing from the Spirit of the Lord.
Is it revival? Most say, not yet. But it may be the beginnings of revival. Church leaders in Argentina now see revival with thousands upon thousands being saved and filled with the Spirit. They say that many churches had these times of renewal and refreshing for five years with increasing intensity until revival broke upon them.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Baptist prince of preachers who lived through revival in London in the late 1850s, called it a time of ‘glorious disorder’. Revival is unpredictable. Often disturbing. Like Isaiah in the temple (Isaiah 6) we find ourselves overwhelmed, convicted, aware we are unclean, undone, and needing to be made right with God. Just a small touch of the glory of God is unnerving, and obviously beyond anything we can comprehend or control.
However, we can respond. With repentance. With humility. With unity. With prayer. With love for God and one another. With worship.
New dimensions of worship
Many of us are living through further dimensions of worship now. Some of us began experiencing corporate worship in a structured one hour church service. Sometimes the Spirit seemed to move upon us and the singing would take off, the preaching was inspired, and people responded at the altar call for prayer and counselling. That still happens.
Then we began experiencing more of the Lord’s grace (charisma) and power. We longed for fuller, freer worship. People began composing new songs of worship, praise and response, including Scripture in song. Those songs quickly spread worldwide. As with hymns of earlier revivals, the best remain in widespread use. Others fade away. Only a few of Charles Wesley’s 6,000 hymns still remain, but they are great!
Now in further touches of the Spirit we find some of the new songs and old hymns helpful, but limiting. Increasingly we worship with spontaneity. Harmonies and melodies and spontaneous songs blend with the best of the new songs and old hymns in creative expressions of worship.
This year I was able to worship in many places including the Philippines, Ghana, Toronto, Anaheim, and in meetings in Australia from Perth to Brisbane. Often powerful spontaneity found expression in extended worship. Many times we worship in harmonies and Spirit songs for extended periods.
All the revivals I’ve read about experienced this. We will see much more yet.
This issue of the Renewal Journal explores many dimensions of worship. John & Carol Wimber describe intimacy with God. Geoff Bullock reminds us of our mission. Dorothy Mathieson gives prophetic challenge. Robert Tann and Robert Colman explore healing in worship. Lucinda Coleman surveys the history of dance in worship. Stephen Bryar and Stan Everitt comment on the significance of renewal. I reflect on worship in revival.
Worship God (Revelation 22:9). That command in the last chapter of the Bible points the way ahead for us now, and forever.
Revival is God pouring out his Spirit, abundantly. It may start small, with 1, 2 or 3 converts, but escalates to 100, 200 or 300 and more. It may explode with 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 as on the Day of Pentecost, or with millions as in national revivals. Revival impacts vast numbers of people, changes communities, and stirs up opposition, such as Jesus faced.
Significantly, Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit coming upon him powerfully equipped him for his mission. He then faced tough opposition, after he fasted and prayed. The devil tried to stop him. Jesus totally resisted that opposition. Personal appetites, vainglory, short cuts or presumption did not divert him.
“He is out of his mind,” his family said. They tried to stop him. Pharisees and Herodians, the religious and state leaders, plotted to kill him. The Gospels describe these strong reactions to Jesus as early as Mark 3:6, 21-22, 32.
He survived many assassination attempts. Two kings wanted to kill him (Matthew 2:13; Luke 13:31). His relatives attempted to push him over a cliff (Luke 4:29). People in Jerusalem tried to stone him more than once (John 8:59, 10:31). Leaders plotted to kill him many times (Matthew 12:14, 26:4; Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47).
Eventually they did kill him. But Jesus chose the time, the place and the method (John 10:17-18). I knew that the message of the cross is the power of God for everyone being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18). I just didn’t realise how powerful it is for life here, as well as for life hereafter.
The cross is the heart of revival. In revival God pours out his Spirit powerfully with salvation, healing, deliverance and community transformation. As I travelled I saw many examples of local revivals. Invitations came to teach leaders about revival, although I felt more like a learner than a teacher. Pastors and leaders appreciated receiving resources such as the Transformation videos and DVDs and my book Flashpoints of Revival (1998, second edition 2009).
I had the privilege of going with various teams, especially from the Renewal Fellowship in Brisbane, to visit many countries to encourage pastors and leaders. Many of those people overseas face difficulties and persecution we do not. The mission teams, as in Africa, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and China, gave us small glimpses of the challenges they face and their simple, strong faith. It reminded me of Luke and others going with Paul, as Luke describes in the ‘we’ passages of Acts chapters 16, 20-21, and 27-28.
We Westerners believe in Jesus and live for him, but I found overseas Christians and leaders generally more responsive to the Lord and his Spirit, more aware of the spirit realm, and more convinced that Jesus’ ministry and New Testament life still happen now just as it did then. They are more likely to pray as the early church did, “In the name of Jesus, be healed.” They bind and cast out spirits more than we do!
They expect signs and wonders more than we do, and pray for God’s supernatural intervention amid opposition like the early church Christians: “Now Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30).
Christians in other cultures also seem far less distracted than we are by media such as TV and DVDs. That applied to Australian Aborigines also, although now the media increasingly bombard them as well. We may know far more about our own culture’s gods, such as Hollywood and singing idols, than we do about Peter, Paul and Mary!
However, there’s hope for us too, if we, like them, will humble ourselves and pray, and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked way. God promises to hear from heaven his dwelling place, forgive our sin, and heal the land.
We invited a team of Aborigines from Elcho Island near Darwin to come to Brisbane for Pentecost weekend in 1993. The Uniting Church on Elcho Island experienced strong revival from March 1979, led by their pastor Rev Djiniyini Gondarra. It sparked revival in aboriginal communities and churches across the north and west of Australia, so I wanted them to share with us. Two dozen came and we housed them at Trinity Theological College in the students’ dormitories. They found the beds too soft but enjoyed sleeping on the carpeted floor!
We held the meetings at Christian Outreach Centre, in their large auditorium offered freely to us. Although we began in the seats, we soon found ourselves sitting on the floor on and around the large platform and its steps, talking and praying together aboriginal style. They sang, gave testimonies and spoke, in simple, clear ways. They surprised me when they told me that it was the first time they had been invited to lead meetings in a white congregation!
“We don’t know how to pray for white people,” they said. “We haven’t done that before.” I had asked them to pray for people at the end of each meeting.
“Just pray for us the same way you do for your own people,” I suggested. They did. We sat with them on the floor, talked together and then prayed for one another.
They invited us to join them on Elcho Island the following March, 1994, for their anniversary celebrations of the beginning of the revival. A small team of us flew there as guests, attending and enjoying the meetings and friendship. Although the initial intensity of the revival had died down, the meetings and community still carried the warmth, vitality and improved social conditions brought by the revival. You can read about that revival in Renewal Journal No. 1: Revival – the first issue.
Aboriginal pastors and leaders spoke at the meetings, celebrating what God had done among them. I had the privilege to speak one night, gladly thanking them for their God given national leadership in revival, so needed by the rest of us in Australia.
Some of us visited a small community, driving 50 kilometres on 4WD dirt tracks to the north end of the long narrow island. That community had one trade store, a single room school and a church. The whole community of about 30 people prayed together every morning and night, especially for revival in Australia. They had seen their prayers being answered among their own people, but continued to pray together daily for the whole nation. I found it a holy, humbling time to pray with them.
One of my most humbling and stirring experiences of revival happened in Asia where Christians have been severely persecuted for over half a century, and it is still illegal to hold unregistered meetings, free of government control and restrictions.
I loved it there among such humble, hungry, receptive, grateful, gentle and faith filled believers. I was often in tears just being there, appreciating their heartfelt zeal in everything. I have rarely been so impressed anywhere. No concerts. No acting. No hype. Just bare essentials. What a big and wonderful family we belong to, and our Father is so proud of his family there, I’m sure.
We had a moving night with house church leaders in a business office used for teaching English to business people. Some night classes were actually to support and train house church leaders. A secretary at the reception office could press a buzzer if officials came to inspect, so the house church leaders could quickly hide their Bibles and have an “English class”! Most of them had been imprisoned for their faith, some many times. They all prayed for one another at the end of the evening, Spirit-led and empowered.
I had the privilege of speaking at a house church. People arrived in ones or twos over an hour or so, and stayed for many hours. Then they left quietly in ones or twos again, just personal visitors to that host family. Food on the small kitchen table welcomed everyone, some of it brought by the visitors.
About 30 of us crowded into a simple room with very few chairs. Most sat on the thin mat coverings. They sang their own heartfelt worship songs in their own language and style, pouring out love to the Lord, sometimes with tears. The leader played a very basic guitar in a very basic way.
Everyone listened intently to the message, and gladly asked questions, all of it interpreted. There was no need for an altar call or invitation to receive prayer. Everyone wanted personal prayer. Our prayer team of three or four people prayed over each person for specific needs such as healing and with personal prophecies. That flowed strongly. I knew none of that group, but received ‘pictures’ or words of encouragement for each one, as did the others.
While prayer continued, some began slipping quietly away. Others had supper. Others stayed to worship quietly. It was a quiet night because they did not want to disturb neighbours or attract attention.
Most people in that group were new believers with no Christian background at all. They identified easily with the house churches of the New Testament, the persecution, and the miracles, because they experienced all that as well. Many unbelievers become Christians because someone prayed for their healing and the Lord healed them.
Afterwards, some of us drove to a local park just to pray with an elderly gentleman, unable to go to the meetings. He thanked us so eloquently for coming to his country to support and encourage his people. I was deeply moved. So much personal support, encouragement and evangelism happen that way, so simply.
It neither looked nor sounded like a Western revival! It wasn’t. Yet it was part of one of the greatest revivals of the last half-century, bringing over 100 million into the Kingdom of God.
Dr Charles Ringma invited me to teach graduate subjects at the Asian Theological Seminary in Manila in the Philippines where he taught. Charles and his wife Rita also worked with Servants Mission, managing their guest house and headquarters. I had known them in Brisbane when they were the inaugural directors of Teen Challenge in Australia.
So I stayed with Servants Mission and found my way to the seminary on hot, crowded Jeepneys, adapted from the popular army jeeps with passengers sitting side-saddle, or standing and crouching. Most Jeepneys sported brightly coloured religious texts and slogans – Jesus is Lord, God is love, Hallelujah, Blessed Virgin, and hundreds more.
I taught M.Th. subjects during the June vacations in 1994 on Revival History and in 1995 on Signs and Wonders, and visited huge churches in Manila. My assistant lecturer invited me to a church he had established. People there responded quickly, loved praying for one another, and expected healing and miracles.
A student in our class invited me to her home to pray for her sick daughter. The little girl slept on her mattress on the floor, so I just rested my hand on her and prayed. She slept on. Next day her mum brought her to enjoy our air conditioned classroom, happy and healthy.
During the class seminars, my students reported on various signs and wonders that they had experienced in their churches. Many of them expected God to do the same things now as he did in the New Testament, but not all!
“We don’t seem to have miracles in our church,” said one student, a part-time Baptist pastor and police inspector.
“You could interview a pastor from a church that does,” I suggested.
So he interviewed a Pentecostal pastor about miraculous answers to prayer in their church. That student reported to the class how the Pentecostal church sent a team of young people to the local mental hospital for monthly meetings where they sang and witnessed and prayed for people. Over 40 patients attended their first meeting there, and they prayed for 26 personally, laying hands on them. A month later, when they returned for their next meeting, all those 26 patients had been discharged and sent home.
In Manila I joined the team of Servants Mission in their guesthouse base. They worked with the poor in the slums and most lived in the slums with the people they served. They lived simply, identifying with the people, trusting God for his supernatural intervention in personal and social needs. I found it moving and challenging to visit the slum homes where Dorothy Mathieson and Judy Marsh from Gateway Baptist lived and worked. Conditions there in the slums made the rest of Manila look luxurious, even with the city’s regular electrical brown-outs, jammed telephones, cracked and gritty streets, and badly broken road drainage awash with sewerage in heavy rains.
Following my return from Manila in 1995, Meg and I went on a round-the-world tickets to Ghana, England and Canada. That was the cheapest way to visit Ghana on mission.
Ghana, West Africa
We drove, for over an hour in torrential rain to our first evening open-air crusade meeting in Ghana, West Africa. Our hosts from a small independent church, co-operated with other local churches for these meetings. As the guest speaker, on my first visit to Africa, I wondered why the meetings had not been switched from the market area to a church building with a roof. They explained that they always held crusade meetings outside in the market area where the people gathered. But what about the rain? I wondered.
We arrived at the mountain town of Suhum in the dark. Torrential rain had cut off the electricity supply. The rain eased off a bit, so we gathered in the market area and prayed
“Lord God, you are mighty,” I prayed. “You take over and do what you alone can do.”
Soon the rain ceased. The town’s electricity came on. The host team began excitedly shouting that it was a miracle.
“We will talk about this for years,” they exclaimed with gleaming eyes. And we had not even started the first meeting yet! We had clear skies all that week.
I asked them again why they planned outdoor meetings in the monsoon season. They told me that if I could only come at that time, then they trusted God to work it all out. Soon the musicians from one of the local churches had plugged in their instruments to the sound system. The loudspeakers did not face the faithful Christians gathered in the fluorescent-lit open area, but pointed at the surrounding houses, the stores, and the hotel.
My interpreter that night didn’t know English really well. I think he preached his own sermon based on some phrases of mine he understood or guessed, and apparently he did well. When we invited people to respond and give their lives to Christ, they came from the surrounding darkness into the light. Some wandered over from the pub, smelling of beer. They kept the ministry team busy praying and arranging follow-up with their churches.
I moved about laying hands on people’s heads and praying for them, as did many others. People reported various touches of God in their lives. Some were healed. Later that week an older man excitedly told how he had come to the meeting that night almost blind but now he could see clearly.
Each day we held morning worship and teaching sessions for Christians in a church, hot under an iron roof on those clear, tropical sunny days. During the third morning I vividly ‘saw’ golden light fill the church and swallow up or remove blackness. At that point the African Christians became very noisy, vigorously celebrating and shouting praises to God. A fresh anointing seemed to fall on them just then.
Although it didn’t rain the whole time we were holding meetings there, the day after our meetings finished, the torrential rains began again. The following week we saw floods in Ghana reported on international television. Later on we received letters telling us how the church where we held our morning meetings had grown, expanded their building, and had sent out teams of committed young people in evangelism. Through that experience, God showed us a glimpse of what he is doing in a big way in the earth right now.
Even the economy changed. Previously, people selling at the market made little or no profit. After God removed evil spirit everyone did well at the market.
Kenya, East Africa
I met Francis Nyameche, a youth evangelist from Kenya, when he studied for his Bachelor of Ministry degree in Brisbane, graduating in 2000. Since then I’ve visited him in Kenya a few times.
His father, Samson Nyameche, founded the Believers Fellowship Church in Kisumu, Kenya, with 2000 attending, and established over 30 churches. He runs an orphanage for 50 children on his family farm.
Frank had a vision of Jesus when he was five, and was powerfully filled with the Spirit as a teenager. He became the youth pastor in his father’s church and spoke at local markets where thousands were saved and filled with the Spirit. Frank evangelized in many places in Africa.
Supported by his wife Linda, Frank began Nairobi Believers Mission church in the slums of Kibera where a million people live, jammed together in small mud brick homes with rusty iron roofs. I’ve had the privilege of teaching leaders and speaking at meetings there. In spite of poverty and political unrest, their churches continue to grow steadily.
Before the Kibera slum church moved into their corrugated iron shed they met in a community hall. I taught leaders there, and spoke at their Sunday service with about 30 people. We gave them real bread for communion, not just symbolic cubes. The Spirit led me to give them all the bread we had, just three loaves (not five barley buns as the boy had in Scripture).
“Can I take some home to my family?” asked one young man. That’s a hard question to answer in front of 30 hungry people.
“You can take some of your own communion bread home if you want to,” I answered.
Then everyone took a large handful of communion bread, and most put some in their pockets to take home later. We shared real glasses of grape juice in plastic glasses, thanking the Lord for his body and blood given for us.
After my return to Australia I heard that the bread apparently multiplied, as those who took some home had enough for their families to eat.
My glimpses of revival in Kenya with Francis in the slums, with his parents in the orphanage and teaching pastors and leaders from over 30 of their churches, reminded me that God uses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty. People with limited or no resources still see the Kingdom of God come powerfully among them.
Our friends Bob and Jill Densley from the Renewal Fellowship worked with the United Nations in Nepal for a few years. They encouraged many pastors there, most with small house churches, facing hostile opposition. Holding church meetings in Nepal was illegal until the 1990’s. Most pastors have been imprisoned, many of them severely beaten.
During several visits to Nepal from 1996, usually with a team from the Renewal Fellowship visiting and working with Bob and Jill, we had meetings in Kathmandu the capital, in East Nepal with Bhutan refugees and churches, and in Maoist dominated West Nepal.
About 40 house church leaders gathered for our first meetings in West Nepal, sitting cross-legged on the floor with Bibles opened. I was led to call people who were, if necessary, willing to be martyrs to come for prayer. All 40 did. As the team prayed for them, most had open visions, and many were healed without any prayers for healing. The meeting closed around mid-night but after that these leaders kept on praying and worshipping through the night.
During some meetings in West Nepal, we walked the 20 minutes from our accommodation cabins to the church, past unfriendly or suspicious villagers. The two pastors sent to collect us in a jeep took another route and missed us. They panicked, thinking we had been abducted. After that they insisted that we wait to be collected each time!
In Kathmandu, on that same visit, we stayed in a Buddhist retreat house, because that was a safer location than hotels we had used previously. Some hotels had been bombed. Even there, in that Buddhist ‘safe house’ we had a night watchman on duty all night. He walked around tapping his stick loudly so that nearby soldiers would not mistake him for a terrorist!
Pastor Raju Sundras organized most of our visits. We first met him as a young evangelist who had already been imprisoned and beaten severely many times. Raju, with his wife Samita, began Hosanna Church in Kathmandu which grew to over 800 by 2009, one of the large churches in the nation. Each time we visited them we found they had expanded their premises. They planted other churches in Nepal, Tibet, India, and refugee communities from Bhutan and networked with 240 churches by 2009. Ten years ago it took a decade to add 100 people to a church. That now happens in six months or less.
Their church prays. A lot. They have a 24-hour prayer room where many of their people go to fast and pray. They believe in miracles, and see many. Their outreaches include feeding hundreds of street children in their ‘Jesus Kitchen’.
We saw many leaders filled with the Spirit, many people healed, and many gifts of the Spirit poured out, including revelations and visions. I heard a young man in East Nepal, and an older man in Kathmandu, both pray eloquently in English, although neither of them spoke English. That was a beautiful gift of tongues, which blessed me profoundly.
Here is Raju’s report of our team visit at Easter 2000:
Greetings in the name of our Almighty God Jesus Christ from the land of Himalayas! The Lord continues to do great things in this land, we have not much to do but to praise Him and thank Him for every good gift raining on us from Him and only Him.
It was a great blessing from the Lord to send us a team from Australia mid-April. The fellowship, the Word from God, the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, the love of Christ flourishing from our Australian brothers and sisters, the awesome presence of the Lord throughout the rushing schedule of conferences, trips, and visits, overwhelmingly expressed the great love of our Lord Jesus Christ towards this nation. During the short stay of about two weeks with the team of eight people we had the privilege to see the ministry of the Holy Spirit through them in several occasions.
Some of the group along with me had a short trip to the Tibetan border. We started early morning and arrived there about noon time. The towns of Liping on the Nepali side and Khawsa on the Tibetan side are connected through a bridge on Bhotekoshi river and right in the midst of the bridge is the border white line showing the boundary of each country. At the end of the bridge on the Tibetan side is the entry gate which is controlled by Chinese guards and immigration officials.
After praying on the bridge we approached the Chinese officials to get a permission to enter Tibet. The first official refused but the second one nodded approvingly, taking the four Australian passports from my hand as security, and let us go free of charge! This could happen only by the supernatural intervention of our Almighty God, Hallelujah! We had good prayer inside Tibet especially on those individual shopkeepers whom I would grab and pray on without any resistance from them!
On 21 April all the eight of Australians and I had a trip to Gochadda in west Nepal and held a three days conference over there at Easter. While driving toward the destination I shared the Word with the driver of the private bus and during the inauguration of the conference he approached the altar and accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. On the same day a Christian brother whose hand was partially crippled for six years was touched by the Holy Spirit and healed absolutely. He was shaking in his whole body and raising his hands, even the crippled one already healed, praising the Lord with all his strength, he glorified the Lord for his greatness, Hallelujah!
Out of about 200 participants in the conference by the grace of God 100 of them were baptized in the Holy Spirit praising the Lord, singing, falling, crying, and many other actions as the Holy Spirit would prompt them to act. About ten of them testified that they had never experienced such a presence of the power and love of God. Some others testified being lifted to heavenly realms by the power of the Holy Spirit, being surrounded by the angels of the Lord in a great peace, joy, and love toward each other and being melted in the power of his presence. Many re-committed their lives to the Lord for ministry by any means through his revelation.
On the second day of the conference the trend continued as the people seemingly would fall down, repent, minister to each other in the love of Christ, enjoy the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, singing, prophesying, weeping, laughing, hugging, and all the beauty of the Holy Spirit was manifested throughout the congregation by his grace and love. One woman of age 65 testified that she never had danced in her life in any occasion even in secret, but the Lord had told her that she should now dance to him and she was dancing praising him with all her strength. For hours this outpouring continued and the pastors of the churches were one by one testifying that they had never experienced such a presence and power of God in their whole Christian life and ministry.
Some 60 evangelists from Gorkha, Dhanding, Chitwan, Butwal declared that they were renewed in their spirits by the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and they are now going to serve the Lord in the field wherever the Holy Spirit will lead them to be full fledged in His service. In the last day of the conference while praying together with the congregation and committing them in his hands, many prophesied that the Lord was assuring them of great changes in their ministry, life and the area. While the power of God was at work in our midst three children of 6-7 years old fell down weeping, screaming and testifying about a huge hand coming on them and touching their stomachs and healing them instantly. After the prayer all the participants got into the joy of the Holy Spirit and started dancing to the Lord, singing and praising Him for His goodness.
Before leaving Gochadda while we were having snacks in the pastor’s house a woman of high Brahmin caste came by the direction of the Lord to the place, claiming that she was prompted by a voice in her ear to go to the Christians and ask for prayer for healing of her chronic stomach pain and problems, and that is why she was there. We prayed for her and she was instantly healed and we shared the Gospel, but she stopped us saying, “I need to accept Christ as my Saviour so don’t waste time!”
She accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour being lifted in spirit, and even the body as she said she didn’t feel anymore burden in her body, and spirit, Hallelujah!
On 25 April we held another conference in Nazarene Church pastored by Rinzi Lama in Kathmandu. Ten churches unitedly participated in the two days gathering where about 100 people participated. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit continued in this conference refreshing many in their spirits and bringing much re-commitment. Some cases of healing were testified. In one case the brother testified that he had received healing from the Lord and his swollen feet and the high Uric Acid had disappeared from his body, confirmed by the Holy Spirit.
We showed the Transformation video brought from Australia. All committed themselves for constant prayer to bring transformation to their cities too by God’s power.
On 27 April we held a one day conference in Hosanna Church where the touch of the Holy Spirit was tremendous and people blessed by the Holy Spirit and his might were manifesting his power and presence in the place. While people were worshipping and praising the Lord, a prophecy came and the Lord said, “What happened to the vision given to you six years ago? You have forgotten to pray about it but I have not forgotten what I have promised to you through the vision!”
I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I had seen a vision where I was taken over the highest mountains in this country with a few of my foreign friends and some of our evangelists and as we put our step on the top of the mountain it started shaking and melting and my friends and the evangelists started disappearing, then I cried out, “Lord where are my friends?” And He said open your eyes and see, and I saw all my friends and the evangelists were scattered all over the mountains and they were coming towards me with multitudes of people behind them. I started weeping and with a feeling which words cannot explain I was thanking the Lord for His goodness, I was laughing in the Spirit for the repetition of the vision which I could see again. Hallelujah!
I have to thank the Lord for His great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and I have to thank the Lord also for my Australian brothers and sisters who took up the burden to come over to this place and minister to our people.
Raju also reported on further developments the next year:
During the past two months in 2001 we have experienced a new wave of outpouring of the Spirit on the congregation. Many instant healings of people suffering from fever, flu, unconsciousness, blood discharge, boils and tumours, stomach problems, chronic headaches. The fame of the healings in the Church has reached many unbelievers through the congregation and numbers of unbelievers are coming to seek the healing, most of them ending up saved!
The Church is growing rapidly in the Spirit, many standing in faith are experiencing prosperity, good health, spiritual satisfaction, close intimacy with the Lord and moreover a hunger and thirst along with zeal of God to know Jesus intimately and to do his will whatever it may cost. This new wave of revival in the Church is another assurance from the Lord that in the days ahead he has got great and marvellous plans to be revealed and carried out by the people he has called to fulfil his purposes.
This revival is quite a new movement of God in the Church and the leadership of the Church is waiting on the Lord to receive revelation if there is anything to be done or just let it grow to maturity as it is growing by the Holy Spirit. Since the start of the year 2001 the leadership of the Church is busy praying on almost every individual of the Church for receiving the gifts of the Spirit as well as counselling them in the Word and praying with them at the time of need.
In December 2007 the Prime Minister invited Raju to speak at a nationally televised Christmas Day service in their International Stadium. Hosanna Church musicians led the 2,500 people there in singing their Nepalese version of Carols by Candlelight, as they held their candles: Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to Jesus, Happy Birthday to You.
The following year in 2008, for the first time in Nepal’s history, the government proclaimed December 25-26 a national public holiday.
Following visits to Nepal, Meg and I, with a team from the Renewal Fellowship, visited majestic Darjeeling in the Himalayas, then crowded New Delhi and Sri Lanka’s luscious green mountains. In every place we saw people touched by God in many ways, especially being filled with the Spirit and healed. They had strong, simple faith.
Dr David Mangratee hosted our visits to Darjeeling. A gracious, pioneering Apostle in the Himalaya mountains, David said our visits opened new doors for him to work among all the churches. People from many churches joined together for our meetings on renewal and revival. His own congregation at Mt Hermon had experienced revival, rapid growth, and launched missions to remote regions. Here is part of his reports about previous revivals:
Revival broke out in Darjeeling in 1960. The person God used in this great revival was Rev. David Mangratee. Born into a Hindu family, I had a wonderful birth. I asked the Lord, when I had a vision of the Lord, whether my father had died before he was born and had lived again, for I was told by my parents that my father died in the year 1933. He was to be taken for burial. People had made everything ready. He was kept inside the coffin ready for taking him the burial place. But before they could take him he woke up and lived again.
After this my father lived for another 20 years and died again in 1953 never to rise again. During my vision I asked the Lord whether this was true. The Lord answered, “Yes, because I wanted a man with a miracle birth.”
It was God’s great grace that He raised me for this great work which one can see at present among the Nepalese. I accepted the Lord as my personal Saviour on 3rd June, 1953, just 63 days after the death of my father. I underwent a Bible Training Programme at Southern Asia Bible Institute (now College) and returned to Darjeeling. We started a church in Darjeeling with 35 newly converted people.
On Pentecost Sunday in the month of May, 1960, one of our church members got filled with the Spirit of God. She spoke in tongues and prophesied. Then in the month of June that same year the Holy Spirit came upon the believers mightily. They were filled with the Spirit of God and God blessed them with gifts of the Spirit, especially the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. By this, lost money was found, lost souls traced, sick healed and sin uncovered.
Many miracles took place in the ministry, even raising the dead. The work faced a lot of opposition in the beginning but the changed lives of the first Christians made their mouths shut. Many national missionaries are working now in Nepal or Bhutan and different parts of India like Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. The Nepalese, among whom our major work was concentrated, and also tribes like Bodos, Santhals, Nagas, Rajbansis, and many other tribal people, got saved.
“I will send even greater revival than before,” the Lord said. The revival continues. We are praying to him who is a covenant-keeping God.
Our team from the Renewal Fellowship visited Grace Bible College and orphanage near New Delhi, India’s capital. Dr Paul Pillai and his family pioneered India Inland Mission, sending out thousands of evangelists and pastors across India. Their Bible College, the largest in India, has 600 students studying under-graduate and post-graduate courses, with 200 evangelists sent out each year.
I had the humbling honour to speak to their students, and also pray with the staff. Most of their graduates face hostile communities as they plant churches in Hindu villages and towns. We heard about two of their graduates shot dead in Nepal when we held our meetings in West Nepal in 1998.
I first met Paul Pillai when he stayed in our community home while he spoke at churches in Brisbane. Paul had been a young Hindu lawyer, converted when healed through prayer in Jesus’ name. He told us how he and his evangelism team had once been severely beaten by radical Hindus who broke his arm and tried to kill them all. God intervened. By the firelight of their burning tent, the team saw themselves surrounded by handsome men who moved them to a safe place, miraculously. Those angels said, “God will send you back here again.”
He did. Later on a man from that area invited them back to hold meetings in his home. That became the beginning of a church there.
Paul gave this report of challenges facing their graduates:
Manoharpur, where Australian missionary Robert Stains and his two sons were killed by burning them alive in their vehicle, is seeing a mighty revival. Thousands of tribal people are coming to Christ. Several of our teams are using the ‘Jesus’ movie all over that area where Bajrang Dal killers are brought in from outside that area to attack Christians. Killing of Christians may continue in that area, but the prayer of saints all over the world is making a change. Many Bajrang Dal killers also are coming to know Christ in miraculous ways.
Our churches in Kashmir are suffering much as the war is raging there between India and Bin Laden’s high tech Islamic ‘Mujahideen’ (holy warriors) with Pakistan as their base. With Chinese technology, and enormous amounts of Arab money, Pakistan and Afghan terrorists believe that there should be a nuclear war in South Asia for the conquest by Islamic terrorists as an ‘historic Jihad’ as a final holy war to wipe out Christianity. This big blow to Christian work in Kashmir will affect us for a long time to come.
Two of our Grace Bible College graduates working in Rukum district in Nepal were shot dead by the Hindu police for baptising Hindus in Nepal. Secret attacks are still going on while thousands are coming to Christ all over Nepal. More than 42 leading evangelistic organisations organised and directed by Grace Bible College graduates are working all over Nepal today.
Today there are more than 2,000 believers worshipping in different house churches in Bhutan secretly. Having an open border with India, Indian Christians are the only missionaries there. No church buildings are allowed in Bhutan. Many students graduated from our Bible College are working in Bhutan. This Himalayan foothill kingdom needs the Gospel desperately, and we need your continuous prayer and support for this strategic ministry.
I taught Philip and Dhamika George, at Trinity Theological College. They came from Sri Lanka where Philip’s brothers and sister are pastors, prayerfully supported by their godly parents. Philip and Dhamika, based in Brisbane, have raised many thousands of dollars for mission, especially in Sri Lanka. They invest in God’s Kingdom, and see miracles continually.
I conducted their miracle wedding in Brisbane. It cost them nothing. Not only did they have no minister’s fees, but also the church, the flowers, the bridal party’s clothes, the banquet, and the wedding video all came free, without them asking for any of it! Philip earned money while a student by cleaning St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, a beautiful, Gothic church in the heart of Brisbane city. So they offered him the church for the wedding. The people arranging flowers for the Sunday service the next day made it special for the wedding also. A student friend’s mother owned a clothing boutique, and donated all the bridal party’s outfits, normally rented or bought. Philip boarded at the Salvation Army hostel near the college, so they gladly provided the smorgasbord wedding breakfast for 100 people. Another friend offered to video their wedding. Imagine the family’s surprise when they saw that video in Sri Lanka.
They also provided their ‘miracle’ rental house freely to a mission team from the South Pacific for a month. They bought that house with no money, just a generous loan from a lady they befriended, and sold it two years later for a large profit, used to wipe out all their debts and contribute more to missions.
Teams from the Renewal Fellowship visited Sri Lanka with Philip and Dhamika, staying with their family and relatives, speaking in their relatives’ churches and local Bible Schools, and praying with their people.
We had the privilege of dedicating a spring water bottling factory built on their land there, supplied by a fresh mountain spring on their property. That provided income for their relatives’ ministries in their churches and Bible Schools.
In spite of ethnic war with the Tamils and many Buddhist threats against churches and pastors, God moves strongly in the nation. Some of Philip’s relatives have been taken to court, imprisoned, and had bomb threats, but they continue to trust God and serve him.
Vanuatu, South Pacific
I flew to Port Vila in Vanuatu in the South Pacific for a holiday in September 2002. There I met leaders of the Christian Fellowship (CF) at the Law School. The CF presented a long, lively concert the Saturday night of my visit, so I went. Then I discovered that they planned to take a mission team to Australia. I offered to host them in Brisbane.
The University of the South Pacific, based in Suva Fiji, has its School of Law in Vanuatu (because of the unique combination of French, English and local laws in Vanuatu, previously called New Hebrides). Students come from most nations of the South Pacific Islands to study law there. Many of them are born leaders, sons and daughters of chiefs and government leaders.
The very active CF at the School of Law regularly organized 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, and a core group prayed together regularly and organized outreach and evangelism events.
The Lord moved in a surprising way at the CF during 2002. The weekend following Easter, the CF held an outreach meeting on Saturday evening, April 6, on the lawn and steps of the university square. The grassy square faces the main lecture buildings, school administration and library. God moved on them in a strong way that night.
Romulo Nayacalevu, then President of the 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 back up service of 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, and as soon as the prayer teams had finished praying with those who rushed forward at the altar call, then the tropical rain pelted down on that open field area. God poured out his Spirit on many lives that night, including Jerry Waqainabete and Simon Kofe, both dramatically changed.
Many of these people are now leaders in their various Pacific Islands nations, both in civic and church affairs. Some of them experienced powerful conversions that night. Many were filled with the Spirit and began to experience spiritual gifts in their lives in new ways. Some students who had been heavily involved in drinking and night clubs found new freedom and zeal for God and have become effective evangelists through their changed lives. Many of the law students attended the lively, Spirit-led Upper Room church in Port Vila, where pastors Joseph and Jotham and others encouraged and nurtured them.
Eleven of those students came to Brisbane, led by Romulo their President, and led by the Holy Spirit, far more importantly! They sang and spoke at dozens of meetings in dozens of churches and homes, and prayed for people constantly. They were familiar with pastors laying hands on people and praying for them, but now they were doing that also, and seeing God touch people in many ways.
The law students from the Christian Fellowship (CF) grew strong in faith. Jerry, one of the students from Fiji, returned home 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 at the law school after a very wild time as a youth in the village. The following year, 2003, 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 2004 he had 50 young people involved, evangelizing, praying for the sick, casting out spirits, and encouraging revival.
Simon, returned to his island of Tuvalu, also transformed at university through CF. He witnessed daily 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.
In May 2003 I took a team from the CF 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. Converted there, he 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 into 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 evangelize his own people. Just before he was clubbed to death at a sacred Mele palm tree, he read John 3:16, then closed his eyes and prayed for them. Tomas became a pioneer of the church in South Pentecost, establishing Churches of Christ there.
Hosted by Chief Willie Bebe, the CF team of six led meetings in Salap village each night Friday-Sunday and Sunday morning – in Bislama, the local Pidgin and in basic English. It was a kind of miracle. That village church sang revival choruses, but the surrounding villages still used hymns from mission days! The weekend brought new unity among the competing village churches. The Sunday night service went from 6-11 p.m., although we ‘closed’ it 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.
God opened a wide door on Pentecost Island (1 Cor 16:8-9). Another team of four students from the law school CF returned to South Pentecost in June 2003 for 12 days of meetings in 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.
We held rallies in four villages of South Pentecost each evening from 6 pm. for 12 days, with teaching sessions on the Holy Spirit held in the main village church of Salap each morning 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, is now the main worship leader in revival meetings. When he was leading and speaking at a revival meeting at the national Bible College, a huge supernatural fire blazed in the hills directly opposite the Bible College chapel in 2005, but no bush was burned.
Pentecost Bible College
By 2004, the Churches of Christ national Bible College at Banmatmat on Pentecost Island increasingly became a centre for revival. 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 1988.
Our 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.
Teams from the Bible College led revival meetings in village churches each weekend. Many of these went late as the Spirit moved on the people with deep repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and prayer for healing and empowering.
A 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 responses at all meetings. Most of the whole residential school of 300 responded for prayer at the final service on Sunday night 17 October, 2004, after a powerful testimony from Joanna Kenilorea. The High School principal, Silas Buli, has prayed for years from 4 a.m. each morning for the school and the nation, alone or with some of his staff.
The church arranged for more revival teaching at their national Bible College for two weeks to over two dozen church leaders. On the weekend in the middle of that course, 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.
Through 2004-2005 we held many revival leadership meetings at the Bible College, usually in my vacations from college in Brisbane. Don and Helen Hill from the Renewal Fellowship in Brisbane joined me there for some visits. They provided needed portable generators and lawn mowers, and Don repaired the electrical wiring and installations at the Bible College. Helen recorded my teaching sessions, now available on DVD. Friends around the world, such as in Kenya, Nepal and the Pacific, have used those DVDs for their leadership training.
Those Bible College sessions seemed like preparation for revival. Every session led into ministry. Repentance went deep. Prayer began early in the mornings, and went late into the nights.
Chief Willie 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 leaders at the Bible College of about six people prayed there. Mathias reported that they located witchcraft items in the ground, removed them and claimed the power of Jesus’ blood to cleanse and heal the land.
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 joined me on 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 international mission teams in Asia. He attended a youth camp at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, a church which had revival from 1994. He then worked there as an associate youth pastor for 18 months before studying at Bible College in Brisbane. So he is used to revival – all his life! In Vanuatu he received clear words of knowledge, and saw people healed daily in Port Vila and on Pentecost Island both in meetings and in the villages. That inspired and challenged everyone.
We attended the afternoon service at Upper Room church in Port Vila. That night the senior pastors were in Tanna Island on mission and the remaining leaders were so glad God had sent us to preach that night! Great warning! It was fantastic. Worship was strong.
Raised from the dead
At sharing time in the Upper Room service Leah, 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. After an hour the monitor started beeping and the girl recovered. What a great testimony!
Grant gave words of knowledge about healings needed and prayed for those people, then told some of his testimony. When he was eight years old he saw Jesus in a vision, so bright that Grant could not see his face. In the vision Grant saw the glorious gates of heaven, but did no enter, although he wanted to.
We prayed for all the children, many of them ‘resting’ in the Spirit. Then Grant told more of his testimony, about his time in Toronto. The message that night covered Luke 8, 9, 10 – where Jesus, the 12 and the 70 all did the same things, with no money, preached the same message on the Kingdom of God, and had the same ministry of healing. Most people came out for prayer, most of them resting in the Spirit.
On Tuesday, the day we flew to Pentecost Island I woke again at 3 a.m., as often happened in the previous few weeks, but this was different. I had just seen a quick and powerful vision (while asleep). After seeing a ‘wall’ full of accusations ripped apart with a golden tear, I saw a marvellous long cascade waterfall full of bright living colours. The vision then merged into a brilliant hillside scene where Jesus the Good Shepherd, with shawl and staff, gathered his flock to himself. At first I thought they were sheep but the forms became children and people. I didn’t see Jesus’ face but felt his huge love for everyone – wanting them all to come to him and gathering them to himself. I woke up crying with joy. Significant timing as we started on Pentecost Island that night.
Our mission continued on South Pentecost once more. Based in the village of Panlimsi where Mathias was then the young pastor, we slept in a house with bamboo walls and floor and thatch roof, and ate with their team there in the village.
The Spirit moved strongly in all the meetings. Repentance. Reconciliations. Many healings, daily. Confessions. Anointing. Healings included Pastor Rolanson’s young son able to hear clearly after being born partially deaf. 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. Grant prayed for a jumper who had hurt his neck, and the neck cracked back into place. After prayer, an elderly man no longer needed a walking stick to come up the hill to the meetings. The Lord healed a son of the paramount chief of South Pentecost from Bunlap, a ‘custom’ village, when Grant prayed for him and pain left his sore leg. He invited the team to come to his village to pray for the sick. No white people had ever been invited there to minister previously.
A team of about 20 of us trekked for a week into mountain villages. I 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. At one point I spat on the dirt floor, making mud to show what Jesus did once. No one had ever done such a thing there! Marilyn Wari, wife of the President of the Churches of Christ in Vanuatu, 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 without glasses.
Glory in a remote village
We trekked through Bunlap, the ‘custom’ 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 on the east coast. 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 on 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 children there paddling in a pure sea, crystal clear. They were like that – so pure. Not polluted at all by TV, videos, movies, magazines, worldliness. Their lives were so clean. 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 was repenting, as the Spirit moved on us all.
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.
People in the host village heard angels singing there also. At first they too were thinking it was the church full of people, but they realised that the harmonies were more wonderful than we can sing.
Grant and I returned full of joy on the one hour flight to Port 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 and many resting in the Spirit, soaking in grace.
That church continues to minister in the Spirit and has seen powerful moves 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 their 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 in their villages as they spoke, told Bible stories, and sang original songs given to them by the Spirit.
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 has 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.
In spite of, and perhaps because of, the ethnic tension (civil war) for two years with rebels armed with guns causing widespread problems and the economy failing with wages of many police, teachers and administrators unpaid, 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, 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 observed that the number of reported crimes fell and that former rebels attended daily worship and prayer meetings.
Western Solomon Islands
A team of students from the University of the South Pacific Law School in Port Vila, Vanuatu, joined me on mission to Honiara, the capital, and the Western Solomon Islands in 2003. Sir Peter Kenilorea, inaugural Prime Minster and then the Speaker in the Parliament, with his wife Lady Margaret, hosted the team in Honiara. Dr Ronald Ziru, then administrator of the United Church Hospital in Munda in the Western District hosted the team there, which included his son Calvin.
Our team first experienced the revival on an island near Munda. We took the outboard motor canoe with Rev Fred Alizeru from 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 daily from around 5.30 p.m., and wanted to go late every night. Then children did not want to go to school the next day! We encouraged the children to see school as a mission field, to pray with their friends there, and learn well so they can serve God better. So they needed to get to bed early enough to do that!
At Seghe and in the Marovo Lagoon the revival had been spreading 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 – Young men 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 previously rarely went to church was leading the youth singing group at Seghe; adults publicly reconciled, repenting from ancient quarrels.
Long worship – This often included prophetic words or actions and visions. I visited Sunday services in a village of the lagoon. About 200 youth and children led worship at both services with 1,000 attending. They sang revival songs and choruses accompanied by their youth band. I prayed individually for over 200 people from 9.30 to 11.30 p.m. They just kept coming, mostly adults. On the Monday night at Seghe the congregation there worshipped from before 6 p.m. to after 9 p.m., then after that I taught, and prayed with each of the family groups there.
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 kids 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. Jesus wants no rivals! Kids told parents where they hid these things! If other adults did that there would be anger and feuds, but they had to accept it from their children. One boy told police that a man accused of stealing a chain saw (and sacked) was innocent as he claimed, and gave them the name of the culprit, by word of knowledge.
Spiritual Gifts – including controversial ones, kept multiplying. Adults asked many questions at teaching sessions. We 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 revival leadership. Young people in their twenties became revival leaders moving strongly in many spiritual gifts.
These revival effects continued to spread throughout the Solomon Islands.
I led a team of 22 in the Solomon Islands for a month, in November-December 2006, 15 of them from Pentecost Island in 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 Asia) 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), joined us in Honiara. Rev Gideon Tuke, a United Church minister, organized our visit.
Six of the Vanuatu team travelled via Brisbane experiencing the wonders of electricity, hot and cold tap water, fast travel on good roads in a van, and a huge city. They led worship powerfully at the Kenmore Baptist Church 6 a.m. daily prayer group, and spoke at some meetings, as well as visiting Australia Zoo and the coast.
Then in the Solomon Islands the revival team from Vanuatu and Brisbane held meetings in Honiara and visited villages in the Guadalcanal Mountains. They trekked for seven hours, walking up the mountain tracks to where revival was spreading, especially among youth. High School youth have teams going to the villages to sing, testify, and pray for people. Many gifts of the Spirit are new to them. Our team prayed for the sick and for anointing and filling with the Spirit. They prayed both in the meetings and in the villages.
One Sunday night Grant and Mathias (the team worship leader) spoke about how they learned to move in the power of the Spirit, and then they went out from the meeting (as Jesus sent people out in pairs) and prayed for a lady in the village with back and leg pains and she was healed. They returned to the same meeting rejoicing and reporting on this miracle.
Mathias involved the youth in singing groups, with keyboards, guitars, and spontaneous items. Our team of over 20, mostly islanders, prayed for the villagers, with personal prayer and prophecies. We ran out of room for bodies to rest on the floor!
Gideon and Grant joined me that December 2006 at the National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) in the north-west at Choiseul Island, two hours flight from Honiara. Around 1200 youth gathered from across the nation, many arriving by outboard motor canoes.
A group coming from Simbo Island in two canoes ran into trouble when their outboard motors failed. Two of their young men swam for nine hours from noon in rough seas to get help. By 9 p.m. they staggered onto an island near Gizo, and contacted a RAMSI team (Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, an Australian army and police project). A RAMSI patrol boat towed the two stranded canoes back to Gizo. The next day that group from Simbo arrived in one packed canoe, minus their food which they had to throw overboard when stranded in the rough seas.
The Friday night 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.
Grant described that youth crusade night:
The nation-wide youth convention was held at Choiseul Island. We were there for five days. It was an awesome time and God moved so powerfully. So much happened, so I’ll just tell you about one of the nights. It really impacted my life!
We were invited to speak for their huge night rally. Geoff spoke first and as he started to speak God began to move 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 power and all of them testified that the pain had left their body. After that I continued to speak for a bit and then gave an altar call for any youth that wanted to 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.
One young man, healed from pain that night, went back to his nearby village and prayed for his sick mother and brother. Both were healed. He had never done that before. He testified about it at the conference the next morning.
The delegation from Kariki, 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 tongues and discerning spirits. That revival moved through their islands.
Revival movements continue to spread in the Solomon Islands. Visiting teams have participated and encouraged leaders.
Honiara, the capital has seen many touches of revival. A week of evening revival meetings in Wesley United Church in the capital Honiara spontaneously erupted in September 2007. That was the first time they held such a week of revival meetings, including joining with youth from other churches. Calvin Ziru, their youth leader had been worship leader in the law student team in Brisbane in 2002. He was then legal advisor to the parliament in the Solomons, ideally placed to lead combined churches youth revival meetings and also the parliamentary Christian fellowship.
Seghe lies at the southeast point of New Georgia in stunning scenery. I taught at the Theological Seminary at Seghe in the fantastic Marovo Lagoon, 70 kilometres with hundreds of tropical bush laden islands north and west of New Georgia Island. Morning teaching sessions, personal prayers in the afternoons (and some rest) and night revival meetings, with worship led by the student team, filled an eventful week in September 2007. That was the first time they hosted such a week at the seminary. Meetings included two village revival services in the lagoon, including at Patutiva village, where revival started in Easter 2003. That meeting went from 7 p.m. to 1.30 a.m. with about 1,000 people! Hundreds received prayer after the meeting ‘closed’ at 11 pm.
Simbo. A tsunami ravaged Gizo and Simbo islands in April 2007. It smashed all the Simbo canoes, except Gideon’s and his brother’s which were then on the ocean on the two hour trip from Simbo to Gizo. Tapurae village had hosted many revival meetings. It was wiped out by the tsunami, so the villagers relocated to higher ground. Strong moves of the Spirit continue on Simbo. The village that relocated from Tapurae has a revival prayer team of 30, and no one from that village needed medical help from the clinic in three years since they started praying constantly for the sick, laying on hands and casting out spirits.
Gizo, the provincial capital of the Western Region is the Solomons Island’s second-largest town. Its airstrip is an island near the town, with its pressed coral runway covering the whole length of the island. Visitors take a canoe or launch across to town. The central United Church hosted revival meetings in October 2007. The Premier of the region asked penetrating questions and joined those who came out for prayer. He testified that he was immediately healed from stress-related head pain and tension.
Taro, the regional centre for Choiseul province in the west Solomons hosted an amazing week of unity among all the churches, the United Church, SDAs, Catholics and Anglicans. The meetings included 30 leaders from Karika in the Shortland Islands region, further west. Revival started in Karika the day after leaders returned from the National Christian Youth Convention in Choiseul Island the previous December.
Pastor Mathias from Pentecost Island in Vanuatu participated at Taro. He literally dropped out of the sky at Gizo on an early flight from Honiara. He boarded the plane with no ticket and no money! Dr Ron Ziru took him to the plane in Honiara, an extra one with spare seats, so he walked on leaving his international ticket at the office till we paid the fare! Gideon and I saw him wondering along the main street as we ate breakfast at the Gizo hotel. So he joined us there, and then we flew to Taro that afternoon. The United Church hosted that full week of meetings and constant prayers for people.
The premier and regional officials attended a meeting at the regional parliament house, which included praying with people afterwards. So did the director for medical services and his staff at a meeting at the hospital. Others gathered at the Catholic Church for a meeting and personal prayer there. Each night combined churches revival meetings were held on the soccer field, with huge responses for prayer nightly.
The Lord opened the way for strong ministry with revival and national leaders in all these places. Revival, reconciliation and transformation increase. God is doing far more than most people are asking or even thinking about in these islands (Eph 3:20-21). In all these places people made strong commitments to the Lord, and healings kept happening.
Both in Vanuatu and in the Solomon Islands the people said that they could all understand my English, even those who did not speak English, so they did not need an interpreter.
I enjoyed being part of the combined Kenmore Baptist Church (KBC) and Christian Outreach Centre (COC) teams in Fiji in 2006-7. The teams, led by senior pastor Ric and Anne Benson and pastor Jesse and Cookie Padayachee, worked with the COC churches in Lautoka in the west and Navua on the Coral Coast in the east. We saw many saved and healed in morning visits to villages, as well as at the night meetings.
A ‘magic man’ in one village came for prayer after seeing healings in his village. Three women and a man who had done firewalking from another village made commitments to Christ, renounced their spirit involvement and were healed from constantly itchy skin irritations on their legs. Jesse prayed for 11 people in the Suva hospital who were then sent home soon afterwards.
I led a group each day as we visited homes, and spoke in many village gatherings, and then prayed for the sick. I was especially touched watching Dr Andrew Cotterill from KBC, a pediatrician, pray for the sick, often with tears. Many reported immediate improvement. Team leader Ric Benson taught pastors and leaders in morning sessions, and I taught about revival now stirring in the South Pacific.
One morning in Navua our group had a meeting in the home of Indo-Fijian pastor Nevian, and his wife Esther. He had just finished Bible College in Suva. Everyone we prayed for there was touched strongly. The first lady prayed for was delivered from some Hindu god spirit. Nevian then became our interpreter as we visited other Hindu homes nearby, and we led one old Hindu man to faith in Jesus. Nevian and his family then attended all the rest of the night meetings, received healings and saw his Hindu sister saved as well.
The team shared together in night crusades in the Garden of Joy COC church. Jesse preached and gave his testimony, and prayed for everyone who came forward, assisted by the team. We prayed first for salvation and repentance, and the team gave follow-up materials to first time believers. Jesse moved strongly in words of knowledge and authority. Many meetings went late! In both Lautoka and Navua crowds grew as the meetings progressed. Reports of healings and deliverance spread.
One Sunday I spoke at the Assembly of the Lord Jesus Christ church in Suva, an independent Spirit-filled congregation of around 100, half of them youth. Romulo (leader of the 2002 law student team in Brisbane) joined me with Jimmy a medical university student from Vanuatu. The Spirit moved strongly. Romulo called youth out for prayer during the worship, and I involved him in the preaching as well and he called people out again for ministry at the end. That went for some time. After the service we shared food together including a lovo, food cooked in the earth oven.
Then that night I spoke at Sigatoka COC, an hour’s drive back from Suva, with 100 attending, sitting on the ground. They had a temporary iron roof cover for instruments and ‘platform’ area on the ground. We prayed personally for most of them, and saw beautiful healings and some delivered and saved. A couple of young children with hearing problems told their mothers that after the man prayed for them they could hear well. We thanked Jesus together.
After the team returned to Australia, I stayed on to visit the young lawyers I had hosted for a month in Brisbane in November 2002 when they were students. In 2002, I drove them around and took them to meetings, and now they drove me around and took me to meetings!
I visited an early morning prayer group of the Graduates Christian Fellowship, another group of young leaders in the nation, and prayed personally for each of the 20 there. That afternoon on Saturday 7-7-07, I shared in the memorial service for the Nigerian founding pastor of the Redeemer Christian Church in Fiji. Jerry (another of the lawyer team) and his wife Pam are now pastors there as well as lawyers, a common arrangement in the Pacific for smaller churches with honorary pastors. Romulo is another leader in that church, and continues to impact many churches and youth groups through his networks of young leaders in Fiji and other nations.
Then on the Sunday Jerry led the service and I preached, and we had two ministry spontaneous times during that service, including a commissioning for Jerry and Pam led by the Nigerian regional co-ordinator for the Redeemer Church, visiting from his church in Melbourne. On my last Sunday in Fiji I preached again at Redeemer Church, supporting Jerry. We had three ministry times, as the Spirit moved in the worship and the message. As that church grows in faith it will certainly be a spark for revival in the nation, and will impact leaders, youth groups, and churches all over Fiji.
On a recent visit to the church, I washed the feet of the first prime minister of the Republic of Fiji prayed for him. He graciously washed the feet of the Australians, drying our feet with his rugby jacket.
I spoke at the combined inter-tertiary Christian Fellowships prayer rally weekend in October 2008. The Fiji School of Medicine Christian Fellowship organized and led it. Over 500 tertiary students met for two nights of worship and prayer.
The Fiji School of Medicine Christian Fellowship has about 200 doctors in training with some trainee dentists. They impressed me. Their leaders seek God, and respond strongly to him. Their worship team led the combined campuses rally on the Friday and Saturday nights. Buses brought in groups from the various universities and colleges. Different Christian Fellowship (CF) groups presented powerful Pacific dances to strong Christian songs. The prayer team prayed personally for over an hour at the end of each meeting for the hundreds of tertiary students who responded, while the School of Medicine CF continued to lead appropriate and anointed worship.
Inter–tertiary went very well at Suva Grammar School that was hosted by Fiji School of Medicine CF. It was an awesome two nights of fellowship with God and with one another. The Pacific Students for Christ combined worship was a huge blessing for those that attended the two nights of worship. … Geoff Waugh spoke on Obedience to the Holy Spirit – this being a spark to revival and power.
Students came in droves for prayers and the worship lit up the Grammar School skies with tears, repentance, anointing and empowerment. The worship by Fiji School of Medicine students brought us closer to intimate worship with the King. It was a Pacific gathering and each and every person there was truly blessed as young people sought a closer intimate relationship with the King. We were blessed beyond words. Thank you all for the prayers, the thoughts and the giving.
Roneil, a Fijian Indian, added, “It was all so amazing, so amazing that words can’t describe it. For me, it was obvious that the glory of God just descended upon the people during the Inter–tertiary CF. I’ve never seen an altar call that lasted for way more than an hour. I myself just couldn’t get enough of it. It was and still is so amazing. God’s anointing is just so powerful. It was a profound privilege and a great pleasure to be taught by you but more so to see the Spirit of God move in such an amazing away. Hallelujah to Him Who Was, Who Is and Who is to Come.”
Baptist Church of Lagoinha
In June 2008, I saw something of God’s mighty work in Brazil. George and Lisa Otis and the Sentinel Group hosted a conference in Belo Horizonte and a group of us visited communities that have been transformed in Brazil.
We worshipped on Sunday in the huge Baptist Church of Lagoinha in the city of Belo Horizonte. This church of about 35,000 holds four services every Sunday. The sanctuary is round with two high galleries. Before the worship service began they baptized about a dozen people in the baptistery high above the platform. Their worship leader, Ana Paula Valadao, is well known in Brazil. She led worship at the conference and has led national worship gatherings with over one million attending.
The worship service ended, as always, with an invitation for people to give their lives to God. As people streamed forward, counsellors joined to pray with them. People in the sanctuary let down banners saying, “Welcome to the family of God”.
We visited the city of Teresopolis, just north of Rio, where a whole community that once existed on the city’s garbage dump, now lives in a beautiful new valley nearby. We met youths from former gangs, now transformed into prayer and evangelism warriors, and we prayed with them on the prayer mountain there.
Algodao de Jandaira
Algodoa de Jandaira water after miracle of 2004
Floods after 24 years of drought, and Victoria
Then we flew north to see the transformation of Algodao de Jandaira, a rural town which suffered from 24 years of drought, until God answered prayer. My story draws on information from the Sentinel Group report.
The Valentina Baptist church in Joao Pessoa hosted us. Many of them had cried out for a fresh move of God. A quiet choir member, Victoria, began to have vivid dreams about a town called Algodao de Jandaira. Later they discovered such a place existed in a desert area with no proper roads.
A prayer team drove there, as we did. When the team arrived at the outskirts of the community, they were shocked by the poverty of its 2,200 inhabitants. The community well stayed dry. The team approached one home and discovered it was the only evangelical home in the community!
The church sent a team once a month with needed supplies. These follow-up trips continued through 2003. At the end of each visit, after they had delivered their meager supplies of food, salt and clothing, the team would walk up to a rock outcropping above the village to pray. We prayed there also.
That year the congregation decided to help the people of Algodao de Jandaira at Christmas. They took their supplies and continued to pray earnestly for God to intervene.
On January 24, 2004, the team returned to Algodao de Jandaira. About five miles from the community they approached a riverbed they had crossed dozens of times before. This time raging waters coursed down the channel. Parking their vehicle, the ecstatic believers hoisted supply sacks onto their shoulders and waded across the river.
As they walked the final stretch to town, a spirit of worship overcame them. Reaching the edge of the village, the team stood in astonishment. From the rock outcropping that served as their prayer station, a waterfall was pouring forth life-giving water upon the community below. Children ran in the river, splashing and laughing all around. Men watered their horses, while goats drank their fill.
Shortly after their previous visit the heavens over Algodao de Jandaira had unleashed a deluge. Water exploded out of previously dry wells with such force that huge boulders were tossed into the air like pebbles. After the “Flood of Blessings” – the 24-year-old mayor’s term for the recent miracle – they drilled 45 wells to tap what hydrologists now say is a substantial water table under Algodao de Jandaira. We met the young mayor and prayed with him.
The land now produces fava beans, papaya, guava, and other crops. Bees generate high-quality honey, goats yield record amounts of milk, and the river is filled with fish and shrimp. For the first time ever they can sell their overflow produce to public schools and outside distributors.
Algodao de Jandaira’s population rose to 3,000. The Valentina congregation has planted a church and social center in the community, and holds joint services there with a local Assembly of God congregation. Today, a substantial majority of Algodao de Jandaira’s citizens follow Christ as their Lord and Savior. When glory is to be given, it is given to God rather than their former patron saint, Padre Cicero.
The mayor’s leadership has landed multiple federal grants worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Recently, when he presented his case for a further grant, Algodao de Jandaira was the only community in the state of Paraiba to win a grant.
We worshipped in the Valentina Baptist Church, now powerfully Spirit-filled, and also in the Christian pioneers’ home in Algodao de Jandaira, and out on the street in front of that home. That family hosted us. We worshipped and praised God on the rocky outcrop near the town, where their prayer teams had prayed each month. And I swam in the cool freshwater, now flowing through the low dam beside the town.
God answers prayer! Not always as soon as we want, and not always the way we want, but he does. I left Brazil filled with awe once again. Revival has made Brazil the country with the third-largest number of Christians, after America and China.
In January 2009, I visited Myanmar (Burma) for the first time, also on mission. This time I enjoyed being part of three generations of our family on mission together, with my son Jonathan and my eldest grand-daughter Jemimah, as well as my sister Hazel all involved. Jonathan’s friend Andrew Rogers organized team visits there for a few years. Andrew lived with us for a couple of years when he studied at university.
It’s tough for Christians in that Buddhist country with a military dictatorship. They are not officially allowed to start churches, but they can run orphanages, so each orphanage becomes a church as well. We worked with leaders in the Apostolic Church there. They have two orphanages in Yangon, a Bible College out in the country, and they brought their pastors together for a conference there with us.
The Bible College is small, but students are very committed and extremely grateful. So were the pastors, some of them coming from very hard, remote areas. They were all so appreciative, and of course want return visits.
Jonathan and Jemi did a lot with the children and youth in the two orphanages, and Jonathan helped with practical work. My sister Hazel visited the orphanages and attended some of the pastors’ conference. She provided help for the Bethel Baptists and their orphanage as well. We both spoke at their church, and prayed for people there. She and her husband Kerry returned there, and people in their home church at Orange support that ministry in prayer and practical ways.
Some of us went daily to the Bible College for the conference, 1½ hours away by side-saddle covered truck. Jonathan helped with building their pigsty – so their pigs will be an income-producing project. I helped teach the pastors about revival and taught the students at the Bible College. We prayed together in faith for God’s mighty purposes in their land.
In subsequent visits was have continued this ministry to encourage pastors and leaders, not only in Yangon the capital, but also in other towns.
Jonathan reported, “On our last day a number of local people came to me and expressed their deep gratitude that we came over. There is a level of joy and encouragement that they receive from our simple presence, from white people coming to a tough environment to try and help practically and spiritually. It is so humbling to be told over and over that they are praying for us. May it go back to them a hundredfold.”
As in all the countries I have been privileged to visit on mission, not only do we see God blessing and empowering the people abundantly, but we too are abundantly blessed.
Geoff Waugh (D.Miss.) is the founding editor of the Renewal Journal and author of books on renewal and revival.
Whole communities transformed by God now give witness to his power to heal the land and the people when we repent and unite in obedience to his requirements.
Fiji now has significant examples of effective community transformation, based on honouring God.
The 2005 documentary report titled Let the Seas Resound, produced by the Sentinel Group (www.sentinel.com), identifies examples of transformed communities in Fiji, featuring reconciliation and renewed ecosystems. The President of Fiji, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, and the Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, include their personal comments in this video and DVD report, now distributed worldwide.
Essential components of this community transformation include these elements.
1. Honouring God. Community leaders acknowledge that God creates and sustains life. They rededicate their land and their people to Him. This approach transcends doctrinal divisions, emphasizing the universal laws of God that apply to all people of all nations.
2. Honouring people. Community leaders acknowledge the importance of respecting all people. This results in personal and public reconciliation. It is both compassionate and inclusive, transcending division through mutual respect and unity.
3. Honouring justice. Community leaders consult widely with diverse groups to identify and address injustice. Issues are complex, and solutions not simple, but a common commitment to God’s justice with mutual respect can open the way for community transformation. God’s inclusive justice transcends sectarian divisions and conflict with reconciliation and unity.
Many examples illustrate these global principles. The following brief examples provide powerful case studies of community transformation. Often a crisis, such as escalating crime, ethic conflict or a political coup, becomes the motivating catalyst for change. For example, community and church leaders may be motivated by the crisis to act. However, communities can be transformed without waiting for a crisis to motivate change.
Fiji, South Pacific
In September 2004, 10, 000 people gathered to worship together in Suva, Fiji, drawn by reconciliation initiatives of both government and church leaders. Only four years previously such unity among government and church leaders was unimaginable. Ethnic tensions flared in the attempted coup of May 2000, when the government was held hostage for 56 days, and violence erupted in the streets of Suva.
The President of Fiji, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, called the churches to unite in repentance and prayer for the nation. At a united rally in 2001, Laisenia Qarase, later elected as Prime Minister, confessed: “Our efforts in building the country will come to nothing if they are not rooted firmly in the love and fear of God. I ask Him to forgive me for the times I have been neglectful and cold in my relationship with Him. With Your guidance Lord, this sinner will renew himself; will find new purpose in the pursuit of Your will. Lord, I entreat You, again, to forgive me, to save me, to capture my heart and hold my hand. I honour You as the King of Kings.”
The Association of Christian Churches in Fiji (ACCF) emerged as one structural response to this desire for reconciliation and unity among Christians and in the community.
As people of Fiji unite in commitment to reconciliation and repentance in various locations, many testify to miraculous changes in their community and in the land.
Three days after the people of Nuku made a united covenant with God, the water in the local stream, which for the previous 42 years had been known as the cause of barrenness and illness, mysteriously became clean and life giving. Then food grew plentifully in the area.
Fish are now caught in abundance around the village of Nataleria, where previously they could catch only a few fish. This change followed united repentance and reconciliation.
Many people of Fiji acknowledge that these changes in reconciliation, unity, and in the eco-systems confirm God’s promise in 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, I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.”
The town of Almolonga in Guatemala in South America, typical of many Mayan highland communities, suffered from economic depression, inebriation, and crime. The four gaols were full this town of 19,000. Many criminals had to be transported to gaols in the capital city.
Guatemala City pastor Harold Caballeros reported that, “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 chief of police, said, “People were always fighting. We never had any rest.” Now with crime dramatically diminished and the gaols no longer needed, police chief Santiago, says with a grin, “It’s pretty uneventful around here.”
A few Christian leaders began regularly praying together from 7 pm to midnight in the 1970s. As they continued to pray in unity, increasing numbers of people were being healed and set free from strong demonic powers or witchcraft. Churches began to grow, and the community began to change. Crime and alcoholism decreased.
Within twenty years the four gaols emptied and are now used for community functions. The last of Almolonga’s gaols closed in 1994, and is now a remodeled building called the ‘Hall of Honour’ used for municipal ceremonies and weddings.
The town’s agricultural base was transformed. Their fields have become so fertile they yield three large harvests a year. Previously, the area exported four truckloads of produce a month. Now they are exporting as many as 40 truckloads a day. Farmers buy big Mercedes trucks with cash, and then attach their testimony to the shiny vehicles with huge metallic stickers and mud flaps declaring, ‘The Gift of God,’ ‘God is my Stronghold’ and ‘Go Forward in Faith.’
Some farmers provide work for others by renting out land and developing fields in other towns. They help people get out of debt by providing employment for them.
On Halloween day in 1998, an estimated 12, 000 to 15, 000 people gathered in the market square to worship and honour God in a fiesta of praise. Led by the mayor and many pastors, the people prayed for God to take authority over their lives and their economy.
University researchers from the United States and other countries regularly visit Almolonga to investigate the astounding 1, 000 percent increase in agricultural productivity. Local inhabitants explain that the land is fertilized by prayer and rained upon with God’s blessings.
Columbia in South America has been the world’s biggest exporter of cocaine, sending between 700 to 1, 000 tons a year to the United States and Europe alone. The Cali cartel controlled up to 70 percent of this trade. It has been called the largest, richest, and most well organized criminal organization in history.
The drug lords in cartels ruled the city through fear. At times 15 people a day were killed, shot from the black Mercedes cars owned by the cartels. Car bombs exploded regularly. Journalists who denounced the Mafia were killed. Drug money controlled the politicians.
By the early 1990s the cartels controlled every major institution in Cali including banks, business, politicians and police.
The churches were in disarray and ineffective. “In those days,” a pastor recalls, “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.”
A few discouraged but determined pastors began praying together regularly, asking God to intervene. Gradually others joined them.
A small group of pastors planned a combined service in the civic auditorium in May 1995 for a night of prayer and repentance. They expected a few thousand people, but were amazed when 25, 000 attended, nearly half of the city’s evangelical population. The crowd remained until 6 o’clock the next morning at this the first of the city’s now famous united all-night prayer vigils held four times a year.
Two days after that event in May 1995, the daily newspaper, El Pais, headlined, “No Homicides!” For the first time in anyone’s memory, 24 hours had passed without a single person being killed. Then, during the next four months 900 cartel-linked officers were fired from the metropolitan police force.
By August 1995, the authorities had captured all seven of the targeted cartel leaders. Previously the combined efforts of the Columbian authorities, and the American FBI and CIA had been unable to do that.
In December 1995, a hit man killed Pastor Julio Ruibal, one of the key leaders of the combined pastors’ meetings and the united prayer gatherings. 1, 500 people gathered at his funeral, including many pastors who had not spoken to each other in months. At the end of the memorial service, the pastors said, “Brothers, let us covenant to walk together in unity from this day forward. Let Julio’s blood be the glue that binds us together in the Holy Spirit.”
Now over 200 pastors have signed the covenant that is the backbone of the city’s united prayer vigils. What made the partnership of these leaders so effective are the same things that always bring God’s blessings: clean hearts, right relationships, and united prayer.
As the kingdom of God became more real in Cali, it affected all levels of society including the wealthy and educated. A wealthy businessman and former mayor said, “It is easy to speak to upper-class people about Jesus. They are respectful and interested.” Another successful businessman adds that the gospel is now seen as practical rather than religious.
Churches grow fast. One church that meets in a huge former warehouse holds seven services on a Sunday to accommodate its 35, 000 people. Asked, “What is your secret?” they point to the 24-hour prayer room behind the platform.
A former drug dealer says, “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.”
Cali police deactivated a large 174-kilo car bomb in November 1996. The newspaper El Pais carried the headline: “Thanks to God, It Didn’t Explode.” Many people noted that this happened just 24 hours after 55, 000 Christians held their third vigilia – the all night prayer vigil that includes praise, worship, dances and celebration mixed with the prayers and statements from civic and church leaders.
City authorities have given the churches free use of large stadium venues for their united gatherings because of their impact on the whole community, saving the city millions of dollars through reduced crime and terrorism.
Teen Challenge, America
Illicit drug abuse and addiction create social and personal devastation internationally. Federal dollars in USA allocated for drug treatment climbed from $120 million in 1969, to $1.1 billion in 1974, to $3 billion in 1996, even though the number of illicit drug users by 1998 was half the number of the same group in 1979. However in spite of massive government spending on drug rehabilitation, concern remains about the low cure rate of programs funded by public dollars.
Research published in 1999 included comprehensive statistical analysis comparing drug rehabilitation success rates for Teen Challenge (130 centres and 2885 beds) with public funded and insurers’ funded programs, particularly the popular Short-Term Inpatient (STI) drug treatment programs of one to two months. The study surveyed key areas of rehabilitation including freedom from addictive substances, employment rates, productive social relationships and better quality of life.
Evaluation of the Teen Challenge program conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 1975 found that 87% of former abusers were abstaining from Marijuana seven years after completing the program, and 95% of former heroin abusers were abstaining from abuse seven years later. Similarly, the 1999 research found that 86% of former abusers were abstaining from drugs after their Teen Challenge rehabilitation. No public funded program showed such success rates. Most research showed that less than 10% still abstained from drug abuse five years after treatment.
Research identified the following factors as the most positive, helpful and effective dimensions of the Teen Challenge rehabilitation program, in this order of importance:
Jesus Christ or God (the NIDA report called this the “Jesus factor”).
Schooling, teaching or the Bible
Advisor, staff, love, encouragement.
Fellowship, unity, friends, living with others.
Discipline, structure, work.
Graduates of the program identified other helpful factors as seeing lives changes, self-motivation, prayer, outings, helping others, forgiving self, changed thinking, hope and good food.
A powerful dimension of the Teen Challenge program, particularly relevant to this article on community transformation, is the significance of the inter-cultural, inter-faith and inter-racial communities in Teen Challenge. These communities transcend racial barriers, such as noted in these comments: “I loved to be around these people from different places, I wished I could have got their numbers; it was a beautiful thing, living with them with no prejudice or racism. We loved one another. It was a beautiful thing. We all learn something from each other; I still learn from them today.”
These brief sample case studies of community transformation provide hope for change and a way ahead. It is possible. It is happening.
The conclusion may be stated in words from the timeless biblical record, spanning many millennia and diverse national and cultural communities:
Then that honour me, I will honour (I Samuel 2:30).
If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked way, then I will hear from heaven my dwelling place, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Hosea 6:8).
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Mathew 6:33).
 Information from the Sentinel Group 2005 video/DVD, Let the Seas Resound (www.sentinel.com).
 George Otis, 2000, “Snapshots of Glory” in Renewal Journal, Issue 17 (renewaljournal.com) and the Sentinel Group 2000 video/DVD report Transformation.
 Information from George Otis, 2000, “Snapshots of Glory” in Renewal Journal, Issue 17, reproduced in renewaljournal.com.
 Information for this section on Teen Challenge is from the article “Teen Challenge’s Proven Answer to the Drug Problem” in a review of a study by Dr A T Bicknese titled “The Teen Challenge Drug Treatment Program in Comparative Perspective” on www.teenchallenge.com/tcreview.html.
The Spirit of the Lord is speaking loudly and clearly to the church now about unity – not uniformity.
Unity is biblical – Jesus demands it. We have no option on that. We are one, and are to demonstrate that oneness by our love for one another. Jesus commanded that on his last night with his disciples before he died (John 14-17).
Uniformity is unbiblical. We are meant to be different – different gifts but the same Spirit, different services but the same Lord, different ministries but the same God (1 Cor. 12:4-6).
We make an awful mistake if we want others to think as we do – because our thinking is too small at the best of times, and always distorted or limited. Another awful mistake is to want others to worship or work in the same way we do. The Spirit gives a great variety of gifts and ministries.
All over the world the Lord is raising up movements of unity across churches. This demands humility, repentance and forgiveness. Ministers are often the last to come on board because they are trained in their own tradition, and may be critical of other traditions. Often, the people in the congregation are more excited about unity than ministers!
This issue of the Renewal Journal celebrates unity, not uniformity. George Otis gives astounding accounts of visible unity among very different churches – different in theology and practice, but one in the Spirit. They demonstrate that to whole cities and regions.
Richard Riss reminds us of key lessons from revivals, where again there has been great unity amid wide diversity.
Donald McGavran, a pioneer in church growth writing, broke new ground in the seventies by insisting that churches need to take the power of the Spirit seriously, and expect God to heal – to do what he says he does. It’s worth careful consideration. We will never understand life’s mysteries, but that’s no excuse to run from Scripture. God is God, and wants to do ‘exceeding abundantly’ above everything we can ask or even think about (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Cecelia Estillore, a medical doctor, tackles head on the mystery of the spiritual dimensions of warfare with practical application in ministry, especially healing and deliverance. I give examples of this from Africa and from South America, adapted from Chapter 4 in my book Body Ministry.
Global reports continue to be astounding. No one can keep up with the outpouring of the Spirit in the world today. Evil abounds, but grace abounds so much more – and usually that abounding grace does not make it into the newspapers!
Renewal is no longer a matter of speculation. It will be recorded as one of the most significant faith history phenomena of all time. The Global Village factor makes this revival the most comprehensive international social and religious phenomena ever known.
To those who remain untouched or unexposed to renewal theology and events may I suggest that Geoff Waugh’s editorship of the Renewal Journal is a good step towards being more informed and possibly persuaded to the point of being involved, even to being a corrector of its course.
Future students of both social and church history will be surprised, both at the facts and at those who slept through them. Professor Walter Hollenweger (Missiology, Birmingham) has stated, ‘a movement which represents more or at least as many members as all other Protestant denominations taken together can no longer be considered a fringe topic in church history, missiology and systematic theology.’
Among those who still sleep are members, clergy and leaders of orthodoxy who see themselves as defenders of the faith against this threat of enthusiasm and ‘unnecessary extremes’ to traditional faith, practice and theology. Tradition and orthodoxy need to be re-defined. If New Testament Christianity is the orthodox, then what claims to be twentieth century orthodoxy may be labelled by future theological historians as in fact deviant.
No doubt some of the renewal theological emphasis runs into error, if not enthusiastic heresy. Some of its worship forms and practice are too subjective and unbalanced for my limited taste. There are many charlatans. But who would claim that contemporary ‘orthodox’ faith and practice were free of phonies and heresy?
Contemporary renewal is one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity. Don’t do a ‘Rip Van Winkle’.
Rev Prof Dr James Haire wrote:
Dr Geoff Waugh, an expert in Renewal Studies over many years, has begun editing an important Australian Journal which is unique in that it gathers together renewal material from the many church groups throughout Australia and overseas.
The first issue was published in the summer of 1993 and has articles ranging from an historical view of revival movements throughout history by Geoff Waugh himself to more specific accounts or revival experiences in Arnhem Land among the Aboriginal people of Australia by Dr Djiniyini Gondarra.
There are also significant articles by Stuart Robinson, J Edwin Orr, and material from John Greenfield. In this issue all of them are centred on the theme of revival. In addition, there is material on Renewal Studies in Australia and reviews of recent books on Pentecostal and Charismatic movements.
The Journal is breaking important new ground by linking renewal with ecumenical fellowship primarily throughout Australia. For that reason it is quite a new contribution in this area.
I warmly commend this fresh and ground-breaking enterprise. It looks as if it will play an important part in the Christian Church throughout this country.
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
We know the Great Commission well. The closing verses of Matthew give Jesus’ commission to his followers during a resurrection appearance on a mountain in Galilee. Usually we hear it used, and have used it ourselves, as an evangelistic mission mandate. It is that, and much more.
The focus is not merely on the task, but on the reason for the task – the reason for the “therefore”. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Jesus announced. “Go, therefore, and make disciples.” This commission concerning discipleship stems directly from who Jesus is as Lord of all. We are commanded to make people his disciples.
Not make converts – though conversion is integral to the task.
Not make decisions – though life-changing decisions are involved in the task.
Not make church members – though incorporation in the church is essential to the task.
But make disciples.
Jesus’ disciples are to make disciples from all people groups – taethna – from all the ethnic groups – from all the nations. They are his disciples, baptized into him, and obedient to him.
Jesus’ discipleship commission does not focus on information but on formation; not on teaching knowledge but on teaching obedience: “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Naturally that involves knowing what he taught them but the great commission, the final command, is to obey. That’s breathtaking!
What did he command them to do? Love God totally. Love others. Repent. Forgive. Serve. Pray. Believe. Heal the sick. Cast out demons. Proclaim the astounding good news of the kingdom of God. The reign of God has broken into this world, shaking everything, transforming everything.
The great commission is the strongest evidence against a cessationist theory – that what Jesus did and what his disciples did was only for the establishment of the church or only for the first century. Jesus’ final instruction to his disciples is that what he did and what they did must not cease, but must be passed on to all generations – to the end of the age.
Impossible? Certainly it is impossible through our own resources: “Without me you can do nothing.” Hence, the incredible final promise “Lo! I am with you always – to the end of the age.”
Disciples of Jesus
Discipleship, then, is the total process of making disciples of Jesus who are obedient to their living Lord.
That involves evangelism, mission, and equipping those new disciples for obedient mission. This issue of the Renewal Journal looks at a few of those tasks: evangelism, mission, making disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus.
I reproduce reports on transformation in the South Pacific in the 21st century.
Brian Medway applies lessons learned from revival in Argentina to the Australian scene.
Rodney Howard-Browne talks about God doing what he said he would do. Lindell Cooley describes the impact of revival on his own discipleship and that of others.
Robert McQuillan surveys fresh moves of God’s Spirit across England.
Peter Earle examines mentoring as it relates to discipleship.
Charles Taylor reflects on the meaning of discipleship.
Paula Sandford reports on a gathering from among the nations – the ethnic groups – seeking to obey the Spirit in one body. Stephen Milstead provides an overview of John Dawson=s approach to discipling cities, an approach well illustrated in Argentina today as indicated in the first article in this issue.
Nothing is so radical as making disciples of Jesus. Jesus and his early disciples proclaimed and demonstrated the reign of God in all of life. The kingdom of God has broken into this fallen world through Jesus, God’s Son, the Anointed One. His life, death, and resurrection change everything. The first are last and the last are first. The least are the greatest and the greatest are the servants of all.
This issue of the Renewal Journal only begins to explore such radical changes. The great commission still confronts us all with the implications of Jesus’ authority in heaven and on earth – his total Lordship.
As you read, pray with us the prayer Jesus taught us, including, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
What can be more radical than that?
(c) 2011, 2n edition. Reproduction allowed with copyright included in text.
Julia C. Loren, a psychotherapist and writer, interviewed Dr John White, psychiatrist and widely read evangelical author, about a theology of the supernatural.
Oh I’ve come home. This is what I want.
This is what I’ve been looking for all my life.
Q. How did you begin shifting towards a theology which included signs and wonders?
A. An obvious case of a shift in theology was when I met John Wimber. When I arrived at his course at Fuller Seminary (MC510: Signs and Wonders) I realized here was the Christ I was looking for all my life, the Christ who heals, the Christ who does this and it is all happening in front of my nose. The search had been going on for much longer and I’d been having visions for much longer without knowing that I was a charismatic. I suppose I was one then but I hadn’t entered into the fullness of being able to do these things.
Yet God had been preparing for that so‑called sudden shift for many years, both by my seeing the supernatural in operation among primitive tribal people and by my encounter with a Pentecostal guy while a medical student. And I thought there must be something in it. But I didn’t know what. I thought especially that I needed to be baptized by the Holy Ghost but the Holy Ghost wasn’t cooperating.
Q. Were you seeking such an experience?
A. I don’t think I was. Or it never occurred to me to seek it. I had read a writer’s work while in the New Tribes boot camp. He described the Holy Spirit’s activity in the 19th century. He talked about it, described his own experience and I thought, “Oh dear, I’d love that.” But it wasn’t clear enough to me to seek it actively.
Toward the end of my time pastoring the Winnipeg church, Ken Blue was at Fuller Seminary finishing his Ph.D., and he called me about this remarkable man John Wimber. I thought that was interesting and I’d like to sit in on his lectures. So Lorrie and I went down to Fuller. Fuller graciously gave us an apartment.
It was the sense of the presence of Jesus during John Wimber’s lectures; I thought, “Oh I’ve come home. This is what I want. This is what I’ve been looking for all my life.” And Lorrie was the same. The moment I got in I thought, “Christ is here.” It was remarkable. My hunger for Jesus has never stopped. And I felt that the anti‑Charismatics particularly also robbed me of Jesus.
Q. This is the first time you ever really encountered the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit?
A. Yes. What happened in the third lecture he gave ‑ he would have a lecture then a workshop ‑ he finished his lecture and asked people who had sicknesses of some kind to come forward. There were about ten of them. The first guy was a football player who was studying theology at Fuller. He came because his leg had, until that week, been in a cast and the cast had been removed after a month. It was his Achilles’ tendon that had been torn. So John propped him against the wall and asked him to demonstrate how much movement he had in both his feet. It was very limited in range as it would be after a tendon had been sown up.
Then John prayed for him and he started shaking. He finally went onto the floor. And I was worried because one leg was kicking wildly and I thought that was his injured leg. So I said to three guys, “Look stop him. Get hold of that leg and stop him from doing this.” When they got hold of the leg they were all shaking too. I was mad at them and said, “Stop it! Do what you’re supposed to do and hold that leg.” I was concerned about his leg but I was mistaken. It was the other leg that was injured and when he got up he had a full range of movement. I got used to seeing things like that.
I asked John, “How do we get into this stuff? Do we get zapped by the Holy Ghost or what?”
John’s reply was, “No, you just stick your neck out and start doing it.” He says in retrospect that he saw great faith in me. See a real Christian has the Holy Spirit and has potentially all the gifts of the Spirit. That was suddenly revealed to me. I thought, “Well, I don’t like his answer but I’ll start.” So we started praying for people’s headaches and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
Q. Had it occurred to you to pray for people to be healed before?
Q. Despite Lorrie being healed just before you were married?
A. That’s right. And despite the fact that it was my prayers that apparently did it. I know that I was before long doing major stuff. I was so excited about it after completing MC510 I went around the world talking about this. I prayed for a little two year old girl in Malaysia. The parents brought her ‑ they were Haaka speaking Chinese. She had been running around the room. She had kept her parents awake for 36 hours and when they brought her to us, struggling, she was covered with her execma ‑ and as Lorrie and I prayed we saw the wet area shrinking. This was very exciting to watch the shrinking take place as we prayed. I thought, “Gosh what power I’ve got.” And then the suggestion came to me, “Oh but maybe it’s Lorrie’s prayers that are doing it.” And I was filled with wild jealousy. I suddenly saw how dangerous it is to have power. After that I was very careful. I saw that my own heart was corruptible.
Q. You were quick to see that and to write about it. You mention in The Pathway to Holiness the error of considering manifestations as evidence of superior spiritual power. Is that also a criticism of the Vineyard movement?
A. It is more a criticism of people who have been affected by miraculous power whether Pentecostal, or so‑called “Second Wave” or Vineyard. I think the Lord saw to it that I recognized it right away and I’ve seen it ever since. I’ve seen what it does to people to have that kind of power.
To me Christ is central to everything. Signs and wonders isn’t everything. They probably will be helpful because God loves people and loves to heal their diseases but its no credit to us that we can do it. We should all be able to do it.
Q. After reading about Jack Deere’s theological shift I have a sense that you’d agree with him that the evangelical, intellectual mindset fights against the spirit but that we need both word and spirit.
A. Yes it does. I feel that intellectuals among the evangelicals are not what the Puritans were. I make a distinction between J.I. Packer and many other Bible scholars and theologians. Packer was part of Lloyd‑Jones studying of the Puritan movement. Lloyd‑Jones had an experience of the Holy Spirit, an experience of being picked up in the arms of the Father so to speak. He studied the Puritans and the Puritans knew about the Holy Spirit. That is why John Owen, who was a puritan and I think the vice‑chancellor of Oxford University at one point, was able to write about the difference between those who have the Spirit and those who didn’t.
Q. You have emphasized the healing gifts of the Spirit in recent years. Do you believe that people can operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit without having an experience such as a “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” in the Charismatic sense?
A. Yes. I think the focus on the baptism of the Holy Spirit came with the Pentecostal movement. It was the Holiness movement at that time. They decided to wait on God until they had something like that. I’m not even sure that the disciples needed it. When Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”, at that point they received the Spirit of God. He was in them. But I supposed they needed something extraordinary to initiate the powerful testimony that came. That’s how it was in my own life anyway.
I don’t think there is any difference between Charismatics and non‑Charismatics. That is to say, I think those Christians who do have the Holy Spirit in them, many don’t, may never have repented and those are not true Christians. There are many who are powerfully anointed and that is why their speaking is so effective. They may not realize that they can heal the sick but that seems to come in waves anyway. It seems to build somehow.
Q. Your recent though unpublished book tentatively titled Control, reveals the way control and manipulation dominates individuals in evangelical and charismatic ministries. You cry out against this “witchcraft” or abuse of power and advocate a humility and dependency on God to further the work of His kingdom. You offer your subjective experience of being a “controller, con-artist, and manipulator” as the log you believes God revealed and removed from your eye so that he may remove the mote in the church’s eye. Your subjective experience of an encounter with God leads you to call this “witchcraft” in your lectures. Are you encouraging a more experiential interpretation of scripture?
A. I would say first of all, it enters the whole realm of the objective versus the subjective. That was what God said to me when my computer crashed one day. I was filled with fear for some reason when the computer crashed and I said, “Lord what have I been doing?” It was then that he said, “You have been practising witchcraft since you were three years old.” That was a subjective impression.
I deplore an increasing tendency in scholarship to overemphasize the letter of Scripture and minimize subjective experience of Scripture. The two ‑ objective and subjective ‑ are inseparable. It is only as the Holy Spirit illuminates our understanding of Scripture that we will truly understand it. Jack Deere has taught us that when we speak of our convictions we are often speaking of what we were taught in church or in seminary. Divided seminaries and divided churches are an evidence that we follow human opinions as frequently as we follow divine. Two and a half centuries ago, John Gifford taught John Bunyan this very lesson.
Q. How have you learned to hear the subjective voice of God?
A. That’s a tough one. You see, nobody explained to me as a child that such communications had ceased, so that from earliest childhood I did hear, or else I thought I did. I subjected my impressions to “scientific” checks. I am most certain of God’s voice now as I read Scripture. Even when I was a psychiatrist I would be listening to the Lord. I would pray with my patients whether they were Christian or not. And I would have hunches about them which really were prophetic.
He speaks to me on many channels now. He speaks to me in the night when I sleep and I remember it exactly when I wake up. This is something new for me. He also speaks in night visions which are not the same as dreams ‑ which may emerge out of dreams ‑ but suddenly you know that you’re in a different space. In a dream you don’t usually recognize you’re in a dream but there becomes something different about it and I can’t explain what it is.
Q. You went from hearing God’s voice to seeing visions?
A. Though I resisted it at the time, I was also having visions during my residency and I knew those weren’t hallucinatory experiences. There is something about a vision that you know that you know that you know. First of all in a vision I can understand everything. It’s immediately self‑apparent. I can’t explain this but it is. Even though the vision is symbolic I don’t need anyone to tell me what it’s about.
Q. In other words, you know what your vision means but with psychiatric patients suffering hallucinations and delusions, they don’t know?
A. They don’t know. Many of them have hallucinations that they are demonized. They hear demonic voices. I think psychosis reduces your ability to discern, to discern between the demonic and the differences between the two. Satan mimics God’s voice superbly. But God has taught me to distinguish by the darkness that comes on me. I can’t explain it.
Q. Do you have a sense that those who walk into a growing awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit also come into greater awareness of the demonic?
A. You can’t have with one without the other. The moment you are in touch with the Lord you are open to the whole bang shoot. It’s spiritual sensitivity. Sensitivity to spirit beings.
Q. In the wake of your theological shift towards signs and wonders, a fury of criticism followed. Many evangelical doors have slammed shut against your ministry while charismatic doors swung open. How do you view this shift?
A. I wish the two sides would get together. That’s the only thing that I regret. One door closes and another door opens wide. I long for the day when people realize that the “Charismatic curtain,” as I call it, is not necessary. Real Christians are real Christians.
Q. Where do you believe the church is going?
A. I’m concerned about apostasy and the parable of the wheat and the tares. All the reformers spoke of apostasy. Certainly Calvin did, Arminius did. Calvin said it was impossible for them to have seen the light but John Owen explains it the best of all.
The Seventh Volume of Owen’s works is a careful exposition of Hebrews 6, focusing particularly on versus 4 through 6. His attempt is to understand apostasy. Owen maintains that one may operate in all the power of the Holy Spirit, without any of the inward graces of God’s character, that is, without being “saved” at all. You do not have to be a Christian to display spiritual gifts. Non‑Christians can display them also, since the Spirit falls on whom He will.
What John Owen says is that you can have the Holy Spirit and still apostatize and you do that because you opt for power rather than for the brightness of the glory of Christ himself. In other words you are not pursuing Christ, you are pursuing power. So it means that on both sides of the Charismatic curtain, there are wheat and tares.
Q. Apostasy as you see it, is more than lapsing into chronic sin, renouncing Christ and abandoning the profession of faith. It is an abuse of power. Frightening thought.
A. It is a very frightening thought. When I first began to understand this I thought, well, what about me? My fear about this personally was countered when Jesus said to me, “He who comes to me I will never reject.” And that filled me with great relief.
Q. Throughout your ministry and particularly in The Pathway of Holiness, you mention a vision of darkness “that falls on men and women when they do not let God be God in their lives,” referencing Romans 1:21‑23. What do you foresee will happen if the darkness is not lifted off of the church?
A. The darkness will be lifted off of the church. There are some Christians who develop so far and then they lose their curiosity and become worshippers of mammon or whatever unwittingly. God doesn’t seem to go on doing things in them. See, in my life, God has been merciful and constantly dragging me into something new. Sometimes against my will.
The church free of darkness would look marvellous. The marvellous church cannot occur unless there is a split ‑ a split between those who have the Holy Spirit and those who haven’t ‑ the wheat and the tares. At what point that would occur I don’t know except that somehow it’s involved in world war and all that’s going to happen in the next little while. Individuals will have to give God control and they will find one another.