Dr David Yonggi Cho is the senior pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea. This article is reproduced from his message “Speaking God’s Word for Church Growth” published in the Church Growth Manual, No. 7.
One day the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart, “God sent his word, and he healed the people. Why don’t you give the word boldly to the people?”
This must have been the idea of the Holy Spirit. “Speak the healing. God sends his word through your mouth. God asked Ezekiel to speak to the air: You life, go into that body. So, why don’t you speak?”
At first I was scared, but then I was determined to speak. After I saw those impressions, then I began to boldly speak that such and such a person was healed, and such and such a disease is disappearing.
Miracle after miracle began to occur. The person who was healed came to me saying, “When you spoke that word, it shook me hard. Suddenly I felt the healing power flow, and I was healed.”
Through my own experience, I found the wonderful secret that through our mouth confession God’s creative power is working. In the book of Genesis, God spoke and the light appeared; God spoke and the firmament appeared; God spoke and the earth appeared. Jesus spoke and the people were forgiven. Jesus spoke and the sick people were healed. Jesus spoke and the devil left them. Jesus spoke and the turbulent sea became calm.
When you read the Bible, sick people were not healed just through prayer in the New Testament. They were healed by ‘speaking’. Peter said to Aeneas, “Rise up” (Acts 9:34). To Paul Jesus said, “Stand on your feet.”
They always spoke healing to the people. From that time until now, I would always just speak the word, and God created tremendous miracles.
In 1992 I went to the eastern part of Russia. It was very dangerous there. Russia was in a great turbulence, especially in eastern Russia. It is so far away from Moscow that the discipline was very loose. It was very difficult there. I went to a stadium filled with about 35,000 people. The Russian Orthodox Church was out there to attack me. The Communists were scaring me. On the second day I was ready to leave my hotel and was being carefully watched by the KGB. However, I could not leave my hotel because they were trying to assassinate me. They constantly intimidated me so I was incarcerated in the hotel. I was sitting in the hotel the whole day, and in the evening I would go out.
That evening when I took up my Bible and was ready to leave the hotel; I heard a voice. It was a very clear voice. It was almost audible. It was ringing in my soul: “You are leaving as a living man, but you will return as a dead man tonight. You will be assassinated. You came as a living person to our city, but you will return home in a casket. So don’t go to the meeting or you will return home in a casket.”
Every day people in Russia were being killed by shooting. So, I was preaching behind bullet‑proof glass that the Russian government had given to me. If I would be killed, it would become a diplomatic problem, so the Russian government commanded me to stand behind bullet‑proof glass. They could shoot me from the back. So while I was preaching, I was very conscious of the people behind me. It was a terrible feeling.
When I heard that voice in my hotel room, I had to decide if that was from the Holy Spirit or from the Devil. If you don’t clearly discern this right away, then you will be in trouble. At that time I began to see the predicament of Paul. When Paul was returning to Jerusalem, the government and prophets said that Paul would be arrested and bound and put in jail. These things would be waiting for him, so he was admonished not to go up there. But Paul was determined to go to Jerusalem, knowing that he would be arrested.
Before my experience in Russia, I always thought that Paul made a great mistake. He should have listened to the voice of those people. Still Paul went because he discerned the right voice of the Holy Spirit.
Almost instantly, I said to myself. “I should not go to the service tonight. I do not want to die. I want to see my wife and children.”
I prayed, “God, what shall I do?”
I began to hear another voice, a still, small voice in my heart with great assurance. Then I heard two distinctive voices. That was some experience. The first voice was coming strong and loud in my soul, “You are a dead person. Tonight you will be shot at. They will carry your dead body to the hotel. Don’t go.”
Then the Spirit said to my heart when I prayed, “Go to the meeting tonight. You will have great miracles in the service tonight.”
So I said, “You Devil, in the name of Jesus Christ, get out of me. To live is Christ. To die is gain. So if tonight I go to heaven, it is okay. I am ready to accept that.”
I went out of the hotel trembling. I was really afraid. The people were packed in the stadium and as I sat on the platform, I was constantly looking behind me.
Just before I stood up to preach, an ambulance was coming to the stadium. Usually an ambulance would not be permitted to get close to the stadium. As the ambulance came closer, I could hear the siren and thought, “Oh, they must have heard that I was going to be shot at and they have come to take me away.” I froze in my chair.
The back door of the ambulance was opened, and they carried a man out. He looked like a rich man and one who was in high authority. They put him into a wheelchair and pushed him out among the crowd. The Communist young people came and began to argue. They said, “Why do you come to this kind of meeting? He is preaching false doctrine. There is no living God. You cannot be healed. You are bringing shame on us. We are Communists. We do not believe in God. He is telling a lie. Go back into the ambulance.”
At that moment, many Christian people came and said, “No, Christ is living.”
These two groups of people were surrounding this man in the wheelchair and arguing back and forth. I got inspired and said, “Oh God, if you don’t heal this man in the wheelchair now, I will be in great trouble. I will be shot at for sure then.”
I stood up and preached under the unction of the Holy Spirit. When I asked for those who wanted to be saved, all 35,000 people stood to their feet.
I said, “Everyone sit down. You misunderstood me.” So I said, “All those who want to be saved for the first time, please stand up.”
The 35,000 people stood up again. I asked my interpreter, “Did you say my words correctly?”
He said, “Yes.”
I asked, “Then why do they all stand up?”
He looked at me and said, “Pastor, these people have never heard the Gospel before in their lives. For 70 years we have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are all newcomers. You are from the Western country. You don’t know our situation. They all heard the Gospel for the first time this evening, and they all want to be saved. So, just accept them. Don’t question them.”
So I had them stand up and led them to Jesus Christ. Then I began to pray the healing prayer. Usually, I have great success in divine healing in Russia because the people are so humble and so easily believe. However, that night I was concerned about the Communists’ gang. Though I preached strongly, and prayed the healing prayer strongly, I was afraid to announce the healings that took place.
God had clearly put in my mind that a miracle was going to take place, but I was afraid. So I just said, “This man with a deaf ear was healed. This man with arthritis was healed. This man who has stomach trouble is healed.”
Actually, I could not say that the man in the wheelchair was healed, but my interpreter said, “Yes, everyone knows this person. He is a great man. He was in an accident and has a broken backbone. He has been in a wheelchair for seven years. They tried every way, but he could not be healed.”
I have been trained medically, so when I heard that I thought, “That is impossible.” It is impossible for that man with a broken backbone and broken nerve chord to be healed.
The people began to stand up and testify of their healings. This strengthened my faith, so I said, “My brother, who is sitting in that wheelchair, you are healed.” That was not an easy job at all. That man started to rise up. He sat down again but struggled to rise up a second time. He sat down and a third time struggled to get up. Very wobbly he started to walk a few steps, then he began to run, then rushed onto the platform.
He hugged me with a typical Russian bear hug. I was being choked. He hugged and cried saying, “I am healed. I was sitting in that wheelchair for seven years and now I am healed.”
Then I began to hear a roaring sound as the Christian young people chased the Communist young people. The Communists were running from the stadium, and the Christians were running following after them.
This man who was healed was so excited that he jumped off the high platform. I was scared then. Then he went to where his wheelchair was and hoisted it into the air and began to walk. The entire stadium was in an uproar at this time.
The Communists had completely failed that night. What a success for the Christians! Before I left my hotel, the Devil scared me. And, if I had not heard the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart, I would not have come to the stadium. Since I prayed and heard the Holy Spirit. I could come.
A positive announcement is very, very important. If you speak negatively, you will stop the current of the Holy Spirit. But when you speak positively, you release the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, when people begin to talk negatively among your cell leaders – “”I have no power. I have no strength. I have no confidence.” – they can do nothing. They are already defeated. So I tell them not to say negative words. Always say, “In Jesus Christ I can teach. I can win. I can preach. I can do all things in Jesus.”
Even though you may have no ability in yourself, say “I can do all things in Jesus.”
Your attitude is very important. If you don’t teach your cell leaders to have the right kind of attitude, after two or three tries in their cell meetings they will give up. The number of casualties is too heavy.
Give your cell leaders strong teaching on having visions, and living in the vision. Then make their attitude to be positive, let them see Jesus. Don’t let them look at the wilderness. Don’t let them look at themselves. Make them look to Jesus. Then make them confess an affirmative confession. This is very important for church growth.
(c) Church Growth Manual No. 7 published by Church Growth International, Yoido P.O. Box 7, Seoul 150‑600, Korea. Used by permission.
I’ve been praying for people in meetings for over twenty years, but recently it’s been different. Many now slump to the floor, or shake, or laugh, or sob, or feel heat in their hands or on their head, or have other surprises.
We were worshipping at the Renewal Fellowship recently when I prayed (with my eyes shut) for the Holy Spirit to come upon us. A person in the front row fell over and crashed into me. I quickly opened my eyes, guiding that person to the floor.
Those manifestations are not new. They have been there over the years at various times. Now, however, they happen more often and with greater intensity. I believe this is a time of refreshing and blessing in the mid-nineties.
I remember the early seventies when a wave of renewal swept the earth. Thousands were baptised in the Spirit, spoke in tongues, discovered spiritual gifts, and began to see more answers to prayer for healing or deliverance. That wave gave birth in Brisbane to movements such as Christian Life Centre, Christian Outreach Centre, Bardon Catholic Charismatic meetings, Emmanuel Covenant Community, and some denominational charismatic congregations.
These strong manifestations now in the nineties are more varied and sometimes more surprising than I ve known before. I believe it is part of a worldwide move of God s Spirit, and as always, it is mixed with our human reactions.
A fresh wave
This fresh wave started for us at the Renewal Fellowship during 1994. It seems to be part of our on-going journey.
We have been learning to respond to the Spirit, as best we know. Our ‘order of service had long given way to the immediate leadings of the Spirit. We still followed our usual pattern, however, of worship for over and hour (with great variety such as in prophetic music, free singing, Scriptures read and prophetic words or visions shared), Bible teaching, and ministry with prayer for one another in clusters, with further prayer for those who could remain later.
Sometimes in praying for people some were overwhelmed and rested on the floor, or slumped in their seats. No problem! We had seen that before from time to time. It just seemed to be more frequent from 1994.
The Christian Outreach Centres had experienced a strong move of the Spirit in 1993, beginning in Brisbane and spreading through their churches. We were blessed in Brisbane through a range of ministries including visits from John Wimber, Rodney Howard-Browne, leaders involved in the ‘Toronto Blessing’ now touching thousands of people and churches all over Canada, America, England, and across the world. We read reports of similar happenings in Australia among some churches touched by this blessing.
As in the seventies, the expressions of this blessing varied from group to group, from ministry to ministry. The essence, however, seemed to be similar everywhere – strong impacts from the Spirit, people being overwhelmed, new and deep love for Jesus, personal refreshing and blessing, catching the fire of a fresh zeal for the Lord, ministering more effectively to others.
As we kept praying for people the manifestations increased, especially with people being overwhelmed and resting in the Spirit.
To pray or not to pray
Problem! Do we actively encourage this? Do we avoid it – such as not praying so much? Do we stop praying for individuals? Do we wait till the end of the meeting, even though some people were being touched strongly as we worshipped? Do we copy methods from the Vineyard conferences, such as praying for people all over the place at the end of the meeting? Do we follow the Toronto example and make plenty of carpet space available? Do we ask people to stand and then ask the Holy Spirit to come, or do we just expect he will move upon us anyway?
In our prayer times before every meeting we declared the Lordship of Jesus, asked him to take over, and claimed his authority. The more we prayed, the more it kept happening!
We don t have all the answers yet – and maybe never will! Who can direct the wind? The whirlwind is even more unpredictable.
Where do we draw the line? Whose line? God’s? Ours? Our traditions?
We all draw a line somewhere. Responsible leadership and pastoral care require some guidelines., even though these maybe quite flexible.
What is regarded as ‘decent’ and ‘in order’ varies widely from church to church, group to group, culture to culture, revival to revival. We need to be spiritually sensitive, theologically insightful and culturally appropriate (as Jesus and Paul were) without quenching the Spirit.
The root and the fruit
Where the root of various experiences is Jesus himself in the power of his Spirit, and the fruit is clearly the fruit of his Spirit, we’re glad.
Remember that Jesus’ presence and ministry produced amazing effects in Scripture. Demons were expelled. People were set free and made whole. Lives were changed.
What are the results of these current blessings for us in the Renewal Fellowship?
Worship is richer, fuller and longer than ever. People comment on the blessing of a stronger, closer relationship with God, both in the meetings and beyond them in daily life. Many people tell about blessings in their service to others, in prayer for the sick and in home groups.
People report a deeper awareness of the reality of the Lord, closer fellowship with Jesus, stronger leadings by the Holy Spirit, increased anointing in their various giftings, and greater love for God. For many people it is already flowing over into sacrificial ministry to others with greater assurance, compassion, and willingness to be involved as they obey the promptings of the Spirit.
One person lay on the floor, overwhelmed, and began praying in tongues with a new love for the Lord and release of his gifts. Some report physical healings received while overwhelmed. Someone with Multiple Personality Disorder caused by childhood trauma had a vision of Jesus while resting on the floor; Jesus brought deep healing and integration, resulting in profound improvement. Many people have found a new zeal in serving the Lord and praying with and for others.
We need pastoral wisdom to avoid the extremes of foolish excesses on one hand or resisting and quenching the Spirit on the other. We need discernment between the true and the false, and that s not easy. We need grace to welcome the refreshing of the Lord even though it comes in different ways to different people. As with conversion, or being filled with the Spirit, or discovering spiritual gifts, some people have dramatic encounters with God while others experience deep and quiet peace.
Let everything be grounded in Scripture, illumined by the Spirit who inspired it. It is more radical than any of us really understand. A few biblical happenings would certainly enliven any church!
Jesus offended many people, such as in worship and teaching meetings. He welcomed outcasts, sinners, the poor and despised. He healed lepers. He banished demons. He sent the disciples off to preach, heal the sick and cast out demons. He told them to teach the rest of us to do the same (Matthew 28:20; Mark 16:17-18; Luke 24:49; John 14:12; 20:21-22; Acts 1:8 and so on).
People in the early church saw the power of God at work. They appeared drunk on the day of Pentecost. They clashed with traditions, as Jesus did. They prayed and witnessed amid the turbulence of light overcoming darkness, truth confronting error, and the kingdom of God invading the kingdoms of this world.
Expect the Spirit to move upon us all even more fully. Welcome his blessings, and pray that revival will yet sweep our nation. Perhaps a spark is being lit for revival in our land.
Praying for People
We found the following guidelines helpful in praying for people. They are adapted from material provided in Toronto. We prefer to pray in pairs if possible so that if someone is overwhelmed they can be gently helped to rest in the Spirit.
1. When praying for individuals, watch closely what the Spirit is doing (John 5:19). Never make a person feel that they are unable to receive or are resisting the Holy Spirit just because they are not openly manifesting something. We are called to encourage and love, not speak words that will bring rejection or discouragement.
2. Do not force ministry! Trust the Lord, knowing that he is doing something personal within an individual, so don’t interrupt that special ‘conversation’.
3. When you are praying for someone a strong anointing may rest on you also. Keep praying for the person without distracting them.
4. You may be able to help some people receive more in the following ways:
(a) Help them deal with a tendency to rationalise; or calm their fears of loss of control.
(b) Let them know what to expect; that even when the Holy Spirit is blessing them they will have a clear mind and can usually stop the process at any point if they want to.
(c) The Holy Spirit often moves in ‘waves’ similar to the blowing wind.
(d) Encourage them to be still and know that God is God (Ps. 46:10), and to stay focused on he Lord. He loves them intensely and longs for them to know him intimately.
5. Generally, it is helpful to have people stand to receive ministry. The Holy Spirit often rests upon people as they wait in his presence. Some people may fear falling, especially if they have back problems or are pregnant or elderly. If they are overwhelmed help them to sit down, kneel, or fall carefully.
6. When people fall or rest in the Spirit, encourage them to soak in the presence of the Lord. It seems that everyone wants to get up far too quickly.
7. It can help to pray and bless the person resting in the Spirit. Many feel very vulnerable while in that position and appreciate the loving care given. They also need to guarded from others bumping into them and/or making comments around them.
8. Never push people over. Watch over-enthusiasm and a tendency to want to ‘help God out’ especially when you are sensing a strong anointing within you.
9. If you get ‘words of knowledge’, pray biblical prayers related to those words. Let prophetic encouragement flow from prayer ministry, and always for edification, exhortation or comfort. Remember, no ‘direction, correction, dates or mates’.
10. You will seldom err if you pray biblical prayers such as:
(a) ‘Come Holy Spirit.’
(b) ‘Your kingdom come, Lord, Your will be done.’
(c) For a deeper revelation of the Father’s love in Christ.
(d) For anointing for service.
(e) For release of gifts and callings.
(f) To bring light and expel darkness.
(g) To open their understanding so they will know the magnitude of their salvation.
(h) For peace, ruling and reigning in their hearts.
(i) ‘More Lord’ – How much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.
11. Don’t project what God has been doing with you onto the person you are praying with. Bless what God is doing for them.
12. If your hand or body is shaking pray with your hand slightly away from the person so as not to distract them. If a stronger manifestation begins to happen within you then withdraw from ministry for a while and let the Lord bless you.
13. Laying on of hands may be appropriate, not ‘leaning on of hands’. Give a light touch only, generally on forehead, top of head, shoulder, or hands. No inappropriate touching.
14. Some people pray aloud while they are being ministered to. Encourage them to be quiet and just receive. It is difficult to drink in and pour out at the same time.
15. The person you are praying for needs to be assured that he or she is the most important one for that moment. Avoid the tendency to let your mind and eyes wander to other things or other people or other situations in the room. Don’t become distracted with other issues.
16. Your own personal hygiene is important – clean hands, hair and clothes, deodorant, breath mints may help.
17. Don’t step over anyone, or hold discussions near people resting in the Spirit.
18. Be led by common sense and by the Spirit. It helps to have men pray with men, women with women, married couples with married couples.
19. People who pray for others also need to be prayed for themselves, to receive ministry, to be refreshed and anointed anew.
20. Encourage people being prayed for to:
(a) Come humble and hungry. Forget preconceived ideas and what has happened to others.
(b) Experience ministry before trying to analyse it. The Holy Spirit will speak, teach, comfort and reveal Jesus personally. We need to know the Lord experientially as well as theologically.
(c) Face fears such as fear of deception, of being hurt again, of not receiving, of losing control.
(d) Focus on the Lord, not on falling. Give the Holy Spirit permission to do with you what he wants to do.
Above all, we need to seek the Lord. ‘Your kingdom come.’
In the summer of 1985 I was leading a four week Youth With A Mission (YWAM) training school for some fifty students in Holland. I had quit my job as a civil engineer and joined YWAM in 1977. A friend, and former YWAMer, Paul Piller from the Philippines, contacted me and offered to speak for a few days when he visited Holland.
I consented, although I wasn’t thrilled about his subject: healing. I knew one had to watch out for people who only wanted to talk about healing, faith, miracles, and demons.
I trusted Paul, but you never know what can happen to someone who has spent five years in the U.S. Paul had brought some others along: young fellows in T-shirts, blue jeans, and sneakers. I wondered why they had come. Were they going to sing or perform a drama?
As Paul began speaking, I relaxed. No screaming, no emotionalism. After the lecture, he and the young fellows moved around the group praying without saying much. One word stood out: ‘more’.
‘More of you Lord!’ They seemed unperturbed as certain things I was unfamiliar with started happening. Someone started weeping, others collapsed on their chairs, someone else stood shaking. After three days the place was turned upside down. People were filled with joy, received healing, delivered from demons, released from grief. I had hundreds of questions! I had tasted the new wine and I wanted more.
Paul suggested I go to a conference in Sheffield, England, led by a man named John Wimber. Off we went, with a number of YWAMers. I was ready for anything. My ‘holy frustration’ had reached a point where I was willing to let God do whatever he wanted.
I had been warned to get ready for change. God had spoken to me through the story in the second chapter of John’s Gospel – the wedding in Cana – where Jesus performed his first miracle of changing water into wine. Interestingly, the servants at the wedding were allowed to participate, because they filled the jars and took the newly transformed wine to the leader of the feast. Somewhere between the jar and the lips of that man, the water changed into wine.
The application for me of that story is that God is looking for people who want to co-operate with him in bringing this about. I had run out of wine, and now I wanted to see the Lord bring out his best vintage. I wanted God to restore my joy, and fill me with the Holy Spirit.
The conference was life-changing, even though I didn’t have any spine-tingling personal experiences or visions of ecstasy. Nevertheless God gave me a deep inner peace and an affirmation that the teaching I heard, and the ministry I was observing was from his hand.
Giving the Holy Spirit room
My wife and I and others returned home with a clear sense of purpose. Like the servants at the wedding in Cana, our part was to obediently draw out the water and faithfully carry it to others. God would change it into wine.
During the following months, I discovered how exciting life becomes when we give more room to the Holy Spirit! I tried to cultivate a greater sensitivity to God’s voice. My goal was to listen better to what he was saying, and act upon that in faith.
As John Wimber likes to point out, another way to spell faith is R-I-S-K. This new openness to the promptings of the Spirit led to some powerful times of ministry. My emphasis during individual counselling changed to less talk and more prayer. We also learned that demons are for real, but we have been given authority to drive them out (Matthew 10:8).
Though this new realm of ministry was exhilarating, we needed people from outside to help, advise, and direct us further. We invited people like Barry Kissel from the Anglican church in Chorleywood, England. He imparted to us much in the way of ministry skills.
At a certain stage in this new development I sensed the Lord said: ‘It’s time for you to begin modelling the ministry, like I did.’ After much hesitation, I announced we were going to start a training class with worship, teaching, and practical application. For the first lecture I had John Wimber on video. I led the practicum. The Holy Spirit ministered in a lovely way to a great many of the sixty who showed up. Some received comfort; others were healed. We decided to have a whole Saturday every month with those ingredients: worship, teaching, and ministry.
By word of mouth alone the group grew to about 350 after eight months. The team working with me had grown to about 30 persons. After each training day we evaluated, prayed, and discussed. I had learned the importance of multiplication. Your team can’t be big enough!
Passage to India
For the first two years of our marriage, my wife Marianne and I had worked with YWAM in Nepal, a country located between China and India, astride the Himalaya Mountains. For some time we had felt God was leading us back to that part of the world. In early 1989 we left for India with our three children. We ended up living in Bombay for almost four years. From the start I knew I was to invest myself in people. I constantly asked myself, ‘How can I give away what God has given me?’
I itinerated as a teacher in the discipleship training schools (DTS) which YWAM runs in different parts of the country. The theme that developed in my teaching was: ‘How to minister like Jesus.’ The teaching was simple, with lots of examples of how we should pray. After the lecture phase of the DTS, the students would go out for three months of outreach, usually involving evangelism and church planting. They came back with some amazing stories. For example:
The students were sent … to five different villages. At the end of two months they had established three fellowships in three different villages. Half the village where they stayed is ready to follow Jesus as Lord. Within the next three weeks 68 believers will be baptised. Despite all religious strongholds, barriers, Hindu militants and oppositions, God showed his mighty power through healings, and signs and wonders. Some people saw visions of Jesus hanging on the cross and showing them how much he loves them.
In that area the crops suffered from a disease. The farmers came and asked the team to pray to Jesus. The very next morning the people went to the field and discovered the disease had been totally wiped out. They came with great joy to confess their belief in Jesus since he had heard their prayers.
Once, while I was leading a small seminar, a local pastor named Garry walked in while I was praying for someone in front of the class. He left thinking, ‘I can do that.’
The first person he prayed for when he got home was his Hindu brother-in-law. For many years severe back pain had cost him many sleepless nights. The next day the brother-in-law returned, declaring the Lord Jesus had healed his back. He had slept through the night without waking up once.
Garry, who later became a good friend, had been having discussions with a strong Muslim about the Bible and the Koran. The argument always stopped where one would say ‘The Bible is the word of God’ and the other ‘The Koran is the word of God’. This time Garry took a different approach.
‘Can I pray for you?’ he asked, when he met the man again. Because Indians are among the most religious people on earth, this man, like almost everyone in India, was glad to receive prayer. As Garry put his hand on the man’s head and started praying the Muslim fell down and stayed on the floor for quite a while. Garry was puzzled! What next?
When the man got back on his feet, he shared what happened. While he was lying on the floor, he clearly heard a voice saying, ‘The Bible is the word of God!’ He went home with a Bible in his pocket.
Garry was on a roll. Wherever he went he prayed for people: in church, in the home groups, and especially in the streets while evangelising. In the time we worked together, several churches took root in the slums. People came mainly because they saw Jesus was more powerful than their own gods. Now Garry is going around equipping others to ‘minister like Jesus’.
‘Will this work?’
More and more I began to see the power of multiplication: invest yourself in a few people next to you and then let them go and do the same thing to others. You may never know the result until heaven, but it could be more powerful than the biggest healing crusade!
After a three week course, 25 YWAMers went back to their bases in different parts of the country. God had meet with us in special ways during those weeks, as we met together or as we went out to visit people and pray for them.
As two brothers went back to Varanasi, the holy city of the Hindus, they wondered, ‘Will this work back home?’ The first time they went into a Hindu village after their return, they started to worship Jesus. They intended to start a church there. Immediately the Holy Spirit started to come on people; demons manifested and were driven out. People saw the power of God and wanted to know more, providing an excellent opening to preach the Word of God.
While walking along the bank of the Ganges River, one of the brothers began talking to a Hindu priest. After a while, the Brahman complained about his headaches. Again, being highly religious, he was willing to receive prayer, even if it was offered in the name of Jesus. Under the power of God he fell down and after he got back up, his headache was completely gone. He sure wanted to know more about this powerful God!
Respect for God
India is more a continent than a country, with almost 900 million people who speak 1,600 different languages. Patrick Johnstone, in Operation World, estimates evangelical Christians comprise one per cent of the population, but the number is growing. Two thousand people groups have not been reached with the gospel yet. India must be reached by the spiritually equipped Indian church, but for a while non-Indian partners can help train and support Indian workers.
In YWAM, we have mixed teams of Indians and foreigners who plant churches, evangelise, and minister to the poor in various ways. Hindus and Muslims have great respect for God. The Hindus have millions of gods. Most Indians, especially the poor, are open to spiritual reality, and exercise great faith, upon hearing about a loving God who sent his Son to this world. In evangelism, miracles happen quickly and open many doors to preach the gospel.
I first experienced this in Bhopal, a city where some eight years ago a gas leak at the chemical plant killed at least 2,000 people. Today many still suffer the effects: eye problems, mouth sores and breathing difficulties. With a small team we visited the site where the calamity took place.
As some people gathered, one of us shared briefly who we were and our purpose for coming. One person was prayed for and got healed. More people came who wanted prayer. Some invited us to enter their huts to see those too sick to come out. We were busy for the next two hours to bless, comfort, and encourage. Many people received physical healing, saw visions of Jesus, were blessed with peace. We left many friends in this mainly Muslim community.
Of course, the nature of kingdom warfare is ‘attack – counter-attack’. The gospel does meet with opposition. Militant Hinduism is experiencing a revival. The north of India is hostile toward the gospel and to Western influence. To make one convert there is like making a hundred in the south.
An Indian friend of mine desired to work in Bihar, a state in the north, also known as ‘the graveyard of missionaries’. He had worked with me for sometime and learned more about how to minister in power evangelism. In Bihar, near the border of Nepal, he rented a home where he invited people. He shared with them, prayed for them and taught them how to pray for others. Many were blessed, healed, delivered, and came to salvation. A small church was established.
Across the border in Nepal, the spiritual atmosphere was different. Tremendous openings existed. Within a year almost a hundred people attended the newly started church! Approximately 50 churches have been planted in India by YWAM-trained workers through power evangelism.
More than eight years have passed since the visit of Paul Piller and since the conference with John Wimber in Sheffield. I have seen thousands of people who ran out of wine partake of ‘the best wine’ as I willingly brought them what I have: just plain water.
This article is adapted from a Church Growth essay she wrote in her M.A. studies.
The prodigious growth of the house church movement in China is one of the greatest phenomena in the 20th century. Various observers of these Chinese Christians maintain that this move of the Holy Spirit is gathering people into the kingdom of God at the rate of 35,000 daily, and 12 million yearly (Paterson 1989:23; Waugh 1993:47).
Although it is difficult to obtain accurate statistics, approximations show that, whereas in 1949 there were between 800,000 and 1 million Protestant believers in China (Paterson 1989:103; Kang 1990:79; Kauffman 1991:6) and 4.5 million Roman Catholics (McGavran 1989:1) by 1989-1991 there were possibly as many as 50 million in the house churches. Carl Lawrence, however, estimated there were 75 million and a Japanese Christian editor who spent 6 months investigating the Churches throughout China in 1989 estimated 100 million (McGavran 1989:1).
The State Statistical Bureau of China completed a 2 year survey of religious believers in 1992 and the unofficial figures indicate 63 million Protestants and 12 million Roman Catholics (Asian Report 197, 1992:9). The Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) maintained there were 5,000 official Churches and 5 million believers under its auspices in 1989 and these figures were unaltered in 1992. This means at least 50-58 million – the majority of believers – attend the house churches (Paterson 1989:71). Most of the growth has occurred in rural areas where 80% of the population lives.
These figures do not only represent quantitative growth since growth has been sustained for almost half a century and is still increasing. There must be highly significant qualitative factors operating in the Chinese Church to achieve such phenomenal growth.
My purpose is to evaluate the key principles that have contributed to the effectiveness of the house church movement in China. I will examine the historical context and the revival context which emerged from it. Both of these contexts involve dynamic theological and spiritual elements at work in the burgeoning Church.
Christianity and colonialism
The growth of the Church in China cannot be divorced from the historical and political events of the 19th and 20th centuries. Church growth in general ‘is closely conditioned by both history and anthropology’ (McGavran 1980:153).
The arrival of the Protestant missionaries of the 19th century coincided with the victories of western colonialism. ‘Missionaries and colonialism in China were inseparable, at least in the minds of the Chinese’ (Kauffman, 1975:82).
In 1869 a Chinese official retorted to the British Ambassador: ‘Take away your opium and your missionaries and you will be welcome’ (Kauffman 1975:83). The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 is an example of violent aggression against Western influence including Christianity. 189 missionaries and children were martyred as well as an even greater number of Chinese Christians (Francis 1985:23).
Therefore between 1949-1966, after almost 100 years of unwelcome foreign harassment, the Communists vigorously targeted and attacked Christianity primarily because of its identification with imperialist exploitation (Paterson 1989:40).
Not only was the timing of the introduction of Christianity into China fraught with difficulties, but the manner in which it was propagated aroused considerable discontent among the Chinese Christians. Western missionaries were challenged quite early to adopt the concept of indigenisation.
The principle of self-responsibility and self-support for mission-planted Churches was advocated in 1841 by Henry Venn, secretary of the Church Missionary Society. By 1851 the concept had been formulated as the Three Selfs: self-supporting, self-governing, self-propagating’ (Shenk 1990:29).
In 1856 John Nevius, a Presbyterian missionary, set out this plan for indigenization:
1. All Christians should work for a living and evangelize their neighbours;
2. Ecclesiastical organisation should only be developed as the Christians deemed expedient;
3. Churches must be self-supporting;
4. Churches should use local architectural designs;
5. Church buildings should only be constructed when affordable;
6. The Chinese church should both send and support its own evangelists;
7. Strong emphasis must be given to prayer and Bible training (Kauffman 1975:91).
The self-supporting, self-governing and self-propogating principles became the theme for the First General Conference of Protestant Missionaries in China, held in Shanghai in May, 1887.
The Chinese Church, too, was beginning to realise the need to be independent of the foreign missions. In 1906 the Rev. Yu Kuochen of Shanghai established a small independent Chinese Church (Shenk 1990:32). It represented a voice of protest against the strategies of the missions.
On a larger scale, the True Jesus Church, commenced in 1917 in Tientsin and Peking by Chinese pastor Paul Wei, soon gained nation-wide prominence. This Church emphasised witnessing, tithing, and local Church government. A strong belief in the supernatural power of God to heal, deliver and empower believers was also a catalyst in its expansion throughout China (Kauffman 1975:93).
The tension that existed between the two parties resulted from different interpretations of the meaning of ‘self’. The western missionaries believed in indigenous leadership, evangelism and self-support, but within the framework of western traditions, forms and structures.
On the other hand the Chinese Church leaders desired to express their faith in Jesus in Chinese cultural forms and patterns. This drive for homogeneity, the principle of establishing the gospel in every people group – panta ta ethne – without circumcising inherently good cultural practices, is a natural and spiritual desire which the Bible endorses (Matthew 24:14; 28:19; Romans 16:26).
In the imperialistic climate of China it was very important to the evangelistic thrust of the Chinese Church to be able to preach the gospel and establish people into the Body of Christ in culturally relevant ways to offset the distasteful provocation of colonialism. The Chinese Church leaders therefore expressed their disapproval in 1922 in the following statement at the National Christian Conference held in Shanghai: ‘We wish to voice the sentiment of our people that the wholesale, uncritical acceptance of the traditions, forms and organisations of the West and the slavish imitation of these are not conducive to the building of a permanent genuine Christian Church in China’ (Shenk 1990:32).
Missions and Churches subsequently made genuine attempts to affect change, and establish Chinese leadership in the Church. There were positive signs of the Church becoming indigenous. Powerful Chinese preachers and evangelists were used to win many converts. Others, such as Wang Ming-Tao ‘stood for adherence to the Scriptures and withstood heresies and false teachings’ (Paterson 1989:41).
In 1926 Watchman Nee established The Christian Assemblies, also known as The Little Flock. These were locally autonomous churches without any central organisation. Prominence was given to Bible study and teaching, and the movement produced excellent Chinese evangelists and Bible teachers (Kauffman 1975:94).
However, the period of the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) brought further instability and suffering to the Chinese people, and the momentum of change was impeded in the centrally organised churches (Shenk 1990:33; Francis 1985:23). At the same time, though, conditions in the eastern provinces caused an exodus to the inland regions where the gospel increased and spread.
This was due to the timely intervention of God himself for in places such as the northern province of Shantung he was sovereignly orchestrating his church.
In the early 1930s, Shantung experienced a supernatural visitation of the Spirit of God, characterised by deep repentance and public confession of sin by both believers and new converts, accompanied by signs and wonders in healing, speaking in tongues, and casting out demons. People from all denominations were affected.
This visitation impacted the church across China, resulting in Bible conferences and a rapid increase in church membership (Kauffman 1975:92). ‘To many (in China) the churches and their faith seemed the only stable element in a distraught and changing world’ (Latourette, cited in Kauffman 1975:93). God used the suffering of the people to prepare the church for the intensity of persecution that was soon to follow.
Intervention of the Spirit of God
An excellent model of the Spirit’s preparation of the church for the onslaught of Communism is afforded in the truly indigenous group known as The Jesus Family (Ye-su Chia-ting). Under the Holy Spirit’s direction, this commune:
* Had no central control – therefore , unlike denominations under central leadership, could not be easily controlled by the Japanese or the Communists.
* Refused to accept any foreign funds, on the basis that God was their source and they should exercise faith for his provision. Churches with foreign funds were liquidated in 1949.
* Had no church buildings. The buildings they owned were used for worship, but simultaneously used to produce their agricultural products – providing the livelihood of the commune.
* Encouraged their people to allocate a separate area in their homes for worship – a marvellous preparation for the ensuing forced worship of believers in the house churches.
* Had a dynamic faith in the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit which was a normal part of the worship of the commune, and proved to be an essential expectation of the persecuted church.
This church began in 1920 under the leadership of Ching Tien-ying. He established a commune in Shantung Province using land left to him by his great grandfather. The felowship spread through the north of China and into the interior. He established agricultural policies, progressively tithing from 10-90% of the harvest annually. During the famine of 1942 the commune gave 90% of the harvest to the poor and still met their own needs. Later the Communists needed one acre per family for life support, yet The Jesus Family was able to feed 500 people from 43 acres and still give away 90% of the produce (Kauffman 1975:95-97).
Effects of initial Marxist/Communist rule
In 1950, under the leadership of Mao Tse-Tung and the Marxist/Communist regime, the Christian Manifesto called on the Christian church to expose and oppose the effects of imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucratic capitalism, and help promote an independent, democratic and patriotic China (Paterson 1989:54-55).
However, the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) was established in 1954 by the government to mediate between itself and the church. The name was a prostitution of the ‘Three Self’ principles espoused by the Christian missionaries of the previous 100 years, since the blatant agenda was to secure from the Christians a total commitment to Communist/Marxist policies, and therefore a united, patriotic China. Where the Bible and patriotism conflicted, loyalty to the party line was to be paramount. Chinese evangelical Christians saw the TSPM as the Party’s controlling mechanism of the church.
Since the government viewed the TSPM as the voice of the Protestant Church, pastors and churches who refused to be associated with the movement were vehemently attacked, and many were imprisoned and tortured. Wang Ming-Tao, an eminent Peking Pastor, was arrested in 1955, imprisoned, and subjected to brainwashing and mental torture. He was not released until 1978. He was typical of the fate of many devout Christians of this period who refused to compromise with the State (Paterson 1989:42). Watchman Nee was also arrested in 1952 and never released.
By 1958 all Christian meetings not authorised by the government were dissolved. Many Christians stopped attending the TSPM churches because they had become primarily centres for political indoctrination. The house church movement came out of the cauldron of this attempted politicising of the church. During this period, believers began to meet quietly in their homes for mutual encouragement, prayer, and sharing of the Lord’s Supper. These meetings were a reflection and extension of the traditional Chinese social emphasis on family life (Paterson 1989:78).
These house churches (1954-1966) became the fertile soil out of which explosive growth occurred. They provided the climate for the preservation of ‘grass roots’ evangelical Chinese Christianity, and through attention to the basics – Jesus Christ, crucified and risen again, the power of corporate prayer, and the mutual edification of the Body of Christ – laid a firm foundation for growth.
Another factor influencing the success of this movement in the early stages was its roots in the cultural basics. The Chinese church was now truly indigenous. At the same time, the Holy Spirit had been progressively teaching believers to hear and respond to his voice and minister in his power in preparation for the years of the Cultural Revolution, when the church was mercilessly and relentlessly persecuted.
Persecution: context for revival
During the decade 1966-1976, the Red Guards – representatives of the hardliners of the Communist Party – embarked on a ruthlessly cruel campaign to eradicate religion. For Christianity it meant:
* Confiscation of all Bibles and Christian literature;
* The stifling of all remaining institutionalised Christianity;
* Closure of all church buildings;
* Public humiliation of Christians through physical and emotional assault;
* Imprisonment in labour camps, factories and farms;
* Suicide of some Christians;
* A denial of faith in Christ for some;
* Betrayal of fellow Christians by some.
Yet, the gospel spread to areas without any previous witness, due to the exile of believers to remote farms and labour camps (Paterson 1989:45-46). Amazingly, even Red Guards, impressed by the lifestyle of the believers, turned to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ during this time.
Many Chinese believers testify to the fact that the church was purified in the fires of this persecution. Only those who were wholeheartedly committed to Jesus withstood such fierce opposition. One woman believer said ‘If a person joins us, we have a real Christian’ (Paterson 1989:94).
Suddenly, believers needed each other more than ever before. Meeting in small groups, mostly in homes, they learned the value of the unity of the Body of Christ, the edifying effects of fellowship with other Christians, the power of prayer, the priceless value of the Scriptures, and the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst. The lessons of the preceding years were now bearing fruit in their dire need for mutual strengthening and encouragement.
The Chinese church was developing a quality of lifestyle and attitude that many Western Christians have never experienced. As they were leaderless in many instances, they began to appreciate the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.
This is the true meaning of revival – a fresh and deepened commitment of believers to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Christians who know him in this measure have a hope that transcends all hopelessness in this life. Although it was very dangerous to witness openly to the Lord at this time, many believers did so. The church primarily grew from conversions as people observed the way Christians endured persecution, and saw their lifestyle under extreme pressure.
By 1977 a more moderate set of pragmatic policies was pursued by Deng Ziaoping in the early years of his second term in office. The more liberal faction of the Party campaigned for the Open Door policy for the West – to help foster much needed industrial reforms.
Christians were released from prison for political expediency. China wanted to boost her trade and diplomatic relations by impressing the West with a policy of religious freedom and attention to human rights issues (Paterson 1989:49-50).
During the decade 1978-1988 the house churches saw great multiplication growth (McGavran 1989:1), and initially enjoyed relative peace. Consequently, the Christians boldly evangelized, worshipped and taught in large meetings. Outstanding reports included one city where 60% of the population became Christians, and a city of 160,000 where the majority are Christians, living in 13 communes (Paterson 1989:82).
David Wang (Paterson 1989:163) reports of another situation in which the majority of the citizens of an entire county became Christians in 1988. A Pastor had been imprisoned in 1963, when there were only 170 believers in his county. When he was released in 1986, there were 5,000 believers. Two and a half years later, the church had grown to 56,000 believers.
Evangelism: the result of revival
Conversions on a huge scale are the result of aggressive evangelism, characterised by a bold proclamation of the Gospel, accompanied by signs and wonders in the power of the Holy Spirit. Believers who learned to operate in the power of the Spirit in the secret meetings of the house churches now boldly proclaim the saving, healing and delivering power of Jesus Christ.
This is specialised evangelism that works through the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit into particular situations. Itinerant evangelists devote their lives to preaching the gospel from province to province. They constantly risk imprisonment and harassment from the authorities, but they are passionate in their ministry and are seeing much fruit for the kingdom of God.
The church encourages the ministry gift of an evangelist, and also emphasises the individual’s responsibility to witness, both in word and lifestyle. Anthony Lambert (1989:8) says the house church model for effective witness in China today is the simple, apostolic proclamation of the Gospel, combined with sacrificial life-style and suffering. This … is remarkably effective in reaching the masses of the people. … The church is growing by leaps and bounds from the grass roots upwards.
Influence of radio ministry
One other form of evangelism in China deserves special mention. The Christian radio ministry has progressively impacted unbelievers all over China. During the years when the country was closed to the outside world, the Far East Broadcasting Company received virtually no feedback on the influence of their programs on the Chinese. However, after 1979, letters received from inside China reveal that Christians are being nurtured, encouraged and strengthened by the broadcasts. More than 50% of the responses are from unbelievers seeking information about the gospel.
The following figures show the increase in written responses each year between 1978 and 1988. The overall decadal growth rate is a staggering 9,000%.
The responses totalled only 177 for the entire period between 1969 and 1978, but sharply increased after China and the United States resumed diplomatic relations in 1979.
1979 – 3,000 responses.
1980-1986 – 10,000 responses a year.
1987-1988 – 16,000 responses a year.
Given the fact that there are many who still cannot respond because of the danger, the radio ministry is of immense value to the cause of the gospel (Paterson 1989:115-116).
Reasons for growth
Vital theological convictions have produced significant spiritual emphases in the house churches.
As early as 1917, Chinese believers recognised the sovereign, supernatural power of the Spirit of God to heal the sick, perform miracles, and deliver from demonic oppression. I believe it is significant that this revelation coincided with the drive of Chinese Christians to become indigenous.
Western believers presented the Gospel from a Western theological perspective – appealing to people’s rational processes. Faith was based on the message proclaimed in words. The preached word has been emphasised exclusively, and Jesus has been well presented as ‘Christ the wisdom of God’.
However, the Chinese – and other Third World peoples – are more acutely aware of the dimension of the spirit world. Therefore, ‘Christ the power of God’, acknowledged in the preaching of the Word with accompanying signs and wonders, is the way God demonstrates his supremacy over all false gods (Wang, Asian Report 194, 1992:9-10).
Chinese Christians expect the Holy Spirit to declare the Lordship of Jesus through supernatural acts as a normal occurrence. This theological absolute is the common thread evidenced throughout the house church movement. I am convinced this is the fundamental reason for its preservation and outstanding growth. Within the house church movement itself ‘most Christians still recognise signs, wonders and miracles as the number one factor resulting in church expansion’ (Wang, Asian Report 198, April, 1993:7).
2. Revelation of the Lordship of Jesus Christ
The primary priority of Chinese Christians is encouraging and maintaining a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Persecution has driven the church to the basics of the faith, and a very real experience of the presence of Jesus in their lives. Their faith is in Jesus who is present now in the believer, and is returning soon. Therefore, effecting reconciliation between him and all who desire salvation is a matter of urgency.
3. A Theology of entering into Christ’s sufferings
A theology of suffering has issued from the fires of persecution. Christ Jesus suffered for them, therefore they willingly enter into the fellowship of his sufferings (Phil.3:10), and consider it a privilege to identify with him as his representatives in situations of persecution where they can demonstrate his great love for sinners.
David Wang tells of a woman Christian worker in a poor province of China sentenced to five years hard labour who refused to be bailed out by fellow Christians. She saw imprisonment as a divinely appointed opportunity to minister the gospel in the labour camp. Her only request was that Christians would support her in prayer (Asian Report 194, April, 1992:7).
4. A belief in the power of prayer
All the activities of the house churches flow from a base of intensely fervent prayer. Intercession occupies a major portion of their church meetings. Whole congregations unashamedly weep as one before God, and the entire group of believers sustain a unity of focus, adding their passionate ‘Amen’ to the pleadings and supplications of their fellow Christians (Balcombe Video, 1993).
One Chinese pastor, returning from a conference in a western nation, said ‘Our brothers in the West know how to plan, but we know how to pray’ (Paterson 1989:189).
Persecution drove them to prayer, and now persistent corporate prayer is frequently sustained for three to four hours in any one church gathering.
5. Belief in the church as a spiritual structure
No other structures except the Body of Christ are necessary in this movement. The vast majority of house churches do not own any property, but meet in homes, old buildings, and even, in at least one instance, a cave. What is important is the spiritual membership of the group.
Inherent in this doctrine is their faith in the priesthood of all believers. Leaders do not dominate the church, but encourage all members to live pure lives, and take their rightful place in the Body of Christ (Paterson 1989:189).
6. Recognition of the Scriptures as the Word of God
The Bible is highly esteemed among Chinese Christians. They will go to any lengths to obtain a copy, sometimes travelling for days to make contact with a courier, and risking detention by the Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) for obtaining ‘foreign supplied’ Bibles.
In other places, one copy is circulated among members who are responsible for hand-copying the text. The lack of sufficient Bibles, along with limited sound Biblical instruction, unfortunately leaves many places open to heresy. Pastors refuse to send their potential ministers to seminaries operated by the TSPM, because of the strong political content of the courses.
7. A responsible belief in the mission of the church
These house churches take seriously the church’s mission (Matt.28:18-20). This is attested to by the spiritual harvest they are experiencing. Every Christian is encouraged to witness, and the ministry of the evangelist is given a high profile (Paterson 1989:189).
Ensuing spiritual elements
Definitive spiritual emphases have emerged from these theological convictions in the house churches today in China. For ease of comparison, they are presented in a simple table. They represent Church Growth principles at work supernaturally.
Recognition of, and dependency on signs and wonders
* sensitivity to the Holy Spirit in evangelism* exercise of spiritual gifts
Revelation of the Lordship of Jesus Christ
* presentation of the basics of the gospel* emphasis on personal relationship with Jesus Christ for conversion growth
* commitment to personal witnessing* sustained vitality in worship
Entering into Christ’s sufferings
* selfless Christianity* boldness in witnessing* focus on eternal values
Belief in the power of prayer
* sustained, persistent, fervent prayer* total dependence on God’s miraculous intervention to preserve his testimony
The church as a spiritual structure
* supportive, caring community* every believer essential to the Body of Christ* emphasis on lay ministry* importance of corporate fellowship
Recognition of the Scriptures as the Word of God
* high view of Scripture* an insatiable hunger for God’s Word* willingness to risk personal safety to obtain Bibles
Responsible belief in the mission of the church
* personal evangelism* fearless preaching of the whole Gospel
The greatest benefit to the church in China is the unity gained from a truly indigenous church functioning in the power of the Spirit.
In addition to this principle of indigenous unity, the following phases of Church Growth advocated by Eddie Gibbs (1986:43-45) are all strongly contributing to the current growth of the church in China and are evident in the theological and spiritual elements.
1. Mobilising the witnesses.
2. Equipping the people of God for ministry. This is encouraged, but at times hampered through lack of suitable materials and teachers.
3. Creating a climate of receptivity. This has been a work of the Holy Spirit, using the persecution of the church and the expulsion of Western missionaries to focus the church on the real issues.
4. Effecting regeneration.
5. Incorporating into the Body of Christ.
6. Involvement in the ministry of Christ.
The Chinese house churches have flourished under the dynamic direction of the Holy Spirit. This growth occurs within a climate of official hostility to Christianity. The strategies of the Spirit have developed a truly Chinese church independent of any foreign control or influence, free to propagate the gospel in terms easily understood by its fellow citizens.
These churches are constrained by the present suffering to present the gospel as a matter of urgency, compelled by the love of Jesus Christ for lost sinners. The whole church seriously applies itself to evangelistic mission, and gathers the converts into a nurturing community to build them up so that they can take their rightful place in the Body of Christ.
Despite the remarkable growth of the Christian church in China, there is still much work to do. The best figures reveal there are 100 million believers in this country of 1.289 billion. When we consider that China is one fifth of the population of the world, and 33.5% of the world’s population is Christian (Barrett 1993:23), the church in China is faced with a formidable task to fulfil the Biblical mandate to preach the Gospel to every people group.
They have pressed on by the power of the Holy Spirit in the past, and will continue to do so in the future as they combine his supernatural enabling with their tenacious devotion to the task at hand. Fired by their constant knowledge of Jesus Christ present in his power they proclaim Maranatha, the Lord is coming.
Balcombe, Dennis (1993) ‘Harvest Time For China’, Video, Mount Gravatt: Garden City Christian Church.
Barrett, David B. (1993) ‘Annual Statistical Table on Global Mission: 1993’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January, 1993, pp.22-23.
Chao, Jonathan (1988) Wise as Serpents Harmless as Doves. Pasadena: William Carey Library.
Francis, Lesley (1985) Winds of Change in China. Guidelines For Effective Service. Sydney: OMF.
Gibbs, Eddie (1986) ‘Power Won’t Flow From Principles’ Global Church Growth, July/August/September, 1986, Volume xxiii, No.3. pp.43-45.
Hunter, Kent R. (1990) ‘Whatever Happened To The Homogeneous Unit Principle?’, Global Church Growth, January/February/March, 1990, Volume xxvii, No.1, pp.1,4.
Lawrence, Carl (1985) Against All Odds: The Church in China. Basingstoke: Marshall Pickering.
McGavran, Donald (1980) Understanding Church Growth (Revised). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans.
——- (1989) ‘What is Happening in China?’ Global Church Growth, April/May/June, 1989, Volume xxvii, No.2. pp.1,4.
Kang, Wi Jo (1990) ‘Korean Minority Church-State Relations in the People’s Republic of China’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, April, 1990, Volume 14, No.2., pp.77-82.
Kauffman, Paul E. (1975) Confucius, Mao and Christ. Hong Kong: Asian Outreach.
——- (1991) ‘China’s Opposing Attractions’, Asian Report 190, Volume 24, No.3, May/June, pp.3-7.
Lambert, Anthony (1989) ‘The Mandate of Heaven: An Analysis of the Present Overall Situation in China’, Global Church Growth, Volume xxvi, No.2 pp.7-9.
Paterson, Ross (1989) Heartcry For China. United Kingdom: Sovereign World.
Pierson, Paul E. (1985) Historical Development of the Christian Movement – Class Syllabus. Pasadena: Fuller Theological Seminary.
Shenk, Wilbur R. (1990) ‘The Origins and Evolution of the Three-Selfs in Relation to China’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Volume 14, No.1, January.
Wagner, C. Peter (1976) Your Church Can Grow. Ventura: Regal.
Wang, David (1992) ‘Asia’s Maturing Church’, Asian Report 194, Vol.25, No. 2, March/April.
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Waugh, Geoff (1993) ‘Astounding Church Growth’, Renewal Journal, Number 2, pp. 47-57.
Foreword (from Flashpoints of Revival, 1st ed. 1998)
by Dr C Peter Wagner, Fuller Theological Seminary
Geoff Waugh and I agree that our generation is likely to be an eye witness to the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit that history has ever known. Many others join us in this expectation, some of them sensing that it will come in the next few years.
Here in America, it seems to me that I have heard more reports of revival-like activity in the past three years than in the previous thirty. This has caused revival to be a more frequent topic of Christian conversation than I have ever seen. There is an extraordinary hunger for learning more about how the hand of God works in revival.
That is a major reason why Flashpoints of Revival is such a timely book. Christian libraries are well stocked with detailed accounts of certain revivals as well as scholarly analytical histories of revival. But I know of no other book like this one that provides rapid-fire, easy-to-read, factual literary snapshots of virtually every well-known revival since Pentecost.
As I read this book, I was thrilled to see how God has been so mightily at work in so many different times and places. I felt like I had grasped the overall picture of revival for the first time, and I was moved to pray that God, indeed, would allow me not to be just an observer, but rather a literal participant in the worldwide outpouring that will soon come. As you read the book, I am sure you will be saying the same thing.
Endorsements (from Flashpoints of Revival)
God has set off fireworks of revival throughout the history of Christianity, but few of us are aware of the magnitude of his handiwork. In Flashpoints of Revival, Australian author Geoff Waugh walks us through God’s gallery of revivals, century by century, to show us that the Holy Spirit can spontaneously ignite at any time, anywhere. You will read details, historically documented facts, and personal accounts of every major move of God for the past three centuries from every corner of the globe. For revival enthusiasts or historians this book is a treasure chest. For those who think God “doesn’t do that” this book is a must read. Outreach Magazine (COC)
Using eye witness accounts, Australian Geoff Waugh takes us on a journey of revivals – beginning with the Moravians in Herrnhut, Germany in 1727 and continuing through the centuries to others in England, America, Canada, Africa, India, Korea, Chile and more, including Brownsville in 1995. This will leave you hungry and thirsty, hopefully crying out to God for revival in Australia. Excellent. The Australian Evangel (AOG)
A Goldmine of Inspiration
What a goldmine of inspiring details! Readers may have heard of some of the revivals described in this book, but Geoff Waugh’s comprehensive and up-to-date book provides a global perspective of the unexpected and transforming work of the Holy Spirit around the globe from the 18th century to today. Read, be inspired and encouraged – and open to ways in which the Spirit ‘blows where he wills’.
Rev Dr John Olley, former principal Perth Baptist Theological College.
The first time I read this book, I couldn’t put it down. Not only were the stories researched with clear and concise data, but they provide an account of revivals that blew my mind away. As a person interested in seeing the winds of the Spirit blow in our churches and communities, I was truly impacted reading through history’s mighty revivals. Dr. Waugh’s simple yet provoking stories of men and women who dared make a difference and in being available for God was used mightily, is but a true story of this humble man of God whom I have had the privilege of working alongside following the revival winds in the Pacific. Once you read this book, you will not want to put it down as the stories comes alive again, showing us the heart of a man who is passionate about revivals and seeing God move especially in our communities. Dr Waugh’s book is a must read to all who are passionate about letting the Holy Spirit do his work in their lives, in their church and in their community. An inspirational read.
Romulo Nayacalevu, Fiji lawyer and UN representative:
This work of the Rev. Dr. Geoff Waugh is of great significance. In it he has provided a comprehensive overview of the major revivals during the last three centuries. What is particularly important is the way in which we are enabled, through Dr. Waugh’s work, to see how God has acted in all kinds of ways, through unexpected people, in unexpected situations, to bring about revival. Geoff Waugh is respected for his integrity, his communication skills, and his passion for mission and renewal. Churches and Christians around the world will benefit greatly from this timely contribution.
Rev Prof James Haire, Professor of Theology, Charles Sturt University, and Executive Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
Flashpoints of Revival is a good overview of the major revivals that have taken place in history, especially more recent history. It will be a compendium for historians and others interested in the subject for a long time to come. I doubt if there is a resource quite like it for logical progression and comprehensive treatment.
Rev. Tony Cupit, former Director of Evangelism, Baptist World Alliance.
Flashpoints of Revival has brought many hours of interesting reading. It is very informative and up to date concerning revivals both past and present. I am confident that this book will be well received by many scholars and historians.
Rev Dr Naomi Dowdy, Trinity Christian Centre, Singapore.
Geoff Waugh has broken new ground by pulling together evidence of divine impacts on people in revival. He emphasises the place of prayer and repentance in our response to God’s awesome sovereignty and might. This is a book which will inspire you and help you to persist until the earth is “filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord”.
Rev Dr Stuart Robinson, Crossway Baptist Church, Melbourne, Australia.
I read Flashpoints of Revival with much interest and enjoyment. The Revd Geoff Waugh has offered us a comprehensive account of spiritual renewal over the centuries. Whilst one of the truly great spiritual renewals has occurred in the latter half of the twentieth century, it finds its genesis in the Book of Acts. Amazing signs of God’s power and love have occurred in the Christian communities which have been open to revival. Those communities have seen increasing membership. The churches which have closed their minds to charismatic renewal have seen decline in membership. I praise God for the Holy Spirit movement in our time.
Bishop Ralph E. Wicks, Anglican Church of Australia.
The Rev Dr Geoff Waugh is well able to write about the stories and experiences of revival. He has been a careful and sympathetic student of revival experiences in many parts of the world. In churches that need God’s power for great tasks it is important that God’s action in other places be studied. Geoff Waugh has made a crucial contribution to that task.
Rev John E Mavor, former President of the Uniting Church in Australia.
I love learning about revival and this book adds to that hunger. Geoff Waugh, with great integrity and detailed research draws together much information that will inspire the reader. This is an extension of Geoff’s many years of contribution in the area of renewal and revival as editor of the Renewal Journal. Geoff has initiated renewal activities in many denominations in Australia and has participated actively as a member in the growth of Gateway Baptist Church in Brisbane.
Rev Tim Hanna, former Minister, Gateway Baptist Church, Brisbane, Australia.
Dr Geoff Waugh’s work has a global relevance, which he has applied in the Australian context. As a fellow Australian I am appreciative. My appreciation is greatly enhanced by a deep respect and affection for the author. He is a competent teacher, an excellent communicator, an informed, disciplined renewalist and an experienced educator. All these qualities combine to commend the author and his work.
Rev Dr Lewis Born, former Moderator, Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church.
Geoff Waugh places current outpourings of the Holy Spirit in historical context. In 1993 I said that this move of God would go round the world. It has. It is breaking out and touching millions of lives. Geoff’s work helps us understand more about God’s mighty work in our time.
Pastor Neil Miers, President, Christian Outreach Centre, Australia.
Contents (updated and expanded)
1. Eighteenth Century Revival: The Great Awakening and Evangelical Revival
2. Nineteenth Century Revival: Frontier and Missionary Revival
3. Early Twentieth Century Revival: Worldwide Revival
4. Mid-twentieth Century Revival: Healing Evangelism Revival
5. Late Twentieth Century Revival: Renewal and Revival
6. Final Decade, Twentieth Century: River of God Revival
7. Twenty-First Century: Transforming Revival
Final Chapters – updated
Expanded academic version of Flashpoints of Revival, 392 pages (2011) including footnotes,
published by Global Awakening and Renewal Journal.
Chapters 6 and 7 as follows:
6. Final Decade, Twentieth Century: River of God Revival
1992 – Buenos Aires, Argentina (Claudio Freidzon)
1993 – May: Brisbane, Australia (Neil Miers)
1993 – November: Boston, North America (Mona Johnian)
1994 – January: Toronto, Canada (John Arnott)
1994 – May: London, England (Eleanor Mumford)
1994 – August: Sunderland, England (Ken Gott)
1994 – November: Mt Annan, Sydney, Australia (Adrian Gray)
1994 – November: Randwick, Sydney, Australia (Greg Beech)
1995 – January: Melbourne, Florida, North America (Randy Clark)
1995 – January: Modesto, California, North America (Glen Berteau)
1995 – Janaury: Pasadena, California, North America (Chi Ahn)
1995 – January: Brownwood, Texas, America (College Revivals)
1995 – June: Pensacola, Florida, North America (Steve Hill)
1995 – October: Mexico (David Hogan)
1996 – March: Smithton, Missouri, North America (Steve Gray)
1996 – April: Hampton, Virginia, North America (Ron Johnson)
1996 – September: Mobile, Alabama, North America (Cecil Turner)
1996 – October: Houston, Texas, North America (Richard Heard)
1997 – January: Baltimore, Maryland, North America (Bart Pierce)
1997 – November: Pilbara, Australia (Craig Siggins)
1998 – August: Kimberleys, Australia (Max Wiltshire)
1999 – July: Mornington Island, Australia (Jesse Padayache)
7. Twenty-First Century: Transforming Revival
Snapshots of Glory: Mizoram, Almolonga, Nigeria, Hemet, Cali
Global Phenomona: Kenya, Brazil, Argentina
Transforming Revival in the South Pacific: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji
2019 – Revival in America’s Largest University
Share to inform and inspire others.
Inform and bless others with good news – Jesus is still building his church globally with amazing outpourings of His Spirit.
This book gives summaries of revival pioneers through history into the 21st Century. The First Chapter on Revival Fire gives an overview of revivals and revival leaders through history, especially that last 300 years into the 21st century. The last chapter on Transforming Revival tells of community and ecological transformation in the 21st century. Other chapters tell of specific revival pioneers.
1 Revival Fire, by Geoff Waugh
2 Jesus, the Ultimate Ministry Leader, by Jessica Harrison
3 Smith Wigglesworth, by Melanie Malengret
4 John G. Lake, by Liz Godshalk
5 Aimee Semple McPherson, by Geoff Thurling
6 T. L. Osborne, by Grant Lea
7 David Yonggi Cho, by Peter Allen
8 The Birth of Christian Outreach Centre, by Anne Taylor
9 The Beginnings of Christian Outreach Centre, by John Thorburn