* This is a very informative, amazing, and powerful book. Thanks to the author for investing hours of research, expressed with his masterful command of language. ~ Alex Johnson (5-stars)
* Be enriched. A most helpful telling of the life of Jesus using the biblical text and adding some background and charts. Anyone using this book will be enriched. ~ Rev Dr John Olley (Amazon 5-stars)
* This is a wonderful book and can be read over and over. Thank you. ~ Kerry Rawson
* This is a great read. Simple and easy language that even my children can read as a guide, and have a better understanding of the Life Journey of Christ, as they read it in the Gospels. Thank You. ~ Florence * Good clear language for a seeker to read and understand the life of Jesus. ~ Duncan Gibb
* Geoff Waugh has written a very helpful devotional book about the Saviour of the world who is also the loving presence in believers. Having known Geoff for over sixty years I can testify that every word written proceeds from his own heart of love for Jesus and for all God’s children. Geoff has avoided trying to manufacture some theory or new twist to make the book more colourful. He has used Scripture as his main source and has been faithful to both the divinity and humanity of Jesus as expressed in the Gospels. His use of chronology for headings and the many sub-headings makes the book simpler to absorb, even for an enquirer or new believer. It reminds me a little of Leon Morris’s beautiful book The Lord from Heaven. I warmly commend this book. ~ Rev Dr Tony Cupit, Former Director of the Baptist World Alliance. * I keep this book with my Bible. It is especially helpful when reading through the Gospels. ~ Cathy Hartwig * This book is for those who question Jesus’ reality as the Son of God, and for those who search for the details of His amazing life on this earth. ~ Judith Abrey * The book is beautifully written and I have learned and understood a lot. I am recommending this book. ~ Kattie Mayson (Amazon 5-stars)
* I read your book last night. This is a great book. Thanks for writing this for all of us. ~ Nabeel Sharoon from Pakistan, now translating it into five languages: Urdu, Hindi, Pakistani Punjabi, Indian Punjabi, and Sindhi. A gifted translator, Nabeel works on his phone, so if you can donate towards him serving God with a laptop, add a comment.
The Life of Jesus in Sindhi, Pakistani Punjabi, and Indian Punjabi.
The Life of Jesusprovides a brief overview of history’s great love story. It gives a summary of the birth and boyhood of Jesus and describes his ministry through three Passover Festivals.
The book includes a detailed chart of a chronology of Jesus’ life and ministry and examines why such a popular, loving, and compassionate young leader would encounter intense hostility and opposition causing his crucifixion.
The mystery and wonder deepen because his resurrection transformed his followers and millions of lives. We date our diaries and calendars from the time of his birth.
Why would such a good man who loved so profoundly and helped so many people be killed? Why did he provoke opposition?
If God walked among us in the person of his Son, why would people want to kill him? Why did so many vehemently oppose him?
That puzzled me as a boy. It still does.
The greatest love story the world has ever seen led to the excruciating death of crucifixion.
Many people have given their lives for other people as soldiers do in war. They die for others, defending home and country. But Jesus’ death was different. God’s Son chose to die for us because of his immense love for us. He took our place. His death gives us life. He is the perfect, sinless, eternal sacrifice for us. His blood cleanses us from all our sin as we trust in him. We are forgiven.
But why did so many good people, good religious people, hate him? That puzzled and fascinated me, so I explore that mystery in this book. I wanted to write a summary overview that people of all ages could read.
I always believed in Jesus. Even as a small boy I loved to hear and then read stories about him. He was so unique, so different. I believed his story as a boy and trusted in him. I still do and I hope you do too.
Jesus did what was good. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, set people free from addictions and evil, performed miracles, and even raised dead people. Huge crowds followed him and wanted him to be their king.
Now billions follow him, captivated by his love, the greatest love story of all. You can do that also. I invite you to simply pray something like this: Thank you Lord for all you’ve done. Forgive me for any wrong in my life. I trust in you and give my life to you.
The year on our calendar or diary reminds us of when Jesus was born, approximately. We count the years from his arrival. So when you look at your diary or calendar you can be reminded again of Jesus.
They called him Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus) of Nazareth, the same name as Moses’ famous general who led God’s people into their Promised Land. Yeshua means God saves, or God is salvation.
That name comes to us in English through many translations from Yeshua or Y’shua in Hebrew and Aramaic, then translated into Iesous in Greek, then to IESVS in Latin and later as IESUS as printed in the first edition of the King James Bible in 1611. Later that century ‘J’ replaced the ‘I’ so the English name became Jesu (vocative) and Jesus (nominative) but eventually just Jesus in English. Other languages have translations such as Jesu, Yesu, and Isa.
English translations of the Bible used the name Jesus for Joshua/Jesus of Nazareth, and the name Joshua for others with that same name. So in English, the name Jesus became unique and sacred for Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. The angel Gabriel announced his name before his birth to both Mary his mother and to Joseph who married Mary. Gabriel explained that Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus) had that name because he would save his people from their sins.
The great love story had begun. Jesus came to save us and give us eternal life.
His followers recorded that story of his life and his love in the good news of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The rest of the New Testament explores the mystery and wonder of that amazing life and love.
Scholars have a bewildering array of theories about the Bible and about who wrote what, and when, and where, and why. I’m content to run with traditional explanations that have been used throughout most of history.
Jesus’ unique and wonderful life, his brutal death for us, and his powerful resurrection, all reveal his and God’s eternal love for us all. You could pause and thank him right now even as you read this.
John’s Gospel emphasizes God’s eternal love revealed in Jesus. It includes the most famous passage in the Bible:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begottenSon, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17, NKJV).
That love, powerfully shown on the cross, has transformed billions of lives, restoring believers to an intimate and eternal relationship with God and with others.
Three physical metaphors help me to be constantly aware of, and grateful for, God’s presence with us always:
(1) Light surrounds you. By it you can read this. The sun always shines, even when it’s hidden from us. Light shines around us though we may be unaware of it. God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. We can live in his light.
(2) Blood pumps through your body right now, cleansing and healing. We may be unaware of it until reactions like alarm alert us to our beating heart. Jesus’ blood cleanses from all sin, always. We can trust him for he is with us.
(3) We may breathe without being aware of it, or we can be aware and take deep breaths, as you may have done just now! Breath purifies our lungs and body. God is Spirit and like breath or fresh breeze, he can purify us.
May the light of God’s love breathe life in you right now.
We’ve been made in God’s image to have an eternal, loving relationship with him that even transcends death. We can know and experience God’s unconditional love no matter how far we stray from him. Those who stray most are often the most grateful for his forgiveness and love. We all stray in many ways and we all need forgiveness and we can and should be truly grateful.
God knows and loves us as we are. That makes praying or talking to him easy because he already knows our failures and struggles and welcomes us just as we are. The more honestly we come to him the more he can transform us.
If we have trouble believing we can at least say, “God, if you’re there, help me.”
Some thoughts may get in the way when we pray or want to talk to God. Just give him those thoughts. He already knows all about it and loves us as we are.
If we reject God’s love and mercy by ignoring him and going our own way, we condemn ourselves to eternal darkness away from his light and love.
If we accept his love and forgiveness by believing in him, by trusting him, he gives us life, his eternal life. That makes us new. We are transformed.
Vast numbers of people worldwide of all faiths, and of none, have prayed the prayer in the popular hymn by Charlotte Elliot, ‘Just as I am’ which includes these adapted verses:
Just as I am, without one plea
But that Your blood was shed for me
And that You bid me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fighting and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
God welcomes us and we can all pray that prayer. A title for Jesus, as in that song, is the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away our sin.
The Life of Jesus is a vast topic with millions of books written about it. I hope my small contribution gives you a helpful overview. I quote from the New Revised Standard Version unless indicated otherwise, and include many footnotes that you can explore to discover more.
Best of all, of course, are the inspired Gospels now in over 700 different languages in Bible translations and a further 3,500 languages have Bible portions, especially the Gospels. Read and respond to those Gospels.
Iesous (Yeshua) is translated as Joshua in these verses: Luke 3:29; Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8.
It began at the beginning, this great love story, for “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Why did he do that? For us.
He did it for you. He loved you so much he created you to know and enjoy him now as you read this, and forever. He offers you intimate, infinite love. He created you through the wondrous union of your parents’ ecstasy.
He made the earth for us to inhabit and care for and rule. He made the heavens (plural) for us to inherit, the physical firmament and also the realms of vast, eternal glory prepared especially for us.
He created us free to accept or reject his astounding love. Sadly we went our own way. We all, like sheep, went astray. We all turned to our own way. So God laid on his Servant, his Son, all our iniquity. God saves us through his Son in their great love for us all. You could pause and thank him now as you read this.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve enjoyed intimate, unashamed relationship with God and each other. Then, like us, they believed lies and went their own way, losing Paradise. But God still blessed and sustained them and their descendants who chose to love him and live for him. Sadly only a few did.
Noah and his family loved and obeyed God and he rescued them from the great flood. People ridiculed him for obeying God and building a huge boat on dry ground – not even in a dry dock. The rainbow became the sign of God’s covenant to Noah and his descendants including us.
Abram, a wealthy sheik from the wide fertile Tigris and Euphrates valleys in western Asia, north-west of the Arabian Peninsula (now Iraq), loved and obeyed God. Renamed Abraham (God’s friend) he journeyed to the Promised Land, now called Israel, from the name given to his grandson who wrestled with an angel or with the Lord. Circumcision became the covenant sign for them and for their descendants through whom God would provide his salvation for us all.
Abraham and his descendants walked that verdant Promised Land, as did Jesus and his followers. So did our family for a month in December-January, 1981-82.
The life of Jesus is history’s great love story. The overview in this brief book points you to the great good news of who Jesus is and what he did. That story is told best in the Bible, God’s inspired word.
I hope this brief commentary points you again to that God-breathed living word. It gave me fresh insights as I researched the harmonized story of these gospels.
Many writers discuss the popular five love languages: affirmation, service, gifts, time, and touch. Jesus demonstrated all these in various ways.
He affirmed and admired faith, especially faith in him for healing and help.
He served daily and showed it dramatically by washing his disciples’ feet.
He gave his life for us and ultimately he gives eternal life to all who believe.
His three years of quality time with his followers prepared them to serve.
His touch brought physical and spiritual healing and freedom to multitudes.
I love the way John summed up the reason for writing his Gospel: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
That is my prayer for you, my reader. Here is my echoing sonnet, penned over fifty years ago.
Sin stalks the soul, and permeates the whole Of life lived here where we, while bound by fear, Hunt far and near for freedom to appear From pole to pole with our minds in control. That worthy goal seems mockery. Sin stole Our freedom dear, left pain and woe to sear Each life, a mere heartache, or sob, or tear, Like a lost mole, blind, dirty in its hole. God’s love stepped in to fight and conquer sin Through Christ who bled and died and rose as Head Supreme of all who claim Him Lord. Our fall, Clamour and din may end in Him. We win Release from dread, freedom, life from the dead, Unbound from gall, in answer to His call.
Discussion Questions (for use in groups)
Chapter 1: Birth and Boyhood
1. What is one of your favourite Christmas carols and why?
2. What surprises you most about the Christmas story?
3. What challenges you about the boyhood and youth of Jesus?
What would you like people to pray about for you?
Chapter 2: Ministry Begins 1. Why do you think Jesus’ public ministry began after his baptism?
2. What puzzles you most about Jesus’ ministry? (eg casting out spirits)
3. What challenges you about being a disciple of Jesus?
What prayer would you appreciate receiving?
Chapter 3: First to Second Passovers
1. Why do you think John 3:16 is so popular and well known?
2. Who can you identify with in Jesus’ early ministry (eg Nicodemus, Samaritan woman, disciples, religious leaders)
3. What do you think challenged Jesus’ disciples?
What prayer would encourage you just now?
Chapter 4: Second to Third Passovers 1. What impresses you most about Jesus?
2. What challenges you most about Jesus?
3. What surprises you most about Jesus?
What prayer would help you just now?
Chapter 5: Passover to Pentecost 1. What shocks you most about the crucifixion?
2. What helps or challenges you about Jesus’ death and resurrection?
3. What interests you most about the Holy Spirit?
What prayer support would you like now?
Map in the book
Jewish scholar argues for Jesus’ birth in Spring, Nisan 1, the first day of the first month.
(7) The Lion of Judah – Blog The Lion of Judah – PDF 6 books in one volume * Looking for a great book to help you meditate on the wonder of Jesus in all his richness and grandeur and love? Geoff Waugh has helpfully and thoughtfully brought together wide-ranging biblical passages… Read this book prayerfully and you will not be the same! ~ John Olley.
* This book is full of information, biblical information. I have learned so much from it … If you want to learn more from the Bible, this is the book to read. ~ A. Aldridge
The Queen’s Faith – Blog The Queen’s Faith– PDFPlatinum Jubilee edition 2022
2-page view at the top right of the PDF Queen Elizabeth II describes her faith 70 excerpts arranged in the ten themes of Jesus Christ, service & support, peace & goodwill, faith & hope, light & life, truth & courage, love and kindness, compassion & care, forgiveness & reconciliation, respect & tolerance. * Took a read on the link! Really interesting and a great book! ~ Natalie Tse
* I have read this book and it is one of the most amazing books I have read to date. ~ Maria
* The Queen’s Christmas and Easter Messages is an appealing, highly unusual and very creative anthology. ~ Alison Sherrington * What an amazing collection! This has so many wonderful Christmas messages and is a great addition to any family during the holiday season. ~ Jenny & Benny
Discovering Aslan – Blog Discovering Aslan – PDF Devotional commentary about Jesus from The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis * This is a remarkable work and something quite unique that I’ve not come across before ~ Russ Burg * One of the most interesting devotionals ever! As a huge fan of all things Narnia, I am so grateful for this deeper aspect of the truths in C.S. Lewis’ stories. ~ Belinda S. * Best companion work I know of. … Either for a young person who is interested in exploring more, or as a resource on a pastor’s desk, it is an invaluable companion to the original series. ~ Amazon Customer * This is a great companion when you read, and is a stand-alone teaching on the depths of teaching that C.S. Lewis weaves into Aslan’s character. Definitely worth your time. ~ Steve Loopstra
The Lion ofJudah – Blog The Lion of Judah – PDF six books combinedinto one book * Looking for a great book to help you meditate on the wonder of Jesus in all his richness and grandeur and love? Geoff Waugh has helpfully and thoughtfully brought together wide-ranging biblical passages… Read this book prayerfully and you will not be the same! ~ John Olley. * This book is full of information, biblical information. I have learned so much from it … If you want to learn more from the Bible, this is the book to read. ~ A. Aldridge.
Bible Story Pictures & Models – Blog Bible Story Pictures & Models – PDF Children’s pictures activity book * Bible Story Pictures & Models stands out above the rest, looks and sounds original, fun and very inspirational … Your stories are great for teaching children basic bible stories. Your illustrations and models are all terrific for them to color and create. It is all very well done and inviting for your targeted young readers. ~ Ellery Alouette.
* This is an excellent children’s Bible story and activity book. Our family loves it and enjoys it every day, reading a different story and creating our own pictures and models. Thanks to the author for putting this wonderful book together for families to learn more about the Lord’s Word while enjoying some creativity time as well. ~ Jewell Hart. * This hands-on, easy-to-use guide is laid out perfectly to use as a creative tool for simple-to-understand Bible lessons with fun and enjoyable illustrations, pictures and models to colour and create. Our children are especially enjoying it with excitement while they learn more about the Bible through the stories, along with coloring, painting and creating with the fun-packed inspirational activities. ~ Beatrix Bloom.
Living in the Spirit – Blog Living in the Spirit – PDF The Holy Spirit andThe Christian Life * I find the study material to be balanced in theological emphasis and exceptionally well organized and presented. ~ Bishop Owen Dowling * This book is not only good for personal use but also GREAT for group study. Even good for a Sunday School class. ~ SW * If you are a Christian you need to read this book, it helps to understand the Holy Spirit and how he works in your life. ~ Allen R Lancaster
* 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. … I felt like I had grasped the overall picture of revival for the first time” ~ C Peter Wagner
Same 2020 text now as Revival Fires with Chapter 7: Twenty-first Century Revivals
* Amazing by Jo Swan: Full of true accounts of what happens to whole towns and cities when God’s people humble themselves, pray, and the Holy Spirit rushed through with his transforming power. Loved every minute of these stories. ~ Jo Swan
Bible StoryPictures & Models Bible Story Pictures & Models – PDF Amazon edition An activity book with 58 pictures and models for children and parents or teachers to enjoy.
* Bible Story Pictures & Models stands out above the rest, looks and sounds original, fun and very inspirational … Your illustrations and models are all terrific for them to color and create. It is all very well done and inviting for your targeted young readers. ~ Ellery Alouette.
* The Queen’s Christmas & Easter Messages is an appealing, highly unusual and very creative anthology. ~ Alison Sherrington
* I haven’t seen anyone else draw the events of these years together in this way before. Using the Queen’s speeches not only ties in the unfolding events of our time but reveals a deep spiritual glue that provides a fascinating and intimate insight into the personal life of our Queen. A fascinating read. ~ Rev Philip Waugh
* A new and innovative approach to the Christmas Story and its clear message of peace and goodwill to all. It is a rewarding experience to read it from cover to cover. ~ Don Hill
* What an amazing collection! This has so many wonderful Christmas messages and is a great addition to any family during the holiday season. ~ Jenny & Benny
* This is a remarkable work and something quite unique that I’ve not come across before (and believe me I’ve seen most ideas). There is a huge appetite for devotional type books and I’m sure that this one will appeal to many people. ~ Russ Burg
* One of the most interesting devotionals ever! As a huge fan of all things Narnia, I am so grateful for this deeper aspect of the truths in C.S. Lewis’ stories. Geoff Waugh did a great job in crafting such a book as this. What a wonderful addition to any collection, and an inspiration to know Jesus more deeply. ~ Belinda S.
* You can read the Narnia tales as just good stories, but CS Lewis wanted people to see more. This book will help you see the many links with Jesus, the Lion of Judah. Use this to enhance your wonder and love of Christ. ~ Rev Dr John Olley
* Best companion work I know of. … Either for a young person who is interested in exploring more, or as a resource on a pastor’s desk, it is an invaluable companion to the original series. ~ Amazon Customer
* This is a great companion when you read, and is a stand-alone teaching on the depths of teaching that C.S. Lewis weaves into Aslan’s character. Definitely worth your time. ~ Steve Loopstra
* Looking for a great book to help you meditate on the wonder of Jesus in all his richness and grandeur and love? Geoff Waugh has helpfully and thoughtfully brought together wide-ranging biblical passages (not just a string of references for you to look up!), arranged in clearly titled sections (this book is a combination of his smaller books, The Lion of Judah nos. 1-6). Read this book prayerfully and you will not be the same! Then share it with others. ~ Dr John Olley.
* This book is full of information, biblical information. I have learned so much from it and what I wasn’t able to keep in my head, I had my handy highlighter, so I could go back to it and find it. It is a book of multiple books and it’s not that big, but it’s filled with so many facts and details. If you want to learn more from the Bible, this is the book to read. ~ A. Aldridge.
Hundreds of ideas for Christian groups with a wealth of activities, studies, prayers, and resources for groups of all ages. Contents are: Ideas for integrated Bible studies; Ideas for Bible studies and prayers; Ideas for church activities – devotional, educational, creative, serving, social, sporting; Ideas for all ages together; Ideas for building relationships.
This book offers a huge range of activities, arranged according to group activities. It provides a wide range of activities for many different kinds of groups. The first section, Ideas for Integrated Bible Studies, gives you four group studies on each of the themes or topics.
* Five Stars: I really enjoyed this book. It helped me to understand more about what I have been going through. ~ James Bird
Jesus on Dying Regrets– Blog Jesus on Dying Regrets – PDF Advice about the top 5 regrets of the dying Gift Edition in colour This small book explores Jesus’ advice about the top 5 regrets of dying patients. Those regrets are transformed into these positives: 1 Be true – “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” 2 Work wise – “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” 3 Express feelings – “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.” 4 Stay connected – ” I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.” 5 Be happier – “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
* I have read many similar stories, but this one exceeds them all. … Geoff has done well to not only be in so many places and seeing God at work but also writing a book about it all. ~ Barbara Vickridge
* I am enjoying these Journals a lot! Read about things that the Bible talks about, but they are happening in our day and age around the world. Some of the journal pages I skip over, but not many. The people of our day are being the army of our God and His work is advancing. Let us be encouraged and pray that God helps others bring glory to God and that we ourselves follow God’s directions in our own lives to let God shine thru us. Talk about getting a lot for your money! ~ Deborah Mares
Many great texts in Scripture use short, sharp words
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good …(Genesis 1:3-4).
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son … (John 3:16)
Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.And you shalllove the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:29-30)
Many mottos and proverbs have short words
In God we trust
If it is to be, it is up to me (William Johnson).
You are what you think about all day long (Robert Schuller)
Do no harm (Hippocratic Oath)
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
A stitch in time saves nine.
Spare the rod and spoil the child.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Rome was not built in a day.
One thing at a time.
Eyes on the prize.
Seize the day. (Carpe Diem)
Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can. (John Wesley)
The Case for Short Words
When you speak and write, no law says you have to use big words. Short words are as good as long ones, and short, old words – like sun and grass and home – are best of all. A lot of small words, more than you might think, can meet your needs with a strength, grace and charm that large words do not have.
Big words can make the way dark for those who read what you write and hear what you say. Small words cast their clear light on big things – night and day, love and hate, war and peace, and life and death. Big words at times seem strange to the eye and the ear and the mind and the heart. They add fat to your prose. Small words are the ones we seem to have known from the time we were born. They are like the hearth fire that warms the home.
Short words are bright, like sparks that glow in the night, prompt like the dawn that greets the day, sharp like the blade of a knife, hot like salt tears that scald the cheek, quick like moths that flit from flame to flame, and terse like the dart and sting of a bee.
Here is a sound rule: Use small, old words where you can. If a long word says just what you want, do not fear to use it. But know that our tongue is rich in crisp, brisk, swift, short words. Make them the spine and the heart of what you speak and write. Short words are like fast friends. They will not let you down.
From: Richard Lederer, 1991, The Miracle of Language. New York: Pocket Books, pp 30-31.
I used this quote often in my work as a teacher to help students be more clear in their work!
_____________________________ more people are praying and more people are being reached for Jesus Christ than ever before _____________________________
The last decade of the twentieth century was seen as a decade of evangelism and harvest. It capped a century of astounding church growth.
We can thank the Lord for it, and pray all the more earnestly for over two-thirds of the world yet to be won to Christ. Praying makes a huge difference. We co‑operate with God in prayer as the Spirit of the Lord moves in mighty power in the earth.
More people are praying now for revival than ever before. You can be one. So can your prayer group and your church.
Mission statistician David Barrett, researched the magnitude of the prayer movement, noted that be the end of the twentieth century more than 170 million Christians were committed to praying every day for spiritual awakening and world evangelization. In addition, more than 10 million prayer groups focus on those priorities. Over 20 million Christians worldwide believe their primary ministry calling is to pray daily for revival and for fulfilment of the Great Commission.
Such massive praying, including yours, is linked with incredible church growth around the world.
Peter Wagner’s research described Latin American Evangelicals growing from 50,000 in 1900 to over 5 million in the 1950s, over 10 million in the 1960s, over 20 million in the 1970s, around 50 million by the end of the eighties and 137 million by 2000. Over 100 new churches begin every week. Now the church in Latin America grows at over 10,000 every day, or 3.5 million a year.
Africa saw church growth from 10 million in 1900 to over 200 million by the early eighties, with 400 by 2000. Christians grew from 9% to 50% of Africa in the twentieth century. Around 25,000 to 30,000 are added to the church daily in Africa, an estimated 10 million a year.
China, with 1 million evangelicals in 1950, has seen growth to an estimated 100 million. In 1992 the State Statistical Bureau of China indicated that there were 75 million Christians in China (Asian Report 197, Oct/Nov 1992, p. 9). David Yonggi Cho now estimates 100 million Christians in China’s 960 million population amid incredible persecution. Current growth rates are estimated at 35,000 a day or over 12 million a year.
South Korea, a Buddhist country in 1900, had 20% Christian by 1980 and 30% by 1990 with estimates of 50% by 2000. David Yonggi Cho heads a church of over 800,000 members with over 25,000 home groups and over 12,000 new members every month. They have sent out 10,000 missionaries and commenced many other huge churches.
An official report of the former Soviet Union in 1990 acknowledged that 90 million of its 290 million inhabitants confessed allegiance to a church or religious community (Worldwide Photos Limited, Renewing Australia, June 1990, p. 38). Christians estimate that over 97 million are converted in Russia, that is one third of the population (Pratney 1984:273).
One quarter of Indonesia is now reported to be Christian. These islands have seen many revivals and people movements such as in 1965 amid political turmoil when over 100,000 animistic Muslims became Christian on the island of Java alone. Revival continues there.
Reports indicate that more Muslims have come to Christ in the past decade than in the previous thousand years. ‘New believers are immediately tested to a degree incomprehensible to us. Many are imprisoned and some have been martyred by governments or relatives. Yet the persecution seems only to strengthen their determination and boldness. In one country, where all Christian meetings are illegal, believers rented a soccer stadium and 5,000 people gathered. Police came to disperse the meeting and left in confusion when the Christians refused to leave’ (United Prayer Track News, No. 1, Brisbane, 1993).
1700 unevangelized people groups worldwide in the mid-seventies had been reduced to 1200 by 1990, and further reduced to 5,500 in 1993. David Wang of Asian Outreach estimates that these unreached people groups can all be reached by 1997.
The ‘Jesus’ Film, based on Luke’s gospel, has been seen by an estimated 503 million people in 197 countries, and 33 million or more have indicated decisions for Christ as a result. It has more than 6,300 prints in circulation and around 356,000 video copies. The world’s most widely translated film, Jesus, has been dubbed into more than 240 languages, with 100 more in progress (National & International Religion Report, May 3, 1993, p.1).
The CBNTV (Christian Broadcasting Network) 700 Club with Pat Robertson reported 6 million conversions in their work worldwide in 1990, which was more than the previous 30 years of results combined.
John Naisbitt, secular sociologist and author of ‘Megatrends’ (1982), has coauthored ‘Megatrends 2000’ (1990) in which one chapter forecasts religious revivals in the nineties including widespread charismatic renewal. He notes that one fifth, or 10 million, of America’s 53.5 million Catholics then called themselves charismatics, emphasizing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
David Barrett research has uncovered the massive growth of the number of Pentecostal/charismatic Christians. His figures indicate growth from its beginnings in 1900 to 550 million by 2000. Pentecostal/charismatic Christians are now more than one third of all practicing Christians in the world today, just one indication of how the Spirit of God is moving.
The Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal group in the world, grew from 4.5 million in 1975 to over 13 million by 1985 and 16 million by 1990. By the decade of the nineties it was the largest or second largest Protestant denomination in 30 countries.
Much of the amazing church growth results from visitations or outpourings of the Spirit of God. Leaders, pastors or evangelists are surprised and often overwhelmed. Rapid church growth has happened before, but never on such a large scale as now.
Such amazing growth is accompanied by fervent prayer, and usually grows out of earnest praying. People repent and turn to God. Lives are changed in large numbers. It makes a significant impact on society. Signs and wonders are common, as in the New Testament.
Revival and church growth
Church history and current revivals include times when God moves in great power. Revivals often result in rapid church growth.
* The early church saw it. Read Acts! At Pentecost 3,000 were won in one day. Soon after that there were 5,000 more. Then great multitudes of men and women. They had the reputation of turning their world upside down (Acts 17:6).
* Missionary expansion continued to see it. For example, Patrick in Ireland and Augustine in England saw strong moves of God and thousands converted with many signs and wonders reported.
* The Moravians saw it. On Wednesday 13 August 1727 the Moravian colony in Germany was filled with the Spirit at their communion service. Their leader, 27 year old Count Nicholas Zinzendorf, said it was like being in heaven. Within 25 years they sent out 100 missionaries, more than all the Protestants had done in two centuries.
* The American colonies saw it. 50,000 were converted in 17345. Jonathan Edwards described the characteristics of that move as, first, an extraordinary sense of the awful majesty, greatness and holiness of God, and second, a great longing for humility before God and adoration of God.
* 1739 saw astonishing moves of God in England. On 1st January the Wesleys and Whitefield and 60 others, Methodists and Moravians, met in London for prayer and a love feast. The Spirit of God moved powerfully on them all. Many fell to the ground, resting in the Spirit. In February 1739 Whitefield started preaching to the Kingswood coal miners in the open fields with about 200 attending. By March 20,000 attended. Whitefield invited Wesley to take over then and so in April Wesley began his famous open air preaching (which continued for 50 years).
* John Hunt, a pioneering Methodist missionary in Fiji, wrote in his journal about revival there in October 1845. The Spirit fell on the people in meetings and in their homes. There were loud cries of repentance, confession, long meetings, simultaneous praying aloud, and some being overwhelmed. ‘Many cases of conversion were as remarkable as any we have heard or read of: many of the penitents had no command whatever of themselves for hours together, but were completely under the influence of their feelings. … During the first week of the revival nearly 100 persons professed to obtain the forgiveness of sins, through faith in Jesus Christ. Some were exceedingly clear, others not so clear’ (Birtwhistle 1954:133).
* Jeremiah Lanphier, a city missioner, began a weekly noon prayer meeting in New York in September 1857. By October it grew into a daily prayer meeting attended by many businessmen. By March 1858 newspapers carried front page reports of over 6,000 attending daily prayer meetings in New York and Pittsburgh, and daily prayer meetings were held in Washington at five different times to accommodate the crowds. By May 1859, 50,000 of New York’s 800,000 people were new converts. New England was profoundly changed by the revival and in several towns no unconverted adults could be found! Charles Finney preached in those days.
* During September 1857, the same month the prayer meetings began in New York, four young Irishmen commenced a weekly prayer meeting in a village school near Kells. That is generally seen as the start of the Ulster revival of 1859 which brought 100,000 converts into the churches of Ireland.
* Throughout 1859 the same deep conviction and lasting conversions revived thousands of people in Wales, England and Scotland. One tenth of Wales became new converts. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Baptist prince of preachers, saw 1859 as the high water mark although he had already been preaching in London for five years with great blessing and huge crowds in a church where people prayed continually and had seen continual growth.
Twentieth Century Awakenings
* From October 1904 Evan Roberts in his twenties, formerly a miner and blacksmith, saw God move powerfully in answer to his and others’ persistent prayers. 100,000 were converted in Wales during 19045. Churches filled from 10 am till after midnight every day for two years, bringing profound social change to Wales.
* William Seymour began a Mission at Azusa Street in Los Angeles on Easter Saturday, 14 April 1906 with about 100 attending, both blacks and whites. It grew out of a cottage prayer meeting. Revival there drew people from around the nation and overseas and launched Pentecostalism as a world wide movement.
* Revival in Korea swept the nation in 1907. Presbyterian missionaries, hearing of revival in Wales, prayed earnestly for the same in Korea. 1500 representatives gathered for the annual New Year Bible studies in which a spirit of prayer broke out. The leaders allowed everyone to pray aloud simultaneously as so many were wanting to pray. That became a characteristic of Korean prayer meetings. Revival continues there now.
* The famous cricketer and missionary, C T Studd reported on revival in the Belgian Congo in 1914: ‘The whole place was charged as if with an electric current. Men were falling, jumping, laughing, crying, singing, confessing and some shaking terribly. … This particular one can best be described as a spiritual tornado. People were literally flung to the floor or over the forms, yet no one was hurt. … As I led in prayer the Spirit came down in mighty power sweeping the congregation. My whole body trembled with the power. We saw a marvellous sight, people literally filled and drunk with the Spirit’ (W.E.C. 1954:1215; Pratney 1984:267).
* The famous East African revival began in Rwanda in June 1936 and rapidly spread to the neighbouring countries of Burundi, Uganda and the Congo (now Zaire), then further around. The Holy Spirit moved upon mission schools, spread to churches and to whole communities, producing deep repentance and changed lives. Anglican Archdeacon Arthur Pitt-Pitts wrote in September, ‘I have been to all the stations where this Revival is going on, and they all have the same story to tell. The fire was alight in all of them before the middle of June, but during the last week in June, it burst into a wild flame which, like the African grass fire before the wind, cannot be put out’ (Osborn 1991:21).
* God moved upon the mountain town of Soe in Timor on Sunday 26 September 1965. That night people heard the sound of a tornado wind and flames above the Reformed Church building prompted police to set off the fire alarm. Healings and evangelism increased dramatically. Hundreds of thousands were converted. About 90 evangelistic teams were formed which functioned powerfully with spiritual gifts. The first team saw 9,000 people converted in two weeks in one town alone. In the first three years of this revival 200,000 became Christians in Timor, and on another small island where few had been Christians 20,000 became believers.
* God’s power visited Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, on Tuesday 3 February 1970 at the regular morning chapel commencing at 10 o’clock. The auditorium filled with over 1,000 people. Few left for meals. By midnight over 500 still remained praying and worshipping. Several hundred committed their lives to Christ that day. Teams of students visited 16 states and saw several thousand conversions through their witnessing in one week. Over 1,000 teams went out in the first six weeks.
* The Jesus Movement exploded in 1971 among hippie and counter culture youth in America in the early seventies. Thousands were baptized in the ocean. Vital new groups like Calvary Chapel led by Chuck Smith emerged and multiplied rapidly. Newspapers of the movement included the Hollywood Free Paper which grew from a circulation of 10,000 to over 150,000 in two years; Truth merged with Agape and printed 100,000. Right On! grew from 20,000 to 100,000 circulation (Pratney 1984:231).
* In 1971 Bill McLeod, a Canadian Baptist pastor, invited the twin evangelists Ralph and Lou Sutera to speak at his church in Saskatoon. Revival broke out with their visit which began on Wednesday 13 October. By the weekend an amazing spirit gripped the people. Many confessed their sins publicly. Meetings had to be moved to the Civic Auditorium seating 2000. This spread to other churches as well.
* In September 1973 Todd Burke arrived in Cambodia on a one week visitor’s visa, later extended. Just 23 years old, he felt a strong call from God to minister there. By the end of September he had seen hundreds healed and saved. A virile church grew rapidly, later buried after the communist coup of 1975. By 1978 a million Cambodians had been killed. Still the decimated church survives, and is growing again.
* In 1977 John Wimber began pastoring a fellowship which his wife Carol had begun in their home. Their Vineyard Fellowship grew rapidly with their prayerful worship, powerful evangelism and a growing healing ministry. On Mother’s Day in May, 1981, a young man gave his testimony at the evening service and called on the Holy Spirit to come in power. Revival broke out at that service as hundreds were dramatically filled with the Spirit. In the next four months they baptized 700 new converts. The church grew to 5,000 in a decade and commenced many other Vineyard fellowships.
* The church in China continues to see God’s strong move amid great persecution, torture and killing which still continues. David Wang tells of a pastor imprisoned for over 22 years who left behind a church of 150 people scattered through the hill villages in northern China. On his release in the 1980s he discovered the church in that area had grown to 5,000. Three years later it had trebled to 15,000. Evangelists who saw 3040 converted in each village they visited in the eighties now report 300400 or more being converted in their visits. Some villages are experiencing a visitation of God where the whole village becomes Christian.
* Nagaland, a state in the NorthEast of India, began to experience revival in the 1960s and has continued in revival. By the early 1980s 85% of the population had become Christians (Mills 1990:40).
* Missionaries were expelled from Burma in the 1960s but the church continues to grow. A baptismal service at the Kachin Baptist Centenial Convention in 1977 saw 6,000 people baptised in one day.
* During the 1980s the 200 missionaries of the Philippine Missionary Fellowship each organised daily prayer group meetings at 7.00 pm to pray for the growth of the church. They report that within a couple of years this directly resulted in the formation of 310 new churches (Robinson 1992:13).
* Revival has been spreading in the Pacific islands, especially in the Solomons since JulyAugust 1970 when God moved powerfully in the nation, especially in meetings with Muri Thompson a Maori evangelist. The Spirit came in power, producing deep and loud repentance, much confession, signs and wonders, and transformed churches. Teams have gone from the Solomons to many other countries, sparking many other revivals.
* Engas in the Baptist mission area of the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea had a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit from Sunday 16 September 1973, as the village pastors preached in their services after attending meetings during the previous week led by visitors from the Solomon Islands. Many were saved. Many were delivered from evil spirits. Many were healed. The church grew rapidly.
* The Huli speaking people of the United Church in Tari in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea also experienced revival from August 1974, with much confession, many tears, and deliverance from spirit powers. That revival spread to surrounding areas also.
* On Thurdsay afternoon 10 March, 1977 at Duranmin near the West Irian border of Papua New Guinea, Diyos Wapnok the principal of the Baptist Bible College spoke to about 50 people. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and great joy. Keith and Joan Bennet of Gateway were there. 3,000 were converted in the next three years. They had daily prayer meetings in the villages and many healings and miracles.
* Aborigines in Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island, in northern Australia, experienced revival from Wednesday 14 March 1979. Djiniyini Gondarra had returned from holidays that day and people met in his manse for prayer that night where the Spirit fell on them, as at Pentecost. They met all night and many were filled with the Spirit and many healed. The movement spread rapidly from there throughout Arnhem Land.
* In the Sepik lowlands of northern Papua New Guinea a visitation of God burst on the churches at Easter 1984, sparked again by Solomon Island pastors. There was repentance, confession, weeping and great joy. Stolen goods were returned or replaced, and wrongs made right.
* Jobson Misang, an indigenous youth worker in the United Church reported on a move of God in the North Solomons Province of Papua New Guinea in 1988. For 8 weekends straight he led camps where 3,500 took part and 2,000 were converted.
* The Evangelist Training Centre of the Lutheran church in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea had a visitation of God on Thursday night 4 August 1988. Crowds stayed up most of the night as the Spirit touched people deeply, many resting in the Spirit, others praying in tongues. Students went out on powerful mission igniting fires of the Spirit in the villages.
* On Saturday 6 May 1989 the Spirit of God fell on Waritzian village in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands. For three days the people were drunk in the Spirit. Healing and miracles occurred. On the Monday they burned their magic and witchcraft fetishes. The area had been a stronghold of spirit worship. Students from the Lutheran Training Centre were involved that weekend.
Harvest in the 1990s
* In the 1980s Christians in East Germany started to form small prayer groups of ten to twelve persons to pray for peace. By October 1989, 50,000 people were involved in Monday night prayer meetings. In 1990, when these praying people moved quietly into the streets, their numbers swelled to 300,000 and the wall came down (Robinson 1992:14).
* In the former U.S.S.R. there were 640 registered Pentecostal churches and many more unregistered. By the eighties 30,000 young people were meeting together in Poland to seek for the power of the Holy Spirit (Pratney 1984:273). Those numbers continue to expand in the nineties.
* Pastor Giedrius Saulytis of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, tells how after his conversion in 1987 he commenced a church which had 15 people in 1989. In 1993 that church has 60 home cells with 1,500 attending services, 800 being registered members. They have started three other churches, one of which now has 1,000 attending. Every week preachers from their church preach 20 times in 12 different cities in Lithuania (Church Growth, Spring 1993, p. 19).
* In a 1991 crusade in Leningrad 70,000 out of 90,000 attending made commitments to Christ. Russian delegates to the July, 1991, charismatic leaders conference in Brighton, England, reported on the amazing growth of the church in Russia (ARMA Brisbane Newsletter, Sept/Oct 1991).
* A Moscow conference with Pastor Cho of Seoul, Korea, held in June, 1992, at the Kremlin and a plaza nearby, attracted over 40,000 participants. Among them were 15,000 new converts (Church Growth, Winter 1992, p. 12).
* Chaplains in the Gulf War told of thousands of conversions and baptisms among the American troops from September 1990 to January 1991. 10,000 conversions were reported.
* Christians in Iran have recently grown in number from 2,700 to over 12,000 according to Abe Ghaffari of Iranian Christians International. An additional 12,000 Iranian Christians live in Western nations. Disillusionment with harsh Islamic law has opened Iran to the Gospel (United Prayer Track News, No. 1., Brisbane, 1993).
* Harvest has begun among the Kurds who have been hounded into refugee camps where Christians have helped and comforted them. The first Kurdish church in history has resulted. Many Kurds are open to the Gospel (United Prayer Track News, No. 1, Brisbane, 1993).
* In 1990 a bloodless revolution freed Mongolia from Russian rule. Within two years more than 500 people became Christian in that formerly resistant nation. A young girl was the first in her area to accept Christ. Now she reports that 70 others are meeting every week with her.
* The church in the Sudan is suffering under Islamic edicts. Missionaries are expelled, pastors imprisoned, and Christians persecuted. Despite the persecution there has been phenomenal church growth reported, especially in the south and the Nuba mountains region.
* A church leader wrote from Asaba, Nigeria, in 1992, telling how their church had increased from 700 to 3,200 within 6 months. A team of just over 100 went on outreach, first in Sokoto State where they started 5 churches involving 1,225 converts within 3 months. Then they went to Bomu State where 3 branches were planted with over 1,000 converts in all. Many Moslems were converted. He added,
When we reached Kano which is a Moslem state, we were able to preach for 2 weeks. Suddenly, the 3rd week, we were attacked, beaten and our property looted including our Bibles. Out of the 105 persons with me, 85 of them were killed, 17 mercilessly maimed (hands cut off). Only three escaped unharmed. I was beaten to unconsciousness, and imprisoned for 6 months without a hearing. After returning home, I was sued by some of the families of those who died in the outreach. Finally, I am particularly grateful to God that the Church of God is marvellously marching on in these three states. Praise the Lord! (Church Growth, Autumn 1992, p. 23).
* The church in previously resistant Nepal in the Himalayas is growing steadily. David Wang tells of a former Lama priest nicknamed Black Bravery, who has been an illiterate pastor for 15 years. By the nineties he led 43 fellowships with a total of 32,000 people. Another pastor in a remote area has 40,000 Christians in his region. Most conversions in Nepal involve casting out demons to set people free (Asian Report, May/June 1991).
* In October-November 1990, one small island in Indonesia saw 30,000 converted and 45,000 were baptized in another region in January-February 1991. This growth is among former animistic Muslims.
* Ruth Rongo from Vanuatu told of three months of evangelism ministry in 1991 where the power of God touched many villages and shocked the villagers with miracles just as in the New Testament. The church grew rapidly. Ruth was then involved in a prayer group which met after the Sunday night service. They began at 10.30 pm and prayed every week to 1 or 3.30 am
* John and Barbara Hutton were missionaries with the Huli people of Tari in Papua New Guinea. In April, 1993, Barbara wrote, ‘We have recently been to P.N.G. again. We were blessed to be part of a Youth Camp. I have never seen such exuberant and joyous worship among the Huli people before. There is a fresh move of the Spirit occurring. The highlight of the trip was the baptism of 100 young people in Tari when the Holy Spirit fell on the group before they even stepped into the water. A youth group of 6 there just last December was about 400 strong before we left late January. God moved through Huli university students home on holidays.’
* Eric Alexander of the Bible Society in India wrote in 1993, ‘I was in Amedabad in the month of February and was delighted to see a great revival in the Church there. I was surprised to hear that 30,000 people have accepted the Lord Jesus as their personal Saviour in the Diocese of Gujarat (Church of North India). Thousands of new converts are in the Methodist, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and Pentecostal churches. There are thousands and thousands!’ (Sharing Australia, SOMA Newsletter, March 1993, p. 2).
* Fresh touches of God’s Spirit have been felt in Australia in 1993. It is only a beginning, but thank God for every touch of the Lord.
During May and June the Christian Outreach Centres experienced a strong move of the Spirit, with much repenting, and many resting in the Spirit or drunk in the Spirit for hours, or days. Many have received visions and prophetic insights, including young people and children in the schools. Beginning at their headquarters in Brisbane it spread to their churches. It brought a new zeal for evangelism and outreach.
Gateway Baptist Church moved into its new 1500 seat auditorium in 1993 (the former Queensland Expo Pavilion from Expo 1988), with around 1200 attending and more involved in their 4050 prayer groups, cell groups and outreach groups than ever before.
Networks of small home churches are also forming now. Perth, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane all have clusters of house churches or emerging networks which are linked for fellowship and accountability. These too are increasing in Australia.
Informal prayer groups as well as organized prayer groups of churches and Christian organisations continue to multiply as never before. This is true in Australia also. Much of this prayer involves a new commitment to repentance and revival.
Every revival move is born in prayer personal prayer, prayer cells, prayer groups, prayer meetings, prayer in church, prayer in the car (with your eyes open!), prayer in bed, prayer with friends, prayer on the phone, prayer with people of other churches, pastors of different churches praying together, combined churches prayer meetings.
David Bryant, founder president of Concerts of Prayer International, suggests practical steps we can take in response to the phenomenal developments around the world (National & International Religion Report, May 1992, pp. 78):
1. Believe that God wants revival. Pray with faith and vision.
2. Join a small prayer group. Share the vision. Set the pace.
3. Work at integrating the prayer movement. Consider four ‘C’ areas: closet prayer personal prayer life; cluster prayer in small group settings; congregational prayer when an entire church meets to pray; concerts of prayer inter-church prayer meetings and rallies.
4. Seek out ‘pools of renewal’ in churches and organizations in your area, especially those praying for revival. Find ways to flow together and encourage one another.
5. Be equipped in your prayer life. Many resources are available (including this journal!). Share these resources together.
6. Get involved in a communication network. That will keep you informed. Note the renewal resources listed in this journal.
7. Visit places where prayer is flourishing. Talk to the leaders and bring reports to your own group.
8. Most importantly, don’t give up. We inherit the promises by faith and patience (Hebrews 6:12).
* Peter Wagner reported an example of prayer in Latin America. Arturo Arias, the pastor of an 800member church Centro Misionero El Sembrador in El Salvador, spoke at a meeting of church leaders in Guatamala. Wagner writes:
He told us how his church has received an unusual burden from God for extended prayer and that they responded by scheduling a 24 hour prayer meeting. They received such a blessing from God that they then attempted a 48hour meeting. God continued to pour out His presence and power.
Could they extend it and keep the church open for 7 days and nights of continuous prayer? They did, and the anointing increased. The day before Pastor Arturo left for our meeting his church had concluded a 10day continuous prayer meeting!
As he finished his address he said, half in jest, that his people were so enthusiastic about prayer that they were asking, ‘Can we have a month long prayer meeting?’ I immediately approached him privately and said, ‘How about challenging the Centro Misionero El Sembrador to become the first church to commit to an all month24 hour a day prayer meeting through October 1993?’
Arturo Arias replied, ‘I can easily speak for my church on this matter. Consider it done! We are committed to 31 days of continuous prayer next October!
What a challenge to the rest of us! (Prayer Track News, Sept-Dec, 1992)
So, pray without ceasing. We live in a time when more people are praying and more people are being reached for Jesus Christ than ever before. May God find us responsive as we watch and pray.
Birtwhistle, A (1954) In His Armour. London: Cargate
Burke, T & D (1977) Anointed for Burial. Seattle: Frontline.
Koch, K (n.d.) The Revival in Indonesia. Evangelization Publishers.
Mills, B (1990) Preparing for Revival. Eastbourne: Kingsway.
Osborn, H H (1991) Fire in the Hills. Crowborough: Highland.
Pratney, W (1984) Revival. Springdale: Whitaker House.
Richardson, D (1981) Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura: Regal.
Robinson, S (1992) ‘Praying the Price’. Melbourne: ABMS
Tari, M (1971) Like a Mighty Wind. Carol Springs: Creation House.
Tari, M & N (1974) The Gentle Breeze of Jesus. Carol Springs:
Wagner, C P (1983) On the Crest of the Wave. Glendale: Regal
Wagner, C P (1986) Spiritual Power and Church Growth. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
Wagner, C P (1992) Prayer Shield. Ventura: Regal.
Watt, E S (n.d.) Floods on Dry Ground. Marshall, Morgan & Scott.
W.E.C. (1954) This is That. Christian Literature Crusade.
Further details of some of the revivals mentioned in this article are given in the article on ‘Revival Fire’ in the first issue of this Renewal Journal.
Now available in updated book form (republished 2011)
_______________ We can believe for it pray for it, and prepare for it __________________
God moves in awesome power at times. Signs everywhere point to that again now. Many people report a burden for and expectation of revival. We can believe for it, pray for it, and prepare for it.
Selwyn Hughes, author of the popular Every Day with Jesus writes,
In all the years that I have been a Christian I have never witnessed such a burden and expectancy for revival as I do at this moment among the true people of God. Wherever I go I meet prayerful Christians whose spirit witnesses with my own that a mighty Holy Spirit revival is on the way. The 1960’s and 1070’s were characterized by the word ‘renewal’. Then in the eighties, the word began slowly losing currency, and another appeared to take its place revival. And why? Because great and wonderful though renewal is, many are beginning to see that there are greater things in our Father’s storehouse, and slowly but surely their faith is rising to a flash point (Hughes 1990:7).
Revival may not be wanted because it involves humility, awareness of our unworthiness, confession of sin, repentance, restitution, seeking and offering forgiveness, and following Christ wholeheartedly. It then impacts society with conviction, godliness, justice, peace and righteousness. This is not always welcome.
What is revival?
As individuals and churches are renewed they prepare the way for revival in the land. A spiritual awakening touches the community when God’s Spirit moves in power. Often this awakening begins in people earnestly praying for and expecting revival.
Arthur Wallis (1956:20,23) observes:
Numerous writings … confirm that revival is Divine intervention in the normal course of spiritual things. It is God revealing Himself to man in awesome holiness and irresistible power. It is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are overshadowed and human programs abandoned. It is man retiring into the background because God has taken the field. It is the Lord … working in extraordinary power on saint and sinner. … Revival must of necessity make an impact on the community and this is one means by which we may distinguish it from the more usual operations of the Holy Spirit.
Edwin Orr’s research indicated that A spiritual awakening is a movement of the Holy Spirit bringing about a revival of New Testament Christianity in the Church of Christ and its related community. … It accomplishes the reviving of the Church, the awakening of the masses and the movements of uninstructed people toward the Christian faith; the revived church by many or few is moved to engage in evangelism, teaching and social action (1975: viiviii).
Roy Hession (1973:11,23) noted that the outward forms of revivals do, of course, differ considerably, but the inward and permanent content of them is always the same: a new experience of conviction of sin among the saints; a new vision of the Cross and of Jesus and of redemption; a new willingness on man’s part for brokenness, repentance, confession, and restitution; a joyful experience of the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse fully from sin and restore and heal all that sin has lost and broken; a new entering into the fullness of the Holy Spirit and of His power to do His own work through His people; and a new gathering in of the lost ones to Jesus. … Revival is just the life of the Lord Jesus poured into human hearts.
Scripture gives a constant call for individual and communal repentance issuing in righteousness and justice.
Wilbur Smith notes seven revivals in the Old Testament in addition to the one with Jonah. These revivals involved:
1. Jacob’s household (Genesis 35:115),
2. Asa (2 Chronicles 15:115),
3. Joash (2 Kings 1112; 2 Chronicles 2324),
4. Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:18; 2 Chronicles 2931),
5. Josiah (2 Kings 2223; 2 Chronicles 3435),
6. Haggai and Zechariah with Zerubbabel (Ezra 56)
7. Ezra with Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:16; 12:4447).
He noted nine characteristics of these revivals:
1. They occurred in times of moral darkness and national depression;
2. Each began in the heart of a consecrated servant of God who became the energising power behind it;
3. Each revival rested on the Word of God, and most were the result of proclaiming God’s Word with power;
4. All resulted in a return to the worship of God;
5. Each witnessed the destruction of idols where they existed;
6. In each revival, there was a recorded separation from sin;
7. In every revival the people returned to obeying God’s laws;
8. There was a restoration of great joy and gladness;
9. Each revival was followed by a period of national prosperity.
The early church lived in continuous revival. It saw rapid growth in the power of the Holy Spirit from the initial outburst at Pentecost. Multitudes joined the church. At Pentecost 3,000 were won in one day (2:41). Soon after that there were 5,000 involved (4:4). Then great multitudes (5:14; 6:7; 9:31; 11:21, 24; 12:24 and 16:5).
Those Christians were dynamic. Not faultless, as the epistles indicate, but on fire. They were accused before the civil authorities as ‘these people who have been turning the world upside down’ (Acts 17:6).
Revival makes that kind of an impact in the community.
Various renewal and revival movements stirred the church and the community throughout history. The eighteenth century saw the first great awakening, and powerful revivals have spread world wide since then until the astounding developments now.
The Moravians, a refugee colony from Bohemia on the estates of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf at the village of Herrnhut in Germany, experienced a visitation of God in 1727 which launched revival with 100 years of continuous prayer and 100 missionaries sent out within 25 years.
On May 12th, 1727, they entered into a covenant together ‘to dedicate their lives to the service of the Lord Jesus.’ … A period of extraordinary prayer followed, which both preceded and followed the outpouring. It started in early July of that year, but already, for the best part of two years, there had been prayer and praise gatherings in the homes of the people. In July they started to meet together more frequently… Some spent whole nights in prayer. …
At about noon on Sunday August 10th, 1727, the preacher at the morning service felt himself overwhelmed by a wonderful and irresistible power of the Lord. He sank down in the dust before God, and the whole congregation joined him ‘in an ecstasy of feeling’. They continued until midnight engaged in prayer, singing, weeping and supplication.
On Wednesday August 13th the church came together for a specially called communion service. They were all dissatisfied with themselves. ‘They had quit judging each other because they had become convinced, each one, of his lack of worth in the sight of God and each felt himself at this communion to be in view of the Saviour.’
They left that communion at noon, hardly knowing whether they belonged to earth or had already gone to heaven. It was a day of outpouring of the Holy Spirit. ‘We saw the hand of God and were all baptized with his Holy Spirit … The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst.
Scarcely a day passed from then on when they did not witness God’s almighty workings among them. A great hunger for God’s word took hold of them. They started meeting three times daily at 5 am, 7.30 am, and 9 pm. Self-love and self-will and all disobedience disappeared, as everyone sought to let the Holy Spirit have full control.
Two weeks later, they entered into the twenty-four hour prayer covenant which was to become such a feature of their life for over 100 years… ‘The spirit of prayer and supplication at that time poured out upon the children was so powerful and efficacious that it is impossible to give an adequate description of it.’
Supernatural knowledge and power was given to them. Previously timid people became flaming evangelists (Mills 1990:2045).
Jonathan Edwards (17031764), the preacher and scholar who later became a President of Princeton University, was a prominent leader in a revival movement which came to be called the Great Awakening as it spread through the communities of New England and the pioneering settlements in America. Converts to Christianity reached 50,000 out of a total of 250,000 colonists. The years of 173435 saw an unusually powerful move of God’s Spirit in thousands of people. Edwards described the characteristics of the revival as, first, an extraordinary sense of the awful majesty, greatness and holiness of God, and second, a great longing for humility before God and adoration of God.
Edwards published the journal of David Brainerd, a missionary to the North American Indians from 1743 to his death at 29 in 1747. Brainerd tells of revival breaking out among Indians in October 1745 when the power of God seemed to come like a rushing mighty wind. The Indians were overwhelmed by God. The revival had greatest impact when Brainerd emphasised the compassion of the Saviour, the provisions of the gospel, and the free offer of divine grace. Idolatry was abandoned, marriages repaired, drunkenness practically disappeared, honesty and repayments of debts prevailed. Money once wasted on excessive drinking was used for family and communal needs. Their communities were filled with love.
The power of God seemed to descend on the assembly ‘like a rushing mighty wind’ and with an astonishing energy bore all down before it. I stood amazed at the influence that seized the audience almost universally and could compare it to nothing more aptly than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent… Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together and scarce was able to withstand the shock of astonishing operation (Pratney 1984: 15).
On November 20, he described the revival at Crossweeksung in his general comments about that year, which had involved horse riding over 3,000 miles to reach Indian tribes in New England:
He notes that revivals have been criticized as scaring people with hell and damnation, but this great awakening, this surprising concern, was never excited by any harangues of terror, but always appeared most remarkable when I insisted upon the compassions of a dying Saviour, the plentiful provisions of the gospel, and the free offers of divine grace to needy distressed sinners.
The effects of this work have likewise been very remarkable. … Their pagan notions and idolatrous practices seem to be entirely abandoned in these parts. They are regulated and appear regularly disposed in the affairs of marriage. They seem generally divorced from drunkenness … although before it was common for some or other of them to be drunk almost every day… A principle of honesty and justice appears in many of them, and they seem concerned to discharge their old debts… Their manner of living is much more decent and comfortable than formerly, having now the benefit of that money which they used to consume upon strong drink. Love seems to reign among them, especially those who have given evidence of a saving change (Howard 1949, 239251).
In 1735, when the New England revival was strongest, George Whitefield in England and Howell Harris in Wales were converted. Both were 21 and both ignited revival fires, seeing thousands converted and communities changed. By 1736 Harris began forming his converts into societies and by 1739 there were nearly thirty such societies. Whitefield travelled extensively, visiting John Wesley in Georgia in 1738, then ministering powerfully with Howell Harris in Wales 1739 and with Jonathan Edwards in New England in 1740, all in his early twenties.
Also in 1735, John Wesley went to Georgia. Whitefield sailed to Georgia at Wesley’s invitation early in 1738, but they returned to England because Wesley was frustrated in his work. Then in May that year both John and Charles Wesley were converted, Charles first, and three days later on 24th May John found his heart strangely warmed in the meeting in Aldersgate Street when he listened to a reading of the preface to Luther’s commentary on Romans.
1739 saw astonishing expansion of revival in England. On 1st January the Wesleys and Whitefield and four others from their former Holy Club at Oxford in their students days, along with 60 others of whom many were Moravians, met at Fetter Lane in London for prayer and a love feast. The Spirit of God moved powerfully on them all. Many fell to the ground, resting in the Spirit. The meeting went all night and they realized they had been empowered in a fresh visitation from God.
On 1 January 1739 a remarkable love feast was held at Fetter Lane in London. There the leaders of the Revival were welded into a fellowship of the Spirit in a way similar to what had happened at Herrnhut in 1727. The Wesleys were present, along with Whitefield and Benjamin Ingham, who was to become an outstanding evangelist among the Moravians. ‘About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer,’ John Wesley recorded in his Journal, ‘the power of God came mightily upon us insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of His majesty, we broke out with one voice, ‘We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.’ This Pentecost on New Year’s Day confirmed that the Awakening had come and launched the campaign of extensive evangelization which sprang from it (Wood 1990:449).
Revival fire spread rapidly. In February 1739 Whitefield started preaching to the Kingswood coal miners in the open fields with about 200 attending in the south west of England near the Welsh border. By March 20,000 attended. Whitefield invited Wesley to take over then and so in April Wesley began his famous open air preaching (which continued for 50 years) with those crowds at Kingswood. He returned to London in June reporting on the amazing move of God’s Spirit with many conversions and many people falling prostrate under God’s power a phenomenon which he never encouraged! Features of this revival were enthusiastic singing, powerful preaching, and the gathering of converts into small societies called weekly Class Meetings.
Revival caught fire in Scotland also. After returning from America in 1741, Whitefield visited Glasgow. Two ministers in villages nearby invited him to return in 1742 because revival had already begun in their area. Conversions and prayer groups multiplied. Whitefield preached there at Cambuslang about four miles from Glasgow.
The opening meetings on a Sunday saw the great crowds on the hill side gripped with conviction, repentance and weeping more than he had seen elsewhere. The next weekend 20,000 gathered on the Saturday and up to 50,000 on the Sunday for the quarterly communion. The visit was charged with Pentecostal power which even amazed Whitefield.
That Great Awakening in Great Britain and America, established the Methodists with 140,000 members by the end of the century, and other churches and Christians were renewed and empowered. It impacted the nation with social change and created the climate for political reform.
Toward the end of the century revival fires burst again in England through prayer groups spreading everywhere. On Christmas day 1781 in Cornwall intercessors met to sing and pray from 3 am and God’s Spirit moved on them. They prayed until 9 am and regathered that Christmas evening. Throughout January and February, the movement continued. By March 1782 they were praying until midnight. The movement spread. Churches filled and denominations doubled, tripled and quadrupled (Robinson 1992:9). By 1792, the year after John Wesley died, this second great awakening swept Great Britain and was stirring America and other countries.
In New England, Isaac Backus, a Baptist pastor, addressed an urgent plea for prayer for revival to pastors of every Christian denomination in the United States in 1794. The churches adopted the plan until America, like Britain, was interlaced with a network of prayer meetings. They met on the first Monday of each month to pray. It was not long before revival came.
James McGready, a Presbyterian minister in Kentucky, promoted the concert of prayer every first Monday of the month, and urged his people to pray for him at sunset on Saturday evening and sunrise Sunday morning. Revival swept Kentucky in the summer of 1800. Eleven thousand people came to a communion service.
That second great awakening produced the modern missionary movement and it’s societies, engendered support for Bible societies, saw the abolition of slavery, and resulted in many social reforms.
Various revival movements influenced society in the 1800s, but 1858 in America and 1859 in Britain were outstanding.
Typically, it followed a low ebb of spiritual life. Concerned Christians began praying earnestly and anticipating a new move of God’s Spirit.
Revival broke out at evangelistic meetings in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada during October 1857 with attendances at meetings reaching 6,000, and three or four hundred converted including many civic leaders. It was widely reported.
Jeremiah Lanphier, a city missioner, began a weekly noon prayer meeting in New York in September that year. By October it grew into a daily prayer meeting attended by many businessmen. Anticipation of revival grew, especially with the financial collapse that October after a year of depression. Materialism was shaken.
At the beginning of 1858 that Fulton Street prayer meeting had grown so much they were holding three simultaneous prayer meetings in the building and other prayer groups were starting in the city. By March newspapers carried front page reports of over 6,000 attending daily prayer meetings in New York, 6,000 attending them in Pittsburgh, and daily prayer meetings were held in Washington at five different times to accommodate the crowds.
Other cities followed the pattern. Soon a common midday sign on businesses read, ‘Will reopen at the close of the prayer meeting.’
By May, 50,000 of New York’s 800,000 people were new converts. A newspaper reported that New England was profoundly changed by the revival and in several towns no unconverted adults could be found!
In 1858 a leading Methodist paper reported these features of the revival: few sermons were needed, lay people witnessed, seekers flocked to the altar, nearly all seekers were blessed, experiences remained clear, converts had holy boldness, religion became a social topic, family altars were strengthened, testimony given nightly was abundant, and conversations were marked with seriousness.
Edwin Orr’s research revealed that in 185859 a million Americans were converted in a population of thirty million and at least a million Christians were renewed, with lasting results in church attendances and moral reform in society.
Charles Finney (17921875) became one of the most famous preachers of that era. A keen sportsman and young lawyer, he had a mighty empowering by God’s Spirit on the night of his conversion including a vision of Jesus. During the height of the revival he often saw the awesome holiness of God come upon people, not only in meetings but also in the community, bringing multitudes to repentance and conversion. Wherever he travelled, instead of bringing a song leader he brought a someone to pray, especially Father Nash. Finney taught theology at Oberlin College which pioneered coeducation and enrolled both blacks and whites. His ‘Lectures on Revival’ were widely read and helped to fan revival fire in America and England.
Revival swept Great Britain also. During September 1857, the same month the Fulton Street meetings began, four young Irishmen commenced a weekly prayer meeting in a village school near Kells. That is generally seen as the start of the Ulster revival of 1859 which brought 100,000 converts into the churches of Ireland. Through 1858 innumerable prayer meetings started, and revival was a common theme of preachers. God’s Spirit moved powerfully in small and large gatherings bringing great conviction of sin, deep repentance, and lasting moral change. Prostrations were common people lying prostrate in conviction and repentance, unable to rise for some time. By 1860 crime was reduced, judges in Ulster several times had no cases to try. At one time in County Antrim no crime was reported to the police and no prisoners were held in police custody.
Edwin Orr noted that this revival made a greater impact on Ireland than anything known since Patrick brought Christianity there. By the end of 1860 the effects of the Ulster revival were listed as thronged services, unprecedented numbers of communicants, abundant prayer meetings, increased family prayers, unmatched Scripture reading, prosperous Sunday Schools, converts remaining steadfast, increased giving, vice abated, and crime reduced.
Revival fire ignites fire. Throughout 1859 the same deep conviction and lasting conversions revived thousands of people in Wales, Scotland and England.
Revival in Wales found expression in glorious praise including harmonies unique to the Welsh which involved preacher and people in turn. There too, 100,000 converts (one tenth of the total population) were added to the church and crime was greatly reduced. Scotland and England were similarly visited with revival. Again, prayer increased enormously and preaching caught fire with many anointed evangelists seeing thousands converted. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that prince of preachers, saw 1859 as the high water mark although he had already been preaching in London for five years with great blessing and huge crowds.
The early twentieth century Evangelical Awakening was a worldwide
movement. It did not begin with the phenomenal Welsh Revival of 190405. Rather its sources were in the springs of little prayer meetings which seemed to arise spontaneously all over the world, combining into streams of expectation which became a river of blessing in which the Welsh Revival became the greatest cataract (Orr 1975:192).
The Welsh Revival was the farthest reaching of the movements of the general Awakening, for it affected the whole of the Evangelical cause in India, Korea and China, renewed revival in Japan and South Africa, and sent a wave of awakening over Africa, Latin America, and the South Seas.
The story of the Welsh Revival is astounding. Begun with prayer meetings of less than a score of intercessors, when it burst its bounds the churches of Wales were crowded for more than two years.
A hundred thousand outsiders were converted and added to the churches, the vast majority remaining true to the end. Drunkenness was immediately cut in half, and many taverns went bankrupt.
Crime was so diminished that judges were presented with white gloves signifying that there were no cases of murder, assault, rape or robbery or the like to consider. The police became ‘unemployed’ in many districts. Stoppages occurred in coal mines, not due to unpleasantness between management and workers, but because so many foulmouthed miners became converted and stopped using foul language that the horses which hauled the coal trucks in the mines could no longer understand what was being said to them, and transportation ground to a halt (Orr 1975:193).
Touches of revival had stirred New Quay, Cardiganshire, where Joseph Jenkins was minister of a church in which he led teams of revived young people in conducting testimony meetings throughout the area. The Presbyterian evangelist, Seth Joshua, arrived there in September 1904 to find remarkable moves of the Spirit in his meetings.
On Sunday 18th, he reported that he had ‘never seen the power of the Holy Spirit so powerfully manifested among the people as at this place just now.’ His meetings lasted far into the night.
19th. Revival is breaking out here in greater power… the young people receiving the greatest measure of blessing. They break out into prayer, praise, testimony and exhortation.
20th … I cannot leave the building until 12 and even 1 o’clock in the morning I closed the service several times and yet it would break out again quite beyond control of human power.
21st. Yes, several souls … they are not drunkards or open sinners, but are members of the visible church not grafted into the true Vine … the joy is intense.
22nd. We held another remarkable meeting tonight. Group after group came out to the front, seeking the ‘full assurance of faith.’
23rd. I am of the opinion that forty conversions took place this week. I also think that those seeking assurance may be fairly counted as converts, for they had never received Jesus as personal Saviour before (Orr 1975c:3).
Seth Joshua then held meetings at Newcastle Emlyn at which students from the Methodist Academy attended, among them was Sidney Evans a room mate of Evan Roberts. The students, including Evan Roberts, attended the next Joshua meetings in Blaenannerch. There Seth Joshua closed his ministry on the Thursday morning crying out in Welsh, ‘Lord … bend us’ Evan Roberts went to the front, kneeling and fervently praying ‘Lord, bend me.’
Evan Roberts in his twenties was one of God’s agents in that national and worldwide revival.
‘For ten or eleven years I have prayed for revival,’ he wrote to a friend. ‘I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals… It was the Spirit that moved me to think about a revival’ (Orr 1975:4).
This young miner who then became a blacksmith had attended church as a teenager on Sunday, prayer meeting Monday, youth meeting Tuesday, congregational meeting Wednesday, temperance meeting Thursday, and class meeting Friday. Saturday night was free, probably as bath night in preparation for Sunday!
He offered for the ministry in 1903. Before entering the Academy he had a deep encounter with God and had a vision of all Wales being lifted up to heaven. After this he regularly slept lightly till 1 am, woke for hours of communion with God, and then returned to sleep. He was convinced revival would touch all Wales and eventually led a small band all over the country praying and preaching.
In October 1904 in his first year at the Academy, after the impact of the Spirit on him at Seth Joshua’s meetings, he took leave to return home to challenge his friends, especially the young people.
The Spirit of God convicted people as Evan Roberts insisted:
1. You must put away any unconfessed sin.
2. You must put away any doubtful habit.
3. You must obey the Spirit promptly.
4. You must confess Christ publicly.
He believed that a baptism in the Spirit was the essence of revival and that the primary condition of revival is that individuals should experience such a baptism in the Spirit.
Evan Roberts travelled the Welsh valleys, often never preaching but sitting head-in-hands earnestly praying. In Neath he spent a week in prayer without leaving his rooms. The revival packed the churches out, but no one saw him all that week. He paid a price in prayer and tears.
Churches filled. The revival spread. Meetings continued all day as well as each night, often late into the night or through to morning. Crowds were getting right with God and with one another in confession, repentance and restitution of wrongs done. People prayed fervently and worshipped God with great joy. Police had so little to do they joined the crowds in the churches, sometimes forming singing groups. Cursing and profanity diminished so much it caused slowdowns in the mines because the pit ponies could no longer understand their instructions and stood still, confused.
Oswald Smith described it this way:
It was 1904. All Wales was aflame. The nation had drifted far from God. The spiritual conditions were low indeed. Church attendance was poor and sin abounded on every side. Suddenly, like an unexpected tornado, the Spirit of God swept over the land. The churches were crowded so that multitudes were unable to get in. Meetings lasted from ten in the morning until twelve at night. Three definite services were held each day.
Evan Roberts was the human instrument, but there was very little preaching. Singing, testimony and prayer were the chief features. There were no hymn books, they had learned the hymns in childhood; no choir, for everybody sang; no collection, and no advertising.
Nothing had ever come over Wales with such far reaching results. Infidels were converted; drunkards, thieves and gamblers saved; and thousands reclaimed to respectability. Confessions of awful sins were heard on every side. Old debts were paid. The theatre had to leave for want of patronage. Mules in coal mines refused to work, being unused to kindness! In five weeks, twenty thousand people joined the churches (Olford 1968:67).
News of that revival, and many people who had been involved, soon spread around the world. ‘The Welsh Revival was the farthest reaching of the movements of the general Awakening, for it affected the whole of the Evangelical cause in India, Korea and China, renewed revival in Japan and South Africa, and sent a wave of awakening over Africa, Latin America, and the South Seas’ (Orr 1975:193).
Half a century later a similar move of God, but on a smaller scale, was stirring the Hebrides.
Following the trauma of World War II, spiritual life was at a low ebb in the Scottish Hebrides. By 1949 Peggy and Christine Smith (84 and 82) had prayed constantly for revival in their cottage near Barvas village on the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the Hebrides Islands in the bleak north west of Scotland. God showed Peggy in a dream that revival was coming. Months later, early one winter’s morning as the sisters were praying, God give them an unshakeable conviction that revival was near.
Peggy asked her minister James Murray Mackay to call the church leaders to prayer. Three nights a week the leaders prayed together for months. One night, having begun to pray at 10 pm, a young deacon from the Free Church read Psalm 24 and challenged everyone to be clean before God. As they waited on God his awesome presence swept over them in the barn at 4 am
Mackay invited Duncan Campbell to come and lead meetings. Within two weeks he came. God had intervened and changed Duncan’s plans and commitments. At the close of his first meeting in the Presbyterian church in Barvas the travel weary preacher was invited to join an all night prayer meeting! Thirty people gathered for prayer in a nearby cottage. Duncan Campbell described it:
God was beginning to move, the heavens were opening, we were there on our faces before God. Three o’clock in the morning came, and GOD SWEPT IN. About a dozen men and women lay prostrate on the floor, speechless. Something had happened; we knew that the forces of darkness were going to be driven back, and men were going to be delivered. We left the cottage at 3 am to discover men and women seeking God. I walked along a country road, and found three men on their faces, crying to God for mercy. There was a light in every home, no one seemed to think of sleep (Whittaker 1984:159).
When Duncan and his friends arrived at the church that morning it was already crowded. People had gathered from all over the island, some coming in buses and vans. No one discovered who told them to come. God led them. Large numbers were converted as God’s Spirit convicted multitudes of sin, many lying prostrate, many weeping. After that amazing day in the church, Duncan pronounced the benediction, but then a young man began to pray aloud. He prayed for 45 minutes. Again the church filled with people repenting and the service continued till 4 am the next morning before Duncan could pronounce the benediction again.
Even then he was unable to go home to bed. As he was leaving the church a messenger told him, ‘Mr. Campbell, people are gathered at the police station, from the other end of the parish; they are in great spiritual distress.
Can anyone here come along and pray with them?’ Campbell went and what a sight met him. Under the still starlit sky he found men and women on the road, others by the side of a cottage, and some behind a peat stack all crying to God for mercy. The revival had come.
That went on for five weeks with services from early morning until late at night or into the early hours of the morning.
Then it spread to the neighbouring parishes. What had happened in Barvas was repeated over and over again. Duncan Campbell said that a feature of the revival was the overwhelming sense of the presence of God. His sacred presence was everywhere. (Whittaker 1984:160).
That move of God in answer to prevailing prayer continued in the area into the fifties and peaked again on the previously resistant island of North Uist in 1957. Meetings were again crowded and night after night people cried out to God for salvation.
Similar revivals have catapulted the church into amazing growth throughout this century. The story is too vast to tell. A few highlights indicate something of this miraculous work of God.
Many visitations of God have touched North America this century. Some, such as the following, have been widely reported.
Azusa Street, 19061913
William J. Seymour, a Negro, studied in Charles Parham’s Bible School in Topeka, Kansas where on 1 January 1901 Agnes Ozman had spoken in tongues as did half of the 34 students. Those events have been seen as the beginning of Pentecostalism in America.
Elder William Seymour began The Apostolic Faith Mission located at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles on Easter Saturday, 14 April 1906 with about 100 attending including blacks and whites. It grew out of a cottage prayer meeting.
At Azusa, services were long, and on the whole they were spontaneous. In its early days music was a cappella, although one or two instruments were included at times. There were songs, testimonies given by visitors or read from those who wrote in, prayer, altar calls for salvation or sanctification or for baptism in the Holy Spirit. And there was preaching. Sermons were generally not prepared in advance but were typically spontaneous.
W. J. Seymour was clearly in charge, but much freedom was given to visiting preachers. There was also prayer for the sick. Many shouted. Others were ‘slain in the Spirit’ or fell under the power. There were periods of extended silence and of singing in tongues. No offerings were collected, but there was a receptacle near the door for gifts. …
Growth was quick and substantial. Most sources indicate the presence of about 300350 worshippers inside the forty-by-sixty-foot whitewashed woodframe structure, with others mingling outside… At times it may have been double that. … The significance of Azusa was centrifugal as those who were touched by it took their experiences elsewhere and touched the lives of others. Coupled with the theological threads of personal salvation, holiness, divine healing, baptism in the Spirit with power for ministry, and an anticipation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ, ample motivation was provided to assure the revival a long term impact’ (Burgess & McGee 1988:3136).
Asbury College, 1970
A revival broke out in Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, on Tuesday 3 February 1970. The regular morning chapel commencing at 10 o’clock saw God move on the students in such a way that many came weeping to the front to kneel in repentance, others gave testimonies including confession of sin, and all this was mixed with spontaneous singing. Lectures were cancelled for the day as the auditorium filled with over 1,000 people. Few left for meals. By midnight over 500 still remained praying and worshipping. Several hundred committed their lives to Christ that day. By 6 am next morning 75 students were still praying in the hall, and through the Wednesday it filled again as all lectures were again cancelled for the day. The time was filled with praying, singing, confessions and testimonies.
As they continued in prayer that week many students felt called to share what was happening with other colleges and churches. Invitations were coming from around the country as news of the revival spread. So teams went out from the next weekend to tell the story and give their testimonies. Almost half the student body of 1000 was involved in the teams witnessing about the revival.
In the first week after the revival began teams of students visited 16 states by invitation and saw several thousand conversions through their witnessing. After six weeks over 1,000 teams had gone from the college to witness, some of these into Latin America with finance provided by the home churches of the students. In addition, the neighbouring Theological Seminary sent out several hundred teams of their students who had also been caught up in this revival.
Those remaining at the college prayed for the teams and heard their reports on their return. Wherever teams went the revival spread. The college remained a centre of the revival with meetings continuing at night and weekends there along with spontaneous prayer groups meeting every day. Hundreds of people kept coming to the college to see this revival and participate in it. They took reports and their own testimonies of changed lives back to their churches or colleges. So the revival spread.
The Jesus People, 1971
By June 1971 revival movements had spilled over into the society with thousands of young people gathering in halls and theatres to sing, witness and repent, quitting drugs and immorality. The pendulum had swung from the permissive hippie dropouts of the sixties to a new wave of conversion and cleansing in the seventies. Time magazine carried a cover article on the Jesus Movement.
Such national attention also attracted cultic followers of the movement, but amid the extremes a powerful revival movement kept spreading. Mass baptisms were held in the ocean with outdoor meetings and teams witnessing on the beaches and in the city streets. New church groups such as Calvary Chapel and its many offshoots emerged which did not fit traditional denominations. People turned up to these churches in bare feet and old clothes as well as more traditional attire. Witnessing and evangelism burst spontaneously from lives changed by the love and power of God.
Wilbert (Bill) McLeod, a Baptist minister in his mid-fifties, had seen many people healed in answer to prayer, often praying with a group of deacons. Bill invited the twin evangelists Ralph and Lou Sutera to speak at his church in Saskatoon. Revival broke out with their visit which began on Wednesday 13 October 1971. By the weekend an amazing spirit gripped the people. Many confessed their sins publicly. The first to do so were the twelve counsellors chosen to pray with inquirers. Numbers grew rapidly till the meetings had to be moved to a larger church building and then to the Civic Auditorium seating 2000. The movement spread to other churches.
The meetings lasted many hours. People did not want to leave. Some stayed on for a later meeting called the Afterglow. Here people received prayer and counsel from the group as they continued to worship God and pray together. Humble confession of sin and reconciliations were common. Many were converted.
Taxi drivers became amazed that people were getting cabs home from church late into the night or early into the morning. Others were calling for taxis to take them to church late into the night as they were convicted by the Lord.
Young people featured prominently. Almost half those converted were young. They gave testimonies of lives that had been cleaned up by God and how relationships with their families were restored. The atmosphere in schools and colleges changed from rebellion and cheating to cooperation with many Bible study and prayer groups forming in the schools and universities.
Criminals were also confessing their sins and giving themselves up to the police. Restitution was common. People payed long overdue bills. Some businesses opened new accounts to account for the conscience money being paid to them. Those who cheated at restaurants or hotels returned to pay their full bill. Stolen goods were returned.
In November a team went to Winnepeg and told of the revival at a meeting for ministers. The Holy Spirit moved powerfully and many broke down confessing their sins. Rivalries and jealousies were confessed and forgiven. Many went home to put things right with their families. The ministers took this fire back into their churches and the revival spread there also with meetings going late into the night as numbers grew and hundreds were converted or restored.
Sherwood Wirt (1975:46) reported on Bill McLeod preaching at Winnepeg on 15 December 1971:
I confess that what I saw amazed me. This man preached for only fifteen minutes, and he didn’t even give an invitation! He announced the closing hymn, whereupon a hundred people came out of their seats and knelt at the front of the church. All he said was, That’s right, keep coming!
Many were young. Many were in tears. All were from the Canadian Midwest, which is not known for its euphoria.
It could be said that what I was witnessing was revival.
I believe it was.
Bill McLeod and a team of six brought the revival to the eastern Canada when they were invited to speak at the Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto. The meeting there began at 10 am and went through till 1.15 am next morning. Dinner was cancelled as no one wanted to leave. They did stop for supper, then went on again.
When the Sutera brothers commenced meetings in Vancouver on the West Coast on Sunday 5 May 1972 revival broke out there also in the Ebenezer Baptist Church with 2,000 attending that first Sunday. The next Sunday 3,000 people attended in two churches. After a few weeks five churches were filled.
The revival spread in many churches across Canada and into northern U S A especially in Oregon. Everywhere the marks of the revival included honesty before God and others, with confession of sin and an outpouring of the love of God in those who repented.
The German speaking churches were also touched by the revival and by May 1972 they chartered a flight to Germany for teams to minister there.
The Afterglow meetings were common everywhere in the revival. After a meeting had finished those who wanted to stay on for prayer did so. Usually each person desiring prayer knelt at a chair and others laid hands on them and prayed for them. Many repented and were filled with the Spirit in the Afterglow meetings which often went to midnight or later.
In 1977 John Wimber began pastoring the fellowship of about 40 people which had been commenced by his wife, Carol. It later became the headquarters of the Vineyard Christian Fellowships. John preached from Luke’s gospel and began to pray for healings with no visible results for nine months although the worship and evangelism attracted many people. Then healings began to happen and became a regular part of Vineyard ministry.
In 1980 the congregation had an experience of corporate renewal. On the evening of Mothers’ Day a young man who had been attending the church gave a testimony and asked those under twenty-five to come forward. He then invoked the Holy Spirit and the young people about 400 of them fell to the floor, weeping, wailing and speaking in tongues.
Wimber and the rest of the congregation had never experienced anything like that before (Gunstone 1989:11).
A revival had begun. In the next four months they baptized 700 new converts. They began ministering in the Spirit’s power in new ways and healings became a regular part of their church’s life and their international teaching ministry. The church grew to 6,000 in a decade and commenced many other Vineyard fellowships.
Peter Wagner’s research describes Latin American Protestants growing from 50,000 in 1900 to over 5 million in the 1950s, over 10 million in the 1960s, over 20 million in the 1970s, around 50 million by the end of the eighties and a projected 137 million by 2000. Over 100 new churches begin every week.
Pentecostals are the biggest proportion of this growth. One quarter of the Protestants were Pentecostal by the 1950s; three quarters by the 1980s. By then 90% of Protestants in Chile were Pentecostal (Wagner 1986:27).
Edward Miller tells of revival breaking out in Argentina from 1948. After he prayed earnestly for months, God told him to call his little church of 8 people to prayer every night from 8 pm to midnight. On the fourth night as they obeyed God the Holy Spirit fell on them. They heard the sound of strong wind. The church soon filled. There was much weeping, confessing and praying. By Saturday teams were going out and ministering in the Spirit’s power.
* Two teenage girls wept as they walked down the street and met two doctors who mocked, but listened to their testimonies, were convicted, and knelt asking for prayer.
* Two young people visited a lady whose mother was paralyzed and had been in bed for 5 years. They prayed for her, and she got up and drank tea with them.
* Two elderly people visited man in coma, a cripple with his liver damaged from drink. They prayed for him and he was healed.
A young rebel, Alexander and his band came to mock at one of the services aiming to disrupt it. God convicted him and he repented, so the other rebels rose to leave but fell under the Spirit’s power on the way out. All were converted. Two went to the Bible Training Institute.
Later, when Edward Miller was teaching at the Bible Training Institute in the small town of City Bell near Buenos Aires, he was led to cancel teaching there and call the school to prayer.
The move of God in that Institute began in an unusual way on 4 June 1951. Alexander, now in Bible School, was still in prayer outside in fields long after midnight when he sensed a strange feeling of something pressing down upon him, an great light surrounding him and a heavenly being enfolding him. The boy was terrified and fled back to the Institute.
The heavenly visitor entered the Institute with him, and in a few moments all the students were awake with the fear of God upon them. They began to cry out in repentance as God by his Spirit dealt with them. The next day the Spirit of God came again upon Alexander as he was given prophecies of God’s moving in far off countries. The following day Alexander again saw the Lord in the Spirit, but this time he began to speak slowly and distinctly the words he heard from the angel of God. No one could understand what he was saying, however, until another lad named Celsio (with even less education than Alexander), overcome with the Spirit of God markedly upon him, began to interpret. These communications (written because he choked up when he tried to talk) were a challenge from God to pray and indeed the Institute became a centre of prayer till the vacation time, when teams went out to preach the kingdom. It was the beginning of new stirrings of the Spirit across the land (Pytches 1989:4951).
The Bible Institute continued in prayer for 4 months, 810 hours a day, weeping. Bricks became saturated; one young man prayed against the wall daily, weeping. After 6 hours the tear stains reached the floor, and after 8 hours had formed a puddle on floor. The Lord gave them prophecies of revival in Argentina and around the world. They were told the largest auditoriums would be filled, and this happened with the visit of Tommy Hicks to Argentina.
Tommy Hicks was involved in revival in Latin America. In 1952 he was conducting a series of meetings in California when God showed him a vision. While he was praying he saw a map of South America covered with a vast field of golden wheat ripe for harvesting. The wheat turned into human beings calling him to come and help them.
He wrote in his Bible a prophecy he received about going by air to that land before two summers passed. Three months later, after an evangelistic crusade, a pastor’s wife in California gave that same prophecy to him that he had written down. Cash began to arrive till he had enough to buy a one way air ticket to Buenos Aires. On his way there after meetings in Chile, the word Peron came to his mind. He asked the air stewardess if she knew what it meant. She told him Peron was the President of Argentina. After he made an appointment with the Minister of Religion, wanting to see the President, he prayed for the Minister’s secretary who was limping. He was healed. So the Minister made an appointment for Hicks to see the President. Through prayer the President was healed of an ugly eczema and gave Hicks the use of a stadium and free access to the state radio and press. The crusade was a spiritual breakthrough.
Brazil also had revival. Edwin Orr visited each of the 25 states and territories in Brazil in 1952 seeing powerful moves of the spirit in his meetings which were supported by all denominations. The evangelical church council declared that the year of 1952 saw the first of such a general spiritual awakening in the country’s history. Many meetings had to be moved into soccer stadiums, some churches increased in numbers by 50% in one week, and the revival movement continued in local churches in Brazil.
Many congregations in Latin America now are huge. By the eighties the Brazil for Christ Church in Sao Paulo seated 25,000 on a mile and a half of benches. The Jotabeche Methodist Pentecostal Church of Santiago in Chile has over 90,000 members. One of the largest fellowships in Argentina is the Vision of the Future church pastored by Omar and Marfa Cabrera and a committed team of leaders. They had 30,000 in 1979. That grew to over 145,000 by 1988. The Cabreras have a powerful personal and mass deliverance ministry, taking authority over demons in areas and in people.
Small rural churches spring up across the continent far outstripping the provision of trained leadership. By the 1960s the Presbyterians of Guatemala had initiated Theological Education by Extension, including weekly local seminars for onthejob leadership development. This pattern is spreading worldwide in distance education programs.
1988 saw astounding revival in Cuba. The Pentecostals, Baptists, independent evangelical churches and some Methodist and Nazarene churches experienced powerful revival. One Assemblies of God church had around 100,000 visit it in six months, many coming in bus loads. One weekend they had 8,000 visitors, and on one day the four pastors (including two youth pastors) prayed with over 300 people.
In central Cuba, a miraculous healing took place at a 150 seat chapel at the beginning of a nine-day mission. The repercussions were so astounding that at one time 5,000 people crowded into the chapel. During those nine days, 1,200 people became Christians, and there were further healings. The two pastors were put in prison, but Cuban believers commented, ‘Although the authorities stopped this crusade, they cannot stop the Holy Spirit.’ Revival spread to the rest of Cuba (Mills 1990:18).
In many Pentecostal churches the lame walked, the blind saw, the deaf heard, and people’s teeth were filled. Often 2,000 to 3,000 attended meetings. In one evangelical church over 15,000 people accepted Christ in three months. A Baptist pastor reported signs and wonders occurring continuously with many former atheists and communists testifying to God’s power. So many have been converted that churches cannot hold them so they must met in house churches.
In Cuba in 1990, an Assemblies of God pastor whose congregation never exceeded 100 people meeting once a week suddenly found himself conducting 12 services per day for 7,000 people. They started queuing at 2.00 am and even broke down doors just to get into the prayer meetings (Robinson 1992:14).
The church in Africa has grown from around 10 million in 1900 to over 200 million in the 1980s and over 300 million now. By 2000 that number is expected reach 400 million, half the population. In the early 1900s one out of every 13,000 were Christians; now one out of three are reported as being Christians.
Africa has seen many powerful revivals, such as the Belgian Congo outpouring with C T Studd in 1914. ‘The whole place was charged as if with an electric current. Men were falling, jumping, laughing, crying, singing, confessing and some shaking terribly,’ he reported. ‘As I led in prayer the Spirit came down in mighty power sweeping the congregation. My whole body trembled with the power. We saw a marvellous sight, people literally filled and drunk with the Spirit.’
Between 1946 and 1949 the Belgian Congo experienced a further visitation of God. It followed much prayer and fasting. Visions were common. Multitudes repented. Witch doctors burned their charms and became Christian.
Following independence in 1960 that country, then called Zaire, experienced a blood bath at the hands of rebels. Over 30 missionaries were martyred in Zaire in 19601965 as were hundreds of pastors and thousands of their members. Whole congregations were wiped out. In one place the Christians were driven into a church building and all burned alive. Yet the persecuted church of Zaire saw a remarkable revival. Born in agonizing prayer and fanned by supernatural visitations of God, it grew in a powerful underground movement. The people, appalled at the killings, turned to God in thousands.
As the troubles subsided there was an extraordinary revival.
More than one rebel said, ‘The more we kill these Christians the more they multiply. They have got a power we haven’t got.’
Disillusioned with politics, there was a sudden wholesale turning to God among the people. A Congolese pastor revealed, ‘During the long period when we were cut off from the missionaries we had a remarkable visitation of the Spirit of God. The pastors of our district had been fasting and praying because of the bloodshed and persecutions. As we were praying the Spirit descended on us in a wonderful way and His gifts operated among us. He told us many things in prophecy which have all come true. The Holy Spirit began to convict of sin as we went back to our churches to preach, and streams of men and women believed on the Lord Jesus and confessed their sins exactly as in Acts 19:1720, bringing their heathen charms. This revival lasted eight months.’ This was repeated throughout the great area of the Zaire Evangelical Mission; revival broke out everywhere and thousands upon thousands were converted and added to the churches (Whittaker 1984:117).
Similarly, persecution in Uganda for eight terrible years following Idi Amin’s coup in 1971, saw the church refined and aflame. In those years the Christians increased from 52% to around 70% of the twelve million population.
Many African revivals experience supernatural manifestations, visions, prophecies, and healings. For 40 years there has been continuous revival in East Africa. Revivals include a powerful move of God in Ethiopia in 1978. Revived Christians survived the Mau Mau massacres in Kenya and the church continued to grow. For example, 700 new churches began in Kenya in 1980 alone, a rate of about two a day. Nigeria experienced revivals in 19831984, accelerating church growth there (Pratney 1984:2678).
Outstanding leaders have emerged including men such as the Zulu Nicholas Bhengu. Fluent in Zulu, Xhosa, English and Afrikaans, this dynamic leader of the Back to God Crusade moved across southern Africa for 40 years and started over 1,000 churches through the mighty outpourings of the Holy Spirit.
Reinhard Bonnke, a German evangelist called to Africa, has led amazing crusades filled with the power of God in which thousands are converted, healed and delivered of evil spirits. His multiracial team in Christ For All Nations crusades ministered in a 10,000 seat tent which was often too small. In 1980 alone 100,000 people made commitments to Christ in his crusades, and those huge numbers have continued and increased each year since. In 1983 he erected a tent which seats 30,000 with which he plans to lead missions from Cape Town to Cairo.
The New Life for All movement challenges Christians to pray daily for ten people until each becomes a Christian. They tell those people of their daily prayers for them. As each is converted a new name is added to the list to keep it at ten. The new convert does the same, praying daily for ten others. That simple commitment has fuelled revival in Africa.
The turn of the century prepared the way for revival movements in India. From 1895 the first Saturday of each month was set aside in Bombay for prayer for revival, and other centres followed this pattern. Revival came in 1905, again linked with world wide outpourings as in Wales.
Distress caused by famine in 1904 also caused Christians to pray all over India. As news of revival in Wales reached India, and returning missionaries told of God’s move there, expectation and prayer grew across India.
Revival moved in groups across Eastern India especially among the tribal people. Revival swept through the Khasi hills and among the Garos to their west and into the Naga Hills. It turned the hills people from head hunters into predominantly Christian within a generation. Bengal was also touched by the revival as news from the north motivated Christians to pray, repent and believe.
Any Carmichael wrote of revival in Dohnavur, especially among the young people. They experienced deep repentance and conversion in large numbers.
The awakening in Kerala among Anglicans and Mar Thoma Christians produced simultaneous audible prayer, alien to their normal traditions. At one convention 17,000 broke into simultaneous audible prayer.
Pandita Ramabai heard of revivals and commenced special prayer circles with hundreds of her helpers and friends at Mukti from the beginning of 1905. This movement spread first among the girls and women, touching thousands. It spilled over into the community. It spread with teams visiting Poona 40 miles away. Churches in Bombay were revived and filled with new vigour.
Revival affected India most strongly in the South and East, but North India also saw God’s power change lives. John Hyde, known as Praying Hyde, spent days and nights in prayer with friends for revival in India. In schools, a seminary and then in conventions among the resistant Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus of North East India the revival spread. The Sialkot annual conventions grew in numbers and impact. A young Sikh named Sundar Singh had a vision of Jesus on 18 December 1904 and was converted. He became a Christian Sadhu mystic and evangelist in India and Tibet.
Orr (1975:156) notes that ‘in the 1905 Revival, independence of the national Church was stressed, for, in the aftermath of revival, new men were ready for new work in new fields, men who had formerly been agents and employees of the Missions now were carrying revival and evangelism to the villages.’
The first Protestant missionaries went to Korea in the 1880s. By the 1980s one quarter of South Koreans were Christian. In 1980 Here’s Life Korea crusade drew 2,700,000, the largest single Christian meetings in history.
Revival in Korea broke out in the nation in 1907. Presbyterian missionaries, hearing of revival in Wales, and of a similar revival among Welsh Presbyterian work in Assam, prayed earnestly for the same in Korea. 1500 representatives gathered for the annual New Year Bible studies in which a spirit of prayer broke out. The leaders allowed everyone to pray aloud simultaneously as so many were wanting to pray, and that became a characteristic of Korean prayer meetings.
The meetings carried on day after day, with confessions of sins, weeping and trembling. The heathen were astounded. The delegates of the New Year gathering returned to their churches taking with them this spirit of prayer which strongly impacted the churches of the nation with revival. Everywhere conviction of sin, confession and restitution were common.
Brutal persecution at the hands of the Japanese and then the Russian and Chinese communists saw thousands killed, but still the church grew in fervent prayer. Prior to the Russian invasion thousands of North Koreans gathered every morning at 5 am Sometimes 10,000 were gathered in one place for prayer each morning.
Early morning daily prayer meetings became common, as did nights of prayer especially on Friday nights, and this emphasis on prayer has continued as a feature of church life in Korea. Over a million gather every morning around 5 am for prayer in the churches. Prayer and fasting is normal. Churches have over 100 prayer retreats in the hills called Prayer Mountains to which thousands go to pray, often with fasting. Healings and supernatural manifestations continue.
Now the city of Seoul has 6,000 churches, many huge. Koreans have sent over 10,000 missionaries into other Asian countries.
David Yonggi Cho has amazing growth in Seoul where he is senior pastor of a Full Gospel church of 800,000 with over 25,000 home cell groups, and 12,000 conversion every month. During the week over 3,000 a day and over 5,000 at weekends pray at their prayer mountain.
In 1950, missionaries expelled from China left behind one million evangelical Christians, and three million Catholics. Conservative figures run from 50 to 80 million Christians in China now and some Asian researchers report 100 million Christians estimated out of 960 million population. This underground revival spread through thousands of house churches. Miracles, healings, visions and supernatural interventions of God marked this outpouring of the Spirit.
Many suffered and died in persecution. David Wang tells of a pastor imprisoned for over 22 years who left behind a church of 150 people scattered through the hill villages in northern China. On his release in the 1980s he discovered the church in that area had grown to 5,000. Three years later it had trebled to 15,000.
Mama Kwong, exiled in Japan because of her virile Christian leadership, tells how over 30 years she helped to lead one million to the Lord through preaching and home cell meetings. She was imprisoned three times. Such leaders often faced long imprisonment or martyrdom, and her own son and others were nailed alive to church walls. The blood of the martyrs is still the seed of the church in China.
Mama Kwong says that during those days [1960s], God chose three hundred dedicated Christians to start a new church. As they gathered at 3 am one morning, they saw a vision of the Lord and clearly heard His voice saying, ‘Although Communism is evil, I will open the door and no one will shut it.’ As the three hundred went out and shared the gospel, tremendous miracles began to happen. Whole towns and villages turned to Christ’ (Whittaker 1984:153).
A Hong Kong and China Report of March 1991 produced by the Revival Christian Church tells of continuing opposition and imprisonment, but also of astounding church growth.
In 1989 preachers from Henan province visited North Anhul province and found several thousand believers in care of an older pastor from Shanghai. On the first night of their meetings that winter with 1,000 present 30 people were baptized. First was a lady who had convulsions if she went into cold water. She was healed of that and other ills and found the water warm. A twelve year old boy, deaf and dumb, was baptized and spoke, ‘Mother, Father, the water is not cold the water is not cold.’ A lady nearly 90, disabled after an accident in her twenties, was completely healed in the water. By the third and fourth night over 1,000 were baptized.
A young man who has been leading teams since he was 17, reported in 1990 at the age of 20: ‘When the church first sent us out to preach the Gospel, after two to three months of ministering we usually saw 2030 converts. But now it is not 20. It is 200, 300, and often 600 or more will be converted.’
In 12 March 1991, the South China Morning Post, acknowledged there were one million Christians in central Henan province, many having made the previously unheard of decision to voluntarily withdraw from the party. ‘While political activities are cold-shouldered, religious ones are drawing large crowds.’
Asia Outreach reported that Outer Mongolia had four known Christians by the beginning of 1991. That grew to over 70 by August, and many churches and a Bible school have been established since then.
In 1990, the Soviet Union acknowledged before its demise that 90 million of its 290 million inhabitants confess allegiance to a church or religious community. Christians have estimated over 97 million were Christian (Pratney 1984:273).
Sergie Kordakov, a teenage thug leader of tough marines, worked for the KGB including breaking up house churches or Christian home groups, arresting the pastors and beating the Christians, especially any young people found there. He was eventually converted through the witness of a young girl Natasha who kept coming to home groups in spite of being bashed. He noted how a secret revival was sweeping Russia involving many young people as well as older Christians.
Another young man, Vanya saw God’s miraculous protection and intervention in his military service where he unashamedly witnessed to his faith in God, before his mysterious death..
The earnest prayers of suffering Christians through most of this century has been a significant part in more recent freedom to worship God experienced in Russia and its neighbours. Reports from Russia have included huge numbers turning to Christ recently. In 1991, for example, 70,000 out of 90,000 made commitments to Christ in an evangelism rally in Leningrad. Churches are packed. All available Bibles are sold.
Nepal has been traditionally resistant to Christianity. That is changing. David Wang (Asian Report, May/June 1991) tells of a former Lama priest, illiterate, who has been a pastor for 13 years and pastors 43 fellowships with total of 32,000 people. Another pastor oversees 40,000 people. Most conversions in Nepal involve casting out demons.
Missionaries were expelled from Burma in the 1960s but the church continues to grow. The largest known baptismal service in the world happened there at the Kachin Baptist Centenial Convention in 1977 with 6,000 baptized in one day.
In September 1973 Todd Burke arrived in Cambodia on a one week visitor’s visa. Just 23 years old, he felt a strong call from God to minister there, the only charismatic missionary in the country. Beginning with two English classes a day, conducted through an interpreter, he taught from the Good News Bible. Those interested in knowing more about Jesus stayed after class and he saw daily conversions and people filled with the Spirit and healed. Revival broke out in the war torn capital of Phnom Penh and rapidly spread to surrounding areas.
During that September Todd’s wife DeAnn joined him, they received permission to stay in the country, and mounted a three day crusade in a stadium where thousands attended and hundreds were saved and healed supernaturally. A powerful church spread through a network of small house churches. Todd met with the leaders of these groups at early morning prayer meetings every day at 6 am Most pastors were voluntary workers holding normal jobs. Some cycled in from the country and returned for work each morning. Healings, miracles and deliverance from demonic powers were regular events, attracting new converts who in turn were filled with the power of the Spirit and soon began witnessing and praying for others.
When the country fell to the communists in 1975 the Burkes had to leave. They left behind an amazing church anointed by the power of God before it was buried by going underground to survive. They recorded their story of those two years of revival in Anointed for Burial (1977).
The Spirit of God brought revival to Indonesia during the troubled and politically uncertain times there in the sixties. Much of it happened outside the established church, with a later acceptance of it in some churches. Thousands of Moslems were converted, the biggest Christian impact on Islam in history.
A Bible School in East Java experienced revival with deep repentance, confession, renunciation of occult practices, burnings of fetishes and amulets and a new humility and unity among staff and students. The Lord led individual students and teams in powerful evangelism in many islands.
A team visited Timor and saw evidences of revival beginning which burst into unprecedented power in September 1965. This revival spread in the uncertain days following the attempted army coup on 30 September, 1965 in Indonesia. Four days previously a visitation from God had begun in Timor.
A rebellious young man had received a vision of the Lord who commanded him to repent, burn his fetishes, and confess his sins in church. He did. He attended the Reformed Church in Soe, a mountain town of about 5,000 people, where the revival broke out at that service on Sunday 26 September 1965. People heard the sound of a tornado wind. Flames on the church building prompted police to set off the fire alarm to summon the volunteer fire fighters. Many people were converted that night. Many were filled with the Spirit including speaking in tongues, some in English. By midnight teams of lay people had been organized to begin spreading the gospel the next day. They gave themselves full time to visiting churches and villages and saw thousands converted with multitudes healed and delivered. In one town alone they saw 9,000 people converted in two weeks.
Another young man, Mel Tari witnessed this visitation of God and later became part of Team 42. Eventually, about 90 evangelistic teams were formed which functioned powerfully with spiritual gifts. Healings and evangelism increased dramatically. Specific directions from the Lord led the teams into powerful ministry with thousands becoming Christians. They saw many healings, miracles such as water being turned to nonalcoholic wine for communion, some instantaneous healings, deliverance from witchcraft and demonic powers, and some people raised from death through prayer.
The teams were often guided supernaturally including provision of light at night on jungle trails, angelic guides and protection, meagre supplies of food multiplied in pastors’ homes when a team ate together there during famines, and witch doctors being converted after they saw power encounters when the teams’ prayers banished demons rendering the witch doctors powerless.
The teams learned to listen to the Lord and obey him. His leadings came in many biblical ways:
1. God spoke audibly as with Samuel or Saul of Tarsus,
2. many had visions as did Mary or Cornelius,
3. there were inspired dreams such as Jacob, Joseph or Paul saw,
4. prophecies as in Israel and the early church occurred,
5. the Spirit led many as with Elijah or Paul’s missionary team,
6. the Lord often spoke through specific Bible verses,
7. circumstances proved to be God incidences not just coincidences,
8. often when leadings were checked with the group or the church the Lord gave confirmations and unity.
Mel Tari, Kurt Koch and others have told of the amazing revival in Indonesia. The Reformed Church Presbytery on Timor, for example, recorded 80,000 conversions from the first year of the revival there, half of those being former communists. They noted that some 15,000 people had been permanently healed in that year. After three years the number of converts had grown to over 200,000. On another island where there had been very few Christians 20,000 became believers in the first three years of the revival.
So often in times of great tribulation, political upheaval and bloodshed, the Spirit of the Lord moves most powerfully and the church grows most rapidly, as happens in many countries today.
Revival has been spreading in Pacific islands, especially in the Solomons. Teams have gone from there to other countries such as Papua New Guinea and helped to light revival fires around the Pacific.
Solomon Islands, 1970
Muri Thompson, a Maori evangelist from New Zealand, visited the Solomons in July and August 1970 where the church had already experienced significant renewal and was praying for revival. Many of these Christians were former warriors and cannibals gradually won to Christ in spite of initial hostility and the martyrdom of early missionaries and indigenous evangelists.
Beginning at Honiara, the capital, Muri spent two months visiting churches and centres on the islands. Initially the national leaders and missionaries experienced deep conviction and repentance, publicly acknowledging their wrong attitudes. It was very humbling. A new unity and harmony transformed their relationships, and little things which destroyed that unity were openly confessed with forgiveness sought and given.
Then in the last two weeks of these meetings the Spirit of God moved even more powerfully in the meetings with more deep repentance and weeping, sometimes even before the visiting team arrived. At one meeting the Spirit of God came upon everyone after the message in a time of silent prayer when the sound of a gale came above the gathering of 2000 people.
Multitudes were broken, melted and cleansed, including people who had been strongly opposed to the Lord. Weeping turned to joyful singing. Everywhere people were talking about what the Lord had done to them. Many received healings and deliverance from bondage to evil spirits. Marriages were restored and young rebels transformed.
Everywhere people were praying together every day. They had a new hunger for God’s Word. People were sensitive to the Spirit and wanted to be transparently honest and open with God and one another.
Normal lectures in the South Seas Evangelical Church Bible School were constantly abandoned as the Spirit took over the whole school with times of confession, prayer and praise.
Teams from these areas visited other islands, and the revival caught fire there also. Eventually pastors from the Solomons were visiting other Pacific countries and seeing similar moves of God there.
Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea, 1973
Prayer meetings began among pastors, missionaries and Bible College students in the Baptist mission area among Engas of the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea in the early 1970s owing to the low spiritual state in the churches. This prayer movement spread to the villages. In some villages people agreed to pray together everyday until God sent new life to the church.
During September 1973 pastors from the Solomon Islands and Enga students who were studying at the Christian Leaders Training College visited the Enga churches. Revival broke out in many villages on Sunday 16 September. Many hundreds of people, deeply convicted of sin, repented and were reconciled to God and others with great joy.
Pastors in one area held a retreat from Monday to Wednesday in a forest which previously had been sacred for animistic spirit worship. Others joined the pastors there. Healings reported included a lame man able to walk, a deaf mute who spoke and heard, and a mentally deranged girl restored.
Normal work stopped as people in their thousands hurried to special meetings. Prayer groups met daily, morning and evening. In the following months thousands of Christians were restored and thousands of pagans converted. The church grew in size and maturity (Vision magazine, 1973:46).
Duranmin, Papua New Guinea, 1977
Pastors from the Solomon Islands spoke about their revival at a pastors and leaders conference in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Diyos Wapnok attended from the Baptist Mission area at Telefolmin. He heard God call his name three times in the night there and realised that the Lord was drawing his attention to some special challenge.
Later, on Thurdsay afternoon 10 March, 1977 at Duranmin in the rugged western highlands, where Diyos was the principal of the Sepik Baptist Bible College, while he spoke to about 50 people they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and great joy. Revival had begun. It spread through the area with vibrant new enthusiasm. Conversions, Bible studies, prayer and healings of many kinds were common. 3,000 were added to the church in 3 years. The church grew and was strengthened. This revival movement spread to other areas as Diyos and others told of what God was doing.
Sepik, Papua New Guinea, 1984
In the Sepik lowlands of northern Papua New Guinea a new visitation of God burst on the churches at Easter 1984, again sparked by Solomon Island pastors. It too was characterised by repentance, confession, weeping and great joy. Stolen goods were returned or replaced, and wrongs made right.
Ray Overend reports (1985:910):
I was preaching to an Easter convention at a place called Walahuta during the recent Sepik revival in Papua New Guinea. The words the Lord gave us were from Isaiah 6 …
After the last word of the message the whole church rose to its feet and clapped loudly something completely new to me! I knew they were not applauding me. They were acknowledging to God in praise the truth of his Word… Then I sat down in the only spare little space in the overcrowded church and the whole congregation began to sing one song after another…
Many faces were lifted to Heaven and many hands raised in humble adoration. The faces looked like the faces of angels. They were radiating light and joy. And then I noticed something.
Right beside me was a man who had heard the Word and now he just watched those radiant faces lost in praise. Then he hung his head and began to sob like a child. He was ministered to. Demons were cast out. And he received the Lord Jesus right into his heart.
Then he too began to clap in gentle joy.
But who was he? A pastor came over to tell me that he had been until this moment the leader of the Tambaran cult in the Walahuta area that Satanic cult of which the whole village lived in mortal fear and traditionally the whole of the Sepik
The man who was second in charge of the Tambaran cult in that area was also converted that day while he was listening to the worship from a distance as God’s love and power overcame him.
I will never forget June 14th, 1984. Revival had broken out in many churches around but Brugam itself [the headquarters], with many station staff and many Bible College and Secondary School students, was untouched. … Then early on Thursday night, the 14th, Judah Akesi, the Church Superintendent, invited some of us to his office for prayer. During that prayer time God gave him a vision. In the vision he saw many people bowed down in the front of the church building in the midst of a big light falling down from above just like rain.
So after the ministry of the Word that night Judah invited those who wanted to bring their whole heart and mind and life under the authority of Christ to come forward so that hands might be laid on them for prayer.
About 200 people surged forward. Many fell flat on their faces on the ground sobbing aloud. Some were shaking as spiritual battles raged within. There was quite some noise…
The spiritual battles and cries of contrition continued for a long time. Then one after another in a space of about 3 minutes everybody rose to their feet, singing spontaneously as they rose.
They were free. The battle was won. Satan was bound. They had made Christ their King! Their faces looked to Heaven as they sang. They were like the faces of angels. The singing was like the singing of Heaven. Deafening, but sweet and reverent (Overend 1986:3637).
The whole curriculum and approach at the Bible School for the area changed. Instead of traditional classes and courses, teachers would work with the school all day from prayer times early in the morning through Bible teaching followed by discussion and sharing times during the day to evening worship and ministry. The school became a community, seeking the Lord together.
Churches which have maintained a strong Biblical witness continue to stay vital and strong in evangelism and ministry, filled with the Spirit’s power. Christians learn to witness and minister in spiritual gifts, praying and responding to the leading of the Spirit.
Many received spiritual gifts they never had before. One such gift was the ‘gift of knowledge’ whereby the Lord would show Christians exactly where fetishes of ‘sanguma’ men were hidden.
Now in Papua New Guinea sanguma men (who subject themselves to indescribable ritual to be in fellowship with Satan) are able to kill by black magic… In fact the power of sanguma in the East Sepik province has been broken (Overend 1986:2324).
In 1986 a senior pastor from Manus Island came to the Sepik to attend a one year’s pastors’ course. He was filled with the Spirit.
Shortly afterwards he went to Ambunti with a team of students on outreach. There they were asked to pray for an injured child who couldn’t walk and later in the morning he saw her walking around the town. He came back to his course and said: ‘In my 35 years as a pastor on Manus I had never seen the power of God like this!’ (Overend 1986:38).
North Solomons, 1988
Jobson Misang, an indigenous youth worker in the United Church, wrote a letter reporting on a further revival movement in the North Solomons Province of Papua New Guinea in 1988:
Over the last eight weekends I have been fully booked to conduct weekend camps. So far about 3,500 have taken part in the studies of the ‘Living in the Spirit’ book. Over 2,000 have given their lives to Jesus Christ and are committed to live by the directions of the Spirit. This is living the Pentecost experience today!
These are some of the experiences taking place:
1. During small group encounters, under the directions of Spirit-filled leadership, people are for the first time identifying their spiritual gifts, and are changing the traditional ministry to body ministry.
2. Under constant prayers, visions and dreams are becoming a day to day experience which are being shared during meetings and prayed about.
3. Local congregations are meeting at 4 am and 6 am three days a week to pray, and studying the Scriptures is becoming a day to day routine. This makes Christians strong and alert.
4. Miracles and healings are taking place when believers lay hands on the sick and pray over them.
5. The financial giving of the Christians is being doubled. All pastors’ wages are supported by the tithe.
6. Rascal activities (crimes) are becoming past time events and some drinking clubs are being overgrown by bushes.
7. The worship life is being renewed tremendously. The traditional order of service is being replaced by a much more lively and participatory one. During praise and worship we celebrate by clapping, dancing, raising our hands to the King of kings, and we meditate and pray. When a word of knowledge is received we pray about the message from the Lord and encourage one another to act on it with sensitivity and love.
Problems encountered include division taking place within the church because of believers baptism, fault finding, tongues, objections to new ways of worship, resistance to testimonies, loss of local customs such as smoking or chewing beetlenut or no longer killing animals for sacrifices, believers spending so many hours in prayer and fasting and Bible studies, marriages where only one partner is involved and the other blames the church for causing divisions, pride creeping in when gifts are not used sensitively or wisely, and some worship being too unbalanced.
Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea, 1988
Johan van Bruggen, principal of a Lutheran Evangelist Training Centre near Kainantu in the Papua New Guinea highlands reported in newsletters on the beginnings of revival in their area:
There came Thursday 4 August, a miserable day weather wise, although we had great joy during our studies. Evening devotions not all students came, actually a rather small group. I too needed some inner encouragement to go as it was more comfortable near the fire.
We sang a few quiet worship songs. … Samson was leading the devotions. We had sung the last song and were waiting for him to start. Starting he did, but in an unusual way. He cried, trembled all over! … Then it spread. When I looked up again I saw the head prefect flat on the floor under his desk. I was praying in tongues off and on. It became quite noisy. Students were shouting! Should I stop it? Don’t hold back! It went on and one, with students praying and laughing and crying not quite following our planned program! We finally stood around the table, about twelve of us, holding hands. Some were absolutely like drunk, staggering and laughing! I heard a few students starting off in tongues and I praised the Lord. The rain had stopped, not so the noise. So more and more people came in and watched!
Not much sleeping that night! They talked and talked! And that was not the end. Of course the school has changed completely.
Lessons were always great, I thought, but have become greater still. Full of joy most of the time, but also with a tremendous burden. A burden to witness.
What were the highlights of 1988?
No doubt the actual outpouring of the Holy Spirit must come first.
It happened on August 4 when the Spirit fell on a group of students and staff, with individuals receiving the baptism of the Holy spirit on several occasions later on in the year. The school has never been the same again. As direct results we noticed a desire for holiness, a hunger for God’s Word which was insatiable right up till the end of the school year, and also a tremendous urge to go out and witness. Whenever they had a chance many of our students were in the villages with studies and to lead Sunday services. Prayer life deepened, and during worship services we really felt ourselves to be on holy ground.
[In 1989] Our 35 new students were again fascinated by the new life they discovered among the second year students. The Word of God did the rest. During the month of March real repentance took place. One week before Easter the Holy Spirit moved mightily among the students and staff. There was a lot of crying during that week. Each night the students met in small prayer groups.
The aim was to get them prepared to go out to seven small Easter camps that were planned for the Gazup area our area here around the school.
God’s Spirit really prepared them well! I have never seen and heard so much crying. Many students had listed all their sins. I must confess that some of these lists really shook me. There was witchcraft, magic, adultery, stealing, drunkenness. It once again showed me how deep and far the world has invaded the church today. There was tremendous relief as students were assured of forgiveness and were filled with the Holy Spirit.’
An example of how God used these students is the account of a young man, David, Markham Valley of the Eastern Highlands in Papua New Guinea who was studying at the Training School. He had a growing burden for his village of Waritzian which was known and feared as the centre of pagan occult practices.
During his studies he was concerned for his people who were not ready for the Lord’s return. He prayed much. As part of an outreach team he visited nearby villages and then went to his own people in May, 1989. They had already written to the Training School asking for him to come to teach them. He was concerned about the low spiritual life of the church. He spent a couple of days alone praying for them.
Then as he was teaching them they heard the sound of an approaching wind which filled the place. Many were weeping, confessing their sins. They burnt their fetishes used in sorcery. This had been a stronghold of those sanguma practices. Many people received various spiritual gifts including unusual abilities such as speaking English in tongues and being able to read the Bible. People met for prayer, worship and study every day and at night. These daily meetings continued.
Vanuatu, 196162, 199192
Paul Grant was involved in the early stirrings of revival in Vanuatu during 199612. He writes:
It is important to note the following components in the lead up to later visitation and reviving:
1. A shared concern of missionaries for revival.
2. A significantly developed interest in the quickening power of the Spirit among west Ambai church members and leaders through teaching of the Scriptures and news of revival and the power-works of the Spirit in other parts of the world, e.g. a series of talks on the East Africa revival, the Welsh revival, signs and wonders and healings as reported from the Apostolic Church in Papua New Guinea, and inspiring records in other magazines.
3. An emphasis on prayer meetings, both between missionaries and in local churches.
4. Regular and frequent prayers for a visitation of God’s Spirit by Apostolic Churches around the world. The first Monday night of each month was observed as a prayer night for worldwide missions.
5. Concentrated, sustained Scripture teaching in the classrooms of the primary school where students later would experience the power of God. …
Beginning in the Santo church on August 15th 1962 and continuing there and in churches on Ambae (commencing in Tafala village in October) over a period of about 12 weeks the power of God moved upon young people. There were many instances of glossolalia, healings, prophetic utterances, excitation, loud acclamations to God in public services, incidents of deep conviction of sin, conversions, restitutions, and other manifestations of holiness of life… This visitation resulted in a liveliness not known before.
Initially it was mainly among young people. In later months and years it spread among all age groups and to my present knowledge was the first such visitation in the history of the Christian Church in Vanuatu. My gratification centred upon the following particulars:
1. The Holy Spirit had animated and empowered a people who were well taught in the Scriptures. Records show a lift in spiritual vitality in all the village churches.
2. It brought the church as a whole into a more expressive, dynamic dimension and also a charismatic gift function. They were much more able to gain victory over spirit forces so familiar to them.
3. It began to hasten the maturation processes in developing leadership.
4. The reality matched the doctrinal stand of the church. There was now no longer a disparity.
5. It confirmed to me the very great importance of being ‘steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 15:58 AV).
6. It led to significant outreach in evangelism, both personal and group. …
In the following years some of the young men and women served God in evangelistic teams, school teaching, urban witness, government appointments, and as pastors and elders to their own people. One of them has with his wife been an effective missionary… in Papua New Guinea (Grant 1986:710).
More recent revival movements in Vanuatu have stirred parts of the church there, such as described in this letter from Ruth Rongo of Tongoa Island written on 28 August 1991:
I’ve just come back from an evangelism ministry. It lasted for three months. God has done many miracles. Many people were shocked by the power of the Holy Spirit. The blind received their sight, the lame walk, the sick were healed. All these were done during this evangelism ministry. We see how God’s promise came into action. The prophet Joel had said it. We people of Vanuatu say ‘The spirit of the Lord God is upon us because he has anointed us to preach the Gospel to the poor people of Vanuatu.’ Praise God for what he has done.
In where I live, my poor home, I also started a home cell prayer group. We’re aiming or our goal is that the revival must come in the church where I am. Please pray for me and also for the group.
Our prayer group usually meets on Sunday night, after the night meeting. We start at 10.30 pm and go to 1 or 3.30 am. If we come closer to God He will also come close to us. We spend time in listening and responding to God.
These revival movements continue to increase in the Pacific, especially as indigenous teams minister in other areas with the Spirit’s fire. The church grows stronger, even through opposition. Indigenous Christians live and minister in New Testament patterns from house to house, from village to village.
Powerful moves of God’s Spirit in Australia have included the Sunshine Revival in Melbourne from February 1925 and the aboriginal revival beginning in Galiwinku (Elcho Island) from March 1979.
Two young men in their twenties led the Sunshine Revival. Charles Greenwood began prayer meetings in his home in 1916 and the group completed building the Sunshine Gospel Hall in February 1925. A. C. Valdez, recently arrived from America, joined the group and became its leader that year. At first meetings were held on a Saturday and Sunday. Then they had a two week campaign. The hall was packed.
Charles Greenwood reported:
During this campaign the power of God was manifested in a mighty way sinners were converted; many believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit and healed. Soon the news spread that the Lord was pouring out His Spirit at Sunshine, and people came from near and far. Over 200 Christians from all denominations were baptized in the Holy Spirit in this blessed outpouring of the ‘Latter Rain’ (Chant 1984:9091).
They established the Pentecostal Church of Australia following that campaign and public meetings were then held in the Prahran Town Hall because of the crowds. Later that year they moved into Richmond Theatre which became Richmond Temple. It could seat 1200 and had shops at the front which became their Bible and Tract Department. In 1926 A. C. Valdez believed his work there was completed and he returned to the States. Kelso Glover, also in his twenties, arrived from the States and led meetings for three weeks in a revival atmosphere. He was invited to stay on as pastor. Richmond Temple became the headquarters of the Pentecostal Church of Australia and from July 1926 they produced their national paper the Australian Evangel.
Galiwinku, Elcho Island, 1979
Revival among aborigines commenced in Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island in the north of Australia from 1979. Djiniyini Gondarra ministered there where half the island became involved in the church and the whole community was affected. The pattern is similar to other revivals prayer and expectation, the Spirit of God moving in new and powerful ways, repentance and confession on a wide scale, restitution of stolen goods and money, forgiveness and reconciliation between people, crime and drunkenness greatly diminished, renewed concern for justice and righteousness in the community, churches filled with Christians alive in the Spirit.
Here too, teams have travelled to other areas bringing some of the fire of revival to ignite churches and communities with a vital Christian commitment and a strong impact on society.
What is our response to these modern day accounts so similar to the Book of Acts? Will we humble ourselves, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from our sin, so that God will forgive us and heal the land (2 Chronicles 7:14)?
We can do that. We must. Alone. In prayer clusters. In home groups. In meetings. In constant prayer and repentance.
‘Lord, engulf us in your holy fire. Burn our dross. Refine us. Ignite us, and multitudes in the land, for your glory, setting your church on fire.’
Burke, T & D (1977) Anointed for Burial. Seattle: Frontline.
Burgess, S M & McGee, G B eds. (1988) Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Chant, B (1984) Heart of Fire. Adelaide: Tabor.
Grant, P E (1986) ‘Visitation and Vivifying in Vanuatu’, unpublished article.
Greenfield, J (1927) Power from on High. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott.
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.