By Steve Strang founder of Charisma News and CEO of Charisma Media.
Genuine revival is the only way we can change the spiritual temperature of our society. Rioting. Racial unrest. Drug abuse ruining a generation. War in the Middle East. Christians under siege from rampant secularism. Does this sound familiar? I’m not describing 2017, although all these exist in today’s culture. I’m describing the 1960s, with Americans divided over the Vietnam War, Israel attacked by its Arab neighbours, a youth culture that celebrated drugs and free sex, and racial unrest, including riots after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Things were so bad, Time magazine’s April 8, 1966, cover story asked, “Is God Dead?” Yet amid this terrible time, the Lord stepped in. Fifty years ago, He launched two massive, under-the-radar revivals that I believe changed the course of the world.
In 1967, a group of Duquesne University nuns and college students received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, igniting the widespread Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The other revival, now known as the Jesus Movement, touched hundreds of thousands of hippie-type young people, whose fervour moved from radical rebellion to radical obedience to Christ. Many of today’s Christian leaders came to Christ during this period, and the movement also impacted me. During this same era, Israel won the West Bank and, in 1967, reunited Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. I once heard the late Derek Prince explain the parallels between God’s activity in Israel and the fresh outpouring of His Spirit on the church. These massive revivals produced a cultural shift. The country became more politically conservative, and the hippie movement disappeared.
Today, we need another genuine revival. Without it, culture will continue its downward spiral. Many Christians recognize this, but many don’t. One segment of the evangelical church, alarmed by the marginalization of Christians and increasing public immorality, focuses on electing politicians who seem to share our values. But politics won’t change things. A powerful evangelical leader recently visited my office to discuss how we must move our culture, where only a small percentage views the world through a biblical lens, toward a Christian worldview. He wanted my help in motivating apathetic Christians. Of course, I said we’d cooperate. But I also said change toward a Christian worldview won’t happen until our country experiences true revival. He looked at me with a blank stare.
My friend seems to think logic and arguments can change minds and attitudes. We must never withdraw from the marketplace of ideas, but we must also remember this: Nonbelievers develop a Christian worldview only through a powerful encounter with the risen Christ via the power of the Holy Spirit. Consider the Pentecostal movement. After the fervour of the early-20th-century charismatic outpouring, Latter Rain Revival died down, Pentecostalism moved into malaise. I remember the older generation praying constantly for revival.
Logic persuaded almost no one to embrace the gifts. But when people received the Holy Spirit in a powerful way during a prayer meeting, their theology changed. They saw the Bible with fresh eyes. God answered those prayers for revival in unexpected ways.
Beginning around 1960, the Holy Spirit poured out on more denominations like Episcopalians, Methodists and Catholics. Long-haired, sandal-wearing hippies began showing up in our services, often carrying huge Bibles and sitting cross-legged on the floor at the front of the church. At the same time, God was doing something in Israel and awakening among Spirit-filled Christians an enduring love for this nation. Jews for Jesus sprang up, and Messianic congregations developed. Some Pentecostals remained in their ruts, but most embraced all this as a move of God. Today, Pentecostalism continues to grow. Yet once again, a sense of malaise has arisen. But let’s remember: God is still God.
So I challenge my fellow believers to pray as never before. Publicly and in our prayer closets, let’s ask God to pour out a mighty revival that sweeps millions into His kingdom. It’s the only way culture will be changed – by changing the hearts of a huge segment of the population here and around the world. Our problems will not be solved until people’s hearts and lives change.
The Rev Jack Frewen-Lord, a Uniting Church minister was the founding pastor at Praise Chapel, Townsville, and former Associate Director of the Methodist Young People’s Department and Department of Christian Education in Queensland.
May our Lord stir us into courageous ministry
through the power of his Spirit
in his church and in our lives
‘Attempt something so big that unless God intervenes it is bound to fail’ says Jamie Buckingham. That challenge is one of the texts on the office wall in Praise Chapel.
I’d like to think that was the kind of goal I set for the Townsville West Parish in 1976 when I found myself there as pastor after serving for 12 years as Associate Director of the Methodist Young People’s Department and then the Department of Christian Education in Queensland.
I didn’t set such a goal. In fact, I concluded that the parish was not viable with its average age of 65 and a membership of 40 in an industrial area of decreasing population. Yet ten years later we had 450 people and had helped establish an aboriginal church as well.
My initial realistic agenda was to give the parish a decent burial, acknowledging its faithfulness over almost a century. My hidden agendas were more like fantasy than dreams and visions. As the Christian Education officer for the area, I saw an opportunity to experiment. I wanted to have a go at the different programs that I had tried for years to get other parishes to do, and I wanted to prove that team ministries can really work.
So I proposed that we amalgamate the parish work and the Christian Education ministry for the North Queensland Presbytery with one office and support base. Remarkably, this idea was totally accepted by all concerned. A creative team of ministers, education officer and secretary went to work on Townsville West.
Those poor parishioners could be forgiven for wondering what had hit them. Every service had something different. Each monthly Family Service was something else again from 8 metre plastic blowup whales that swallowed up all the Sunday School when the lesson was on Jonah, to moving back all the heavy wooden pews to accommodate a menagerie of huge stuffed animals with children wrestling them on the floor. I wondered whether the aged spinster ladies’ eyebrows would ever come down again.
We survived that first year. The team worked beautifully, sharing parish work and regional Christian Education activities together, including many camps. About then, we made some bold decisions such as focusing on the family. This seemed unrealistic as we had about four families of Dad, Mum, and children. Nevertheless we decided that church and Sunday School were for the family.
So the decree went out that no child would be accepted in the Sunday School unless accompanied by a parent. That raised more eyebrows. It quickly reduced the Sunday School to a third of its former handful.
At the same time, however, I made a commitment to introduce a cooperative Religious Education program which catered weekly for almost all the 900 pupils of four primary schools. We did this in cooperation with other churches and the school principals. It was a more useful Christian Education program than Sunday School. I believe it was a ministry which God honoured as Catholic, Anglican, Uniting, Salvation Army and Pentecostal people worked together in beautiful harmony. That program is still working after 14 years.
Speaking of families, I give credit to the tremendous backing of my own family with a very capable wife (who had seven leadership positions in the church at first) and four committed and musically talented children. Their charisma and music began to draw other young people. Many came in off the street bikie leathers, sun glasses and all.
The spinster ladies did not find it easy to accept some of the tattooed, tanktop, bare foot people who began to fill the seats at church. We encouraged the young people to love them as a real ministry. Soon these older ladies were clapping and praising as much as anyone.
It became obvious that we would not have a burial. The Body was coming alive. I can’t say we were very much aware of the Holy Spirit at this time, but we knew we had received the kiss of life.
So it was time to set some goals realistic ones for rebuilding a church. Our first was a five year plan to establish a biblical base through the Bethel Bible Series and to preach the Word in association with this. By the end of that five years the congregation had quadrupled with 80% involved in serious Bible study. We had many new converts.
We hosted a number of visiting ministries from within and outside Australia. One of the strangest things was that we did not invite these ourselves. They either asked if they might come, or other interstate churches asked if we could accommodate them. We did so with open arms, and were greatly blessed by the variety of ministries that kept moving us on to renewal. I believe it was a gracious provision of the Holy Spirit preparing us for his personal visitation at the right time.
When renewal begins to hit a church there tends to be hurts and divisions and walkouts. Some people find it hard to live with the new enthusiasm. We lost only one family for this reason.
One of the interesting factors holding the church family together was the overflowing offering plates. Instead of the meagre offering easily absorbed in the bottom of the huge offering plates, now the stewards found someone following down the aisle picking up the notes overflowing and falling off. That was manna to the hungry for those faithful members who had struggled to keep a church alive with cake stalls and endless fetes.
Now we were able to consider worth while missionary gifts. We set a new goal to establish an aboriginal church, beginning as a part of our congregation and then gradually working to independence. That was achieved in 1981 when the Rev. Charles Harris, our aboriginal pastor, was added to the team. The aboriginal church became independent in 1984, well within the five year plan, and the buildings at West End were handed over to this church.
I would say that 1981 was the time of the Holy Spirit’s visitation. Again, this was totally unplanned by us. A neighbouring parish, Hermit Park, had invited the Rev. Harry Westcott with a team of elders from O’Connor Uniting Church to hold a tent mission in their church grounds. We decided to support this mission totally. We did so, to our blessing. Many of our leaders, including myself, were baptized in the Holy Spirit. That mission gave a good watering to the seeds of renewal which had been planted by our various conscious and unconscious choices.
This was a major turning point for our parish. Instead of sticking to our nicely ordered, time prescribed worship, we allowed the Spirit to do what he wanted in the services. These were exciting days with further growth in numbers. We saw many healing miracles and the release of gifts of the Spirit.
We discovered again that the church is truly the body of Christ. Jesus Christ moves in his church, his body, by his Spirit. Our identity can only lie in Christ Jesus, not in buildings or places or communities. This is strongly seen in the underground churches overseas and especially in the vibrant house church movement throughout Asia.
Home cell groups
Our next phase of goal setting was to explore church growth principles. Our leaders attended seminars and visited other churches in renewal to catch the wind of the Spirit where it blew strongest.
We added another person to our staff. In biblical language, it seemed good to us and to the Holy Spirit to separate Bruce, a young Bible College graduate, to the ministry of establishing home cell groups. I believe we were led by the Holy Spirit to make this a total program for the whole church.
Our members were commuting to West End from all over the city of Townsville. So we had a vision of the church in the neighbourhood meeting midweek in cell groups, evangelizing in the neighbourhood, then gathering for corporate fellowship, worship, teaching and the sacraments on Sundays.
We trained and dedicated home cell leaders. Our church in the neighbourhood was launched, with 80% of the congregation meeting in home groups which we named home church. They met for worship, prayer, pastoral care, teaching and fellowship. The church continued to grow.
Our lovely brick building on the corner became inadequate. We regularly squeezed 180 into the sanctuary built to hold 120. For a while we had two congregations there. So we decided to move to a kindergarten hall which was a converted warehouse that could hold 250. We wanted to make one congregation out of two and commit all our operation to one centre, leaving the West End property for the use of the aboriginal church.
With this extra space the church continued to grow. We decided to rename our church Praise Chapel Uniting Church Family Fellowship.
One of our early decisions in setting missionary goals was to spend as little as possible on buildings and to concentrate on people. We added a youth pastor to the team. A number of ministries were added to the weekly program, including counselling with prayer for deliverance.
Despite our good intentions not to spend money on buildings, it soon became obvious that we would need larger premises and car park facilities. We searched for a larger warehouse, unsuccessfully. So we finally decided that we should look for land to build on. After many weeks of earnest prayer, miraculously a five hectare block became available within the parish.
We held a dedication service in tents on the land with a commitment to build a centre to accommodate 1,000 people.
It was a daunting prospect. We faced a cost of half a million dollars with a bank balance of nothing. I must admit that my faith was severely tested. My heart is that of a pastor and I knew that almost every family in the church had a mortgage on their home.
Where was the money to come from? ‘There must be some financial Christians around who would be willing to invest in Praise Chapel,’ I reasoned.
So I took the project to a number of my friends and acquaintances who would be worth at least a million. The money of every single one was tied up, and unavailable. So we were back to basics!
God supplied through his faithful people in this low income congregation. Almost overnight they made $100,000 available in gifts and another $100,000 in interest free loans. Nine months later we opened the new Praise Chapel at a cost of $600,000. ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts’ (Zechariah 4:6).
Since that time, again and again, the faithful with their meagre income have shown that the Holy Spirit has taught them to give. Those who are faithfully committed to the principle of tithing have fully supported all our commitments.
Church growth principles
Someone studying the growth of our parish from a congregation of 40 in 1977 to 450 in 1987 would probably say we stumbled on church growth principles by accident. I prefer to believe it was openness to the Holy Spirit that led us to make right decisions at the right time. We were also able to learn from churches of various denominations that were moving in renewal.
The church growth movement of the 70’s and 80’s has had a marked effect on many churches in this nation. We did study church growth principles and organized seminars with international speakers. These had some influence on our thinking. Perhaps Kennon Callahan’s 12 Keys to an effective church encouraged us most. That enabled us to systematise our situation and helped us set mission objectives and a realistic five-year plan.
However, my own feeling is that we can over-emphasize organisation. The church is not primarily an organisation, but an organism, a body of believers. Unless its moves are God-breathed by the Holy Spirit, and unless there is utter dependence on the Holy Spirit, it will not move in truth and life.
By the early ’90s this church had plateaued at a membership of 450. Some of the cause of this is mere organisation. We constantly need a fresh move of the Holy Spirit.
A further observation is that only a handful of members remain who were here at the first move of the Spirit among us. The turnover of population in Townsville is 80% every three years. So we have almost a new congregation every three years. That makes heavy demands to continually train new leaders.
It is easy to slacken off and go soft on the need for fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit. We are always tempted to stay in a comfort zone. We can spend a lot of time comforting the afflicted in counselling and deliverance, when there may be a greater need to afflict the comfortable.
I know Jesus said he would send another Comforter to be with us, but that does not mean he makes us comfortable. None of Jesus’ leading or teaching has the remotest resemblance to being comfortable. I have found him to be the stirrer of the church, and we surely need a stirrer in every age and generation.
May our Lord stir us into courageous ministry through the power of his Spirit in his church and in our lives.
(c) Renewal Journal 2: Church Growth (1993, 2011), pages 15-22.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright intact with the text.
History and current experience are full of examples of people being filled with the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Jesus was filled with the Spirit at his baptism. The disciples were at Pentecost. The Samaritans were when Peter and John prayed for them. Paul was when Ananias prayed for him in Damascus. Cornelius and his household were while Peter was preaching. Believers in Ephesus were when Paul prayed for them. It still happens.
Here are some examples from history. Most of these are reproduced here from my books Flashpoints of Revival and Revival Fires.
Nicholas Zinzendorf and the Moravians in Saxony, Germany
No one present could tell exactly what happened on the Wednesday morning of the specially called communion service. The glory of the Lord came upon them so powerfully that they hardly knew if they were on earth or in heaven. The Spirit of God moved powerfully on those three hundred refugees in Saxony in 1727. One of their historians wrote:
[Church history] “abounds in records of special outpourings of the Holy Ghost, and verily the thirteenth of August, 1727, was a day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We saw the hand of God and his wonders, and we were all under the cloud of our fathers baptized with their Spirit. The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst. From that time scarcely a day passed but what we beheld his almighty workings amongst us. A great hunger after the Word of God took possession of us so that we had to have three services every day, at 5.0 and 7.30 a.m. and 9.0 p.m. Every one desired above everything else that the Holy Spirit might have full control. Self‑love and self‑will, as well as all disobedience, disappeared and an overwhelming flood of grace swept us all out into the great ocean of Divine Love.”[i]
John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield in London, England
John Wesley found strong motivation for evangelism at a conversion experience at the age of 35 while hearing Martin Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans read at a meeting in Aldersgate Street, London. “About a quarter before nine while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed, I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given to me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” From then on he resolved “to Promote as far as I am able vital Practical religion and by the grace of God to beget, preserve, and increase the life of God in the souls of men.”
He told how he and others including his brother Charles and George Whitefield with about 60 people were touched by God at a love feast in Fetter Lane, London: “About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, 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.’”[ii]
Charles Finney in Adams, North America
Charles Finney (1792-1875) became well known in revivals in the nineteenth century. A keen sportsman and young lawyer, he had a mighty empowering by God’s Spirit on the night of his conversion on Wednesday 10 October 1821. That morning the Holy Spirit convicted him on his way to work. So he spent the morning in the woods near his small town of Adams in New York State, praying. There he surrendered fully to God. He walked to his law office that afternoon profoundly changed and in the afternoon assisted his employer Squire Wright to set up a new office. That night he was filled with the Spirit. He describes that momentous night in his autobiography:
“By evening we had the books and furniture adjusted, and I made a good fire in an open fireplace, hoping to spend the evening alone. Just at dark Squire W‑‑, seeing that everything was adjusted, told me good night and went to his home. I had accompanied him to the door, and as I closed the door and turned around my heart seemed to be liquid within me. All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out and the thought of my heart was, “I want to pour my whole soul out to God.” The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room back of the front office to pray.
“There was no fire and no light in this back room; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed to me as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It seemed to me that I saw him as I would see any other man. He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at his feet. It seemed to me a reality that he stood before me, and I fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to him. I wept aloud like a child and made such confession as I could with my choked words. It seemed to me that I bathed his feet with my tears, and yet I had no distinct impression that I touched him.
“I must have continued in this state for a good while, but my mind was too much absorbed with the interview to remember anything that I said. As soon as my mind became calm enough I returned to the front office and found that the fire I had made of large wood was nearly burned out. But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any memory of ever hearing the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves of liquid love, for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can remember distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.
“No words can express the wonderful love that was spread abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love. I literally bellowed out the unspeakable overflow of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after another, until I remember crying out, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” I said, “Lord, I cannot bear any more,” yet I had no fear of death.
That night a member of the church choir which Finney led called in at his office, amazed to find the former sceptic in a “state of loud weeping” and unable to talk to him for some time. That young friend left and soon returned with an elder from the church who was usually serious and rarely laughed. “When he came in,” Finney observed, “I was very much in the state in which I was when the young man went out to call him. He asked me how I felt and I began to tell him. Instead of saying anything he fell into a most spasmodic laughter. It seemed as if it was impossible for him to keep from laughing from the very bottom of his heart.”[iii]
Dwight Lyman Moody in New York, North America
D. L. Moody (1837-1899), converted in 1855, later led powerful evangelistic campaigns in America and England. Two women in his church prayed constantly that he would be filled with the Spirit, and his yearning for God continued to increase. While visiting New York in 1871 to raise funds for churches and orphanages destroyed in the Chicago fire of October that year, in which his home, church sanctuary and the YMCA buildings were destroyed, he had a deep encounter with God. He wrote:
“I was crying all the time God would fill me with his Spirit. Well, one day in the city of New York ‑ oh, what a day! ‑ I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask him to stay his hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths; and yet hundreds were converted. I would not be placed back where I was before that blessed experience for all the world ‑ it would be as the small dust of the balance.”[iv]
On a visit to Britain he heard Henry Varley say, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.” He resolved to be that man.
Evan Roberts in Loughor, Wales
Born in Loughor in Glamorgan, between Swansea and Llanelly, Evan Roberts (1878-1951) was an exemplary school pupil. At twelve he began working in the mine with his father. He founded a Sunday school for the children of miners, and decided to become a preacher. Constantly he read the Bible, even in the mine. He published poems in the Cardiff Times under the pseudonym of Bwlchydd, learned shorthand, and taught himself to be a blacksmith. He describes his encounters with the Spirit as follows:
“One Friday evening that spring (1904), as I was praying at my bedside before going to bed, I was taken up into a great expanse – without time or space. It was communion with God. Up to that time I had only had a God who was far off. That evening I was afraid, but that fear has never come back. I trembled so violently that the bed shook, and my brother was awakened and took hold of me, thinking I was ill.
“After this experience I woke each night about one o’clock in the morning. It was the more strange, as usually I slept like a log and no noise in my room was enough to wake me. From one o’clock I was taken up into communion with God for about four hours. What it was I cannot tell you, except that it was of God. About five o’clock I was again allowed to sleep until about nine o’clock. I was then taken up again and carried away in the same experience as in the early hours of the morning, until about midday or one o’clock.
“At home they questioned me, and asked why I got up so late … but these things are too holy to speak of. This experience went on for about three months.[v]
He entered the Calvanistic Methodist Academy at Newcasle Emlyn in mid‑September 1904. He was convinced revival would touch all Wales and eventually he led a small band all over the country praying and preaching.
Students from the Academy, including Evan Roberts and his room-mate Sidney Evans, attended the meetings of Presbyterian evangelist, Seth Joshua’s meetings in Blaenannerch. There on Thursday 29 September, Seth Joshua closed the 7am meeting before breakfast crying out in Welsh, “Lord … bend us.” Evan Roberts remembered, “It was the Spirit that put the emphasis for me on ‘Bend us.’ ‘That is what you need,’ said the Spirit to me. And as I went out I prayed, O Lord, bend me.”[vi] During the 9am. meeting, Evan Roberts eventually prayed aloud after others had prayed. He knelt with his arms over the seat in front, bathed in perspiration as he agonised in prayer. He regarded that encounter with the Spirit as crucial in launching him into his revival ministry which began one month later.
Djiniyini Gondarra in Elcho Island, Australia
The Lord poured out the Holy Spirit on Elcho Island in northern Australia on Thursday, 14 March, 1979. Djiniyini Gondarra was then the Uniting Church minister in the town of Galiwin’ku at the south of the island. He had been away on holidays to Sydney and Brisbane, returning on the late afternoon Missionary Aviation Fellowship flight.
He was travel weary and just wanted to unpack and get to bed early. Many of the people, however, had been praying for months, and especially every day while he had been away, so they wanted to have prayer and Bible study with him in his home. This is his account of that Pentecost among Australian Aborigines in the Arnhem Land churches across the north of Australia:
“After the evening dinner, we called our friends to come and join us in the Bible Class meeting. We just sang some hymns and choruses translated into Gupapuynu and into Djambarrpuynu. There were only seven or eight people who were involved or came to the Bible Class meeting, and many of our friends didn’t turn up. We didn’t get worried about it.
“I began to talk to them that this was God’s will for us to get together this evening because God had planned this meeting through them so that we will see something of his great love which will be poured out on each one of them. I said a word of thanks to those few faithful Christians who had been praying for renewal in our church, and I shared with them that I too had been praying for the revival or the renewal for this church and for the whole of Arnhem Land churches, because to our heavenly Father everything is possible. He can do mighty things in our churches throughout our great land.
“These were some of the words of challenge I gave to those of my beloved brothers and sisters. Gelung, my wife, also shared something of her experience of the power and miracles that she felt deep down in her heart when she was about to die in Darwin Hospital delivering our fourth child. It was God’s power that brought the healing and the wholeness in her body.
“I then asked the group to hold each other’s hands and I began to pray for the people and for the church, that God would pour out his Holy Spirit to bring healing and renewal to the hearts of men and women, and to the children.
“Suddenly we began to feel God’s Spirit moving in our hearts and the whole form of our prayer suddenly changed and everybody began to pray in the Spirit and in harmony. And there was a great noise going on in the room and we began to ask one another what was going on.
“Some of us said that God had now visited us and once again established his kingdom among his people who have been bound for so long by the power of evil. Now the Lord is setting his church free and bringing us into the freedom of happiness and into reconciliation and to restoration.
“In that same evening the word just spread like the flames of fire and reached the whole community in Galiwin’ku. Gelung and I couldn’t sleep at all that night because people were just coming for the ministry, bringing the sick to be prayed for, for healing. Others came to bring their problems. Even a husband and wife came to bring their marriage problem, so the Lord touched them and healed their marriage.
“Next morning the Galiwin’ku Community once again became the new community. The love of Jesus was being shared and many expressions of forgiveness were taking place in the families and in the tribes. Wherever I went I could hear people singing and humming Christian choruses and hymns! Before then I would have expected to hear only fighting and swearing and many other troublesome things that would hurt your feelings and make you feel sad. …
“There was a great revival that swept further west. I would describe these experiences like a wild bush fire burning from one side of Australia to the other side of our great land. The experience of revival in Arnhem Land is still active in many of our Aboriginal parishes and the churches.
“We would like to share these experiences in many white churches where doors are closed to the power of the Holy Spirit. It has always been my humble prayer that the whole of Australian Christians, both black and white, will one day be touched by this great and mighty power of the living God.”[vii]
These testimonies all show how God continues to pour out His Spirit.
Endnotes [i] John Greenfield, 1927, Power from on High, Christian Literature Crusade (Reprint), p. 14. [ii] Idle, C ed., 1986, The Journal of John Wesley, Lion, pages 46, 55. [iii] Helen Wessel, 1977, The Autobiography of Charles Finney. Bethany, pages 20-22. [iv] W R Moody, 1900, The Life of D. L. Moody, Revell, p. 149. [v] Walter Hollenweger, 1972, The Pentecostals, Augsburg, pages 179-180. [vi] Eifion Evans, 1969, The Welsh Revival of 1904, Evangelical Press, page 70. [vii] Djiniyini Gondarra, 1991, Let My People Go, UCA, pages 14-19; also 1993, Renewal Journal, No. 1.
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CONFIRMING THE WORD WITH SIGNS FOLLOWING (MARK 16:20)
Signs and wonders are controversial. They were in Scripture. They are still.
The early church prayed earnestly for signs and wonders (Acts 4:29-31). It was extremely controversial. But the kingdom of God came in power and the church grew rapidly with thousands added to the faith, amid persecution. That now happens for millions of Christians today.
Some people argue that signs and wonders ceased with the passing of the apostles. However, Scripture and church history indicate the opposite (John 14:12; Matthew 28:20). The kingdom of God is not a matter of words but of power – the power of God. Signs of the kingdom and wonders declaring the reign of God break in upon us still.
We see this most powerfully in Jesus’ life and ministry. He proclaimed and demonstrated the rule of God in everything – in people’s lives, over demonic powers, in creation and history. It was true in the early church. It continues to be true.
The cross is the power of God for salvation to all who believe. We can have a diminished view of the cross of Christ and the incredible salvation wrought by Jesus on the cross. It involves far more than providing a personal entry to heaven for individual believers. Our concern with personal salvation can obscure for us the immense power and glory of God revealed in Jesus’ total and awesome victory on the cross. In Jesus’ death and resurrection the power of evil was defeated forever. The Lord reigns. All the powers are subject to Jesus Christ the Lord (Colossians 1:20; Philippians 2:11).
Signs of God’s kingly rule testify to Jesus’ triumph. God reigns. We don’t initiate signs and wonders. We can’t. But we can obey God. We can repent (especially of our unbelief) and believe. We can do what Jesus commanded all his followers to do in his name and authority. Then, as in the early church, the gospel is proclaimed with signs following.
We live in a time in history when millions of Christians are learning that again, especially as the Spirit of God renews life and faith in us. We have not always believed or obeyed God’s word to us. We can rationalise our sin of unbelief and disobedience, calling it theological wisdom. Yet, Jesus, who alone is the truth, confronts and unnerves us with his awesome claims and authority. Those who found Jesus in Gethsemane fall backwards at his word. Soldiers at his resurrection shake in fear and collapse as dead. Saul is blinded by the glory of the Lord and falls to the ground overwhelmed. John falls at the feet of his Lord as though dead (Revelation 1:17).
No church tradition nor theological position can fully express the awesome reign of God. We still see and know only partially (1 Corinthians 13:12). For example, the Lord has one church – his. We often see the church mainly in cultural, doctrinal and denominational terms. These fall far short of the glory of God revealed in his people, the church. So we all need to walk humbly with our God as we proclaim God’s reign and live in his kingdom.
Jesus’ life demonstrated the reign of God fully. In our lives we merely glimpse it. However, as we allow the Spirit of God who anointed Jesus to also anoint us, we continue to glimpse even more of the signs and wonders of God’s presence and power among us.
This issue of the Renewal Journal examines some recent blessings which been very controversial. Part of our difficulty is that God works in fallible people through fallible people – including you and me. Often our behaviour involves very human reactions to signs of God’s reign and wonders of his power breaking in upon us. Furthermore, our words and actions are affected by many influences – God’s Spirit and other spirits, our personalities, our culture, our relationships. Normal expressions of joy and worship in Latin America may be regarded as wildly excessive in northern Europe. Our explanations are inadequate and incomplete. Who can express the inexpressible? God’s thoughts and ways are far beyond ours (Isaiah 55:8).
Reactions to God’s action are mixed. God moved powerfully in the Azusa Street Apostolic Faith Mission in 1906. That was controversial. Loud noise, tongues, fainting, and falling on the floor were common. Yet amid the varied reactions, it ignited pentecostal fire around the world. Gamaliel suggests we leave the jury out for a while on such matters lest we fight against God (Acts 5:39).
Often visitations of God’s Spirit stir up varied reactions. Then, later we learn to incorporate these new developments effectively and powerfully in our work and witness. Remember the youthful zeal of the Jesus People, the rediscovery of spiritual gifts, the fresh insights of inner healing, the new awareness of deliverance, the leaps of faith to release millions of dollars and thousands of people for mission in the power of the Spirit?
Fortunately we have Scripture as our guide – not just our interpretations of Scripture. Our interpretations often include unbiblical rationalising which may deny the powerful presence of God’s Spirit among us. Many of the articles in this issue of the Journal examine our reaction to God’s action.
Brian Hathaway emphasises the importance of words, signs and deeds in proclaming and demonstrating the gosel. Derek Prince reflects on the overwhelming impact of God’s Spirit. John Wimber gives guidelines for coping with various phenomena. People involved in recent events in England and Australia offer their perspective. Jerry Steingard presents observations from Scripture, church history and current ministries. Bart Doornweerd tells how he learned to proclaim God’s word with signs following. Stephen Bryar addresses charismatic issues in his tradition.
May we repent of our unbelief, believe and proclaim God’s word in the power of the Spirit with signs following, and see the kingdom of God break in upon us more fully. May God grant an impact of his Spirit with thousands converted, filled with the Spirit, and living for the glory of God as Jesus our Lord is honoured and glorified among us all.
During 1995 the Christian Tabernacle in Houston had a strong emphasis on knowing Christ intimately. In August of 1996 Hector Giminez from Argentina ministered there with great power and many significant healings. Awareness of the presence and glory of the Lord increased during October, especially with the ministry of evangelist Tommy Tenney, who was to speak the morning of October 20. Dr R Heard was preparing to welcome him and had just read about God’s promise of revival from 2 Chronicles 7:14 when God’s power hit the place even splitting the plexiglas pulpit.
Powerful times of repentance, evangelism and healing came with this visitation of God. People are still being converted, often 30-40 a meeting. Pastor Heard commented that everywhere in the church the carpet is stained with the tears of people touched by God and repenting. He spoke by telephone in November 1996 with Norman Pope of New Wine Ministries in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, who put the transcript of the discussion on the Awakening E-mail. The following is an edited selection of Dr R Heard’s comments:
This is just a kind of a brief background about me. I spent 18 1/2 years in crusade evangelism, and I did not have a natural gifting for this kind of thing and God, at our conversion, really addressed the need for his empowerment in my life. I came from a very legalistic kind of background with a lot of condemnation. I was raised that way. . . . So at any rate, because of the background, the condemnation, and so forth, when I began an evangelistic ministry, we spent 18 1/2 years travelling and I prayed an average of 8 to 12 hours a day. But it was not for the right reasons. It was motivated because of my need to prove myself to God in hope that he, in turn, might minister through us and to us. But in spite of that, there was a measure of God’s anointing and blessing on our ministry. I think my motivation was wrong, but he in his infinite wisdom and in his grace, decided to bless us anyway. When I came here to pastor, I fell into the trap that so many pastors fall into. The demands of pastoral ministry become so large that your devotional time erodes away and you don’t even realize that it’s being taken from you.
Then about 2½ years ago, I experienced a heart problem, and I’m a very healthy person who was in the top 3% of the physically fit in the nation. I exercised regularly and ate the right things and I had about 45 or 50 episodes of ventricular tacordia. I should not have survived the first one, much less that many. But what happened after that is what set the stage for what God has been building toward here, I think, and that the church has grown dramatically during that period of time.
We started with about 250 members and we have about 3,000 now, but though I had built staff, the people of the church continued to do end runs around my staff to come to me, particularly those that were the founding members and that were here when I came. And I felt an obligation to them, and they had been here longer than I had. But after my illness they backed away and began to work with the staff and saw the quality staff we had, and that released me then to go back into the kind of devotion that I had cherished through the years, and God began a renewal work in me almost immediately, and that was in May of 1994 and during the rest of the year it was a very sacred time, and God began to address issues with me in terms of my relationship with him and knowing him.
Out of that, I spent the entire year of 1995 teaching. Every sermon I preached was on knowing Christ and intimacy with Christ. Our Church moved into a different dimension in their relationship with God during that period of time and began to truly hunger after God. We had all fallen into this American dichotomy of religion where you are a Christian and a Christian is what you do, not really who you are; where you have room for him in your heart, but not a whole lot of room for him, perhaps, in your life. He really addressed issues like that with us.
I’ve always hungered for God. Any time I heard about a fresh move of God I wanted to go and see and get prayed for, and receive impartation. We had been to Toronto and there was something wonderful imparted. I had heard about the revival in Argentina and had one of the pastors from there speak here for us and I went down and preached for him. He has the second largest church in the world. And I received impartation from those encounters as well. We were really hungering after more of the Lord.
I spent time in Zimbabwe in August this year , where I had a team of people with us, and was flying back across the Atlantic, and was scheduled to have Hector Giminez, who pastors in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was to start with me on a Friday afternoon at 2 pm and I was flying in late Thursday. As I was flying in, the Holy Spirit spoke to me over the Atlantic saying that because we had sown into an area of harvest and a field of labor that we would not personally receive anything back from, he was going to move our church into a new season and answer our prayers and reveal himself to us.
I flew in and saw Hector the next afternoon as the service was starting and just mentioned to him that God had given me a word that he was really going to bless us. He walked out and opened his Bible and pulled out his notes, and his first sermon was, “God is going to change the season.” Here in the last four months of this year God is moving us into a new season with him
I returned the latter part of August from Zimbabwe. And almost immediately things began to take place. He was with us through the rest of that week and we have begun to see a number of miracles happen. People being healed of cancer, a man burned over 85% of his body with third degree burns, severely burned in his lungs, recovered with almost no problems at all. There were no problems in his breathing. They gave him a 3% chance to live. Even his hair is growing back and his eyebrows and eyelashes and just a number of things. The church was pregnant with anticipation, and we’d been wanting to go to Brownsville and to be honest, when I decided to go a number of our staff didn’t really care to. We felt like we were having a great move here.
But I brought about 30 of our staff to Brownsville and did not feel that we had received all that much impartation, but saw what was very obviously a work of God in terms of the hundreds of people that came forward for conversion each night at Brownsville. . . . That was just a couple of weeks ago, and we returned back on a Saturday, and Sunday morning, we went into service.
To back up, two weeks previously I had an evangelist come to speak for us that had been a long time friend (Tommy Tenney). We had such a touch of God that I kept him, and he cancelled his meetings and came back the next weekend. And once more we had a great move and in fact we decided to have a church special prayer meeting the next night and our church has been in prayer for years and years for revival. But we called a special prayer meeting on the Monday night and had such a move that I felt we needed to bring him back that weekend, which I did.
Sunday October 20, 1996
So I flew in on Saturday and he drove in. We didn’t see each other, but at service the next morning I was getting ready to introduce him and there was a very great presence of God in the auditorium, and the Holy Spirit had really been addressing with me for several weeks about 2 Chronicles 7:14. I walked to the platform and over my Bible and read 2 Chronicles 7:14 and told the people what I felt like the Holy Spirit had been speaking to me was that we were to seek his face and not his hand. And that so many people were seeking manifestations and something from God without actually seeking God. And when I finished that, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me very powerfully. I’m not given to manifestations, and have told the people of our church, “If you ever see me fall, it will be because God put me down. I don’t do courtesy falls, and no one pushes me over.”
I felt the presence of the Lord come on me so powerfully I grabbed the podium, the pulpit, to keep from falling, and that was a mistake. Instantly I was hurled a number of feet in a different direction, and the people said it was like someone just threw me across the platform. The pulpit fell over that I had been holding for support, and I was out for an hour and a half. . . . I almost hesitate to tell you what . . . I literally could not move. I’ve heard about people being pinned to the floor and things like that, but to be honest, I came from a classical Pentecostal background and I’ve seen genuine moves of God and I’ve seen my share of weirdness. And if something like this happens, and it doesn’t happen to someone that I know, that is credible and a person of integrity, I don’t discount it, I just have a tendency to let the jury stay out until I know that this has indeed happened to credible people. But I could not move. And I saw a manifestation of the glory of God. . . . I saw a vision and I did not see the Lord. I saw his glory. . . . There were thick clouds, dark clouds, edged in golden white and the clouds would ‑ there would be bursts of light that would come through that would just go through me absolutely like electricity. . . . and that went on for an hour and a half.
I could feel his glory. There was literally a pulsating feeling, as though I was being fanned by the presence of the glory of God. And it’s still really difficult for me to talk about it. . . . There were angelic manifestations that surrounded the glory and I didn’t know how long I was out. They said later that I was there for an hour and a half. In the meanwhile, all across the building people, they tell me, were falling under the presence of God. That’s not something that has happened much in our church, but people were stretched out everywhere. And the altar. We have three services on Sunday and people would enter the hallways that lead to the foyer and then into the auditorium and they would enter the hallways and begin to weep. There was such a glory of God and they would come into the foyer and not stop ‑ they would just go straight to the altar ‑ people stretched out everywhere. There was all kinds of angelic visitations that people had experienced. And we’ve got professional people in our church ‑ doctors, professors. Their bodies were strewn everywhere. And when I felt the glory of God lift, I tried to get up and couldn’t. It was as though every electrical mechanism in my body had short‑circuited. I couldn’t make my hands or my feet respond to what I was trying to tell them to do. It was as though I was paralyzed. And I was able to slowly lift a finger, and one of the pastors saw me and I beckoned for him to come and he got some of the other pastors and they carried me into the office and set me down.
Well, the pulpit, they said, fell over, and it’s made of space‑age plastic. It’s flat in the front with rounded sides that go back; it’s all molded, so the pulpit is three‑sided. The sides go back at a forty‑five degree angle and then it has the base that it stands on, that is attached to it, and then it has the top that you set your Bible upon with your notes. And it’s made of a kind of plastic that, one of the businessmen here in the church ‑ he works in these kind of things and called a supplier in California – and they said it has a tensile strength of 57,000 pounds per square inch, but when he described the configuration, they said it would be double that, about 114,000 pounds per square inch. We have a number of engineers in our church that are working to give me the exact strength requirements that would be necessary to cause that to break. They have corroborated what was told by the supplier. The top didn’t break off. The bottom didn’t break off. It broke across the middle, not up and down the lengthwise portion. And our engineers said that the power required to do that is astronomical. They said you could drop it from a ten‑story building and that would not happen.
It just split like lightning had hit it across the middle. In fact it even jagged kind of like lightning. It didn’t split at any joint where anything was fastened together, it was just across the middle. They said that, given enough force, they could explain a lengthwise split, but they cannot even conceive of this.
I felt like the Holy Spirit showed me that was because there were two things that were happening. First of all, he did not want his church to just be pulpit‑led with a two‑caste system of clergy and laity, but that what he was doing was going to cause his church to be mobilized again back into the ministry that he’s called all of us to be involved in, and I’ve preached that for years, but you know how it is ‑ the people get involved in their stuff. The second thing is that he was changing the order of the ministry here in our church, and that we were moving to a different level. It was as though the old pulpit was no longer adequate for what God was going to be doing. And basically brother, that’s the story.
We had one service that day, and the service literally never ended. It went all the way through the day until 2 am. It had started at 8:30 am. We decided to have church the next night, and I didn’t want to be presumptuous, but we went on a nightly basis on that order, just announcing one night at a time, and as we got deeper into the week I could begin to see that God was doing something that was probably going to be more extended. So we took Monday and Tuesday night away and I added services Wednesday through Sunday. There have been numerous healings. The evangelist didn’t speak at all that Sunday. In fact, the entire week he spoke maybe twenty minutes. There’s been a really deep call of God to repentance. People come in and they just fall on their faces.
Manifestations of God
There have been angelic visitations. We have a school, and there’s a Catholic girl that teaches in the school. Her sister is a member of our church and her sister is Spirit‑filled. They had an angelic visitation, this Catholic teacher did, in her classroom, that was seen by both the teacher and the students. It frightened her so badly that she went home and got her rosary and it’s in the auditorium right now (she gave it up).
We know of four tumors that have completely disappeared. One lady had a tumor about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, and was going to have to have surgery. It just ruptured, bled, dried up, and fell off. And there have been several others ‑ tumors just turned black and fell off and left little white scars. These were external tumors.
There was a man with a sleeping disorder that literally would go days without sleep and sometimes even weeks, and instantly he was healed. A lady with a digestive ailment that she’s had for 25 years since the age of five (she’s 30) and had to have special medical treatment, was instantly healed.
None of these are people that we had laid hands on to pray for these things to happen. We didn’t even know about it. They just started calling in. . . . God sovereignly moving, and we’ve had nothing to do with it. You and I come from similar backgrounds and can trace some of our history back to Azusa and I’ve often read about William Seymour, and I can understand him praying with his head in the apple crate. But I’ve read that when he spoke that he would sometimes put a bag over his head with two holes cut for his eyes, and for the first time I understand why. When God shows up, there’s absolutely no contribution that you could make. Any human addition is actually a subtraction.
We’re just having a sovereign move of God. They baptized for an hour Sunday morning and half an hour again Sunday evening and once again Sunday the services just ‑ they never ended. People are staying until 2 am in the morning on some nights and there are all kind of angelic visitations and healings and things that are happening. As I said, our church was not given to manifestations, but there are people that when God has been on them have been intoxicated for 10 days.
It started in our staff and then just from there just spread like fire. We’ve had altar calls where, it hasn’t turned completely evangelistic yet. There’s strong intercession and repentance now. But there was one service where there were a lot of unsaved people and the evangelist spoke maybe ten or fifteen minutes and gave an altar call and we had several hundred instantly surge forward.
Just to be honest, it’s the most disruptive thing I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve preached revivals 18 1/2 years. I know how to have revivals, but I don’t know how to handle a move of God. . . . They’re two different things.
I was supposed to have had a gospel singer this past Sunday night, and he was in town and I tried to reach him. He was scheduled to be at another church pastored by a friend of mine Sunday morning, and when he finally got in town I spoke with him and told him we could not have him, and explained why. I just was very candid and said if we were not having a sovereign move of God, and God was not doing anything that exceptional and you’re just having church, that he could have been a great addition. But with what God was doing, there wasn’t anybody that could add anything, and so I started calling around to try and place him, and I was astonished at how many churches in Houston had begun to experience something. I called one friend the same Sunday morning that this happened here. They had a similar invasion of the presence of God. . . .
William Seymour was from Houston and left our city because he was discouraged with the racism and the sectarianism, and at the invitation of the Nazarene pastor – the lady in Los Angeles – he went there. And we believe, and I’ve preached and taught, our church and our minister friends, and shared it with numbers in the area that we believe that there’s an unfulfilled mandate that God has for this city. Hebrews says when once God gives a promise, that promise remains until someone receives it or claims that. Isaiah said his word that is given ‑ it’s a created force ‑ it never returns void or empty. And we think that Azusa was supposed to have happened here. . . . And so we’ve tried to encourage our people to believe for a supernatural visitation, and we’re just absolutely thrilled.
That’s exactly where we are. I walk in, but there’s been absolutely no structure to the service. We had a great choir. We’re a multi‑ethnic congregation. A Brooklyn Tabernacle kind of sound, if you’re familiar with that. Great worship and praise. Sunday morning there wasn’t a choir member standing on the platform. They were all scattered like logs all over the platform. And we go in ‑ they begin to play, to lead us into the presence of the Lord, and they play very softly. Because of our background, usually our worship is very strong, very dynamic, a lot of energy. Not any more. It’s like you’re afraid to even lift your voice; even the notes on the piano they want to play very gently and then the Lord sweeps in. Five nights last week I wasn’t even able to receive an offering.
I mean, when he begins to move there’s not one thing you can do. You just get out of the way and let him work. . . . Billy Graham has said concerning Houston that he would rather preach in any city in the world than here, because the churches are so divided. But I’m seeing a tremendous hunger among God’s people. How this has gotten out, I don’t know. I have no idea, but immediately, we started having people from all over this place come in. There are pastors flying in now from various states. But people from our city, and not many pastors yet. Some have come. But I don’t know where the Lord will take all of this. When his presence has come so close, you’re afraid to even exert any preference and say, “this is what I want You to do,” you just back away and say, “whatever you want, God.”
We’ve cancelled everything that we had planned We have a lot of outside activities. We have 122 ministries within the church that have helped our church to grow, and these ministries were primarily either for getting people here or holding people once they’ve converted. . . . But we have at this point‑‑I was telling our staff‑‑they were asking, “are we going to have Christmas musicals and Childrens’ pageants ever?” And we do a big passion play every year that brings in thousands and thousands of people. And I asked them, “Why do we do all of this?” and they said, “Well, we want people to come here so they can encounter God.” I said, “Look at what’s happening. We’ve got people storming in here that we’ve never seen, never heard of, never talked to. And God’s doing it in a way that is so far superior to what we could do that whatever we’ve got going on. We’re cancelling everything,” and that’s literally what we’ve done. There hasn’t been a single objection. That’s what amazes me.
I think that this is probably going to end up ‑ whatever this season is that the Holy Spirit is bringing us through in terms of our commitment to him and the deep searching of our own hearts – it has the feeling at this point like it’s building toward even a greater evangelistic outpouring.
There’s a big difference in renewal and revival. You know, I had the same skepticism of the laughter. I was raised in a classical Pentecostal background. I saw that from time to time, but the latest thing ‑ I just ‑ something inside of me just had a difficult time with it. And [now, in our church, after this visitation] there are people that are laughing like crazy now, and, I mean, all of this stuff I said that I had reservations about and didn’t particularly care to see, I mean it’s just as though God has said, “This is My Church. It’s not yours.” And I see the reality of it now. I think it’s going to end up turning strongly evangelistic. It has that feeling and a lot of people are coming and being saved each night. There are many being saved, and there’s not even really an altar call made that distinguishes between people that are already saved ‑ that just need renewal and those that need conversion [because] it’s just so intense right now.
Rose Moon, from Christian Tabernacle, added these comments on the Awakening e-mail early in 1997:
God began moving us into a level of deep repentance and intercession for three months. The services lost most all recognisable form for that period of time. The preacher and the evangelist could not preach and the choir could not sing unless God allowed them. No one could ‘perform’ as before. The awesome fear of God came over most who experienced this. As they tried to preach or sing, they either would end up on the floor, rooted to their seats, laughing or crying as the Spirit moved. After three months God began to give new direction through the preaching of the word and the choir began to sing again, although there are still many times when the Spirit of the Lord moves in and changes everything that had been planned for that service.
Great changes in individuals have taken place in all those in leadership and most of the others that not only has lasted but continue to increase. The most pronounced changes are sincere humility, a love and a hunger for God and his Word, boldness, freedom and power to minister or witness from the pastors and staff through most of the rest of the church.
Our Sunday and Wednesday services are powerful. There have been many in every service who have been saved. It is unusual now if people are not being baptised at the end of those services. Thursday and Friday services are for worshipping and soaking in the presence of the Lord. Every service has been different but he always shows up and is continuing to bring deep changes, healings and deliverances. Many truly miraculous events have taken place from that first Sunday until now. Most of the physical healings have taken place with no one laying hands on those persons. They were healed by just being in God’s Presence during the services. I will share a few of them:
1. On the first Sunday, one woman had a cancer fall off her. Many since then have come to the pastor with similar stories. Some have been healed of internal cancers with confirmations from their doctors.
2. The week before Thanksgiving one of our members became very ill and had to be taken to the hospital. He had severe abdominal pains. His colon had ruptured in four places and his abdominal cavity was filled with infection. The doctors never expected him to leave the hospital alive. With the church praying, he improved enough to go home. He was scheduled for surgery the week before Christmas to replace 3 inches of colon. He went in for the surgery and was placed under anaesthesia. The doctors made new pictures of the colon before surgery. Then without operating, they went out to his wife who was in the waiting area. They were shaking their heads, causing her to fear the worst. Instead they said that the new pictures showed a completely whole, normal colon. There would be no surgery. Her husband was most surprised when he woke up with no pain or incision. God had healed him.
3. One 8 years old boy had been tested by a specialist the school referred them to for hearing because he was doing poorly in his schoolwork. Because of an early childhood illness, one ear had a 70% loss of hearing in one ear, causing the other ear to only have a 40% hearing capacity. They wanted him to be placed in special education classes and be taught sign language. He was scheduled to be tested by a hearing specialist the school had recommended. His mother asked one of the young men to pray for him during one of the ministry times. About a week later she thought she noticed a difference in her son’s responses. She took him to the specialist for testing. His hearing was found to be completely normal. Pastor Heard asked them to share in the 8:30 a.m. Sunday early service. After they did Pastor Heard asked those who had hearing problems to come for prayer. He had the boy and his mother pray for those. Of those who came forward, 3 had their hearing restored that morning.
4. About 2 weeks ago a man, whom the Pastor Heard knows, testified a skin cancer had fallen off his face. It had been there for about 2 years. He had been scheduled for surgery. One Sunday morning Pastor Heard shared that he felt there were cancers and growths that were going to fall off. The next morning the man felt an itching sensation and reached up to touch the area where the cancer was and it fell off in his hand. The skin underneath was pink and smooth.
5. About 1 month ago, Pastor Heard shared his story. In May of 1994, he fell to his knees while preaching a sermon. He was taken to the emergency room of a hospital. The doctors discovered he had a congenital heart defect that he would have to live with the rest of his life. He has lived with that until the latest check‑up in February. The doctor ran the dye tests and came in to tell him his heart was completely normal. Pastor Heard asked the doctor, “Do you mean normal for me or for someone without an abnormal heart condition?” The doctor replied his heart was completely normal as it should be. There was no longer a congenital condition. They did not even give him a stress test. No hands were laid on specifically for his heart condition. As others have been, he was healed by being in this Presence of the Lord. There have been many dramatic inner healings and deliverances of some who have been under a doctor’s care for a long time.
It is wonderful that our church is not the only one experiencing this. There are churches all over the greater Houston area that are experiencing this including Baptist, Assembly of God, Methodist, Church of Christ, Nazarene and many others. We are just praying for an increase of what God is doing.
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Word and Spirit was born of personal concern about misunderstanding and disunity in the Body of Christ with regard to charismatic beliefs. The booklet encourages Christians to be both faithful to the Word and open to the Spirit.
Word and Spirit has the potential to bring healing to Christian disunity concerning the role of the Holy Spirit. . . . She shows that the truth of God is clear.
James Brecknell (Journey)
Her biblical treatment is . . . balanced, and avoids . . . legalism.
Robert J. Wiebusch (The Lutheran)
Alison Sherrington has written a book on charismatic renewal which is eminently sensible and intelligently presents a discussion of issues raised by non-charismatics. An excellent book.
Geoff Strelan (New Day)
Alison Sherrington’s Word and Spirit: Coming to Terms with the Charismatic Movement “is intended as an encouragement to be both faithful to the Word and open to the Spirit.”
Her book provides an excellent introduction to contemporary concerns raised by charismatic renewal. It rejects a false dichotomy between Word and Spirit, places experience under the scrutiny of revealed theology, acknowledges a dynamic exegesis which refuses to be contained within our Western conceptual framework (for the wind blows where it will), and explores spiritual gifts in terms of God’s sovereign presence in all of life – not merely as theories confined to our paltry categories.
As a comment on faith and obedience, the book calls for courageous openness to God’s work in his world in the power of his Spirit. This involves change for us all no matter what our pet categories may be. God’s ways cannot be confined to ours. We are encouraged to seek the Giver even more than his gifts. He is Lord. He gives charis (grace) and chaismata (gifts of grace) more liberally and more comprehensively than any evangelical or Pentecostal theology can categorize.
Alison Sherrington affirms the importance of both Word and Spirit and challenges any dividing or emasculating of both. She does not attempt an exhaustive exegesis, but calls for faith in God founded on obedience to the Word of God empowered by obedience to the Spirit of God.
This book is useful as a guide for those confused by the legalism of much current debate (on all sides) because it affirms the primacy of God’s Word revealed and interpreted by his Spirit.
Geoff Waugh (Renewal Journal)
Foreword by Rev Dr Geoff Waugh
Experiences of theHoly Spirit
The charismatic claims
Does experience matter?
The stumbling-block of terminology
Are there Scriptural parallels?
Is there Biblical support for experiences today?
Are modern experiences of the Spirit genuine?
What are the results of such an experience?
What descriptive terms should be used?
Baptized with (or in) the Spirit
Giving and receiving the Spirit
Filled with the Spirit
Have I been baptized (filled) with the Spirit?
Do you want a baptism (filling) with the Spirit?
Being baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit
The Gifts of the Spirit
What are spiritual gifts?
The relationship of Spirit-baptism and gifts
When are the supernatural gifts to cease?
Why do some believe certain gifts have ceased?
The proper use of spiritual gifts
Which Way Ahead?
About the Author
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Dr Rodney and Adonica Howard-Brown are pastors and revival evangelists.
Critics focus on the rip-roaring style of his revivalist “camp meetings”, but this US-based South African evangelist says all he’s interested in is God touching people’s lives.
The Holy Spirit wants to touch the lives of real people.
I don’t spend much time wondering about God’s ability
to do what he said he could do. I just trust him.
On previous visits to Australia, Rodney Howard-Browne has attracted both crowds and controversy. But vigorous debate about his methods and the “phenomena” seen at his meetings has not kept thousands away. … The US-based South African evangelist spoke with Rob Buckingham about spiritual power, the simplicity of faith, and how it feels to be surprised by God.
Buckingham: Things took off for you number of years ago. Can you tell us what took place at that time?
Howard-Browne: We’d moved to America in December ‘87 and travelled wherever the doors opened. One pastor in upstate New York asked us to have two meetings a day and invited the whole congregation. So in April 1989 we went to [a town called] Clifton Park to a church with about 250 members.
I was amazed to see people so hungry for the things of God. On the Monday morning 60 people came to the morning service. This was amazing, especially in America at that time – there had been some major set backs with different major ministries crumbling, and people were disillusioned. Next day we had 100 people at the service – nearly a third of the church coming out on a Tuesday morning!
While I was teaching, just like I normally do, the praises of God just filled the room, and people started falling out of their seats. It looked like someone was sitting in the balcony and shooting people with an invisible gun. Some were crying, some were laughing, others were rolling on the floor. It took a little getting used to.
The presence of God literally filled that place. We saw an outbreak of a revival that now, this April, is nine years old. It’s gone around the world, touched the lives of millions of people, an it hasn’t subsided or stopped. It’s been a great adventure.
Buckingham: What are your reflections now on what took place back then?
Howard-Browne: I see it as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It’s not like we weren’t expecting it. We were crying out to God to come and move; we just didn’t know how or when it was going to happen. So when it happened the way it did it totally took us by surprise.
Buckingham: Is there any change in what took place then compared to what’s happening now?
Howard-Browne: It’s just multiplied many times over. In the beginning it was 100 people and now it’s thousands. Whether we’ve been in China or Japan, Holland, Germany, Russia or the islands of the sea, it’s the same. People are the same and they have the same needs. The Holy Spirit wants to touch the lives of real people. There are many religions in the world, but religions will leave you empty because it’s man’s vain attempt to reach God. But Christianity is God reaching man through the person of Jesus Christ.
Buckingham: There are reports of physical healings at your meetings. Do these happen in every country?
Howard-Browne: It happens everywhere. We look at it this way. When people come to a meeting where the Holy Spirit is moving, whatever their needs are God will touch them at that point. Healing is just one of these. People come with cancer, arthritis, different diseases, and the presence of god touches them. Some are healed in their seat without even having hands laid on them, and it’s only later they find out that they’ve been healed.
Dolly, a little Alaskan native lady, came to our meetings in a wheelchair. She’d had arthritis for 18 years, the last five confined to a wheelchair and the final two years bedridden. She came as a last resort, asking God to please touch her. We laid hands on her, but we didn’t really pray that she’s be able to get out of the wheelchair, just that she’d get some joy and that God would touch her. I said, “Lady, what do you want to do?” She responded, “I want to get out of this chair.” So I said, “Well then, go ahead.” Then she climbed out of the chair and walked around the building and was totally healed of crippling arthritis. This happened back in 1991 and we’ve seen her subsequently. She’s still totally healed with no trace of arthritis in her body.
Buckingham: That’s physical healing. What about emotional healing? People can carry a lot of baggage around inside.
Howard-Browne: There are many examples. One is about a woman in North Dakota who was raped by a so-called friend. She contracted two venereal diseases, the worst the doctor said he’d seen. He told her that she’d never be able to have children.
This woman came to the meeting pretty traumatized – this had only happened weeks before. The power of God touched her, she fell on the floor and as she was lying there she felt like there was a fireman standing over her with a big fire hose washing her clean. For about two-and-a-half hours she felt this water washing her clean. When she got up she could remember the rape but it was like it happened to somebody else. God had totally removed the hurt from her. When she went back to the doctor there was no trace of the diseases. That was over five years ago. Today she’s married to one of the pastors of the church. They’ve had children with nothing wrong.
Buckingham: What about other stories?
Howard-Browne: An executive-type lady came to a meeting with a lot of deep hurt in her heart. About 20 years ago she’d had an abortion, and every time she was around things of God she felt guilty and condemned with thoughts like “God’s never going to bless you because of what you did.”
We prayed for her and she was overcome, lying there filled with joy. Laughing hysterically. Later she told us it was as if she was taken up to heaven to see a little girl dancing around, with Jesus standing to the side. The little girl said, “Look Jesus, Mummy’s laughing”. When that happened, she said it felt like a hand reached down inside her and pulled out all the hurt. When she got up from the floor she didn’t feel guilty any more. She knew that God had forgiven her and everything was all right.
Buckingham: Are these incidents isolated events?
Howard-Browne: No. People are healed from depression, a lot from fear, even from wanting to commit suicide. There’s so much pressure on people today. People feel like they can’t make it. So they come to the meetings. God touches them and sets them free. It’s wonderful to see.
Buckingham: Australians are quite different from Americans, and you minister in America a lot. How do you respond to that difference in your meetings when you come to Australia?
Howard-Browne: Because I’m a South African, I think it’s probably easier for me to respond than it would be for an American. I find the Aussies very direct, which I like. There’s no airs or graces, nobody’s pretending. I think maybe that’s why we’ve had such a great response in Australia.
Buckingham: You travel extensively around the world. That must be draining on you. How do you handle the pace?
Howard-Browne: Actually, I find the travel exhilarating, so that by the time I get to a new place I’m refreshed. We travel 46 weeks of the year, and it’s awesome to see people’s lives touched and changed. That’s the thing that’s refreshing. When we get tired, we try to take a break for two or three days.
Buckingham: Rodney, how do you describe your own relationship with God?
Howard-Browne: I would describe my relationship as very, very simple. I don’t understand some people when they always want to complicate God. I just see him as God – nothing is impossible to him. I have a very childlike faith that God honours his word. I don’t spend much time arguing about it or wondering about his ability to do what he said he could do. I just trust him.
Buckingham: How does your relationship with God impact your life personally?
Howard-Browne: Well, because nothing is impossible for him, I always want to believe him for big things. When you think that he made the heavens and the earth, then everything we come up with after that is really so small. I just think sometimes people make everything so difficult when there’s nothing too hard for God.
Buckingham: What about your relationship with others? How does your faith impact that?
Howard-Browne: I want God to do for them what he’s done for me. I’m not anything special or different. I’m just an ordinary person. But I know that if he can do great things for me, he can do great things for them.
Buckingham: How does your faith impact your care for the world around you?
Howard-Browne: When I see a need, my wife has to calm me down; she says, “You can’t do everything.” God leads you into areas where you can minister effectively to touch the needs of people. We all want to reach out and feed the poor or help those less fortunate than we are, yet because I’m busy doing what I’m doing, I can’t do it. So I try to find other ministries and get behind them. I don’t have to do what they’re doing: I just finance and support them.
Buckingham: What can people expect at your meetings this year?
Howard-Browne: Pretty much like two years ago, we’re going to focus on he person of Jesus – people being touched by the Lord and coming back to their “first love”.
Buckingham: What do you mean by “first love”?
Howard-Browne: “First love” is the love you have when you first give your life to Christ – the joy that you’ve just met him, that he’s set you free from sin, that all the guilt and condemnation is gone. It’s like a young guy and a girl; when they first fall in love, they’re just beside themselves.
It’s so easy as a child of God to get caught up in the daily grind, trying to please God, caught up in rituals and traditions. You end up losing that joy and peace. Revival is about people falling in love with Jesus all over again.
Anything can happen when people come back to their first love.
This is an edited version of an interview conducted by Rob Buckingham for use in On Being ALIVE and his weekly radio program “Rob Buckingham and Friends”. It was originally broadcast on 3MP on 29 March, 1998.
Reprinted with permission from On Being ALIVE Magazine, No. 4, May 1998, pages 30-34.
(c) 2011, 2nd edition. Reproduction allowed with copyright included in text.
This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel! (Acts 2:16) Or, as the old version puts it: ‘This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.’
This … is … that!
The immediate responses to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost included amazement and amusement. Some, Luke tells us, made fun of them and said, ‘They’ve had too much wine’ (v. 13). Why would anyone who wanted to be taken seriously suggest they’d drunk too much? Presumably because they looked drunk, sounded drunk and generally behaved as though they were drunk!
It is interesting that St Paul too in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus links and contrasts the effects on the body of alcohol (‘Do not get drunk with wine which leads to debauchery…’) with the effects of being immersed with the Spirit of God (‘… but be filled with the Spirit’) which leads to ‘speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Ephesians 5:18-20).
Paul wasn’t at Pentecost but many times he’d seen people genuinely filled with the Spirit. Indeed he seems to have been able to tell pretty quickly whether disciples were or were not filled with the Spirit!
He may have been thinking of his visit to Ephesus described in Acts 19 when he asked what we would think of as a rather direct question: ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ To which he got back an equally direct and honest answer, ‘No we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. And, as we all know, ‘on hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus and, when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied’. Luke adds that there were about twelve men in all.
Since about Tuesday of two weeks ago, we have begun to see an astonishing outpouring of the Spirit of God upon our own church and congregation. It seems to be a spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit and there are certainly some very surprising manifestations of the Spirit very excitingly reminiscent of accounts of early revivals and movements of God’s Spirit.
Some of the manifestations include prolonged laughter, totally unselfconscious for the most part, and an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8). For some it is prolonged weeping and crying with a sense of conviction and desire for forgiveness, purity and peace with God. For others it seems to be a silent reception of the Spirit of God sometimes leading to falling down and sometimes standing up, sometimes kneeling, sometimes sitting.
There are great varieties of the manifestations of the Spirit. They are breaking out both during services and outside them in homes and offices. At times they are easy to explain and handle, and other times they are much harder and more complicated!
We had been hearing for several days of the movement of God’s Spirit in the Vineyard Church in Toronto, Canada, and a number of people have come to us from there telling us about what was going on and of what they thought it all meant.
For that reason Jeremy Jennings and I decided to go to Toronto at the beginning of this month just for two and a half days to see what we could learn and what conclusions, if any, at this stage it was possible to draw. The manifestations are quite extraordinary and would undoubtedly be alarming if we hadn’t read about them previously in history.
That’s really why I started where I started in this article. You don’t get accused of being drunk just because you speak in tongues. And many of the manifestations of this modern movement of the Spirit of God carry with them many of the symptoms of drunkenness. Laughter, swaying about, slurred speech, movements which are difficult to control … all sometimes continuing for long periods of time.
The manifestations themselves of course are not as significant as the working of the Spirit of God in the individual and the church. The manifestations are the symptom and therefore of course it is to the fruit that we look rather than the signs.
Times of refreshing
The church in Toronto first experienced these symptoms on January 20th (1994) and since then they have been ministering to an increasing number of outside people: ministers and church members from all over America, Canada, now Europe and even further afield.
Meetings go on night after night (every night except Monday) and include a pastors’ meeting on a Wednesday from 12 to roughly half-past three in the afternoon. Their understanding is that God seems to be pouring out his Spirit, refreshing his people and drawing them closer to himself, revealing his love to them and a deep sense of preciousness in away that kindles their own sense of the love of God, their love for Scripture, and their desire to be involved in the activities of the Spirit of God today.
So this is primarily a movement toward God’s people. Naturally we expect it to flow out and over into a movement that will affect the rest of the world but for the moment it’s God’s deep desire to minister to his church – to refresh, empower, and prepare them fora wider work of his Spirit that will affect the world to which the church is sent.
Charles Finney (1792-1875) – one of history’s greatest evangelists – records his experience of the Holy Spirit immediately following his conversion:
The Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me body and soul. I could feel the impression like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love… And no words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after another until I recollect I cried out ‘I shall die if these effects continue to pass over me’.
During the ministry of Jonathan Edwards in the 1735 revival in New Hampshire, he described some of the effects of the spontaneous work of the Spirit of God. ‘The town seemed to be full of the presence of God,’ he wrote. ‘It was never so full of love, nor of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then.’
He describes something which happened during one of his sermons in New Jersey on March 1st 1746: ‘Toward the close of my talk, divine truths made considerable impressions upon the audience, and produced tears and sobs in some under concern and more especially a sweet and humble melting in sundry that, I have reason to hope, were truly gracious.’
During the Cambusland revival in Scotland in 1742, Doctor Alexander Webster described some of the effects of the preaching there: ‘There were two kinds – the outcrying and trembling among the unconverted and the ecstatic joy among believers… indeed such joy was more a part of this work than the sorrow over sin. It appears that many believers found themselves so moved by a sense of the Saviour’s love to them and, in turn, by their new love to him, as to be lifted almost into a state of rapture.’
I could go on and on – and probably you could add your own accounts that you’ve read about in history. There are more than one in the Acts of the Apostles.
I think it’s important that we should stay close to the Lord and be grateful for every sign of his grace upon us. Don’t let’s get too caught up with the symptoms of his Spirit, but more with him and his love for us.
Let’s encourage those who think they have experienced nothing (it may or may not be true) – and let’s above all continue to pray that through this outpouring of God’s Spirit he will build a church worthy of him: holy, equipped, and full of love and grace towards him and the outside world.
Meanwhile let’s pray that it may continue. And continue to pray for one another.
The current move of the Spirit
Mrs Eleanor Mumford , wife of the pastor of the South West London Vineyard church, comments on her visit to Toronto in this edited version of her message at Holy Trinity Brompton on Sunday morning 29 May 1994.
This whole move of the Lord
is all about Jesus
I have just been to a church in Toronto in Canada. I heard that there were things going on. I wanted to go and get into the middle. I went because I knew I was bankrupt and that I was longing. And I went with a spirit of tremendous expectancy.
So the first night I went forward and this delightful pastor said to me, ‘Do tell me who you are and what you’ve come for.’
I said, ‘I’ve come for all that you’ve got. I have two days and I’ve come from London.’
So he looked at me with a glint in his eye and then proceeded to pray for me on and off for the next two days.
At the same time there was a young Chinese pastor who arrived at Toronto from Vancouver where he was pastoring and he came fasting. The darling man looked as if he’s spent his whole life fasting and he was the most wonderful and godly man. As he arrived at the church the Lord spoke to him clearly and said, ‘You can forget about your fasting. This is a time for celebration.’
Indeed it was.
An ordinary little church
The Airport Vineyard church in Toronto is a funny little place. It’s just a very ordinary little church set in an office block on the end of the runway of the airport. Even that in itself, I thought, was gracious of the Lord because so many of us can get there so easily. It takes 10 minutes from the check-out to the church!
It was a very ordinary place. I was reminded when I went in there of how the people in the crowd said at Pentecost: ‘Are not these Galileans? Are these not just terribly ordinary people?’
I went in and I thought, ‘Well, God bless them, these are just ordinary people like me.’
It’s just to do with Jesus, and yet the attitude and the sense of expectancy was enormous. As the worship leader strummed his rather tuneless guitar, he stood up and said, ‘What have you come for?’
We all said, ‘We’ve come for the Lord. We’ve come for more of God.’
And he said, ‘Well, if you’ve come for God you’ll not be disappointed.’
From that moment on that was the truth.
There was just a beauty on those who were ministering there – the leaders and the pastors and the worship leaders – the sort of beauty that I guess the people saw in Acts when they looked at the disciples and they said, ‘These people have been with Jesus.’
These Canadians were just men and women who had spent 130 days in the company of Jesus who was pouring out his Spirit on them. They shone with faces like Stephen. It was beautiful to see.
I saw the power of God poured out in incredible measure and it was all accompanied by phenomena.
Jonathan Edwards, a great man of God during the eighteenth century who was part of the Great Awakening in America, wrote this in his journal of a similar outpouring of the Spirit of God at that time: ‘The apostolic times seem to have returned upon us, such a display has there been of the power and grace of the Spirit.’
He wrote of fear, sorrow, desire, love, joy, tears, and trembling, of ‘groans and cries, agonies of the body and the failing of bodily strength.’
So I thought, ‘Well, none of this is new. It may be unusual but none of it is new.’
Edwards also wrote, ‘We are all ready to own that no man can see God and live. If we see even a small part of the love and the glory of Christ, a foretaste of heaven, is it any wonder that our bodily strength is diminished.’
That is indeed what happened to many of us despite ourselves.
The truth is that this whole move of the Lord is all about Jesus. I was there for only 48 hours. I never heard anybody talk about the devil. I never heard anybody talk about spiritual warfare. I never heard a principality or a power mentioned. We were so preoccupied with the person of Jesus that there was really no time. There was no space for talk of the opposition because there was just a growing passion for the name of Jesus and for the beauty of his presence among his people.
So I went scurrying back to the Scriptures and scurrying back to church history and it’s all happened before. It’s all in the book and there’s nothing that I saw – however strange or unusual – that I haven’t since been able to read about in the Bible.
Jonathan Edwards’ wife had an intimate acquaintance with her carpet for 17 days during the time of the Great Awakening. For 17 days she was unable to make their meals or take care of the family or look after the visitors.
She said after 17 days that she had a delightful sense of the immediate presence of God – of ‘his nearness to me and of my dearness to him.’
I thought to myself when I came home, that’s what this is about. It’s about his nearness to me and my dearness to him.’ Wonderful, wonderful things are going on.
During the time I was there I saw all sorts of people coming and going. There were many very weary pastors who turned up with their even more weary wives, and they were so anointed by the Lord.
There was one very sensible middle-aged man who’d been in pastoral ministry for years and when he spoke to us after having been there for several days he was just behaving like an old drunk. It was funny. Once he stood up and talked about the intimacy that he’d gained with Jesus. Then the leading pastor said to him, ‘Well thank you, Wayne, for telling us about this. May we pray for you?’
He said, ‘I’d be glad for you to pray for me.’
They prayed for him and down he went and he rolled on the floor for the next two hours and no-one took any notice. He just continued to commune with his God.
I saw another young pastor who talked at the pastors’ seminar that I went to. He was a very all-together young man – quite serious minded and godly and thrilled with everything but very much in control and very anxious when he came and not at all sure of what he’d come to.
For a day or two he just watched and he just basked in the presence of the Lord. After a day or two he started to twitch and he was a little embarrassed. Then he started to shake and he was very embarrassed. Then after a while of shaking and laughing in the presence of the Lord he decided, ‘Who gives a rip? Who cares what people say?’
A verse in Psalms says, ‘gladness and joy shall overtake me.’ This young man had been overtaken by the gladness of the Lord. But he had a sense of responsibility and felt, ‘I’ve got to keep my church on the road.’
So he decided that the obvious thing to do was to go into the office and to type out the church bulletin, the news sheet.
‘Someone’s got to keep a grip round here,’ he said to himself.
So he went to type out the bulletin and as he got to announcing the seminar. The title of it was ‘Come Holy Spirit’.
He typed, ‘Come Holy Spirit’ and fell under the power of God.
There was another young man who was a youth worker who arrived and he was worn down with ministry. His wife had said to him, ‘Why don’t you go to Toronto?’ She thought he was getting far too straight and serious.
So he came to Toronto and arrived the night that I did. That night he fell on the ground and he laughed and laughed. I thought he would have died. The next day he spoke about what God had done for him and the refreshment that had come to his soul. Then they said to him, ‘Would you like us to pray for you again?’
He said, ‘I think so.’
So we prayed and down he went and just laughed his way through hour after hour of the pastors’ seminar.
And you think to yourself, ‘What is this?’
But this is just the refreshing of the Spirit of God. It talks in the book of Acts about times of refreshing from the Spirit of the Lord, and that’s what God is doing.
He’s pouring his Spirit out upon us. He’s sending his joy and he’s refreshing our spirits just because he loves us.
I’m not even sure that he’s equipping us. I’m not even sure it’s all about being better this, better that, better ministers. It think it’s just his love for us. It’s about his nearness to me and my dearness to him.
Joy and refreshing
I could tell you heaps of stories. There are stories about people who are ringing one another up and getting led to Christ over the phone.
There was a story about a young woman who’d lain on the floor and laughed for two hours. Then she got up and decided she was peckish and went off to a little fast food restaurant. She sat down. Opposite, she saw a whole family sitting at a table and, completely out of character, she went to them and said, ‘Would you like to be saved?’ And they all said yes! The whole family was led to Christ.
I went to the Dolphin school [a Christian school in Clapham] the other day and talked to them about what the Lord had been doing and I prayed for them. The Lord fell on those children aged five years old and they were laughing and weeping for the lost and crying out to the Lord. The teachers were affected and the parent were rolling around.
I thought, ‘God, this is a glorious thing you’re doing. This is fantastic.’
Jesus is breaking down the barriers of his church because he’s coming for a bride, and he wants his bride to be one.
We’ve been meeting with Baptist pastors this week. We’ve been meeting with New Frontiers pastors. We’ve been meeting with the Anglicans. And God is pouring his Spirit out on us all and it’s a glorious thing.
I was reminded of that verse in the Psalms (133:1,3), ‘How blessed it is when brothers dwell together in unity … for there the Lord commands the blessing.’
He doesn’t just invite it, or suggest it. He commands a blessing on us when we dwell together in unity – when we love one another and we love one another’s churches and we bless one another’s people.
So God is moving, not just on this funny little church at the end of the runway. He’s moving across the denominations. He’s moving across the land. He’s moving across London and England in a fantastic way. And he’s moving across the world.
Greater love for Jesus
What are the perceived results so far?
For myself, there is a greater love for Jesus than I’ve ever known, a grater excitement about the Kingdom than I ever thought possible, a greater sense that these are glorious, glorious days in which to be alive. I’m thrilled about the Scriptures and I’m going back to the Word and finding that it’s all been there from the very beginning.
I’m excited about church history. I have a heightened sense of what’s been going on up to this point.
I have an ever stronger sense of the whole church than ever before. The Lord said to them in Toronto right at the beginning, ‘This is not about the Vineyard; this is about the Kingdom.’ This is not about any one church. This is about the Kingdom, and about the Bride of Christ. Right across the church Jesus’ passion for his Bride is beginning to be understood.
I’ve also discovered that I’m desperate to give this away. I haven’t had this appetite for ministry for years. I mean, I’ve always been enthusiastic but I’ve not had this passion before. I’ve just found that there’s a greater recklessness in me than there’s ever been before because God is coming upon us, and the joy of the Lord is coming on the church and Jesus is restoring his joy. And his laughter is like medicine to the soul.
In our church the people are getting freed and the people are getting healed. We’ve got people who have gone down on the floor and got up healed. Nobody ever knew they were sick and they got better without us even naming the words.
The Lord is coming with mercy and kindness.
The prodigal son went to look for parties but he discovered that the best party was in his father’s house. Isn’t that the truth?