Jesus, Author & Finisher: Timeless Principles of Christianity
Brian Mulheran (Synergy, 2002)
Review by Outreach Magazine, Brisbane.
Brian Mulheran’s 200-page book, Jesus, Author & Finisher: Timeless Principles of Christianity, which includes a study guide, is designed to help new Christians, older Christians and pastors desiring to establish people in the faith.
Through his book, Brian hopes to further awaken people to their fullest potential in God. “Every Christian has great potential in their life to do something powerful for God,” says Brian. “They know that on the inside, but to see that come to pass, they need to really grab hold of the truths of God’s word.”
Having been a COC pastor for more than 15 years, Brian has seen thousands of people “come to the altar to have their faith authored, but many of them sadly didn’t finish the race”. “I see a lot of them struggle, trying to fix things up in their life in order for God to use them, but they end up just going round and round. This book gives them keys on how to release their potential.”
“Any ordinary person can look at the negatives of life in order not to succeed. Any ordinary person can read passages of scripture that seem to tell them what they need to do or not do in order to ‘keep themselves in God’. Any ordinary person will try to hold their life in God in order to make it to heaven. Any ordinary person can live a respectable life in God. Any ordinary person can pray enough and read their Bible enough in order to appear godly. But the Bible is full of extraordinary truths for ordinary people like you and me to allow our extraordinary God to do extraordinary things through us.”
Now working on a second book about the Holy Spirit, Brian believes many Christians are too pre-occupied with their own issues to focus on God. He says:
What could God do through a person who was not focused on whether or not they would commit any more sins but were totally preoccupied with fulfilling His call?
What could God do through a person who knew they were totally righteous and could stand before God at all times?
What could God do through a person who knew that He could not fail to do anything He said?
What could God do through a person who knew that they had the unlimited resources of heaven at their disposal?
What could God do through a person who knew that He was totally for them?
It is Brian’s desire that, through discovering these truths, readers would look to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith, to lay a foundation from which to fulfil the call that God has placed upon their life.
Useful insight into Revivals in the South Pacific region
The cover’s the immediate attraction with this book – beautiful Pacific Island image …… Nice large format size book, too.
Geoff Waugh has been fascinated with Christian revivals since he was a young man, so it’s no big surprise that he should conduct some research into these fascinating phenomena ‘down under’ in the South Pacific area, as he has travelled and worked in many of these islands over several decades. His other recent book, Looking to Jesus: A Journey Into Renewal & Revival is another book worth checking out, being essentially an auto-biography of the author.
South Pacific Revivals gives some very illuminating information about numerous little-known revivals in the region, as well as a number of charismatic movements, one or two of which I personally wouldn’t necessarily term ‘revivals’, but many will find to be of much interest nonetheless, because of the phenomena exhibited and the passion aroused, etc. [The 3rd edition, 2012, has a comprehensive Preface of the history of revivals in the South Pacific.] A surprising number of movements are provided – including islands and places I had never before heard of! A number of remarkable personal testimonies are included, and some black and white photos are dotted throughout the book. Some useful appendices are included, such as ‘Characteristics of Revivals from Acts 2′ and ‘Examples of Repentance and Revival’.
If you’re interested in revivals, this is a book you’re going to want to get. (Blue Yonder, Amazon)
I. Body Ministry with II. Body Organization 1. Kingdom Authority with 6. Divine Headship
2. Obedient Mission with 7. Body Membership
3. Mutual Ministry with 8. Servant Leadership
4. Spiritual Gifts with 9. Body Life
5. Body Evangelism with 10. Expanding Networks
Part 2: Ministry Education
11. Open Education: From narrow to wide
12. Unlimited Education: From centralized to de-centralized
13. Continuing Education: From classrooms to life
14. Adult Education: From pedagogy to self-directed learning
15. Mutual Education: From competition to co-operation
16. Theological Education: From closed to open
17. Contextual Education: From general to specific
18. Ministry Education: From pre-service to in-service
From the Foreword by Rev Prof Dr James Haire, former Principal of Trinity Theological College, Brisbane, and President of the Uniting Church in Australia:
The church needs to be analysed in order to prepare itself for mission in the changing situations of societies around the world. However, these always must remain secondary. Its primary self-understanding is that the church, the expression of Christianity in the world, is the object of God’s self-giving love and grace for the sake of the world.
In this very helpful and timely book, the Rev Dr Geoff Waugh takes up the implications of these issues and applies them to ministry within and beyond the church, the Body of Christ. As the framework above indicates, Dr Waugh’s analysis, evaluation and application of the theology of the living Body of Christ inevitably is no less than truly revolutionary, as is his analysis, evaluation and application of the theology of the living Spirit’s work.
Dr Waugh has had a long and distinguished mission career, especially in education, in addressing the central Christian issues outlined above. It has been my honour and my privilege to have served alongside him for eight years (1987–1994) in Trinity Theological College, in the Brisbane College of Theology, and in the School of Theology of Griffith University, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He has been a dear and valued friend, and especially one who day-by-day in his life has lived out what he taught. Moreover, he has had vast experience in his long teaching ministry, not only in Australia, but throughout the South Pacific, Asia, and in Africa.
His work is thus very important reading indeed for us all.
From Rev Dr Colin Warren (former Principal of Alcorn College, Brisbane):
I acknowledge that Geoff has had a very big impact on my life, both by the witness of his own life and by the quality of his teaching. I pray that you and your church will be greatly blessed as you read and put into practice these basic biblical principles to reach and bless the people who are searching for the living Christ but often do not know what it is they are searching for.
Geoff and I have worked with students and on mission enterprises together over many years. His writing has come from years of practical experience and a vast amount of prayerful study. He has pioneered a work the results of which only eternity will reveal. He has never sought recognition for his tireless and faithful service in honouring the Lord, in continuing to teach and to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. He writes out of varied experiences.
He was the inaugural Principal of the Baptist Bible College in Papua New Guinea (1965-1970). He has taught at Alcorn College and Trinity Theological College (1977-1994) and at Christian Heritage College School of Ministries (from 1995). He is the author of fourteen books, mostly in Christian Education with the Uniting Church, but also on Renewal and Revival. ”Geoff Waugh” on amazon.com lists some of these books.
It is important to note that in this important work, Geoff explores the ministry of the whole body of Christ when Holy Spirit gifts are recognised and are encouraged to be exercised. Then the artificial division between clergy and laity or pastor and non-pastor is removed. At the same time there is the recognition of Holy Spirit endowed leadership gifting such as that between Paul and Timothy. This means that Kingdom authority is expressed through Divine headship. His emphasis on body ministry thus becomes a reality.
Geoff illustrates this clearly with his Case study Number 2 on page 34. There the church no longer consists of passive pew sitters but participants in fulfilling the command of Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach repentance, heal the sick and cast out demon spirits, having the certain knowledge that He is with them as He promised “to the end of the age”.
Geoff points out that if the church is to live and grow in today’s world, it must recognise the need to emphasize relationships and adapt to change. This change will include such simple things as the way men and women both old and young dress, and allow others the freedom to dress differently as they attend places of worship in a non judgmental atmosphere.
There is, too, the need to realise the reality that many are affected by a global sense of fear of nuclear destruction and of accelerated and constant change and uncertainty. The church can provide an atmosphere of security through rediscovering the unchanging gospel in a changing world.
Denominations that once were able to be exclusive and hold their numbers in rigid theological disciplines, have been invaded via cassettes, CD’s, DVD’s, and the internet that have widened the thinking horizons of their often theologically bound members, resulting in communication at spiritual levels not possible previously.
Geoff points out that if we are going to fulfil the Great Commission, we must first live the life of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is only then that we can do the work of fulfilling Christ’s command to go.
I commend Body Ministry for you to read. All Christians will benefit greatly from reading this insightful book.
From Rev Dr Lewis Born, former Moderator of the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia and Director of the Department of Christian Education.
Body Ministry and Open Ministry Education come in its right time for adult education, gospel communication, and the growth of the church.
Open Education promises to become the most commonly used adult educational methodology of the new millennium. The demand is likely to increase. This indicates that the work of Geoff Waugh is a significant contribution to the current educational enterprise. It is particularly valuable to Christian Educators. The author’s orientation is theological and his target audience is the faith community, its nurture, growth and outreach.
To this point in time the educative process has been inhibited by dependence on structured courses, the classroom and qualified teachers. Accelerated technology, as Mr Waugh observes, has made modern resources commonly available to individuals, churches and schools in every village community. By this medium Open Education for the first time in history is able to offer high quality education from the world’s best teachers to people in their own lounge, church or local group meeting place.
All this coinciding with the renewal movement has stimulated interest in theological learning to an unprecedented degree in the history of Christendom. The incredible numerical religious revival in the illiterate Asian and Latin church has been stimulated and served by modern technology.
This gives Open Ministry Education and therefore Mr Waugh’s work a global relevance, which he has applied in the Australian context.
As a fellow Australian I am appreciative. My appreciation is greatly enhanced by a deep respect and affection for the author. He is a competent teacher, an excellent communicator, an informed, disciplined renewalist and an experienced extension educator.
All these qualities combine to commend the author and his work.
Sample from the book:
Case study 1: traditional ministry
Peter was deeply committed to his calling to the ministry, ably supported by his wife, Petrina. His many talents found full expression in his ministry: preaching, teaching (including school Religious Education), counselling, visiting, chairing committees, leading meetings, representing the church on denominational boards and in civic functions, administering church activities, interviewing people for baptisms, church membership and weddings, conducting weddings and funerals, and fitting in a bit of study when he could as well as attending seminars for church leaders.
The phone rang constantly, especially at breakfast or dinner when people hoped they could catch him before he was off again. He wished he had more time for his family, and knew that the strain was showing in family relationships and in his own reaction to stress, inevitable with the constant demands of the ministry. He wished he could find time for waiting on God and quiet reflection as well as study, but there was so much to do. His work was less than his best, because he had so little time to pray, wait in God, and prepare well, and because the constant demand of meeting people’s needs saps energy and consumes time.
Case study 2: body ministry.
Paul and Pauline were both deeply committed to their ministry. They recognized that they had different gifts and calling within that ministry. They also believed strongly in the need for all Christians to minister in the power of the Spirit. They prayed regularly with people about this and saw their prayers answered. The members of their church asked for, expected, and used spiritual gifts. Church members prayed together for one another and for others. Most of the pastoral care and outreach happened in the home groups. Paul met with home group leaders one night each week, and enjoyed that. Mary met regularly with the leaders of women’s day time groups, social caring groups and the music team in the church.
Paul usually preached once on Sundays, and the home groups, study groups and youth groups used the summary of the message. He encouraged gifted preachers in the church who also preached. Church members did most of the teaching (including all the school work) and those gifted with administration organized it all, usually part time with one specific area of responsibility they had chosen and loved to do. A small caring group organized volunteers to visit all the sick people. A keen task group made sure all visitors were contacted by phone or a personal visit during the week after they came to a service. The elders insisted that one day each week was family day for the pastor and his family so they encouraged them to spend time away to wait on God and bring their vision and the Lord’s leading clearly in their ministry.
From pages 16-19
Accelerating social change
Alvin Toffler wrote about the Third Wave in sociology. He could not find a word adequate enough to encompass this current wave we live in, rejecting his own earlier term ‘super-industrial’ as too narrow. He described civilisation in three waves: a First Wave agricultural phase, a Second Wave industrial phase, and a Third Wave phase now begun.
He noted that we are the final generation of an old civilisation and the first generation of a new one. We live between the dying Second Wave civilisation and the emerging Third Wave civilisation that is thundering in to take its place.
Think of church life during those three sociological waves. Church life changed through the agricultural, then industrial, and now the technological ‘third wave’.
1. Churches for most of 2000 years of the First Wave agricultural phase were the village church with the village priest (taught in a monastery) teaching the Bible to mostly illiterate people, using Latin (and Greek and Hebrew) parchments copied by hand for 1500 years. Worship involved chants without books or music. These churches reflected rural life, with feudal lords and peasants.
2. Churches in 500 years of the Second Wave industrial phase (co-existing with the First Wave) became denominational with many different churches in the towns as new denominations emerged. Generations of families belonged there all their life and read the printed Authorised (1511) version of the Bible. They have been taught by ministers trained in denominational theological colleges. Worship has involved organs used with hymns and hymn books. These churches reflected industrial town life, with bureaucracies such as denominations.
3. Churches in 50 years of the Third Wave technological phase (co-existing with the Second Wave industrial phase in towns and cities and the First Wave agricultural phase in villages and developing nations) are becoming networks of churches and movements, among which people move freely. They tend to be led by charismatic, anointed, gifted, apostolic servant-leaders, usually trained on the job through local mentoring often using part time courses in distance education. Their people have a wide range of Bible translations and use Bible tools in print, on CDs and on the internet. Worship involves ministry teams using instruments with data projection for songs and choruses. These churches reflect third wave technological city life.
Many churches, of course, live in the swirling mix of these phases, especially now with the Second Wave receding and the Third Wave swelling. For example, some denominational churches, especially those involved in renewal, may have a gifted ‘lay’ senior pastor not trained in a theological college or seminary. Some denominational churches function like independent churches in their leadership and worship styles. Some new independent churches have theologically trained pastors with doctoral degrees in ministry.
These changes have become increasingly obvious in the last 50 years. Many of us became involved in renewal and revival ministries both in denominational churches and in independent networks and movements.
I give many examples of those developments in my autobiographical reflections, Looking to Jesus: Journey into Renewal and Revival (2009), and in my accounts of revivals in Flashpoints of Revival (2009) and South Pacific Revivals (2010).
These books on renewal and revival are one small example of rapid change. They describe the swirling changes renewal and revival bring as they recapture New Testament Christianity in our day and 21st century context.
Even more! Telling the story has changed. You can read about it right now on a Google search and on many web pages such as renewaljournal.com.
Furthermore, this book is updated regularly also – for free with Amazon’s Print on Demand (POD). Check out the “Look inside” feature in a year’s time and you may see more changes. No longer do we need to spend thousands of dollars to stock pile resources, when we can freely update and adapt them.
We live and minister in this revolutionary ‘post-modern’ era, full of freeing possibilities and challenges.
Subsistence villagers still think and act in a First Wave mode, rural townspeople tend to think and act in a Second Wave mode, and urban people in megacities usually think and act in a Third Wave mode.
The norms of the Second Wave Industrial Society still influence us all strongly. We are familiar with the organizational society of the town and its bureaucracies, especially the religious and educational ones. We organized the church around denominational bureaucracies.
However, the Third Wave megatrend swirling around us now involves adapting to different and smaller social groupings, more transient and diverse than ever before. Denominations continue to exist, of course, but now mix with many flexible, changing structures, such as networks of small groups or house churches and national or global networks for prayer and mobilising action together through websites and emails.
We have a mixture of both Second Wave people and Third Wave people in local churches. Second Wave people tend to emphasize institutional roles and responsibilities. Third Wave people tend to emphasize relationships and adaptation to change – as in renewal and revival.
Read current examples from this book (pages 76-82) in Geoff’s article in this Renewal Journal – Community Transformation
Autobiographical discoveries of renewal and revival by this Australian Baptist minister and missionary.
Preface: thanks Introduction: Waugh stories 1. Beginnings: state of origin 2. Schools: green board jungle 3. Ministry: to lead is to serve 4. Mission: trails and trials 5. Family: Waughs and rumours of Waughs 6. Search and Research: begin with A B C 7. Renewal: begin with doh rey me 8. Revival: begin with 1 2 3 Conclusion: begin with you and me
This book traces the author’s journey through a lifetime of discovering renewal and revival. He explores the transforming and unpredictable nature of God’s Spirit now touching and changing people in all denominations and in all countries. The book will interest people who love to read about renewal in the church and revival in the world. The author’s other books such as Flashpoints of Revival, Revival Fires and Revival in the South Pacific give fuller and more general descriptions of God’s transforming work around the world. This autobiography gives a personal account of the author’s experience of renewal and revival in Australia, the South Pacific, and in other nations. “Looking to Jesus” points continually to Jesus, the One who renews and revives us by his Spirit within us and who is so powerfully at work in the whole world.
By Rev Dr John Olley, former Principal of Vose College, Perth.
Invitation to a Journey
Geoff Waugh’s life and ministry have influenced people all around the world. This autobiography with reflections will be of interest not only to those who know him. Beginning in Australia, then Papua New Guinea, his invited ministry in renewal and revival has involved every continent. While he has written “Flashpoints of Revival” (recently updated) recounting revivals in the past three hundred years around the world and many books of bible studies this book “Looking to Jesus” has a different focus, as Geoff traces his journey from strong roots which remained the solid core of his life from childhood to marriage to retirement. Here is a personal journey with reflections that will enrich the lives of all readers. As he ?looked to Jesus? along the way he was opened up to many exciting new ventures in Australia and into countries where revival and renewal is vibrant, changing many lives. Although a biography, many others are involved. Geoff?s journey is like a rose bush with strong roots and branches. He is one bud of many, opening into a beautiful bloom as he opened himself to God?s leading into an exciting journey. A bonus is an appendix with outlines of his other works.
By Romulo Nayacalevu, Pastor and Lawyer. Fiji
Dr Waugh’s account in “Looking to Jesus” demonstrates his passion and servanthood life, displayed in his calling from the pulpit to the mountains and valleys of the Pacific and beyond. His passion, zeal and commitment to the Gospel makes Him a true missionary to places where we wouldnt dare. I would recommend this book to all, the story of a man who is truly sold out to His King and Master – the Lord Jesus Christ. Dr. Waugh’s personal journey and convictions is a testimony to people like me who are trying to be available to God’s call. Dr Waugh remains a mentor and a friend and “Looking to Jesus” is the simplest way of describing Dr. Waugh’s faith journey. His testimony will challenge us all about our priorities and the true meaning of Obedience. A strongly recommended read.
By Jo, Pastor and college graduate
I have been blessed to be a student of Geoff Waughs in the COC Bible College in Brisbane. This book was such a blessing. It showed how God has been such a huge part of Geoffs life, since he was a young boy. It was really inspiring to read the book and to realise all the amazing things God has done through Geoff, that he is not just a teacher on revivals, he is really someone who lives it! I highly reccommend this book. We need more fathers in the faith who have walked with Jesus for so long and who have seen real moves of the Holy Spirit to share with us and encourage us like Geoff does in this book.This is not just a biography, it is a book that will teach and inspire you in your walk with God.
By Daphne Beattie
Insightful, inspirational, informative
An interesting survey of 70 years from his early life as the son of an evangelical minister, to becoming a minister and missionary and a leader in renewal and revival through his teaching in Australia and overseas. Revival – stirs both curiosity,excitement and anticipation in God’s people. Geoff shares his personal journey with humour and life flowing out of it, always directing us to follow Jesus’ example alone. I strongly recommend this book and found it easy to read but at the same time it stirred up a deep longing in my heart to reach a more intimate relationship with God. Thank you Geoff
The powerful videos, Transformation 1 and 2, have sold in their thousands. They speak urgently and prophetically to the church today and show the way ahead for community transformation in this new millennium. George Otis, Jr. compiled and directs these astounding programs.
Transformation 1 gives amazing reports of changed cities. These include Cali in Columbia, Almolonga in Guatemala, Kiambu in Nigeria, and Hemet in California. God answered the united prayers of his people in ways they had never seen before – drug lords removed, prisons closed, crops multiplied, communities transformed. See www.sentinelgroup.org
Transformation 2, released in 2001, gives further amazing reports of changed districts, even a whole country, again in answer to earnest, united prayer. Revival has transformed Canada’s artic region Ungava Peninsula. The Hebrides Islands in Scotland saw profound revival. Uganda welcomed in the new millennium with its president and his wife participating in a combined churches and community rally in their largest stadium at which they renounced evil and dedicated their country to God. See www.sentinelgroup.org
Informed Intercession: Transforming Your Community through Spiritual Mapping and Strategic Prayer by George Otis, Jr. (Ventura: Renewa, 1999).
Chapter 1 of this book, “Snapshots of Glory”, is the lead article in this issue No. 17 of the Renewal Journal.
Review by C. Peter Wagner, adapted from the Foreword.
God has been raising up an extraordinary group of leaders for his kingdom in this generation, including George Otis, Jr. I can say with great confidence that the Body of Christ is in good hands for the future. Through these and many others like them, the Holy Spirit has been speaking some new things to the churches. They have the “ear to hear” that Jesus spoke about in his letters to the churches in Revelation.
These things, of course, are not new to God. They are scriptural, and indeed, a few members of the Body of Christ were tuned in to them long before the rest of us began to catch on. As we in repentance began to ask God to “heal the land” (2 Chron. 7:14), we then began to realize how little we knew about stewardship of the land and about the increased spiritual authority that is released when leaders become sincerely committed to the geographical sphere to which they have been assigned
The title of this book, Informed Intercession: Transforming Your Community through Spiritual Mapping and Strategic Prayer reflects a basic premise with which I fully agree: Accurately informed intercession is a critical component in transforming entire communities for Christ.
We all know and practice this principle when, for example, we pray for a friend. If they ask for prayer, our first question is, “What do you want me to pray for?” and we go on from there. But only recently have we learned how to ask such questions to our community and get the answers we need.
George Otis, Jr. has been the pioneer of this important discipline that we now call “spiritual mapping.” As might be expected, the novelty of an activity such as spiritual mapping attracts its share of flakes. While they may be somewhat of an embarrassment to the rest of us, I do admire their zeal. Furthermore, as I have tracked some of them down and discussed this with them, I have yet to meet one who wants to be a flake. They will be the first to admit that they would love to have more role models and better instruction.
This book will meet those needs. This is a remarkable document that will raise the whole spiritual mapping movement to new levels of integrity and usefulness. I would hate to try to use a bread machine or a computer or a chain saw for the first time without an operator’s manual. I am grateful that we now have the operator’s manual for those who desire to attempt spiritual mapping.
What is spiritual mapping for? This can easily become so fascinating that it seems to be an end in itself. George Otis will have nothing of that! The goal is not just to gather information. The goal is nothing less than community transformation. Is this a high standard? It certainly is, and as you read this book you will be increasingly grateful, as I was, for the demands for excellence which persist from beginning to end. For those of us who deeply desire to serve and please the Lord of lords, nothing else would be acceptable.
Review from the Foreword by Dr C. Peter Wagner (1998)
Geoff Waugh and I agree that our generation is likely to be an eye witness to the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit that history has ever known. Many others join us in this expectation, some of them sensing that it will come in the next few years.
I have heard more reports of revival‑like activity in the past three years than in the previous thirty. This has caused revival to be a more frequent topic of Christian conversation than I have ever seen. There is an extraordinary hunger for learning more about how the hand of God works in revival.
That is a major reason why Flashpoints of Revival is such a timely book. Christian libraries are well stocked with detailed accounts of certain revivals as well as scholarly analytical histories of revival. But I know of no other book like this one that provides rapid‑fire, easy‑to‑read, factual literary snapshots of virtually every well‑known revival since Pentecost.
As I read this book, I was thrilled to see how God has been so mightily at work in so many different times and places. I felt like I had grasped the overall picture of revival for the first time, and I was moved to pray that God, indeed, would allow me not to be just an observer, but rather a literal participant in the worldwide outpouring that will soon come. As you read the book, I am sure you will be saying the same thing.
Comments on Flashpoints of Revival
Geoff Waugh’s comprehensive and up-to-date book provides a global perspective of the unexpected and transforming work of the Holy Spirit. Read, be inspired and encouraged. Rev Dr John Olley
The first time I read this book, I couldn’t put it down. Not only were the stories researched with clear and concise data, but they provide an account of revivals that blew my mind away. An inspirational read. Romulo Nayacalevu, Fiji
This work is of great significance. It is a comprehensive overview of the major revivals during the last three centuries. Churches and Christians around the world will benefit greatly from this timely contribution. Rev Prof Dr James Haire
It will be a compendium for historians and others interested in the subject for a long time to come. I doubt if there is a resource quite like it for logical progression and comprehensive treatment. Rev Tony Cupit
It is very informative and up to date concerning revivals both past and present. I am confident that this book will be well received by many scholars and historians. Rev Dr Naomi Dowdy
This is a great reference book providing information of when, where and how God has touched regions and people groups with his manifest presence over history. Many of these events are included and reported on providing the reader with an overview and insight into when revival has broken out and its impact on people, church and society. Martin Mitchell (Amazon)
Ch 3: People of the Trees Pygmy tribe of 6,000 saved in 3 years
Ebola area miracles
I ’ve made 11 trips around the world in the last 15 months, and I’ve witnessed God’s hand at work. Nothing in the history of world evangelism compares with what is happening today.
When our three-man team arrived at an encampment called Boteka, located on the Momboyo River in the heart of Zaire’s equatorial rain forest, it seemed to me that we stood on the edge of nowhere. In less than 24 hours, though, I knew we would be right in the middle of it.
My colleague Wes Wilson and I had joined with Dia Mbwangi, the French African director of Every Home for Christ (EHC), for this unique journey to see with our own eyes the miraculous harvest of souls being reported among the Pygmies. Five years ago, there had been almost no believers deep in that part of the rain forest. Now we understood the number of Christians had surpassed 300,000. Could this be possible?
If it was true, this was one more indication of the amazing work of the Holy Spirit being reported around the world in recent months.
We almost never made it to the rain forest. While trying to obtain our visas back in the United States, the ever-smiling clerk at our local visa office begged Wes and me not to go into the region. She explained that the State Department had issued serious warnings about that area, primarily because of instances in which outsiders had been kidnapped and murdered. And besides, she said, the worst diseases in the world came from that region.
We soon discovered she was right. In fact, a few days later I would learn the deadly Ebola virus had resurfaced just south of our destination. The Momboyo River, along which we planned to journey, was a stone’s throw from the famed Ebola River from which this dreaded virus acquired its name. The AIDS virus too is thought to have come from a nearby region.
Apparently we were heading straight into a ‘hot zone,’ a medical term for an area in which a deadly virus is active and transmittable. More importantly, we were heading into a spiritual hot zone where satanic activity has ravaged humanity by the spiritual virus of sin for centuries. Yet, as we would soon discover, the cure – Christ Himself – was setting multitudes free in one of the most remote locations on earth.
Every tree for Christ
When our workers first went into the Pygmy regions of the equatorial rain forest in 1992, the trip required an 11-day, motorized canoe trip up the mighty Zaire River (formerly the Congo River), and an additional journey of several days down any number of smaller rivers, such as the Momboyo. Then workers had to travel by canoes up tiny tributaries and creeks until they reached the remote areas where the Pygmy peoples live.
Fortunately, when Wes and I arrived in Kinshasa, Zaire, and linked up with Brother Dia, we were able to enlist a pilot to fly us deep into the forest, dropping us off at a small, grass landing strip near an encampment called Boteka. There we were able to obtain a 40-foot canoe with two outboard motors from a Belgian Catholic mission. This made it possible for us to journey even further up the Momboyo River to another encampment called Imbonga.
From Imbonga, we traveled 20 miles directly into the forest until we arrived at our ultimate destination, a Christian village called Bosuka, made up of hundreds of Pygmy converts.
And what an arrival it was! Hundreds of Pygmies lined the footpath as we neared Bosuka, joyously dancing and waving palm branches while singing in their dialect a song they had written themselves: ‘Jesus is Lord, and He’s coming back soon!’
The fact that these Pygmies were a part of an actual village was something of an anomaly. Pygmies are generally nomadic peoples who traditionally do not live in permanent villages. This was clearly a Christian phenomenon, the result of a transformation in the hearts of thousands of Pygmies who were turning to Jesus en masse after an EHC evangelistic campaign.
We had learned that these people actually lived in the trees. In the initial progress reports that came back to us from Brother Dia in the forest, he explained that he was unable to say specifically how many ‘homes’ were being reached because Pygmies are ‘tree people’.
With his customary humor, Dia wrote on one report that he had now launched an ‘Every Tree Crusade,’ a modification of EHC’s standard ‘Every Home Crusade’ strategy. Instead of pursuing our long-standing ministry goal of reaching ‘the last home on earth with the gospel,’ Dia wrote: ‘We will not stop until we reach the last tree on earth!’
The settlement of a Pygmy village – established around a church – was something unique and unusual in the forest. Yet it had happened in only about 14 months. In fact, out of a tribe of 6,000 Pygmies in the region, 4,000 had come to a knowledge of Jesus, including the Pygmy chief of the area and his entire clan of some 40 relatives.
While in the forest, we heard other amazing reports. In one neighbouring area where 32 Pygmy fellowships had been planted 36 months earlier, a remarkable 300 additional fellowships had been established even deeper in the forest, the result of Brother Dia challenging the leaders of those fellowships to each plant at least one new church by the year 2000. To our amazement, they exceeded the goal by almost tenfold – and they did it four years early!
The Healing Stone
One month after our trip into Africa’s equatorial rain forest, I travelled to the other side of the world to witness a similar miracle in a mountainous region of the Solomon Islands chain. In a rain forest deep in the interior of the island of Malaita, 11 Christian villages had emerged in just three years.
Our workers in one area had tried several times, unsuccessfully, to witness about Jesus. A huge stone – called ‘the healing stone’ by the people of the region – seemed to be a visible stronghold keeping the people of the area held in some kind of demonic grasp. Almost daily, chiefs from several villages brought their sacrifices of chickens and pigs to the huge stone.
A two-man mission team decided to camp out on an adjacent mountain overlooking the stone to fast and pray for seven days. Early on the seventh day, clouds began gathering above the area.
A Kwaio priest from a nearby village made his way to the giant stone to offer a sacrifice. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning streaked out of the ominous black clouds and struck the stone with such force that it split in two. Half the stone rolled down the steep mountain. Panic-stricken, the priest dropped his sacrifice and ran for his life.
Several village priests, who earlier had rejected the gospel message, now were filled with fear. One of them invited our evangelists to return and tell them again about Jesus.
Soon, many villagers, with their chiefs, had received Christ. On their own they burned their huts to the ground as an act of repentance and moved to a nearby Christian village that had been established only 36 months earlier.
A Season Called ‘Afterward’
My journeys into the rain forests of Africa and the Solomon Islands were part of some eight trips I made around the world in a 12-month period, mostly in preparation for writing my latest book, Beyond Imagination, which documents some of the amazing miracles occurring in world evangelization today.
These global journeys a year ago, followed by three additional trips around the world in a 60-day period while preparing this article, convinced me of several significant trends that indicate the church of Jesus Christ may have entered God’s ‘afterward’ season.
That expression is found in Joel’s ancient prophecy: ‘And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions’ (Joel 2:28, NIV). The prophet adds, ‘And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (v. 32).
Of course, the initial fulfillment of this prophecy was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the early church. However, there is also a strong biblical sense that this promise likewise foretells a great end-time harvest and awakening in the very last days.
I believe the church may be on the threshold of this exciting ‘afterward’ time. Certainly the body of Christ is closer to the fulfillment of Jesus’ Great Commission than many believers are aware.
Nothing in the history of world evangelization compares with what’s happening today. Recently, missions researcher David Barrett told me that he is preparing for publication an updated version of his highly regarded, 1,000-page World Christian Encyclopedia, published by Oxford University Press in 1982. So vast has been the progress of world evangelization since the first publication, Barrett says the revision will require three volumes, each as lengthy as the original.
Every Home for Christ has a strategic vision to systematically take a clear, printed gospel message (or recorded message for illiterates) to every family in a nation. EHC can testify that the recent acceleration of the harvest has been dramatic.
In the 36-month period from 1989 to 1991, an encouraging 1.3 million decision cards were received in our offices. But as exciting as that number was, in a similar 36-month period from 1993 to 1995, the ‘decision for Jesus’ responses jumped to 3.7 million.
Specific evangelistic advances in some previously restricted nations illustrate this dramatic acceleration. For example, only a decade ago, in the once ‘closed’ nation of Nepal, anyone caught witnessing to or responsible for converting a Hindu to Christ could be put in prison for several years. In fact, in the early to mid-1980s, as many as 200 Christians were incarcerated at one time in Nepal for this reason.
Then, a miracle involving democratic reforms came to this Hindu nation, not unlike what transpired in the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Suddenly there were opportunities to communicate the gospel much more openly.
Until that time, our evangelists in Nepal had been conducting home-to-home visits in a cautious way; now workers were able to witness freely. Within a few short years our Kathmandu office had received more than 200,000 written decision cards, each requesting a four-part Bible-correspondence course.
Especially exciting has been the formation of hundreds of small church-fellowships called Christ Groups in Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist villages as the result of these house-to-house campaigns. At the time of this writing, a remarkable 4,730 Christ Groups have been formed in villages and towns in Nepal, and some have grown into sizable congregations. In addition, the original goal of reaching every home in every village of this Hindu land by 31 December, 2000, is expected to be completed four years early – as this is published.
Campus Crusade for Christ has seen a remarkable harvest in response to the showing of the Jesus film, which is now in 342 languages. Campus Crusade staff estimate that more than 732 million people have seen the film in 16 years, and the acceleration has been especially dramatic in recent months.
The Christian Broadcasting Network also reports amazing results. Network founder Pat Robertson notes that it took CBN almost 20 years to see 1 million people pray to receive Christ; in the last five years, however, that number increased close to 50 times, to some 50 million responses.
Even preeminent evangelist Billy Graham is seeing an increase. In the spring of 1996, his organization presented a one-hour global television broadcast with an estimated potential audience of 2.5 billion people in more than 200 countries. Of the 450 million pieces of follow-up literature prepared, most were used up almost immediately after the program.
Other isolated examples of church planting activities clearly indicate dramatic increases. Varanasi, India, for example, has been a known Hindu stronghold for generations. As recently as five years ago there were no churches in that city of 1.5 million people. Today there are at least 230 churches with an estimated 5,000 worshipers.
In Cambodia, where almost all religious expression was wiped out during the notorious ‘killing fields’ of the Khmer Rouge two decades ago, an average of one new church is being established every week – just among the churches related to the Khmer Evangelical Church. This group alone has a goal of 300 new churches by the year 2000.
In the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, a church in Tashkent that began with just a handful of believers nine years ago has grown to more than 3,000 believers. They’ve also planted 46 additional churches across Uzbekistan. The main congregation in Tashkent is said to be growing by as many as 100 new baptized believers every month.
The Force of United Prayer
No doubt a major reason for this incredible acceleration of global harvest is the amplified and intensified increase of united prayer sweeping the globe today. David Barrett says there may be as many as 170 million Christians worldwide involved in praying every day for spiritual awakening and world evangelization.
Of this number, Barrett says there may be up to 20 million believers who see intercession as their primary ministry. Barrett further believes there may be as many as 10 million prayer groups meeting regularly with a primary purpose of praying for global spiritual awakening.
Showing the possible sweep of this movement, Barrett suggests there are approximately 1,300 separate prayer-mobilization networks organizing believers to pray for God’s work globally. Highly focused prayer that strategically targets satanic strongholds–which some, such as professor C. Peter Wagner, define as ‘warfare prayer’- has also dramatically intensified in recent years and even more so in the last 36 months.
The global Praying Through the Window events in 1993 and again in 1995 targeted prayer to the under-evangelized and least-reached peoples of the so-called 10/40 Window, a geographic region between 10 degrees and 40 degrees latitude north of the equator, stretching from West Africa across the Middle East to East Asia. More than 20 million Christians participated in the first campaign in October 1993, and 249 teams made prayer journeys to the region. Two years later, an astounding 35.3 million intercessors participated, representing 143,447 churches, and 407 prayer teams journeyed into the 10/40 Window.
I immediately saw fruit from this highly focused prayer effort. Before the first 10/40 Window focus in 1993, our EHC campaigns were being conducted in 70 countries. In the next 24 months the number grew dramatically to 108.
In the past, it was considered a miracle for EHC to begin four or five new national initiatives in a single year. But to average more than one new national work per month for two years was unheard of! And many of these were begun in nations within or bordering the 10/40 Window.
The strategic prayer also impacted our church-planting efforts. In India, for example, over the 36-month period before the first Praying Through the Window campaign, EHC saw the formation of three Christ Groups every day, an average of 90 per month. Though this number was encouraging at the time, in the six months after the 10/40 Window focus, that number increased beyond 500 percent to more than 15 per day.
I recently heard another confirming testimony from a Middle Eastern worker with Operation Mobilization, based in Atlanta. In the two years before the 1993 prayer campaign, this man had carefully visited hundreds of families, witnessing to them and offering evangelistic literature. Yet not one person showed interest in knowing more about Jesus. However, in the 24 months after Praying Through the Window, a remarkable change occurred.
In the very same region where the man’s previous efforts had been unsuccessful, more than 2,000 Muslims prayed to receive Christ! He’s convinced that targeted, warfare prayer made the difference.
Signs and Wonders
Perhaps as significant as any factor associated with the current global work of the Holy Spirit is the obvious amplified and intensified increase of miracles throughout the world. What God did in establishing the New Testament church 20 centuries ago is clearly taking place today in increasing ways.
For example, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ recently wrote his ministry partners about the ‘astounding phenomenon of dreams and visions confirming the reality of Christ, particularly among Muslims.’ According to Bright, thousands of letters from Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East responding to a radio program aired throughout the region, described dreams in which Jesus appeared to them saying, ‘I am the way.’ When these Muslims heard the radio broadcast, they suddenly understood what they had experienced in their dreams and requested more information about Jesus.
I have received similar testimonies from our home-to-home evangelism outreaches in Muslim areas. In North Africa, an EHC worker in a city of 1 million people tried to give a Muslim man a booklet about Jesus. The man tore it up and threw it in the evangelist’s face, threatening to kill him.
The following morning at sunrise, the worker was startled by a knock at the door of his tiny apartment. To his amazement, the same young Muslim stood before him asking for another booklet.
‘Where did you get my address?’ the worker asked.
‘Oh, the voice in the night told me your address,’ the Muslim responded. He then described a remarkable encounter in which ‘a voice with no body’ explained that he had torn up ‘the truth’ earlier that day when he ripped apart the booklet. The voice then told the young man where the EHC worker lived and explained that if he got another booklet and believed its message, he would have eternal life.
The next morning the young man obeyed the voice and joyously received Christ. Recently he finished a six-month Bible training course and is now a full-time missionary.
Signs and wonders are occurring among other peoples, too. Recently, on a journey to India, I talked with Jacob George, an EHC worker also serving Wycliffe Bible Translators. Jacob and his wife, Susan, had gone to evangelize the Konda Dora tribe in southeast India in 1979. Yet not a single member of this tribe had responded to the gospel in 10 years.
A breakthrough occurred when Jacob’s assistant, a believer named Devadas, visited the Konda Dora village of Sopha. This village was steeped in witchcraft, and Devadas soon learned that sickness had prevailed throughout the population for two years. No amount of sacrifices to their Hindu gods brought relief.
Devadas told them Jesus Christ could heal them, but the Hindus were skeptical. On a subsequent visit, however, the village leader declared, ‘You’ve been telling us about this person called Jesus. What must we do to believe in Him?’
Devadas instructed them to remove all their Hindu charms from around their waists, arms and necks, and place them in a pile in the middle of the village. He also told them to bring all their objects of Hindu worship from their homes and place them in the pile.
All the fetishes were burned that day in a huge bonfire. Within several days every sick person in the village was healed, and 50 villagers gave their lives to Christ.
Soon, the impact spread to four neighbouring villages, and a church was established at Sarsu Podar, the largest of the four. Eighty people now attend this growing congregation. In addition, hundreds of Konda Dora people have turned to Jesus, and 11 villages have embraced Christianity.
Recently, a Buddhist monk high in the mountains of Myanmar (formerly Burma) was worshiping a statue of the Buddha when he heard a voice plainly declare, ‘Go find Jesus!’ So clear was the voice that the monk went immediately to his superior and told him: ‘I must leave today. The Buddha has told me to go find Jesus!’
‘Who is this person called Jesus?’ the superior asked.
‘I’m not sure,’ the monk replied, ‘but the Buddha has said I must find him!’
As the monk entered a neighboring town, he was amazed to see a poster on a wall that said simply, ‘Come see Jesus!’ It was an invitation from Campus Crusade for Christ to a showing of the Jesus film that very evening.
By nightfall the monk had ‘found’ the Saviour. And today he knows it wasn’t the Buddha who spoke to him but God Himself.
These are indeed amazing days. God is moving by His Spirit, creating hunger for genuine spiritual awakening in the hearts of His children everywhere, and setting in motion the greatest global ingathering of souls in the history of the church. Truly, the work of the Holy Spirit today -touching even the uttermost parts of the earth – is beyond imagination.
* The feared Wa people of northern Myanmar rejected Buddhist statues sent as a peace offering by the government and requested 100 Bibles and Christian missionaries instead. The chief of the tribe of 3 million, a headhunter, recently became a Christian and was baptized – asking to be immersed 100 times, once for each head he had hunted.
Source: Discipling a Whole Nation
* Fugong County, in China’s Yunnan Province, has so many believers that it is known as ‘Christ County,’ with about 90 percent of its 70,000 people professing faith in Christ. Impressed with the falling crime rate and other social benefits, local government authorities are actually encouraging people to believe.
Source: World Pulse, April 1996
* In 1900, South Korea was considered ‘impossible to penetrate’; the country did not have a single evangelical church. By 1986, the country was 20 percent Christian; by 1992, 40 percent. The church doubled to 12.5 million members in only six years, from 1986 to 1992. In 1986, South Korea had 25,000 churches. By 1992, the number had swelled to 37,200. There are 7,000 churches in Seoul, including nine of the 21 largest congregations in the world.
Source: Youth With a Mission
* Hoping to derail an October 1996 crusade in an unreached area of India, a local Hindu faction cut off the town’s electrical supply. But evangelist Sadhu Chellappa brought along a generator to power the lights and 32 loudspeakers, and in the absence of any competing noise, his voice was heard throughout the town of 6,000 people. More than 150 people now attend a newly planted church there.
Source: Discipling a Whole Nation
* Ten house churches have been started among Khmer refugees in eastern Thailand along the border with Laos and Cambodia in the last year. A Khmer believer, Sunthon Rawang, is training the 250 believers to start churches among their people on the other side of the border. Christians have been praying for God to multiply the number of Khmer believers and for the success of Sunthon Rawang.
* Before 1990, there were very few Christians in Saudi Arabia. Since Desert Storm, more than 3,000 Saudi Muslims have come to Christ.
Every day our workers visit more than 200,000 homes. We have reached over 1.4 BILLION homes in the last 64 years, and seen over 101 million people respond to the gospel! Just last year alone we reached over 77 million homes! We continue to hear amazing stories and testimonies of this work and have exciting pictures and videos from the field.
How we do it
Every Home for Christ has created a strategy for reaching every home on earth with the gospel. We use local indigenous workers with face-to-face evangelism whenever possible, and when it’s not, substantial gospel literature for both adults and children in the local language and dialect are left at the home. Each response is followed up, and many times results in individuals – and even entire families, giving their hearts to Jesus. Every Home for Christ disciples new believers, and channels them into local churches. If there is no local church, we establish Christ Groups — small fellowships of believers that are then nurtured and discipled in their spiritual walk.
Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-first Century. Addison-Wesley, 1995.
Famous for his book, The Secular City (SCM 1965), in which he wrote about the ‘postreligious’ age, theologian Harvey Cox has concluded that ‘Today it is secularity, not spirituality, that may be headed for extinction.’ He invites a generation of Christian leaders schooled in ‘postreligious’ thinking to rethink in the light of Pentecostalism.
A new era has dawned. Cox is global in his scope, insightful in his diagnosis, generous in his evaluation. He writes about Pentcostalism as a sympathetic onlooker, noting its enormous and increasing impact on Christianity, and on the reshaping of religion including the church.
The book will be read widely by non-Pentecostal leaders and theologians. Here is a leading contemporary theologian, whose writing has impacted theological education for three decades, now exploring the significance of this global phenomena.
Part I gives an overview of Pentecostalism. Part II has chapters on primal speech, signs and wonders, ‘the future present’, women, and music. Part III surveys the enormous impact of Pentecostalism around the world and concludes with an evaluation called ‘the Liberating Spirit’.
Old stereotypes crumble in Cox’s investigation. Pentecostal congregations include ‘medical secretaries, computer programmers, insurance salesmen, graduate students in microbiology, and actors and police officers, as well as people who were out of work and down on their luck.’ Here dynamic faith, missionary zeal, and sacrificial involvement in social issues cross boundaries of class, race, gender, age and theological systems.
Cox describes the decline of scientific modernity and traditional religion in the context of emerging fundamentalism and experientialism with the dangers and promise these entail. He hopes Pentecostalism will challenge the deepening ruptures that divide us and ‘open people to new outpourings of the divine spirit and a fresh recognition of the motley oneness of the human family’.
Written in descriptive narrative theology, Fire from Heaven may become a theological classic supplementing the pioneering work of ‘the recognised dean of Pentecostal studies’ Walter Hollenweger who published The Pentecostals in 1972. (GW)