Coronavirus is bringing unprecedented openness to the Gospel – now online, on phones, on YouTube, on Zoom, on Dropbox, on TV
*Bible sales went up 44-60%
*Prayer searches on Google skyrocketed
*Over 21,000 indicated desire to trust in Jesus Christ in one church
*700 healing volunteers work together in one church to pray and help
*15 million watched blind Andrea Bocelli sing, including ‘Amazing Grace’ in Milan on Easter Sunday, and over 36 million have watched it on YouTube.
‘On the verge of a spiritual awakening?’
Greg Laurie, who pastors a church in Southern California, reports that their online church service which before the crisis was viewed by 8,000 people each week skyrocketed to 250,000 in the first week, while on Easter Sunday 1.3 million people watched the live stream. Laurie believes the nation might be on the verge of a spiritual awakening. “In the past four weeks, we have seen over 21,000 people indicate their desire to put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. This is unprecedented. We’ve only seen that kind of response through our crusades, which take months of planning and considerable expense.”
Holy Trinity Brompton pastor Nicky Gumbel, author of the evangelistic Alpha Course, is seeing an unprecedented openness to the Gospel during the coronavirus lockdown. “I’ve never known a time in my life when people are more open than they are now,” he said.
“There are no other distractions – no football, no entertainment – and people have time to hear the Gospel. People who would have never gone to church, are now coming to explore faith online in their homes.” He called on the Church to ensure it does not let these opportunities pass by. “This is a most extraordinary time. Not a moment to retreat, but a moment for the Kingdom of God to advance.”
In New Zealand, like in many other nations, churches have moved their prayer meetings and small groups online via popular video chat groups. Christian channel Shine TV has birthed a popular new show called ‘Church at home’, Sunday services recorded from homes across New Zealand.
Christian publishers report that sales of the Bible have escalated as more people are searching for hope and encouragement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jim Jewell, communications director for Tyndale Bibles reports that Bible sales went up 44-60%. Lifeway reported a similar increase. “We believe people are buying Bibles because there’s a longing to connect with God, find meaning, and experience peace.”
‘Prayer searches on Google skyrocketed’
Google searches about prayer skyrocketed when the coronavirus went global, and the search intensity doubled for every 80,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases. This is reported by Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen, who researched the phenomenon. “The intensified searches on prayer is global: it occurs on all continents and for Christians and Muslims alike. Even Denmark, one of the least religious countries in the world sees systematic increases in internet searches on prayer.”
Unite714 (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Prayer organisations and churches worldwide launched the Unite714 initiative to pray unitedly for “a miraculous healing of our lands from the coronavirus and for a spiritual awakening among the nations.”
As the world was experiencing the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, twenty-five prominent pastors and ministry leaders from different denominations, networks, and nations gathered on March 19, 2020, for a historic phone call. In the course of the conversation, it became clear they all shared one heart — to unite and activate the worldwide Body of Christ to pray for both the eradication of this virus and spiritual awakening across the world. Using 2 Chronicles 7:14 as their guide, UNITE714 was born. The call from God was simply to unite the global Church by engaging churches and individuals around the world in prayer at 7:14 every morning and evening.
Soon a strategic, pastoral team emerged that would develop and guide this prayer initiative with Pastors Chris Hodges, Steve Robinson, Dino Rizzo, and James Laffoon guiding the way. What began as a small group of leaders has turned into an international movement bringing together thousands of churches and millions of people across the globe.
In Brazil, a country with almost 40% active Christians, believers gathered in the streets – trying to keep appropriate distance – to call out to God together. Over Easter Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue was lit up as ‘Christ the Medic’, to honor heroic healthcare workers fighting the pandemic around the world.
Bethel Church in Redding moved its ‘healing rooms’ – places where people can receive prayer for healing – online. Many people request help with stress and anxiety brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Some 700 healing volunteers are working together to make the ministry available seven days a week from 9am to 5pm (Pacific Time) over the internet.
‘Plans may have changed, but God is still at work’
Restrictions on travel, the size of gatherings, lockdowns, and social distancing have forced many missions organisations to postpone conferences and training events for their workers. But while plans have changed, God is still at work.
Jash, a church leader working in North India, reports: “Our people are fasting and praying at least one day a week. The Lord had already spoken to us to be prepared. Everyone goes up to their roof and cries to the Lord for the land, and for a deeper way to know Him.” The quickly changing times are raising many questions in the community. “Even those who opposed the Gospel are now contacting us and requesting prayer. This provides an opening for deeper conversations about Jesus and His salvation. Much of the outreach is done over the phone.”
The Slavic Gospel Association reports that Georgia, Ukraine and Russia are in lockdown and the situation looks pretty bad in terms of death toll. Christians are sacrificially setting aside funds to help their neighbours in the days ahead. “People in the villages are saying, ‘only your church helps us’,” reports a local pastor.
Sources: HTB, Bethel Church, Shine TV, Global Disciples, Tyndale, Unite714, Revive, CT, SGA, Joel News
* 14 million watched blind Andrea Bocelli sing ‘Music for Hope’ at Piazza Duomo in Milan, Italy, including ‘Amazing Grace’ outside the cathedral on Easter Sunday, and over 36 million have watched it on YouTube –
The Lord’s anointed ones are full of active faith! They won’t back down to the voice of fear or the appearance of impending destruction.
We read in 1 Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath. David saw Goliath and heard the blasphemies that came out of his mouth. Eliab listened with a sinking heart. Something different happened to David, though. The anointing of the Lord began to heat up within him. At that same moment, the hearts of Israel’s unanointed professionals became ice-cold with fear. Do you see the contrast? This has always been a notable distinction between the two, and it still is today… The anointing gives great boldness, making people immune to fear! The anointing makes the difference between an academic faith and a burning faith. Let me warn you—the one faith will always irritate the other.
Eliab undoubtedly had reason on his side, which left him weighing up the balance of Israelite and Philistine forces. He saw no other resources. Eliab was able to make professional assessments of battle situations, and he saw that Israel had no chance of winning. This professional officer mentally put himself next to Goliath for comparison and saw him as an awesome giant. David, in contrast, was a man of active faith and mentally put Goliath next to the God of Israel and saw the Philistine as a midget. It is amazing what transpires when faith and fear are contrasted.
David knew that he had the Lord on his side, and he felt a holy stirring and indignation within his soul. That was because of the anointing, which gave him resources unknown to others. His inner eyes of faith were upon the Lord. He did more than just hope and pray. God’s anointing made him hungry for victory, and he was excited with eager anticipation. The anointing was the “guarantee” of things to come.
Oftentimes, people act in response to a voice of fear that comes disguised as a voice of reason. However, for the anointed believer, it is only reasonable to view every unholy circumstance of opposition as insignificant, compared to our great and mighty God! Rather than allowing the challenging circumstances in your life and in the world around you to paralyze and intimidate you, allow them to stoke the fire in your heart. Allow them to embolden you and stir the anointing on your life. Perhaps in this season, as never before, you will discover the great resources God has invested into your life and the anointing He has given you. We will talk more about that tomorrow…
Source: (adapted from Evangelism by Fire pg. 163-164)
Pick Up Your Weapons!
By Reinhard Bonnke
Where are our weapons? Paul wrote, “Stir up the gift of God which is in you” (2 Tim. 1:6). He instructed, “Stir up.” This word has to do with fire—the stirring up of a campfire to get the embers blazing. It means, “to kindle,” “to bring up to full flame.” Do not cool off! Stir up that fire! Use the fan on the dying embers. The word of God and the gifts of the Spirit are our weapons against the attack of the enemy.
These gifts are described in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”
These gifts of the Spirit are our weapons, and the devil has done his best to stop Christians from using them. As valuable as natural gifts are, they can never take the place of Holy Spirit endued gifts, and more importantly, they must never be confused with them. For example, many churchmen and medical doctors have opposed divine healing. They have magnified the stories of those who are “disappointed” and who are not immediately healed. They have conveniently forgotten that doctors disappoint millions every day. Nearly everyone in the graveyard had been to a doctor first, yet nobody would be so foolish as to demand the closing of all hospitals! Others object to divine healing simply because some are not healed, and so they do not minister to the sick at all. This leaves everybody unhealed! Where is compassion, or obedience to the Scriptures? Some Christians have let their bow and arrows (their gifts, their spiritual weapons) gather dust in a corner because of critics. They lower their God-given weapons and accept defeat because of the fear of man. Others have been hurt, perhaps by remarks from fellow believers, and thus have dropped their gifts. They have “lost” them, though God never reclaims them, for “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29).
The Lord has never sent a saint into battle without a weapon. That is precisely why, before His ascension to heaven, Jesus told the apostles to remain in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit. He knew that they would need to be endued with the power of the Holy Spirit and His gifts. The power of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts must be recovered to each and every believer. Hear the word of the Lord: Go back to the day and to the place where you left those spiritual gifts, and ask the Lord to forgive you. Do not be afraid! Do not despair; the gifts are still there, albeit dormant. Dry your tears of despair and sorrow, and take up your weapons again!
Source: (Evangelism by Fire. pg. 179-181)
“Tell Us What You Think!”
We hope this series is a blessing to you. We would love to hear any testimonies you might have. Simply reply to this email and let us know.
Did someone forward you this message? SIGN UP HERE to receive the next message directly.
This Bible Study has been taken from Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke’s book, “Evangelism by Fire”. In this book he lays out the principles necessary for effective evangelism, showing how God operates through anyone who is willing to follow His plan.
India: The largest churches in the world are grassroots movements
Korean Pastor Yonggi Cho was long known as the pastor of the largest church in the world. But things have changed. Grassroots church planting movements are growing with a speed and vigor that most would find hard to believe.
What would you say if you learn that with 800,000 members the ‘pastor’ of one of the largest churches in the world lives in North India? Beginning with just 12 people in 1994, Randeep Mathews’ house-church based movement started even before he was a Christian.
Randeep started in one of the most hostile environments you can imagine, the city of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesdh (India) in the Himalayas. It soon grew to 3,000, then 30,000 followers of Christ in what was once called ‘the graveyard of missions’ because of its historic resistance to the imported gospel from the West. They have now (Aug 2019) reached already 800,000 members in North India (300,000 of that in Himachal) and are poised to grow to 3 million in Himachal Pradesh alone.
This is by far not the only story, there are many more. A close friend of Randeep is Rodrick Gilbert in Delhi who demonstrates that this also works in a megacity. Rodrick reports about 700,000 members in 58,000 house churches. When only 18 years of age, another man started such a movement in Gujarat and Rajastan, North India, just ten years ago. It now has seen 150,000 new members in 11,200 house churches.
Source: Wolfgang Simson
Indonesia: How a mother found her lost son through a prophetic word
These Jesus followers could plant one house church each month in their kitchen.
On a visit to Indonesia German missiologist Wolfgang Simson taught a group of Jesus followers an important insight: “In the Kingdom of God people share a revolutionary lifestyle with each other.”
He elaborated: “Number one: eating as the central element of meeting. Number two: truly sharing, koinonia, so that by the end of the day there is neither rich or poor.” Simson illustrated this with Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler, and the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19. “A rich person is someone who has a surplus and fails to share. As a result his money turns against him. No longer does he have the money, but the money has him, and that is a trap. In this respect the New Testament is different from the Old Testament; Jesus really brought in a revolutionary new perspective. In his view you can be a rich person or a Kingdom citizen, but not both. It’s part of the Kingdom lifestyle that no-one is needy.”
“The third thing,” he explained, “is that they exposed themselves to apostolic teaching, which is equipping people to go out and become a virus of God into this world to plant churches, plant the presence of Christ, start cell groups of the Kingdom into enemy territory that will implode the enemy’s movements. And that’s already happening. Even terrorists are coming to Christ, and become the most ardent church planters in the Kingdom of God.”
“The fourth and last thing is to pray,” Simson said. “We send messages to God and God sends messages to us. It’s called prophecy. So when you have people over to your premises, the question is not if you should prophesy over them, but what you should prophesy. After all, we are called to share a word of the Lord with them.”
How that teaching worked out, he discovered one year later when he revisited Indonesia. He was invited by a Chinese family in Jakarta for lunch. They had taken four months to digest his teaching, as it was so different from church as they had known it. But then they decided to simply apply the lessons and see what would happen. They opened up their house, prepared a buffet, and invited strangers to come under the pretense: ‘We had a wedding planned, but the bridegroom is late. [pun intended] So we have food over and invite you to help us finish it.’
The first person to arrive was a lady. The prophets in the group immediately received a word for her: ‘This is the word from the Lord: you have lost your son.’ The lady started to cry, broke down and said: ‘This is true! Eight years ago I lost my son Dave in the market in Jakarta, never to find him again. He was four years old and since that time I’m like a mad mother searching for her son.’ The prophets assured her: ‘Today God answered your prayer. If you go to the National Monument in Jakarta, you will find your son under a big tree.’
She didn’t know what to think of this, but hopped on a bus straight to the National Monument. When looking around for a boy who had to be 12 years old by now, she found a boy who looked that age and asked: ‘Dave?’ ‘Mum?!’ They found each other!
Merdeka Square in Jakarta with the National Monument
When she came back to the house church and shared her story, this good news spread like a virus. Since that day these Chinese Jesus followers could plant one house church each month in their kitchen. Their kitchen became a church planting center. “How did that happen?” Simson asked rhetorically. “In the Kingdom – open up your house, open up your kitchen, open up your fridge.”
Source: Wolfgang Simson
Source: Joel News International, #1141, September 24, 201
There is an old saying: “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but God alone can count the apples in a seed.”
How true this is in the story you are about to read. To anyone looking on, Vatsa was just an ordinary ‘apple’. No one would have guessed that the Lord had placed the seeds within this ‘apple’ to eventually produce over 3,000 new churches!
Stop and think of that for a minute. When they cross the threshold of heaven, how many people in history will have disciples from 3,000 churches run up to them and say, “I am here because of you!” Now think of how the crowd swells when all the disciples those 3,000 churches brought with them join the throng. It becomes overwhelming! For those who choose to obey the command, “to make disciples” (Mt. 28:18-19), God doesn’t see apples, he sees orchards!
New Generations is a ministry whose passion is to mobilize disciples that make disciples, resulting in churches that plant churches. Vatsa is one of their workers in Asia.
‘Sir, are you a Christian? Will you please talk to my father?’
When one day two young women came to Vatsa’s door, he expected them to ask about one of the rooms he and wife rent out to students. But these girls didn’t ask about rooms. One of them asked: “Sir, are you a Christian?” Because his town had some very anti-Christian elements, Vatsa was surprised and alarmed. “Yes, we are Christian,” he replied. She quickly got to the point. “Sir, for years my parents have been wanting to know about Jesus. Will you please talk to my father?”
She called her father who eagerly invited Vatsa to visit their village. A week later, Vatsa and his wife took the 120 kilometer (75 mile) drive and found a group of the family gathered, ready to learn about Jesus. Neighbors soon joined in, for a total of sixteen people.
It was a remarkable open door for sharing the gospel. How would they handle this? Where would it lead? In this very first encounter, Vatsa demonstrated to the family how they could make discoveries about God for themselves, right from the Bible. He read Psalm 25:8-9 – ‘Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.’
Vatsa asked: “What do you learn in this scripture about God, and what do you learn about man?” “I learn,” said the father, “that God is good, and he teaches sinners. And that man has to humble himself to learn from God.” “And what does it say to you personally?” Vatsa asked. Very quietly, the father replied: “I am a man, and I am a sinner. I need to learn from God, to become humble and to follow God’s way.”
‘We will start a Bible study right here in your home. God will teach you and lead you.’
The father was responsive, and eager to learn more, but he had questions about the next steps. “Where will we go to church?” he asked. “Who will be our pastor?” Vatsa’s answer was a surprise. “We will start a Bible study right here in your home. God will teach you and lead you to start a church with your family members and relatives.” Since that day, not only have six of the family members turned to Jesus, but two more Bible studies have started in other homes.
For those who choose to obey the command ‘to make disciples’, God doesn’t see apples – he sees orchards!
What did Vatsa do that was different?
First of all, he made the effort to visit the family in their own home. This meant taking a full day to do so. He realized the encounter was not about reaching one man or even one family, but about how this man, with such obvious fervor to know Jesus, could be an instrument of God to reach a community.
Secondly, he showed the family how they could learn about God right from the Bible and encouraged them to do that regularly. He then coached the father, through phone calls and further visits, to facilitate the family time together in the Word. Vatsa also taught him to release others to do the same thing in new groups.
“In the past,” Vatsa says, “I would not have bothered to visit this man but would have simply invited him to my church. And I never would have allowed him to become a facilitator and leader.” Since he started implementing this new way of doing ministry, Vatsa has seen 3,304 small churches started, and he’s never going back. “I have seen a great change in our achievements,” he says, “and me and my team have moved to a higher level of personal obedience to the risen Lord Jesus Christ.”
‘I’ve learned that making disciples is not about bringing people to church.’
“I’ve learned,” he adds, “that making disciples is not about bringing people to church. It’s about starting church at anybody’s home or any place. It’s about finding a man of peace and releasing him for making disciples. It’s about a lifestyle of following Jesus’ model and having Jesus’ attitude toward the lost.”
As of the end of September 2019, New Generations teams along with their partners have seen God raise up 70,921 new churches, 1,695,692 New Christ-followers, of whom, 471,813 (28%) are Muslim background. New Generations has now seen God launch 126 Disciple Making Movements (DMM) – 113 in Sub-Saharan Africa and 13 in South Asia. In Sub-Saharan Africa, a people group of eastern Congo reached the DMM threshold with 108 churches to the 9th generation!
Source: New Generations
Joel News International, # 1158, February 10, 2020
We have just returned from a very special and very emotional service. Tonight,Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke preached the Gospel for the last time on African soil after 50 years of powerful ministry. His wife, Anni and his children were with him on the platform. Our national directors and many ministry friends from all over the world were there to be a part of the historic moment. More than 1.7 million people attended the five days of meetings. Countless miracles took place and many thousands of salvations were recorded. I cannot imagine a more fitting way to celebrate 50 years of Evangelist Bonnke’s ministry than with one more massive harvest of souls in Africa. It was truly a remarkable and historic event. It will stand out in my memory as one of the most precious days in my life.
We faced an unusual level of resistance this week – such as I have not experienced in my time with the ministry. But the Lord spoke to us clearly that what we were experiencing was birthing pangs. Although this crusade was Evangelist Bonnke’s Farewell in Africa, it is really just the beginning of something new and wonderful. God has given me the vision for a “Decade of Double Harvest.” I believe that over the next decade, we will see another 75-million people won to Christ and tonight was the beginning. No wonder we are feeling the pangs of birth. I will share more specifics on this in the days to come, but for now it is enough to say we are on the threshold of “even greater” things. As Evangelist Bonnke has often said, “Nothing diminishes in God.”
This also marks the last crusade of the year. As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of another, I am so thankful for those of you that have stood with us so faithfully through your prayers and giving. Please continue to stand with us as we enter this new season of harvest. All hands are needed on deck. The best is yet to come. We love and appreciate each one of you.
Yours in the Gospel,
Evangelist Daniel Kolenda
Together with Reinhard Bonnke, Peter Vandenberg, and the whole CfaN Team
The number is staggering: 75,913,155. That’s how many people have come to Christ through the ministry of Reinhard Bonnke, as reported by his organization Christ for all Nations (CfaN).
The German-born evangelist said on CfaN’s website. “I want not only to see a gigantic harvest of souls but to pass my burning torch to a new generation of evangelists.”
Bonnke, his wife Anni, and their young son moved to the tiny African nation of Lesotho in 1969. The couple spent seven years working there as missionaries. It wasn’t easy. Bonnke says it was during those difficult years that he started praying to see more souls saved across the African continent. He says God gave him a vision for “a continent washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.”
The early days in Lesotho (1974)
In 1974, Christ for All Nations was birthed, and since then more than 75 million people have accepted Christ through the ministry. All these years later, Bonnke says the vision still burns in his soul. “Whether I am eating or drinking, awake or asleep, the vision is ever-present. It never leaves me.”
Now, at 77, Bonnke is passing the torch to a new generation of evangelists as he prepares to retire after more than 40 years in ministry. Lead evangelist of CfaN, Daniel Kolenda, has been tapped to succeed Bonnke.
The preparations for the final crusade involved “500,000 counselors, 200,000 intercessors, a choir of over 23,000 and a security force of over 10,000,” said John Darku, CfaN’s African director. “There is great excitement from all the churches in the country, and we are expecting a spectacular harvest of people coming to Christ.”
Source: Christ for all Nations
Joel News International, March 15, 2017
Bonnke’s Lagos campaign drew a crowd of 1.6 million people (2000)
Iran: The country where Christianity is growing fastest
This may come as a surprise to many, but Christianity is growing faster in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in any other country in the world. Tens of thousands of Muslims are abandoning their faith and are beginning to follow Jesus.
Experts say the ongoing political crisis and economic challenges are fueling widespread anger against the regime. Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani is promising to resolve the country’s economic, social and political problems after days of protests gripped the Islamic nation last month. At least 21 people died in clashes with police, and over 1,000 were arrested.
Mike Ansari says political turmoil is creating unique opportunities to share the love of Christ. “Many Iranian Christians have turned to us asking what it is they need to do,” Ansari wrote in an email. Ansari is the president of Heart4Iran Ministries, which is bringing 86 different ministries together with the goal of serving and blessing the people of Iran. He says with all the negative news about Iran, it is easy to miss the big and often untold story of what is really happening inside the Islamic nation. “God is at work in Iran. Jesus is building His church, the Spirit is transforming lives and the gospel is on the move.”
Today 4 satellite TV channels are broadcasting continuous Christian broadcasting into Iran.
Mohabat TV is the media arm of Heart4Iran Ministries. In 2006, Mohabat TV became the first 24-hour Farsi Christian satellite TV channel to beam gospel programs into Iran. Today, it is one of 4 satellite TV channels broadcasting continuous Christian programming. “Christian satellite TV broadcasts into Iran have played a vital role in the success of the underground house church movement,” Ansari wrote. “The significance of media strategy is that it by-passes security measures set by the government and reaches the people of Iran through their TV set or on their smart devices. According to World Mission, the house church movement in Iran is one of the fastest-growing churches in the world. It is the lifeline of Christianity inside this country.”
Recently 20 Iranians, many of whom accepted Christ watching Mohabat TV, traveled to an undisclosed location to get baptized. CBN News was granted exclusive access to the celebrations.
Recently 20 Iranians, many of whom accepted Christ watching Mohabat TV, traveled to an undisclosed location to get baptized. CBN News was granted exclusive access to the celebrations.
Ansari, an Iranian by birth, sat down with CBN News correspondent George Thomas for an exclusive look at the church inside Iran.
Why is the house church movement in Iran growing so fast?
“The church is growing because the people of Iran are disillusioned with Islam and they are looking for answers to life. They are not finding answers in the traditional forms of state religion or the faith of their ancestors. They are looking for new answers, they are not happy and satisfied where they are spiritually. It seems that a large number of these people are actually having dreams and visions about a shining man dressed in white far before we are out there telling them about Jesus.”
Is there a specific area of Iranian society that Jesus is touching more than others?
“The demographic that is responding to the gospel the most is the younger generation, who are very tech-savvy. These are people, anywhere from 18 to 30 years of age. They are online, they are following the world’s pop culture, they are very much plugged in and they are looking for answers. They want to belong to a larger purpose and meaning in life, and they are finding that in Jesus.”
The 1979 Islamic Revolution was supposed to usher in this great Islamic revival. Did that ever materialize?
“After almost 40 years of the Islamic regime, the average Iranian is realizing that Islam is bankrupt and Islam is not able to answer to their social, daily lives and the dilemmas they are dealing with. Iran is facing a host of crises, from drug addiction to depression to suicide to sexually transmitted diseases to human trafficking.”
Almost 40 years into the Islamic Revolution the average Iranian is realizing that Islam is bankrupt.
How bad is persecution against those who decide to abandon Islam and embrace Christianity?
“Iran is listed in Open Doors’ top 10 of most persecuted countries. The reality of Iranian Christians is that they cannot go out on the street and share their new faith with people. They cannot celebrate anywhere publicly, and they are constantly in fear of retaliation from the authorities. Becoming a Christian in Iran, especially if you are from an Islamic background, is illegal and is punishable by the legal code in the country. This is why we want people around the world to continue lifting up the persecuted church in Iran.”
You recently commissioned an extensive survey inside the country to find out how many people are watching programs on Mohabat TV. What did the survey results show?
“We had no idea that so many Iranian youth are following our programs. It appears that roughly about 16 million Iranians within the last 12 months have viewed one or more of our programs on satellite TV and also on their mobile devices. That roughly translates to about 20 percent of Iran’s population and that is an overwhelming number.”
Mohabat TV produced a map showing all the locations Iranians are calling the show from.
How many people call in to your channel and how many have accepted Christ since you launched the network?
“It is a rough estimate that within the last 11 years we’ve been able to connect with over one million Iranians through our call center. These are people who have contacted us wanting to know more about Christianity. These are people who have either become Christians or have had dreams or visions, and wanted to find out more about Jesus. Or people who have become Christians and they want to find out how to grow in their new faith and how to be discipled or how to start a house church in the country. In 2016, our call center processed about 700 contacts per day, which resulted in about 93 decisions for Christ per day. That’s roughly about three people every hour that confessed their faith in Jesus.”
Is satellite TV still the most important evangelism tool to reach Iranians with the gospel or is social media becoming even more important?
“In 2013 and 2014 when the Iranian Green Revolution took place, we realized the importance of Twitter. That was a glimpse into what was coming. In 2017, we realized that social media has fully arrived in the Middle East, especially in a country like Iran where especially the youth are actively using social media on their mobile devices. In addition, the numbers we’ve been getting through our survey is additional validation that this is a sound strategy for ministries to start focusing on.”
Source: George Thomas, CBN
Source: Joel News International – # 1067 | January 26, 2018
Iran: Fastest-growing church has no buildings
For the last few years, researchers have credited the underground church in Iran as the fastest-growing Christian church in the world.
It has unique characteristics that defy comparison with churches in America and Europe, and in the opinion of some who know it well, the church in the West could learn by studying it.
The fastest-growing church in the world has taken root in one of the most unexpected and radicalized nations on earth, according to ‘Sheep Among Wolves’, an outstanding two-hour documentary about the revival that has taken place inside Iran. The Iranian awakening is a rapidly reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women.
‘The movement is predominantly led by women’
The documentary was produced by Frontier Alliance International (FAI), which supports disciple-making teams targeting the ‘unreached’ and ‘unengaged’ within the 10/40 Window. There is a mass exodus leaving Islam for Christianity within Iran, according to FAI.
“What if I told you Islam is dead?” one unidentified Iranian church leader says in the film. “Many of the ruling class still follow Islam because that’s where the high paying jobs are, but the majority of the ordinary people love God and recognize that Islam is the problem. What if I told you the best evangelist for Jesus was the Ayatollah Khomeini? The ayatollahs brought the true face of Islam to light and people discovered it was a lie, a deception.”
Efforts by the ayatollahs to destroy Christianity have backfired, but have served to refine and purify the church. “What persecution did was destroy the churches that were only about converts,” the Iranian church leader noted. “Converts run away from persecution, but disciples are willing to die for the Lord in persecution.”
‘What if I told you Islam is dead?’
Often a disciple-making movement begins the first moment someone comes into contact with an unbeliever. “Everything is founded on prayer. We find people of peace through prayer. We even find locations through prayer,” the Iranian church leader noted. “Jesus has gone faster than us. He has come in their dreams or he’s come miraculously in their lives. When we hear this, we know that Jesus has gone ahead of us.”
Their emphasis is not planting churches; it is making disciples. “If you plant churches, you might make disciples. But if you make disciples, you will plant churches,” the Iranian church leader said. “It is obedience-based discipleship based on the authority of Scripture. Every time you read the Scripture, you must obey it. This is how people become conformed to the image of Christ and sanctified. They are not just reading the Bible for information. They are reading the Bible to get transformed.”
About 55% of the disciple-makers are women, according to the film.
In 1901, when Australia took the Federation census, 96.1% of Australians said that they were Christian. Fast forward to 1916, and in this most recent census, 52.2% of the nation declared they were Christian. During the last census period, we lost 10% and if that decline rate only steadied (didn’t increase as it has been doing) then within 7 years (2 census periods) we would be at 32%. These figures don’t represent the percentage of our population that has a living vibrant relationship with Jesus, but they certainly represent how open we are, as a nation, to the gospel. About 7-9% of the population attend a church regularly which would be a closer representation of those who have a relationship with God.
But there is hope…
Despite it looking like a dark day for Christianity in Australia, there have been times when God has moved in a way that changed major cities. Today, there are towns across this nation that are seeing the same glimmer of hope – a greatly reduced attrition rate in Christianity in opposition to the national average and other towns around them. If we can learn the lessons from these historical moves of God and the regional towns where God is still moving, and if we can harness it in other parts of our nation, then we believe there is great potential to not only slow down the attrition rate of Christianity but to turn it around.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. (Isaiah 60:1-2)
The two major historical moves in our history occurred in 1902 & 1959.
First, we look at the 1902 Great Melbourne Revival and the impact it had on Melbourne and Australia. In the next section, we look at the national revival and city transformation that happened through Billy Graham’s ministry in 1959. Then if we couple these lessons with modern data we can form the foundation for a strategy to see our nation come back to Jesus. A strategy that is God-inspired, biblical, proven and contemporary with what God is doing across the globe in our day.
1902 – The Great Melbourne Revival
In 1902, the Great Melbourne Revival  changed the landscape of Christianity in this corner of the world. In the 1890s’ many of the Melbourne churches united and invited Dwight L Moody to come and hold an evangelistic campaign. DL Moody had been a significant evangelist and leader in the 1857-1859 Second Great Awakening.
Over 200 churches (about 80%) of the churches gathered and prayed for the upcoming campaign. The prayer meetings started years in advance and by the time the campaign began the local churches had held over 16000 prayer meetings. Also, the churches had door knocked the entire city of Melbourne at least twice, with a personal invitation to the meetings. DL Moody couldn’t come as he passed away in 1899, but his spiritual protégé, RA Torrey came. On the weekend of the first meeting over 8000 gathered in the Great Exhibition Hall. The campaign ran over a few months on each Sunday. The population of Melbourne at the time was 500k. By the last Sunday, they had 250k people turn out to hear the word of God preached. That is 50% of the city. By the end, 50 evangelists led simultaneous meetings in 42 halls and sports fields all across Melbourne.
The fruit of the revival
The revival started in Melbourne and then travelled up the coast and ended up seeing major percentages of the Pacific Islands converted, even to this day most of the islands are Christian and some have attributed it to the 1902 revival.
Directly after the campaign, crime dropped to zero per cent and even 12 months later the police were still bored as there was no crime in the city. Pubs closed, and picture theatres were emptied. That campaign changed the social and cultural landscape of Melbourne.
Keys to revival
When looking back at the event, three things have been attributed to the transformation to three things
Missional unity in churches. The churches not only organised the event together, but they worked together to door knock the entire city at least twice
An immense amount of prayer. In lead up to the event, 16000 prayer meetings were held.
The Gospel. At the centre of the activity was a gospel event. It wasn’t about the event, it was about Jesus, but God used the event to mobilise the Body with prayer and outreach.
1959 – A time of national revival
In 1959, Billy Graham came to Australia and New Zealand to spend 4 months touring and preaching the gospel. He did 114 meetings in 106 days . This tour became known as the greatest moment of revival history in our nation. To this day, I often meet men and women who were saved in that campaign and are still serving the Lord.
Billy Graham was invited out by Anglican Archbishop Howard Mowell, who rallied churches and believers for 6 years in the lead up to the gospel campaign. During the campaign over 146k across Australia made a commitment for Jesus.
Preparing the way
In lead up to this rally, over 40 000 individuals signed up to pray for the event. In Sydney, 600 of the 650 churches worked together to door knock around 400 000 homes with a spiritual survey. Over 8000 counselors (45k nationally) were trained to disciple the new believers. In Sydney, 150k people turned out on the last night and over 56k decisions for Jesus were made. Some churches reported 75% and 94% retention of the new believers.
These numbers are great for Sydney, however across Australia and New Zealand over 3 million (out of a total population of 10 million) turned out to hear the gospel, face to face, and even many more heard it across radio and TV. Almost 2% of the nation publicly admitted to deciding to follow Jesus.
God moved and on top of the multitude of decisions, judges, mayors and politicians are reported to have said that Sydney was a different place. On top of these reports, there was actual city-transformation that had measurable results.
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those whowill believe in Me through their word;that they all may be one, asYou, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.And theglory which You gave Me I have given them,that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me;that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me (John 17:20-23)
The fruit of the revival
Directly after the campaign, the crime increase rate dropped to half. This remained that way for 3 years. Alcohol sales dropped by 10% the following year. Pubs closed down, ex-nuptial births decreased and businesses reported an unusual amount of bad debts being paid off. That gospel campaign changed the social and cultural landscape of our nation, but in particular, Sydney.
The 1959 “Southern Cross Crusade” truly was a momentous occasion for Jesus, in our nation. There has not been a move like it in the last 70 years, but there were keys we could learn from the 1959 revival.
Keys to revival
When looking back at the event, three things have been attributed to the transformation
Missional unity in churches. The churches not only organized the event together, but they worked together to door knock around 400k homes with a spiritual survey
An immense amount of prayer. In lead up to the event, 40000 individuals committed to pray.
The Gospel. At the centre of the activity was a gospel event. It wasn’t about the event, it was about Jesus and His gospel, but God used the event to mobilize the Body with prayer and outreach.
1 – Renshaw, W. F., 2014. Torrey-Alexander: Revival comes to Melbourne. In: Marvellous Melbourne and Spiritual Power. Acorn Press, pp. 42-49.
2 – Faase, K., n.d. Lessons from the 1959 Billy Graham crusade. [Online] Available at: https://www.crossover.org.au/revitalised-in-witness-the-lessons-from-the-billy-graham-crusades-of-1959-pt-3/ [Accessed 2019]
Iris Global, based in Mozambique, currently feeds well over 10,000 children a day, including 4,000 families in Malawi. Its network of churches also numbers more than 10,000, including some 2,000 churches among the Makua people of northern Mozambique. Iris operates five Bible schools, in addition to its three primary schools and its school of missions in Pemba.
Heidi Baker became a Christian after hearing a Navajo preacher’s message while volunteering on a Choctaw reservation. She has a Ph.D. in systematic theology from King’s College London (1995).
She met Rolland Baker (now with D.Min.), the grandson of missionary H. A. Baker, in 1979. They married six months later in 1980; they left for the mission field two weeks after that. They were ordained as ministers in 1985.
In 1980 the Bakers founded Iris Global, a non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to charitable service and evangelism, particularly in developing nations. They served God together in Indonesia, Hong Kong, and London, then in Africa. Iris – rainbow – living in the promises of God.
In 1995 the Bakers moved to Mozambique in order to begin a new ministry focused on the care of orphaned and abandoned children. A year later, Heidi Baker became sick with tuberculosis and pneumonia, but despite her doctor’s recommendation, she went to a healing meeting in Toronto, Canada. There, she had a vision where Jesus showed her thousands of children to feed; when she exclaimed that it was impossible to help them all, he said “There will always be enough, because I died.” After which, she was healed.
Iris Global negotiated with the Mozambican government to assume financial and administrative responsibility for a former government orphanage in Chihango, near the capital city of Maputo. There were roughly 80 children present. Since that time Iris Global’s operations have expanded to include well-drilling, free health clinics, village feeding programs, the operation of primary and secondary schools, cottage industries and the founding more than 5000 churches in Mozambique, with a total of over 10,000 Iris-affiliated churches in more than 20 nations. Their ministry is known for its reports of miracles, and in September 2010 the Southern Medical Journal published an article presenting evidence of “significant improvements” in auditory and visual function among subjects exhibiting impairment before receiving prayer from the ministry.
Beyond their administrative duties the Bakers are authors and frequent conference speakers, traveling worldwide to speak on Christian ministry and spirituality. Candy Gunther Brown, professor of religious studies at Indiana University, has called the Bakers “among the most influential leaders in world Pentecostalism.” [Wikipedia]
Roland Baker tells their story:
For years we longed to get to Africa in fulfilment of our calling to prove the Gospel in the most challenging situation we could find. We wanted to see a continuation of “Visions Beyond the Veil,” and believed with my grandfather that the most likely place to see such revival again was among the most unlikely! So we were drawn to Mozambique, officially listed at the time as the poorest country in the world.
A few days into my initial visit to Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, I was offered an orphanage that no one could or would support, not even large churches in South Africa or European donor nations. It was horribly neglected and dilapidated, with eighty miserable, demon-afflicted orphans in rags. I thought it was a perfect test of the Sermon on the Mount. Our Father in heaven knows what we need. Seek first His Kingdom and righteousness, and these things will be ours as well … Take no thought for tomorrow. Why worry? Jesus is enough for us, for anyone.
Alone and without support, Heidi and I offered to take over the center and provide for the children in return for the opportunity to bring the Gospel to them. Within months the children were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, weeping while still in rags with gratitude for their salvation. Jesus provided miraculously, more all the time as our children prayed night and day for their daily food. We brought in teams, improved the center, and took our children to the streets to testify to more orphaned and abandoned children. Some were lost in visions, taken to heaven and dancing around the throne of God on the shoulders of angels.
But abruptly, after we got up to 320 children, the government evicted us and denied our children permission to pray and worship on our property. Totally without a back-up plan, our children marched off the property barefoot without a home. We lost everything. We also lost tremendous amounts of support because we welcomed the increasing Presence of the Holy Spirit in our meetings.
But we were only beginning to taste the power of God in Mozambique. Land was donated by a nearby city. We got tents and food from South Africa. Provision came in from supernaturally touched hearts all over the world. Soon we could actually build our own dorms. Bush pastors longed for a Bible school, and to receive what our children had received from the Holy Spirit. Graduates went out and began healing the sick and raising the dead. Church growth in the bush exploded.
Then revival was fuelled exponentially by the desperation caused by catastrophic flooding in 2000 when three cyclones came together and brought torrential rain for forty days and nights. More damage was caused by that flood than Mozambique’s many years of civil war. A cry for God rose up like we had never experienced or imagined, and our churches across the country multiplied into thousands. God provided a bush airplane, which we used constantly to spread the Gospel through remote “bush conferences” at dirt airstrips in every province.
Now we have networks of churches and church-based orphan care in all ten provinces in Mozambique in addition to our bases in main cities. In recent years Heidi and I have concentrated on the Makua, a people group of four million in the north who were listed by missiologists as “unreached and unreachable.” With tremendous help from missionaries and nationals, around two thousand churches have been planted among these people in the last eight years.
Two devastating cyclones in 2019 flattened thousands of homes and villages. Iris Global, working with international efforts, brought relief along with thousands of solar Bibles in local languages, eagerly wanted by previously resistant people groups.
Iris Global currently feeds well over 10,000 children a day, as well as various members of many other communities, currently including 4,000 families in Malawi. Its network of churches also numbers more than 10,000, including some 2,000 churches among the Makua people of northern Mozambique. Iris operates five Bible schools, in addition to its three primary schools and its school of missions in Pemba. Current major projects include continuing outreaches to very remote coastal regions via Iris’s recently acquired boat, expansion of Iris’s air transport abilities, investment in a range of cottage industries, and a special well-drilling initiative. Iris, having recently acquired a drilling rig by generous funding from several U.S. churches, intends to transform life in desperately dry villages everywhere possible. One by one.
“The primary mission of Iris Global as a family is to seek the face of God with all our hearts, that we might glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. We proclaim Jesus. He is our salvation, our prize, our reward, our inheritance, our destination, our motivation, our joy, wisdom and sanctification — and absolutely everything else we need, now and forever.” – from their website.