Dr Geoff Waugh, founding editor of the Renewal Journal, wroteFlashpoints of Revival (2nd edition 2009) and Revival Fires (2011)which give fuller details of these impacts of the Holy Spirit in revivals.
The charismatic impacts of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament have been repeated continually in evangelical revivals. Specific examples of Spirit impacts in revival frequently occurred in the Great Awakening and evangelical revivals of the eighteenth century as in the ministries of Zinzendorf, Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards. and Brainerd; in revival movements of the nineteenth century including those associated with Finney and Moody; and in revival and charismatic movements of the twentieth century. Many historians have either overlooked or minimized these charismatic impacts of the Holy Spirit in revival.
The charismatic movement now involving over 600 million people has grown from its description by Princeton’s Henry Van Dusen in 1955 as ‘the third major force in Christendom’ to a major tradition alongside and as part of the Catholic/Orthodox and Protestant traditions. This article concludes that revival offers a paradigm in which differing denominational perspectives on charismatic Spirit movements may find common ground in evangelism, equipping of Christians for ministry, and in social reform.
Baptised in the Spirit
Jesus’ final instruction and promise concerned being baptised in the Spirit and receiving power (dunamis) to be his witnesses (Acts 1:4-8).
Does the charismatic impact of Pentecost recur? This paper affirms both the relevance and importance of specific charismatic impacts of the Holy Spirit, demonstrated biblically and historically as in evangelical revivals. It also affirms the significance of Jesus’ instruction in the ‘great commission’ that his followers throughout history ‘to the end of the age’ would obey everything he taught his first disciples including charismatic ministry such as healing, deliverance and miracles. That position disagrees with Benjamin Warfield’s “cessationist” theory (1918), popularised by notes in the Schofield Bible.
Baptism in the Spirit and charisma (gracious gift/endowment) in the New Testament find expression in the charismata described by Luke (Luke/Acts) as anointing with spiritual power (Luke 3:16-22; 4:1. 14-19; Acts 1:1-8), and by Paul as empowering for ‘body ministry’ with a diversity of spiritual gifts in the unity of the body of Christ (Romans 12:1-8; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:1-16).
Different Christian traditions emphasize different dimensions of being baptised in the Spirit. Rather than regarding these perspectives or emphases as mutually exclusive, they can be regarded more comprehensively as inter-related and integrated. The evangelical emphasis on conversion (Dunn 1970), the Episcopal/Catholic emphasis on initiation (Green 1985. McDonnell & Montague 1991), the Reformed emphasis on covenant (Williams 1992), and the Pentecostal emphasis on empowering (Prince 1995) can be integrated within a dynamic paradigm of Spirit baptism. These perspectives are essential, inter-related facets of being immersed in God.
So charisma here refers to the multi-faceted impact of God’s gracious endowment in the personal and communal life of believers, especially as empowering for mission (Acts 1:8). God’s grace imparts abundant life (John 10:10). Believers are incorporated into the Spirit-empowered community in which God is faithful to every promise of the new covenant.
Just as conversion is appropriated by repentance and faith, so are Spirit-empowering and Spirit-gifting. Conversion, anointing. Empowering, and ministering in spiritual gifting may be appropriated over time, slowly, rapidly. or instantaneously. Complex variables affect that appropriation, including faith, knowledge, personality, tradition, environment (supportive or hostile), boldness, and God’s sovereignty.
Biblical terms describing charismatic impacts of the Spirit vary greatly. They include:
the Spirit was given — Numbers ll:17; John 7:39;
the Spirit came upon — Judges 3:10; Acts 19:5;
the Spirit took control — Judges 6:34; 1 Samuel 11:6; 16:13;
the Spirit poured out — Joel 2:28-28; Acts 10:45;
the Spirit came down — Matthew 3:16; Luke 3:22; John 1:33;
the Spirit fell (or came down)– Acts 10:44; 11:15;
the Spirit received — Acts 8:15-17; 19:2;
baptised in or with the Spirit — Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5;
filled with the Spirit — Acts 2:4; 9:17; Ephesians 5:18.
The specific nature of these charismatic impacts is significant, as is the varied nature of subsequent ministries resulting from these impacts.
Jesus experienced the impact of the Spirit at his baptism, which he explained in terms of anointing with power for his ministry (Luke 4:18-19). The followers of Jesus were baptised in the Spirit at Pentecost with immediate empowering for ministry (Acts 1:5; 2:1-4). producing explosive church growth. Converts from Philip’s evangelism in Samaria ‘received’ the Spirit when Peter and John laid hands on them and prayed for them (Acts 8:17). Saul of Tarsus was filled with the Spirit and healed three days after his Damascus road experience when Ananias laid hands on him and prayed for him (Acts 9:17-18), an encounter which included prayer, fasting, visions, prophecy and healing. The Gentiles in Cornelius’ home in Caesarea ‘received’ the Holy Spirit while Peter preached to them (Acts 11:44-47), with radical cross-cultural implications for mission. The Holy Spirit impacted believers in Ephesus when Paul laid hands on them and prayed for them (Acts 19:6).
These charismatic impacts of the Spirit empowered people for ministry. That ministry involved a wide range of charismata including anointed preaching and prophecy, healings and miracles, tongues and trouble.
Significant charismatic impacts of the Spirit of God have continued through history. These may have been overlooked or minimised for reasons such as these:
Many historians wrote from the perspective of the established government or church, which often opposed and suppressed charismatic movements.
Strong impacts of the Spirit constantly initiate new movements which threaten the established order, so these movements were opposed and their writings destroyed.
Charismatic movements may be regarded as heretical, and their leaders killed, as with Jesus, the early church, and throughout history.
Accounts of charismatic impacts of the Spirit have been systematically destroyed, often burned as heretical.
Excessive enthusiasmand fanaticism in charismatic movements may bring those movements into disrepute.
Leaders and adherents of charismatic movements have often been occupied with more pressing priorities than writing history. such as ensuring their own survival.
However, where such records have survived, mostly after the invention of the printing press, the charismatic impacts of God’s Spirit consistently reveal similar patterns to the biblical witness. Evangelical revivals provide evidence of these charismatic encounters. I give a brief selection here including first person accounts. They indicate the charismatic nature of impacts of the Spirit of God which became the empowering force in revival.
Wednesday. 13 August. 1727 – Herrnhut. Saxony
The Spirit of God fell on 300 refugees in Germany in 1727, mostly Moravian exiles given asylum on the estates of Nicholaus von Zinzendorf. One of them wrote that “the thirteenth of August, 1727, was a day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We saw the hand of God and his wonders, and we were all under the cloud of our fathers baptized with their Spirit. The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst. From that time scarcely a day passed but what we beheld his almighty workings amongst us” (Greenfield 1927:14).
Within 25 years they sent out 100 missionaries, then by 1782 they had 175 missionaries in 27 places, and in their fist 100 years of missions sent out over 1,199 people, including 459 women, all supported by round-the-clock ‘hourly intercessions’. Both John and Charles Wesley were converted through their witness. Their English missionary magazine, Periodical Accounts, inspired William Carey. ,He threw a copy of the paper on a table at a Baptist meeting. Saying, “See what the Moravians have done! Cannot we follow their example and in obedience to our Heavenly Master go out into the world, and preach the Gospel to the heathen?” (Greenfield 1927:19).
January. 1735 – New England. America
Jonathan Edwards reported on a revival movement which developed into the Great Awakening as it spread through the communities of New England and the pioneering settlements in America. Converts to Christianity reached 50,000 out of a total of 250,000 colonists. Early in January, 1735 an unusually powerful move of God’s Spirit brought revival to Northampton, which then spread through New England in the north east of America.
And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more. Souls did, as it were, come by flocks to Jesus Christ. … Those amongst us that had formerly been converted, were greatly enlivened and renewed with fresh and extraordinary incomes of the Spirit of God; though some much more than others. according to the measure of the gift of Christ (Stacy 1842. 1989:12-13).
Monday. 1 January. 1739 – London
1739 saw astonishing expansion of revival in England. During the evening of 1st January the Wesleys and George Whitefield with 60 others. met in London for prayer and a love feast. The Spirit of God moved powerfully on them all. John Wesley described it:
About three in the morning. as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of his majesty, we broke out with one voice, “We praise Thee. O God. we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord” (Idle 1986:55).
This London Pentecost contributed powerfully to revival, which spread rapidly. In February 1739 Whitefield started preaching to the Kingswood coal miners in the open fields near Bristol because many churches opposed him. accusing him and other evangelicals of ‘enthusiasm’. In February about 200 attended. By March 20,000 attended. Whitefield invited Wesley to take over then and so in April Wesley reluctantly began his famous open air preaching. which continued for 50 years.
Thursday 8 August, 1745 – Crossweeksung. America
David Brainerd, missionary to the North American Indians from 1743 to his death at 29 in 1747, tells of revival breaking out among Indians at Crossweeksung in August 1745. Concerning 8 August, 1745, he wrote, “The power of God seemed to descend on the assembly ‘like a rushing mighty wind’ and with an astonishing energy bore all down before it. I stood amazed at the influence that seized the audience almost universally and could compare it to nothing more aptly than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent … Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together and scarce was able to withstand the shock of astonishing operation” (Howard 1949:216-217).
The ‘Great Awakening’ which had begun a decade previously now impacted Indian settlements with charismatic outpourings of the Holy Spirit, producing both conversions and significant social improvement.
Sunday 25 December, 1781 – Cornwall. England
Forty years after the eighteenth century evangelical revivals began, the fires of revival had died out in many places. Concerned leaders called the church to pray. Those prayer meetings included outpourings of the Spirit in revival. On Christmas day 1781, at St. Just Church in Cornwall, at 3.00 a.m. intercessors met to sing and pray. The Spirit was poured out on them and they prayed through until 9.00 a.m. and regathered that Christmas evening. Throughout January and February the movement continued. By March 1782 they were praying until midnight as the Holy Spirit moved on them. The chapel which George Whitefield had built decades previously in Tottenham Court Road, London, had to be enlarged to seat 5,000 people, the largest church building in the world at that time. Baptist churches in North Hampton, Leicester, and the Midlands, set aside regular nights devoted to prayer for revival. Methodists and Anglicans joined them. and revival spread.
June-July, 1800 – Kentucky. America
Presbyterian James McGready organised camp meetings in Kentucky, an area nicknamed Rogues Harbour populated with fugitives from justice including murderers, horse thieves, highway robbers, and counterfeiters. On the last day of the first camp meeting, held in June with around 450 people, ‘a mighty effusion of [God’s] Spirit’ came upon the people, ‘and the floor was soon covered with the slain; their screams for mercy pierced the heavens.’ At the next camp meeting held in late July 1800 an enormous crowd of 8,000 attended, many from up to 100 miles away. McGready recalled:
“The power of God seemed to shake the whole assembly. Toward the close of the sermon, the cries of the distressed arose almost as loud as his voice. After the congregation was dismissed the solemnity increased, till the greater part of the multitude seemed engaged in the most solemn manner. No person seemed to wish to go home – hunger and sleep seemed to affect nobody – eternal things were the vast concern. Here awakening and converting work was to be found in every part of the multitude; and even some things strangely and wonderfully new to me” (Christian History. No. 23. p 25).
August, 1801 – Cane Ridge. America (Barton Stone)
Presbyterian minister Barton Stone organised similar meetings in 1801 in his area at Cane Ridge, Kentucky. A huge crowd of around 12,500 attended in over 125 wagons. At that time Lexington, the largest town in Kentucky, had less than 1,800 citizens. Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist preachers and circuit riders formed preaching teams, speaking simultaneously in different parts of the camp grounds, all aiming for conversions. Methodist James Finley, wrote:
The noise was like the roar of Niagara. The vast sea of human being seemed to be agitated as if by a storm. … At one time I saw at least five hundred swept down in a moment as if a battery of a thousand guns had been opened upon them, and then immediately followed shrieks and shouts that rent the very heavens (Pratney 1994:104).
The Rev. Moses Hoge described it:
“The careless fall down, cry out, tremble, and not infrequently are affected with convulsive twitchings … Nothing that imagination can paint. can make a stronger impression upon the mind. than one of those scenes. Sinners dropping down on every hand, shrieking, groaning, crying for mercy, convulsed; professors praying, agonizing, fainting, falling down in distress for sinners or in raptures of joy! … As to the work in general there can be no question but it is of God. The subjects of it, for the most part are deeply wounded for their sins, and can give a clear and rational account of their conversion” (Christian History. No. 23. p. 26).
These frontier revivals became a new emphasis in American revivalism. They included the ‘saw dust trail’ laid down to settle the dust or soak up wet ground over which penitents moved to the ‘altar’ at the front. Revival early in the nineteenth century not only impacted the American frontier, but also towns and especially colleges. One widespread result in America, as in England, was the formation of missionary societies to train and direct the large numbers of converts filled with missionary zeal.
Wednesday, 10 October, 1821 – Adams. America
Charles Finney had a mighty empowering by God’s Spirit on the night of his conversion on Wednesday 10 October 1821. Convicted by the Spirit that morning, he surrendered to God in the woods. That night he was filled with the Spirit:
I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any memory of ever hearing the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves of liquid love, for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can remember distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.
No words can express the wonderful love that was spread abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love. I literally bellowed out the unspeakable overflow of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after another, until I remember crying out, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” I said, “Lord, I cannot bear any more,” yet I had no fear of death (Wessel 1977:20-22).
Finney continued for the rest of his life in evangelism and revival. He founded and taught theology at Oberlin College which pioneered co-education and enrolled both blacks and whites. His Lectures on Revival were widely read and helped to fan revival in America and England.
Sunday, 22 May, 1859 – Natal. South Africa
Revival began among the Zulu and Bantu tribes in South Africa before it spilled over into the Dutch Reformed Church. Tribal people gathered in large numbers on the frontier mission stations and then took revival, African style, into their villages. On Sunday night, 22 May, the Spirit of God fell on a service of the Zulus in Natal so powerfully that they prayed all night. News spread rapidly. This revival among the Zulus of Natal on the east coast ignited missions and tribal churches. It produced deep conviction of sin, immediate repentance and conversions, extraordinary praying and vigorous evangelism.
In April 1860 at a combined missions conference of over 370 leaders of Dutch Reformed, Methodist and Presbyterian leaders meeting at Worcester, South Africa, they discussed revival. Andrew Murray Sr., moved to tears, had to stop speaking. His son, Andrew Murray Jr., now well known through his books, led in prayer so powerfully that many saw that as the beginning of revival in those churches.
October, 1871 – New York
D. L. Moody, converted in 1855, led powerful evangelistic campaigns in America and England. While visiting New York in 1871 to raise funds for churches and orphanages destroyed in the Chicago fire of October that year, in which his home, church sanctuary and the YMCA buildings were destroyed, he had a deep encounter with God. He wrote,
“I was crying all the time God would fill me with his Spirit. Well, one day in the city of New York – oh, what a day! – I cannot describe it. I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask him to stay his hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths; and yet hundreds were converted. I would not be placed back where I was before that blessed experience for all the world – it would be as the small dust of the balance” (Moody 1900:149).
Monday, 31 October, 1904 – Loughor, Wales
Evan Roberts, a student at the Methodist Academy in Wales, experienced a deep work of the Spirit at meetings on Thursday 29 September, 1904, after Presbyterian evangelist Seth Joshua closed the 7 a.m. meeting crying out in Welsh. ‘Lord … bend us.’ Roberts agonised in prayer that day. He wrote. “It was the Spirit that put the emphasis for me on ‘Bend us.’ ‘That is what you need’ said the Spirit to me. And as I went out I prayed. O Lord, bend me” (Evans 1969:70).
Impelled by the Spirit he returned home from college on a week’s leave and spoke nightly from 31 October to increasing crowds as the Spirit moved powerfully on them. From the following week he led teams by invitation across south Wales, sparking the Welsh Revival which reported 70,000 conversions in three months and 100,000 within a year. Crime rates and abortions dropped. Many taverns went bankrupt. Some judges had no cases to try, and police had so little to do in many towns at the height of the revival that they attended the meetings while still on duty.
Friday, 30 June, 1905 – Mukti. India
Pandita Ramabai established a compound for widows and orphan girls during severe famine in her area near Pune (Poona) just south of Bombay, and called it Mukti (Salvation). By 1901 she had 2,000 girls and women and from January 1905 she began teaching about the need for revival. Soon over 500 people met twice daily to pray for revival, mostly women and girls. Thirty of her ladies ministered in teams in the villages. They met daily to pray for the endowment of the Holy Spirit. On Thursday 29 June the Spirit moved strongly on many of the girls. On Friday, 30 June, while Ramabai taught from John 8, the Holy Spirit fell on them all suddenly with great power. Everyone there began to weep and pray aloud, crying out to be baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire. Revival spread through their mission, and into many surrounding areas. Regular school activities gave way to confession, repentance, and great joy with much praise and dancing. Many spoke in tongues (including English!), and were filled with zeal for evangelism and social care.
Saturday, 14 April, 1906 – Azusa Street. Los Angeles
Charles Paraham conducted a Bible College at Topeka, Kansas where on 1 January 1901 Agnes Ozman spoke in tongues when Parham laid hands on her and prayed for her to be baptized in the Spirit. That month Parham and half of the 34 students also spoke in tongues. Those events have been seen as the beginning of Pentecostalism in America.
William Seymour, a Negro Holiness pastor, attended Parham’s short term Bible School in Houston, Texas early in 1906, then by April was the leader of The Apostolic Faith Mission at Azusa Street, Los Angeles. Meetings began there on Easter Saturday, 14 April 1906. About 100 attended including blacks and whites. The Spirit of God moved powerfully on that little mission. Many were baptized in the Spirit with speaking in tongues, prophecies, and healings. Its centrifugal influence ignited Pentecostal mission across America and overseas.
Sunday, 4 July, 1909 – Valparaiso. Chile
Minnie Abrams, who worked at Mukti in India during the 1905 revival there, sent an account of it in 1907 to Willis Hoover, Methodist missionary in Chile. Those Methodists began praying for revival which burst on them on Sunday 4 July, resulting in their church growing from 300 to 1,000 in two months. Willis Hoover wrote:
Saturday night was an all night of prayer. during which four vain young ladies (three of them were in the choir) fell to the floor under the power of the Spirit. … From that time on the atmosphere seemed charged by the Holy Spirit, and people fell on the floor, or broke out in other tongues, or singing in the Spirit, in a way impossible in their natural condition (Frodsham 1946:177-178).
1914 – Belgian Congo. Africa
Africa has seen many powerful revivals such as the Belgian Congo outpouring with C. T. Studd in 1914. “The whole place was charged as if with an electric current. Men were falling, jumping, laughing, crying, singing, confessing and some shaking terribly,” he reported. “As I led in prayer the Spirit came down in mighty power sweeping the congregation. My whole body trembled with the power. We saw a marvellous sight, people literally filled and drunk with the Spirit” (W.E.C. 1954:12-15).
Monday, 7 March, 1921 – Lowestoft. England
Douglas Brown, a Baptist minister in South London, saw conversions in his church every Sunday for 15 years to 1921. He felt the Lord convict him about leaving his pastorate for evangelistic mission work. Although reluctant. he finally surrendered. “Then something happened,” he wrote. “I found myself in the loving embrace of Christ for ever and ever; and all power and joy and blessedness rolled in like a deluge” (Griffin 1992:17-18). After that 2 a.m. encounter, he embarked on itinerant missions commencing on 7 March in Lowestroft, East Anglia, with immediate responses in large numbers. Within eighteen months he addressed over 1700 meetings, and saw revival in his evangelistic ministry in England.
1949 – Hebrides Islands, Scotland
Following the trauma of World War II, spiritual life reached a low ebb in the Scottish Hebrides. Church leaders prayed for revival. They invited evangelist Duncan Campbell to lead meetings. At the close of his first meeting in the Presbyterian church in Barvas the travel weary preacher was invited to join an all night prayer meeting! Thirty people gathered for prayer in a nearby cottage. Duncan Campbell described it:
“God was beginning to move, the heavens were opening, we were there on our faces before God. Three o’clock in the morning came, and God swept in. About a dozen men and women lay prostrate on the floor, speechless. Something had happened; we knew that the forces of darkness were going to be driven back, and men were going to be delivered. We left the cottage at 3 a.m. to discover men and women seeking God. I walked along a country road, and found three men on their faces, crying to God for mercy. There was a light in every home, no one seemed to think of sleep” (Whittaker 1984:159).
His mission continued for five weeks. Services lasted from early morning until late at night and into the early hours of the morning. The revival spread to the neighbouring parishes from Barvas with similar scenes of repentance. prayer and preaching. People sensed the awesome presence of God everywhere.
Sunday, 26 September, 1965 – Soe. Timor
Revival burst into unprecedented power in Timor in 1965. This revival spread in the uncertain days following the attempted army coup on 30 September, 1965 in Indonesia. Four days previously a visitation from God had begun in Soe, a mountain town of about 5,000 people in Timor in the Reformed Church on Sunday 26 September. That night, as at Pentecost, people heard the sound of a tornado wind, and flames on the church building prompted police to set off the fire alarm to summon volunteer fire fighters, but the church was not burning. Many were converted that night, many filled with the Spirit including speaking in tongues, some using English who did not know English. By midnight teams of lay people had been organised to begin spreading the gospel the next day. Eventually. about 90 evangelistic teams were formed which functioned powerfully with spiritual gifts.
The Reformed Church Presbytery on Timor recorded 80,000 conversions from the first year of the revival there, half of those being former communists. They verified that 15,000 people were permanently healed in that year (Koch 1970).
A revival broke out in Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, on Tuesday 3 February, 1970. God’s Spirit moved on the regular morning chapel commencing at 10 o’clock. Students came weeping to the front to kneel in repentance. Others gave testimonies including confession of sin. They prayed and worshipped spontaneously. The staff cancelled lectures for the day as the auditorium filled with over 1,000 people. Few left for meals. By midnight over 500 still remained praying and worshipping. Several hundred committed their lives to Christ that day. By 6 a.m. next morning 75 students were still praying in the hall, and through the Wednesday it filled again as lectures were again cancelled for the day. The time was filled with praying, singing, confessions and testimonies. Almost half the student body of 1000 formed teams witnessing about the revival. In the first week after the revival began teams of students visited 16 states by invitation and saw several thousand conversions through their witnessing (Coleman 1970).
Sunday, 23 August, 1970 – Solomon Islands
Muri Thompson, a Maori evangelist from New Zealand, visited the Solomon Islands in July and August 1970 where the church had already experienced significant renewal and was praying for revival. During the last two weeks of those meetings the Holy Spirit moved even more powerfully in the meetings. On Sunday morning 23 August on the island of Malaita Muri preached powerfully, then he said, ‘If anyone wants to come forward …’ and immediately the whole congregation of 600 surged forward in repentance. Many saw visions of God, of Jesus on the cross or on his throne, of angels, or of bright light. Some spoke in tongues. Some were healed. Most came into a new experience of God with a deep awareness of the need for humility and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
The following Thursday, 27 August, at another village on Malaita when the 2,000 people bowed in prayer, they heard a growing sound. ‘I looked up through an opening in the leaf roof to the heavens from where the sound seemed to be coming. It grew to be roar – then it came to me: surely this is the Holy Spirit coming like a mighty rushing wind. I called the people to realize that God the Holy Spirit was about to descend upon them’ (Griffiths 1997:175). Many people involved in that impact of the Spirit sparked similar revivals throughout the Pacific (Waugh 1998:69-75).
Wednesday 14 March, 1979 – Elcho Island. Australia
Djiniyini Gondarra, Uniting Church minister in the settlement of Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island, returned from holidays on the late afternoon Missionary Aviation Fellowship flight on 14 March. 1979. Aboriginal Christians there had been praying earnestly, and met that night in his home for another prayer meeting. He reports,
Suddenly we began to feel God’s Spirit moving in our hearts and the whole form of our prayer suddenly changed and everybody began to pray in the Spirit and in harmony. And there was a great noise going on in the room and we began to ask one another what was going on. Some of us said that God had now visited us and once again established his kingdom among his people who have been bound for so long by the power of evil… In that same evening the word just spread like the flames of fire and reached the whole community in Galiwin’ku. Gelung [his wife] and I couldn’t sleep at all that night because people were just coming for the ministry. bringing the sick to be prayed for, for healing. Others came to bring their problems. Even a husband and wife came to bring their marriage problem, so the Lord touched them and healed their marriage (Gondarra 1991).
Teams from Elcho Island took revival movements throughout Arnhem Land, Northern Territory and Western Australia. At Warburton, then regarded as having one of the highest aboriginal crime rates in Australia, the mission team saw many converted and powerfully changed.
Sunday 15 May, 1980 – Anaheim. America
John Wimber led the evangelical Vineyard Fellowship at Anaheim from 1977. On Mother’s Day. 15 May, 1980 at the evening service a young man spoke. That night, after he gave his testimony, Lonnie asked the Holy Spirit to come and the repercussions were incredible. The Spirit of God literally knocked people to the floor and shook them silly. Many people spoke in tongues, prophesied or had visions. Then over the next few months, hundreds and hundreds of people came to Christ as the result of the witness of the individuals who were touched that night, and in the aftermath. The church saw approximately 1,700 converted to Christ in a period of about three months. This evolved into a series of opportunities, beginning in 1980, to minister around the world. Thus the Vineyard renewal ministry and the Vineyard movement were birthed (Vineyard Reflections. May/June 1994).
Thursday 14 June – Brugam, Papua New Guinea
In the Sepik lowlands of northern Papua New Guinea revival touched the South Seas Evangelical Churches at Easter 1984, sparked by Solomon Island pastors. It was characterised by repentance, confession, weeping and great joy. Stolen goods were returned or replaced, and wrongs made right. Australian missionary Ray Overend’s report includes comment on revival beginning at Brugam, the church headquarters. on 14 June:
“About 200 people surged forward. Many fell flat on their faces on the ground sobbing aloud. Some were shaking – as spiritual battles raged within. There was quite some noise… The spiritual battles and cries of contrition continued for a long time. Then one after another in a space of about three minutes everybody rose to their feet, singing spontaneously as they rose. They were free. The battle was won. Satan was bound. They had made Christ their King! Their faces looked to heaven as they sang. They were like the faces of angels. The singing was like the singing of heaven. Deafening, but sweet and reverent” (Overend 1986:36-37).
The whole curriculum and approach at the Bible School for the area changed. Instead of having traditional classes and courses, teachers would work with the school all day from prayer times early in the morning through Bible teaching followed by discussion and sharing times during the day to evening worship and ministry. The school became a community, seeking the Lord together. Christians learned to witness and minister in spiritual gifts, praying and responding to the leading of the Spirit. This included discernment of spirits, deliverance, words of knowledge, tongues, prophecy, healing and boldness in evangelism.
Thursday 4 August, 1988 – Kambaidam. Papua New Guinea
Johan van Bruggen, a missionary at the Lutheran Evangelist Training Centre at Kambaidam near Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, reported in his circulars on the beginnings of revival which produced powerful evangelism, deliverance where whole villages publicly burned fetishes, and healings and miracles:
What were the highlights of 1988? No doubt the actual outpouring of the Holy Spirit must come first. It happened on August 4 when the Spirit fell on a group of students and staff. with individuals receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit on several occasions later on in the year. The school has never been the same again. As direct results we noticed a desire for holiness, a hunger for God’s Word which was insatiable right up till the end of the school year, and also a tremendous urge to go out and witness. Whenever they had a chance many of our students were in the villages with studies and to lead Sunday services. Prayer life deepened, and during worship services we really felt ourselves to be on holy ground. … We have been almost left speechless by what God is doing now through our students. We realize that we have been led on and are now on the threshold of a revival (Waugh 1998:96).
1988 – Madruga. Cuba
In 1988, revival broke out in a small church in Madruga, Cuba. “People would begin to weep when they entered the church,” said their pastor. More than 60 churches experienced a similar move of the Spirit among the 10 million people of Cuba. The revival produced more than 2,400 house churches. Although open evangelism is still outlawed, teenagers were joining the children and adults to witness boldly in parks, beaches, and other public places, regardless of the risk. There is a “holy and glorious restlessness” amongst the believers. said one pastor. “The once defensive mood and attitude of the church has turned into an offensive one, and Christians are committed to the vision of ‘Cuba Para Cristo!’ – Cuba for Christ!” (Open Doors, Australian Report, September 1993).
1989 – Henan and Anhul, China
The persecuted church in China lives in constant revival. This is merely a sample account.
In 1989 Henan preachers visited North Anhul province and found several thousand believers in the care of an older pastor from Shanghai. At their first night meeting with 1,000 present 30 were baptised in the icy winter. The first baptised was a lady who had convulsions if she went into water. She was healed of that and other ills, and found the water warm. A 12 year old boy deaf and dumb was baptized and spoke, “Mother, Father, the water is not cold – the water is not cold.” An aged lady nearly 90, disabled after an accident in her 20s, was completely healed in the water. By the third and fourth nights over 1,000 were baptised. A young evangelist, Enchuan, 20 years old in 1990, had been leading evangelistic teams since he was 17. He said, “When the church first sent us out to preach the Gospel, after two to three months of ministering we usually saw 20-30 converts. But now it is not 20. It is 200, 300, and often 600 or more will be converted” (Balcombe 1991).
Dennis Balcombe reported in a newsletter on 27 August 1994: “This year has seen the greatest revival in Chinese history. Some provinces have seen over 100,000 conversions during the first half of this year.
Unprecedented revival continues in China especially in house churches, in Africa especially in independent church movements, in Latin America especially in evangelical/pentecostal churches such as currently in Argentina, and in proliferating revival movements throughout the world. All of these now involve powerful charismatic impacts of the Spirit of God and increasing awareness and use of the charismata.
Renewal and evangelism increased through the nineties into the 21st century, even in the West. Focal points for renewal and revival have included Toronto in Canada, Brompton in London, Sunderland in England, and Pensacola in America. However, reports continue to multiply of renewed churches, empowered evangelism, and significant social involvement (such as crime rates significantly reduced in Sunderland and Pensacola). David Barrett’s global research indicates that pentecostal/charismatic membership has grown from small beginnings around 1900 to over 460 million by 1995, over 500 million around 2000 and now over 600 million (Synan 1997:281; Hollenweger 1998:42, Burgess & van der Maas 2002).
In Australia, the 1991 National Church Life Survey indicated that two thirds of church attenders were then involved with or sympathetic to charismatic/pentecostal Christianity. Charismatic congregations, whether denominational, independent or Pentecostal, continue to multiply, evangelize actively, and many have significant social caring programs.
These indicators suggest a massive shift in global Christianity, which increasingly acknowledges and rediscovers charisma in revival. It holds enormous promise for “the reshaping of religion in the twenty-first century” (Cox 1995). Charisma in revival offers a paradigm in which differing denominational perspectives on charismatic Spirit movements may find common ground in evangelism, equipping of Christians for ministry, and in social reform.
Balcombe, D. (1991) “Hong Kong and China Report.” Hong Kong: Revival Christian Church.
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Cox, H. (1995) Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-first Century. New York: Addison-Wesley.
Dunn, James D. G. (1970) Baptism in the Holy Spirit. London: S.C.M.
Evans, E. (1969) The Welsh Revival of 1904. Bridgend: Evangelical Press.
Frodsham, S. H. (1946) With Signs Following. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House.
Gondarra, D. (1991) “Pentecost in Arnhem Land” in Waugh, G. Church on Fire,
Melbourne: JBCE, pp. 14-19.
Green, M. (1985) I Believe in the Holy Spirit. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
Greenfield, J. (1927) Power from on High. Reprinted 1950, London: Christian Literature Crusade.
Griffin, S. C. (1992) A Forgotten Revival. Bromley: One Day Publications.
Griffiths, A. (1977) Fire in the Islands. Wheaton: Shaw.
Howard, P. E. (1949) The Life and Diary of David Brainerd. Edited by Jonathan Edwards. Reprinted 1989. Grand Rapids: Baker.
Hollenweger, W. J. (1998) “Pentecostalism’s Global Language.” Christian History, Issue 58, pp. 42-44.
Hyatt, E. (1997) 200 Years of Charismatic Christianity. Tulsa: Hyatt.
Idle, C. ed. (1986) The Journal of John Wesley. Tring: Lion.
Koch, K. (1968) The Revival in Indonesia. Grand Rapids: Kregel
McDonnell, Kilian & Montague, George, eds. (1991) Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit. New York: Paulist.
Moody, W. R. (1900) The Life of D. L. Moody. New York: Revell.
Overend, R. (1986) The Truth will Set you Free. Laurieton: S.S.E.M.
Pratney, W. (1994) Revival. Lafayette: Huntington House.
Stacy, J. (1842) The Great Awakening. Reprinted 1989. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth.
Synan, Vinson (1997) The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Warfield, Benjamin (1918) Counterfield Miracles. Carlile, PA.
Waugh, G. (1991) Church of Fire. Melbourne: JBCE.
Waugh, G. (1998) Flashpoints of Revival. Shippensburg: Revival Press.
Wessel, H. ed. (1977) The Autobiography of Charles Finney. Minneapolis: Bethany
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Worldwide Evangelization Crusade. (1954) This is That. London: Worldwide Evangelization Crusade.
Word and Spirit was born of personal concern about misunderstanding and disunity in the Body of Christ with regard to charismatic beliefs. The booklet encourages Christians to be both faithful to the Word and open to the Spirit.
Word and Spirit has the potential to bring healing to Christian disunity concerning the role of the Holy Spirit. . . . She shows that the truth of God is clear.
James Brecknell (Journey)
Her biblical treatment is . . . balanced, and avoids . . . legalism.
Robert J. Wiebusch (The Lutheran)
Alison Sherrington has written a book on charismatic renewal which is eminently sensible and intelligently presents a discussion of issues raised by non-charismatics. An excellent book.
Geoff Strelan (New Day)
Alison Sherrington’s Word and Spirit: Coming to Terms with the Charismatic Movement “is intended as an encouragement to be both faithful to the Word and open to the Spirit.”
Her book provides an excellent introduction to contemporary concerns raised by charismatic renewal. It rejects a false dichotomy between Word and Spirit, places experience under the scrutiny of revealed theology, acknowledges a dynamic exegesis which refuses to be contained within our Western conceptual framework (for the wind blows where it will), and explores spiritual gifts in terms of God’s sovereign presence in all of life – not merely as theories confined to our paltry categories.
As a comment on faith and obedience, the book calls for courageous openness to God’s work in his world in the power of his Spirit. This involves change for us all no matter what our pet categories may be. God’s ways cannot be confined to ours. We are encouraged to seek the Giver even more than his gifts. He is Lord. He gives charis (grace) and chaismata (gifts of grace) more liberally and more comprehensively than any evangelical or Pentecostal theology can categorize.
Alison Sherrington affirms the importance of both Word and Spirit and challenges any dividing or emasculating of both. She does not attempt an exhaustive exegesis, but calls for faith in God founded on obedience to the Word of God empowered by obedience to the Spirit of God.
This book is useful as a guide for those confused by the legalism of much current debate (on all sides) because it affirms the primacy of God’s Word revealed and interpreted by his Spirit.
Geoff Waugh (Renewal Journal)
Foreword by Rev Dr Geoff Waugh
Experiences of theHoly Spirit
The charismatic claims
Does experience matter?
The stumbling-block of terminology
Are there Scriptural parallels?
Is there Biblical support for experiences today?
Are modern experiences of the Spirit genuine?
What are the results of such an experience?
What descriptive terms should be used?
Baptized with (or in) the Spirit
Giving and receiving the Spirit
Filled with the Spirit
Have I been baptized (filled) with the Spirit?
Do you want a baptism (filling) with the Spirit?
Being baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit
The Gifts of the Spirit
What are spiritual gifts?
The relationship of Spirit-baptism and gifts
When are the supernatural gifts to cease?
Why do some believe certain gifts have ceased?
The proper use of spiritual gifts
Which Way Ahead?
About the Author
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