A worship leader believes it’s a sign ‘we’re in the beginning of something historic’
Church leaders are speaking out against a new ban on singing and chanting in California houses of worship (July 2020). Center for Disease Control and Prevention officials point to singing as a proven way to spread a virus. The ban orders the discontinuation singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25 percent of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees.
Days before California churches closed due to a surge in coronavirus cases, there was a massive evangelical Christian gathering on Huntington Beach near Los Angeles.
Around 1,000 people gathered at the Saturate OC evangelical Christian event July 10. (Kara Nixon)
Around 1,000 gathered at Lifeguard Stand 20, bringing together several local ministries. Last week, 30 people were baptized on the beach, according to organizers.
The beachside evangelical movement is called “Saturate OC” [Orange County] and co-organizer Jessi Green told the Los Angeles Times it has had a “ripple effect.”
Green and her husband moved to Orange County from New York after she had a vision of mass baptisms at the Huntington Beach Pier while on vacation. Holding the outreach each Friday, she hopes to reach 2,000 people who can then reach 50,000 others.
“The church,” she said in a microphone to cheers, “has left the building!”
People get baptized at the Saturate OC event July 10, on Huntington Beach, Calif. (Kara Nixon)
Sean Feucht, a Bethel Church worship leader and founder of several non-profits, told Fox News it reminded him of the Jesus People Movement from the late 60s and early 70s.
“It’s eerily similar,” Feucht said, “There were protests, racial and social strife. Hippies were getting saved. A movement happened in California and swept across America, and even major news outlets covered it.”
Sean Feucht leads worship at the Saturate OC evangelical event July 10. (Kara Nixon)
Feucht led worship Friday night on a 1963 Gibson guitar that was used in that movement.
“Not only how many people came and just so many incredible testimonies,” he added, “but I think the church has been locked away in quarantine for so long that we forgot the power and authority of when we get together.”
Churches in the Golden State were ordered to stop singing recently before being closed due to a surge in cases. California has had more than 336,000 confirmed cases, second to New York.
“In the face of the virus and racial unrest, God has an answer of his people moving in radical love and unity,” Feucht concluded, “and maybe we can’t meet in buildings but we can meet on the beach. We can go to the bridge. We’re going to meet in parks. We’re not restricted to the four walls. We can still be the church even if we’re not in our buildings.”
Persecution and opposition to God and the Bible continue to increase globally, but so does revival, just as in the Book of Acts.
Revival explodes globally now. Where God’s people take his Word and his promises seriously in repentance, unity and commitment, revivals of New Testament proportions blaze like wildfire across the nations of the earth.
These reports give some examples of current transforming revivals where whole communities have been totally changed. Many of these accounts are reproduced from recent reports.
China gripped by spiritual revival, 2017 report
Forty-one years after China’s Cultural Revolution snuffed out all forms of religious expression, hundreds of millions of Chinese people are flocking to religions like Christianity. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ian Johnson believes what’s transpiring in China is nothing short of “one of the world’s great spiritual revivals” and says the world better take note because the impact of this “spiritual transformation” could have significant global implications. “People in China are looking for new moral guideposts, some sort of moral compass to organize society,” said Johnson, author of The Souls of China: “So they are turning to religion as a source of values to help reorganize society.” Johnson spent six years researching the “values and faiths of today’s China.” He says the fastest-growing drivers of this “religious revolution” are unregistered churches or so-called “house” or “underground” churches.
“These groups have become surprisingly well-organized, meeting very openly and often counting hundreds of congregants,” Johnson wrote in an article. “They’ve helped the number of Protestants soar from about one million when the communists took power to at least 60 million today.” Over the past 15 years, CBN News has also documented this unprecedented revival. From the countryside to the big cities, we’ve highlighted how a new generation of Believers is changing the face of Chinese Christianity. “Any casual visitor to the country can tell you that the number of churches, mosques, and temples has soared in recent years, and that many of them are full,” Johnson wrote. “While problems abound, the space for religious expression has grown rapidly, and Chinese Believers eagerly grab it as they search for new ideas and values to underpin a society that long ago discarded traditional morality.”
Church leaders that CBN News spoke with say prayer has played a key role in sparking the Christian revival. For example, in one corner of northeast China, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, thousands of Christians have been meeting for an unprecedented prayer movement. What started as a small gathering several years ago has turned into a nationwide prayer initiative uniting hundreds of Chinese churches. In some cases, this revival is even touching China’s state-controlled churches known as Three-Self Church. “Now there’s big revivals happening in the Three-Self Churches,” Dr. Zhao Xiao told CBN News from his offices on the outskirts of China’s capital city. Zhao is one of China’s foremost experts on Christianity. A former Communist Party member and atheist, Zhao converted after reading the Bible.
“If you go to Haidian Church, you’ll find yourself in a more than 100-metre line trying to get inside and worship. In Shenzhen, there are usually an average of 500 people being baptized each Sunday!” he shared. Decades ago, the Chinese government had a law that said that young men and women below the age of 18 could not attend Three-Self Churches. Zhao says those rules have been loosened in recent years. “There’s an increasing proportion of them in churches now, more young male Believers, professionals, mainstream celebrities, especially in the big cities, that are attending the church unlike the past when it was mainly the elderly who attended.” While the government remains deeply suspicious of China’s religious revival, Johnson says it hasn’t stopped people from exploring matters of faith.
Source: CBN News, May 2017
Bangladesh: The Christian faith is exploding, 2017 report
Sandwiched between India and Myanmar, Bangladesh is the third largest Muslim-majority country in the world. Despite persecution, the Christian faith is growing fast in this nation. Bangladesh is 89% Muslim and nearly 10% Hindu, according to the Joshua Project, with Christians numbering less than one percent. Often beset by floods, cyclones and tornadoes roaring through the Bengal Delta, it also has the sad distinction of ranking number one in the world for children suffering malnutrition.
One ministry leader, who recently completed a fact-finding trip to the country, believes Christians are being undercounted. “Christianity is much larger and growing, especially in the rural areas,” says Jim Jacobson, president of Christian Freedom International (CFI). On his trip, Jacobson interviewed scores of indigenous Christian pastors, street evangelists, missionaries and converts to Christianity. “According to them, Christianity is on the increase, mostly underground, and the growth is a cause of concern for the Muslim majority, leading to persecution.”
20,000 Muslims have converted among the hill tribes
One 60-year-old pastor, a former Muslim, reported to Jacobson that 20,000 Muslims have converted to Christianity among the hill tribes of northeast Bangladesh in the last 12 months. This pastor faces many hardships, has been beaten numerous times, and must pay bribes to the police to continue his ministry.
Another pastor and Muslim convert to Christianity told him that in his district more than 6,000 have converted to Christ since 1991. This pastor has been targeted for assassination by a radical Islamic group. He told CFI, “Of course I am afraid, but when I think about my spiritual life I am not afraid. We continue to preach, no matter what.”
Jacobson believes the under-reporting of believers is because most tallies only count ‘traditional Christians’, people born into the Christian faith who attend government-approved churches. “But ‘converts’, those who change their religion from Islam to Christianity are not counted and no surveys have been made,” he contends. “The number of Christians in Bangladesh may be as high as 10 percent of the population.”
One pastor told Jacobson that after he converted in 2007, his rickshaw shop and tea business were taken away from him and he was disowned by his family. “Two imams caught him talking about Christianity in the market and attacked him. The imams beat him and tied him with ropes in front of a nearby mosque. His sons ransomed him only after they agreed that they would force him to reconvert to Islam.” When the sons failed to persuade him to return to Islam, they beat their father nearly to death, took all his possessions and left him for dead. In this pastor’s rural village, he has seen more than 700 Muslims convert to Christianity in the last two years.
The young people are interested in Christ
Babul, a Muslim who converted Christianity in 2013, once worked as a day labourer. After his conversion, his life was threatened and he was disowned by his family. He had to go into hiding in the jungle to survive. After eight months in the jungle, some Christian converts helped him. He is now a ‘street preacher’ and faces many hardships to share the gospel. He has been beaten numerous times but sees it as a badge of honour. “The young like me, are converting,” Babul told Jacobson. “Many more are interested in Christ.”
Bakar, another Christian convert told CFI, “Christianity is really growing in Bangladesh. The next generation is becoming Christian. We believe that Bangladesh will become a Christian nation one day. Islam has no mercy, no compassion, no love. It has nothing to offer. Christianity offers the assurance of eternal life, it offers hope.”
Source: Jim Jacobson, CFI
18,000 imams, mullahs and emirs led to Christ in West Africa, 2016 report
In the last 15 years Brother Thomas and his team have led 18,000 imams, mullahs, and emirs to Christ. “We have led several Al Qaeda commanders to Christ, some of whom penetrated our centre as spies.”
At 19, a leper first introduced him to Christ and a blind man led him to salvation. “His reading braille captivated me,” says Brother Thomas*. “I asked him where I will go when I die.” In response to the young man’s request, the blind man quoted Scripture from the Book of John. The power of God’s Word left a lasting imprint on his heart and propelled his future ministry. “I didn’t understand the cross or what my decision meant, but I went ahead and received Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour.” Raised in a Muslim home and community in West Africa, he experienced hostility, but took it in stride. “Every true believer should experience opposition,” he maintains. “The important thing is the discovery of the life-given Spirit in Christ. I found a new life.”
Two years after his life-changing conversion, he felt an overwhelming desire to share the Good News. “I saw my people were living in darkness,” he says. Although he had little training, he began to travel from village to village for several weeks at a time. “Nobody told me to go. I didn’t know many of the Scriptures,” he admits, “but I wanted to tell people that Jesus can give you eternal life.” Through eventual contact with Sudan Inland Mission (SIM), he received further training. In 1990, he went on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ and served with them for a decade, utilizing the impactful JESUS Film. In 2000, he started his own organization, which targets Muslim leaders throughout West Africa. “They the leaders are sincerely deluded,” he observes. “Satan has blinded their eyes. They cannot see the light of the gospel.”
“They were born into it,” he continues. “Nobody told them anything different. Most people in West Africa are not Muslim by choice. They are born into a community that believes in Islam.” Brother Thomas decided he and his team would have to approach the “custodians” of the community of Islam, something very few are willing to do. “Christians never take the initiative to go to them,” he observes. “The Bible never tells us to wait for them to come to us. The Bible says to go. The lack of going to the Muslims is disobedience.” Brother Thomas and his team develop relational connections with Muslim scholars slowly and privately. It may take weeks or months of meetings before an Islamic scholar will discover the Truth.
“We met with a Shia leader in one country for a year,” he notes. After Islamic services on Friday, this Muslim leader would drive several hours to spend a weekend with Brother Thomas. “I went through the Word teaching him. The turning point was when he realized that Jesus is God.” Remarkably, this imam actually stayed in the mosque, but his message changed dramatically as a follower of Jesus. The man’s changed perspective did not go unnoticed.
“They took him to a psychiatric hospital and took his wives away. They said he was mad,” Brother Thomas says. After his release from the psychiatric facility, Brother Thomas urged the man to escape. “We don’t know where he is today. Quite a few of these leaders who converted have died.”
Another Muslim leader who met with Brother Thomas made regular appearances on national TV during Ramadan. “He came to Christ because we proved to him the Quran is not the inspired word of God and is not in the program of God for salvation,” he recounts. One Friday evening a mob of other scholars came to kill the recent convert, but were unsuccessful. “He was fearless,” Brother Thomas says. “They gave his wife to his best friend and took his daughter away because he rejected Islam. This year he was poisoned and died.” Brother Thomas believes that in the top ranks of Islamic scholars, many are atheists, because they no longer believe in the inspiration of the Quran.
In the last 15 years Brother Thomas* and his team have led 18,000 imams, mullahs, and emirs to Christ. “We have led several Al Qaeda commanders to Christ, some of whom penetrated our centre as spies.” His team of 300 has dwindled to 65, due to the intensity of the fight. “Some have died, some left us, and some became afraid,” he says. He has developed a training program that is bearing fruit wherever it has been employed. Brother Thomas believes the church has been ineffective in reaching Muslims because they have concentrated on methods and strategies. “Christians want to bribe the Muslims to faith through relief and compassion, but those methods do not save. If you give relief to them it will not save them.” For salvation Muslims must discover Christ through His Word.
*name changed. Source: God Reports, 2016
The Great Underground Revival in the Middle East, 2016 report
By J. D. King, director of the World Revival Network (2016 report).
Many Middle-Eastern Christians publicly acknowledge the fact that dreams actively facilitated them coming into a saving knowledge of Jesus. For example, Nabeel Qureshi is a former devout Muslim. He became a believer in part through a visionary experience. When recounting his conversion he writes,
“I asked God to reveal himself to me in truth, through dreams and visions. All those things, combined with actually reading the Bible, are what drove me forward to the point of accepting Christ.”
When asked about his conversion to Christianity from Islam, Pastor Naeem Fazal of Mosaic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, mentioned several things that impacted him. He pointed out things like friendship with a knowledgeable Christian as well as reading the Bible. However, it was a particular supernatural encounter that brought him into a moment of crisis. Having a visionary experience one night, Fazal had an encounter that forever shifted the course of his life.
“It looked like a figure made up with light—solid, yet transparent. It was an experience like no other. The peace I felt from this presence was so powerful, so aggressive … and [He] introduced Himself to me and said, ‘I’m Jesus; your life is not your own.’ The next morning my life changed forever.”
Fazal acknowledges that he is not unique in this experience. He notes that “the majority of the [Muslim] conversion stories I hear seem to involve dreams and visions inspired by the Holy Spirit in which Christ is supernaturally revealed.”
Joel Rosenberg’s Insights into the Middle-Eastern Revival
More Muslims have committed to follow Christ in the last 10 years than in the last 15 centuries of Islam. In spite of great difficulty and turmoil, Christianity is unquestionably expanding throughout the Islamic world. God is up to something amazing in a region that many have thought was unreachable.
Joel Rosenberg, an Evangelical researcher, author, and resident of Israel has documented the recent upsurge of Christianity in the Middle-East. Through first-hand reconnaissance, coupled with reports from Arabic nationals, Rosenberg demonstrates that Christianity is rising rapidly in the world of Islam.
Admittedly some of the following statistics have shifted in the aftermath of the Isis and other violent demonstrations against Christians. Those who follow Jesus have been slaughtered and have experienced severe persecution in this region. Nevertheless, Joel Rosenberg’s observations provide a window into many amazing developments.
Some of the particulars can certainly be debated, but in many of the Mediterranean nations, Christianity is making extraordinary inroads. Though the subsequent conversion figures are impossible to confirm, even in their imprecision, they provide a snapshot of what’s transpiring in the Middle East.
A number of reports suggest that increasing numbers of Christ-followers are emerging in the brutal, war-torn nation of Sudan. Here, in the Nile river valley – along the Islamic strongholds of Northern Africa – It is being noted that
“One million Sudanese have turned to Christ since the year 2000—not in spite of persecution, war, and genocide, but because of them…the estimated total number of believers in the country is more than 5.5 million.”
Many are convinced that the great brutalities that this nation has encountered are becoming a catalyst for the expansion and growth of Christianity. Rather than inhibiting the Church, the war is actually propelling it.
Pakistan is typically not identified as a nation experiencing a move of God, but apparently they’re beginning to see one spark within their contentious borders. Christianity’s Middle-Eastern expansion is particularly evident in this unexpected place. Rosenberg acknowledges that,
“Senior Pakistani Christian leaders tell me there is a ‘conversion explosion’ going on in their country. There are now an estimated 2.5 million to 3 million born-again Pakistani believers worshiping Jesus Christ. Whole towns and villages along the Afghan-Pakistani border are…converting to Christianity.”
This Islamic country is not alone, many others in this region are having similar things take place.
Reliable reports suggest that there is also a great revival erupting in the land of Egypt. Rosenberg declares that, “Ministry leaders in Egypt estimate there are more than 2.5 million followers of Jesus Christ in their country. Many of these are Muslim converts.”
Undoubtedly, the severe persecutions and disruptions related to the “Arab Spring” have affected the lives of Christians throughout this nation, but the faithful have remained strong. Martyrdom invites outsiders to examine the claims of those willing to die for Jesus. It is believed that many amazing things are taking place in Egypt.
Surprisingly, the contentious nation of Iran is also beginning to encounter the rising flames of awakening. Violent Islamic Fundamentalism has not been able to impede the advancement of the Gospel in this fierce Persian nation. Reflecting on this reality, Rosenberg writes,
“At the time of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, there were only about five hundred known Muslim converts to Jesus inside the country. By 2000, a survey of Christian demographic trends reported that there were two hundred twenty thousand Christians inside Iran, of which between four and twenty thousand were Muslim converts. And according to Iranian Christian leaders I interviewed, the number of Christ-followers inside their country shot dramatically higher between 2000 and 2008.”
Yes, you read that right. Christianity went from 500 people to 220,000 in 21 years. Contrary to what many Americans think, Christianity is quietly advancing behind the scenes in some of the most unlikely places around the globe.
Reports continue to come in. A strikingly similar stirring is also taking place in Saudi Arabia – unquestionably the epicenter of world Islam. One wouldn’t expect the growth of Christianity in Mecca, but it is happening. Summarizing some of what he has heard, Joel Rosenberg reports that “Arab Christian leaders estimated there were more than one hundred thousand Saudi Muslim background believers in 2005, and they believe the numbers are even higher today.” Saudi Arabia is being quickened by the Spirit of the Lord. It seems to be positioned to experience significant growth in the decades to come.
Christianity is also quietly advancing in the turbulent nation of Iraq. Again, it needs to be noted that these numbers precede the vicious emergence of Isis and the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Multitudes of Christians have been martyred since these figures were originally reported. Yet, even the fact that Muslims felt compelled to quell its advancement suggests that Christianity’s influence has been growing.
“Before 2003, senior Iraqi Christian leaders tell me, there were only about four to six hundred known born-again followers of Jesus Christ in the entire country, despite an estimated seven hundred fifty thousand nominal Christians in historic Iraqi churches. By the end of 2008, Iraqi Christian leaders estimated that there were more than seventy thousand born-again Iraqi believers.”
As many are aware, the expansion of Christianity has been greatly hindered more recently in Iraq. Don’t be mistaken, this martyrdom and brutality will ultimately give way to more Christians in the land once known as Babylon.
The whole Islamic world is currently shaking. We have already discussed some of the amazing advancements that are taking place in several of Arabic nations. These are where the greatest signs of revival are evident. Nevertheless, on a lesser level, other Islamic nations are also experiencing a tremendous stirring within their borders. One of these is Algeria. Rosenberg recounts the recent upsurge in Algeria, noting that:
“more than eighty thousand Muslims have become followers of Christ in recent years…The surge of Christianity has become so alarming to Islamic clerics that in March of 2006, Algerian officials passed a law banning Muslims from becoming Christians or even learning about Christianity, and forbidding Christians from meeting together without a license from the government.”
Algeria is beginning to come alive with the gospel like much of Northern Africa.
Another ancient Middle-Eastern locale where Christianity is beginning to take root is along the borders the eastern bank of the Jordan River. The Islamic land of Jordan is also experiencing the grace and wonder of Jesus. Reflecting on what is transpiring in this nation, Rosenberg noted the following:
“God has been reviving the Jordanian Church in the last four decades, and particularly in the past few years. Conservative estimates say the number of believers in the country is now between five and ten thousand. The head of one major Jordanian ministry, however, believes there may be as many as fifty thousand believers in the country.”
Jordan is also experiencing the salvation of Jesus Christ.
Other Islamic Nations
Almost every Islamic nation has been experiencing a significant upsurge of Christianity over the last twenty years. Though the numbers aren’t equally high, all are experiencing the impact on some level. Here are some of the other reports.
While in the nation of Morocco it has been claimed that “between 20,000 and 40,000 Muslims have become Christ-followers.” Rosenberg suggests that, “The number of Afghan believers is now between 20,000 and 30,000.” In Kazakhstan “there are more than fifteen thousand Kazakh Christians, and more than one hundred thousand Christians of all ethnicities.” Reflecting on Lebanon, Rosenberg suggests that, “there are about ten thousand truly born-again followers of Jesus Christ today.” Reports suggest there were no Muslim background Christians in Syria fifty years ago, but today “there are between four and five thousand born-again believers in the country.”
Rosenberg’s figures suggest that there are over 13 million Christians in Islamic countries and a majority of them are from a Muslim background.
There are other evidences of a notable transformation taking place. For example, Journalist George Thomas notes that,
“A Christian revival is touching the northernmost reaches of Africa. In a region once hostile to the gospel, now tens of thousands of Muslims are following Jesus. As the sun sets over the Mediterranean Sea, Muslims across Northern Africa are converting to faith in Jesus Christ in record numbers… What experts say is that there is a profound move of God in the predominantly Muslim nations of Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia.”
Tino Qahoush, a researcher and filmmaker, has been traveling to various parts of this region to document the Christian revival that has been taking place. Reflecting on what he observed, he noted the following,
“What God is doing in North Africa, all the way from actually Mauritanian to Libya is unprecedented in the history of missions. I have the privilege of recording testimonies and listening to first-hand stories of men and women, of all ages.”
Jayson Casper, a journalist with Christianity Today, also pointed out some astounding growth that’s taking place in the Arabian Peninsula. He writes,
“Today the Pew Research Center numbers Christians in the Arabian Peninsula at 2.3 million – more Christians than nearly 100 countries can claim. The Gulf Christian Fellowship, an umbrella group, estimates 3.5 million…United Arab Emirates Christian population [is] 13 percent, according to Pew. Among other Gulf states, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar each about 14 percent Christian, while Oman is about 6 percent. Even Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest cities (Mecca and Medina), is 4 percent Christian…”
One of the best examples of the expansion of Christianity within Muslim lands is through the work of Heidi and Roland Baker. Along with their church plants and trained workers from Iris Ministries, the Bakers have made an extraordinary impact on the brutal nation of Mozambique. The province that they currently operate in was entirely Muslim before their arrival, but a little over ten years later those figures have changed drastically. Kelly Head from Christ for the Nations writes,
“The Bakers are now based full-time in Pemba, Mozambique, in an area where Heidi says was once called a ‘graveyard to missionaries.’ But recently the government announced publicly that it’s no longer a Muslim providence; now it’s a Christian providence.”
Iris Global in Mozambique (from their website):
Two devastating cyclones in 2019 flattened thousands of homes and villages. Iris Global worked with international efforts to bring 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.”
The abrupt changes to the once Muslim Africa are something even the Islamic clerics are beginning to acknowledge. In December 2001, Sheikh Ahmad al Qataani, the president of The Companions Lighthouse for the Science of Islamic Law in Libya, appeared on a live interview on Al-Jazeera satellite television. He declared the following:
“Islam used to represent, as you previously mentioned, Africa’s main religion and there were 30 African languages that used to be written in Arabic script. The number of Muslims in Africa has diminished to 316 million, half of whom are Arabs in North Africa. So in the section of Africa that we are talking about, the non Arab section, the number of Muslims does not exceed 150 million people. When we realize that the entire population of Africa is one billion people, we see that the number of Muslims has diminished greatly from what it was in the beginning of the last century…As to how that happened, well, there are now 1.5 million churches whose congregations account for 46 million people. In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Everyday, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Ever year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity. These numbers are very large indeed.”
It is obvious from these and other reports that Christianity is advancing.
Source: World Revival Network
The staggering rise of the church in Iran, 2019 report
A report from the International Prayer Council, 2019.
For many years, Iran was one of the most difficult regions of the world to reach with the gospel. In 1979, however, there was an Islamic Revolution in Iran. The ruling monarch, Shah Pahlavi, was overthrown, and in his place an Islamic Republic was birthed, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Sharia law became the law of the land, and Muslim clerics became the heads of state. Many in those days believed Iranian society would flourish. The new regime made great promises about rights and economic progress and that the laws of man would be replaced by the laws of God, they claimed.
Near the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, we see that the prayers of many Christians have been answered, and the climate in Iran is vastly different. The gospel has spread throughout the land despite increased persecution of Christians. In 1979, there were about 500 known Christians in Iran. Today, the average estimate of Christians range from 300,000 to upwards of one million, according to missions experts. Operation World continues to list Iran as having the fastest-growing evangelical church in the world. In fact, more Iranians have become Christians in the last twenty years than in the previous 1,300 years, since Islam came to Iran.
Several factors have contributed to the rapid growth of the church in Iran. Here are four of the most important.
1. Disillusionment with Islam
Since the time of the revolution, the Islamic regime, which promised much in the way of economic development and freedom, has not delivered. Rather than prosperity and growth, the economy stagnated. The people also have been oppressed, women punished for not covering their hair, and others punished for speaking out in protest. As a result, the country has isolated itself further from the rest of the world. Because the Islamic Republic has tied religion and state so closely together, the people’s disappointment with the government has led to great scepticism of Islam. Consequently, Iranians have become increasingly open to hearing the Christian message.
The rise of persecution against Christians in Iran has served as a sign of the rapid growth of Christianity. In the 1990s, several key church leaders in Iran were killed. One of the most famous martyrs, Mehdi Dibaj, gave a defence before the Islamic courts prior to his death that has become a rallying cry for many Christians in Iran. Dibaj declared, “I would rather have the whole world against me, but know that the Almighty God is with me; be called an apostate, but know that I have the approval of the God of glory. Life for me is an opportunity to serve him, and death is a better opportunity to be with Christ.”
Examples like this have emboldened the church. One faithful brother in prison recounted the moment he received news that many of his colleagues were being arrested. Briefly, he considered fleeing but remembered the words of Jesus from John 10, that he is not the hired hand who sees the wolves coming and flees, but he is rather the good shepherd, who lays his life down for his sheep (John 10:11–12). He went home knowing it would lead to his arrest, but he saw prison as an assignment by God to reach many within prison. This persecution has served to motivate further evangelistic zeal among Iranian Christians.
3. The Diaspora and Use of Media
A countless number of Iranian Christians have been scattered around the world. Many of these saints sense a unique calling to continue supporting the work of gospel advancement within Iran from the outside. The advancement of technology through the Internet and satellite TV has made the Christian message more accessible to Iranians who may have never even met a Christian. The diaspora Christians have been active in broadcasting the gospel and Bible teaching into Iran. In the last decade, social media also has been a powerful tool to reach Iranians and teach them the truths of Scripture.
4. Bible Distribution
Although persecution has not produced the results that the Iranian authorities wanted, they have continued to work hard to stamp out the message of Christianity. The Bible (especially the New Testament) is banned literature in Iran. But the people have been hungry for the word of God. There have been over two million New Testaments printed in recent years for dissemination in Iran, and about 180,000 entire Bibles have been distributed within the country. As Paul told Timothy, “The word of God is not bound!” (2 Timothy 2:9).
Christians in Iran.
Thirty years of Islamic revolution have made Iranians the most open Muslim people in the world to Christ. And it is only the Gospel that can bring peace to Iranians and the whole Middle East. …
“Mahmoud has become a totally new person since he met Christ,” beams Vahid, talking about his disciple. “Honestly, I’m jealous of the deep love Mahmoud has for the Lord. He’s the one ministering to me these days.”
While COVID-19 has ravaged Iran’s government and economy, a popular Christian satellite channel is reporting an upsurge in Iranian Muslims converting to Christianity.
Mohabat TV has recorded 10 times more salvation decisions online than this time last year, with 3,000 Iranians coming to Christ every month since March. “We have seen an increase in our online traffic from inside Iran,” said Mike Ansari, director of operations for Mohabat TV. “That’s why we call this the pandemic of hope.”
Revival in South America, 2014 report
There is a massive Evangelical revival going on in South America. Latin American religious demographics are changing. Brazil is now around 25% Evangelical and their numbers are growing so fast that Brazil is expected to become the world’s first Latin Evangelical Nation.
1-3 Million Brazilians converting to Evangelicalism every year.
Pentecostals go into drug and crime ridden favelas and Evangelicals pack the largest stadiums for worship, prayer and evangelism. Chile is 15% Evangelical, and Reformation Day is now a national holiday in Catholic Chile. Even famously Catholic Argentina is now 9% Evangelical.
Tens of millions of Latin Americans have embraced Pentecostal Christianity, according to a Pew Research Center survey on religion in 18 Latin American countries. Nearly one-in-five [nearly 20%] Latin Americans now describe themselves as Protestant, and across the countries surveyed majorities of them self-identify as Pentecostal. Pentecostals share many beliefs with other evangelical Protestants, but they put more emphasis on the “gifts of the Holy Spirit,” such as speaking in tongues, faith healing, and prophesying.
Pentecostalism is now a global phenomenon. We asked Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, to discuss how and why Pentecostalism has grown so dramatically in Latin America in recent years.
Why have we seen this shift in Latin America in recent decades away from Roman Catholicism and toward Pentecostal Protestantism?
Andrew Chesnut: One reason is that Pentecostalism has very successfully absorbed Latin American culture. So, for example, the music that you hear in Pentecostal churches has the same rhythms that people enjoy outside of church. In fact, in only a century, Pentecostalism has become indigenous, or “Latin Americanized,” to a greater extent than Roman Catholicism has in its four centuries in Latin America.
There are other factors. For instance, some Latin Americans who grow up Catholic convert to Pentecostalism at a time of a health crisis, because Pentecostalism puts such a great emphasis on faith healing. This healing ministry is one of the propelling motors of the Pentecostal boom.
And the Pentecostal preachers tend to sound more like their congregants. They are often unlettered and they speak to their flock in the same way that people in Latin American speak to each other. They also tend to look like their congregants. So in Guatemala, many preachers are Mayan, and in Brazil they are Afro-Brazilian.
Are there particular groups or types of people in Latin America who are especially drawn to Pentecostalism?
Chesnut: Historically, Pentecostalism has appealed to the poor and to outsiders. But more recently, it has begun to appeal to middle-class professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, who have formed their own denominations in Brazil and Guatemala, among other countries. The emphases on “inner healing,” individual responsibility and prosperity theology are especially appealing to these more affluent Pentecostals.
Some people, particularly men, are attracted to Pentecostalism because they are struggling with substance abuse or other problems. Pentecostalism promotes healthy lifestyles and serves as the largest detox center for Latin American men. Men who join these churches often stop hard-drinking or gambling or womanizing.
How did Pentecostalism begin in Latin America?
Chesnut: For the most part, it was imported from the United States. In the early 20th century, Pentecostal missionaries began arriving in South America and they start doing well almost immediately. One reason was the emphasis on gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as faith healing, which resonated with many people.
Unlike earlier American missionaries, Pentecostals also were quick to train Latin American pastors and nationalize their denominations. For example, the Assemblies of God in Brazil [the country’s largest Pentecostal denomination] was fully under Brazilian control by 1930, just two decades after the first American evangelists arrived.
Is there a deep connection today between American Pentecostal churches and those in Latin America?
Chesnut: There is a connection, but today, things are reversed. Pentecostalism is now overwhelmingly anchored in Latin America, rather than the United States. In Brazil, for example, the Assemblies of God has 10 million to 12 million members, while the American Assemblies of God church has 2 million to 3 million. So now, the Brazilian church is the big brother and the United States is seen as mission territory.
Many [Latin American] churches are now sending out missionaries to the United States, as well as to Europe and Africa and even Asia. In the U.S., these missionaries have tried to attract Euro-Americans and African Americans. But so far, they’ve had little success. Instead, they’ve attracted Latin American immigrants living in the U.S.
Do you think that the increased religious competition from Pentecostalism has made Latin America more religious?
Chesnut: Yes. I think competition from Pentecostal churches has definitely made the Latin American religious landscape more robust. In addition to contributing to a certain renewal of the Catholic Church, it’s impacted mainline Protestant churches – like the Presbyterian and Methodist churches – which, like the Catholics, now also offer their own version of Pentecostalism. If Pentecostalism had never come to Latin America, I think the religious landscape would not be nearly as vibrant as it is today.
Evangelism in Venezuela, 2019 report
Six Thousand (6000) people accepted Jesus Christ in Venezuela and they were baptized… the glory of God fell upon them…
George Otis reported on recent developments in Arizona.
As of Fall 2018, every single nation on earth was represented at Arizona State University! Over 150 nations had someone on the ASU campus, while other nations are involved online – including North Korea and Antarctica! From this one place, Spirit-led believers have the potential to impact the entire family of nations, just as the apostles did on Pentecost!
In recent months, this huge university, the largest in the United States, has been in the grip of a bona fide spiritual awakening.
By our definition, formed over twenty years of monitoring transforming revival around the world, a true awakening means the work of God is comprehensive. This stands in contrast to a human campaign or initiative where results are typically confined to a single category or location within the community.
At ASU, God’s sweep is as broad as it gets.
Not surprisingly, united prayer has proven to be a major factor behind these happy developments. After several tough years where campus ministries tended to go their own way, things took a pleasant turn in the fall of 2017. Instead of the usual two to three ministries coming together before God, prayer events at the local Campus Christian Center were rocking a three-fold increase in intercessory participants.
By 2019, fully a dozen ministries united behind a forty-day prayer focus where petitions were lifted day and night from a tent erected near the main campus square. The initiative was so fruitful, the ministries decided to continue the effort over the balance of the academic semester.
During fall in 2019, the tally of participating ministries and campus churches reached seventeen, as a fresh fifty-six-day campaign drew prodigals, atheists, Muslims, New Agers, and students suffering from depression. In addition to witnessing numerous conversions, healings, and deliverances, the intercessors also watched God begin to move among the University faculty and administration.
One of the more significant breakthroughs involved the school’s Interfaith Council of Religious Advisors. Today, the council is headed by the son of a Baptist minister!
Even more dramatic has been the departure from the university of notorious atheist Lawrence Krauss. Virulently anti-Christian, the highly-paid professor routinely packed out Gammage Auditorium on campus by bringing in atheist luminaries such as Richard Dawkins and the late Stephen Hawking.
A theoretical physicist, Krauss founded the Origins Project in 2009 with the aim of placing the university at the forefront of the New Atheist Movement. By promoting hostile, anti-religious rhetoric and policies (“teaching Creationism to youth is child abuse”), Krauss bullied Christian students and faculty into silence.
During the worst of Krauss’s campaign, God assured one late-night intercessor that the professor would be brought low, and that the backbone of the atheist movement on campus would be broken.
Given Krauss’s fame and tenure, this prospect was almost unimaginable.
And yet, on Oct. 21, 2018, Lawrence Krauss announced his resignation after being stripped of his role as an academic chair and as the Director of the Origins Project. This action came in the wake of an impending termination procedure urged by the dean of ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
According to ASU provost, Mark Searle, action was taken because the physicist “violated the school’s sexual harassment policy and code of ethics.” In a July 31 letter to Krauss, Searle told the professor his behaviour was “unprofessional, reflects a failure of leadership, and is extremely disappointing.”
As for the Origins Project itself, the university newspaper notes that “sources point to a very different future for the project.” The initiative has already lost its name.
With Krauss out of the picture at ASU, Christian faculty in both the arts and sciences are again raising their flag. A March 2019 conference on Science and Faith allowed students to engage faculty in six fields, an approach being lauded by the university president. As one professor’s official profile declares: “Through his work he intends to glorify God, from whom all good things come.”
Transforming winds have also been coursing through the university’s athletic department. During 2019, over 100 Christian student athletes attended an all-sport gathering in the men’s football facility that featured worship, prayer, and inspirational messages.
Many athletes were touched at this student-led event as the room was charged with the Spirit of God. One of them, star wide receiver N’Keal Harry — whom many analysts peg as a top-15 pick in the NFL draft — gave his heart to Christ and is devouring the Word. He is arguably the most popular personality on the ASU campus.
And Harry is but one of an estimated twenty to thirty football players who have turned their lives over to Jesus in recent months. The wrestling team has also been impacted through the open witness of Austyn Harris and All-American Josh Shields, and encouraging reports are coming in from athletes associated with hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics, track, swimming, and volleyball.
Dorm and Greek life are likewise feeling the impact of the Gospel. As one knowledgeable source told me, “Before this year, it was hard to find any Christians in the Honors dorms. Now, it seems like they are everywhere!” Better yet, they are uniting in prayer that God’s purposes will be realized in the lives of these elite students.
So much more could be said, but I’ll leave you with the observation one student athlete shared with me earlier this month: “The identity of ASU is being flipped.”
As of Fall 2018, every single nation on earth was represented at Arizona State University! Over 150 nations had someone on the ASU campus, while other nations are involved online – including North Korea and Antarctica! From this one place, Spirit-led believers have the potential to impact the entire family of nations, just as the apostles did on Pentecost!
When we look at the state of Christianity in the world today, we see a decidedly mixed picture. In many parts of the world, there is incredibly good news: God is authoring a season of multiplication instead of addition in many parts of the world. Across Africa and Asia, millions of people in historically unengaged people groups are now in rapidly growing Disciple Making Movements. In 2000 there were 6 such movements, today there are now 1,035! Almost all of the Pygmy peoples of Africa are seeing dramatic transformation by the Gospel of the Kingdom in the last 12 years. Hundreds of large people groups that had been Muslim for many centuries, are now seeing ordinary people making disciples that transform whole communities.
Across Africa and Asia many thousands of former Muslim clerics have left Islam to become fearless disciples of Christ. Not surprisingly, Christianity’s growth in Africa and Asia is explosive. On average, using data from The Status of Global Christianity, between 2000 to 2020, (7,300 days): Africa had 37,825 new Christ Followers every day over the last 20 years. Latin America had 16,988. Asia had 13,443. North America had 1,999. Oceania had 473 and Europe had 8. Much of the great momentum is coming from Disciple Making Movements. Christian history has seen rapid movements happen when many thousands, or millions of people in a region became Christ Followers.
We are living in a season of the greatest church growth since the 1st century! But half of the world is missing the move of God. How is it possible that the Global South Church is seeing Christian history being made while the Global North church is struggling for answers? God alone provides the increase, but why there and not here? What is it that the churches of the Global South are doing that makes so much difference? Two researchers and Disciple-Making practitioners have spent five years identifying several biblical values that Jesus modelled or mandated in his disciples, and which are embraced in the Global South but not in the Global North church. The Kingdom Unleashed was the result of that research.
1. Abundant, and Bold Prayer
In Africa, it is not unusual for churches to commit 50-100 days per year to fasting and prayer. In American churches, seasons of fasting and prayer are not the norm, and if there are prayer meetings, there may be few participants. Some studies suggest that we do not spend much time in private prayer either. It is easy for us to rely on our many resources rather than on God. As a result we lose the privilege of depending on God every day. In the Global South, people often have no choice but to rely on God to meet their needs, lacking resources to do otherwise. Their awareness of their need drives them to pray not just for their physical needs but for guidance, direction, spiritual power and breakthroughs, healings, deliverances, and identifying people to disciple.
2. Discipling to Conversion
American Evangelicals tend to think about Christianity in terms of conversion, forgiveness of sins and Eternal Life. In the Global South, they focus far less on conversion than on disciple-making. When Jesus called the Twelve, he discipled them for nearly three years before he asked them for a statement of faith, “Who do you say I am?” In other words, he discipled them to conversion rather than converting them and then discipling them. That is the model used in the Global South.
3. Obedience-Based Discipleship
Even the idea of what it means to be a disciple is different. For us, discipleship is knowledge-based. But in the Great Commission, Jesus tells us to make disciples (not converts) and teach them to obey everything he commanded. Biblical discipleship is thus obedience-based, not knowledge-based. Our sins are forgiven by faith alone, but throughout the New Testament we are told to live out our faith by obeying Jesus’ commands to love God and neighbour. So from day one in Discovery Bible Groups, people are encouraged to put into practice what they are learning. This approach results in personal transformation as well as community transformation. As people sink into Scripture, they learn that Jesus is Lord of all, and there is no area of life that is not rightfully his.
4. Empowering Ordinary People for Ministry
This changes fundamentally the way the Global South conceives of ministry. In the US, “going into the ministry” means becoming a pastor or missionary. Pastors are expected to preach, pray, visit the sick, counsel people, disciple church members, evangelize, provide direction for the church, handle or oversee administration, etc. In other words, they are responsible for just about everything the church does. But is all this really the job of pastors? Ephesians 4 tells us that pastors are to equip believers to do ministry, in other words, pastors are to be coaches and teachers, but the actual work of ministry is to be carried out by the people in the congregation, something we see in the churches in the Global South. We talk about every member ministry; they do it.
5. Make Replicating Disciples, not Converts
Members of Discovery Groups are also encouraged to tell others about what they are learning. So, even before they come to faith, they are discipled into sharing what they are learning about God. As a result, when they do come to faith, it is the most natural thing in the world to them to share it with others, to start new Discover Groups, and even to found simple churches. People like carpenters, sports coaches, taxi drivers, school teachers, custodians, farmers, and even politicians are making disciples and planting churches. In some parts of Africa, we can identify movements with more than thirty generations of churches planting churches. That is how the Gospel goes viral in these countries, leading to full-blown Disciple Making Movements (DMM).
6. Never Ending Leadership Training for All
Lay ministry is central in the Global South to finding pastors. In many western churches, to become a pastor requires years of education, a degree from a Bible college and often a Master of Divinity degree. Where Christianity is spreading rapidly, evidence of effective ministry precedes the call to be a pastor. You have to have a track record of making disciples and planting churches before you can become a pastor. Where Christianity is growing, they do things very differently from how we do them, pointing to a totally different ministry paradigm drawn from Jesus’ teaching and example. And that paradigm is based on a very different thinking about the Kingdom, the Gospel, the Church, and the ways the invisible world of the Spirit interacts with the physical world.
What would happen to the church in the west if it revised its ministry paradigms to align with what Jesus himself taught and did? What would happen if we adopted different practices like those of the churches of the Global South? It’s starting to happen: A campus minister at a large state school is reading the Word one hour a day, interceding one hour a day and listening for God’s response one hour a day 5-6 days a week. God has placed a burden on his heart for reaching guys in fraternities and God has been opening doors for him to begin training “insiders” to start Discovery Groups with their fraternity brothers who are lost. A woman in a New England church prayer walked every street in her town, over 700 miles, praying for a Kingdom movement where she lives.
Many Global South ministries are mobilizing thousands of intercessors to pray daily for the Global North churches to be restored to vitality. Some are sending workers to help Global North churches. A Discovery Bible Study in Alabama went viral and impacted multiple countries and a huge number of people. God is no respecter of persons and is the same in the west as He is in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Maybe if we don’t let our theological systems, traditions, and habits stop us from putting into practice the things Jesus taught about making disciples, we might see movements here that would make the great revivals of American history look insignificant by comparison. For more information: www.finalcommand.com and www.kingdomunleashed.org
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
Revival is God pouring out his Spirit, abundantly. It may start small, with 1, 2 or 3 converts, but escalates to 100, 200 or 300 and more. It may explode with 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 as on the Day of Pentecost, or with millions as in national revivals. Revival impacts vast numbers of people, changes communities, and stirs up opposition, such as Jesus faced.
Significantly, Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit coming upon him powerfully equipped him for his mission. He then faced tough opposition, after he fasted and prayed. The devil tried to stop him. Jesus totally resisted that opposition. Personal appetites, vainglory, short cuts or presumption did not divert him.
“He is out of his mind,” his family said. They tried to stop him. Pharisees and Herodians, the religious and state leaders, plotted to kill him. The Gospels describe these strong reactions to Jesus as early as Mark 3:6, 21-22, 32.
He survived many assassination attempts. Two kings wanted to kill him (Matthew 2:13; Luke 13:31). His relatives attempted to push him over a cliff (Luke 4:29). People in Jerusalem tried to stone him more than once (John 8:59, 10:31). Leaders plotted to kill him many times (Matthew 12:14, 26:4; Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47).
Eventually they did kill him. But Jesus chose the time, the place and the method (John 10:17-18). I knew that the message of the cross is the power of God for everyone being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18). I just didn’t realize how powerful it is for life here, as well as for life hereafter.
The cross is the heart of revival. In revival God pours out his Spirit powerfully with salvation, healing, deliverance and community transformation. As I travelled I saw many examples of local revivals. Invitations came to teach leaders about revival, although I felt more like a learner than a teacher. Pastors and leaders appreciated receiving resources such as the Transformation videos and DVDs and my book Flashpoints of Revival (1998, second edition 2009).
I had the privilege of going with various teams, especially from the Renewal Fellowship in Brisbane, to visit many countries to encourage pastors and leaders. Many of those people overseas face difficulties and persecution we do not. The mission teams, as in Africa, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and China, gave us small glimpses of the challenges they face and their simple, strong faith. It reminded me of Luke and others going with Paul, as Luke describes in the ‘we’ passages of Acts chapters 16, 20-21, and 27-28.
We Westerners believe in Jesus and live for him, but I found overseas Christians and leaders generally more responsive to the Lord and his Spirit, more aware of the spirit realm, and more convinced that Jesus’ ministry and New Testament life still happen now just as it did then. They are more likely to pray as the early church did, “In the name of Jesus, be healed.” They bind and cast out spirits more than we do!
They expect signs and wonders more than we do, and pray for God’s supernatural intervention amid opposition like the early church Christians: “Now Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30).
Christians in other cultures also seem far less distracted than we are by media such as TV and DVDs. That applied to Australian Aborigines also, although now the media increasingly bombard them as well. We may know far more about our own culture’s gods, such as Hollywood and singing idols, than we do about Peter, Paul and Mary!
However, there’s hope for us too, if we, like them, will humble ourselves and pray, and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked way. God promises to hear from heaven his dwelling place, forgive our sin, and heal the land.
We invited a team of Aborigines from Elcho Island near Darwin to come to Brisbane for Pentecost weekend in 1993. The Uniting Church on Elcho Island experienced strong revival from March 1979, led by their pastor Rev Djiniyini Gondarra. It sparked revival in aboriginal communities and churches across the north and west of Australia, so I wanted them to share with us. Two dozen came and we housed them at Trinity Theological College in the students’ dormitories. They found the beds too soft but enjoyed sleeping on the carpeted floor!
We held the meetings at Christian Outreach Centre, in their large auditorium offered freely to us. Although we began in the seats, we soon found ourselves sitting on the floor on and around the large platform and its steps, talking and praying together aboriginal style. They sang, gave testimonies and spoke, in simple, clear ways. They surprised me when they told me that it was the first time they had been invited to lead meetings in a white congregation!
“We don’t know how to pray for white people,” they said. “We haven’t done that before.” I had asked them to pray for people at the end of each meeting.
“Just pray for us the same way you do for your own people,” I suggested. They did. We sat with them on the floor, talked together and then prayed for one another.
They invited us to join them on Elcho Island the following March, 1994, for their anniversary celebrations of the beginning of the revival. A small team of us flew there as guests, attending and enjoying the meetings and friendship. Although the initial intensity of the revival had died down, the meetings and community still carried the warmth, vitality and improved social conditions brought by the revival. You can read about that revival in Renewal Journal No. 1: Revival – the first issue.
Aboriginal pastors and leaders spoke at the meetings, celebrating what God had done among them. I had the privilege to speak one night, gladly thanking them for their God given national leadership in revival, so needed by the rest of us in Australia.
Some of us visited a small community, driving 50 kilometres on 4WD dirt tracks to the north end of the long narrow island. That community had one trade store, a single room school and a church. The whole community of about 30 people prayed together every morning and night, especially for revival in Australia. They had seen their prayers being answered among their own people, but continued to pray together daily for the whole nation. I found it a holy, humbling time to pray with them.
One of my most humbling and stirring experiences of revival happened in Asia where Christians have been severely persecuted for over half a century, and it is still illegal to hold unregistered meetings, free of government control and restrictions.
I loved it there among such humble, hungry, receptive, grateful, gentle and faith filled believers. I was often in tears just being there, appreciating their heartfelt zeal in everything. I have rarely been so impressed anywhere. No concerts. No acting. No hype. Just bare essentials. What a big and wonderful family we belong to, and our Father is so proud of his family there, I’m sure.
We had a moving night with house church leaders in a business office used for teaching English to business people. Some night classes were actually to support and train house church leaders. A secretary at the reception office could press a buzzer if officials came to inspect, so the house church leaders could quickly hide their Bibles and have an “English class”! Most of them had been imprisoned for their faith, some many times. They all prayed for one another at the end of the evening, Spirit-led and empowered.
I had the privilege of speaking at a house church. People arrived in ones or twos over an hour or so, and stayed for many hours. Then they left quietly in ones or twos again, just personal visitors to that host family. Food on the small kitchen table welcomed everyone, some of it brought by the visitors.
About 30 of us crowded into a simple room with very few chairs. Most sat on the thin mat coverings. They sang their own heartfelt worship songs in their own language and style, pouring out love to the Lord, sometimes with tears. The leader played a very basic guitar in a very basic way.
Everyone listened intently to the message, and gladly asked questions, all of it interpreted. There was no need for an altar call or invitation to receive prayer. Everyone wanted personal prayer. Our prayer team of three or four people prayed over each person for specific needs such as healing and with personal prophecies. That flowed strongly. I knew none of that group, but received ‘pictures’ or words of encouragement for each one, as did the others.
While prayer continued, some began slipping quietly away. Others had supper. Others stayed to worship quietly. It was a quiet night because they did not want to disturb neighbours or attract attention.
Most people in that group were new believers with no Christian background at all. They identified easily with the house churches of the New Testament, the persecution, and the miracles, because they experienced all that as well. Many unbelievers become Christians because someone prayed for their healing and the Lord healed them.
Afterwards, some of us drove to a local park just to pray with an elderly gentleman, unable to go to the meetings. He thanked us so eloquently for coming to his country to support and encourage his people. I was deeply moved. So much personal support, encouragement and evangelism happen that way, so simply.
It neither looked nor sounded like a Western revival! It wasn’t. Yet it was part of one of the greatest revivals of the last half-century, bringing over 100 million into the Kingdom of God.
Dr Charles Ringma invited me to teach graduate subjects at the Asian Theological Seminary in Manila in the Philippines where he taught. Charles and his wife Rita also worked with Servants Mission, managing their guest house and headquarters. I had known them in Brisbane when they were the inaugural directors of Teen Challenge in Australia.
So I stayed with Servants Mission and found my way to the seminary on hot, crowded Jeepneys, adapted from the popular army jeeps with passengers sitting side-saddle, or standing and crouching. Most Jeepneys sported brightly coloured religious texts and slogans – Jesus is Lord, God is love, Hallelujah, Blessed Virgin, and hundreds more.
I taught M.Th. subjects during the June vacations in 1994 on Revival History and in 1995 on Signs and Wonders, and visited huge churches in Manila. My assistant lecturer invited me to a church he had established. People there responded quickly, loved praying for one another, and expected healing and miracles.
A student in our class invited me to her home to pray for her sick daughter. The little girl slept on her mattress on the floor, so I just rested my hand on her and prayed. She slept on. Next day her mum brought her to enjoy our air-conditioned classroom, happy and healthy.
During the class seminars, my students reported on various signs and wonders that they had experienced in their churches. Many of them expected God to do the same things now as he did in the New Testament, but not all!
“We don’t seem to have miracles in our church,” said one student, a part-time Baptist pastor and police inspector.
“You could interview a pastor from a church that does,” I suggested.
So he interviewed a Pentecostal pastor about miraculous answers to prayer in their church. That student reported to the class how the Pentecostal church sent a team of young people to the local mental hospital for monthly meetings where they sang and witnessed and prayed for people. Over 40 patients attended their first meeting there, and they prayed for 26 personally, laying hands on them. A month later, when they returned for their next meeting, all those 26 patients had been discharged and sent home.
In Manila I joined the team of Servants Mission in their guesthouse base. They worked with the poor in the slums and most lived in the slums with the people they served. They lived simply, identifying with the people, trusting God for his supernatural intervention in personal and social needs. I found it moving and challenging to visit the slum homes where Dorothy Mathieson and Judy Marsh from Gateway Baptist lived and worked. Conditions there in the slums made the rest of Manila look luxurious, even with the city’s regular electrical brown-outs, jammed telephones, cracked and gritty streets, and badly broken road drainage awash with sewerage in heavy rains.
Following my return from Manila in 1995, Meg and I went on a round-the-world tickets to Ghana, England and Canada. That was the cheapest way to visit Ghana on mission.
Ghana, West Africa
We drove, for over an hour in torrential rain to our first evening open-air crusade meeting in Ghana, West Africa. Our hosts from a small independent church, co-operated with other local churches for these meetings. As the guest speaker, on my first visit to Africa, I wondered why the meetings had not been switched from the market area to a church building with a roof. They explained that they always held crusade meetings outside in the market area where the people gathered. But what about the rain? I wondered.
We arrived at the mountain town of Suhum in the dark. Torrential rain had cut off the electricity supply. The rain eased off a bit, so we gathered in the market area and prayed
“Lord God, you are mighty,” I prayed. “You take over and do what you alone can do.”
Soon the rain ceased. The town’s electricity came on. The host team began excitedly shouting that it was a miracle.
“We will talk about this for years,” they exclaimed with gleaming eyes. And we had not even started the first meeting yet! We had clear skies all that week.
I asked them again why they planned outdoor meetings in the monsoon season. They told me that if I could only come at that time, then they trusted God to work it all out. Soon the musicians from one of the local churches had plugged in their instruments to the sound system. The loudspeakers did not face the faithful Christians gathered in the fluorescent-lit open area, but pointed at the surrounding houses, the stores, and the hotel.
My interpreter that night didn’t know English really well. I think he preached his own sermon based on some phrases of mine he understood or guessed, and apparently he did well. When we invited people to respond and give their lives to Christ, they came from the surrounding darkness into the light. Some wandered over from the pub, smelling of beer. They kept the ministry team busy praying and arranging follow-up with their churches.
I moved about laying hands on people’s heads and praying for them, as did many others. People reported various touches of God in their lives. Some were healed. Later that week an older man excitedly told how he had come to the meeting that night almost blind but now he could see clearly.
Each day we held morning worship and teaching sessions for Christians in a church, hot under an iron roof on those clear, tropical sunny days. During the third morning I vividly ‘saw’ golden light fill the church and swallow up or remove blackness. At that point the African Christians became very noisy, vigorously celebrating and shouting praises to God. A fresh anointing seemed to fall on them just then.
Although it didn’t rain the whole time we were holding meetings there, the day after our meetings finished, the torrential rains began again. The following week we saw floods in Ghana reported on international television. Later on, we received letters telling us how the church where we held our morning meetings had grown, expanded their building, and had sent out teams of committed young people in evangelism. Through that experience, God showed us a glimpse of what he is doing in a big way in the earth right now.
Even the economy changed. Previously, people selling at the market made little or no profit. After God removed evil spirit everyone did well at the market.
Kenya, East Africa
Evangelism in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya
I met Francis Nyameche, a youth evangelist from Kenya, when he studied for his Bachelor of Ministry degree in Brisbane, graduating in 2000. Since then I’ve visited him in Kenya a few times.
His father, Samson Nyameche, founded the Believers Fellowship Church in Kisumu, Kenya, with 2000 attending, and established over 30 churches. He runs an orphanage for 50 children on his family farm.
Frank had a vision of Jesus when he was five, and was powerfully filled with the Spirit as a teenager. He became the youth pastor in his father’s church and spoke at local markets where thousands were saved and filled with the Spirit. Frank evangelized in many places in Africa.
Supported by his wife Linda, Frank began Nairobi Believers Mission church in the slums of Kibera where a million people live, jammed together in small mud brick homes with rusty iron roofs. I’ve had the privilege of teaching leaders and speaking at meetings there. In spite of poverty and political unrest, their churches continue to grow steadily.
Before the Kibera slum church moved into their corrugated iron shed they met in a community hall. I taught leaders there, and spoke at their Sunday service with about 30 people. We gave them real bread for communion, not just symbolic cubes. The Spirit led me to give them all the bread we had, just three loaves (not five barley buns as the boy had in Scripture).
“Can I take some home to my family?” asked one young man. That’s a hard question to answer in front of 30 hungry people.
“You can take some of your own communion bread home if you want to,” I answered.
Then everyone took a large handful of communion bread, and most put some in their pockets to take home later. We shared real glasses of grape juice in plastic glasses, thanking the Lord for his body and blood given for us.
After my return to Australia I heard that the bread apparently multiplied, as those who took some home had enough for their families to eat.
My glimpses of revival in Kenya with Francis in the slums, with his parents in the orphanage and teaching pastors and leaders from over 30 of their churches, reminded me that God uses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty. People with limited or no resources still see the Kingdom of God come powerfully among them.
Local transport in East Nepal
Our friends Bob and Jill Densley from the Renewal Fellowship worked with the United Nations in Nepal for a few years. They encouraged many pastors there, most with small house churches, facing hostile opposition. Holding church meetings in Nepal was illegal until the 1990’s. Most pastors have been imprisoned, many of them severely beaten.
During several visits to Nepal from 1996, usually with a team from the Renewal Fellowship visiting and working with Bob and Jill, we had meetings in Kathmandu the capital, in East Nepal with Bhutan refugees and churches, and in Maoist dominated West Nepal.
About 40 house church leaders gathered for our first meetings in West Nepal, sitting cross-legged on the floor with Bibles opened. I was led to call people who were, if necessary, willing to be martyrs to come for prayer. All 40 did. As the team prayed for them, most had open visions, and many were healed without any prayers for healing. The meeting closed around mid-night but after that these leaders kept on praying and worshipping through the night.
During some meetings in West Nepal, we walked the 20 minutes from our accommodation cabins to the church, past unfriendly or suspicious villagers. The two pastors sent to collect us in a jeep took another route and missed us. They panicked, thinking we had been abducted. After that they insisted that we wait to be collected each time!
In Kathmandu, on that same visit, we stayed in a Buddhist retreat house, because that was a safer location than hotels we had used previously. Some hotels had been bombed. Even there, in that Buddhist ‘safe house’ we had a night watchman on duty all night. He walked around tapping his stick loudly so nearby soldiers would not mistake him for a terrorist!
Pastor Raju Sundras organized most of our visits. We first met him as a young evangelist who had already been imprisoned and beaten severely many times. Raju, with his wife Samita, began Hosanna Church in Kathmandu which grew to over 800 by 2009, one of the large churches in the nation. Each time we visited them we found they had expanded their premises. They planted other churches in Nepal, Tibet, India, and refugee communities from Bhutan and networked with 240 churches by 2009. Ten years ago it took a decade to add 100 people to a church. That now happens in six months or less.
Their church prays. A lot. They have a 24-hour prayer room where many of their people go to fast and pray. They believe in miracles, and see many. Their outreaches include feeding hundreds of street children in their ‘Jesus Kitchen’.
We saw many leaders filled with the Spirit, many people healed, and many gifts of the Spirit poured out, including revelations and visions. I heard a young man in East Nepal, and an older man in Kathmandu, both pray eloquently in English, although neither of them spoke English. That was a beautiful gift of tongues, which blessed me profoundly.
Here is Raju’s report of our team visit at Easter 2000:
Greetings in the name of our Almighty God Jesus Christ from the land of Himalayas! The Lord continues to do great things in this land, we have not much to do but to praise Him and thank Him for every good gift raining on us from Him and only Him.
It was a great blessing from the Lord to send us a team from Australia mid-April. The fellowship, the Word from God, the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, the love of Christ flourishing from our Australian brothers and sisters, the awesome presence of the Lord throughout the rushing schedule of conferences, trips, and visits, overwhelmingly expressed the great love of our Lord Jesus Christ towards this nation. During the short stay of about two weeks with the team of eight people we had the privilege to see the ministry of the Holy Spirit through them in several occasions.
Some of the group along with me had a short trip to the Tibetan border. We started early morning and arrived there about noon time. The towns of Liping on the Nepali side and Khawsa on the Tibetan side are connected through a bridge on Bhotekoshi river and right in the midst of the bridge is the border white line showing the boundary of each country. At the end of the bridge on the Tibetan side is the entry gate which is controlled by Chinese guards and immigration officials.
After praying on the bridge we approached the Chinese officials to get a permission to enter Tibet. The first official refused but the second one nodded approvingly, taking the four Australian passports from my hand as security, and let us go free of charge! This could happen only by the supernatural intervention of our Almighty God, Hallelujah! We had good prayer inside Tibet especially on those individual shopkeepers whom I would grab and pray on without any resistance from them!
On 21 April all the eight of Australians and I had a trip to Gochadda in west Nepal and held a three days conference over there at Easter. While driving toward the destination I shared the Word with the driver of the private bus and during the inauguration of the conference he approached the altar and accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. On the same day a Christian brother whose hand was partially crippled for six years was touched by the Holy Spirit and healed absolutely. He was shaking in his whole body and raising his hands, even the crippled one already healed, praising the Lord with all his strength, he glorified the Lord for his greatness, Hallelujah!
Out of about 200 participants in the conference by the grace of God 100 of them were baptized in the Holy Spirit praising the Lord, singing, falling, crying, and many other actions as the Holy Spirit would prompt them to act. About ten of them testified that they had never experienced such a presence of the power and love of God. Some others testified being lifted to heavenly realms by the power of the Holy Spirit, being surrounded by the angels of the Lord in a great peace, joy, and love toward each other and being melted in the power of his presence. Many re-committed their lives to the Lord for ministry by any means through his revelation.
On the second day of the conference the trend continued as the people seemingly would fall down, repent, minister to each other in the love of Christ, enjoy the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, singing, prophesying, weeping, laughing, hugging, and all the beauty of the Holy Spirit was manifested throughout the congregation by his grace and love. One woman of age 65 testified that she never had danced in her life in any occasion even in secret, but the Lord had told her that she should now dance to him and she was dancing praising him with all her strength. For hours this outpouring continued and the pastors of the churches were one by one testifying that they had never experienced such a presence and power of God in their whole Christian life and ministry.
Some 60 evangelists from Gorkha, Dhanding, Chitwan, Butwal declared that they were renewed in their spirits by the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and they are now going to serve the Lord in the field wherever the Holy Spirit will lead them to be full fledged in His service. In the last day of the conference while praying together with the congregation and committing them in his hands, many prophesied that the Lord was assuring them of great changes in their ministry, life and the area. While the power of God was at work in our midst three children of 6-7 years old fell down weeping, screaming and testifying about a huge hand coming on them and touching their stomachs and healing them instantly. After the prayer all the participants got into the joy of the Holy Spirit and started dancing to the Lord, singing and praising Him for His goodness.
Before leaving Gochadda while we were having snacks in the pastor’s house a woman of high Brahmin caste came by the direction of the Lord to the place, claiming that she was prompted by a voice in her ear to go to the Christians and ask for prayer for healing of her chronic stomach pain and problems, and that is why she was there. We prayed for her and she was instantly healed and we shared the Gospel, but she stopped us saying, “I need to accept Christ as my Saviour so don’t waste time!”
She accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour being lifted in spirit, and even the body as she said she didn’t feel anymore burden in her body, and spirit, Hallelujah!
On 25 April we held another conference in Nazarene Church pastored by Rinzi Lama in Kathmandu. Ten churches unitedly participated in the two days gathering where about 100 people participated. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit continued in this conference refreshing many in their spirits and bringing much re-commitment. Some cases of healing were testified. In one case the brother testified that he had received healing from the Lord and his swollen feet and the high Uric Acid had disappeared from his body, confirmed by the Holy Spirit.
We showed the Transformation video brought from Australia. All committed themselves for constant prayer to bring transformation to their cities too by God’s power.
On 27 April we held a one day conference in Hosanna Church where the touch of the Holy Spirit was tremendous and people blessed by the Holy Spirit and his might were manifesting his power and presence in the place. While people were worshipping and praising the Lord, a prophecy came and the Lord said, “What happened to the vision given to you six years ago? You have forgotten to pray about it but I have not forgotten what I have promised to you through the vision!”
I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I had seen a vision where I was taken over the highest mountains in this country with a few of my foreign friends and some of our evangelists and as we put our step on the top of the mountain it started shaking and melting and my friends and the evangelists started disappearing, then I cried out, “Lord where are my friends?” And He said open your eyes and see, and I saw all my friends and the evangelists were scattered all over the mountains and they were coming towards me with multitudes of people behind them. I started weeping and with a feeling which words cannot explain I was thanking the Lord for His goodness, I was laughing in the Spirit for the repetition of the vision which I could see again. Hallelujah!
I have to thank the Lord for His great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and I have to thank the Lord also for my Australian brothers and sisters who took up the burden to come over to this place and minister to our people.
Raju also reported on further developments the next year:
During the past two months in 2001 we have experienced a new wave of outpouring of the Spirit on the congregation. Many instant healings of people suffering from fever, flu, unconsciousness, blood discharge, boils and tumours, stomach problems, chronic headaches. The fame of the healings in the Church has reached many unbelievers through the congregation and numbers of unbelievers are coming to seek the healing, most of them ending up saved!
The Church is growing rapidly in the Spirit, many standing in faith are experiencing prosperity, good health, spiritual satisfaction, close intimacy with the Lord and moreover a hunger and thirst along with zeal of God to know Jesus intimately and to do his will whatever it may cost. This new wave of revival in the Church is another assurance from the Lord that in the days ahead he has got great and marvellous plans to be revealed and carried out by the people he has called to fulfil his purposes.
This revival is quite a new movement of God in the Church and the leadership of the Church is waiting on the Lord to receive revelation if there is anything to be done or just let it grow to maturity as it is growing by the Holy Spirit. Since the start of the year 2001 the leadership of the Church is busy praying on almost every individual of the Church for receiving the gifts of the Spirit as well as counselling them in the Word and praying with them at the time of need.
In December 2007 the Prime Minister invited Raju to speak at a nationally televised Christmas Day service in their International Stadium. Hosanna Church musicians led the 2,500 people there in singing their Nepalese version of Carols by Candlelight, as they held their candles: Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to Jesus, Happy Birthday to You.
The following year in 2008, for the first time in Nepal’s history, the government proclaimed December 25-26 a national public holiday.
Following visits to Nepal, Meg and I, with a team from the Renewal Fellowship, visited majestic Darjeeling in the Himalayas, then crowded New Delhi and Sri Lanka’s luscious green mountains. In every place we saw people touched by God in many ways, especially being filled with the Spirit and healed. They had strong, simple faith.
Dr David Mangratee hosted our visits to Darjeeling. A gracious, pioneering Apostle in the Himalaya mountains, David said our visits opened new doors for him to work among all the churches. People from many churches joined together for our meetings on renewal and revival. His own congregation at Mt Hermon had experienced revival, rapid growth, and launched missions to remote regions. Here is part of his reports about previous revivals:
Revival broke out in Darjeeling in 1960. The person God used in this great revival was Rev. David Mangratee. Born into a Hindu family, I had a wonderful birth. I asked the Lord, when I had a vision of the Lord, whether my father had died before he was born and had lived again, for I was told by my parents that my father died in the year 1933. He was to be taken for burial. People had made everything ready. He was kept inside the coffin ready for taking him the burial place. But before they could take him he woke up and lived again.
After this my father lived for another 20 years and died again in 1953 never to rise again. During my vision I asked the Lord whether this was true. The Lord answered, “Yes, because I wanted a man with a miracle birth.”
It was God’s great grace that He raised me for this great work which one can see at present among the Nepalese. I accepted the Lord as my personal Saviour on 3rd June, 1953, just 63 days after the death of my father. I underwent a Bible Training Programme at Southern Asia Bible Institute (now College) and returned to Darjeeling. We started a church in Darjeeling with 35 newly converted people.
On Pentecost Sunday in the month of May, 1960, one of our church members got filled with the Spirit of God. She spoke in tongues and prophesied. Then in the month of June that same year the Holy Spirit came upon the believers mightily. They were filled with the Spirit of God and God blessed them with gifts of the Spirit, especially the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. By this, lost money was found, lost souls traced, sick healed and sin uncovered.
Many miracles took place in the ministry, even raising the dead. The work faced a lot of opposition in the beginning but the changed lives of the first Christians made their mouths shut. Many national missionaries are working now in Nepal or Bhutan and different parts of India like Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. The Nepalese, among whom our major work was concentrated, and also tribes like Bodos, Santhals, Nagas, Rajbansis, and many other tribal people, got saved.
“I will send even greater revival than before,” the Lord said. The revival continues. We are praying to him who is a covenant-keeping God.
Our team from the Renewal Fellowship visited Grace Bible College and orphanage near New Delhi, India’s capital. Dr Paul Pillai and his family pioneered India Inland Mission, sending out thousands of evangelists and pastors across India. Their Bible College, the largest in India, has 600 students studying under-graduate and post-graduate courses, with 200 evangelists sent out each year.
I had the humbling honour to speak to their students, and also pray with the staff. Most of their graduates face hostile communities as they plant churches in Hindu villages and towns. We heard about two of their graduates shot dead in Nepal when we held our meetings in West Nepal in 1998.
I first met Paul Pillai when he stayed in our community home while he spoke at churches in Brisbane. Paul had been a young Hindu lawyer, converted when healed through prayer in Jesus’ name. He told us how he and his evangelism team had once been severely beaten by radical Hindus who broke his arm and tried to kill them all. God intervened. By the firelight of their burning tent, the team saw themselves surrounded by handsome men who moved them to a safe place, miraculously. Those angels said, “God will send you back here again.”
He did. Later on a man from that area invited them back to hold meetings in his home. That became the beginning of a church there.
Paul gave this report of challenges facing their graduates:
Manoharpur, where Australian missionary Robert Stains and his two sons were killed by burning them alive in their vehicle, is seeing a mighty revival. Thousands of tribal people are coming to Christ. Several of our teams are using the ‘Jesus’ movie all over that area where Bajrang Dal killers are brought in from outside that area to attack Christians. Killing of Christians may continue in that area, but the prayer of saints all over the world is making a change. Many Bajrang Dal killers also are coming to know Christ in miraculous ways.
Our churches in Kashmir are suffering much as the war is raging there between India and Bin Laden’s high tech Islamic ‘Mujahideen’ (holy warriors) with Pakistan as their base. With Chinese technology, and enormous amounts of Arab money, Pakistan and Afghan terrorists believe that there should be a nuclear war in South Asia for the conquest by Islamic terrorists as an ‘historic Jihad’ as a final holy war to wipe out Christianity. This big blow to Christian work in Kashmir will affect us for a long time to come.
Two of our Grace Bible College graduates working in Rukum district in Nepal were shot dead by the Hindu police for baptising Hindus in Nepal. Secret attacks are still going on while thousands are coming to Christ all over Nepal. More than 42 leading evangelistic organisations organised and directed by Grace Bible College graduates are working all over Nepal today.
Today there are more than 2,000 believers worshipping in different house churches in Bhutan secretly. Having an open border with India, Indian Christians are the only missionaries there. No church buildings are allowed in Bhutan. Many students who graduated from our Bible College are working in Bhutan. This Himalayan foothill kingdom needs the Gospel desperately, and we need your continuous prayer and support for this strategic ministry.
Dedication of bottled water plant, Sri Lanka
I taught Philip and Dhamika George, at Trinity Theological College. They came from Sri Lanka where Philip’s brothers and sister are pastors, prayerfully supported by their godly parents. Philip and Dhamika, based in Brisbane, have raised many thousands of dollars for mission, especially in Sri Lanka. They invest in God’s Kingdom, and see miracles continually.
I conducted their miracle wedding in Brisbane. It cost them nothing. Not only did they have no minister’s fees, but also the church, the flowers, the bridal party’s clothes, the banquet, and the wedding video all came free, without them asking for any of it! Philip earned money while a student by cleaning St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, a beautiful, Gothic church in the heart of Brisbane city. So they offered him the church for the wedding. The people arranging flowers for the Sunday service the next day made it special for the wedding also. A student friend’s mother owned a clothing boutique, and donated all the bridal party’s outfits, normally rented or bought. Philip boarded at the Salvation Army hostel near the college, so they gladly provided the smorgasbord wedding breakfast for 100 people. Another friend offered to video their wedding. Imagine the family’s surprise when they saw that video in Sri Lanka.
They also provided their ‘miracle’ rental house freely to a mission team from the South Pacific for a month. They bought that house with no money, just a generous loan from a lady they befriended, and sold it two years later for a large profit, used to wipe out all their debts and contribute more to missions.
Teams from the Renewal Fellowship visited Sri Lanka with Philip and Dhamika, staying with their family and relatives, speaking in their relatives’ churches and local Bible Schools, and praying with their people.
We had the privilege of dedicating a spring water bottling factory built on their land there, supplied by a fresh mountain spring on their property. That provided income for their relatives’ ministries in their churches and Bible Schools.
In spite of ethnic war with the Tamils and many Buddhist threats against churches and pastors, God moves strongly in the nation. Some of Philip’s relatives have been taken to court, imprisoned, and had bomb threats, but they continue to trust God and serve him.
Vanuatu, South Pacific
Baptisms on Pentecost Island, Vanuatu
I flew to Port Vila in Vanuatu in the South Pacific for a holiday in September 2002. There I met leaders of the Christian Fellowship (CF) at the Law School. The CF presented a long, lively concert the Saturday night of my visit, so I went. Then I discovered that they planned to take a mission team to Australia. I offered to host them in Brisbane.
The University of the South Pacific, based in Suva Fiji, has its School of Law in Vanuatu (because of the unique combination of French, English and local laws in Vanuatu, previously called New Hebrides). Students come from most nations of the South Pacific Islands to study law there. Many of them are born leaders, sons and daughters of chiefs and government leaders.
The very active CF at the School of Law regularly organized outreaches in the town and at the university. About one third of the 120 students in the four year law course attended the weekly CF meeting on Friday nights, and a core group prayed together regularly and organized outreach and evangelism events.
The Lord moved in a surprising way at the CF during 2002. The weekend following Easter, the CF held an outreach meeting on Saturday evening, April 6, on the lawn and steps of the university square. The grassy square faces the main lecture buildings, school administration and library. God moved on them in a strong way that night.
Romulo Nayacalevu, then President of the Christian Fellowship reported:
The speaker was the Upper Room Church pastor, Jotham Napat who is also the director of Meteorology here in Vanuatu. The night was filled with the awesome power of the Lord and we had the back up service of the Upper Room church ministry who provided music with their instruments. With our typical Pacific Island setting of bush and nature all around us, we had dances, drama, and testified in an open environment, letting the wind carry the message of salvation to the bushes and the darkened areas. That worked because most of those that came to the altar call were people hiding or listening in these areas. The Lord was on the road of destiny with many people that night.
Unusual lightning hovered around in the sky, and as soon as the prayer teams had finished praying with those who rushed forward at the altar call, then the tropical rain pelted down on that open field area. God poured out his Spirit on many lives that night, including Jerry Waqainabete and Simon Kofe, both dramatically changed.
Many of these people are now leaders in their various Pacific Islands nations, both in civic and church affairs. Some of them experienced powerful conversions that night. Many were filled with the Spirit and began to experience spiritual gifts in their lives in new ways. Some students who had been heavily involved in drinking and night clubs found new freedom and zeal for God and have become effective evangelists through their changed lives. Many of the law students attended the lively, Spirit-led Upper Room church in Port Vila, where pastors Joseph and Jotham and others encouraged and nurtured them.
Eleven of those students came to Brisbane, led by Romulo their President, and led by the Holy Spirit, far more importantly! They sang and spoke at dozens of meetings in dozens of churches and homes, and prayed for people constantly. They were familiar with pastors laying hands on people and praying for them, but now they were doing that also, and seeing God touch people in many ways.
The law students from the Christian Fellowship (CF) grew strong in faith. Jerry, one of the students from Fiji, returned home after the visit to Australia, and prayed for over 70 sick people in his village, seeing many miraculous healings. His transformed life challenged the village because he had been converted at CF at the law school after a very wild time as a youth in the village. The following year, 2003, Jerry led revival in his village. He prayed early every morning in the Methodist Church. Eventually some children and then some of the youth joined him early each morning. By 2004 he had 50 young people involved, evangelizing, praying for the sick, casting out spirits, and encouraging revival.
Simon, returned to his island of Tuvalu, also transformed at university through CF. He witnessed daily to his relatives and friends all through the vacation in December-January, bringing many of them to the Lord. He led a team of youth involved in Youth Alive meetings, and prayed with the leaders each morning from 4 a.m. Simon became President of the Christian Fellowship at the Law School from October 2003 for a year.
In May 2003 I took a team from the CF to Pentecost Island in Vanuatu for a weekend of outreach meetings on South Pentecost. The national Vanuatu Churches of Christ Bible College, at Banmatmat, stands near the site of the first Christian martyrdom there.
Tomas Tumtum had been an indentured worker on cane farms in Queensland, Australia. Converted there, he returned around 1901 to his village on South Pentecost with a new young disciple from a neighbouring island. They arrived when the village was tabu (taboo) because a baby had died a few days earlier, so no one was allowed into the village. Ancient tradition dictated that anyone breaking tabu must be killed, so they were going to kill Tomas, but his friend Lulkon asked Tomas to tell them to kill him instead so that Tomas could evangelize his own people. Just before he was clubbed to death at a sacred Mele palm tree, he read John 3:16, then closed his eyes and prayed for them. Tomas became a pioneer of the church in South Pentecost, establishing Churches of Christ there.
Hosted by Chief Willie Bebe, the CF team of six led meetings in Salap village each night Friday-Sunday and Sunday morning – in Bislama, the local Pidgin and in basic English. It was a kind of miracle. That village church sang revival choruses, but the surrounding villages still used hymns from mission days! The weekend brought new unity among the competing village churches. The Sunday night service went from 6-11 p.m., although we ‘closed’ it three times after 10 p.m., with a closing prayer, then later on a closing song, and then later on a closing announcement. People just kept singing and coming for prayer.
God opened a wide door on Pentecost Island (1 Cor 16:8-9). Another team of four students from the law school CF returned to South Pentecost in June 2003 for 12 days of meetings in villages. Again, the Spirit of God moved strongly. Leaders repented publicly of divisions and criticisms. Then youth began repenting of backsliding or unbelief. A great-grand-daughter of the pioneer Tomas Tumtum gave her life to God in the village near his grave at the Bible College.
We held rallies in four villages of South Pentecost each evening from 6 pm. for 12 days, with teaching sessions on the Holy Spirit held in the main village church of Salap each morning for a week. The team experienced a strong leading of the Spirit in the worship, drama, action songs with Pacific dance movements, and preaching and praying for people.
Mathias, a young man who repented deeply with over 15 minutes of tearful sobbing, is now the main worship leader in revival meetings. When he was leading and speaking at a revival meeting at the national Bible College, a huge supernatural fire blazed in the hills directly opposite the Bible College chapel in 2005, but no bush was burned.
Pentecost Bible College
By 2004, the Churches of Christ national Bible College at Banmatmat on Pentecost Island increasingly became a centre for revival. Pastor Lewis Wari and his wife Marilyn hosted these gatherings at the Bible College, and later on Lewis spoke at many island churches as the President of the Churches of Christ. Lewis had been a leader in strong revival movements on South Pentecost as a young pastor from 1988.
Our leaders’ seminars and youth conventions at the Bible College focused on revival. The college hosted regular courses and seminars on revival for a month at a time, each day beginning with prayer together from 6 a.m., and even earlier from 4.30 a.m. in the youth convention in December, 2004, as God’s Spirit moved on the youth leaders in that area.
Morning sessions continued from 8 a.m. to noon, with teaching and ministry. As the Spirit moved on the group, they continued to repent and seek God for further anointing and impartation of the Spirit in their lives. Afternoon sessions featured sharing and testimonies of what God is doing. Each evening became a revival meeting at the Bible College with worship, sharing, preaching, and powerful times of ministry to everyone seeking prayer.
Teams from the Bible College led revival meetings in village churches each weekend. Many of these went late as the Spirit moved on the people with deep repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and prayer for healing and empowering.
A law student team from Port Vila, led by Seini Puamau, Vice President of the CF, had a strong impact at the High School on South Pentecost Island with responses at all meetings. Most of the whole residential school of 300 responded for prayer at the final service on Sunday night 17 October, 2004, after a powerful testimony from Joanna Kenilorea. The High School principal, Silas Buli, has prayed for years from 4 a.m. each morning for the school and the nation, alone or with some of his staff.
The church arranged for more revival teaching at their national Bible College for two weeks to over two dozen church leaders. On the weekend in the middle of that course, teams from the college held mission meetings simultaneously in seven different villages. Every village saw strong responses, including a team that held their meeting in the chief’s meeting house of their village, and the first to respond was a fellow from the ‘custom’ traditional heathen village called Bunlap.
Through 2004-2005 we held many revival leadership meetings at the Bible College, usually in my vacations from college in Brisbane. Don and Helen Hill from the Renewal Fellowship in Brisbane joined me there for some visits. They provided needed portable generators and lawn mowers, and Don repaired the electrical wiring and installations at the Bible College. Helen recorded my teaching sessions, now available on DVD. Friends around the world, such as in Kenya, Nepal and the Pacific, have used those DVDs for their leadership training.
Those Bible College sessions seemed like preparation for revival. Every session led into ministry. Repentance went deep. Prayer began early in the mornings, and went late into the nights.
Chief Willie asked for a team to come to pray over his home and tourist bungalows. Infestation by magic concerned him. So a prophetic and deliverance team of leaders at the Bible College of about six people prayed there. Mathias reported that they located witchcraft items in the ground, removed them and claimed the power of Jesus’ blood to cleanse and heal the land.
Village evangelism teams from South Pentecost continue to witness in the villages, and visit other islands. Six people from these teams came to Brisbane and were then part of 15 from Pentecost Island on mission in the Solomon Islands in 2006.
Pentecost on Pentecost
Grant Shaw joined me on Pentecost Island in Vanuatu in September-October 2006. Grant grew up with missionary parents, saw many persecutions and miracles, and had his dad recounting miraculous answers to prayer as a daily routine. They often needed to pray for miracles, and miracles happened. From 14 years old Grant participated in international mission teams in Asia. He attended a youth camp at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, a church which had revival from 1994. He then worked there as an associate youth pastor for 18 months before studying at Bible College in Brisbane. So he is used to revival – all his life! In Vanuatu he received clear words of knowledge, and saw people healed daily in Port Vila and on Pentecost Island both in meetings and in the villages. That inspired and challenged everyone.
We attended the afternoon service at Upper Room church in Port Vila. That night the senior pastors were in Tanna Island on mission and the remaining leaders were so glad God had sent us to preach that night! Great warning! It was fantastic. Worship was strong.
Raised from the dead
At sharing time in the Upper Room service Leah, a nurse, told how she had been on duty that week when parents brought in their young daughter who had been badly hit in a car accident, and showed no signs of life – the monitor registered zero – no pulse. Leah felt unusual boldness, so commanded the girl to live, and prayed for her for an hour, mostly in tongues. After an hour the monitor started beeping and the girl recovered. What a great testimony!
Grant gave words of knowledge about healings needed and prayed for those people, then told some of his testimony. When he was eight years old he saw Jesus in a vision, so bright that Grant could not see his face. In the vision Grant saw the glorious gates of heaven, but did no enter, although he wanted to.
We prayed for all the children, many of them ‘resting’ in the Spirit. Then Grant told more of his testimony, about his time in Toronto. The message that night covered Luke 8, 9, 10 – where Jesus, the 12 and the 70 all did the same things, with no money, preached the same message on the Kingdom of God, and had the same ministry of healing. Most people came out for prayer, most of them resting in the Spirit.
On Tuesday, the day we flew to Pentecost Island I woke again at 3 a.m., as often happened in the previous few weeks, but this was different. I had just seen a quick and powerful vision (while asleep). After seeing a ‘wall’ full of accusations ripped apart with a golden tear, I saw a marvellous long cascade waterfall full of bright living colours. The vision then merged into a brilliant hillside scene where Jesus the Good Shepherd, with shawl and staff, gathered his flock to himself. At first I thought they were sheep but the forms became children and people. I didn’t see Jesus’ face but felt his huge love for everyone – wanting them all to come to him and gathering them to himself. I woke up crying with joy. Significant timing as we started on Pentecost Island that night.
Our mission continued on South Pentecost once more. Based in the village of Panlimsi where Mathias was then the young pastor, we slept in a house with bamboo walls and floor and thatch roof, and ate with their team there in the village.
The Spirit moved strongly in all the meetings. Repentance. Reconciliations. Many healings, daily. Confessions. Anointing. Healings included Pastor Rolanson’s young son able to hear clearly after being born partially deaf. Rolanson leads evangelism teams, and helped lead this mission.
South Pentecost attracts tourists with its land diving – men jumping from high towers with vines attached to their ankles. Grant prayed for a jumper who had hurt his neck, and the neck cracked back into place. After prayer, an elderly man no longer needed a walking stick to come up the hill to the meetings. The Lord healed a son of the paramount chief of South Pentecost from Bunlap, a ‘custom’ village, when Grant prayed for him and pain left his sore leg. He invited the team to come to his village to pray for the sick. No white people had ever been invited there to minister previously.
A team of about 20 of us trekked for a week into mountain villages. I literally obeyed Luke 10 – going with no extra shirt, no sandals, and no money. The trek began with a five hour walk across the island to Ranwas on the eastern side. Mathias led worship, with strong moves of the Spirit touching everyone. At one point I spat on the dirt floor, making mud to show what Jesus did once. No one had ever done such a thing there! Marilyn Wari, wife of the President of the Churches of Christ in Vanuatu, then jumped up asking for prayer for her eyes. Later she testified that the Lord told her to do that, and then she found she could read without glasses.
Glory in a remote village
We trekked through Bunlap, the ‘custom’ village where the paramount chief lived, and prayed for more sick people. Some had pain leave immediately, and people there became more open to the gospel. Then the team trekked for seven hours to Ponra, a remote village further north on the east coast. Revival meetings erupted there! The Spirit just took over. Visions. Revelations. Reconciliations. Healings. People drunk in the Spirit. Many resting on the floor getting blessed in various ways. When they heard about healing through ‘mud on the eye’ at Ranwas some came straight out asking for mud packs also!
One of the girls in the team had a vision of the village children there paddling in a pure sea, crystal clear. They were like that – so pure. Not polluted at all by TV, videos, movies, magazines, worldliness. Their lives were so clean. Just pure love for the Lord, especially among the young.
Angels singing filled the air about 3 a.m. It sounded as though the village church was packed. The harmonies in high descant declared “For You are great and You do wondrous things. You are God alone” and then harmonies, without words until words again for “I will praise You O Lord my God with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name for evermore” with long, long harmonies on “forever more.” Just worship.
The team stayed two extra days there. Everyone received prayer, and many people surrendered to the Lord both morning and night. Everyone was repenting, as the Spirit moved on us all.
Grant’s legs, cut and sore from the long trek, saved the team from the long trek back. The villagers arranged a boat ride back around the island from the east to the west for the team’s return. Revival meetings continued back at the host village, Panlimsi, led mainly in worship by Mathias, with Pastor Rolanson organising things. Also at two other villages the Spirit moved powerfully as the team ministered, with much reconciliation and dancing in worship.
People in the host village heard angels singing there also. At first they too were thinking it was the church full of people, but they realised that the harmonies were more wonderful than we can sing.
Grant and I returned full of joy on the one hour flight to Port Vila after a strong final worship service at the host village on the last Sunday morning, and reported to the Upper Room Church in Port Vila on Sunday evening. Again the Spirit moved so strongly the pastor didn’t need to use his message. More words of knowledge. More healings. More anointing and many resting in the Spirit, soaking in grace.
That church continues to minister in the Spirit and has seen powerful moves of God in the islands, especially Tanna Island. They planted churches there in ‘custom’ villages, invited by the chiefs because the chiefs have seen their people healed and transformed.
During their missions there in 2006, many young boys asked to be ‘ordained’ as evangelists in the power of the Spirit. They returned to their villages and many of those young boys established churches in their villages as they spoke, told Bible stories, and sang original songs given to them by the Spirit.
Team at PM’s home – Sir Peter & Lady Margaret Kenilorea
The Lord poured out his Spirit in fresh and surprising ways in New Georgia in the Western District of the Solomon Islands in 2003, and has touched many churches in the capital Honiara with strong moves of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit moved powerfully especially on youth and children. This included many conversions, many filled with the Spirit, many having visions and revelations.
In spite of, and perhaps because of, the ethnic tension (civil war) for two years with rebels armed with guns causing widespread problems and the economy failing with wages of many police, teachers and administrators unpaid, the Holy Spirit moved strongly in the Solomon Islands.
An anointed pastor from Papua New Guinea spoke at an Easter Camp in 2003 attended by many youth leaders from the Western Solomons. Those leaders returned on fire. The weekend following Easter, from the end of April, youth and children in the huge, scenic Marovo Lagoon area were filled with the Spirit, with many lives transformed. Revival began with the Spirit moving on youth and children in village churches. They had extended worship in revival songs, many visions and revelations and lives being changed with strong love for the Lord. Children and youth began meeting daily from 5 p.m. for hours of praise, worship and testimonies. A police officer observed that the number of reported crimes fell and that former rebels attended daily worship and prayer meetings.
Western Solomon Islands
A team of students from the University of the South Pacific Law School in Port Vila, Vanuatu, joined me on mission to Honiara, the capital, and the Western Solomon Islands in 2003. Sir Peter Kenilorea, inaugural Prime Minster and then the Speaker in the Parliament, with his wife Lady Margaret, hosted the team in Honiara. Dr Ronald Ziru, then administrator of the United Church Hospital in Munda in the Western District hosted the team there, which included his son Calvin.
Our team first experienced the revival on an island near Munda. We took the outboard motor canoe with Rev Fred Alizeru from Munda. Two weeks previously, early in July, revival started there with the Spirit poured out on children and youth, so they just wanted to worship and pray for hours. They meet daily from around 5.30 p.m., and wanted to go late every night. Then children did not want to go to school the next day! We encouraged the children to see school as a mission field, to pray with their friends there, and learn well so they can serve God better. So they needed to get to bed early enough to do that!
At Seghe and in the Marovo Lagoon the revival had been spreading since Easter. Some adults became involved, also repenting and seeking more of the Holy Spirit. Many outpourings and gifts of the Spirit emerged, including the following:
Transformed lives – Young men that the police used to check on because of alcohol and drug abuse became sober and on fire for God attending daily worship and prayer meetings; a man who previously rarely went to church was leading the youth singing group at Seghe; adults publicly reconciled, repenting from ancient quarrels.
Long worship – This often included prophetic words or actions and visions. I visited Sunday services in a village of the lagoon. About 200 youth and children led worship at both services with 1,000 attending. They sang revival songs and choruses accompanied by their youth band. I prayed individually for over 200 people from 9.30 to 11.30 p.m. They just kept coming, mostly adults. On the Monday night at Seghe the congregation there worshipped from before 6 p.m. to after 9 p.m., then after that I taught, and prayed with each of the family groups there.
Visions – Children saw visions of Jesus (smiling at worship, weeping at hard hearts), angels, hell (with relatives sitting close to a lake of fire, so the children warned them); some kids saw Jesus with a foot in heaven and a foot on earth, like Mt 28:18 – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” One boy preached (prophesied) for 1½ hours, Spirit-led.
Revelations – especially words of knowledge about hidden things, including magic artefacts and good luck charms. Jesus wants no rivals! Kids told parents where they hid these things! If other adults did that there would be anger and feuds, but they had to accept it from their children. One boy told police that a man accused of stealing a chain saw (and sacked) was innocent as he claimed, and gave them the name of the culprit, by word of knowledge.
Spiritual Gifts – including controversial ones, kept multiplying. Adults asked many questions at teaching sessions. We discussed traditional and revival worship, deliverance, discernment of spirits, gifts of the Spirit, understanding and interpreting visions, tongues, healing, Spirit-led worship and preaching, and revival leadership. Young people in their twenties became revival leaders moving strongly in many spiritual gifts.
These revival effects continued to spread throughout the Solomon Islands.
I led a team of 22 in the Solomon Islands for a month, in November-December 2006, 15 of them from Pentecost Island in Vanuatu, on their first international mission. The rest came from Brisbane, an international group of Bible College students (from Holland, England, Korea, and Grant Shaw who grew up in Asia) plus Jesse Padayachee, an Indian healing evangelist originally from South Africa, now in Brisbane, who joined the team for the last week. Jerry Waqainabete and his wife Pam (nee Kenilorea), joined us in Honiara. Rev Gideon Tuke, a United Church minister, organized our visit.
Six of the Vanuatu team travelled via Brisbane experiencing the wonders of electricity, hot and cold tap water, fast travel on good roads in a van, and a huge city. They led worship powerfully at the Kenmore Baptist Church 6 a.m. daily prayer group, and spoke at some meetings, as well as visiting Australia Zoo and the coast.
Then in the Solomon Islands the revival team from Vanuatu and Brisbane held meetings in Honiara and visited villages in the Guadalcanal Mountains. They trekked for seven hours, walking up the mountain tracks to where revival was spreading, especially among youth. High School youth have teams going to the villages to sing, testify, and pray for people. Many gifts of the Spirit are new to them. Our team prayed for the sick and for anointing and filling with the Spirit. They prayed both in the meetings and in the villages.
One Sunday night Grant and Mathias (the team worship leader) spoke about how they learned to move in the power of the Spirit, and then they went out from the meeting (as Jesus sent people out in pairs) and prayed for a lady in the village with back and leg pains and she was healed. They returned to the same meeting rejoicing and reporting on this miracle.
Mathias involved the youth in singing groups, with keyboards, guitars, and spontaneous items. Our team of over 20, mostly islanders, prayed for the villagers, with personal prayer and prophecies. We ran out of room for bodies to rest on the floor!
Gideon and Grant joined me that December 2006 at the National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) in the north-west at Choiseul Island, two hours flight from Honiara. Around 1200 youth gathered from across the nation, many arriving by outboard motor canoes.
A group coming from Simbo Island in two canoes ran into trouble when their outboard motors failed. Two of their young men swam for nine hours from noon in rough seas to get help. By 9 p.m. they staggered onto an island near Gizo, and contacted a RAMSI team (Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, an Australian army and police project). A RAMSI patrol boat towed the two stranded canoes back to Gizo. The next day that group from Simbo arrived in one packed canoe, minus their food which they had to throw overboard when stranded in the rough seas.
The Friday night meeting saw a huge response as Grant challenged them to be fully committed to God. Most of the youth came out immediately so there were hundreds to pray for. The anointed worship team led the crowd in ‘He touched me’ for nearly half an hour as prayer continued for them, including many wanting healing.
Grant described that youth crusade night:
The nation-wide youth convention was held at Choiseul Island. We were there for five days. It was an awesome time and God moved so powerfully. So much happened, so I’ll just tell you about one of the nights. It really impacted my life!
We were invited to speak for their huge night rally. Geoff spoke first and as he started to speak God began to move on the young people in a special way. Then he handed it over to me at about half way and I gave some words of knowledge for healing. They came forward and we prayed for them. Most of them fell under the power and all of them testified that the pain had left their body. After that I continued to speak for a bit and then gave an altar call for any youth that wanted to choose to give their lives fully to Jesus, no turning back!
Most of a thousand youth came forward. Some ran to the altar, some crying! There was an amazing outpouring of the Spirit and because there were so many people Geoff and I split up and started laying hands on as many people as we could. People were falling under the power everywhere (some testified later to having visions). There were bodies all over the field (some people landing on top of each other). Then I did a general healing prayer and asked them to put their hand on the place where they had pain. After we prayed people began to come forward sharing testimonies of how the pain had left their bodies and they were completely healed! The meeting stretched on late into the night with more healing and many more people getting deep touches.
It was one of the most amazing nights. I was deeply touched and feel like I have left a part of my self in Choiseul. God did an amazing thing that night with the young people and I really believe that he is raising some of them up to be mighty leaders in Revival.
One young man, healed from pain that night, went back to his nearby village and prayed for his sick mother and brother. Both were healed. He had never done that before. He testified about it at the conference the next morning.
The delegation from Kariki, in the Shortland Islands further west, returned home the following Monday. The next night they led a meeting where the Spirit of God moved in revival. Many were filled with the Spirit, had visions, were healed, and discovered many spiritual gifts including tongues and discerning spirits. That revival moved through their islands.
Revival movements continue to spread in the Solomon Islands. Visiting teams have participated and encouraged leaders.
Honiara, the capital has seen many touches of revival. A week of evening revival meetings in Wesley United Church in the capital Honiara spontaneously erupted in September 2007. That was the first time they held such a week of revival meetings, including joining with youth from other churches. Calvin Ziru, their youth leader had been worship leader in the law student team in Brisbane in 2002. He was then legal advisor to the parliament in the Solomons, ideally placed to lead combined churches youth revival meetings and also the parliamentary Christian fellowship.
Seghe lies at the southeast point of New Georgia in stunning scenery. I taught at the Theological Seminary at Seghe in the fantastic Marovo Lagoon, 70 kilometres with hundreds of tropical bush laden islands north and west of New Georgia Island. Morning teaching sessions, personal prayers in the afternoons (and some rest) and night revival meetings, with worship led by the student team, filled an eventful week in September 2007. That was the first time they hosted such a week at the seminary. Meetings included two village revival services in the lagoon, including at Patutiva village, where revival started in Easter 2003. That meeting went from 7 p.m. to 1.30 a.m. with about 1,000 people! Hundreds received prayer after the meeting ‘closed’ at 11 pm.
Simbo. A tsunami ravaged Gizo and Simbo islands in April 2007. It smashed all the Simbo canoes, except Gideon’s and his brother’s which were then on the ocean on the two hour trip from Simbo to Gizo. Tapurae village had hosted many revival meetings. It was wiped out by the tsunami, so the villagers relocated to higher ground. Strong moves of the Spirit continue on Simbo. The village that relocated from Tapurae has a revival prayer team of 30, and no one from that village needed medical help from the clinic in three years since they started praying constantly for the sick, laying on hands and casting out spirits.
Gizo, the provincial capital of the Western Region is the Solomons Island’s second-largest town. Its airstrip is an island near the town, with its pressed coral runway covering the whole length of the island. Visitors take a canoe or launch across to town. The central United Church hosted revival meetings in October 2007. The Premier of the region asked penetrating questions and joined those who came out for prayer. He testified that he was immediately healed from stress-related head pain and tension.
Taro, the regional centre for Choiseul province in the west Solomons hosted an amazing week of unity among all the churches, the United Church, SDAs, Catholics and Anglicans. The meetings included 30 leaders from Karika in the Shortland Islands region, further west. Revival started in Karika the day after leaders returned from the National Christian Youth Convention in Choiseul Island the previous December.
Pastor Mathias from Pentecost Island in Vanuatu participated at Taro. He literally dropped out of the sky at Gizo on an early flight from Honiara. He boarded the plane with no ticket and no money! Dr Ron Ziru took him to the plane in Honiara, an extra one with spare seats, so he walked on leaving his international ticket at the office till we paid the fare! Gideon and I saw him wondering along the main street as we ate breakfast at the Gizo hotel. So he joined us there, and then we flew to Taro that afternoon. The United Church hosted that full week of meetings and constant prayers for people.
The premier and regional officials attended a meeting at the regional parliament house, which included praying with people afterwards. So did the director for medical services and his staff at a meeting at the hospital. Others gathered at the Catholic Church for a meeting and personal prayer there. Each night combined churches revival meetings were held on the soccer field, with huge responses for prayer nightly.
The Lord opened the way for strong ministry with revival and national leaders in all these places. Revival, reconciliation and transformation increase. God is doing far more than most people are asking or even thinking about in these islands (Eph 3:20-21). In all these places people made strong commitments to the Lord, and healings kept happening.
Both in Vanuatu and in the Solomon Islands the people said that they could all understand my English, even those who did not speak English, so they did not need an interpreter.
South Pacific team in Brisbane
I enjoyed being part of the combined Kenmore Baptist Church (KBC) and Christian Outreach Centre (COC) teams in Fiji in 2006-7. The teams, led by senior pastor Ric and Anne Benson and pastor Jesse and Cookie Padayachee, worked with the COC churches in Lautoka in the west and Navua on the Coral Coast in the east. We saw many saved and healed in morning visits to villages, as well as at the night meetings.
A ‘magic man’ in one village came for prayer after seeing healings in his village. Three women and a man who had done firewalking from another village made commitments to Christ, renounced their spirit involvement and were healed from constantly itchy skin irritations on their legs. Jesse prayed for 11 people in the Suva hospital who were then sent home soon afterwards.
I led a group each day as we visited homes, and spoke in many village gatherings, and then prayed for the sick. I was especially touched watching Dr Andrew Cotterill from KBC, a pediatrician, pray for the sick, often with tears. Many reported immediate improvement. Team leader Ric Benson taught pastors and leaders in morning sessions, and I taught about revival now stirring in the South Pacific.
One morning in Navua our group had a meeting in the home of Indo-Fijian pastor Nevian, and his wife Esther. He had just finished Bible College in Suva. Everyone we prayed for there was touched strongly. The first lady prayed for was delivered from some Hindu god spirit. Nevian then became our interpreter as we visited other Hindu homes nearby, and we led one old Hindu man to faith in Jesus. Nevian and his family then attended all the rest of the night meetings, received healings and saw his Hindu sister saved as well.
The team shared together in night crusades in the Garden of Joy COC church. Jesse preached and gave his testimony, and prayed for everyone who came forward, assisted by the team. We prayed first for salvation and repentance, and the team gave follow-up materials to first time believers. Jesse moved strongly in words of knowledge and authority. Many meetings went late! In both Lautoka and Navua crowds grew as the meetings progressed. Reports of healings and deliverance spread.
One Sunday I spoke at the Assembly of the Lord Jesus Christ church in Suva, an independent Spirit-filled congregation of around 100, half of them youth. Romulo (leader of the 2002 law student team in Brisbane) joined me with Jimmy a medical university student from Vanuatu. The Spirit moved strongly. Romulo called youth out for prayer during the worship, and I involved him in the preaching as well and he called people out again for ministry at the end. That went for some time. After the service we shared food together including a lovo, food cooked in the earth oven.
Then that night I spoke at Sigatoka COC, an hour’s drive back from Suva, with 100 attending, sitting on the ground. They had a temporary iron roof cover for instruments and ‘platform’ area on the ground. We prayed personally for most of them, and saw beautiful healings and some delivered and saved. A couple of young children with hearing problems told their mothers that after the man prayed for them they could hear well. We thanked Jesus together.
After the team returned to Australia, I stayed on to visit the young lawyers I had hosted for a month in Brisbane in November 2002 when they were students. In 2002, I drove them around and took them to meetings, and now they drove me around and took me to meetings!
I visited an early morning prayer group of the Graduates Christian Fellowship, another group of young leaders in the nation, and prayed personally for each of the 20 there. That afternoon on Saturday 7-7-07, I shared in the memorial service for the Nigerian founding pastor of the Redeemer Christian Church in Fiji. Jerry (another of the lawyer team) and his wife Pam are now pastors there as well as lawyers, a common arrangement in the Pacific for smaller churches with honorary pastors. Romulo is another leader in that church, and continues to impact many churches and youth groups through his networks of young leaders in Fiji and other nations.
Then on the Sunday Jerry led the service and I preached, and we had two ministry spontaneous times during that service, including a commissioning for Jerry and Pam led by the Nigerian regional co-ordinator for the Redeemer Church, visiting from his church in Melbourne. On my last Sunday in Fiji I preached again at Redeemer Church, supporting Jerry. We had three ministry times, as the Spirit moved in the worship and the message. As that church grows in faith it will certainly be a spark for revival in the nation, and will impact leaders, youth groups, and churches all over Fiji.
On a recent visit to the church, I washed the feet of the first prime minister of the Republic of Fiji prayed for him. He graciously washed the feet of the Australians, drying our feet with his rugby jacket.
I spoke at the combined inter-tertiary Christian Fellowships prayer rally weekend in October 2008. The Fiji School of Medicine Christian Fellowship organized and led it. Over 500 tertiary students met for two nights of worship and prayer.
The Fiji School of Medicine Christian Fellowship has about 200 doctors in training with some trainee dentists. They impressed me. Their leaders seek God, and respond strongly to him. Their worship team led the combined campuses rally on the Friday and Saturday nights. Buses brought in groups from the various universities and colleges. Different Christian Fellowship (CF) groups presented powerful Pacific dances to strong Christian songs. The prayer team prayed personally for over an hour at the end of each meeting for the hundreds of tertiary students who responded, while the School of Medicine CF continued to lead appropriate and anointed worship.
Inter–tertiary went very well at Suva Grammar School that was hosted by Fiji School of Medicine CF. It was an awesome two nights of fellowship with God and with one another. The Pacific Students for Christ combined worship was a huge blessing for those that attended the two nights of worship. … Geoff Waugh spoke on Obedience to the Holy Spirit – this being a spark to revival and power.
Students came in droves for prayers and the worship lit up the Grammar School skies with tears, repentance, anointing and empowerment. The worship by Fiji School of Medicine students brought us closer to intimate worship with the King. It was a Pacific gathering and each and every person there was truly blessed as young people sought a closer intimate relationship with the King. We were blessed beyond words. Thank you all for the prayers, the thoughts and the giving.
Roneil, a Fijian Indian, added, “It was all so amazing, so amazing that words can’t describe it. For me, it was obvious that the glory of God just descended upon the people during the Inter–tertiary CF. I’ve never seen an altar call that lasted for way more than an hour. I myself just couldn’t get enough of it. It was and still is so amazing. God’s anointing is just so powerful. It was a profound privilege and a great pleasure to be taught by you but more so to see the Spirit of God move in such an amazing away. Hallelujah to Him Who Was, Who Is and Who is to Come.”
Baptist Church of Lagoinha, Belo Horizonte
In June 2008, I saw something of God’s mighty work in Brazil. George and Lisa Otis and the Sentinel Group hosted a conference in Belo Horizonte and a group of us visited communities that have been transformed in Brazil.
We worshipped on Sunday in the huge Baptist Church of Lagoinha in the city of Belo Horizonte. This church of about 35,000 holds four services every Sunday. The sanctuary is round with two high galleries. Before the worship service began they baptized about a dozen people in the baptistery high above the platform. Their worship leader, Ana Paula Valadao, is well known in Brazil. She led worship at the conference and has led national worship gatherings with over one million attending.
The worship service ended, as always, with an invitation for people to give their lives to God. As people streamed forward, counsellors joined to pray with them. People in the sanctuary let down banners saying, “Welcome to the family of God”.
We visited the city of Teresopolis, just north of Rio, where a whole community that once existed on the city’s garbage dump, now lives in a beautiful new valley nearby. We met youths from former gangs, now transformed into prayer and evangelism warriors, and we prayed with them on the prayer mountain there.
Algodao de Jandaira
Algodoa de Jandaira water after miracle of 2004
Floods after 24 years of drought, and Victoria
Then we flew north to see the transformation of Algodao de Jandaira, a rural town which suffered from 24 years of drought, until God answered prayer. My story draws on information from the Sentinel Group report.
The Valentina Baptist church in Joao Pessoa hosted us. Many of them had cried out for a fresh move of God. A quiet choir member, Victoria, began to have vivid dreams about a town called Algodao de Jandaira. Later they discovered such a place existed in a desert area with no proper roads.
A prayer team drove there, as we did. When the team arrived at the outskirts of the community, they were shocked by the poverty of its 2,200 inhabitants. The community well stayed dry. The team approached one home and discovered it was the only evangelical home in the community!
The church sent a team once a month with needed supplies. These follow-up trips continued through 2003. At the end of each visit, after they had delivered their meager supplies of food, salt and clothing, the team would walk up to a rock outcropping above the village to pray. We prayed there also.
That year the congregation decided to help the people of Algodao de Jandaira at Christmas. They took their supplies and continued to pray earnestly for God to intervene.
On January 24, 2004, the team returned to Algodao de Jandaira. About five miles from the community they approached a riverbed they had crossed dozens of times before. This time raging waters coursed down the channel. Parking their vehicle, the ecstatic believers hoisted supply sacks onto their shoulders and waded across the river.
As they walked the final stretch to town, a spirit of worship overcame them. Reaching the edge of the village, the team stood in astonishment. From the rock outcropping that served as their prayer station, a waterfall was pouring forth life-giving water upon the community below. Children ran in the river, splashing and laughing all around. Men watered their horses, while goats drank their fill.
Shortly after their previous visit the heavens over Algodao de Jandaira had unleashed a deluge. Water exploded out of previously dry wells with such force that huge boulders were tossed into the air like pebbles. After the “Flood of Blessings” – the 24-year-old mayor’s term for the recent miracle – they drilled 45 wells to tap what hydrologists now say is a substantial water table under Algodao de Jandaira. We met the young mayor and prayed with him.
The land now produces fava beans, papaya, guava, and other crops. Bees generate high-quality honey, goats yield record amounts of milk, and the river is filled with fish and shrimp. For the first time ever they can sell their overflow produce to public schools and outside distributors.
Algodao de Jandaira’s population rose to 3,000. The Valentina congregation has planted a church and social center in the community, and holds joint services there with a local Assembly of God congregation. Today, a substantial majority of Algodao de Jandaira’s citizens follow Christ as their Lord and Savior. When glory is to be given, it is given to God rather than their former patron saint, Padre Cicero.
The mayor’s leadership has landed multiple federal grants worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Recently, when he presented his case for a further grant, Algodao de Jandaira was the only community in the state of Paraiba to win a grant.
We worshipped in the Valentina Baptist Church, now powerfully Spirit-filled, and also in the Christian pioneers’ home in Algodao de Jandaira, and out on the street in front of that home. That family hosted us. We worshipped and praised God on the rocky outcrop near the town, where their prayer teams had prayed each month. And I swam in the cool freshwater, now flowing through the low dam beside the town.
God answers prayer! Not always as soon as we want, and not always the way we want, but he does. I left Brazil filled with awe once again. Revival has made Brazil the country with the third-largest number of Christians, after America and China.
In January 2009, I visited Myanmar (Burma) for the first time, also on mission. This time I enjoyed being part of three generations of our family on mission together, with my son Jonathan and my eldest grand-daughter Jemimah, as well as my sister Hazel all involved. Jonathan’s friend Andrew Rogers organized team visits there for a few years. Andrew lived with us for a couple of years when he studied at university.
It’s tough for Christians in that Buddhist country with a military dictatorship. They are not officially allowed to start churches, but they can run orphanages, so each orphanage becomes a church as well. We worked with leaders in the Apostolic Church there. They have two orphanages in Yangon, a Bible College out in the country, and they brought their pastors together for a conference there with us.
The Bible College is small, but students are very committed and extremely grateful. So were the pastors, some of them coming from very hard, remote areas. They were all so appreciative, and of course want return visits.
Jonathan and Jemi did a lot with the children and youth in the two orphanages, and Jonathan helped with practical work. My sister Hazel visited the orphanages and attended some of the pastors’ conference. She provided help for the Bethel Baptists and their orphanage as well. We both spoke at their church, and prayed for people there. She and her husband Kerry returned there, and people in their home church at Orange support that ministry in prayer and practical ways.
Some of us went daily to the Bible College for the conference, 1½ hours away by side-saddle covered truck. Jonathan helped with building their pigsty – so their pigs will be an income-producing project. I helped teach the pastors about revival and taught the students at the Bible College. We prayed together in faith for God’s mighty purposes in their land.
In subsequent visits was have continued this ministry to encourage pastors and leaders, not only in Yangon the capital, but also in other towns.
Jonathan reported, “On our last day a number of local people came to me and expressed their deep gratitude that we came over. There is a level of joy and encouragement that they receive from our simple presence, from white people coming to a tough environment to try and help practically and spiritually. It is so humbling to be told over and over that they are praying for us. May it go back to them a hundredfold.”
As in all the countries I have been privileged to visit on mission, not only do we see God blessing and empowering the people abundantly, but we too are abundantly blessed.