Selected from ‘How I Learned to Pray for the Lost’, Back to the Bible pamphlet.
The author is anonymous.
The letter accompanying this testimony says in part: This is the result of my search for effective ways of praying for the unsaved. I have found it to produce amazing results in a very short time. After more than 20 years of fruitless praying, it seemed that there was no possible chance for my loved ones to ever return to the faith. But after only a few weeks of the type of praying that I have outlined here I have seen them studying the Bible by the hour and attending every church service possible. Also, their whole attitude toward Christianity has changed, and all resistance seems to be gone. I have taken my place of authority in Christ and am using it against the enemy. I have not looked at myself to see if I am fit or not; I have just taken my place and have prayed that the Holy Spirit may do His convicting work. If each and every member of the Body of Christ would do this, what a change would be made in this world.
Perhaps because the salvation of some seemed to me to be an impossibility, the first verse that was given to me was Mark 10:27: “With God all things are possible.”
The next Scripture verse had occupied my attention for some time, but it took on a new meaning: “(for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations [speculations] and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4,5). This shows the mighty power of our spiritual weapons. We must pray that all of this will be accomplished in the ones for whom we are concerned; that is, that the works of the enemy will be torn down.
Finally I was given the solid foundations for my prayers – the basis of redemption. In reality, Christ’s redemption purchased all mankind, so that we may say that each one is actually God’s purchased possession, although still held by the enemy. We must, through the prayer of faith, claim and take for God in the name of the Lord Jesus that which is rightfully His. This is not meant to imply that, because all persons have been purchased by God through redemption, they are automatically saved. They must believe and accept the gospel for themselves; our intercession enables them to do this.
To pray in the name of the Lord Jesus is to ask for, or to claim, the things which the blood of Christ has secured. Therefore, each individual for whom prayer is made should be claimed by name as God’s purchased possession, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and on the basis of His shed blood.
We should claim the tearing down of all the works of Satan, such as false doctrine, unbelief, atheistic teaching and hatred, which the enemy may have built up in their thinking. We must pray that their very thoughts will be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
With the authority of the name of the Lord Jesus, we must claim their deliverance from the power and persuasion of the Evil One and from the love of the world and the lust of the flesh. We should also pray that their conscience maybe convicted, that God may bring them to the point of repentance and that they may listen and believe as they hear the Word of God. Our prayer must be that God’s will and purposes may be accomplished in and through them.
Intercession must be persistent – not to persuade God, for redemption is by God, but because of the enemy. Our prayer and resistance are against the enemy – the awful powers and rulers of darkness. It is our duty before God to fight for the souls for whom Christ died. Just as some must preach to them the good news of redemption, others must fight the powers of darkness on their behalf through prayer.
We will find that as we pray, the Holy Spirit will give new directions. Note that “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63) and that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). Therefore we must constantly seek the motivation of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, in our faith, in our prayer and in our testimony.
It is most important also that we confess our own sins and have them forgiven. The enemy will use every possible means to silence our intercession and to block our attack against him. We must not only understand our enemy, our authority in Christ and how to use our spiritual weapons, but also how to wear the armour that God has provided for our protection. Thus equipped and protected, we need not have any fear. But let us always remember that we have no power and no authority other than that of Christ.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ (2 Cor. 2:14).
He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
This is a result of my search for effective ways of praying for the sick. I found it produced results after persisting in hope and faith. At first it was mostly in hope. I know that God answers prayer, but we don’t always know how. Gradually my faith grew as I persisted in faith, believing that God answers prayer and that God heals. The tide changed and waves of healing blessings flowed more fully.
When I was young, we prayed for the sick in general terms, such as “Please God, heal Mr or Mrs So-and-so. Amen.” Generally the people we prayed for seemed to improve and sometimes we saw rapid improvement.
Then I discovered intimacy with God and the power of his Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, in new ways. Jesus told us to seek this: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13). We all need to ask, seek and knock, and Jesus promises that we will receive, find and have the door opened (Matthew 7:7-8).
So my journey in praying for others, including praying for the sick, began to change as I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me more fully. Instead of praying the same old way, “Please God, heal that sick person,” I began praying the way I was led by the Spirit.
As I read about Jesus and his disciples, I realized that they rarely or never prayed this way, “Please God heal that sick person.” Mostly they commanded healing, and Jesus’ followers always did so in Jesus’ name. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, and we have authority as we serve him and pray in his name, on his behalf.
That gradually opened new horizons for me! I began listening more to the still, small voice in my mind and heart, and found I was praying with more authority, in Jesus’ name. Increasingly I found myself led to pray, “Be healed, in Jesus’ name.“
As I persisted, the Holy Spirit quietly prompted me to take authority over attacks against the person. Sometimes (not automatically and not always) I was led to pray something like “Infirmity, get out in Jesus’ name.“
Increasingly I found more people reported that pain had gone or that they felt significantly improved. So then I realized that it helped to ask the person being prayed for how they felt. If some pain remained, I was often led to pray for them again, sometimes more than once more.
As first I was reluctant to ask how the person felt, in case there was little or no improvement! Then, gradually I realized that asking how they felt actually gave more opportunity to pray more if that was needed. When we persisted, we often saw improvement right there and then. A simple way to check is to ask, “How much pain do you have on a sale of 10 to 1?”
Many blockages in my thinking stopped me from praying with authority. Here are a few.
Not good enough. That can stop us. We think we’re not good enough for God to work in and through us. “No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:18). If you wait till you’re perfect, you’ll be in heaven! Confess sin quickly and gratefully move on, because the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, goes on cleansing us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Fear of failure. What if the person is not healed? That is a common blockage because sometimes there is no evidence of immediate healing. I began saying, “We’ll keep on trusting God for more healing, however it may come.” As we persisted in faith, there seemed to be more healing, more often.
No healing gift. There are many gifts of healings (1 Corinthians 12:9), and some people have a gift of faith for healing – they just expect it. I think I had more hope than faith. But we can all pray for healing, even if we don’t have healing gifts.
Disappointment. We all experience disappointment sometimes when we pray for healing. Healing does not always happen, or it may be slow in coming. But we can persist, just as we do with medical treatments. We persist till healing comes.
No leading. What if you have no leading on how to pray? That happens at times. You can still pray in faith, knowing God hears and will answer in his way and in his time.
What helped me to overcome blockages?
God’s Word helped me most. The more I read about Jesus and his followers the more my faith grew. God’s Spirit speaks his word into our hearts and lives. We believe it and act on it.
Listening more for the leading of God’s Spirit helped me enormously. Note that “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63) and that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). Often, a ‘hunch’ turned out to be a ‘leading’.
One night I prayed for a young relative who had been getting migraines. Medications had helped, but migraines persisted. I had a hunch we were dealing with an attack, so I was led to gently place my hand on his head and pray, “Affliction, get out in Jesus’ name.” I felt it go, and my young relative felt fine and has not needed medication for that since then. We don’t always ‘feel’ something, but we can pray in faith.
Why lay on hands?
Why do we lay hands on the sick to pray for them? It’s biblical. See Mark 6:5; 7:32; 10:16; 16:18; Luke 4:40; 13:13; Acts 28:8. It’s also a natural way to express care and concern. All parents know that touch brings comfort when a child is hurt.
Biblical passages taught me to persist. Here are some: Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:5-10; 18:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Jesus occasionally prayed/commanded for healing more than once, as for the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-25) and the wild man of Gadarra (Luke 8:26-39).
Ultimate healing and the only total healing is in heaven. Meanwhile, in this broken world we can show compassion and care in many ways, including praying for healing. I know the pain of praying for a loved one’s healing, who died. Sometimes the healing is not here, but hereafter.
Sometimes God may surprise you, as you persist in simple faith. A nurse in one of our prayer groups was led to place her hand on a lady’s back and pray, “L4 be healed, in Jesus’ name.” The pain left immediately. Apparently the problem was in the lumbar (L4 region) of the spine.
A doctor, and my college class, once prayed for and laid hands on a lady student who was scheduled for an operation to remove a growth in her abdomen. Later that same day her specialist could find no growth, so they cancelled the operation.
Recently we prayed as a small group for a man with diabetes problems. When he had a blood test it registered normal, so he testified in church and gave thanks to God.
Healing is not always so quick. But it’s always a blessing to pray for one another. Sometimes it helps to pray in a believing group where those praying contribute their different spiritual gifts and insights. You can pray in the Spirit and often receive the Spirit’s leading on how to pray with authority in Jesus’ name.
Many people discover that God is real and personal, and they believe in him because someone prayed for their healing. We pray – God heals.
I pray that you will find peace and joy as you pray in faith for others, led and empowered by God’s Spirit. Just bless them in Jesus’name.
Much has been written about the revivals and awakenings that have taken place in the Church over many centuries. It is clear that there are a number of revival principles that constantly recur including persistent prayer; powerful preaching and testimony; and a deep awareness of the presence and holiness of God leading to a strong sense of conviction of sin and repentance followed by extreme joy when peace with God is received (Davies, 1992, p 217). This essay will illustrate from revival history these and other principles and explore the nature and potency of revival.
WHAT IS REVIVAL?
It is important to define in more detail what is meant by the term revival as this will determine which events are included as illustrations in the essay. Davies (1992, p 15) proposes a working definition of revival as
A sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a group of Christians resulting in their spiritual reviving and quickening, and issuing in the awakening of spiritual concern in outsiders or formal church members; an immediate, or, at other times, a more long-term, effect will be efforts to extend the influence of the Kingdom of God both intensively in the society in which the Church is placed, and extensively in the spread of the gospel to more remote parts of the world.
Waugh (1998, p xxii) quotes Arthur Wallis definition of revival as
A divine intervention in the normal course of spiritual things. It is God revealing Himself to man in awesome holiness and irresistible power. It is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are overshadowed and human programs abandoned. It is man retiring into the background because God has taken the field. It is the Lord…working in extraordinary power on saint and sinner…Revival must of necessity make an impact on the community and this is one means by which we may distinguish it from the more usual operations of the Holy Spirit.
Edwards (1997, p 28) proposes the following definition:
A true Holy Spirit revival is a remarkable increase in the spiritual life of a large number of God’s people, accompanied by an awesome awareness of the presence of God, intensity in prayer and praise, a deep conviction of sin with a passionate longing for holiness and unusual effectiveness in evangelism, leading to the salvation of many unbelievers.
Revival is necessary to counteract spiritual decline and to create spiritual momentum (Wallis, 1956, p 13). In revival the church dormant becomes the church militant. For example, as the nineteenth century dawned America was again morally bankrupt. Eight years of war had drained the nation’s vitality leaving a dark cloud of spiritual indifference and moral degradation. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church circulated a pastoral letter declaring they were filled with concern and awful dread at the conditions of the nation. They expressed the solemn conviction that the eternal God has a controversy with this nation. This concern prompted fervent prayer that precipitated a national spiritual awakening beginning on the east coast around 1800 and spreading to the western frontier (Hyatt, 1998, p 121).
Charles Haddon Spurgeon experienced a continual revival in his church in London for many years in the middle of last century and he was convinced that a true revival is to be looked for in the church of God. In other words revival begins with the church and spills over into the world. It always begins by getting Christians right first, which is very painful.
Revival will always vitalise God’s people … but revival is not always welcome. For many the price is too high. There is no cheap grace in revival. It entails the repudiation of self-satisfied complacency. Revival turns careless living into vital concern…exchanges self-indulgence for self-denial. Yet, revival is not a miraculous visitation falling on an unprepared people like a bolt out of the blue. It comes when God’s people earnestly want revival and are willing to pay the price (Pratney, 1984, p 17).
Preaching at the Keswick Convention in 1922, Douglas Brown, who was used in a revival the year before, rightly maintained that “revival” is a church word; it has to do with God’s people. You cannot revive the world; the world is dead to trespasses and sins; you cannot revive a corpse. But you can revitalise where there is life… (Edwards, 1997, p 27).
Evan Roberts made the same claim in Wales in 1904: “My mission is first to the churches.” When the churches are aroused to their duty, men of the world will be swept into the Kingdom. A whole church on its knees is irresistible. Revival always brings the church to its knees. Rhys Bevan Jones who preached in Wales throughout 1904 declared that if ever there was a slogan for that revival it was this: “Bend the church and save the people” (ibid).
A revival usually results in an unusual sense of spiritual interest or concern and it can first manifest itself as a deep concern on the part of professing Christians regarding the shallowness and superficiality of their spiritual lives. They become profoundly conscious of their poverty of their relationship with God, the standard of their moral lives and their service for Christ (Davies, 1992, p 19).
This can also be demonstrated in the Brownsville revival in 1995. Stephen Hill (1997, p 74) noted that as in the revivals of old, people fell to their knees, prostrate or backward on the ground, weeping and wailing and crying out to God: John (Kilpatrick) and I prayed for individuals, and I realised that repentance was on the hearts of these people. I heard them cry out to God about their lukewarmness and stale Christianity, confessing their sins, and wanting desperately to get right with God. It seemed that everyone in that sanctuary desired a renewed relationship with their Lord Jesus Christ.
Revival is not primarily to give the church power, though it certainly does this, but give it life. There is a world of difference. In one sense the church had no history before Pentecost. In Acts 2 the church was not restored to where it ought to have been and from where it had fallen, but it was the starting-point of the new covenant church. The Acts story certainly describes the effects of a community saturated with God. A revival is the spring of Christianity – the renovation of life and gladness … it is the season in which young converts burst into existence and beautiful activity … the whole landscape teems with living promises of abundant harvest of righteousness and peace… it is the jubilee of holiness (Jenkins in Hill, 1997, p xxx).
When a group of God’s people are revived there is an inevitable effect on those in the immediate neighbourhood. They see that something has happened, make enquiries, and are then told by those who have been revived. This is what happened on the day of Pentecost, and is what has often happened in subsequent times of revival. For example:
1. Wales, 1904, 100 000 conversions
2. Argentina, 1951, 300 000 conversions
3. Pensacola, 1995, 100 000 conversions
Revival is remarkable, large, effective and, above all, it is something that God brings about. It is quite impossible for man to create revival. Though men may prepare and pray for it, revival is the work of the sovereign God. Commenting on Acts 2:1, when the day of Pentecost came, Wallis in Edwards (1997, p 29) claims every genuine revival is clearly stamped with the hallmark of divine sovereignty, and in no way is this more clearly seen than in the time factor. The moment for the first outpouring of the Spirit was not determined by the believers in the upper room but by God, who had foreshadowed it centuries before in those wonderful types of the Old Testament.
The suddenness is a typical feature of revival. What happened in the time of Hezekiah was done so quickly and the same was true 700 years later when, on the day of Pentecost, suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind… (Acts 2:2). No matter how long people have been praying for it or expecting it when it comes it is always a surprise.
When God came to the north of Korea in January 1907 it was on the Monday following a particularly formal and weary Sunday. In revival things happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Meetings are lengthened, crowds gather, and sermons have to be preached, not because it is all arranged in advance, but because God is at work. At
Herrnhut in 1727, Zinzendorf acknowledged, hitherto we had been the leaders and helpers. Now the Holy Spirit himself took full control of everything and everybody (Edwards, 1997, p 30).
God longs to work afresh in the affairs of His people and bring them back to the knowledge of Himself and relationship with Him (Waugh, 1999, p 11). To illustrate, God gave a promise at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (NIV).
He has kept this promise and the history of Israel gives many examples. This verse speaks of the need for God’s people to humble themselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways, thus emphasising the paramount need for prayer. As God’s people truly seek his face, humbling themselves before him and acknowledging their complete dependence on him, earnest and urgent in expressing their wholehearted desire for his presence and blessing together with their determination, like Jacob (Gen 32: 26), not to give up until he answers, he will hear. They will find that He reveals to them their secret sins which up to that time they have cheerfully committed and tolerated, but which now become hateful to them as they have a glimpse of how He views them.
Orr (1993, p 13) quotes Pierson who said, there has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer. Joel 2: 15-17 is a vital passage to apprehend for revival – blow the trumpet in Zion … Here is a community of people of God called to pray for revival, and it clearly involved a radical alteration of their regular program. The first hint of revival is frequently a stirring in the life of prayer in the church. King Hezekiah set the example for the people by his own commitment to God in prayer.
Commenting on the prayer that preceded the revival in Shotts in 1630, one writer remarked that while God sometimes works without His people, he never refuses to work with them (Edwards, 1997, p 85).
The first hint of revival is frequently a stirring in the life of prayer in the church and this can be well documented from history. In the case of the First Great Awakening there were Christian leaders such as Cotton Mather (1663-1728) who over the course of his life spent hundreds of days in prayer and fasting for revival, even though he did not live to see the answer to his prayers, at least not in his own church.
George Whitfield attributed much of the blessing which attended his ministry and that of others to a daily prayer meeting which he and his friends began in October 1737. Jonathan Edward’s preaching derived its power from his prayer life. He would spend whole days and weeks in prayer and it was not unusual for him to spend eighteen hours in prayer prior to preaching a single sermon. The result was a revival that not only transformed the moral and spiritual character of his community but also that of an entire nation (Hyatt, 1998, p 116).
The Moravian church was renewed at Herrnhut in August 1727 and this was preceded by nearly a century of prayer for renewal by the persecuted remnants of the Unity of Brethren in Bohemia and Moravia from whom the refugees at Herrnhut had come. The twenty-four hour prayer watch which soon became a distinctive feature of the Moravians and which continued for another hundred years provided much of the moving power which sent the Moravian missionaries to all corners of the globe.
In the 1740s John Erskine of Edinburgh published a pamphlet encouraging people to pray for Scotland and elsewhere. Over in America the challenge was picked up by Jonathan Edwards who wrote a treatise called, A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.
For forty years John Erskine orchestrated what became a Concert of Prayer through voluminous correspondence around the world. In the face of apparent social, political and moral deterioration he persisted. In 1781 in Cornwall the heavens opened at last and across the country prayer meetings were networking for revival. A passion for evangelism rose and converts were being won – not through regular services of the churches but at the prayer meetings! Whole denominations doubled, tripled, and quadrupled in the next few years. It swept from England to Wales, Scotland, United States, Canada and to some Third World countries.
Matthew Henry wrote, “When God intends great mercy for His people He first sets them praying” (Robinson, 1993, p 8).
The prayer movement had a tremendous impact but waned until the middle of the 19th century. Then God started something in Canada and the necessity to pray was picked up in New York. A quiet man called Jeremiah Lanphier had been appointed by the Dutch reformed Church as a missionary to the central business district. He called a prayer meeting in the city to be held at noon each Wednesday. Its first meeting was on 23 September 1859 and eventually five men turned up. Two weeks later they decided to move to a daily schedule of prayer. Within six months 10 000 men were gathering to pray and that movement spread across America. Within two years there were one million new believers added to the church. The movement swept out to touch England, Scotland Wales and Ulster. It was estimated that 100 000 converts directly resulted from prayer movements in Ireland. It has also been estimated that during the years 1859-60 some 1 150 000 people were added to the church wherever concerts of prayer were in operation (ibid, p 10).
In describing how revival comes, believers can never overlook the part that urgent prayer and confident expectation play. There must be, especially among the leaders, the determination that God will come, that He must come. William Bramwell is typical of this. A powerful Weslyan preacher towards the end of the eighteenth century and the first twenty years of the nineteenth, Bramwell was on the Dewsbury preaching circuit and longing for God to come in revival. He had been praying fervently for this when God gave him the assurance that the revival, which actually broke out in 1792, would come (Edwards, 1997, p 75).
It is said of David Morgan that for ten years before 1858 he never prayed in public without praying for revival. The revival that came to England in 1859 and particularly to the preaching Charles Haddon Spurgeon can be traced back six years to the prayers of his London congregation. It is not always clear when prayer meetings are part of the revival itself or are preceding it. But the distinction does not matter too much. Prayer is both the cause and result of the coming of the Spirit in revival (ibid, p 78).
Commenting on the Welsh revival in 1904, RB Jones looked back to the latter years of the previous century. From 1897 many younger ministers were meeting together to pray for revival. One minister recalled that on a Saturday evening when his sermon preparation was finished he spent time in prayer and there would come upon him such a power as would crush (him) to tears and agonising praying (Edwards, 1997, p 77).
Pandita Ramabai opened a home for girls in India. In this endeavour she was totally dependent on God’s provision and prayer was truly her lifeline. In January 1905, she began to speak about the need to seek God for revival. Before long, 550 people, mostly women and girls, were meeting twice daily, praying for revival and for an enduement of power. On June 30 Ramabai was teaching the girls from John 8 when suddenly the Holy Spirit fell as in the book of Acts. Everyone in the room began to weep and pray aloud. The revival had begun. Pandita Ramabai left her imprint on her generation and surely deserves to be recognised as the mother of the Pentecostal movement in India.
Prayer seems to have been the foremost activity at the Azusa Mission. One participant said, “The whole place was steeped in prayer. William Seymour spent much of his time behind the pulpit with his head inside the top shoe box praying. Seymour was consumed with a passionate desire for God.” Seymour said, “Before I met Parham, such a hunger to have more of God was in my heart that I prayed for five hours a day for two and a half years. I got to Los Angeles and there the hunger was not less but more. I prayed, God, what can I do? The Spirit said, Pray more. …I increased my hours of prayer to seven, and prayed to God to give what Parham preached, the real Holy Ghost and fire with tongues with love and power of God like the apostles had” (Hyatt, 1998, p 156).
The event that preceded Azusa Street by five years and actually precipitated the revival in Los Angeles began at the outset of the century in a student atmosphere. It was in a Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, where Charles Parham’s students searched the scriptures and where the Holy Spirit came on a student during a prayer and study vigil.
Along with the growing acceptance of their movement, Pentecostals were, at the same time, experiencing a loss of spiritual vitality that always accompanies the onslaught of institutionalisation. The 1930s and 40s have been described as a time when the depth of worship and the operation of the gifts of Spirit, so much evident in earlier decades, were not so prominent. Many were concerned to the point that systematic times of prayer and fasting were instituted to pray for spiritual renewal and revival. The answer to their prayers began with the advent of the Healing revival which began in 1946 and the Latter Rain Revival which began in 1947 (Hyatt, 19 98, p 183).
The ministries of William Branham and Oral Roberts signalled the beginning of a significant era of healing evangelism. Almost immediately a host of other evangelists began reporting miraculous healings and other supernatural phenomena in their meetings, These included AA Allen, Jack Coe, TL Osborn, William Freeman, WV Grant, Kenneth Hagin and many other evangelists. In 1947, after a seven month season of focussed prayer and fasting, Oral Roberts received inner assurance that it was time for God’s call to be fulfilled – to take God’s healing power to his generation. Many remarkable miracles occurred and Roberts eventually became the most prominent healing evangelist of that era.
Before God began the revival that swept across Borneo in the 1970’s he had been preparing the ground by giving the missionaries the burden to pray. Ravenshill (1958, p 155) states that for this sin-hungry age we need a prayer-hungry church…prayer does business with God. Prayer creates a hunger for souls; hunger for souls creates prayer.
Cho (in McClung, 1986, p 99) states that before 1980 individual revival movements took place with such prominent figures as Billy Graham and Oral Roberts. More recently it appears that the individual revival movements have abated and revivals have burst forth in the local church. In Korea, where the church has grown from almost zero to a projected 50% of the entire population in this century alone, Pastor Paul Yonggi Cho attributes his church’s conversion rate of 12 000 people per month as primarily due to ceaseless prayer (Robinson, 1993, p 5).
A dramatic revival took place at Whittier Christian High School in Los Angeles from 1987 to 1989. It had been preceded by fifteen years of secret prayer for revival by the mother of one of the students who had attended in the early 1970’s and by four parent/teacher prayer groups who were similarly praying through the early part of 1987. The revival spread to some of the other colleges in the area and to two campuses on the other side of the United States. A prayer movement for God to send out 100 000 missionaries in this generation has grown out of the awakening.
The Toronto Blessing erupted in January 1994 and by 1997 attendance had reached the two million mark. Even though the leaders of this revival consider evangelism to be their second priority – after the renewal of the Church and individual believers – over 25 000 conversions have occurred of which 8-10 000 are first time decisions (ibid, p 210).
The lost of the Apostle Paul’s day were the same as the lost of today. Paul desperately wanted them to be set free. This same burden for the lost is at the heart of the Brownsville revival (Hill, 1997, p 12). One obvious characteristic of the Pensacola revival is its intense evangelistic emphasis. The meetings are obviously geared towards getting those who are unsaved or backslidden to the front during the altar service. Since its beginning in June 1995 it is estimated that two million people have visited the revival with over 100 000 making decisions for Christ (Hyatt, 1998, p 211).
John Kilpatrick, pastor of the Brownsville Assemblies of God church in Pensacola, Florida highlights the value of prayer in revival when he reflects on the powerful moves of God in peoples lives: I see the scenes replayed week after week, and service after service. Each time, I realise that in a very real way, they are the fruit of a seven-year journey in prayer, and of two and a half years of fervent corporate intercession by the church (Waugh, 1998, p 137). Stephen Hill (1997, p 2) notes that it was a deep-rooted motivation to do the ministry God had given that caused Kilpatrick to rise up for over two years, take hold of the horns of the altar, grab them firmly, and scream out, “Dear God, send revival to our church. Revive us, oh God!’ He also notes (p 5) the ministry of Lyla Terhune and the intercessors who spend time in the back prayer room during the revival services agonising over the souls of the lost. They can be found weeping and wailing, often travailing as a woman giving birth, not for themselves but for the salvation of others. They do not flinch at the thought of waging heated spiritual warfare during this revival.
Derek Prince notes in Hill (1997, p xxii) that Tuesday night is prayer night at the Pensacola revival. The seventeen hundred people present represented quite a large turn-out by most standards of prayer meetings … one distinctive feature was the presence of ten or more banners, each one representing some major theme of prayer. People focussed their prayer on a theme by gathering around that particular banner. There was none of what I would call ‘shotgun praying’, rather it was very directed.
There have always been pockets of believers, sprinkled throughout the land – earnestly seeking God – motivated by a desperate desire for revival. God has always had His remnant. They took hold of the horns of the altar. The darkness of night was pierced by their agonising pleas for a visitation from God. Their white-hot prayers lit up the sky just as lightning displaces utter blackness (Hill, 1997, p xviii). I know not what course others may take; but as for me, GIVE ME REVIVAL in my soul and in my church and in my nation – or GIVE ME DEATH! (Ravenshill, 1958, p 161).
POWERFUL PREACHING AND TESTIMONY
The second consistent principle of revival is powerful, urgent, relevant Christ-centred preaching.
On the day of Pentecost the 120 disciples were filled with the Spirit and immediately began to speak in various languages about the wonderful works of God. This was followed by Peter’s preaching which was accompanied by such spiritual power that 3 000 were convicted and converted (Acts 2). The work continued and spread as the Christians preached publicly and testified personally to the great saving acts in Jesus Christ.
Often in revivals, an individual or a small group, have experienced powerful awakening and renewal as they have waited on God in prayer and then their personal testimony and public proclamation have been the means of communicating that blessing to other believers as well as awakening and converting non-believers.
True revival is a revival of gospel preaching (Edwards, 1997, p 101). Powerful, urgent,
relevant Christ-centred communication of the gospel emphasising the holiness and grace of God and the need for personal response is a hallmark of revival. It is often because the preachers themselves have been revived and quickened, and the content of their preaching as well as their method of presentation bear evidence to what has happened.
Davies (1992, p 222) notes that preachers in revival are never flippant. They know they are the servants of the Most High God and they are aware of their awesome responsibility and of the seriousness of the task. They have a sense of the awfulness of men dying without Christ and are extremely concerned to communicate the gospel faithfully. They have an urgent desire to bring men and women to repentance and faith before it is too late. Preachers in revival are concerned to make the truth plain and to show each person its relevance for them. They are also conscious to avoid superficial and therefore false conversions.
The description of Duncan Campbell as a preacher shows how seriously revival preachers took their task: There was nothing complicated about Duncan’s preaching. It was fearless and uncompromising. He exposed sin in its ugliness and dwelt at length on the consequences of living and dying without Christ. With a penetrating gaze on the congregation and perspiration streaming down his face he set before men and women the way of death. It was a solemn thought to him that the eternity of his hearers might turn upon his faithfulness. He was standing before his fellow men in Christ’s stead and could be neither perfunctory or formal. His words were not just a repetition of accumulated ideas but the expression of his whole being. He gave the impression of preaching with his entire personality, not merely his voice (Edwards, 1997, p 103).
In revival Christ, and the blood of the cross particularly, is central to the preaching. Perhaps this is why many records of revival refer to the special blessings experienced at communion services when the blood of Christ is preached both from the Word and through the bread and wine. At Cambuslang in 1742 the presence of God was so real at the communion service held on 11 July that it was agreed they must celebrate it again, and very soon. Untypically for the Scottish Presbyterians, they arranged another service for 15 August and this was attended by some 20,000 people! Though only a few thousand were allowed to participate, hundreds were converted.
In the eighteenth century Whitefield and Wesley found that the preaching of the cross was hated, just as it is hated now. But thousands found in the blood of Christ justification, redemption, propitiation, peace, reconciliation and cleansing, whether or not they understood all those terms.
Joseph Kemp returned from a visit to Wales in 1905 and reported to his congregation at Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh that the dominating note of the Walsh revival was ‘redemption through the Blood.’ Whenever we hear or read that the Spirit is at work we can assess the genuineness of the work by how central the blood of Christ is to the preaching and the worship. And if the cross is central in the preaching and the worship then it will be central in the lives of the converts (Edwards, 1997, p 108).
Jonathan Edwards complained, in 1733, that the young people, especially, were very careless and were not interested in listening to what God had to say through their parents or through the ministers of the gospel. But when the Spirit of God came in revival, ‘The young people declared themselves convinced by what they heard from the pulpit, and were willing of themselves to comply with the counsel that had been given; and it was immediately, and I suppose, almost universally, complied with.’ Submission to leadership is a biblical condition of worship and it runs tight through both Old and New Testaments. The description of the Christians in the Acts of the Apostles was that they were dedicated to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). And when revival comes, one of its hallmarks is not independency, but a holy dependence upon Scripture and a respect for those whose task it is to explain and apply it (Edwards, 1997, p 111).
The twin activities of public preaching and personal testimony provide the ideal combination which has so often been the way that awakening and revival have spread. Even when the preaching has been limited to ‘properly ordained ministers’ the witness of ‘ordinary Christians’ has been a major factor in the spread of revival. It is the emphasis upon living, vital and urgent preaching, together with the people’s confidence in Scripture and love for it, that produces such a powerful force in revival. Revival never begins with those who deny or despise the authority of the Word, and if people who do deny Scripture are effectively influenced by the revival it will always change their theology of the Bible.
At times of revival there has been a paramount need for sound teaching and instruction. When those who are revived are themselves soundly taught in the truth of God’s Word, they can properly interpret their own experience, adequately proclaim the truth to others, and also correctly instruct new converts. When this is not the case or when they fail to properly instruct new converts of the revival there is a strong possibility that there will be dangerous extremes of belief and practice and that the whole movement of revival will not produce lasting fruit. In the case of the Welsh Revival of 1904 many believe that Evan Roberts’ neglect of preaching and instruction was the cause of the revival’s failure to achieve its full potential (Evans in Davies, 1992, p 223).
One commentator on the eighteenth-century Awakening rightly claims that the uninhibited and compelling urge to preach the Gospel was the basic characteristic of all the personalities involved, whatever other gifts they might have: Both Harris and Wesley had keen organising ability, both William Williams and Charles Wesley had unsurpassed genius to write hymns, Whitfield’s compassionate heart and breadth of vision well-nigh encircled the globe, and Rowland’s communion seasons were heavenly, but each felt deeply the absolute priority and unique authority of preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit (Edwards, 1997, 104).
DEEP AWARENESS OF THE PRESENCE AND HOLINESS OF GOD
Another key principle of revival is the deep awareness of the presence and holiness of God leading to a strong sense of conviction of sin and repentance followed by extreme joy when peace with God is received.
In Israel’s time, under God’s judgement, people awakened to a realisation of better days and linked this back to their previous relationship with him. Prayer went up in agony for deliverance and God raised up another leader and another restoration. Right relationship to the righteous standards of the Word of God was also confirmed by Charles Finney who succinctly defined revival as nothing more or less than a new beginning of obedience to the Word of God (Pratney, 1984, p 19).
There is an observable connection in the history of awakenings between revival and holiness. An overwhelming sense of the holiness of God frequently characterises revivals bringing with it a crushing sense of personal and often corporate sin and guilt. The repentance which is produced in revival is a deep, radical, complete abhorrence of sin and turning away from it, with a heartfelt desire to have done with it completely. Sin is seen for what it really is, as God sees it, and it continues to be hateful to the young convert. Holiness is seen as beautiful and infinitely desirable. The new Christian longs after holiness, seeing it as a characteristic of his God.
Waugh (1998, p 136) quotes Kilpatrick regarding the Brownsville revival – corporate businessmen in expensive suits kneel and weep uncontrollably as they repent of secret sins … drug addicts and prostitutes fall to the floor on their faces beside them, to lie prostrate before God as they confess Jesus as Lord … souls who come to Christ, confessing their sins.
Revival is always a revival of holiness. And it begins with a terrible conviction of sin. It is often the form that the conviction of sin takes that troubles those who read of revival. Sometimes the experience is crushing. People weep uncontrollably. There is no such thing as a revival without tears of conviction and sorrow. In January 1907 God was moving in a powerful way in North Korea and a Western missionary recalled one particular scene: As the prayer continued a spirit of heaviness and sorrow for sin came down upon the audience. Over on one side someone began to weep and in a moment the whole audience was weeping. Man after man would rise, confess his sins, break down and weep, and then throw himself to the floor and beat the floor with his fists in perfect agony of conviction … sometimes after a confession the whole audience would break out in audible prayer and the effect of that audience of hundreds of men praying together in audible prayer was something indescribable. Again, after another confession, they would break out in uncontrollable weeping, and we would all weep, we could not help it. And so the meeting went on until 2 am, with confession and weeping and praying (Edwards, 1997, p 115). Scenes like these are typical of almost every recorded revival. There is no revival without deep, uncomfortable and humbling conviction of sin.
In some mines in Wales in 1904 the work came to a standstill because the pit ponies could no longer understand the orders that were given to them; the hauliers, classed as the worst group of men in the pits, proverbial for their profanity and cruelty, were no longer cursing their commands and the ponies were confused (Edwards, 1997, p 187).
A revival usually results in an unusual sense of spiritual interest or concern and it can first manifest itself as a deep concern on the part of professing Christians regarding the shallowness and superficiality of their spiritual lives. They become profoundly conscious of their poverty of their relationship with God, the standard of their moral lives and their service for Christ (Davies, 1992, p 19).
Revival rectifies the impoverished spiritual conditions of people, some of which are outlined in an internet bulletin from www.highwayman.net/prayernet titled A27 Evidences of the Need for a Fresh Visitation of the Spirit. A sample includes – we need revival:
1. When we would rather make money than give money;
2. When we make little effort to witness to the lost;
3. When we seldom think thoughts of eternity;
4. When we know truth in our heads that we are not practicing in our lives
5. When we are more concerned about what others think about us than what God thinks about us.
The full list has been reproduced and is available in the Appendix. Revival will always vitalise God’s people. In the revival in Kentucky in the late 1700s sleep and physical comforts seemed to be forgotten as things eternal gripped the hearts and minds of the people…cries of distress over sin soon gave way to shouts of joy arising out of assurance of salvation (Hyatt, 1998, p 123).
The deep, uncomfortable and humbling conviction of sin can be demonstrated in the Brownsville revival in 1995. Stephen Hill (1997, p 74) noted that as in the revivals of old, people fell to their knees, prostrate or backward on the ground, weeping and wailing and crying out to God. John (Kilpatrick) and I prayed for individuals, and I realised that repentance was on the hearts of these people. I heard them cry out to God about their lukewarmness and stale Christianity, confessing their sins, and wanting desperately to get right with God. It seemed that everyone in that sanctuary desired a renewed relationship with their Lord Jesus Christ.
OTHER REVIVAL PRINCIPLES
There has been much written and spoken of about the dynamics and principles of revival. Nine outstanding characteristics of the major revivals have been articulated by Fischer (in Pratney, 1984, p 19) as follows:
1. They occurred in times of moral darkness and national depression
2. Each began in the heart of a consecrated servant of God who became the energizing power behind it
3. Each revival rested on the Word of God and most were the result of proclaiming God’s Word with power
4. All resulted in a return to the worship of God
5. Each witnessed the destruction of idols where they existed
6. In each revival there was a recorded separation from sin
7. In every revival the people returned to obeying God’s laws
8. There was a restoration of great joy and gladness
9. Each revival was followed by a period of national prosperity
Revival brings vitality to God’s Church and His people. A principle of revival is that it brings results. There is an increase in evangelism, mission, social action and the increased involvement of the laity. A revival always has an effect upon the nation. Edwin Orr (in Edwards, 1997, p 185) claims that the evangelical awakening in the eighteenth century saved Britain from the revolutionary experience that ravaged the continent of Europe at that time. Wesley, the English evangelist, defeated Volataire, the French philosopher and Deist.
2 Kings 18: 7-8 notes the success of King Hezekiah during the revival – And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory (NIV). The nation was sufficiently strong to throw off its slavery; the revival gave the people of Judah moral and military fibre and it was this that led Hezekiah to make a bid to secure spiritual unity in the nation after 200 years of warfare between the north and south. The revival was also a time of his brilliant engineering.
There are also hindrances to revival which the believer needs to be aware of. Some of these have been outlined in Waugh (1999, p 9) and include pride (when Christians become proud of their great revival); exalting self over God; prejudice (when Christians lose the spirit of brotherly love); exhaustion; self-reliance (when dependence on the Spirit in replaced by human effort); conflict (when there is continued opposition of the >old school’ combined with a bad spirit in the >new’ school); and neglecting missions.
The life of a believer of prayer, striving for holiness, and wholehearted evangelism must all go on as if the future of the Church depended on them. At the same time believers should long for the community to be saturated with God, should talk of the great acts of God in revival, and should pray to continually remind God that a special occasion is needed for this generation.
When the prophet Micah looked around him he could find little to encourage him in the nation. An honest assessment convinced him that the forces of evil were gaining ground. In spite of this, or perhaps because of this, Micah set out his own position:
But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
I wait for God my Saviour; my God will hear me
Micah 7:7 (NIV).
Davies, R.E. 1992. I Will Pour Out My Spirit: A History and Theology of Revivals and EvangelicalAwakenings. Tunbridge Wells: Monarch Publications.
Edwards, Brian H. 1997. Revival!A People Saturated With God. County Durham: Evangelical Press.
Hill, Stephen. 1997. The Pursuit of Holiness. Lake Mary, Florida: Creation House.
Hyatt, Eddie L. 1998. 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity: A 21st Century Look at Church History from a Pentecostal/Charismatic Perspective. Dallas, Texas: Hyatt International Ministries Inc.
McClung, L Grant Jnr. 1986. Azuza Street and Beyond: Pentecostal Missions and Church Growth in the Twentieth Century. South Plainfield, New Jersey: Bridge Publishing Co.
Orr, J. Edwin. ‘Prayer and Revival’. Renewal Journal: Revival. Vol 1, Number 1. Summer 1993. pp 13- 18.
Pratney, Winkie. 1984. Revival: Principles to Change the World. Springdale: Whitaker House.
Ravenshill, Leonard. 1959. Why Revival Tarries. Tonbridge: Sovereign World.
Robinson, Stuart. ‘Praying the Price’. Renewal Journal: Revival. Vol 1, Number 1. Summer 1993. pp 5-12.
Wallis, Arthur. 1956. In The Day of Thy Power. Christian Literature Crusade.
THE STUNNING SCIENCE BEHIND THE HEALING POWER OF PRAYER
Article written by Dr. Don Colbert. Dr Colbert graduated from Oral Roberts Medical School in 1984. Dr. Colbert has practiced medicine in Central Florida and has been board certified in Family Practice for over 25 years.
Even a mere 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can have a powerful effect on your body, mind, and spirit.
If you have a regular practice of prayer, then you are well aware that benefits are very real and wide-ranging. Many people who engage in these activities report psychological and spiritual benefits such as a sense of greater clarity, purpose, gratitude, presence, sense of connection, and overall well-being. However, these sorts of subjective benefits can be hard to measure scientifically. Interestingly, despite the difficulty in quantifying the spiritual effects of prayer, there have been many studies looking at the physical benefits of this ancient practice. A 2013 Pew Research Poll estimated that over half of Americans pray daily.
A University of Rochester study found that over 85% of people dealing with a major illness turn to prayer.
Every religion or spiritual belief system has a form of prayer or meditation as a foundational principle. This shows that prayer is not merely a cultural phenomenon but a fundamental aspect of the human experience. Yet, many people still struggle to reconcile belief in the power of prayer with a scientific worldview. Duke University’s Harold G. Koenig, M.D, author of several books on faith and healing, says “studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick, and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster. So how does that happen? Harvard Medical School cardiovascular specialist Dr. Herbert Benson discovered what is called the “relaxation response.”
This is the physiological state that occurs during prayer. It involves the autonomic (automatic) nervous system shifting over to a parasympathetic (rest and digest) dominant state, as opposed to the sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) state that most of us spend the majority of the day in. The act of prayer has shown to increase certain helpful neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which help promote a state of relaxation, focus, motivation, and well-being. But the effects are not confined to momentary relaxation.Long-term prayer can actually rewire and rebuild the brain! With the ability to scan the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers have been able to note the physiological changes that occur in the brains of those who pray regularly.
Lisa Miller, professor and director of Clinical Psychology and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University conducted a study on 103 people who were at a high risk of depression. Using MRI, she found that those who prayed regularly tended to have a thicker cerebral cortex which has been associated with less depression and anxiety. Another study has shown that urban children with asthma cope better when incorporating prayer into their lives. Prayer is also good for your heart. Christians have been shown to have lower average blood-pressure than non-believers. Prayer also is correlated to less heart attacks and quicker recovery from heart surgery. There is even evidence to suggest that regular prayer will help you live longer! So with all these benefits, you should consider incorporating prayer as part of your daily regimen.
According to a study published in the journal Sociology of Religion titled “Prayer, Attachment to God, and Symptoms of Anxiety-Related Disorders among U.S. Adults,” looked at the data of 1,714 volunteers. What they found is that those who pray with a loving and protective conception of God experience a more dramatic reduction in anxiety related symptoms compared to those who pray without the expectation of comfort or protection. This shows us just how important faith actually is! The publishers believe that the emotional and spiritual comfort from prayer to a loving and compassionate God offers a sense of hope and security, while those who pray with a more judgmental conception of God breeds resentment, rejection, and detachment. So understanding the character of your God is important.
The most beautiful thing about all of this research is not only that it validates the ancient wisdom behind prayer, but it also shows us how incredibly easy it can be to implement powerful healing practices into our lives. With so many benefits on the physical, psychological, and spiritual levels, there is really no reason to not pray or meditate every single day! The best times of day are first thing in the morning and right before bed. However you can pray in the car on the way to work, in line at the grocery store, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or before you eat your meals. Even a mere 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can have a powerful effect on your body, mind, and spirit. So what do you think? Have you been inspired to reinvigorate the prayer in your life?
We have just returned from a very special and very emotional service. Tonight,Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke preached the Gospel for the last time on African soil after 50 years of powerful ministry. His wife, Anni and his children were with him on the platform. Our national directors and many ministry friends from all over the world were there to be a part of the historic moment. More than 1.7 million people attended the five days of meetings. Countless miracles took place and many thousands of salvations were recorded. I cannot imagine a more fitting way to celebrate 50 years of Evangelist Bonnke’s ministry than with one more massive harvest of souls in Africa. It was truly a remarkable and historic event. It will stand out in my memory as one of the most precious days in my life.
We faced an unusual level of resistance this week – such as I have not experienced in my time with the ministry. But the Lord spoke to us clearly that what we were experiencing was birthing pangs. Although this crusade was Evangelist Bonnke’s Farewell in Africa, it is really just the beginning of something new and wonderful. God has given me the vision for a “Decade of Double Harvest.” I believe that over the next decade, we will see another 75-million people won to Christ and tonight was the beginning. No wonder we are feeling the pangs of birth. I will share more specifics on this in the days to come, but for now it is enough to say we are on the threshold of “even greater” things. As Evangelist Bonnke has often said, “Nothing diminishes in God.”
This also marks the last crusade of the year. As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of another, I am so thankful for those of you that have stood with us so faithfully through your prayers and giving. Please continue to stand with us as we enter this new season of harvest. All hands are needed on deck. The best is yet to come. We love and appreciate each one of you.
Yours in the Gospel,
Evangelist Daniel Kolenda
Together with Reinhard Bonnke, Peter Vandenberg, and the whole CfaN Team
The number is staggering: 75,913,155. That’s how many people have come to Christ through the ministry of Reinhard Bonnke, as reported by his organization Christ for all Nations (CfaN).
The German-born evangelist said on CfaN’s website. “I want not only to see a gigantic harvest of souls but to pass my burning torch to a new generation of evangelists.”
Bonnke, his wife Anni, and their young son moved to the tiny African nation of Lesotho in 1969. The couple spent seven years working there as missionaries. It wasn’t easy. Bonnke says it was during those difficult years that he started praying to see more souls saved across the African continent. He says God gave him a vision for “a continent washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.”
The early days in Lesotho (1974)
In 1974, Christ for All Nations was birthed, and since then more than 75 million people have accepted Christ through the ministry. All these years later, Bonnke says the vision still burns in his soul. “Whether I am eating or drinking, awake or asleep, the vision is ever-present. It never leaves me.”
Now, at 77, Bonnke is passing the torch to a new generation of evangelists as he prepares to retire after more than 40 years in ministry. Lead evangelist of CfaN, Daniel Kolenda, has been tapped to succeed Bonnke.
The preparations for the final crusade involved “500,000 counselors, 200,000 intercessors, a choir of over 23,000 and a security force of over 10,000,” said John Darku, CfaN’s African director. “There is great excitement from all the churches in the country, and we are expecting a spectacular harvest of people coming to Christ.”
Source: Christ for all Nations
Joel News International, March 15, 2017
Bonnke’s Lagos campaign drew a crowd of 1.6 million people (2000)
By J. D. King, author, speaker and director of the World Revival Network.
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.
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 firsthand 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.”
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.
The Rev Jack Frewen-Lord, a Uniting Church minister was the founding pastor at Praise Chapel, Townsville, and former Associate Director of the Methodist Young People’s Department and Department of Christian Education in Queensland.
May our Lord stir us into courageous ministry
through the power of his Spirit
in his church and in our lives
‘Attempt something so big that unless God intervenes it is bound to fail’ says Jamie Buckingham. That challenge is one of the texts on the office wall in Praise Chapel.
I’d like to think that was the kind of goal I set for the Townsville West Parish in 1976 when I found myself there as pastor after serving for 12 years as Associate Director of the Methodist Young People’s Department and then the Department of Christian Education in Queensland.
I didn’t set such a goal. In fact, I concluded that the parish was not viable with its average age of 65 and a membership of 40 in an industrial area of decreasing population. Yet ten years later we had 450 people and had helped establish an aboriginal church as well.
My initial realistic agenda was to give the parish a decent burial, acknowledging its faithfulness over almost a century. My hidden agendas were more like fantasy than dreams and visions. As the Christian Education officer for the area, I saw an opportunity to experiment. I wanted to have a go at the different programs that I had tried for years to get other parishes to do, and I wanted to prove that team ministries can really work.
So I proposed that we amalgamate the parish work and the Christian Education ministry for the North Queensland Presbytery with one office and support base. Remarkably, this idea was totally accepted by all concerned. A creative team of ministers, education officer and secretary went to work on Townsville West.
Those poor parishioners could be forgiven for wondering what had hit them. Every service had something different. Each monthly Family Service was something else again from 8 metre plastic blowup whales that swallowed up all the Sunday School when the lesson was on Jonah, to moving back all the heavy wooden pews to accommodate a menagerie of huge stuffed animals with children wrestling them on the floor. I wondered whether the aged spinster ladies’ eyebrows would ever come down again.
We survived that first year. The team worked beautifully, sharing parish work and regional Christian Education activities together, including many camps. About then, we made some bold decisions such as focusing on the family. This seemed unrealistic as we had about four families of Dad, Mum, and children. Nevertheless we decided that church and Sunday School were for the family.
So the decree went out that no child would be accepted in the Sunday School unless accompanied by a parent. That raised more eyebrows. It quickly reduced the Sunday School to a third of its former handful.
At the same time, however, I made a commitment to introduce a cooperative Religious Education program which catered weekly for almost all the 900 pupils of four primary schools. We did this in cooperation with other churches and the school principals. It was a more useful Christian Education program than Sunday School. I believe it was a ministry which God honoured as Catholic, Anglican, Uniting, Salvation Army and Pentecostal people worked together in beautiful harmony. That program is still working after 14 years.
Speaking of families, I give credit to the tremendous backing of my own family with a very capable wife (who had seven leadership positions in the church at first) and four committed and musically talented children. Their charisma and music began to draw other young people. Many came in off the street bikie leathers, sun glasses and all.
The spinster ladies did not find it easy to accept some of the tattooed, tanktop, bare foot people who began to fill the seats at church. We encouraged the young people to love them as a real ministry. Soon these older ladies were clapping and praising as much as anyone.
It became obvious that we would not have a burial. The Body was coming alive. I can’t say we were very much aware of the Holy Spirit at this time, but we knew we had received the kiss of life.
So it was time to set some goals realistic ones for rebuilding a church. Our first was a five year plan to establish a biblical base through the Bethel Bible Series and to preach the Word in association with this. By the end of that five years the congregation had quadrupled with 80% involved in serious Bible study. We had many new converts.
We hosted a number of visiting ministries from within and outside Australia. One of the strangest things was that we did not invite these ourselves. They either asked if they might come, or other interstate churches asked if we could accommodate them. We did so with open arms, and were greatly blessed by the variety of ministries that kept moving us on to renewal. I believe it was a gracious provision of the Holy Spirit preparing us for his personal visitation at the right time.
When renewal begins to hit a church there tends to be hurts and divisions and walkouts. Some people find it hard to live with the new enthusiasm. We lost only one family for this reason.
One of the interesting factors holding the church family together was the overflowing offering plates. Instead of the meagre offering easily absorbed in the bottom of the huge offering plates, now the stewards found someone following down the aisle picking up the notes overflowing and falling off. That was manna to the hungry for those faithful members who had struggled to keep a church alive with cake stalls and endless fetes.
Now we were able to consider worth while missionary gifts. We set a new goal to establish an aboriginal church, beginning as a part of our congregation and then gradually working to independence. That was achieved in 1981 when the Rev. Charles Harris, our aboriginal pastor, was added to the team. The aboriginal church became independent in 1984, well within the five year plan, and the buildings at West End were handed over to this church.
I would say that 1981 was the time of the Holy Spirit’s visitation. Again, this was totally unplanned by us. A neighbouring parish, Hermit Park, had invited the Rev. Harry Westcott with a team of elders from O’Connor Uniting Church to hold a tent mission in their church grounds. We decided to support this mission totally. We did so, to our blessing. Many of our leaders, including myself, were baptized in the Holy Spirit. That mission gave a good watering to the seeds of renewal which had been planted by our various conscious and unconscious choices.
This was a major turning point for our parish. Instead of sticking to our nicely ordered, time prescribed worship, we allowed the Spirit to do what he wanted in the services. These were exciting days with further growth in numbers. We saw many healing miracles and the release of gifts of the Spirit.
We discovered again that the church is truly the body of Christ. Jesus Christ moves in his church, his body, by his Spirit. Our identity can only lie in Christ Jesus, not in buildings or places or communities. This is strongly seen in the underground churches overseas and especially in the vibrant house church movement throughout Asia.
Home cell groups
Our next phase of goal setting was to explore church growth principles. Our leaders attended seminars and visited other churches in renewal to catch the wind of the Spirit where it blew strongest.
We added another person to our staff. In biblical language, it seemed good to us and to the Holy Spirit to separate Bruce, a young Bible College graduate, to the ministry of establishing home cell groups. I believe we were led by the Holy Spirit to make this a total program for the whole church.
Our members were commuting to West End from all over the city of Townsville. So we had a vision of the church in the neighbourhood meeting midweek in cell groups, evangelizing in the neighbourhood, then gathering for corporate fellowship, worship, teaching and the sacraments on Sundays.
We trained and dedicated home cell leaders. Our church in the neighbourhood was launched, with 80% of the congregation meeting in home groups which we named home church. They met for worship, prayer, pastoral care, teaching and fellowship. The church continued to grow.
Our lovely brick building on the corner became inadequate. We regularly squeezed 180 into the sanctuary built to hold 120. For a while we had two congregations there. So we decided to move to a kindergarten hall which was a converted warehouse that could hold 250. We wanted to make one congregation out of two and commit all our operation to one centre, leaving the West End property for the use of the aboriginal church.
With this extra space the church continued to grow. We decided to rename our church Praise Chapel Uniting Church Family Fellowship.
One of our early decisions in setting missionary goals was to spend as little as possible on buildings and to concentrate on people. We added a youth pastor to the team. A number of ministries were added to the weekly program, including counselling with prayer for deliverance.
Despite our good intentions not to spend money on buildings, it soon became obvious that we would need larger premises and car park facilities. We searched for a larger warehouse, unsuccessfully. So we finally decided that we should look for land to build on. After many weeks of earnest prayer, miraculously a five hectare block became available within the parish.
We held a dedication service in tents on the land with a commitment to build a centre to accommodate 1,000 people.
It was a daunting prospect. We faced a cost of half a million dollars with a bank balance of nothing. I must admit that my faith was severely tested. My heart is that of a pastor and I knew that almost every family in the church had a mortgage on their home.
Where was the money to come from? ‘There must be some financial Christians around who would be willing to invest in Praise Chapel,’ I reasoned.
So I took the project to a number of my friends and acquaintances who would be worth at least a million. The money of every single one was tied up, and unavailable. So we were back to basics!
God supplied through his faithful people in this low income congregation. Almost overnight they made $100,000 available in gifts and another $100,000 in interest free loans. Nine months later we opened the new Praise Chapel at a cost of $600,000. ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts’ (Zechariah 4:6).
Since that time, again and again, the faithful with their meagre income have shown that the Holy Spirit has taught them to give. Those who are faithfully committed to the principle of tithing have fully supported all our commitments.
Church growth principles
Someone studying the growth of our parish from a congregation of 40 in 1977 to 450 in 1987 would probably say we stumbled on church growth principles by accident. I prefer to believe it was openness to the Holy Spirit that led us to make right decisions at the right time. We were also able to learn from churches of various denominations that were moving in renewal.
The church growth movement of the 70’s and 80’s has had a marked effect on many churches in this nation. We did study church growth principles and organized seminars with international speakers. These had some influence on our thinking. Perhaps Kennon Callahan’s 12 Keys to an effective church encouraged us most. That enabled us to systematise our situation and helped us set mission objectives and a realistic five-year plan.
However, my own feeling is that we can over-emphasize organisation. The church is not primarily an organisation, but an organism, a body of believers. Unless its moves are God-breathed by the Holy Spirit, and unless there is utter dependence on the Holy Spirit, it will not move in truth and life.
By the early ’90s this church had plateaued at a membership of 450. Some of the cause of this is mere organisation. We constantly need a fresh move of the Holy Spirit.
A further observation is that only a handful of members remain who were here at the first move of the Spirit among us. The turnover of population in Townsville is 80% every three years. So we have almost a new congregation every three years. That makes heavy demands to continually train new leaders.
It is easy to slacken off and go soft on the need for fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit. We are always tempted to stay in a comfort zone. We can spend a lot of time comforting the afflicted in counselling and deliverance, when there may be a greater need to afflict the comfortable.
I know Jesus said he would send another Comforter to be with us, but that does not mean he makes us comfortable. None of Jesus’ leading or teaching has the remotest resemblance to being comfortable. I have found him to be the stirrer of the church, and we surely need a stirrer in every age and generation.
May our Lord stir us into courageous ministry through the power of his Spirit in his church and in our lives.
(c) Renewal Journal 2: Church Growth (1993, 2011), pages 15-22.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright intact with the text.
Dr Andrew Evans wrote as the senior pastor of the Assemblies of God church in Paradise, Adelaide, Australia, and national President of the Assemblies of God in Australia. The Paradise church has grown to over 3,500 people.
The Paradise church was one of the largest Assemblies of God churches in Australia with 200 attending when they called me to be the pastor in 1970. They had tried to get a pastor from Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere, but had failed. As a last resort they asked me.
For seven years I had been a missionary in Papua New Guinea. The area where I worked had a population in which about 10 per cent could read and write. Similarly, in the churches that I oversaw 90 percent of the congregations were illiterate. Therefore my preaching had to be simple Bible stories, or in simple language.
Through a series of crises God led me back to Australia. It was a difficult struggle for my family and me. While in Papua New Guinea my wife contracted hepatitis and nearly died. I remember standing by her bedside praying to God to keep her alive. At times I would wake during the night and listen to see if she was still breathing.
There were other complications for her at that time including the trauma resulting from a python slithering into the bedroom where she lay sick in our native material house. At her scream I ran in to find the snake above the door. I didn’t know what to do, but with all my strength I hit it with a chair, demolishing the chair and killing the snake.
When we returned to Australia my wife became a little better but was still taking all kinds of drugs. This was my situation when Paradise church asked me to become their pastor. Some of the board members of Paradise church knew me before I became a missionary so were influential in my coming there.
Suddenly I had to minister to educated Australians after seven years of working with primitive people. Besides this, some people thought the church was headed towards failure as the attendance was gradually declining.
‘What am I going to do now?’ I wondered. ‘I have been in Papua New Guinea all these years and do not know how to preach to educated people.’ I worked hard work on every sermon. After one year the church attendance had decreased from 200 people to 150. I became very concerned.
When I began as the pastor of Paradise church I read a book called ‘How to have a Soul-winning Church’. The author started his church with 17 people and it grew to 2,000 through a door knocking program. Encouraged, I tried this program. Our church people were mobilized and went everywhere knocking on doors and inviting people to church. We had special literature printed to distribute. We knocked on one thousand doors, and talked to people personally, but not one person came to church as a result of this campaign.
Another thought occurred to me. We would have a healing crusade using a world renowned minister with a healing ministry. So we invited a famous evangelist. Our church advertised efficiently and distributed brochures. The brochures contained testimonies of people jumping out of wheelchairs and blind eyes opening. A banner outside the front of our church declared, ‘Come and see blind eyes opened, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dumb speak.’ We were all ready for a revival.
Through this expensive crusade we received 12 converts. Not one of them stood publicly. They just signed decision cards. I regarded this method as a failure also.
Later I thought of another idea to make our church grow. I reasoned that I was just a pastor, an ordinary shepherd, not an evangelist. If I could find an associate minister who was a real evangelist then our church would surely grow. We invited an evangelist friend of mine to be my associate. He declined. So that idea failed.
Meanwhile the church kept growing smaller. Nothing we tried seemed to work. I was greatly discouraged.
Another problem for me was that the previous pastor at Paradise church was a ‘ten talent’ pastor. He could do anything. He could play the guitar and sing, was a really good preacher, and always had a word of knowledge for the people. The people all loved him. When he resigned they cried.
Picture the situation! This talented man left the church and I came to be their pastor. I tried all the gimmicks possible to get the church to grow, but nothing worked.
One day a man came to me saying, ‘I have a problem with my wife.’
This couple were wonderful Christians. The wife was previously a drug addict and the husband had been an alcoholic. They both had remarkable conversions and everything went well for several years.
‘My problem is that my wife wants a divorce,’ he continued.
His wife had begun to drift slowly back to her old ways again. I had counselled her for hours and nothing changed. Now her husband was asking, ‘What am I going to do? She is going to leave me.’
This man wanted me to give him a word of knowledge. Instead I just answered, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t a clue.’
Nevertheless I offered to help him if he would fast and pray the next Saturday with me, all day long. He agreed. The following Saturday the two of us came to the church and began to pray.
My method of praying is to walk back and forth across the room and pray aloud. Praying aloud keeps your mind from wandering. It helps concentration. So we were both walking back and forth across the room praying, ‘God help us. We don’t know what to do about this marriage.’
We were desperately calling upon God for help. As we continued praying, the Holy Spirit spoke to me saying, ‘I want you two to do this every Saturday.’
I agreed, saying, ‘I will, but you must tell my friend yourself.’
No sooner had I agreed than my partner spoke to me saying, ‘Pastor, the Holy Spirit has just spoken to me saying that we should fast and pray every Saturday.’
‘Fine. Let’s do it,’ I said.
For the next eight months the two of us fasted and prayed every Saturday. Our prayers were not only for the broken marriage but for the church, for revival, and many other things.
The next day after we made this commitment, God put his seal upon it. As I led the first chorus during the Sunday service I felt a strong urging of the Holy Spirit to give an appeal. This was not on the program so I thought, ‘Let’s sing a few more choruses first until the people get settled, then I will give an appeal.’
But the urging was stronger than ever. I argued with the Lord, ‘Don’t you think it is a bit early in the meeting to give an appeal? We could wait until the end of the service. That is how we always do it.’
As I was mentally arguing with the Lord I saw a man get up from the back seat, walk down the aisle and kneel at the altar. I said, ‘All right, Lord, I get the message.’
I challenged the people, ‘Would anyone else like to join this man?’
More than half the congregation came forward and began to cry and weep. God moved upon us in a powerful way.
The man who had come forward first was an alcoholic. He came to church that morning with a strong desire to drink again. He had been sitting in his seat fighting that desire. God met his need, and many other needs.
Then God spoke to me: ‘If you want church growth, you have to build a powerful prayer base. That is the foundation of church growth.’
The church may have many activities but its growth will not be powerful and effective without a strong prayer base. Our trend is that of tradition. It is hard to change what has been practiced for a long time. However, it is very important to follow God’s direction in the program of your church.
After my friend and I had been praying together for about eight months the Holy Spirit spoke to me: ‘I don’t want you to continue praying every Saturday with this brother alone but go onto the next step. Bring the entire congregation into it.’
I announced to our congregation, ‘Two of us have been praying now for eight months, but God told us not to continue alone. Instead, we are to invite others in the congregation to join us in praying and fasting. You say you are concerned about our nation, our society, our church, but do you really care enough to give one day a month to prayer and fasting for revival?’
Out of our congregation of 150 only 31 people committed themselves to join us in prayer.
Therefore we mobilized one person every day to give a whole day for prayer and fasting. This covered the entire month 31 days. Someone was praying for revival every day.
Immediately we noticed the impact of prayer upon our church. People began to come in. The church began to develop and grow. By the early nineties we had over 3,500 attending and 1600 involved regularly in day and evening home cells. Every year I challenge them anew to give one day a month to prayer and fasting. Whenever the members are slack in their commitment it is felt in the church.
Our church has a group of people called the intercessors. These are special people who give one day every week to prayer and fasting. About 300 members had joined this group by 1992. They pray for me every week. Wherever I go, whatever I am doing, they always pray for me. I meet constantly with the intercessors to relate prayer needs.
This is one department of the church that I oversee myself because I realize the importance of prayer. I have found that it is impossible to see church growth without a tremendous prayer foundation. Our church has grown and is now decentralized. A full time team of 20 pastors join me in pastoring Paradise church.
Dreams and visions
Many Scripture speak of evil abounding in the last days. Another stream of Scripture says that in the last days there is going to be a great revival. Some passages describe a terrible falling away, a decline, and things getting worse and then there are many Scripture that say a revival is going to take place. Both are true, and both are more obvious around us now.
Prayer prepares the way for revival. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came in great power when the believers were praying. Then Peter spoke of Joel’s prophecy, ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams’ (Acts 1:27).
It thrills me to see so many young people sold out to God. These promises are very powerful. I am sure God has given many people great visions and dreams for the future. I encourage people, young and old, to hold onto these dreams because they come to pass in your life.
When I was a Bible school student God spoke to me through prophecy and said, ‘One day you are going to preach to multitudes.’ I could hardly believe this. But God planted a vision and dream in my heart.
What about the promise for the old people? They will dream dreams. That does not mean
dreaming of the past, sitting in a rocking chair and dreaming of the good old days. Dreams in the Bible are supernatural and progressive.
My father is a dreamer. When he was 80 years old he came to me and said, ‘Andrew, God has told me to start a church in a town called Katherine.’
There was no Assembly of God church in Katherine. This town in the Northern Territory has a population of about 3,000 people and is about 300 miles from the next town. Many people go to the northern part of Australia to get away from something a bad marriage, a bad job, or some unpleasant experience. Katherine has many people like that.
When my dad told of his dream to start a church in Katherine I said, ‘You’re crazy.’
But my dad had a dream and began saving his pension in order to fulfil that dream God had placed in his heart. After six months my dad said, ‘I am going to Katherine.’
‘Do you know anyone up there?’ I asked.
‘Well I have written to four people, but none of them answered my letters.’
‘Where are you going to stay?’
‘I don’t know.’
My dad got on the plane and flew to Katherine. The airport there is about 25 kilometres from the town and is located in a desert place. Upon arriving my dad stood there looking like a lost sheep. He had no home to go to, no place to stay that night. He was standing at the airport holding his bag.
An aborigine couple approached my dad and asked, ‘Can we help you?’
My dad answered, ‘I want a lift into Katherine.’
‘Oh, come with us,’ they said. So they took him in their car into town.
On the way they asked him, ‘Why are you coming to Katherine?’
‘God sent me to start a church here.’
‘Do you know anyone here?’
‘Do you have a place to stay?’
‘We will see if we can find a place for you,’ they responded.
My dad went to the showground and began meetings. In two weeks his crowds grew to 120, and 37 people made decisions for Christ.
We live in marvellous days. People of all ages are part of the move of God in these last days, young and old alike. God is wanting to do something powerful and dynamic. He is blessing young people, and old, giving them revelations, dreams, visions and gifts. They are going out praying for the sick, ministering in various ways, and souls are being saved all over the world.
Cho, Paul (now David) Yonggi. 1984. Prayer: Key to Revival. Waco: Word, 158 pages.
Prayer: Key to Revival, by Paul Yonggi Cho, describes many ways to pray effectively. Coming out of the Korean church scene where early morning prayer meetings, nights of prayer, and prayer mountains set apart for continual prayer and fasting are common, it reflects a strong commitment to prayer still rare in the West.
Sections in the book cover motivation to pray, types of prayer (petition, devotion, intercession), different forms of prayer, and methods of prayer. It has chapters on personal devotional life, family devotions, church meetings, cell groups, prayer retreats, all-night prayer meetings, fasting, waiting on the Lord, persistence, prayer in the Holy Spirit, faith, listening to God, group prayer and powerful prayer.
This is essential reading for anyone serious about Christian living, discipleship and leadership. It is one of the best handbooks on prayer available today. Paul Yonggi Cho spends five hours a day in prayer. He requires that all his leaders and staff in their church of over 800,000 people pray for at least three hours a day. No wonder they’re experiencing revival with around 12,000 converts every month.
Filled with personal examples it is fascinating and timely. It challenges us to believe God and act on that belief as we pray. Read it for enjoyment. Study it for key insights. Apply it for effective ministry (G.W.).
Burgess, S. M. and McGee, G. B. 1990. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements.Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988; with corrections 1990, 914 pages.
Every church and college library should have this comprehensive single-volume encyclopedia. The 800 articles written by 65 contributors make it the best reference work on Pentecostalism and charismatic renewal available.
Both a strength and a weakness is its focus on North America with some reference to Europe. Other volumes are needed for South America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. At least the limitations make it a manageable size.
The 300 historical and contemporary photographs enhance the text. Informative articles discuss baptism in the Spirit, Bible institutes and colleges, Catholic-Pentecostal dialogue, the charismatic movement, Elim, Episcopal renewal, eschatology, evangelism, glossolalia, healing, Holy Spirit doctrine, the Jesus Movement, missions, prophecy, statistics, and many more issues. Failures are well documented as well as the amazing spread of Pentecostalism and charismatic renewal.
Statistics cover the growth of the movement since 1900. Growth continues to accelerate with over 400 million, or one-quarter of all Christians, involved by 1992. By 1990, figures were: First wave: Pentecostalism over 193 million; Second wave: Charismatic Movement over 140 million; Third wave: Mainstream Church Renewal over 33 million.
Concise biographies include those of David Barrett, Reinhard Bonnke, Don Basham, John Bertollucci, Jamie Buckingham, Yonggi Cho, Larry Christenson, Andrae Crouch, Nicky Cruz, John Alexander Dowie, David du Plessis, Tom Forrest, Terry Fullam, Kenneth Hagin, Michael Harper, Jack Hayford, Tommy Hicks, Peter Hocken, Melvin Hodges, Walter Hollenweger, George and Stephen Jeffreys, Kathryn Kuhlman, Killian McDonnell, Francis McNutt, Aimee Semple McPherson, Ralph Martin, Bob Mumford, Edward O’Connor, T L and Daisy Osborn, Agnes Ozman, Charles Parham, David Pytches, Kevin and Dorothy Ranaghan, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Michael Scanlan, William Seymour, Chuck Smith, Russell Spittler, Cardinal Suenens, Peter Wagner, David Watson, David Wilkerson, Rodman Williams, John Wimber, Maria Woodworth-Etter, Thomas Zimmerman and others.
It needs an index. That would make these topics more accessible! This well written, comprehensive volume will be a major reference book for years to come (G.W.).
Jan Jongenell, ed. 1990. Experiences of the Spirit. Frankfurt am Main (also New York): Peter Lang, 280 pages.
In 1989 the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands hosted the fifth Conference on Pentecostal and Charismatic Research in Europe. The 50 participants came from ten European countries, the United States and South Africa. Experiences of the Spirit, edited by Jan Jongeneel the Professor of Missions at Utrecht, gathers 17 papers from the conference in six parts including contributions from well known charismatic authors such as Walter Hollenweger (Reformed) and Peter Hocken (Roman Catholic).
Part 1, The Search for a Pneumatology, discusses doctrines and experiences of the Holy Spirit. For example, Jan Jongeneel shows how ‘The right doctrine leads the church to doxology and the right experience leads the church to go out into the world in mission.’ Walter Hollenweger writes about priorities in Pentecostal research noting that ‘A movement which represents more or at least as many members as all the other protestant denominations taken together can no longer be considered a fringe topic in church history, missiology, and systematic theology.’ This section discusses Spirit baptism, the charisms, and the contribution of charismatic theology to ecclesiology.
Part 2, The Message of Healing, explores theological links between vibrant revivalistic or Pentecostal spirituality and engagement for social justice and liberation. Articles cover faith healing in the Netherlands, the importance of Spirit-baptism and spiritual gifts in bringing balance to limited perspectives, and the importance of spiritual healing in the therapeutic supermarket.
Part 3, Black Spirituality, discusses South African Pentecostalism in the struggle against apartheid ideology, and argues for the significance of British Black Theologies within the African Diaspora in North America, the Caribbean, and Britain.
Part 4, The Dialogue with the Churches, notes that ‘bilingual men and women are needed, who are able to interpret both the academic rational language of western theology and the oral expression of Pentecostalism.’ Articles trace charismatic and ecumenical developments in France, and comment on Roman Catholic/Pentecostal dialogue. Peter Hocken argues for ‘the operation of the full range of New Testament gifts and ministries. To the extent they are not given scope in the historic churches, they will appear outside, and are thereby themselves reduced.’
Part 5, Short Reports, survey developments in Czechoslovakia and in Latin America.
Part 6, Epilogue, evaluates the conference from ecumenical and missiological perspectives in papers written by staff members of the Faculty of Theology of Utrecht University. It includes suggestions for improving ecumenical commitment and communication in the interface between charismatic renewal, ecumenical developments and social engagement.
The book explores significant missiological and ecumenical issues positively, identifies unresolved problems, and indicates areas needing further research. Most papers are written by scholars involved in Pentecostal and charismatic ministry and teaching. The book strongly emphasizes the mission of the church in the world.
It is a welcome contribution to current dialogue on the global rise and growth of this significant movement which is radically influencing the nature of contemporary Christianity. It should find a place in every church and theological college library (G.W.).
Jan Jongeneel, et. al. eds. 1992. Pentecost, Mission and Ecumenism: Essays on Intercultural Theology. Festschrift in Honour of Professor Walter J. Hollenweger. Frankfurt am Main (also New York): Peter Lang, 380 pages.
These 26 articles were written by students and colleagues of Walter Hollenweger to honour his work. He retired in 1989 from his position as Professor of Mission at the University of Birmingham, where he had been appointed in 1971 as the first Professor of Mission in an English university. A Swiss theologian, he is well known for his pioneering work in Pentecostal studies, especially his book The Pentecostals (1972; 2nd ed. 1976; 3rd ed. 1988) based on his doctoral research at Zurich.
His Ph.D. students included Arnold Bittlinger, Peter Hocken and James Haire. Part of a tribute from James Haire is included (p. 37):
Research students came before everyone else. Work was corrected and returned within days. Criticisms and suggestions were precise and for the aid of the researcher… Most of all, I remember those moments when tears came to his eyes, whether in interviews or in teaching… when the magnitude and indescribable depth of the Grace of God became apparent to him. Here was a person beyond denomination or cultural background for whom God’s action was quite overwhelming.
The book is arranged in three parts.
Part 1 covers the biography of Professor Walter Hollenweger, with six articles describing the wide range of his interests and abilities. For example, his doctoral study of Pentecostalism ran to ten volumes, and he learned twenty foreign languages in those six years of research in order to read the sources in their original tongue! His study of this movement throughout the world increased his appreciation of oral and narrative theology.
Part 2 deals with historical case studies and statistics on Pentecostalism and charismatic renewal in missiological and ecumenical perspective. Articles range from the beginnings of Pentecostalism to its world wide influence, including an article by Martin Robinson on the work of David du Plessis, one by James Haire on Indonesia, and one by David Barrett on signs, wonders and statistics in the world today.
Part 3 gives missiological and ecumenical reflections on inculturation and encounter. Writers include Jan Jongeneel, Charles Kraft, Peter Staples and Peter Hocken. The various articles discuss the impact of Pentecostalism and charismatic renewal on mission and liturgy, on ecumenical theology and the ecumenical movement (G.W.)
Geoff Waugh, ed. 1991. Church on Fire.Melbourne: Joint Board of Christian Education, 176 pages.
Over the last 30 years, the face of the church in Australia has changed dramatically. Hundreds of ministers and churches have been transformed and radically redirected by their experience of charismatic renewal.
In both city and country, among Catholics and Protestants, in large churches and small churches, there has been a renewed baptism of fire.
In Church on Fire, Geoff Waugh, Director of Distance Education at the Uniting Church’s Trinity Theological College in Brisbane, has brought together stories from all over Australia of what the Holy Spirit has been doing.
The book begins with the exciting record of the revival among aborigines in the Northern Territory in 1979 and the years that followed. This is followed by numerous personal testimonies and then examples of renewal and revival in local churches.
The final section includes a number of observations on charismatic renewal by a wide range of people including such well known names as Hamish Jamieson, Arthur Jackson, Rowland Croucher and Dan Armstrong.
For anyone who wants some insight into the charismatic movement, this is a valuable resource. (Barry Chant).
This review is reprinted by permission from New Day, September 1992, PO Box 564, Plympton SA 5038.
Additional note: Contributors to Church on Fire are Aboriginal Renewal: Djiniyini Gondarra, John Blacket Personal Renewal: JohnCharles Vockler, Owen Dowling, Charles Ringma, Dorothy Harris, Gregory Blaxland, David Todd, Barry Manuel, Ruth Lord Church Renewal – Examples: Barry Schofield, John Lewis, Vincent Hobbs, Phil Audemard, Brain Francis, David Blackmore, Bob Dakers, Geoff Waugh Church Renewal Observations: Barry Chant, Hamish Jamieson, Tom White, Lazarus Moore, Glen Heidenreich, Rowland Croucher, Arthur Jackson, Don Drury, Don Evans, Peter Moonie, Dan Armstrong
Making God Known into the 21st Century. Youth With A Mission.
This 14 minute, lively and well-edited promotional video describes the activities of Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in Australia, including the outreaches. Loren Cunningham, the International Director and Steve Aherne the Australian Director comment briefly. The video shows the wide range of YWAM training and ministries including Discipleship Training Schools, church planting, worship, street evangelism, drama, mime and dance, and modules of study available from their University of the Nations through bases around the world, including Australia. Copies may be borrowed from YWAM bases or purchased from Australian Religious Films, 258 Sailors Bay Road, Northbridge N.S.W. 2063.
Global Perspectives. Youth With A Mission.
Youth With A Mission (YWAM) produces a bimonthly international news video describing their work around the world. The 30-minute video, produced in America, is a professionally produced bulletin, interesting and informative. It gives clips of YWAM teams in many different countries, medical and mercy missions to war-torn and famine areas, outreaches at international events such as the Olympics and World Expo, and a summary of major YWAM outreaches around the world. Contact your nearest YWAM base for this valuable current resource (G.W.)
(c) Renewal Journal 1: Revival (1993, 2011), pages 7-18
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright intact with the text.
Now available in updated book form (republished 2011)
_______________ We can believe for it pray for it, and prepare for it __________________
God moves in awesome power at times. Signs everywhere point to that again now. Many people report a burden for and expectation of revival. We can believe for it, pray for it, and prepare for it.
Selwyn Hughes, author of the popular Every Day with Jesus writes,
In all the years that I have been a Christian I have never witnessed such a burden and expectancy for revival as I do at this moment among the true people of God. Wherever I go I meet prayerful Christians whose spirit witnesses with my own that a mighty Holy Spirit revival is on the way. The 1960’s and 1070’s were characterized by the word ‘renewal’. Then in the eighties, the word began slowly losing currency, and another appeared to take its place revival. And why? Because great and wonderful though renewal is, many are beginning to see that there are greater things in our Father’s storehouse, and slowly but surely their faith is rising to a flash point (Hughes 1990:7).
Revival may not be wanted because it involves humility, awareness of our unworthiness, confession of sin, repentance, restitution, seeking and offering forgiveness, and following Christ wholeheartedly. It then impacts society with conviction, godliness, justice, peace and righteousness. This is not always welcome.
What is revival?
As individuals and churches are renewed they prepare the way for revival in the land. A spiritual awakening touches the community when God’s Spirit moves in power. Often this awakening begins in people earnestly praying for and expecting revival.
Arthur Wallis (1956:20,23) observes:
Numerous writings … confirm that revival is Divine intervention in the normal course of spiritual things. It is God revealing Himself to man in awesome holiness and irresistible power. It is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are overshadowed and human programs abandoned. It is man retiring into the background because God has taken the field. It is the Lord … working in extraordinary power on saint and sinner. … Revival must of necessity make an impact on the community and this is one means by which we may distinguish it from the more usual operations of the Holy Spirit.
Edwin Orr’s research indicated that A spiritual awakening is a movement of the Holy Spirit bringing about a revival of New Testament Christianity in the Church of Christ and its related community. … It accomplishes the reviving of the Church, the awakening of the masses and the movements of uninstructed people toward the Christian faith; the revived church by many or few is moved to engage in evangelism, teaching and social action (1975: viiviii).
Roy Hession (1973:11,23) noted that the outward forms of revivals do, of course, differ considerably, but the inward and permanent content of them is always the same: a new experience of conviction of sin among the saints; a new vision of the Cross and of Jesus and of redemption; a new willingness on man’s part for brokenness, repentance, confession, and restitution; a joyful experience of the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse fully from sin and restore and heal all that sin has lost and broken; a new entering into the fullness of the Holy Spirit and of His power to do His own work through His people; and a new gathering in of the lost ones to Jesus. … Revival is just the life of the Lord Jesus poured into human hearts.
Scripture gives a constant call for individual and communal repentance issuing in righteousness and justice.
Wilbur Smith notes seven revivals in the Old Testament in addition to the one with Jonah. These revivals involved:
1. Jacob’s household (Genesis 35:115),
2. Asa (2 Chronicles 15:115),
3. Joash (2 Kings 1112; 2 Chronicles 2324),
4. Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:18; 2 Chronicles 2931),
5. Josiah (2 Kings 2223; 2 Chronicles 3435),
6. Haggai and Zechariah with Zerubbabel (Ezra 56)
7. Ezra with Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:16; 12:4447).
He noted nine characteristics of these revivals:
1. They occurred in times of moral darkness and national depression;
2. Each began in the heart of a consecrated servant of God who became the energising power behind it;
3. Each revival rested on the Word of God, and most were the result of proclaiming God’s Word with power;
4. All resulted in a return to the worship of God;
5. Each witnessed the destruction of idols where they existed;
6. In each revival, there was a recorded separation from sin;
7. In every revival the people returned to obeying God’s laws;
8. There was a restoration of great joy and gladness;
9. Each revival was followed by a period of national prosperity.
The early church lived in continuous revival. It saw rapid growth in the power of the Holy Spirit from the initial outburst at Pentecost. Multitudes joined the church. At Pentecost 3,000 were won in one day (2:41). Soon after that there were 5,000 involved (4:4). Then great multitudes (5:14; 6:7; 9:31; 11:21, 24; 12:24 and 16:5).
Those Christians were dynamic. Not faultless, as the epistles indicate, but on fire. They were accused before the civil authorities as ‘these people who have been turning the world upside down’ (Acts 17:6).
Revival makes that kind of an impact in the community.
Various renewal and revival movements stirred the church and the community throughout history. The eighteenth century saw the first great awakening, and powerful revivals have spread world wide since then until the astounding developments now.
The Moravians, a refugee colony from Bohemia on the estates of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf at the village of Herrnhut in Germany, experienced a visitation of God in 1727 which launched revival with 100 years of continuous prayer and 100 missionaries sent out within 25 years.
On May 12th, 1727, they entered into a covenant together ‘to dedicate their lives to the service of the Lord Jesus.’ … A period of extraordinary prayer followed, which both preceded and followed the outpouring. It started in early July of that year, but already, for the best part of two years, there had been prayer and praise gatherings in the homes of the people. In July they started to meet together more frequently… Some spent whole nights in prayer. …
At about noon on Sunday August 10th, 1727, the preacher at the morning service felt himself overwhelmed by a wonderful and irresistible power of the Lord. He sank down in the dust before God, and the whole congregation joined him ‘in an ecstasy of feeling’. They continued until midnight engaged in prayer, singing, weeping and supplication.
On Wednesday August 13th the church came together for a specially called communion service. They were all dissatisfied with themselves. ‘They had quit judging each other because they had become convinced, each one, of his lack of worth in the sight of God and each felt himself at this communion to be in view of the Saviour.’
They left that communion at noon, hardly knowing whether they belonged to earth or had already gone to heaven. It was a day of outpouring of the Holy Spirit. ‘We saw the hand of God and were all baptized with his Holy Spirit … The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst.
Scarcely a day passed from then on when they did not witness God’s almighty workings among them. A great hunger for God’s word took hold of them. They started meeting three times daily at 5 am, 7.30 am, and 9 pm. Self-love and self-will and all disobedience disappeared, as everyone sought to let the Holy Spirit have full control.
Two weeks later, they entered into the twenty-four hour prayer covenant which was to become such a feature of their life for over 100 years… ‘The spirit of prayer and supplication at that time poured out upon the children was so powerful and efficacious that it is impossible to give an adequate description of it.’
Supernatural knowledge and power was given to them. Previously timid people became flaming evangelists (Mills 1990:2045).
Jonathan Edwards (17031764), the preacher and scholar who later became a President of Princeton University, was a prominent leader in a revival movement which came to be called the Great Awakening as it spread through the communities of New England and the pioneering settlements in America. Converts to Christianity reached 50,000 out of a total of 250,000 colonists. The years of 173435 saw an unusually powerful move of God’s Spirit in thousands of people. Edwards described the characteristics of the revival as, first, an extraordinary sense of the awful majesty, greatness and holiness of God, and second, a great longing for humility before God and adoration of God.
Edwards published the journal of David Brainerd, a missionary to the North American Indians from 1743 to his death at 29 in 1747. Brainerd tells of revival breaking out among Indians in October 1745 when the power of God seemed to come like a rushing mighty wind. The Indians were overwhelmed by God. The revival had greatest impact when Brainerd emphasised the compassion of the Saviour, the provisions of the gospel, and the free offer of divine grace. Idolatry was abandoned, marriages repaired, drunkenness practically disappeared, honesty and repayments of debts prevailed. Money once wasted on excessive drinking was used for family and communal needs. Their communities were filled with love.
The power of God seemed to descend on the assembly ‘like a rushing mighty wind’ and with an astonishing energy bore all down before it. I stood amazed at the influence that seized the audience almost universally and could compare it to nothing more aptly than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent… Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together and scarce was able to withstand the shock of astonishing operation (Pratney 1984: 15).
On November 20, he described the revival at Crossweeksung in his general comments about that year, which had involved horse riding over 3,000 miles to reach Indian tribes in New England:
He notes that revivals have been criticized as scaring people with hell and damnation, but this great awakening, this surprising concern, was never excited by any harangues of terror, but always appeared most remarkable when I insisted upon the compassions of a dying Saviour, the plentiful provisions of the gospel, and the free offers of divine grace to needy distressed sinners.
The effects of this work have likewise been very remarkable. … Their pagan notions and idolatrous practices seem to be entirely abandoned in these parts. They are regulated and appear regularly disposed in the affairs of marriage. They seem generally divorced from drunkenness … although before it was common for some or other of them to be drunk almost every day… A principle of honesty and justice appears in many of them, and they seem concerned to discharge their old debts… Their manner of living is much more decent and comfortable than formerly, having now the benefit of that money which they used to consume upon strong drink. Love seems to reign among them, especially those who have given evidence of a saving change (Howard 1949, 239251).
In 1735, when the New England revival was strongest, George Whitefield in England and Howell Harris in Wales were converted. Both were 21 and both ignited revival fires, seeing thousands converted and communities changed. By 1736 Harris began forming his converts into societies and by 1739 there were nearly thirty such societies. Whitefield travelled extensively, visiting John Wesley in Georgia in 1738, then ministering powerfully with Howell Harris in Wales 1739 and with Jonathan Edwards in New England in 1740, all in his early twenties.
Also in 1735, John Wesley went to Georgia. Whitefield sailed to Georgia at Wesley’s invitation early in 1738, but they returned to England because Wesley was frustrated in his work. Then in May that year both John and Charles Wesley were converted, Charles first, and three days later on 24th May John found his heart strangely warmed in the meeting in Aldersgate Street when he listened to a reading of the preface to Luther’s commentary on Romans.
1739 saw astonishing expansion of revival in England. On 1st January the Wesleys and Whitefield and four others from their former Holy Club at Oxford in their students days, along with 60 others of whom many were Moravians, met at Fetter Lane in London for prayer and a love feast. The Spirit of God moved powerfully on them all. Many fell to the ground, resting in the Spirit. The meeting went all night and they realized they had been empowered in a fresh visitation from God.
On 1 January 1739 a remarkable love feast was held at Fetter Lane in London. There the leaders of the Revival were welded into a fellowship of the Spirit in a way similar to what had happened at Herrnhut in 1727. The Wesleys were present, along with Whitefield and Benjamin Ingham, who was to become an outstanding evangelist among the Moravians. ‘About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer,’ John Wesley recorded in his Journal, ‘the power of God came mightily upon us insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of His majesty, we broke out with one voice, ‘We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.’ This Pentecost on New Year’s Day confirmed that the Awakening had come and launched the campaign of extensive evangelization which sprang from it (Wood 1990:449).
Revival fire spread rapidly. In February 1739 Whitefield started preaching to the Kingswood coal miners in the open fields with about 200 attending in the south west of England near the Welsh border. By March 20,000 attended. Whitefield invited Wesley to take over then and so in April Wesley began his famous open air preaching (which continued for 50 years) with those crowds at Kingswood. He returned to London in June reporting on the amazing move of God’s Spirit with many conversions and many people falling prostrate under God’s power a phenomenon which he never encouraged! Features of this revival were enthusiastic singing, powerful preaching, and the gathering of converts into small societies called weekly Class Meetings.
Revival caught fire in Scotland also. After returning from America in 1741, Whitefield visited Glasgow. Two ministers in villages nearby invited him to return in 1742 because revival had already begun in their area. Conversions and prayer groups multiplied. Whitefield preached there at Cambuslang about four miles from Glasgow.
The opening meetings on a Sunday saw the great crowds on the hill side gripped with conviction, repentance and weeping more than he had seen elsewhere. The next weekend 20,000 gathered on the Saturday and up to 50,000 on the Sunday for the quarterly communion. The visit was charged with Pentecostal power which even amazed Whitefield.
That Great Awakening in Great Britain and America, established the Methodists with 140,000 members by the end of the century, and other churches and Christians were renewed and empowered. It impacted the nation with social change and created the climate for political reform.
Toward the end of the century revival fires burst again in England through prayer groups spreading everywhere. On Christmas day 1781 in Cornwall intercessors met to sing and pray from 3 am and God’s Spirit moved on them. They prayed until 9 am and regathered that Christmas evening. Throughout January and February, the movement continued. By March 1782 they were praying until midnight. The movement spread. Churches filled and denominations doubled, tripled and quadrupled (Robinson 1992:9). By 1792, the year after John Wesley died, this second great awakening swept Great Britain and was stirring America and other countries.
In New England, Isaac Backus, a Baptist pastor, addressed an urgent plea for prayer for revival to pastors of every Christian denomination in the United States in 1794. The churches adopted the plan until America, like Britain, was interlaced with a network of prayer meetings. They met on the first Monday of each month to pray. It was not long before revival came.
James McGready, a Presbyterian minister in Kentucky, promoted the concert of prayer every first Monday of the month, and urged his people to pray for him at sunset on Saturday evening and sunrise Sunday morning. Revival swept Kentucky in the summer of 1800. Eleven thousand people came to a communion service.
That second great awakening produced the modern missionary movement and it’s societies, engendered support for Bible societies, saw the abolition of slavery, and resulted in many social reforms.
Various revival movements influenced society in the 1800s, but 1858 in America and 1859 in Britain were outstanding.
Typically, it followed a low ebb of spiritual life. Concerned Christians began praying earnestly and anticipating a new move of God’s Spirit.
Revival broke out at evangelistic meetings in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada during October 1857 with attendances at meetings reaching 6,000, and three or four hundred converted including many civic leaders. It was widely reported.
Jeremiah Lanphier, a city missioner, began a weekly noon prayer meeting in New York in September that year. By October it grew into a daily prayer meeting attended by many businessmen. Anticipation of revival grew, especially with the financial collapse that October after a year of depression. Materialism was shaken.
At the beginning of 1858 that Fulton Street prayer meeting had grown so much they were holding three simultaneous prayer meetings in the building and other prayer groups were starting in the city. By March newspapers carried front page reports of over 6,000 attending daily prayer meetings in New York, 6,000 attending them in Pittsburgh, and daily prayer meetings were held in Washington at five different times to accommodate the crowds.
Other cities followed the pattern. Soon a common midday sign on businesses read, ‘Will reopen at the close of the prayer meeting.’
By May, 50,000 of New York’s 800,000 people were new converts. A newspaper reported that New England was profoundly changed by the revival and in several towns no unconverted adults could be found!
In 1858 a leading Methodist paper reported these features of the revival: few sermons were needed, lay people witnessed, seekers flocked to the altar, nearly all seekers were blessed, experiences remained clear, converts had holy boldness, religion became a social topic, family altars were strengthened, testimony given nightly was abundant, and conversations were marked with seriousness.
Edwin Orr’s research revealed that in 185859 a million Americans were converted in a population of thirty million and at least a million Christians were renewed, with lasting results in church attendances and moral reform in society.
Charles Finney (17921875) became one of the most famous preachers of that era. A keen sportsman and young lawyer, he had a mighty empowering by God’s Spirit on the night of his conversion including a vision of Jesus. During the height of the revival he often saw the awesome holiness of God come upon people, not only in meetings but also in the community, bringing multitudes to repentance and conversion. Wherever he travelled, instead of bringing a song leader he brought a someone to pray, especially Father Nash. Finney taught theology at Oberlin College which pioneered coeducation and enrolled both blacks and whites. His ‘Lectures on Revival’ were widely read and helped to fan revival fire in America and England.
Revival swept Great Britain also. During September 1857, the same month the Fulton Street meetings began, four young Irishmen commenced a weekly prayer meeting in a village school near Kells. That is generally seen as the start of the Ulster revival of 1859 which brought 100,000 converts into the churches of Ireland. Through 1858 innumerable prayer meetings started, and revival was a common theme of preachers. God’s Spirit moved powerfully in small and large gatherings bringing great conviction of sin, deep repentance, and lasting moral change. Prostrations were common people lying prostrate in conviction and repentance, unable to rise for some time. By 1860 crime was reduced, judges in Ulster several times had no cases to try. At one time in County Antrim no crime was reported to the police and no prisoners were held in police custody.
Edwin Orr noted that this revival made a greater impact on Ireland than anything known since Patrick brought Christianity there. By the end of 1860 the effects of the Ulster revival were listed as thronged services, unprecedented numbers of communicants, abundant prayer meetings, increased family prayers, unmatched Scripture reading, prosperous Sunday Schools, converts remaining steadfast, increased giving, vice abated, and crime reduced.
Revival fire ignites fire. Throughout 1859 the same deep conviction and lasting conversions revived thousands of people in Wales, Scotland and England.
Revival in Wales found expression in glorious praise including harmonies unique to the Welsh which involved preacher and people in turn. There too, 100,000 converts (one tenth of the total population) were added to the church and crime was greatly reduced. Scotland and England were similarly visited with revival. Again, prayer increased enormously and preaching caught fire with many anointed evangelists seeing thousands converted. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that prince of preachers, saw 1859 as the high water mark although he had already been preaching in London for five years with great blessing and huge crowds.
The early twentieth century Evangelical Awakening was a worldwide
movement. It did not begin with the phenomenal Welsh Revival of 190405. Rather its sources were in the springs of little prayer meetings which seemed to arise spontaneously all over the world, combining into streams of expectation which became a river of blessing in which the Welsh Revival became the greatest cataract (Orr 1975:192).
The Welsh Revival was the farthest reaching of the movements of the general Awakening, for it affected the whole of the Evangelical cause in India, Korea and China, renewed revival in Japan and South Africa, and sent a wave of awakening over Africa, Latin America, and the South Seas.
The story of the Welsh Revival is astounding. Begun with prayer meetings of less than a score of intercessors, when it burst its bounds the churches of Wales were crowded for more than two years.
A hundred thousand outsiders were converted and added to the churches, the vast majority remaining true to the end. Drunkenness was immediately cut in half, and many taverns went bankrupt.
Crime was so diminished that judges were presented with white gloves signifying that there were no cases of murder, assault, rape or robbery or the like to consider. The police became ‘unemployed’ in many districts. Stoppages occurred in coal mines, not due to unpleasantness between management and workers, but because so many foulmouthed miners became converted and stopped using foul language that the horses which hauled the coal trucks in the mines could no longer understand what was being said to them, and transportation ground to a halt (Orr 1975:193).
Touches of revival had stirred New Quay, Cardiganshire, where Joseph Jenkins was minister of a church in which he led teams of revived young people in conducting testimony meetings throughout the area. The Presbyterian evangelist, Seth Joshua, arrived there in September 1904 to find remarkable moves of the Spirit in his meetings.
On Sunday 18th, he reported that he had ‘never seen the power of the Holy Spirit so powerfully manifested among the people as at this place just now.’ His meetings lasted far into the night.
19th. Revival is breaking out here in greater power… the young people receiving the greatest measure of blessing. They break out into prayer, praise, testimony and exhortation.
20th … I cannot leave the building until 12 and even 1 o’clock in the morning I closed the service several times and yet it would break out again quite beyond control of human power.
21st. Yes, several souls … they are not drunkards or open sinners, but are members of the visible church not grafted into the true Vine … the joy is intense.
22nd. We held another remarkable meeting tonight. Group after group came out to the front, seeking the ‘full assurance of faith.’
23rd. I am of the opinion that forty conversions took place this week. I also think that those seeking assurance may be fairly counted as converts, for they had never received Jesus as personal Saviour before (Orr 1975c:3).
Seth Joshua then held meetings at Newcastle Emlyn at which students from the Methodist Academy attended, among them was Sidney Evans a room mate of Evan Roberts. The students, including Evan Roberts, attended the next Joshua meetings in Blaenannerch. There Seth Joshua closed his ministry on the Thursday morning crying out in Welsh, ‘Lord … bend us’ Evan Roberts went to the front, kneeling and fervently praying ‘Lord, bend me.’
Evan Roberts in his twenties was one of God’s agents in that national and worldwide revival.
‘For ten or eleven years I have prayed for revival,’ he wrote to a friend. ‘I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals… It was the Spirit that moved me to think about a revival’ (Orr 1975:4).
This young miner who then became a blacksmith had attended church as a teenager on Sunday, prayer meeting Monday, youth meeting Tuesday, congregational meeting Wednesday, temperance meeting Thursday, and class meeting Friday. Saturday night was free, probably as bath night in preparation for Sunday!
He offered for the ministry in 1903. Before entering the Academy he had a deep encounter with God and had a vision of all Wales being lifted up to heaven. After this he regularly slept lightly till 1 am, woke for hours of communion with God, and then returned to sleep. He was convinced revival would touch all Wales and eventually led a small band all over the country praying and preaching.
In October 1904 in his first year at the Academy, after the impact of the Spirit on him at Seth Joshua’s meetings, he took leave to return home to challenge his friends, especially the young people.
The Spirit of God convicted people as Evan Roberts insisted:
1. You must put away any unconfessed sin.
2. You must put away any doubtful habit.
3. You must obey the Spirit promptly.
4. You must confess Christ publicly.
He believed that a baptism in the Spirit was the essence of revival and that the primary condition of revival is that individuals should experience such a baptism in the Spirit.
Evan Roberts travelled the Welsh valleys, often never preaching but sitting head-in-hands earnestly praying. In Neath he spent a week in prayer without leaving his rooms. The revival packed the churches out, but no one saw him all that week. He paid a price in prayer and tears.
Churches filled. The revival spread. Meetings continued all day as well as each night, often late into the night or through to morning. Crowds were getting right with God and with one another in confession, repentance and restitution of wrongs done. People prayed fervently and worshipped God with great joy. Police had so little to do they joined the crowds in the churches, sometimes forming singing groups. Cursing and profanity diminished so much it caused slowdowns in the mines because the pit ponies could no longer understand their instructions and stood still, confused.
Oswald Smith described it this way:
It was 1904. All Wales was aflame. The nation had drifted far from God. The spiritual conditions were low indeed. Church attendance was poor and sin abounded on every side. Suddenly, like an unexpected tornado, the Spirit of God swept over the land. The churches were crowded so that multitudes were unable to get in. Meetings lasted from ten in the morning until twelve at night. Three definite services were held each day.
Evan Roberts was the human instrument, but there was very little preaching. Singing, testimony and prayer were the chief features. There were no hymn books, they had learned the hymns in childhood; no choir, for everybody sang; no collection, and no advertising.
Nothing had ever come over Wales with such far reaching results. Infidels were converted; drunkards, thieves and gamblers saved; and thousands reclaimed to respectability. Confessions of awful sins were heard on every side. Old debts were paid. The theatre had to leave for want of patronage. Mules in coal mines refused to work, being unused to kindness! In five weeks, twenty thousand people joined the churches (Olford 1968:67).
News of that revival, and many people who had been involved, soon spread around the world. ‘The Welsh Revival was the farthest reaching of the movements of the general Awakening, for it affected the whole of the Evangelical cause in India, Korea and China, renewed revival in Japan and South Africa, and sent a wave of awakening over Africa, Latin America, and the South Seas’ (Orr 1975:193).
Half a century later a similar move of God, but on a smaller scale, was stirring the Hebrides.
Following the trauma of World War II, spiritual life was at a low ebb in the Scottish Hebrides. By 1949 Peggy and Christine Smith (84 and 82) had prayed constantly for revival in their cottage near Barvas village on the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the Hebrides Islands in the bleak north west of Scotland. God showed Peggy in a dream that revival was coming. Months later, early one winter’s morning as the sisters were praying, God give them an unshakeable conviction that revival was near.
Peggy asked her minister James Murray Mackay to call the church leaders to prayer. Three nights a week the leaders prayed together for months. One night, having begun to pray at 10 pm, a young deacon from the Free Church read Psalm 24 and challenged everyone to be clean before God. As they waited on God his awesome presence swept over them in the barn at 4 am
Mackay invited Duncan Campbell to come and lead meetings. Within two weeks he came. God had intervened and changed Duncan’s plans and commitments. At the close of his first meeting in the Presbyterian church in Barvas the travel weary preacher was invited to join an all night prayer meeting! Thirty people gathered for prayer in a nearby cottage. Duncan Campbell described it:
God was beginning to move, the heavens were opening, we were there on our faces before God. Three o’clock in the morning came, and GOD SWEPT IN. About a dozen men and women lay prostrate on the floor, speechless. Something had happened; we knew that the forces of darkness were going to be driven back, and men were going to be delivered. We left the cottage at 3 am to discover men and women seeking God. I walked along a country road, and found three men on their faces, crying to God for mercy. There was a light in every home, no one seemed to think of sleep (Whittaker 1984:159).
When Duncan and his friends arrived at the church that morning it was already crowded. People had gathered from all over the island, some coming in buses and vans. No one discovered who told them to come. God led them. Large numbers were converted as God’s Spirit convicted multitudes of sin, many lying prostrate, many weeping. After that amazing day in the church, Duncan pronounced the benediction, but then a young man began to pray aloud. He prayed for 45 minutes. Again the church filled with people repenting and the service continued till 4 am the next morning before Duncan could pronounce the benediction again.
Even then he was unable to go home to bed. As he was leaving the church a messenger told him, ‘Mr. Campbell, people are gathered at the police station, from the other end of the parish; they are in great spiritual distress.
Can anyone here come along and pray with them?’ Campbell went and what a sight met him. Under the still starlit sky he found men and women on the road, others by the side of a cottage, and some behind a peat stack all crying to God for mercy. The revival had come.
That went on for five weeks with services from early morning until late at night or into the early hours of the morning.
Then it spread to the neighbouring parishes. What had happened in Barvas was repeated over and over again. Duncan Campbell said that a feature of the revival was the overwhelming sense of the presence of God. His sacred presence was everywhere. (Whittaker 1984:160).
That move of God in answer to prevailing prayer continued in the area into the fifties and peaked again on the previously resistant island of North Uist in 1957. Meetings were again crowded and night after night people cried out to God for salvation.
Similar revivals have catapulted the church into amazing growth throughout this century. The story is too vast to tell. A few highlights indicate something of this miraculous work of God.
Many visitations of God have touched North America this century. Some, such as the following, have been widely reported.
Azusa Street, 19061913
William J. Seymour, a Negro, studied in Charles Parham’s Bible School in Topeka, Kansas where on 1 January 1901 Agnes Ozman had spoken in tongues as did half of the 34 students. Those events have been seen as the beginning of Pentecostalism in America.
Elder William Seymour began The Apostolic Faith Mission located at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles on Easter Saturday, 14 April 1906 with about 100 attending including blacks and whites. It grew out of a cottage prayer meeting.
At Azusa, services were long, and on the whole they were spontaneous. In its early days music was a cappella, although one or two instruments were included at times. There were songs, testimonies given by visitors or read from those who wrote in, prayer, altar calls for salvation or sanctification or for baptism in the Holy Spirit. And there was preaching. Sermons were generally not prepared in advance but were typically spontaneous.
W. J. Seymour was clearly in charge, but much freedom was given to visiting preachers. There was also prayer for the sick. Many shouted. Others were ‘slain in the Spirit’ or fell under the power. There were periods of extended silence and of singing in tongues. No offerings were collected, but there was a receptacle near the door for gifts. …
Growth was quick and substantial. Most sources indicate the presence of about 300350 worshippers inside the forty-by-sixty-foot whitewashed woodframe structure, with others mingling outside… At times it may have been double that. … The significance of Azusa was centrifugal as those who were touched by it took their experiences elsewhere and touched the lives of others. Coupled with the theological threads of personal salvation, holiness, divine healing, baptism in the Spirit with power for ministry, and an anticipation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ, ample motivation was provided to assure the revival a long term impact’ (Burgess & McGee 1988:3136).
Asbury College, 1970
A revival broke out in Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, on Tuesday 3 February 1970. The regular morning chapel commencing at 10 o’clock saw God move on the students in such a way that many came weeping to the front to kneel in repentance, others gave testimonies including confession of sin, and all this was mixed with spontaneous singing. Lectures were cancelled for the day as the auditorium filled with over 1,000 people. Few left for meals. By midnight over 500 still remained praying and worshipping. Several hundred committed their lives to Christ that day. By 6 am next morning 75 students were still praying in the hall, and through the Wednesday it filled again as all lectures were again cancelled for the day. The time was filled with praying, singing, confessions and testimonies.
As they continued in prayer that week many students felt called to share what was happening with other colleges and churches. Invitations were coming from around the country as news of the revival spread. So teams went out from the next weekend to tell the story and give their testimonies. Almost half the student body of 1000 was involved in the teams witnessing about the revival.
In the first week after the revival began teams of students visited 16 states by invitation and saw several thousand conversions through their witnessing. After six weeks over 1,000 teams had gone from the college to witness, some of these into Latin America with finance provided by the home churches of the students. In addition, the neighbouring Theological Seminary sent out several hundred teams of their students who had also been caught up in this revival.
Those remaining at the college prayed for the teams and heard their reports on their return. Wherever teams went the revival spread. The college remained a centre of the revival with meetings continuing at night and weekends there along with spontaneous prayer groups meeting every day. Hundreds of people kept coming to the college to see this revival and participate in it. They took reports and their own testimonies of changed lives back to their churches or colleges. So the revival spread.
The Jesus People, 1971
By June 1971 revival movements had spilled over into the society with thousands of young people gathering in halls and theatres to sing, witness and repent, quitting drugs and immorality. The pendulum had swung from the permissive hippie dropouts of the sixties to a new wave of conversion and cleansing in the seventies. Time magazine carried a cover article on the Jesus Movement.
Such national attention also attracted cultic followers of the movement, but amid the extremes a powerful revival movement kept spreading. Mass baptisms were held in the ocean with outdoor meetings and teams witnessing on the beaches and in the city streets. New church groups such as Calvary Chapel and its many offshoots emerged which did not fit traditional denominations. People turned up to these churches in bare feet and old clothes as well as more traditional attire. Witnessing and evangelism burst spontaneously from lives changed by the love and power of God.
Wilbert (Bill) McLeod, a Baptist minister in his mid-fifties, had seen many people healed in answer to prayer, often praying with a group of deacons. Bill invited the twin evangelists Ralph and Lou Sutera to speak at his church in Saskatoon. Revival broke out with their visit which began on Wednesday 13 October 1971. By the weekend an amazing spirit gripped the people. Many confessed their sins publicly. The first to do so were the twelve counsellors chosen to pray with inquirers. Numbers grew rapidly till the meetings had to be moved to a larger church building and then to the Civic Auditorium seating 2000. The movement spread to other churches.
The meetings lasted many hours. People did not want to leave. Some stayed on for a later meeting called the Afterglow. Here people received prayer and counsel from the group as they continued to worship God and pray together. Humble confession of sin and reconciliations were common. Many were converted.
Taxi drivers became amazed that people were getting cabs home from church late into the night or early into the morning. Others were calling for taxis to take them to church late into the night as they were convicted by the Lord.
Young people featured prominently. Almost half those converted were young. They gave testimonies of lives that had been cleaned up by God and how relationships with their families were restored. The atmosphere in schools and colleges changed from rebellion and cheating to cooperation with many Bible study and prayer groups forming in the schools and universities.
Criminals were also confessing their sins and giving themselves up to the police. Restitution was common. People payed long overdue bills. Some businesses opened new accounts to account for the conscience money being paid to them. Those who cheated at restaurants or hotels returned to pay their full bill. Stolen goods were returned.
In November a team went to Winnepeg and told of the revival at a meeting for ministers. The Holy Spirit moved powerfully and many broke down confessing their sins. Rivalries and jealousies were confessed and forgiven. Many went home to put things right with their families. The ministers took this fire back into their churches and the revival spread there also with meetings going late into the night as numbers grew and hundreds were converted or restored.
Sherwood Wirt (1975:46) reported on Bill McLeod preaching at Winnepeg on 15 December 1971:
I confess that what I saw amazed me. This man preached for only fifteen minutes, and he didn’t even give an invitation! He announced the closing hymn, whereupon a hundred people came out of their seats and knelt at the front of the church. All he said was, That’s right, keep coming!
Many were young. Many were in tears. All were from the Canadian Midwest, which is not known for its euphoria.
It could be said that what I was witnessing was revival.
I believe it was.
Bill McLeod and a team of six brought the revival to the eastern Canada when they were invited to speak at the Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto. The meeting there began at 10 am and went through till 1.15 am next morning. Dinner was cancelled as no one wanted to leave. They did stop for supper, then went on again.
When the Sutera brothers commenced meetings in Vancouver on the West Coast on Sunday 5 May 1972 revival broke out there also in the Ebenezer Baptist Church with 2,000 attending that first Sunday. The next Sunday 3,000 people attended in two churches. After a few weeks five churches were filled.
The revival spread in many churches across Canada and into northern U S A especially in Oregon. Everywhere the marks of the revival included honesty before God and others, with confession of sin and an outpouring of the love of God in those who repented.
The German speaking churches were also touched by the revival and by May 1972 they chartered a flight to Germany for teams to minister there.
The Afterglow meetings were common everywhere in the revival. After a meeting had finished those who wanted to stay on for prayer did so. Usually each person desiring prayer knelt at a chair and others laid hands on them and prayed for them. Many repented and were filled with the Spirit in the Afterglow meetings which often went to midnight or later.
In 1977 John Wimber began pastoring the fellowship of about 40 people which had been commenced by his wife, Carol. It later became the headquarters of the Vineyard Christian Fellowships. John preached from Luke’s gospel and began to pray for healings with no visible results for nine months although the worship and evangelism attracted many people. Then healings began to happen and became a regular part of Vineyard ministry.
In 1980 the congregation had an experience of corporate renewal. On the evening of Mothers’ Day a young man who had been attending the church gave a testimony and asked those under twenty-five to come forward. He then invoked the Holy Spirit and the young people about 400 of them fell to the floor, weeping, wailing and speaking in tongues.
Wimber and the rest of the congregation had never experienced anything like that before (Gunstone 1989:11).
A revival had begun. In the next four months they baptized 700 new converts. They began ministering in the Spirit’s power in new ways and healings became a regular part of their church’s life and their international teaching ministry. The church grew to 6,000 in a decade and commenced many other Vineyard fellowships.
Peter Wagner’s research describes Latin American Protestants growing from 50,000 in 1900 to over 5 million in the 1950s, over 10 million in the 1960s, over 20 million in the 1970s, around 50 million by the end of the eighties and a projected 137 million by 2000. Over 100 new churches begin every week.
Pentecostals are the biggest proportion of this growth. One quarter of the Protestants were Pentecostal by the 1950s; three quarters by the 1980s. By then 90% of Protestants in Chile were Pentecostal (Wagner 1986:27).
Edward Miller tells of revival breaking out in Argentina from 1948. After he prayed earnestly for months, God told him to call his little church of 8 people to prayer every night from 8 pm to midnight. On the fourth night as they obeyed God the Holy Spirit fell on them. They heard the sound of strong wind. The church soon filled. There was much weeping, confessing and praying. By Saturday teams were going out and ministering in the Spirit’s power.
* Two teenage girls wept as they walked down the street and met two doctors who mocked, but listened to their testimonies, were convicted, and knelt asking for prayer.
* Two young people visited a lady whose mother was paralyzed and had been in bed for 5 years. They prayed for her, and she got up and drank tea with them.
* Two elderly people visited man in coma, a cripple with his liver damaged from drink. They prayed for him and he was healed.
A young rebel, Alexander and his band came to mock at one of the services aiming to disrupt it. God convicted him and he repented, so the other rebels rose to leave but fell under the Spirit’s power on the way out. All were converted. Two went to the Bible Training Institute.
Later, when Edward Miller was teaching at the Bible Training Institute in the small town of City Bell near Buenos Aires, he was led to cancel teaching there and call the school to prayer.
The move of God in that Institute began in an unusual way on 4 June 1951. Alexander, now in Bible School, was still in prayer outside in fields long after midnight when he sensed a strange feeling of something pressing down upon him, an great light surrounding him and a heavenly being enfolding him. The boy was terrified and fled back to the Institute.
The heavenly visitor entered the Institute with him, and in a few moments all the students were awake with the fear of God upon them. They began to cry out in repentance as God by his Spirit dealt with them. The next day the Spirit of God came again upon Alexander as he was given prophecies of God’s moving in far off countries. The following day Alexander again saw the Lord in the Spirit, but this time he began to speak slowly and distinctly the words he heard from the angel of God. No one could understand what he was saying, however, until another lad named Celsio (with even less education than Alexander), overcome with the Spirit of God markedly upon him, began to interpret. These communications (written because he choked up when he tried to talk) were a challenge from God to pray and indeed the Institute became a centre of prayer till the vacation time, when teams went out to preach the kingdom. It was the beginning of new stirrings of the Spirit across the land (Pytches 1989:4951).
The Bible Institute continued in prayer for 4 months, 810 hours a day, weeping. Bricks became saturated; one young man prayed against the wall daily, weeping. After 6 hours the tear stains reached the floor, and after 8 hours had formed a puddle on floor. The Lord gave them prophecies of revival in Argentina and around the world. They were told the largest auditoriums would be filled, and this happened with the visit of Tommy Hicks to Argentina.
Tommy Hicks was involved in revival in Latin America. In 1952 he was conducting a series of meetings in California when God showed him a vision. While he was praying he saw a map of South America covered with a vast field of golden wheat ripe for harvesting. The wheat turned into human beings calling him to come and help them.
He wrote in his Bible a prophecy he received about going by air to that land before two summers passed. Three months later, after an evangelistic crusade, a pastor’s wife in California gave that same prophecy to him that he had written down. Cash began to arrive till he had enough to buy a one way air ticket to Buenos Aires. On his way there after meetings in Chile, the word Peron came to his mind. He asked the air stewardess if she knew what it meant. She told him Peron was the President of Argentina. After he made an appointment with the Minister of Religion, wanting to see the President, he prayed for the Minister’s secretary who was limping. He was healed. So the Minister made an appointment for Hicks to see the President. Through prayer the President was healed of an ugly eczema and gave Hicks the use of a stadium and free access to the state radio and press. The crusade was a spiritual breakthrough.
Brazil also had revival. Edwin Orr visited each of the 25 states and territories in Brazil in 1952 seeing powerful moves of the spirit in his meetings which were supported by all denominations. The evangelical church council declared that the year of 1952 saw the first of such a general spiritual awakening in the country’s history. Many meetings had to be moved into soccer stadiums, some churches increased in numbers by 50% in one week, and the revival movement continued in local churches in Brazil.
Many congregations in Latin America now are huge. By the eighties the Brazil for Christ Church in Sao Paulo seated 25,000 on a mile and a half of benches. The Jotabeche Methodist Pentecostal Church of Santiago in Chile has over 90,000 members. One of the largest fellowships in Argentina is the Vision of the Future church pastored by Omar and Marfa Cabrera and a committed team of leaders. They had 30,000 in 1979. That grew to over 145,000 by 1988. The Cabreras have a powerful personal and mass deliverance ministry, taking authority over demons in areas and in people.
Small rural churches spring up across the continent far outstripping the provision of trained leadership. By the 1960s the Presbyterians of Guatemala had initiated Theological Education by Extension, including weekly local seminars for onthejob leadership development. This pattern is spreading worldwide in distance education programs.
1988 saw astounding revival in Cuba. The Pentecostals, Baptists, independent evangelical churches and some Methodist and Nazarene churches experienced powerful revival. One Assemblies of God church had around 100,000 visit it in six months, many coming in bus loads. One weekend they had 8,000 visitors, and on one day the four pastors (including two youth pastors) prayed with over 300 people.
In central Cuba, a miraculous healing took place at a 150 seat chapel at the beginning of a nine-day mission. The repercussions were so astounding that at one time 5,000 people crowded into the chapel. During those nine days, 1,200 people became Christians, and there were further healings. The two pastors were put in prison, but Cuban believers commented, ‘Although the authorities stopped this crusade, they cannot stop the Holy Spirit.’ Revival spread to the rest of Cuba (Mills 1990:18).
In many Pentecostal churches the lame walked, the blind saw, the deaf heard, and people’s teeth were filled. Often 2,000 to 3,000 attended meetings. In one evangelical church over 15,000 people accepted Christ in three months. A Baptist pastor reported signs and wonders occurring continuously with many former atheists and communists testifying to God’s power. So many have been converted that churches cannot hold them so they must met in house churches.
In Cuba in 1990, an Assemblies of God pastor whose congregation never exceeded 100 people meeting once a week suddenly found himself conducting 12 services per day for 7,000 people. They started queuing at 2.00 am and even broke down doors just to get into the prayer meetings (Robinson 1992:14).
The church in Africa has grown from around 10 million in 1900 to over 200 million in the 1980s and over 300 million now. By 2000 that number is expected reach 400 million, half the population. In the early 1900s one out of every 13,000 were Christians; now one out of three are reported as being Christians.
Africa has seen many powerful revivals, such as the Belgian Congo outpouring with C T Studd in 1914. ‘The whole place was charged as if with an electric current. Men were falling, jumping, laughing, crying, singing, confessing and some shaking terribly,’ he reported. ‘As I led in prayer the Spirit came down in mighty power sweeping the congregation. My whole body trembled with the power. We saw a marvellous sight, people literally filled and drunk with the Spirit.’
Between 1946 and 1949 the Belgian Congo experienced a further visitation of God. It followed much prayer and fasting. Visions were common. Multitudes repented. Witch doctors burned their charms and became Christian.
Following independence in 1960 that country, then called Zaire, experienced a blood bath at the hands of rebels. Over 30 missionaries were martyred in Zaire in 19601965 as were hundreds of pastors and thousands of their members. Whole congregations were wiped out. In one place the Christians were driven into a church building and all burned alive. Yet the persecuted church of Zaire saw a remarkable revival. Born in agonizing prayer and fanned by supernatural visitations of God, it grew in a powerful underground movement. The people, appalled at the killings, turned to God in thousands.
As the troubles subsided there was an extraordinary revival.
More than one rebel said, ‘The more we kill these Christians the more they multiply. They have got a power we haven’t got.’
Disillusioned with politics, there was a sudden wholesale turning to God among the people. A Congolese pastor revealed, ‘During the long period when we were cut off from the missionaries we had a remarkable visitation of the Spirit of God. The pastors of our district had been fasting and praying because of the bloodshed and persecutions. As we were praying the Spirit descended on us in a wonderful way and His gifts operated among us. He told us many things in prophecy which have all come true. The Holy Spirit began to convict of sin as we went back to our churches to preach, and streams of men and women believed on the Lord Jesus and confessed their sins exactly as in Acts 19:1720, bringing their heathen charms. This revival lasted eight months.’ This was repeated throughout the great area of the Zaire Evangelical Mission; revival broke out everywhere and thousands upon thousands were converted and added to the churches (Whittaker 1984:117).
Similarly, persecution in Uganda for eight terrible years following Idi Amin’s coup in 1971, saw the church refined and aflame. In those years the Christians increased from 52% to around 70% of the twelve million population.
Many African revivals experience supernatural manifestations, visions, prophecies, and healings. For 40 years there has been continuous revival in East Africa. Revivals include a powerful move of God in Ethiopia in 1978. Revived Christians survived the Mau Mau massacres in Kenya and the church continued to grow. For example, 700 new churches began in Kenya in 1980 alone, a rate of about two a day. Nigeria experienced revivals in 19831984, accelerating church growth there (Pratney 1984:2678).
Outstanding leaders have emerged including men such as the Zulu Nicholas Bhengu. Fluent in Zulu, Xhosa, English and Afrikaans, this dynamic leader of the Back to God Crusade moved across southern Africa for 40 years and started over 1,000 churches through the mighty outpourings of the Holy Spirit.
Reinhard Bonnke, a German evangelist called to Africa, has led amazing crusades filled with the power of God in which thousands are converted, healed and delivered of evil spirits. His multiracial team in Christ For All Nations crusades ministered in a 10,000 seat tent which was often too small. In 1980 alone 100,000 people made commitments to Christ in his crusades, and those huge numbers have continued and increased each year since. In 1983 he erected a tent which seats 30,000 with which he plans to lead missions from Cape Town to Cairo.
The New Life for All movement challenges Christians to pray daily for ten people until each becomes a Christian. They tell those people of their daily prayers for them. As each is converted a new name is added to the list to keep it at ten. The new convert does the same, praying daily for ten others. That simple commitment has fuelled revival in Africa.
The turn of the century prepared the way for revival movements in India. From 1895 the first Saturday of each month was set aside in Bombay for prayer for revival, and other centres followed this pattern. Revival came in 1905, again linked with world wide outpourings as in Wales.
Distress caused by famine in 1904 also caused Christians to pray all over India. As news of revival in Wales reached India, and returning missionaries told of God’s move there, expectation and prayer grew across India.
Revival moved in groups across Eastern India especially among the tribal people. Revival swept through the Khasi hills and among the Garos to their west and into the Naga Hills. It turned the hills people from head hunters into predominantly Christian within a generation. Bengal was also touched by the revival as news from the north motivated Christians to pray, repent and believe.
Any Carmichael wrote of revival in Dohnavur, especially among the young people. They experienced deep repentance and conversion in large numbers.
The awakening in Kerala among Anglicans and Mar Thoma Christians produced simultaneous audible prayer, alien to their normal traditions. At one convention 17,000 broke into simultaneous audible prayer.
Pandita Ramabai heard of revivals and commenced special prayer circles with hundreds of her helpers and friends at Mukti from the beginning of 1905. This movement spread first among the girls and women, touching thousands. It spilled over into the community. It spread with teams visiting Poona 40 miles away. Churches in Bombay were revived and filled with new vigour.
Revival affected India most strongly in the South and East, but North India also saw God’s power change lives. John Hyde, known as Praying Hyde, spent days and nights in prayer with friends for revival in India. In schools, a seminary and then in conventions among the resistant Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus of North East India the revival spread. The Sialkot annual conventions grew in numbers and impact. A young Sikh named Sundar Singh had a vision of Jesus on 18 December 1904 and was converted. He became a Christian Sadhu mystic and evangelist in India and Tibet.
Orr (1975:156) notes that ‘in the 1905 Revival, independence of the national Church was stressed, for, in the aftermath of revival, new men were ready for new work in new fields, men who had formerly been agents and employees of the Missions now were carrying revival and evangelism to the villages.’
The first Protestant missionaries went to Korea in the 1880s. By the 1980s one quarter of South Koreans were Christian. In 1980 Here’s Life Korea crusade drew 2,700,000, the largest single Christian meetings in history.
Revival in Korea broke out in the nation in 1907. Presbyterian missionaries, hearing of revival in Wales, and of a similar revival among Welsh Presbyterian work in Assam, prayed earnestly for the same in Korea. 1500 representatives gathered for the annual New Year Bible studies in which a spirit of prayer broke out. The leaders allowed everyone to pray aloud simultaneously as so many were wanting to pray, and that became a characteristic of Korean prayer meetings.
The meetings carried on day after day, with confessions of sins, weeping and trembling. The heathen were astounded. The delegates of the New Year gathering returned to their churches taking with them this spirit of prayer which strongly impacted the churches of the nation with revival. Everywhere conviction of sin, confession and restitution were common.
Brutal persecution at the hands of the Japanese and then the Russian and Chinese communists saw thousands killed, but still the church grew in fervent prayer. Prior to the Russian invasion thousands of North Koreans gathered every morning at 5 am Sometimes 10,000 were gathered in one place for prayer each morning.
Early morning daily prayer meetings became common, as did nights of prayer especially on Friday nights, and this emphasis on prayer has continued as a feature of church life in Korea. Over a million gather every morning around 5 am for prayer in the churches. Prayer and fasting is normal. Churches have over 100 prayer retreats in the hills called Prayer Mountains to which thousands go to pray, often with fasting. Healings and supernatural manifestations continue.
Now the city of Seoul has 6,000 churches, many huge. Koreans have sent over 10,000 missionaries into other Asian countries.
David Yonggi Cho has amazing growth in Seoul where he is senior pastor of a Full Gospel church of 800,000 with over 25,000 home cell groups, and 12,000 conversion every month. During the week over 3,000 a day and over 5,000 at weekends pray at their prayer mountain.
In 1950, missionaries expelled from China left behind one million evangelical Christians, and three million Catholics. Conservative figures run from 50 to 80 million Christians in China now and some Asian researchers report 100 million Christians estimated out of 960 million population. This underground revival spread through thousands of house churches. Miracles, healings, visions and supernatural interventions of God marked this outpouring of the Spirit.
Many suffered and died in persecution. David Wang tells of a pastor imprisoned for over 22 years who left behind a church of 150 people scattered through the hill villages in northern China. On his release in the 1980s he discovered the church in that area had grown to 5,000. Three years later it had trebled to 15,000.
Mama Kwong, exiled in Japan because of her virile Christian leadership, tells how over 30 years she helped to lead one million to the Lord through preaching and home cell meetings. She was imprisoned three times. Such leaders often faced long imprisonment or martyrdom, and her own son and others were nailed alive to church walls. The blood of the martyrs is still the seed of the church in China.
Mama Kwong says that during those days [1960s], God chose three hundred dedicated Christians to start a new church. As they gathered at 3 am one morning, they saw a vision of the Lord and clearly heard His voice saying, ‘Although Communism is evil, I will open the door and no one will shut it.’ As the three hundred went out and shared the gospel, tremendous miracles began to happen. Whole towns and villages turned to Christ’ (Whittaker 1984:153).
A Hong Kong and China Report of March 1991 produced by the Revival Christian Church tells of continuing opposition and imprisonment, but also of astounding church growth.
In 1989 preachers from Henan province visited North Anhul province and found several thousand believers in care of an older pastor from Shanghai. On the first night of their meetings that winter with 1,000 present 30 people were baptized. First was a lady who had convulsions if she went into cold water. She was healed of that and other ills and found the water warm. A twelve year old boy, deaf and dumb, was baptized and spoke, ‘Mother, Father, the water is not cold the water is not cold.’ A lady nearly 90, disabled after an accident in her twenties, was completely healed in the water. By the third and fourth night over 1,000 were baptized.
A young man who has been leading teams since he was 17, reported in 1990 at the age of 20: ‘When the church first sent us out to preach the Gospel, after two to three months of ministering we usually saw 2030 converts. But now it is not 20. It is 200, 300, and often 600 or more will be converted.’
In 12 March 1991, the South China Morning Post, acknowledged there were one million Christians in central Henan province, many having made the previously unheard of decision to voluntarily withdraw from the party. ‘While political activities are cold-shouldered, religious ones are drawing large crowds.’
Asia Outreach reported that Outer Mongolia had four known Christians by the beginning of 1991. That grew to over 70 by August, and many churches and a Bible school have been established since then.
In 1990, the Soviet Union acknowledged before its demise that 90 million of its 290 million inhabitants confess allegiance to a church or religious community. Christians have estimated over 97 million were Christian (Pratney 1984:273).
Sergie Kordakov, a teenage thug leader of tough marines, worked for the KGB including breaking up house churches or Christian home groups, arresting the pastors and beating the Christians, especially any young people found there. He was eventually converted through the witness of a young girl Natasha who kept coming to home groups in spite of being bashed. He noted how a secret revival was sweeping Russia involving many young people as well as older Christians.
Another young man, Vanya saw God’s miraculous protection and intervention in his military service where he unashamedly witnessed to his faith in God, before his mysterious death..
The earnest prayers of suffering Christians through most of this century has been a significant part in more recent freedom to worship God experienced in Russia and its neighbours. Reports from Russia have included huge numbers turning to Christ recently. In 1991, for example, 70,000 out of 90,000 made commitments to Christ in an evangelism rally in Leningrad. Churches are packed. All available Bibles are sold.
Nepal has been traditionally resistant to Christianity. That is changing. David Wang (Asian Report, May/June 1991) tells of a former Lama priest, illiterate, who has been a pastor for 13 years and pastors 43 fellowships with total of 32,000 people. Another pastor oversees 40,000 people. Most conversions in Nepal involve casting out demons.
Missionaries were expelled from Burma in the 1960s but the church continues to grow. The largest known baptismal service in the world happened there at the Kachin Baptist Centenial Convention in 1977 with 6,000 baptized in one day.
In September 1973 Todd Burke arrived in Cambodia on a one week visitor’s visa. Just 23 years old, he felt a strong call from God to minister there, the only charismatic missionary in the country. Beginning with two English classes a day, conducted through an interpreter, he taught from the Good News Bible. Those interested in knowing more about Jesus stayed after class and he saw daily conversions and people filled with the Spirit and healed. Revival broke out in the war torn capital of Phnom Penh and rapidly spread to surrounding areas.
During that September Todd’s wife DeAnn joined him, they received permission to stay in the country, and mounted a three day crusade in a stadium where thousands attended and hundreds were saved and healed supernaturally. A powerful church spread through a network of small house churches. Todd met with the leaders of these groups at early morning prayer meetings every day at 6 am Most pastors were voluntary workers holding normal jobs. Some cycled in from the country and returned for work each morning. Healings, miracles and deliverance from demonic powers were regular events, attracting new converts who in turn were filled with the power of the Spirit and soon began witnessing and praying for others.
When the country fell to the communists in 1975 the Burkes had to leave. They left behind an amazing church anointed by the power of God before it was buried by going underground to survive. They recorded their story of those two years of revival in Anointed for Burial (1977).
The Spirit of God brought revival to Indonesia during the troubled and politically uncertain times there in the sixties. Much of it happened outside the established church, with a later acceptance of it in some churches. Thousands of Moslems were converted, the biggest Christian impact on Islam in history.
A Bible School in East Java experienced revival with deep repentance, confession, renunciation of occult practices, burnings of fetishes and amulets and a new humility and unity among staff and students. The Lord led individual students and teams in powerful evangelism in many islands.
A team visited Timor and saw evidences of revival beginning which burst into unprecedented power in September 1965. This revival spread in the uncertain days following the attempted army coup on 30 September, 1965 in Indonesia. Four days previously a visitation from God had begun in Timor.
A rebellious young man had received a vision of the Lord who commanded him to repent, burn his fetishes, and confess his sins in church. He did. He attended the Reformed Church in Soe, a mountain town of about 5,000 people, where the revival broke out at that service on Sunday 26 September 1965. People heard the sound of a tornado wind. Flames on the church building prompted police to set off the fire alarm to summon the volunteer fire fighters. Many people were converted that night. Many were filled with the Spirit including speaking in tongues, some in English. By midnight teams of lay people had been organized to begin spreading the gospel the next day. They gave themselves full time to visiting churches and villages and saw thousands converted with multitudes healed and delivered. In one town alone they saw 9,000 people converted in two weeks.
Another young man, Mel Tari witnessed this visitation of God and later became part of Team 42. Eventually, about 90 evangelistic teams were formed which functioned powerfully with spiritual gifts. Healings and evangelism increased dramatically. Specific directions from the Lord led the teams into powerful ministry with thousands becoming Christians. They saw many healings, miracles such as water being turned to nonalcoholic wine for communion, some instantaneous healings, deliverance from witchcraft and demonic powers, and some people raised from death through prayer.
The teams were often guided supernaturally including provision of light at night on jungle trails, angelic guides and protection, meagre supplies of food multiplied in pastors’ homes when a team ate together there during famines, and witch doctors being converted after they saw power encounters when the teams’ prayers banished demons rendering the witch doctors powerless.
The teams learned to listen to the Lord and obey him. His leadings came in many biblical ways:
1. God spoke audibly as with Samuel or Saul of Tarsus,
2. many had visions as did Mary or Cornelius,
3. there were inspired dreams such as Jacob, Joseph or Paul saw,
4. prophecies as in Israel and the early church occurred,
5. the Spirit led many as with Elijah or Paul’s missionary team,
6. the Lord often spoke through specific Bible verses,
7. circumstances proved to be God incidences not just coincidences,
8. often when leadings were checked with the group or the church the Lord gave confirmations and unity.
Mel Tari, Kurt Koch and others have told of the amazing revival in Indonesia. The Reformed Church Presbytery on Timor, for example, recorded 80,000 conversions from the first year of the revival there, half of those being former communists. They noted that some 15,000 people had been permanently healed in that year. After three years the number of converts had grown to over 200,000. On another island where there had been very few Christians 20,000 became believers in the first three years of the revival.
So often in times of great tribulation, political upheaval and bloodshed, the Spirit of the Lord moves most powerfully and the church grows most rapidly, as happens in many countries today.
Revival has been spreading in Pacific islands, especially in the Solomons. Teams have gone from there to other countries such as Papua New Guinea and helped to light revival fires around the Pacific.
Solomon Islands, 1970
Muri Thompson, a Maori evangelist from New Zealand, visited the Solomons in July and August 1970 where the church had already experienced significant renewal and was praying for revival. Many of these Christians were former warriors and cannibals gradually won to Christ in spite of initial hostility and the martyrdom of early missionaries and indigenous evangelists.
Beginning at Honiara, the capital, Muri spent two months visiting churches and centres on the islands. Initially the national leaders and missionaries experienced deep conviction and repentance, publicly acknowledging their wrong attitudes. It was very humbling. A new unity and harmony transformed their relationships, and little things which destroyed that unity were openly confessed with forgiveness sought and given.
Then in the last two weeks of these meetings the Spirit of God moved even more powerfully in the meetings with more deep repentance and weeping, sometimes even before the visiting team arrived. At one meeting the Spirit of God came upon everyone after the message in a time of silent prayer when the sound of a gale came above the gathering of 2000 people.
Multitudes were broken, melted and cleansed, including people who had been strongly opposed to the Lord. Weeping turned to joyful singing. Everywhere people were talking about what the Lord had done to them. Many received healings and deliverance from bondage to evil spirits. Marriages were restored and young rebels transformed.
Everywhere people were praying together every day. They had a new hunger for God’s Word. People were sensitive to the Spirit and wanted to be transparently honest and open with God and one another.
Normal lectures in the South Seas Evangelical Church Bible School were constantly abandoned as the Spirit took over the whole school with times of confession, prayer and praise.
Teams from these areas visited other islands, and the revival caught fire there also. Eventually pastors from the Solomons were visiting other Pacific countries and seeing similar moves of God there.
Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea, 1973
Prayer meetings began among pastors, missionaries and Bible College students in the Baptist mission area among Engas of the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea in the early 1970s owing to the low spiritual state in the churches. This prayer movement spread to the villages. In some villages people agreed to pray together everyday until God sent new life to the church.
During September 1973 pastors from the Solomon Islands and Enga students who were studying at the Christian Leaders Training College visited the Enga churches. Revival broke out in many villages on Sunday 16 September. Many hundreds of people, deeply convicted of sin, repented and were reconciled to God and others with great joy.
Pastors in one area held a retreat from Monday to Wednesday in a forest which previously had been sacred for animistic spirit worship. Others joined the pastors there. Healings reported included a lame man able to walk, a deaf mute who spoke and heard, and a mentally deranged girl restored.
Normal work stopped as people in their thousands hurried to special meetings. Prayer groups met daily, morning and evening. In the following months thousands of Christians were restored and thousands of pagans converted. The church grew in size and maturity (Vision magazine, 1973:46).
Duranmin, Papua New Guinea, 1977
Pastors from the Solomon Islands spoke about their revival at a pastors and leaders conference in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Diyos Wapnok attended from the Baptist Mission area at Telefolmin. He heard God call his name three times in the night there and realised that the Lord was drawing his attention to some special challenge.
Later, on Thurdsay afternoon 10 March, 1977 at Duranmin in the rugged western highlands, where Diyos was the principal of the Sepik Baptist Bible College, while he spoke to about 50 people they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and great joy. Revival had begun. It spread through the area with vibrant new enthusiasm. Conversions, Bible studies, prayer and healings of many kinds were common. 3,000 were added to the church in 3 years. The church grew and was strengthened. This revival movement spread to other areas as Diyos and others told of what God was doing.
Sepik, Papua New Guinea, 1984
In the Sepik lowlands of northern Papua New Guinea a new visitation of God burst on the churches at Easter 1984, again sparked by Solomon Island pastors. It too was characterised by repentance, confession, weeping and great joy. Stolen goods were returned or replaced, and wrongs made right.
Ray Overend reports (1985:910):
I was preaching to an Easter convention at a place called Walahuta during the recent Sepik revival in Papua New Guinea. The words the Lord gave us were from Isaiah 6 …
After the last word of the message the whole church rose to its feet and clapped loudly something completely new to me! I knew they were not applauding me. They were acknowledging to God in praise the truth of his Word… Then I sat down in the only spare little space in the overcrowded church and the whole congregation began to sing one song after another…
Many faces were lifted to Heaven and many hands raised in humble adoration. The faces looked like the faces of angels. They were radiating light and joy. And then I noticed something.
Right beside me was a man who had heard the Word and now he just watched those radiant faces lost in praise. Then he hung his head and began to sob like a child. He was ministered to. Demons were cast out. And he received the Lord Jesus right into his heart.
Then he too began to clap in gentle joy.
But who was he? A pastor came over to tell me that he had been until this moment the leader of the Tambaran cult in the Walahuta area that Satanic cult of which the whole village lived in mortal fear and traditionally the whole of the Sepik
The man who was second in charge of the Tambaran cult in that area was also converted that day while he was listening to the worship from a distance as God’s love and power overcame him.
I will never forget June 14th, 1984. Revival had broken out in many churches around but Brugam itself [the headquarters], with many station staff and many Bible College and Secondary School students, was untouched. … Then early on Thursday night, the 14th, Judah Akesi, the Church Superintendent, invited some of us to his office for prayer. During that prayer time God gave him a vision. In the vision he saw many people bowed down in the front of the church building in the midst of a big light falling down from above just like rain.
So after the ministry of the Word that night Judah invited those who wanted to bring their whole heart and mind and life under the authority of Christ to come forward so that hands might be laid on them for prayer.
About 200 people surged forward. Many fell flat on their faces on the ground sobbing aloud. Some were shaking as spiritual battles raged within. There was quite some noise…
The spiritual battles and cries of contrition continued for a long time. Then one after another in a space of about 3 minutes everybody rose to their feet, singing spontaneously as they rose.
They were free. The battle was won. Satan was bound. They had made Christ their King! Their faces looked to Heaven as they sang. They were like the faces of angels. The singing was like the singing of Heaven. Deafening, but sweet and reverent (Overend 1986:3637).
The whole curriculum and approach at the Bible School for the area changed. Instead of traditional classes and courses, teachers would work with the school all day from prayer times early in the morning through Bible teaching followed by discussion and sharing times during the day to evening worship and ministry. The school became a community, seeking the Lord together.
Churches which have maintained a strong Biblical witness continue to stay vital and strong in evangelism and ministry, filled with the Spirit’s power. Christians learn to witness and minister in spiritual gifts, praying and responding to the leading of the Spirit.
Many received spiritual gifts they never had before. One such gift was the ‘gift of knowledge’ whereby the Lord would show Christians exactly where fetishes of ‘sanguma’ men were hidden.
Now in Papua New Guinea sanguma men (who subject themselves to indescribable ritual to be in fellowship with Satan) are able to kill by black magic… In fact the power of sanguma in the East Sepik province has been broken (Overend 1986:2324).
In 1986 a senior pastor from Manus Island came to the Sepik to attend a one year’s pastors’ course. He was filled with the Spirit.
Shortly afterwards he went to Ambunti with a team of students on outreach. There they were asked to pray for an injured child who couldn’t walk and later in the morning he saw her walking around the town. He came back to his course and said: ‘In my 35 years as a pastor on Manus I had never seen the power of God like this!’ (Overend 1986:38).
North Solomons, 1988
Jobson Misang, an indigenous youth worker in the United Church, wrote a letter reporting on a further revival movement in the North Solomons Province of Papua New Guinea in 1988:
Over the last eight weekends I have been fully booked to conduct weekend camps. So far about 3,500 have taken part in the studies of the ‘Living in the Spirit’ book. Over 2,000 have given their lives to Jesus Christ and are committed to live by the directions of the Spirit. This is living the Pentecost experience today!
These are some of the experiences taking place:
1. During small group encounters, under the directions of Spirit-filled leadership, people are for the first time identifying their spiritual gifts, and are changing the traditional ministry to body ministry.
2. Under constant prayers, visions and dreams are becoming a day to day experience which are being shared during meetings and prayed about.
3. Local congregations are meeting at 4 am and 6 am three days a week to pray, and studying the Scriptures is becoming a day to day routine. This makes Christians strong and alert.
4. Miracles and healings are taking place when believers lay hands on the sick and pray over them.
5. The financial giving of the Christians is being doubled. All pastors’ wages are supported by the tithe.
6. Rascal activities (crimes) are becoming past time events and some drinking clubs are being overgrown by bushes.
7. The worship life is being renewed tremendously. The traditional order of service is being replaced by a much more lively and participatory one. During praise and worship we celebrate by clapping, dancing, raising our hands to the King of kings, and we meditate and pray. When a word of knowledge is received we pray about the message from the Lord and encourage one another to act on it with sensitivity and love.
Problems encountered include division taking place within the church because of believers baptism, fault finding, tongues, objections to new ways of worship, resistance to testimonies, loss of local customs such as smoking or chewing beetlenut or no longer killing animals for sacrifices, believers spending so many hours in prayer and fasting and Bible studies, marriages where only one partner is involved and the other blames the church for causing divisions, pride creeping in when gifts are not used sensitively or wisely, and some worship being too unbalanced.
Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea, 1988
Johan van Bruggen, principal of a Lutheran Evangelist Training Centre near Kainantu in the Papua New Guinea highlands reported in newsletters on the beginnings of revival in their area:
There came Thursday 4 August, a miserable day weather wise, although we had great joy during our studies. Evening devotions not all students came, actually a rather small group. I too needed some inner encouragement to go as it was more comfortable near the fire.
We sang a few quiet worship songs. … Samson was leading the devotions. We had sung the last song and were waiting for him to start. Starting he did, but in an unusual way. He cried, trembled all over! … Then it spread. When I looked up again I saw the head prefect flat on the floor under his desk. I was praying in tongues off and on. It became quite noisy. Students were shouting! Should I stop it? Don’t hold back! It went on and one, with students praying and laughing and crying not quite following our planned program! We finally stood around the table, about twelve of us, holding hands. Some were absolutely like drunk, staggering and laughing! I heard a few students starting off in tongues and I praised the Lord. The rain had stopped, not so the noise. So more and more people came in and watched!
Not much sleeping that night! They talked and talked! And that was not the end. Of course the school has changed completely.
Lessons were always great, I thought, but have become greater still. Full of joy most of the time, but also with a tremendous burden. A burden to witness.
What were the highlights of 1988?
No doubt the actual outpouring of the Holy Spirit must come first.
It happened on August 4 when the Spirit fell on a group of students and staff, with individuals receiving the baptism of the Holy spirit on several occasions later on in the year. The school has never been the same again. As direct results we noticed a desire for holiness, a hunger for God’s Word which was insatiable right up till the end of the school year, and also a tremendous urge to go out and witness. Whenever they had a chance many of our students were in the villages with studies and to lead Sunday services. Prayer life deepened, and during worship services we really felt ourselves to be on holy ground.
[In 1989] Our 35 new students were again fascinated by the new life they discovered among the second year students. The Word of God did the rest. During the month of March real repentance took place. One week before Easter the Holy Spirit moved mightily among the students and staff. There was a lot of crying during that week. Each night the students met in small prayer groups.
The aim was to get them prepared to go out to seven small Easter camps that were planned for the Gazup area our area here around the school.
God’s Spirit really prepared them well! I have never seen and heard so much crying. Many students had listed all their sins. I must confess that some of these lists really shook me. There was witchcraft, magic, adultery, stealing, drunkenness. It once again showed me how deep and far the world has invaded the church today. There was tremendous relief as students were assured of forgiveness and were filled with the Holy Spirit.’
An example of how God used these students is the account of a young man, David, Markham Valley of the Eastern Highlands in Papua New Guinea who was studying at the Training School. He had a growing burden for his village of Waritzian which was known and feared as the centre of pagan occult practices.
During his studies he was concerned for his people who were not ready for the Lord’s return. He prayed much. As part of an outreach team he visited nearby villages and then went to his own people in May, 1989. They had already written to the Training School asking for him to come to teach them. He was concerned about the low spiritual life of the church. He spent a couple of days alone praying for them.
Then as he was teaching them they heard the sound of an approaching wind which filled the place. Many were weeping, confessing their sins. They burnt their fetishes used in sorcery. This had been a stronghold of those sanguma practices. Many people received various spiritual gifts including unusual abilities such as speaking English in tongues and being able to read the Bible. People met for prayer, worship and study every day and at night. These daily meetings continued.
Vanuatu, 196162, 199192
Paul Grant was involved in the early stirrings of revival in Vanuatu during 199612. He writes:
It is important to note the following components in the lead up to later visitation and reviving:
1. A shared concern of missionaries for revival.
2. A significantly developed interest in the quickening power of the Spirit among west Ambai church members and leaders through teaching of the Scriptures and news of revival and the power-works of the Spirit in other parts of the world, e.g. a series of talks on the East Africa revival, the Welsh revival, signs and wonders and healings as reported from the Apostolic Church in Papua New Guinea, and inspiring records in other magazines.
3. An emphasis on prayer meetings, both between missionaries and in local churches.
4. Regular and frequent prayers for a visitation of God’s Spirit by Apostolic Churches around the world. The first Monday night of each month was observed as a prayer night for worldwide missions.
5. Concentrated, sustained Scripture teaching in the classrooms of the primary school where students later would experience the power of God. …
Beginning in the Santo church on August 15th 1962 and continuing there and in churches on Ambae (commencing in Tafala village in October) over a period of about 12 weeks the power of God moved upon young people. There were many instances of glossolalia, healings, prophetic utterances, excitation, loud acclamations to God in public services, incidents of deep conviction of sin, conversions, restitutions, and other manifestations of holiness of life… This visitation resulted in a liveliness not known before.
Initially it was mainly among young people. In later months and years it spread among all age groups and to my present knowledge was the first such visitation in the history of the Christian Church in Vanuatu. My gratification centred upon the following particulars:
1. The Holy Spirit had animated and empowered a people who were well taught in the Scriptures. Records show a lift in spiritual vitality in all the village churches.
2. It brought the church as a whole into a more expressive, dynamic dimension and also a charismatic gift function. They were much more able to gain victory over spirit forces so familiar to them.
3. It began to hasten the maturation processes in developing leadership.
4. The reality matched the doctrinal stand of the church. There was now no longer a disparity.
5. It confirmed to me the very great importance of being ‘steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 15:58 AV).
6. It led to significant outreach in evangelism, both personal and group. …
In the following years some of the young men and women served God in evangelistic teams, school teaching, urban witness, government appointments, and as pastors and elders to their own people. One of them has with his wife been an effective missionary… in Papua New Guinea (Grant 1986:710).
More recent revival movements in Vanuatu have stirred parts of the church there, such as described in this letter from Ruth Rongo of Tongoa Island written on 28 August 1991:
I’ve just come back from an evangelism ministry. It lasted for three months. God has done many miracles. Many people were shocked by the power of the Holy Spirit. The blind received their sight, the lame walk, the sick were healed. All these were done during this evangelism ministry. We see how God’s promise came into action. The prophet Joel had said it. We people of Vanuatu say ‘The spirit of the Lord God is upon us because he has anointed us to preach the Gospel to the poor people of Vanuatu.’ Praise God for what he has done.
In where I live, my poor home, I also started a home cell prayer group. We’re aiming or our goal is that the revival must come in the church where I am. Please pray for me and also for the group.
Our prayer group usually meets on Sunday night, after the night meeting. We start at 10.30 pm and go to 1 or 3.30 am. If we come closer to God He will also come close to us. We spend time in listening and responding to God.
These revival movements continue to increase in the Pacific, especially as indigenous teams minister in other areas with the Spirit’s fire. The church grows stronger, even through opposition. Indigenous Christians live and minister in New Testament patterns from house to house, from village to village.
Powerful moves of God’s Spirit in Australia have included the Sunshine Revival in Melbourne from February 1925 and the aboriginal revival beginning in Galiwinku (Elcho Island) from March 1979.
Two young men in their twenties led the Sunshine Revival. Charles Greenwood began prayer meetings in his home in 1916 and the group completed building the Sunshine Gospel Hall in February 1925. A. C. Valdez, recently arrived from America, joined the group and became its leader that year. At first meetings were held on a Saturday and Sunday. Then they had a two week campaign. The hall was packed.
Charles Greenwood reported:
During this campaign the power of God was manifested in a mighty way sinners were converted; many believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit and healed. Soon the news spread that the Lord was pouring out His Spirit at Sunshine, and people came from near and far. Over 200 Christians from all denominations were baptized in the Holy Spirit in this blessed outpouring of the ‘Latter Rain’ (Chant 1984:9091).
They established the Pentecostal Church of Australia following that campaign and public meetings were then held in the Prahran Town Hall because of the crowds. Later that year they moved into Richmond Theatre which became Richmond Temple. It could seat 1200 and had shops at the front which became their Bible and Tract Department. In 1926 A. C. Valdez believed his work there was completed and he returned to the States. Kelso Glover, also in his twenties, arrived from the States and led meetings for three weeks in a revival atmosphere. He was invited to stay on as pastor. Richmond Temple became the headquarters of the Pentecostal Church of Australia and from July 1926 they produced their national paper the Australian Evangel.
Galiwinku, Elcho Island, 1979
Revival among aborigines commenced in Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island in the north of Australia from 1979. Djiniyini Gondarra ministered there where half the island became involved in the church and the whole community was affected. The pattern is similar to other revivals prayer and expectation, the Spirit of God moving in new and powerful ways, repentance and confession on a wide scale, restitution of stolen goods and money, forgiveness and reconciliation between people, crime and drunkenness greatly diminished, renewed concern for justice and righteousness in the community, churches filled with Christians alive in the Spirit.
Here too, teams have travelled to other areas bringing some of the fire of revival to ignite churches and communities with a vital Christian commitment and a strong impact on society.
What is our response to these modern day accounts so similar to the Book of Acts? Will we humble ourselves, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from our sin, so that God will forgive us and heal the land (2 Chronicles 7:14)?
We can do that. We must. Alone. In prayer clusters. In home groups. In meetings. In constant prayer and repentance.
‘Lord, engulf us in your holy fire. Burn our dross. Refine us. Ignite us, and multitudes in the land, for your glory, setting your church on fire.’
Burke, T & D (1977) Anointed for Burial. Seattle: Frontline.
Burgess, S M & McGee, G B eds. (1988) Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Chant, B (1984) Heart of Fire. Adelaide: Tabor.
Grant, P E (1986) ‘Visitation and Vivifying in Vanuatu’, unpublished article.
Greenfield, J (1927) Power from on High. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott.