God’s Surprises summarises revival events in 20 countries. It’s a brief summary of information in my books Journey into Mission (most detail) and Journey into Ministry and Mission (condensed autobiography).
“Can I take some bread home?” asked a tattooed young man at our communion service in the slums of Nairobi in Kenya, East Africa. God’s Spirit had prompted me to buy a few loaves of bread, bottles of drink and plastic glasses for the congregation.
We shared real drink and two loaves of bread together among 30 people in their corrugated iron shed where I was the guest preacher.
“It’s your bread,” I answered. “You decide.” He quickly shoved a handful of bread into his pocket. Then most of the others did the same. Two weeks later, Frank, the young pastor, emailed me: “I’ve visited the slum homes of those people and they are still eating that bread. It’s still fresh.” Apparently God multiplied it.
Frank and his wife Linda then offered free bread and drink each Saturday for hungry, skinny slum people, usually catering for about 50 people. Sometimes many more turned up but they always had plenty. Apparently God kept multiplying it as needed.
A young pastor in Ghana in West Africa invited me to hold meetings there. So I arrived with three others from Brisbane during our college break in July, forgetting it was monsoon time in Ghana. We flew into a deluge of rain on the Monday. Our hosts planned night meetings in the market from Tuesday, with morning teaching in a local church.
“Can we hold the night rallies in the church?” I suggested.
“Oh, no,” they said. “Only church people go there. Meetings in the market attract the crowds.”
“What about the rain?” I asked.
“God sent you, so he’ll do something,” they responded, full of faith.
We drove for over an hour in pouring rain from Accra, the capital, to the town of Suhum in the hills for our first meeting on Tuesday night. The heavy rain had flooded the power station there so the whole town was in darkness. We prayed earnestly, asking God to take over.
Within 15 minutes the rain stopped, the town lit up with power, and we began. Those excited Africans sang and danced for over two hours, attracting hundreds to the service. All that week we had clear skies and large crowds. Church teams prayed for hundreds of people. Many were saved. Many were healed. One man testified, “I came to this meeting blind, but while you were singing I found I could see.”
Heavy monsoon rains began again the day after our meetings ended.
A friend of mine worked with the United Nations in Nepal. He loved to help and support pastors and leaders there. We visited him many times and I spoke at pastors and leaders meetings in Kathmandu, in West Nepal and in East Nepal. Some of those pastors walked for two or three days across the high ranges just to attend.
Their churches are saturated in prayer. I prayed in their “Power House”, the upstairs prayer rooms of their church in Kathmandu. Those small upper rooms, open 24 hours a day, had many people going there to fast and pray, sometimes for many days.
We saw God’s Spirit move beautifully and powerfully in those meetings. Many were filled with the Spirit and healed. I heard a young man from one of their church bands praying eloquently in beautiful English – but he cannot speak English. They pray for one another with strong faith, expecting God to save, heal, deliver and anoint them.
The dedication of those Christians impressed me. Most of them have been imprisoned for their faith many times. One young pastor conducted a Christian wedding which infuriated relatives so they complained to the police and he spent a month in prison for disturbing the peace. Our host had been severely beaten while in prison. Two young evangelists were shot to death when we were there. They had returned from Bible College in India and were accused of spying. God gives those Christians amazing peace and joy amid the persecution, just as in the Book of The Acts.
Our team visited Grace Bible College in New Delhi founded by Dr Paul Pilai. Paul had stayed in our home in Brisbane when he visited Australia. He was converted after a young Christian girl prayed for his healing while he was very ill in hospital and he recovered miraculously.
He told us how his students and teams started new churches in villages and towns. They often faced angry opposition. One fanatical group burned their meeting tent and attacked them, hitting them with clubs, trying to kill them. They broke Paul’s arm and burned the tent. Suddenly some handsome Indian men surrounded Paul’s team and miraculously moved them away to a safe place nearby. The team could see their burning tent in the distance. Those angels told Paul that God would send him back there. A few years later they were invited back and started a church there in a home.
Grace Bible College, the largest in India with around 600 students, trains people to evangelize and plant churches, especially among unreached peoples. Their graduates often face persecution and some have been martyrs. What a humbling privilege it was to pray with the staff there and speak to the crowded hall full of such committed students.
I taught on revival at a seminary in Manilla in the sweltering heat of the Philippines. An assignment I gave my M.Th. students was to report on revival and miracles. One pastor, who was also a police inspector, reported that a church he visited sent groups of young people to sing and speak at hospitals and nursing homes.
One of those teams held monthly meetings in a mental hospital. The staff said that their patients may not understand much, but those patients did enjoy the singing. Over 40 came to the first meeting. The team offered to pray for anyone who would like prayer. They prayed personally for 26 people. The next month when the team returned, all those 26 had been discharged and sent home.
I visited China with a student from college. His parents worked there. The woman pastor-evangelist of a house church invited us to her church in a high-rise unit. The young man who met us at the gate could speak English.
He feared that the security guard might ask awkward questions, but as we walked in around 7pm, the guard had his back to us, talking to someone else. When we left after midnight, the guard was gone, probably sleeping.
Around 30 people sat on the floor and sang softly in worship. We spoke and then found that no one would leave until we had prayed for them personally. That took a while! They were happy to slip away one-by-one, just as they had come. Most were new Christians who believed because a Christian prayed for their healing. They believed in prayer and miracles just as in the Book of The Acts. Their simple, strong faith and humility moved and challenged me deeply.
We visited Elcho Island in the north where revival broke out and spread through Aboriginal communities all across northern Australia. We invited a team from Elcho Island for a Pentecost weekend in Brisbane. Two dozen came! They told us about the revival and prayed for people after each meeting that weekend, just sitting on the carpeted platform floor, aboriginal style.
That revival began after aborigines on Elcho Island prayed desperately for revival amid increasing crime, drink and drugs. The night their pastor, Djiniyini Gondarra (photo), returned from a holiday they met for Bible Study and prayer in his home. God’s Spirit fell on them as they united for the closing prayer. That prayer and ministry went all night. People were filled with the Spirit, discovered many spiritual gifts, and saw healings and reconciliations. Everywhere their teams went they saw God moving on the people in local revivals.
South Pacific Islands
Many revival movements have swept the South Pacific islands. I saw some. God’s Spirit fell on the Law School of the University of the South Pacific just after Easter 2002. The Law School is in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. Many law students were saved and transformed at their open-air rally.
Those committed students went on missions to other South Pacific nations and to Australia. Now they are lawyers and leaders. A president of their Christian Fellowship became a Member of Parliament in Fiji.
Some of those teams came with me to Pentecost Island in Vanuatu. God has been moving there in unusual ways for a hundred years. Vanuatu people first evangelized the island, one becoming a martyr. A wife of the highest ranking chief returned to life after she died and told them that she had seen God and they should leave their heathen ways and become Christians. Many revival teams have served God there in local revivals. Large numbers repent, are filled with the Spirit, and receive many spiritual gifts including revelations, words of knowledge about hidden magic or sins, and deliverance and healings.
God poured out his Spirit on children and youth in the Western Solomon Islands from Easter 2003. They loved to sing and pray daily in the church after school. God gave them visions, revelations, words of knowledge about hidden sins and bad relationships and they received many other spiritual gifts such as healings and speaking and singing what God revealed.
God revealed to a young boy the name of a man who stole a chain saw from the timber mill. A church member had been wrongly accused of that crime and sacked. He was reinstated after the man who stole it was confronted and confessed.
A mother asked me what it meant when her young boy had a vision of Jesus with one foot in heaven and one foot on the earth. I immediately remembered Matthew 28:18 – All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
We saw God touch around 1,000 youths at a National Christian Youth Convention in 2006. One night at the convention they responded, running to the front of the open-air meeting. For half-an-hour their worship team sang “He is Lord” while we prayed for them. They fell like dominoes. Many testified to healings, visions and revelations. One young man returned to his village that night and found his mother ill, so laid hands on her and prayed for her. She was healed. His brother then asked for prayer and he too was healed. The young man had never done that before. A whole group from the Kariki Islands, further west, saw revival begin in their islands on their return. God moved powerfully in every meeting they held and in their personal prayers.
I discovered that we Westerners are often too busy to pray, too worldly to listen to God, too proud to repent, and too unbelieving to see revival. We Christians – called by the name of Christ – need to take God’s promise seriously:
If my people who are called by name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
You can do that right now – at your computer or with your phone. You could take time right now to pray and seek God, to pray and obey.
History and current experience are full of examples of people being filled with the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Jesus was filled with the Spirit at his baptism. The disciples were at Pentecost. The Samaritans were when Peter and John prayed for them. Paul was when Ananias prayed for him in Damascus. Cornelius and his household were while Peter was preaching. Believers in Ephesus were when Paul prayed for them. It still happens.
Here are some examples from history. Most of these are reproduced here from my books Flashpoints of Revival and Revival Fires.
Nicholas Zinzendorf and the Moravians in Saxony, Germany
No one present could tell exactly what happened on the Wednesday morning of the specially called communion service. The glory of the Lord came upon them so powerfully that they hardly knew if they were on earth or in heaven. The Spirit of God moved powerfully on those three hundred refugees in Saxony in 1727. One of their historians wrote:
[Church history] “abounds in records of special outpourings of the Holy Ghost, and verily the thirteenth of August, 1727, was a day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We saw the hand of God and his wonders, and we were all under the cloud of our fathers baptized with their Spirit. The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst. From that time scarcely a day passed but what we beheld his almighty workings amongst us. A great hunger after the Word of God took possession of us so that we had to have three services every day, at 5.0 and 7.30 a.m. and 9.0 p.m. Every one desired above everything else that the Holy Spirit might have full control. Self‑love and self‑will, as well as all disobedience, disappeared and an overwhelming flood of grace swept us all out into the great ocean of Divine Love.”[i]
John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield in London, England
John Wesley found strong motivation for evangelism at a conversion experience at the age of 35 while hearing Martin Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans read at a meeting in Aldersgate Street, London. “About a quarter before nine while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed, I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given to me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” From then on he resolved “to Promote as far as I am able vital Practical religion and by the grace of God to beget, preserve, and increase the life of God in the souls of men.”
He told how he and others including his brother Charles and George Whitefield with about 60 people were touched by God at a love feast in Fetter Lane, London: “About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of his majesty, we broke out with one voice, ‘We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.’”[ii]
Charles Finney in Adams, North America
Charles Finney (1792-1875) became well known in revivals in the nineteenth century. A keen sportsman and young lawyer, he had a mighty empowering by God’s Spirit on the night of his conversion on Wednesday 10 October 1821. That morning the Holy Spirit convicted him on his way to work. So he spent the morning in the woods near his small town of Adams in New York State, praying. There he surrendered fully to God. He walked to his law office that afternoon profoundly changed and in the afternoon assisted his employer Squire Wright to set up a new office. That night he was filled with the Spirit. He describes that momentous night in his autobiography:
“By evening we had the books and furniture adjusted, and I made a good fire in an open fireplace, hoping to spend the evening alone. Just at dark Squire W‑‑, seeing that everything was adjusted, told me good night and went to his home. I had accompanied him to the door, and as I closed the door and turned around my heart seemed to be liquid within me. All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out and the thought of my heart was, “I want to pour my whole soul out to God.” The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room back of the front office to pray.
“There was no fire and no light in this back room; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed to me as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It seemed to me that I saw him as I would see any other man. He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at his feet. It seemed to me a reality that he stood before me, and I fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to him. I wept aloud like a child and made such confession as I could with my choked words. It seemed to me that I bathed his feet with my tears, and yet I had no distinct impression that I touched him.
“I must have continued in this state for a good while, but my mind was too much absorbed with the interview to remember anything that I said. As soon as my mind became calm enough I returned to the front office and found that the fire I had made of large wood was nearly burned out. But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any memory of ever hearing the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves of liquid love, for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can remember distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.
“No words can express the wonderful love that was spread abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love. I literally bellowed out the unspeakable overflow of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after another, until I remember crying out, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” I said, “Lord, I cannot bear any more,” yet I had no fear of death.
That night a member of the church choir which Finney led called in at his office, amazed to find the former sceptic in a “state of loud weeping” and unable to talk to him for some time. That young friend left and soon returned with an elder from the church who was usually serious and rarely laughed. “When he came in,” Finney observed, “I was very much in the state in which I was when the young man went out to call him. He asked me how I felt and I began to tell him. Instead of saying anything he fell into a most spasmodic laughter. It seemed as if it was impossible for him to keep from laughing from the very bottom of his heart.”[iii]
Dwight Lyman Moody in New York, North America
D. L. Moody (1837-1899), converted in 1855, later led powerful evangelistic campaigns in America and England. Two women in his church prayed constantly that he would be filled with the Spirit, and his yearning for God continued to increase. While visiting New York in 1871 to raise funds for churches and orphanages destroyed in the Chicago fire of October that year, in which his home, church sanctuary and the YMCA buildings were destroyed, he had a deep encounter with God. He wrote:
“I was crying all the time God would fill me with his Spirit. Well, one day in the city of New York ‑ oh, what a day! ‑ I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask him to stay his hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths; and yet hundreds were converted. I would not be placed back where I was before that blessed experience for all the world ‑ it would be as the small dust of the balance.”[iv]
On a visit to Britain he heard Henry Varley say, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.” He resolved to be that man.
Evan Roberts in Loughor, Wales
Born in Loughor in Glamorgan, between Swansea and Llanelly, Evan Roberts (1878-1951) was an exemplary school pupil. At twelve he began working in the mine with his father. He founded a Sunday school for the children of miners, and decided to become a preacher. Constantly he read the Bible, even in the mine. He published poems in the Cardiff Times under the pseudonym of Bwlchydd, learned shorthand, and taught himself to be a blacksmith. He describes his encounters with the Spirit as follows:
“One Friday evening that spring (1904), as I was praying at my bedside before going to bed, I was taken up into a great expanse – without time or space. It was communion with God. Up to that time I had only had a God who was far off. That evening I was afraid, but that fear has never come back. I trembled so violently that the bed shook, and my brother was awakened and took hold of me, thinking I was ill.
“After this experience I woke each night about one o’clock in the morning. It was the more strange, as usually I slept like a log and no noise in my room was enough to wake me. From one o’clock I was taken up into communion with God for about four hours. What it was I cannot tell you, except that it was of God. About five o’clock I was again allowed to sleep until about nine o’clock. I was then taken up again and carried away in the same experience as in the early hours of the morning, until about midday or one o’clock.
“At home they questioned me, and asked why I got up so late … but these things are too holy to speak of. This experience went on for about three months.[v]
He entered the Calvanistic Methodist Academy at Newcasle Emlyn in mid‑September 1904. He was convinced revival would touch all Wales and eventually he led a small band all over the country praying and preaching.
Students from the Academy, including Evan Roberts and his room-mate Sidney Evans, attended the meetings of Presbyterian evangelist, Seth Joshua’s meetings in Blaenannerch. There on Thursday 29 September, Seth Joshua closed the 7am meeting before breakfast crying out in Welsh, “Lord … bend us.” Evan Roberts remembered, “It was the Spirit that put the emphasis for me on ‘Bend us.’ ‘That is what you need,’ said the Spirit to me. And as I went out I prayed, O Lord, bend me.”[vi] During the 9am. meeting, Evan Roberts eventually prayed aloud after others had prayed. He knelt with his arms over the seat in front, bathed in perspiration as he agonised in prayer. He regarded that encounter with the Spirit as crucial in launching him into his revival ministry which began one month later.
Djiniyini Gondarra in Elcho Island, Australia
The Lord poured out the Holy Spirit on Elcho Island in northern Australia on Thursday, 14 March, 1979. Djiniyini Gondarra was then the Uniting Church minister in the town of Galiwin’ku at the south of the island. He had been away on holidays to Sydney and Brisbane, returning on the late afternoon Missionary Aviation Fellowship flight.
He was travel weary and just wanted to unpack and get to bed early. Many of the people, however, had been praying for months, and especially every day while he had been away, so they wanted to have prayer and Bible study with him in his home. This is his account of that Pentecost among Australian Aborigines in the Arnhem Land churches across the north of Australia:
“After the evening dinner, we called our friends to come and join us in the Bible Class meeting. We just sang some hymns and choruses translated into Gupapuynu and into Djambarrpuynu. There were only seven or eight people who were involved or came to the Bible Class meeting, and many of our friends didn’t turn up. We didn’t get worried about it.
“I began to talk to them that this was God’s will for us to get together this evening because God had planned this meeting through them so that we will see something of his great love which will be poured out on each one of them. I said a word of thanks to those few faithful Christians who had been praying for renewal in our church, and I shared with them that I too had been praying for the revival or the renewal for this church and for the whole of Arnhem Land churches, because to our heavenly Father everything is possible. He can do mighty things in our churches throughout our great land.
“These were some of the words of challenge I gave to those of my beloved brothers and sisters. Gelung, my wife, also shared something of her experience of the power and miracles that she felt deep down in her heart when she was about to die in Darwin Hospital delivering our fourth child. It was God’s power that brought the healing and the wholeness in her body.
“I then asked the group to hold each other’s hands and I began to pray for the people and for the church, that God would pour out his Holy Spirit to bring healing and renewal to the hearts of men and women, and to the children.
“Suddenly we began to feel God’s Spirit moving in our hearts and the whole form of our prayer suddenly changed and everybody began to pray in the Spirit and in harmony. And there was a great noise going on in the room and we began to ask one another what was going on.
“Some of us said that God had now visited us and once again established his kingdom among his people who have been bound for so long by the power of evil. Now the Lord is setting his church free and bringing us into the freedom of happiness and into reconciliation and to restoration.
“In that same evening the word just spread like the flames of fire and reached the whole community in Galiwin’ku. Gelung and I couldn’t sleep at all that night because people were just coming for the ministry, bringing the sick to be prayed for, for healing. Others came to bring their problems. Even a husband and wife came to bring their marriage problem, so the Lord touched them and healed their marriage.
“Next morning the Galiwin’ku Community once again became the new community. The love of Jesus was being shared and many expressions of forgiveness were taking place in the families and in the tribes. Wherever I went I could hear people singing and humming Christian choruses and hymns! Before then I would have expected to hear only fighting and swearing and many other troublesome things that would hurt your feelings and make you feel sad. …
“There was a great revival that swept further west. I would describe these experiences like a wild bush fire burning from one side of Australia to the other side of our great land. The experience of revival in Arnhem Land is still active in many of our Aboriginal parishes and the churches.
“We would like to share these experiences in many white churches where doors are closed to the power of the Holy Spirit. It has always been my humble prayer that the whole of Australian Christians, both black and white, will one day be touched by this great and mighty power of the living God.”[vii]
These testimonies all show how God continues to pour out His Spirit.
Endnotes [i] John Greenfield, 1927, Power from on High, Christian Literature Crusade (Reprint), p. 14. [ii] Idle, C ed., 1986, The Journal of John Wesley, Lion, pages 46, 55. [iii] Helen Wessel, 1977, The Autobiography of Charles Finney. Bethany, pages 20-22. [iv] W R Moody, 1900, The Life of D. L. Moody, Revell, p. 149. [v] Walter Hollenweger, 1972, The Pentecostals, Augsburg, pages 179-180. [vi] Eifion Evans, 1969, The Welsh Revival of 1904, Evangelical Press, page 70. [vii] Djiniyini Gondarra, 1991, Let My People Go, UCA, pages 14-19; also 1993, Renewal Journal, No. 1.
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Reviews: Cho, David Yonggi. 1984.Prayer: Key to Revival, Burgess, S. M. and McGee, G. B. 1990.Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Jan Jongenell, ed. 1990.Experiences of the Spirit, Jan Jongeneel, et. al. eds. 1992.Pentecost, Mission and Ecumenism: Essays on Intercultural Theology. Festschrift in Honour of Professor Walter J. Hollenweger, Geoff Waugh, ed. 1991.Church on Fire, YWAM Videos/DVDs.
Welcome to the first issue of the Renewal Journal. It is a resource in renewal ministries for the whole church, the body of Christ.
This issue describes a little of the amazing move of God’s Spirit in the world today. Future issues will give more details, especially on how renewal and revival affect us. We can be involved. We need to be. We can pray for revival and believe God’s promises. We can humble ourselves, pray, seek God, and repent (2 Chronicles 7:14). We need to repent of our disobedience, for we have not loved God wholeheartedly and we have not always loved one another.
Many thousands of praying groups now meet in unity across the land like showers of glowing sparks blown by God’s wind. Prayer cells, home groups, church prayer meetings, vocational groups, student groups and informal clusters of friends gather regularly in ever-increasing numbers. Your praying groups are part of that vast movement raised up by God.
We are learning to pray and minister as Jesus did, as he taught his disciples to do, and as he told them to teach others to do (Matthew 28:18-20). It’s a massive revolution in prayer and ministry in homes, farms, schools, colleges, universities, and workplaces, as well as in many churches.
This journal encourages you to pray in faith for renewal and revival. You can make a difference – a big difference. Pray in unity with others. It only takes two or three, as Jesus told us (Matthew 18:20).
The articles in this issue by Stuart Robinson and Edwin Orr show the vital link between earnest prayer and revival. Djiniyini Gondarra describes recent touches of God’s Spirit which have affected Aboriginal communities. John Greenfield’s writings recall the impact of the Moravian revival, and I give an overview of revival movements including some current examples.
Reviews and news in this Renewal Journal will inform you of some current renewal activities and resources.
You could keep copies of the Renewal Journal in your church or college library. Some home groups or churches may be interested in arranging bulk orders for their people. Please don’t throw your copy away! Pass it on to a friend.
Your prayer and support, such as encouraging people to subscribe, will help to keep this new venture going. I am grateful for the constant prayer and personal support given by our Renewal Fellowship in Brisbane which grew naturally out of a small home group, and for the involvement of the Brisbane Outreach Centre School of Ministries which is publishing this Renewal Journal from 1999.
Pray without ceasing
All across the land thousands of small groups are praying. Many are spontaneous, brought together by God. Some congregations have dozens or scores of praying groups now. Every revival began this way. Your part in this is vital.
We urge you to pray on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings for your leaders as they prepare, pray and preach. We also urge you to join with us and others praying on Mondays every week (in groups or alone) for renewal and revival, for God’s glory. Be encouraged as you join with thousands of others in earnest prayer for revival in the land.
If you have 31 people willing to set aside one day a month to fast and pray for revival and for your ministry, you would have someone in your church or fellowship doing so every day of the year. That is now happening in some churches in Australia.
If you have 168 people willing to set aside one hour a week to pray for revival and for your ministry, you could have continuous prayer around the clock, in hourly shifts, day and night all year long. The Moravians did that for 100 years. We can now, in this day of God’s power.
The Renewal Journal will keep you informed of developments as we hear about them. One example is the 600 million people now involved in Pentecostal, charismatic and church renewal, which is over one-quarter of all Christians. Those numbers continue to explode in revival.
May revival fire burn brightly within us all so that thousands believe, the church comes alive, and communities are radically transformed by God. To God be the glory.
(c) Renewal Journal 1: Revival (1993, 2011)
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright intact with the text.
Now available in updated book form (republished 2011)
Summaries of Revivals
from these two books by Geoff Waugh:
Flashpoints of Revival
Pentecost to the Reformation
Significant impacts of the Spirit of God have continued through history. These Spirit movements were often ignored, minimized or denigrated for many reasons:
1. Some historians wrote for predominantly secular purposes, so ignored significant Spirit movements. Josephus referred only briefly to Jesus and his troublesome sect.
2. Many historians wrote from the perspective of the established church, which often opposed and suppressed revival movements.
3. Strong impacts of the Spirit constantly initiated new movements which criticised and threatened the established order, so these movements were opposed, their writings destroyed and many leaders martyred.
4. Authentic revival movements were often regarded as heretical, and their leaders killed, as happened with Jesus, the leaders in the early church, and throughout history.
5. Some Spirit movements became cults with heretical teachings, and so brought disrepute on the whole movement and suspicion concerning charismata, especially prophecies, so they were opposed and suppressed.
6. Personal and historical accounts of impacts of the Spirit have been systematically destroyed during subsequent historical periods, often burned as heretical.
7. Excessive enthusiasm or fanaticism in revival movements have brought these genuine Spirit movements into disrepute and so generated more opposition.
8. Leaders and adherents of revivals have often been occupied with other pressing priorities such as ensuring their own survival rather than recording their history.
However, records have survived, mostly after the invention of the printing press. Revivals demonstrate biblical patterns of authentic Spirit movements. Evangelical revivals provide evidence of these charismatic encounters that became the empowering force in revival.
Charismatic impacts in Spirit movements are normal in many revivals among masses of people. Throughout history many people led reform and revival movements that powerfully affected the church and the community.
Before Constantine the church spread rapidly in spite of, and even because of, persecution. The witness of the martyrs influenced many people. After Constantine the Holy Spirit continued his work in the church and the world, often causing strong opposition as in the New Testament. He did not take a break during the Middle Ages!
Irenaeus (d 195), a student of the Apostle John’s disciple Polycarp, led a considerable spiritual awakening in Lyons in southern Gaul where in addition to his Episcopal responsibilities he learned the local language and his preaching was accompanied by gifts of the Spirit, exorcisms and reports of some raised from the dead.
The Montanists, or the New Prophecy movement, flourished in Asia Minor from the second half of the second century into the fifth century. This movement included a revival of prophecies and of acknowledged prophets including women, a challenge for Christians to forsake worldly attitudes with stricter living standards in Christian communities, and a strong belief in the second coming of Christ with the ideal society soon to be established in the New Jerusalem. Montanus spoke in tongues and began prophesying at his baptism, and taught that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were still available. The lawyer-theologian Tertullian (c 150-223) became the most famous convert to Montanism when he joined that movement early in the third century. The movement came into disrepute because of excesses, particularly in prophecy, but it became a strong challenge to the lax state of the church at that time.
Gregory the Wonderworker (c 213-270), converted through contact with Origen (c 185-254), became bishop of his native Pontus and appears to have led a strong movement of conversion till most of his diocese was Christian.
The church fathers founded monastic orders devoted to serving of God and people, often in protest to laxity and nominal Christianity in the church. Many of these leaders led strong spiritual movements including various miracles, healings and exorcisms, although caution is needed in distinguishing between fact and subsequent fiction.
Augustine of Hippo in North Africa (354-430), strongly influenced the church and society through his writings. His earlier writings indicated a cessation of the charismata in his time, a position which strongly influenced western theology, even though his later writing acknowledged that miracles occurred in relation to the sacraments, prayer of the relics of the saints, and his work The City of God included a chapter entitled “Concerning Miracles Which Were Wrought in Order that the World Might Believe in Christ and Which Cease Not to Be Wrought Now That the World Does Believe.”
Patrick (389-c 461) told of the conversions of thousands of the Irish, initiating active Celtic missionary activity including subsequent evangelism by Columba (521-597) in Scotland and Columban and others in France, Switzerland and northern Italy. By 600 Augustine of Canterbury and his missionaries saw thousands accept Christianity in England and it was reported that they imitated the powers of the apostles in the signs which they displayed.
In the twelfth century Peter Waldo and the Waldensians began reform and revival movements which challenged the church and impacted society. Francis of Assisi in the thirteenth century called people to forsake all and follow Jesus. Many did. They influenced others in society. John Wycliffe and his itinerant preachers, the Lollards, made a powerful impact on England in the fourteenth century. They aroused strong opposition leading to many becoming martyrs.
In the fifteenth century John Hus in Bohemia and Savonarola in Italy led strong reform movements which brought revival but led to their martyrdoms. Hus was known for his unblemished purity of life and uncompromising stand for truth in a decadent society. Savonarola fasted, prayed and preached with prophetic fire which confronted evils of his time, filled the churches, and brought honesty into much of civic and business life.
Gutenburg’s printing press invented in 1456 made the Scriptures widely available. This helped spark the sixteenth century Reformation with leaders such as Huldrych Zwingli in Switzerland initially calling for freedom of conscience though later denying this for others, Martin Luther in Germany proclaiming justification by faith alone based on the supreme authority of scripture, and John Calvin in Geneva emphasizing the awesome sovereignty and grace of God. Radical reformers, such as Felix Manz the first Anabaptist martyr, were killed by some of the reformers in those days of heated religious conflict. John Knox fearlessly called Scotland to repentance amid the intense political and religious fervour of the times.
Since then many revivals won thousands of people to faith in Jesus Christ and made a powerful impact on society. It still happens.
Revival historian Edwin Orr described the major evangelical awakenings as:
the First Great Awakening of 1727-1745,
the Second Awakening of 1790-1830 (The Eager Feet, fired with missionary commitment),
the Third Awakening of 1858-60 (The Fervent Prayer, spread through countless prayer groups) and
the Worldwide Awakening from 1900 (The Flaming Tongue, spreading the word around the globe).
Since then we have also seen similar Great Awakenings worldwide including
the Healing Evangelism Revivals from 1948, including charismatic renewal and revival, and
the Blessing Revivals from the 1990s, into
the Transforming Revivals of the 21st century.
A new millennium, like each new year, encourages vision. New hope. New possibilities. New vision.
Christian vision remains grounded in God’s revelation of himself in Scripture, inspired and illuminated by his Spirit. So the vision is both old and new.
The vision is old because Jesus Christ is the same, “yesterday, today and forever”. God’s word hasn’t changed with changing times. We have the same that God Abraham, Moses, David, Esther, Mary, Peter and Paul served.
They all served God in their time, their era. Now it’s our turn, in our time, our era.
Ours is a very different world from their day. We communicate rapidly, globally. We fly globally for mission and holidays. We spend billions of dollars in Kingdom business.
So is there a vision for the 21st century?
There must be. Where there is no vision, the people perish. Where there is no prophetic word the people cast off restraint. See Proverbs 29:18.
This issue of the Renewal Journal looks at some visions, directions and implications for serving God in the 21st century.
The essentials remain the same. God is. Jesus saves. The Holy Spirit moves in all the earth. The church grows – with endless cultural and social expressions. Yet still the Lord only recognises one church – his.
All over the world powerful expressions of the church have emerged at the beginning of the 21st century. This is not triumphalism. But it is war. Jesus is still building his church and smashing through the gates of hell.
Mell Winger, missionary to Latin America, tells the astounding story of Almolonga, Guetemala, the “Miracle City”. There the Christians have united in prayer and seen the powers of darkness dramatically overcome. The four jails, once packed, are now empty – closed. The curse on the land has been broken and they grow the biggest and best food in the world. Families, once at war, are united in loving service.
George Otis Jr., producer of the vivid, prophetic video Transformations, tells how Cali, Columbia, has been transformed through united repentance and prayer. Once the centre of billions of dollars in drug trafficking with a turnover of over 400 million US dollars a month, it is now transformed. What global law enforcement agents could not do, God has done.
Guido Kuwas describes revival in Bogotá, Columbia – another transformations story. A church is impacting the whole city and region by applying Jesus’ principles of discipleship. Christian disciple just 12 people. Very effectively. They gather in huge areas to celebrate together.
Ed Silvoso describes dramatic revival in Argentina’s biggest prison.
Daryl and Cecily Brenton, now missionary translators in Papua New Guinea, comment on the world’s largest data base of church growth factors to draw conclusions about effective mission and evangelism.
I have condensed my research on the emerging church into an article surveying the dramatic and powerful global shifts going on in church life and ministry amid accelerating change today.
Gene Wilkes’ book Jesus on Leadership challenges our usual ideas of leadership in the church by examining how Jesus led.
We hope you find this issue of the Renewal Journal inspiring and informative, and that you can recommend it to your friends and your church!
Endorsement by Rev L.A. (Tony) Cupit, former Director of Evangelism and Education, Baptist World Alliance:
No one speaks more authentically about a mission situation than one who has experienced it. That is one reason, among others, why Geoff Waugh’s latest book, Light on the Mountains, is such a valuable resource.
It was my privilege to serve in Papua New Guinea with Global Interaction at the same time as Geoff. I greatly appreciated his genuine love for Jesus the Christ and notable contribution to and love for the Enga people during the seven years we served together. These are reflected in this fascinating book. Geoff writes with deep personal knowledge and insight about the joys and challenges of mission life. He has collected valuable original source material and used it creatively to convey historical and missiological insights that needed to be unearthed and made available.
Anyone interested in learning about the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit of God in Papua New Guinea, and of discovering reasons why people engage in cross-cultural and linguistic mission work, would be well rewarded by studying and absorbing the insights this book provides.
Endorsement by Rev Don Doull, pioneer missionary in PNG from 1949.
This book describes those exciting days when Australian Baptists began a new missionary enterprise in 1949, the Baptist New Guinea Mission. We were motivated by a desire to fulfil our Lord’s great commission and reach out to those people just to the north of our country who had not yet heard the name of Jesus. As you peruse the pages of this book, which records the beginnings of that missionary challenge taken up by the Post-War churches of Australia, you will sense again the spirit of adventure and dedication which drove our churches in what has proved to be a wonderfully rewarding missionary task.
Geoff Waugh has done a wonderful job of drawing together the many threads which have been woven together to make the fabric of what we are able to stand back and marvel at as we now are aware of the activities of the Baptist Union of PNG.
Many hundreds of missionaries and many thousands of faithful Christians from our Australian churches have contributed to this modern missionary endeavour which has now exceeded the vision of those who commenced the task. We can now look back over these past six decades with much gratitude to God and see a vital indigenous church functioning in PNG in a part of that country still emerging from “The Stone Age” when we commenced our task.
Our world has now changed almost beyond belief over these past decades, but the task still remains of reaching the multitudes of people who have never heard the name of Jesus. My prayer is that God will use the story Geoff has documented to challenge our 21st Century fellow believers, to move into our modern world with a similar faith and dedication as that which was demonstrated during the second half of the 20th Century by our Australian Baptists.
Part 1: Pioneer Mission History
1. Beginnings of the Baptist New Guinea Mission
2. The Church is Born: the first baptisms
3. The Church Grows: community transformation
Pioneer mission centres
Pioneer mission development
Part 2: Pioneer Mission Teaching
4. Trails and trials: mission life in the highlands
2nd edition 2009 – with updates of community and ecological transformation in the 21st Century.
Using eyewitness accounts, Geoff Waugh takes you inside the hearts and minds of people in revivals spanning the last three centuries. Beginning with the Moravians in 1727, this book gives first-person reports of revivals in Europe, America, Canada, Africa, India, Korea, Chile and more, including recent revivals.
Dr C Peter Wagner, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena:
I know of no other book like this one that provides rapid-fire, easy-to-read, factual literary snapshots of virtually every well-known revival since Pentecost.
As I read this book, I was thrilled to see how God has been so mightily at work in so many different times and places. I felt like I had grasped the overall picture of revival for the first time, and I was moved to pray that God, indeed, would allow me not to be just an observer, but rather a literal participant in the worldwide outpouring that will soon come. As you read the book, I am sure you will be saying the same thing.
By Rev Dr John Olley, former principal Perth Baptist Theological College:
A Goldmine of Inspiration
What a goldmine of inspiring details! Readers may have heard of some of the revivals described in this book, but Geoff Waugh’s comprehensive and up-to-date book provides a global perspective of the unexpected and transforming work of the Holy Spirit around the globe from the 18th century to today. Read, be inspired and encouraged – and open to ways in which the Spirit ‘blows where he wills’.
By Romulo Nayacalevu, Fiji lawyer and UN representative:
The first time I read this book, I couldn’t put it down. Not only were the stories researched with clear and concise data, but they provide an account of revivals that blew my mind away. As a person interested in seeing the winds of the Spirit blow in our churches and communities, I was truly impacted reading through history’s mighty revivals. Dr. Waugh’s simple yet provoking stories of men and women who dared make a difference and in being available for God was used mightily, is but a true story of this humble man of God whom I have had the privilege of working alongside following the revival winds in the Pacific. Once you read this book, you will not want to put it down as the stories come alive again, showing us the heart of a man who is passionate about revivals and seeing God move especially in our communities. Dr Waugh’s book is a must read to all who are passionate about letting the Holy Spirit do his work in their lives, in their church and in their community. An inspirational read.
By Romulo Nayacalevu, 15 Apr 2010
Dr James Haire – Former Head, School of Theology, Griffith University, Brisbane:
This work of the Rev. Dr. Geoff Waugh is of great significance. In it he has provided a comprehensive overview of the major revivals during the last three centuries. What is particularly important is the way in which we are enabled, through Dr. Waugh’s work, to see how God has acted in all kinds of ways, through unexpected people, in unexpected situations, to bring about revival. Geoff Waugh is respected for his integrity, his communication skills, and his passion for mission and renewal. Churches and Christians around the world will benefit greatly from this timely contribution.
Rev. Dr. Tony Cupit, Former Director of Evangelism, Baptist World Alliance:
Flashpoints of Revival is a good overview of the major revivals that have taken place in history, especially more recent history. It will be a compendium for historians and others interested in the subject for a long time to come. I doubt if there is a resource quite like it for logical progression and comprehensive treatment.
Rev Dr Naomi Dowdy, Trinity Christian Centre, Singapore:
Flashpoints of Revival has brought many hours of interesting reading. It is very informative and up to date concerning revivals both past and present. I am confident that this book will be well received by many scholars and historians.
Rev Dr Stuart Robinson, Crossway Baptist Church, Melbourne, Australia:
Geoff Waugh has broken new ground by pulling together evidence of divine impacts on people in revival. He emphasizes the place of prayer and repentance in our response to God’s awesome sovereignty and might. This is a book which will inspire you and help you to persist until the earth is “filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord”.
Bishop Ralph E. Wicks, Anglican Church of Australia:
I read Flashpoints of Revival with much interest and enjoyment. The Revd Geoff Waugh has offered us a comprehensive account of spiritual renewal over the centuries. Whilst one of the truly great spiritual renewals has occurred in the latter half of the twentieth century, it finds its genesis in the Book of Acts. Amazing signs of God’s power and love have occurred in the Christian communities which have been open to revival. Those communities have seen increasing membership. The churches which have closed their minds to charismatic renewal have seen decline in membership. I praise God for the Holy Spirit movement in our time.
Rev John E Mavor, Former President of the Uniting Church in Australia:
The Rev Dr Geoff Waugh is well able to write about the stories and experiences of revival. He has been a careful and sympathetic student of revival experiences in many parts of the world. In churches that need God’s power for great tasks it is important that God’s action in other places be studied. Geoff Waugh has made a crucial contribution to that task.
Rev Tim Hanna, Former Minister, Gateway Baptist Church, Brisbane, Australia:
I love learning about revival and this book adds to that hunger. Geoff Waugh, with great integrity and detailed research draws together much information that will inspire the reader. This is an extension of Geoff’s many years of contribution in the area of renewal and revival as editor of the Renewal Journal. Geoff has initiated renewal activities in many denominations in Australia and has participated actively as a member in the growth of Gateway Baptist Church in Brisbane.
Rev Dr Lewis Born, Former Moderator, Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church:
Dr Geoff Waugh’s work has a global relevance, which he has applied in the Australian context. As a fellow Australian I am appreciative. My appreciation is greatly enhanced by a deep respect and affection for the author. He is a competent teacher, an excellent communicator, an informed, disciplined renewalist and an experienced educator. All these qualities combine to commend the author and his work.
Pastor Neil Miers, President, Christian Outreach Centre, Australia:
Geoff Waugh places current outpourings of the Holy Spirit in historical context. In 1993 I said that this move of God would go round the world. It has. It is breaking out and touching millions of lives. Geoff’s work helps us understand more about God’s mighty work in our time.
Yvonne Le Maistre, Australian:
A “MUST READ”
This exciting book is a powerful testimony of the Holy Spirit Revival Fire in action spanning the centuries from the 18th to the present day. Immediately engaging and easy to read, Geoff draws insights and keys that are not only relevant and pertinent from their day, but inspire our most earnest application.
A “MUST READ” for all who crave REVIVAL in our time.