The decade of evangelism and harvest in the 1990s has already seen astounding revival fire throughout the world, unprecedented in all history.
Church history and current revivals include times when God moves in great power with mighty visitations. We are living through that now, and there's more to come.
* The early church saw it. Read Acts! At Pentecost 3,000 were won in one day. Soon after that there were 5,000 more. Then great multitudes of men and women. They had the reputation of turning their world upside down (Acts 17:6).
* Missionary expansion continued to see it. For example, Patrick in Ireland and Augustine in England saw strong moves of God and thousands converted with many signs and wonders reported.
* The Moravians saw it. On Wednesday 17 August 1727 the Moravian colony in Germany was overwhelmed and filled with the Spirit at their communion service. Their leader, 27 year old Count Nicholas Zinzendorf, said it was like being in heaven. That month they began a continuous prayer meeting called the Hourly Intercession with people praying in teams for an hour at a time day and night. That non-stop prayer meeting went for 100 years. Within 25 years they had sent out 200 missionaries, more than all the Protestants had done in two centuries.
* The American colonies saw it. 50,000 were converted in 17345. Jonathan Edwards described the characteristics of that move 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.
* 1739 saw astonishing moves of God in England. On 1st January the Wesleys and Whitefield and 60 others, Methodists and Moravians, met 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. In February 1739 Whitefield started preaching to the Kingswood coal miners in the open fields with about 200 attending. 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).
* David Brainerd, missionary to the North American Indians from 1743 to his death at 29 in 1749 saw a powerful visitation of God in October 1745. Whole communities were changed by the power of the Spirit. Crime and drunkenness dropped, idolatry was abandoned and marriages repaired.
* Powerful revival touched America in 1800, especially the frontier territory of Kentucky. Thousands were converted. Many strange reactions accompanied the move of the Spirit then, including strong shaking and loud cries.
* John Hunt, a pioneering Methodist missionary in Fiji, wrote in his journal about revival there in October 1845. The Spirit fell on the people in meetings and in their homes. There were loud cries of repentance, confession, long meetings, simultaneous praying aloud, and some being overwhelmed (Birtwhistle 1954:133).
* Jeremiah Lanphier, a city missioner, began a weekly noon prayer meeting in New York in September 1857. By October it grew into a daily prayer meeting attended by many businessmen. By March 1858 newspapers carried front page reports of over 6,000 attending daily prayer meetings in New York and Pittsburgh, and daily prayer meetings were held in Washington at five different times to accommodate the crowds. By May 1859, 50,000 of New York's 800,000 people were new converts. New England was profoundly changed by the revival and in several towns no unconverted adults could be found! Charles Finney preached in those days.
* During September 1857, the same month the prayer meetings began in New York, 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.
* Throughout 1859 the same deep conviction and lasting conversions revived thousands of people in Wales, England and Scotland. One tenth of Wales became new converts. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Baptist 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 in a church where people prayed continually and had seen continual growth.
Twentieth Century Awakenings
* From October 1904 Evan Roberts in his twenties, formerly a miner and blacksmith, saw God move powerfully during the Welsh revival in answer to his and others' persistent prayers. 100,000 were converted in Wales during 19045. Churches filled from 10 a.m. till after midnight every day for two years, bringing profound social change to Wales.
* William Seymour began a Mission at Azusa Street in Los Angeles on Easter Saturday, 14 April 1906 with about 100 attending, both blacks and whites. It grew out of a cottage prayer meeting. Revival there drew people from around the nation and overseas and launched Pentecostalism as a world wide movement.
* Revival in Korea touched the nation in 1907. Presbyterian missionaries, hearing of revival in Wales, 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. That became a characteristic of Korean prayer meetings. Revival continues there now.
* In the Communist Soviet Union the Spirit of God moved in great power from the revolution of 1917 to 1927 and churches grew and multiplied rapidly. Baptists in the Ukraine, for example, grew from a few thousand to 100,000 in that decade, which was followed by savage persecution.
* The famous cricketer and missionary, C T Studd reported on revival in the Belgian Congo 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. ... This particular one can best be described as a spiritual tornado. People were literally flung to the floor or over the forms, yet no one was hurt. ... 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' (Pratney 1984:267).
* The famous East African revival began in Rwanda in June 1936 and rapidly spread to the neighbouring countries of Burundi, Uganda and the Congo (now Zaire), then further around. The Holy Spirit moved upon mission schools, spread to churches and to whole communities, producing deep repentance and changed lives. Anglican Archdeacon Arthur PittPitts wrote in September, 'I have been to all the stations where this Revival is going on, and they all have the same story to tell. The fire was alight in all of them before the middle of June, but during the last week in June, it burst into a wild flame which, like the African grass fire before the wind, cannot be put out' (Osborn 1991:21).
* The Holy Spirit fell dramatically on a small prayer group of 8 people in Argentina in 1948, and their church immediately exploded with many signs and wonders and healings. Some converts in that move of God were in Bible College in June 1951 when the Spirit fell on them there. The college prayed for 4 months with intense weeping, and many astounding prophecies including that the largest stadiums in Argentina would be filled soon for Christian meetings. That happened in 1954 with the visit of Tommy Hicks. The largest stadium seating 110,000 was filled for weeks as 300,000 made commitments and hundreds were healed each night for three months.
* God moved upon the mountain town of Soe in Timor on Sunday 26 September 1965. That night people heard the sound of a tornado wind and flames above the Reformed Church building prompted police to set off the fire alarm. Healings and evangelism increased dramatically. Hundreds of thousands were converted. About 90 evangelistic teams were formed which functioned powerfully with spiritual gifts. The first team saw 9,000 people converted in two weeks in one town alone. In the first three years of this revival 200,000 became Christians in Timor, and on another small island where few had been Christians 20,000 became believers.
* God's power visited Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, on Tuesday 3 February 1970 at the regular morning chapel commencing at 10 o'clock. 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. Teams of students visited 16 states and saw several thousand conversions through their witnessing in one week. Over 1,000 teams went out in the first six weeks.
* The Jesus Movement exploded in 1971 among hippie and counter culture youth in America in the early seventies. Thousands were baptised in the ocean. Vital new groups like Calvary Chapel led by Chuck Smith emerged and multiplied rapidly. Newspapers of the movement included the Hollywood Free Paper which grew from a circulation of 10,000 to over 150,000 in two years; Truth merged with Agape and printed 100,000. Right On! grew from 20,000 to 100,000 circulation (Pratney 1984:231).
* In 1971 Bill McLeod, a Canadian Baptist pastor, 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. By the weekend an amazing spirit gripped the people. Many confessed their sins publicly. Meetings had to be moved to the Civic Auditorium seating 2000. This spread to other churches as well.
* In September 1973 Todd Burke arrived in Cambodia on a one week visitor's visa, later extended. Just 23 years old, he felt a strong call from God to minister there. By the end of September he had seen hundreds healed and saved. A virile church grew rapidly, later buried after the communist coup of 1975. By 1978 a million Cambodians had been killed. Still the decimated church survives, and is growing again.
* In 1979 John Wimber began pastoring a fellowship which his wife Carol had begun in their home. Their Vineyard Fellowship grew rapidly with their prayerful worship, powerful evangelism and a growing healing ministry. On Mother's Day in May, 1981, a young man gave his testimony at the evening service and called on the Holy Spirit to come in power. Revival broke out at that service as hundreds were dramatically filled with the Spirit. In the next four months they baptised 700 new converts. The church grew to 5,000 in a decade and commenced many other Vineyard fellowships.
* The church in China continues to see God's strong move amid great persecution, torture and killing which still continues. 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. Evangelists who saw 3040 converted in each village they visited in the eighties now report 300400 or more being converted in their visits. Some villages are experiencing a visitation of God where the whole village becomes Christian.
* Nagaland, a state in the NorthEast of India, began to experience revival in the 1960s and has continued in revival. By the early 1980s 85% of the population had become Christians (Mills 1990:40).
* Missionaries were expelled from Burma in the 1960s but the church continues to grow. A baptismal service at the Kachin Baptist Centennial Convention in 1977 saw 6,000 people baptised in one day.
* During the 1980s the 200 missionaries of the Philippine Missionary Fellowship each organised daily prayer group meetings at 7 p.m. to pray for the growth of the church. They report that within a couple of years this directly resulted in the formation of 310 new churches (Robinson 1992:13).
* Revival has been spreading in the Pacific Islands, especially in the Solomons since JulyAugust 1970 when God moved powerfully in the nation, especially in meetings with Muri Thompson a Maori evangelist. The Spirit came in power, producing deep and loud repentance, much confession, signs and wonders, and transformed churches. Teams have gone from the Solomons to many other countries, sparking many other revivals.
* Engas in the Baptist mission area of the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea had a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit from Sunday 16 September 1973, as the village pastors preached in their services after attending meetings during the previous week led by visitors from the Solomon Islands. Many were saved. Many were delivered from evil spirits. Many were healed. The church grew rapidly.
* The Huli speaking people of the United Church in Tari in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea also experienced revival from August 1974, with much confession, many tears, and deliverance from spirit powers. That revival spread to surrounding areas also.
* On Thursday afternoon 10 March, 1977 at Duranmin near the West Irain border of Papua New Guinea, Diyos Wapnok the principal of the Baptist Bible College spoke to about 50 people. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and great joy. Keith and Joan Bennet of Gateway were there. 3,000 were converted in the next three years. They had daily prayer meetings in the villages and many healings and miracles.
* Australian Aborigines on Galiwin'ku (Elcho Island) experienced revival from Wednesday 14 March 1979. Djiniyini Gondarra had returned from holidays that day and people met in his manse for prayer that night where the Spirit fell on them, as at Pentecost. They met all night and many were filled with the Spirit and many healed. The movement spread rapidly from there throughout Arnhem Land.
* In the Sepik lowlands of northern Papua New Guinea a visitation of God burst on the churches at Easter 1984, sparked again by Solomon Island pastors. There was repentance, confession, weeping and great joy. Stolen goods were returned or replaced, and wrongs made right.
* Jobson Misang, an indigenous youth worker in the United Church reported on a move of God in the North Solomons Province of Papua New Guinea in 1988. For 8 weekends straight he led camps where 3,500 took part and 2,000 were converted.
* The Evangelist Training Centre of the Lutheran church in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea had a visitation of God on Thursday night 4 August 1988. Crowds stayed up most of the night as the Spirit touched people deeply, many resting in the Spirit, others praying in tongues. Students went out on powerful mission igniting fires of the Spirit in the villages.
* On Saturday 6 May 1989 the Spirit of God fell on Waritzian village in Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands. For three days the people were drunk in the Spirit. Healing and miracles occurred. On the Monday they burned their magic and witchcraft fetishes. The area had been a stronghold of spirit worship. Students from the Lutheran Training Centre were involved that weekend.
Harvest in the 1990s
* The CBNTV (Christian Broadcasting Network) 700 Club with Pat Robertson reported 6 million conversions in their work worldwide in 1990, which was more than the previous 30 years of results combined.
* Revival swept Cuba in 1988. One A.O.G. church had 100,000 visitors in 6 months! In central Cuba a miraculous healing in one church led to nine days of meetings in which 1,200 people were saved. The pastors were imprisoned, but the revival continued. In another church over 15,000 accepted Christ in three months. In 1990 an A.O.G. pastors whose congregation never exceeded 100 meeting once a week suddenly found himself conducting 12 services a day for 7,000 people (Robinson 1995).
* In the 1980s Christians in East Germany started to form small prayer groups of ten to twelve persons to pray for peace. By October 1989, 50,000 people were involved in Monday night prayer meetings. In 1990, when these praying people moved quietly into the streets, their numbers swelled to 300,000 and the wall came down (Robinson 1992:14).
* In 1990 a bloodless revolution freed Mongolia from Russian rule. Within two years more than 500 people became Christian in that formerly resistant nation. A young girl was the first in her area to accept Christ. Now churches are growing in Mongolia where there were none before 1990..
* Christians in Iran have recently grown in number from 2,700 to over 12,000 according to Abe Ghaffari of Iranian Christians International. An additional 12,000 Iranian Christians live in Western nations. Disillusionment with harsh Islamic law has opened Iran to the Gospel (United Prayer Track News, No. 1., Brisbane, 1993).
* Harvest has begun among the Kurds who have been hounded into refugee camps where Christians have helped and comforted them. The first Kurdish church in history has resulted. Many Kurds are open to the Gospel (United Prayer Track News, No. 1, Brisbane, 1993).
* The church in the Sudan is suffering under Islamic edicts. Missionaries are expelled, pastors imprisoned, and Christians persecuted. Despite the persecution there has been phenomenal church growth reported, especially in the south and the Nuba mountains region.
* A church leader wrote from Asaba, Nigeria, in 1992, telling how their church had increased from 700 to 3,200 within 6 months. A team of just over 100 went on outreach, first in Sokoto State where they started 5 churches involving 1,225 converts within 3 months. Then they went to Bomu State where 3 branches were planted with over 1,000 converts in all. Many Moslems were converted in spite of severe persecution.
* Reports indicate that more Muslims have come to Christ in the past decade than in the previous thousand years. 'New believers are immediately tested to a degree incomprehensible to us. Many are imprisoned and some have been martyred by governments or relatives. Yet the persecution seems only to strengthen their determination and boldness. In one country, where all Christian meetings are illegal, believers rented a soccer stadium and 5,000 people gathered. Police came to disperse the meeting and left in confusion when the Christians refused to leave' (United Prayer Track News, No. 1, Brisbane, 1993).
* The church in previously resistant Nepal in the Himalayas is growing steadily. David Wang tells of a former Lama priest nicknamed Black Bravery, who has been an illiterate pastor for 15 years. By the nineties he led 43 fellowships with total of 32,000 people. Another pastor in a remote area has 40,000 Christians in his region. Most conversions in Nepal involve casting out demons to set people free (Asian Report, May/June 1991).
* Eric Alexander of the Bible Society in India wrote in 1993, 'I was in Amedabad in the month of February and was delighted to see a great revival in the Church there. I was surprised to hear that 30,000 people have accepted the Lord Jesus as their personal Saviour in the Diocese of Gujarat (Church of North India). Thousands of new converts are in the Methodist, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and Pentecostal churches. There are thousands and thousands!' (Sharing Australia, SOMA Newsletter, March 1993, p. 2).
* In OctoberNovember 1990, one small island in Indonesia saw 30,000 converted and 45,000 were baptised in another region in JanuaryFebruary 1991. This growth is among former animistic Muslims.
* Ruth Rongo from Vanuatu told of three months of evangelism ministry in 1991 where the power of God touched many villages and shocked the villagers with miracles just as in the New Testament. The church grew rapidly. Ruth was then involved in a prayer group which met after the Sunday night service. They began at 10.30 p.m. and prayed every week to 1 or 3.30 a.m.
* From May 1993 the Christian Outreach Centres in Australia have experienced a strong move of the Spirit, with much repenting, and many resting in the Spirit or drunk in the Spirit for hours, or days. Many have received visions and prophetic insights, including young people and children in the schools. Beginning at the headquarters in Brisbane it spread to their churches. It brought a new zeal for evangelism and outreach. Similarly Christian Outreach Centres overseas, especially in the Pacific, are experiencing powerful moves of the Spirit and rapid growth.
* Evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne has led meetings in the eighties and nineties with hundreds of thousands touched afresh by the Spirit of God and many thousands converted. That has sparked powerful moves of the Spirit in thousands of churches, including the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship since 20 January, 1994. An estimated 100,000 visited that church in 1994 and the revival continues. Over 7,000 churches in Great Britain have been reported to have experienced this current blessing, including a Brethren church on which the Spirit fell one Sunday overwhelming the people who then found themselves praying in tongues.
* Latin America continues to experience revival. Many healing evangelists now speak to hundreds of thousands in massive crusades, and churches continue to multiply. Some evangelists there fast and pray in an area before commencing crusades until the strongholds in that area are broken. then they report astounding moves of the Spirit of God. An estimated 3.5 million a year become Christian in Latin America now.
* Reinhard Bonnke continues to have massive healing evangelistic crusades in Africa, often with hundreds of thousands attending in the open air. In February, 1995, in spiritually resistant Ethiopia, up to 115,000 attended his meetings daily. In five days more than 100,000 made commitments to Christ and as many were filled with the Spirit and thousands received healing. Around 10 million a year are becoming Christians in Africa.
* An estimated 12 million a year are becoming Christian in China now with unprecedented moves of God's Spirit, healings, miracles, and visions of Christ. In the eighties teenage evangelist reported on 30-40 people being converted when they preached in a village. Now they report on 300-600 being converted in a village. Evangelical Christians numbered 1 million there in 1950. Now estimates exceed 100 million, with over 12 million becoming Christians each year now.
* The Jesus Film, based on Luke's gospel, has been seen by an estimated 503 million people in 197 countries, and 33 million or more have indicated decisions for Christ as a result. It has more than 6,300 prints in circulation and around 356,000 video copies. The world's most widely translated film, Jesus, has been dubbed into more than 240 languages, with 100 more in progress (National & International Religion Report, May 3, 1993, p.1).
* Pentecostal/charismatic Christians are now more than one third of all the 1,260,000 practising Christians in the world today, just one indication of how the Spirit of God is moving.
We continue to pray that the Lord will thrust us out into his harvest. To God be the glory.
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Renewal, pp. 27-35.
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