Late Twentieth Century Revivals:
Renewal and Revival
The spread of charismatic renewal continued to widen into traditions resistant to using Pentecostal or charismatic terminology but open to the impacts of the Spirit in revival. Peter Wagner labelled this development the Third Wave of renewal encompassing traditional evangelical churches, following the Pentecostal and Charismatic waves. These streams, combined with the growing networks of independent churches, characterized renewal and revival in the last third of the twentieth century. Many international evangelists promoted powerful Spirit movements in their crusades, which in turn impacted churches of all denominations. Revivals in Africa, Latin America and China produced astounding growth in independent churches in networks of renewal and revival.
International ministries from the seventies of such people as Benny Hinn, Reinhard Bonnke, Rodney Howard-Browne and John Wimber transcended denominational differences while strongly demonstrating healing evangelism.
1974 – North America (Benny Hinn)
1975 – April: Gaberone, Botswana (Reinhard Bonnke)
1979 – March: Elcho Island, Australia (Djiniyini Gondarra)
1979 – June: Port Elizabeth, South Africa (Rodney Howard-Browne)
1980 – May: Anaheim, North America (John Wimber)
1984 – June: Brugam, Papua New Guinea (Ray Overend)
1987 – November: Bougainville (Ezekiel Opet)
1988 – March: North Solomon Islands District, Papua New Guinea (Jobson Misang)
1988 – August: Kambaidam, Papua New Guinea (Johan van Brugen)
1988 – Madruga, Cuba
1989 – Henan and Anhul, China
1974 – December: North America (Benny Hinn)
Benny Hinn, born in Jaffa, Israel, lived there with his parents, five brothers and two sisters, during his youth.
Although raised as Greek Orthodox, he studied in a private Catholic school. His educational experience in the Catholic school nurtured a desire at an early age to dedicate his life to ministry. Because he lived in Israel, his studies often included an opportunity to visit the sites about which he was studying. These experiences added much to his understanding of Bible history, helping to prepare and equip him for future ministry.
A stuttering problem made speaking extremely difficult for him. Although he was a very good student, his stuttering inhibited his ability to communicate.
In July 1968, he and his family left Jaffa and emigrated to Toronto, Canada. The greatest change in his life took place occurred when some of his high school classmates shared the message of God’s love with him. He surrendered his heart and life to Jesus Christ and was born again.
Following his conversion, a deep spiritual hunger to know God more drew him to prayer and Bible reading. The Holy Spirit became his teacher and companion. He spent many hours each day alone in his room studying God’s Word, praying, worshipping, and fellowshipping with the Spirit.
This went on for more than a year. It was during this period in his life that he attended a Kathryn Kuhlman service in Pittsburgh. During the service, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit was evident as Kathryn Kuhlman talked about her friend, the Holy Spirit. That night back in Toronto, alone in his room, he whispered words that would transform his life: “Holy Spirit, Kathryn Kuhlman said you are her friend. I don’t think I know you. Can I meet you?” That was the beginning of an incredible spiritual journey for Benny Hinn.
Once while sharing his experiences with close friends, he was invited to share his story in a church meeting that evening. As he stood before the group, he was apprehensive because of his stuttering problem. But as he opened his mouth to speak, his tongue was loosed and he spoke clearly for the first time in his life.
That was Saturday, December 7, 1974. From that moment on, miracles began to take place for Benny Hinn. His family members came to know the Lord, one by one.
The ministry of Benny Hinn touches millions each year through television, Miracle Crusades, books, and pulpit ministry. He was the Pastor/Founder of World Outreach Center in Orlando, Florida, where he served a growing congregation of 12,000 each week, and then became committed to his full time evangelism and healing ministry. As an evangelist he reaches millions each year through daily television and Miracle Crusades around the world. In addition he is a best-selling author and outstanding teacher of God’s Word.
As the host of the daily half-hour television program, This Is Your Day, Benny Hinn shares the message of God’s love and miracle-working power with an international audience of millions. Through dynamic ministry, music, and miracles viewers are invited to believe for their miracle because “nothing is impossible when you put your trust in God!”
Benny Hinn is a man with a mandate from God, who told him to take the message of God’s saving and healing power to the world. He does so through the many avenues of his ministry. His anointed, Spirit-led pulpit ministry sets him apart as a man who knows and loves God. This, combined with his understanding of God’s Word, enables him to effectively communicate the biblical principles in word and deed.
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1975 – April: Gaberone, Botswana (Reinhard Bonnke)
German missionary to Africa, Reindard Bonnke (1940 ) founded Christ For All Nations (CFAN) which now ministers to millions.
Converted at nine, he had a missionary zeal. As a teenager Reinhard saw Johannesburg in South Africa in a vision of a map of Africa. At 19 he headed off to the Bible College of Wales to train as a missionary, even though he couldn’t speak English. Three months later he was preaching in English! There he learned practical principles of living by faith.
After a short pastorate in Germany where he married Anna, they left for missionary service in Africa. Working as traditional missionaries from 1967 to 1974 in Maseru, the capital of the small landlocked country of Lesotho, they saw meagre results.
Near the end of that time Reinhard’s interpreter broke down during his message at a healing meeting one Sunday morning and sank weeping to the floor because of God’s awesome presence. Waiting for the interpreter to recover Reinhard ‘heard’ the Lord speak ‘words’ which amazed him: My words in your mouth are just as powerful as my words in my own mouth.
The ‘voice’ repeated the sentence. He ‘saw’ it like a movie in Scripture Jesus told the disciples to speak in faith and it would happen. “I suddenly realised that the power was not in the mouth the power was in the Word,” said Reinhard.
Then, when the interpreter had recovered enough to speak, as he was preaching Reinhard ‘heard’ the Spirit say, “Call those who are completely blind and speak the word of authority.”
He did. About six blind people stood. He boldly proclaimed, “Now I am going to speak with
the authority of God and you are going to see a white man standing before you. Your eyes are going to open.”
He shouted, “In the name of Jesus, blind eyes open!” It shocked everyone as his voice
resonated loudly against the bare brick walls.
Then a woman’s voice shrieked, “I can see! I can see!” She had been totally blind for years. The other blind people also saw. The place erupted in excited cheers. A woman handed her crippled boy through the milling crowd to Reinhard who sensed the power of God on the boy and watched amazed as his crippled legs shook and straightened. That boy was healed. The meeting went for hours as people screamed, shouted, danced and sang.
At the end of 1974, Reinhard relocated to Johannesburg and established Christ For All Nations. Early in January, when he was ill, he had a vision of Jesus similar to the Joshua’s vision (Joshua 5:13 15). He wrote:
I was very sick. I didn’t think I would make it. I went to doctors. Nothing helped. I was crying to God: “Lord what are you doing? What is your plan?” One afternoon I retired to my study. A thirst for prayer came over me and I was hardly on my knees when I saw a most wonderful vision. I saw the son of God stand in front of me in full armour, like a general. The armour saw shining like the sun and burning like fire. It was tremendous and I realised that the Lord of Hosts had come. I threw myself at His feet. I laughed and I cried … I don’t know for how long, but when I got up I was perfectly healed.
When Bonnke flew to Gaberone in Botswana to buy time on radio there the Lord told him to hire the 10,000 seater sports stadium for a crusade. The local Pentecostal pastor who helped prepare for the crusade felt apprehensive. He had only 40 in his congregation!
The crusade in April 1974 with Reinhard’s evangelist friend Pastor Ngidi started in a hall which could seat 800. On the first night 100 attended. Healings happened every night, and people fell to the floor overwhelmed. That was new to Reinhard.
By the end of the first week 2,000 people were packed into the hall. So they moved into the stadium! Thousands attended. People were saved and healed every night and over 500 people were baptized in water within two weeks.
One night in the stadium, the Holy Spirit urged Reinhard to pray for people to be baptised in the Holy Spirit. So he asked an African co worker to give a message on the Holy Spirit.
About 1,000 people responded to the call to be baptized in the Spirit. As soon as they raised their hands they all fell, shouting and praising God in new languages on the ground. Reinhard was amazed. He had never seen anything like that before. It continued to happen in his crusades.
Eventually Reinhard used an enormous tent which could seat 30,000 people. Some of Christ For All Nations crusades in Africa have reached huge open air crowds of 600,000 to 800,000 people. Always hundreds or thousands are saved, healed and delivered as the power of God moves on the people.
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1977 – March: Min District, Papua New Guinea (Diyos Wapnok)
Pastors from the Solomon Islands spoke about their revival at a pastors and leaders conference at Goroka 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 Thursday 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.
The students experienced a light brighter than day, filling the room where they were. Many simultaneously felt convicted of unconfessed sin and cried out for mercy and forgiveness. All became aware of the majesty, authority and glory of God.
Revival had come to Duranmin and the Sepik. This glimpse of God’s greatness gave a new dimension to the students’ preaching. The movement spread beyond the churches to their unreached neighbours and to most of the villages in the whole Sepik area. Many churches of new believers were established and in the next three years at least 3,000 new believers were baptized.
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1979 – March: Elcho Island, Australia (Djiniyini Gondarra)
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.
Many unplanned and unexpected things happened every time we went from camp to camp to meet with the people. The fellowship was held every night and more and more people gave their lives to Christ, and it went on and on until sometimes the fellowship meeting would end around about midnight. There was more singing, testimony, and ministry going on. People did not feel tired in the morning, but still went to work.
Many Christians were beginning to discover what their ministry was, and a few others had a strong sense of call to be trained to become Ministers of the Word. Now today these ministers who have done their training through Nungilinya College have been ordained. These are some of the results of the revival in Arnhem Land. Many others have been trained to take up a special ministry in the parish.
The spirit of revival has not only affected the Uniting Church communities and the parishes, but Anglican churches in Arnhem Land as well, such as in Angurugu, Umbakumba, Roper River, Numbulwar and Oenpelli. These all have experienced the revival, and have been touched by the joy and the happiness and the love of Christ.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Arnhem Land has swept further to the Centre in Pitjantjatjara and across the west into many Aboriginal settlements and communities. I remember when Rev. Rronang Garrawurra, Gelung and I were invited by the Warburton Ranges people and how we saw God’s Spirit move in the lives of many people. Five hundred people came to the Lord and were baptised in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
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.
The Renewal Fellowship in Brisbane invited team from Elcho Island to minister at a combined churches Pentecost weekend in 1992. Over 20 Aborigines paid their airfare to come, saying they rarely had such opportunities. When they were asked to pray for the whites responding after their messages, they said, “We don’t know how to pray for whites. We haven’t done that.” They soon learned, and prayed with the faith and gracious insights typical for them. Asked why white churches did not invite Aborigines to minister to them, and why the revival did not touch white churches they replied softly, “You are too proud.”
A small Aboriginal community of about 30 adults with their children live at the far northern end of Elcho Island, accessible by four wheel drive over a 50 kilometre dirt track. That community has been praying daily for revival in Australia and across the world for over 20 years. They meet for prayer each morning, during the day and again each evening.
Features of this revival have been repeated in many aboriginal communities in Australia, particularly in North Queensland from July 1999. It includes the desperate, repentant prayers of a remnant of Christians, a strong impact of the Spirit of God bringing widespread confession and freedom from addiction to social vices including drunkenness, immorality and gambling, the restoration of harmonious family life and civil order with peace and joy.
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1979 – July: Port Elizabeth, South Africa (Rodney Howard-Browne)
Rodney Howard Browne has seen hundreds of thousands converted through his ministry, and many more renewed in their love for the Lord and empowered by the Holy Spirit. His ministry remains controversial because of the manifestations involved, especially laughter.
In July 1979 when he was eighteen Rodney Howard Browne of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, attended an interdenominational prayer meeting with about eighteen young people. He had been desperately crying out to God, and at that meeting he prayed with the abandonment of youth, “God, either you come down here tonight and touch me, or I’m going to die and come up there and touch you.” He began shouting “God, I want your fire.”
After crying out for twenty minutes he suddenly he felt engulfed in the fire of God, was totally overwhelmed, weeping, laughing, and praying in tongues. That continued for four days till he cried out, “God, lift it. I can’t bear it any more. … Lord, I’m too young to die, don’t kill me now.” For two weeks he felt that intense presence of God. Then that intensity lifted for about
ten years but later became common in his ministry.
In 1980, while he was ministering with a group of young people in a Methodist Church in South Africa, a woman in pain asked for prayer in the vestry before a service. He told what happened:
I got up from my seat. I was going to put my hand on her head. And I lifted my hand and got it about here … like you’d pull a six gun out of a holster and point it at somebody. And when my hand got about here, it felt like my fingertips came off, and out of my hand flowed a full volume of the anointing and the power of God, and it flowed right out of my hand and it went right in to her forehead and she crumbled in the floor. There was nobody in the room more amazed than me. And I looked down at the woman and I looked at my hand, and I’ll tell you what my hand the fire of God the anointing of God the virtue the dunamis was still coming out of my hand. It felt like my hand was a fire hose. And now you start getting nervous you think, I’d better look out where I point this thing. This thing’s loaded now.
And so the rest of the team came in, and I didn’t know what to do with it other than what we’d just done, so I said, “Lift your hands.” … Bam, theyre all out in the back of the vestry. Now I’m in trouble. If the priest comes back, I’m finished. So I went around and just managed to get them just right and sober them up and say, “Get up and pull yourself together, we’ve got to go in to the meeting.” We managed to get them all up except one girl. We had her propped between two men and got them out into the auditorium.
I get into the service, and that night I had to speak and I said to the Lord, “Lord, you know I’m not allowed to talk about Holy Ghost. You know I’m not allowed to talk about tongues. You know I’m not allowed to talk about “fall” and “power” and these words. Lord, how can we have what happened in the back room happen out here?” And the Lord said to me, “Call all those that want a blessing.” Everyone raised their hands. So I said, “All right, get up, come up, and line up.” And so I was going to go down and lay my hands on the first person’s head. And the Lord said to me, “Just be very careful, and so don’t put your hands on them because some people [will] think you’ll push them over if you do.” I take my finger, put it on the forehead of the first person and I said, “In the name of Jesus…” It looked like an angel stood there with a baseball bat and smacked them up the side of their head. And the person hit the floor. And I went down the line. Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam. The whole row was out under the power of God. Some of the people were pinned to the floor … for an hour and a half. Some of them, the moment they hit the ground they were speaking with other tongues, and we had said nothing about it. And that anointing stayed again for a period of two weeks.
Let me tell you right now for an eighteen year old to experience that kind of anointing it’s dangerous. And then suddenly, it was gone. I prayed for people, they would fall down, but it was not the same. And I thought Id lost the anointing. So now Im starting to pray to get before God and find out: “What have I done to lose the anointing, and what formula must I use to get it back?” He said, “You can’t do anything to get that anointing back. That anointing is not you. That anointing is all me. It has nothing to do with you.” He said, “I just gave you a taste of what will come later on in your ministry, if you are faithful.” He said, “If I gave it to you now, you’d destroy yourself. I can’t give it to you now. There’s no formula for it. If there was a formula for it, you’d do it and you’d get it, and you’d think it was you. From now on, whenever that anointing comes, you’ll know it’s not you and you’ll know it’s all me and you’ll have to give me all the glory and all the praise and all the honour.
Rodney Howard Browne moved to the United States in 1987 for evangelistic work. Then from April 1989 in Clifton Park, near Albany in upstate New York he experienced powerful impacts of the Spirit during his meetings. He described it this way, “The power of God fell in the place without warning suddenly. People began to fall out of their seats, rolling on the floor. The very air was moving. People began to laugh uncontrollably while there wasn’t anything funny. The less I preached, the more people were saved.”
His influence soon reached worldwide proportions, with hundreds being saved in his meetings and thousands being overwhelmed in many ways.
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1980 – May: Anaheim, North America (John Wimber)
In 1977 John Wimber began leading 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.
John Wimber summarized their story:
“Beginning some time in September of 1976, Bob Fulton, Carol Wimber, Carl Tuttle, along with others, began assembling at the home of Carl Tuttle’s sister. The agenda was simple: praying, worshipping and seeking the Lord. By the time I came several months later, the Spirit of God was already moving powerfully. There was a great brokenness and responsiveness in the hearts of many. This evolved into what became our church on Mother’s Day in 1977.
“Soon God began dealing with me about the work of the Spirit related to healing. I began teaching in this area. Over the next year and a half God began visiting in various and sundry ways. There were words of knowledge, healing, casting out of demons, and conversions.
“Later we saw an intensification of this when Lonnie Frisbee came and ministered. Lonnie had been a Calvary Chapel pastor and evangelist, being used mightily in the Jesus People Movement. After our Sunday morning service on Mother’s Day [1980 ], I was walking out the door behind Lonnie, and the Lord told me, “Ask that young man to give his testimony tonight.” I hadn’t even met him, though I knew who he was and how the Lord had used him in the past. That night, after he gave his testimony, Lonnie asked the Holy Spirit to come and the repercussions were incredible. The Spirit of God literally knocked people to the floor and shook them silly. Many people spoke in tongues, prophesied or had visions.
“Then over the next few months, hundreds and hundreds of people came to Christ as the result of the witness of the individuals who were touched that night, and in the aftermath. The church saw approximately 1,700 converted to Christ in a period of about three months.
“This evolved into a series of opportunities, beginning in 1980, to minister around the world. Thus the Vineyard renewal ministry and the Vineyard movement were birthed.”
Wimber’s controversial ministry through the Vineyard movement rapidly spread worldwide through conferences, books and music characteristic of the “Third Wave” of renewal. A term coined by C. Peter Wagner at Fuller Theological Seminary to describe the acceptance of charismata in evangelical churches which are not identified with the charismatic movement.
See also Jesus People Revival
1984 – June: Brugam, Papua New Guinea (Ray Overend)
In the Sepik lowlands of northern Papua New Guinea a new visitation of God burst on the South Seas Evangelical Churches at Easter 1984, sparked by Solomon Island pastors. It was characterised by repentance, confession, weeping and great joy. Stolen goods were returned or replaced, and wrongs made right.
Australian missionary Ray Overend reported:
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 feared that cult.
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. Revival began to move through the area, until eventually it impacted the main mission station at Brugam. Ray Overend reported:
I will never forget [Thursday] June 14th, 1984. Revival had broken out in many churches around but Brugam itself, with many station staff and many Bible College and Secondary School students, was untouched. For a whole week from 8th June a well known preacher from New Zealand (Fred Creighton) had brought studies on “Life in Christ by the power of His Spirit.” There was much very thorough teaching. On Tuesday afternoon in prayer I had a real peace that the Lord would break through in Brugam. 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 three minutes everybody rose to their feet, singing spontaneously as they rose. They were free. The battle was won. Satan was bound. They had made Christ their King! Their faces looked to heaven as they sang. They were like the faces of angels. The singing was like the singing of heaven. Deafening, but sweet and reverent.
The whole curriculum and approach at the Bible School for the area changed. Instead of having traditional classes and courses, teachers would work with the school all day from prayer times early in the morning through Bible teaching followed by discussion and sharing times during the day to evening worship and ministry. The school became a community, seeking the Lord together.
Churches which have maintained a strong biblical witness in the area 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.
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. When he went to with a team of students on outreach they prayed for an injured child who couldn’t walk. Later in the morning he saw her walking around the town. The revival had restored New Testament ministries to the church, which amazed that pastor because he had never seen that before the revival.
A significant feature of these pacific revivals has been the ministries of indigenous people to other indigenous groups, usually without western missionary involvement initially. Later, indigenous leaders have often turned to missionary teachers to explain the revival phenomena biblically, which has usually meant a fresh approach to teaching on the Holy Spirit.
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1987 – November: Bougainville (Ezekiel Opet)
Royree Jensen tells the story of powerful revival in Bougainville, east of Papua New Guinea, during the decade of war from 1988, sparked by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) to defend their land and culture from devastation caused by mining. Spiritual leaders also worried about the western evils that arrived with the mining: pornography, alchohol abuse, drugs, smoking and immorality.
Friday, November 6, 1987 marked the first supernatural revival event. It was at this time that the crisis was about to boil over. The stories of that day and the period of time that followed have been told to me by Papa Luke, a genteel man – white haired, 73 years of age, a school teacher, world-travelled. He lives on Saposa Island, 30 minutes by banana boat from Buka Island. He was a small boy during World War II and can remember the time when the Japanese invaded his island. Having lived through so much turbulence, Papa Luke now spends most of his days sitting with God. When we finally found him, he was sitting by the ocean reading his Bible.
Both teacher and story-weaver, he began to talk, vividly recalling the day the revival began, in the circular story-telling style of the Melanesian people.
“Before revival came up, I wrote a drama about God that mixed the culture with the Word of God. We had a drama group of young people who travelled around Buka area. Around this time, nine people got sick from black magic. Out of the nine, five died and four were left.
“My cousin Salome was one of the four people who didn’t die. She was brought to the hospital in Buka but she didn’t recover, so she was referred to Arawa General Hospital. She didn’t recover there. The Indian doctor told her and her husband that he had seen witchcraft in India and knew that this poison came from the witchcraft. The doctor discharged her and she came home.
“They had a ritual ceremony where they asked for the sorcerers to release her by making a sacrifice to free her. She was meant to get better but didn’t improve. After black magic failed, her brother, the chief, requested for the drama group to come back to our village and pray.
“By Sunday morning, my cousin was still sick. My family brought her to the Lotu (church service). They prayed for deliverance and healing. She got healed immediately along with the other three who were still sick. Five dead. Four healed. On that Sunday, many spiritual gifts fell. Everyone received a spiritual gift – all different kinds of gifts.
“Now the group went to the island where Salome and the others got sick. They were going to heal the island of the witchcraft that had killed the people. They put their hands into the ground without having to dig and they pulled out the poison. Their hands went through the ground to the exact spot of the bones or whatever artifacts had been used for the witchcraft. Their eyes were closed but the Holy Spirit led them to these places.” (As he told me this, he shaped his hand as they had shaped theirs – like a rigid blade extending straight from the arm.)
Walking on water
“Now things became wild, exciting and interesting. Supernatural things began to happen. By the power of the Holy Spirit, my cousin Salome discerned that there was some witchcraft poison on another nearby island (a burial site) that was put there by a sorcerer. We began to pray. While we prayed, fifteen people stood with their eyes shut. Still with their eyes shut, they began walking on the water from our island to the nearby island. The Holy Spirit led them while they walked. When they reached the other island, they put their hands into the ground and pulled out small parcels of scraped human bone. This powder was being used by sorcerers in their witchcraft rituals. They brought these parcels of scraped bones back to our island, still walking on top of the water with their eyes still shut. They did not swim.
“We prayed over the parcels and threw them away into salt water. This broke the power of witchcraft. We don’t know how they did the walking on the water except by the power of God. Plenty of people saw them walking on the water. There were plenty of eye witnesses. The distance between the two islands is one kilometre.
“The effect that this had on the island was that we became very excited about God. Many became Christians and worshipped God. It didn’t stop there. Some of our school boys and girls, including my son, visited another island. All the mothers prepared food for them to share out. My son climbed a tree leaving his plate of food for a friend. The friend ate the food and died, along with eight other children and their teacher. My pikinini only got sick.
“This was not the only group to visit that island and die so we were waking up to the fact that the island had something no good on it. We notified all the ministries around us. For one week, we fasted, prayed and read the Bible.
First we went back to the island where our 15 people had walked. We found more black magic – enough to fill a 10kg bag of rice. We prayed over it and threw it in the water. A big flying fox with legs like a man settled on top of the house where I was staying with another pastor. We could feel the wind from his wings. We rebuked this evil, black magic. It was powerful and even those who were praying fell down. This battle went on for quite a while but the people in our church were skilled in deliverance and intercession and eventually we started to win over this black magic.
“Two days later, we visited the island where the school children had died. We circled the island in a small boat worshipping God. We were all a little bit afraid. First people who could discern black magic went ashore. Then those who could fight black magic went ashore. Then we all went ashore.
“We stood together and worshipped God. Then we split into two groups, heading around the island in opposite directions. Just before we joined up, one team stood under a tree and looked up. They saw a live bird that they knew was part of black magic. They said, ‘In the name of Jesus come down.’ The bird died and began to fall. By the time it hit the ground, only the skeleton of the bird was left.
“One month before, some plantation workers had been on the island. A man had sat under that tree to rest. He took sick, went to hospital and died. However, after we fought the black magic, it was okay. Even today, 20 years later, people live there and no one gets sick. There is good food, good fish and everything grows. It is no longer a witchcraft island.
“These things marked the beginning of the revival. Demonic spirits were being chased out of our land.”
Albert was a young Christian during the crisis. He adds: “I now see, feel and walk on the power of God. I didn’t know these things when I was a young Christian but I saw it in others. There were those who were operating on the high voltage power of God. These were people who would walk through a hail of bullets and not get hit. I would say that the host of heaven caught some of the bullets for me.
“There was one instance in 1993 when I was leading a group of chiefs from up in the mountains to sign a peace agreement. I was not doing this job of my own accord but because it was my job to do. I prayed to my God, “The fighting is all around us and I am a Christian. If You are going to go with me, talk with me tonight, Papa God. I don’t want to lead them through the bullets.
“At 2 a.m., my elder son who was three spoke in English. He did not know English. He said, ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, you can go.’ He was fast asleep. Fifteen years later, the memory still brings tears to my eyes and a reverent awe of God. This was not the time of meetings, conferences, mobile phones or encouragement. This was a hard time and we only had God.
“I woke up in the morning with peace. That day, 15 of the chiefs started to run back to the mountains. I told them that God was with us and that not one single man must run away even if there is gunfire. I told them that, if one runs, then the guns will get us but that if no one runs, we will all be safe.
“There was a place called Ambush Corner always maintained by BRA. They knew where I was taking these chiefs and why. They didn’t want anyone to sign peace papers. I was in the front of the line. The Holy Spirit stopped me and I heard a voice tell me to take the chiefs to one side. I stopped them and said, ‘We are about to enter Ambush Corner and I am afraid that there are people ready to kill us. However, last night, I felt the peace of God. Don’t run but stand strong beside me.’ We walked ahead and the BRA descended upon us. I said to them, ‘In Jesus’ name, I am a servant of God.’
“They pointed their weapons to the sky and fired them off, then they pointed their guns at us but the guns wouldn’t fire. The chiefs kept following me saying that the peace must come from God. The peace we enjoy today in Bougainville is because of that document.
“One time, I was holding my son on my shoulders going for a tramp. We came to a flooded river which was odd because there had been no rain so we took another route. Later I found out that there was an ambush waiting to kill us. The unnatural flood changed our direction.”
During the late 1980s when war erupted, life was going on in its exotic daily routines in the jungle. Yet there was one clan leader who decided to stay in his village, 2 kms from the coastline and about 80 kms from Panguna Mine. Such villages were caught between flying bullets. Pastor Ezekiel made a home there he made called Aero Centre. Here are just a few stories that have been told directly to me some ten years since the guns were laid down.
A boy’s story: “During the crisis, PNGDF men entered the little house I lived in with my mother. I was 12 years old. They demanded kerosene and food at gunpoint. My mother was a Christian and so she began to pray. They held a gun to her head but she said, ‘No’. Kerosene was more valuable than gold for us. Without it, we couldn’t run our home. The soldier pulled the trigger. The gun didn’t go off. All this time, I watched my mother. They pulled the trigger a second time. The gun didn’t go off. The soldier went outside our hut, pulled the trigger and it went off. The gun was loaded and it exploded. These soldiers realized that God was with my mother. They quickly ran away. We kept our kerosene.”
By the time that 12 year old boy told me this story, he was a young man, yet the awe of God was still on him. He had witnessed his mother’s faith in God and he is still walking in the fear of God.
Ruth, a vivacious school teacher recalls her experiences of being a woman during the crisis and the revival: “In the time of the crisis, God helped my family in a big way. We had no money to buy clothes, food and soap. God showed us how to use coconut and lemon to wash our clothes to make them white as snow. He showed us how to use coconut oil from our own coconut trees for our lamps. Before the crisis, we used to buy kerosene for our lamps. Now there was no money and no kerosene. Salt was also not available so He showed us how to cook our food in salt water from the ocean, adding grated coconut for our flavours. Sometimes we would boil the ocean water until all we had left was the powdery salt. In these ways, God showed me that He loved women in their domestic situation; that even in a crisis He could provide all we needed by looking after our clothes and our bodies.
“God also blessed the ground during the crisis. Food that we hadn’t planted appeared – sweet potato, yam, taro, casava, chinese taro, banana and other fruit. This didn’t just happen in one place. It happened all over the island. In fact, there is now a category of sweet potato called crisis kaukau!”
Jane: “When the crisis came, people ran away to the mountains leaving their chickens behind. It seemed that those chickens found their way to our village so we had plenty of meat for a long time during the crisis.”
10 years after the surrender of guns, young men and women – some married with children – are going to great lengths to complete primary and secondary education. Schools are being built or re-built but teachers are few and often minimally qualified. Because of the crisis, those who should now be teaching are themselves still in formal education. Those educated before the crisis are helping those who are now studying. Those who are uneducated are making their living from working the cocoa plantations.
With no help from the neighbouring giant, Australia, and with the confusion and betrayal of brother fighting brother, they turned to God, sometimes praying from 6 in the morning to 6 at night. As the saying goes, “When God is all you have you find that He is enough.”
Pastor Ezekiel Opet and his Wife, Jane
The head of the clan living in Aero Centre was, and still is, a remarkable man known everywhere as simply ‘Pastor’ and rightly so. He is generally regarded as a leader in the revival of the church in Bougainville. Ezekiel is softly spoken and powerful in word. His wife is beautiful, equal to him in every way.
I asked Ezekiel, “Why did you stay in the village during the crisis instead of fleeing to the mountain jungles?”
He replied, “It was my pastoral responsibility. The presence of God came so close to us during those times. We had never experienced God before like this. It became a very big encouragement. It filled in the space where perhaps our neighbours – village by village and nation by nation – could have and should have been.”
Pastor Ezekiel had been a United Church pastor since his training for the ministry. He had received the spiritual experience known as the Baptism in the Holy Spirit at the time of his salvation. This experience turns knowledge into spiritual energy and liturgy into dynamic power. Knowing about God is exchanged for knowing Him personally. Icy religion is melted by joy and hope. It was not surprising, therefore, that he became a key player in the revival in Bougainville.
Pastor Ezekiel was told to close down his Bible School. Because of the crisis, all of the schools on the island had been closed down and he was to comply. He refused. He said that it was not his place to close it down. God had opened it and God would have to shut it. He was viciously beaten as a result of this decision, and on a number of other occasions. Over 500 people, including many women, have graduated from his Bible School. Many are now missionaries in other countries.
Another extraordinary side effect of the crisis was the subsistence diet. Many times I have heard it said that they came out of the crisis 10 years younger than they used to be because all the refined food was taken out of their diet. They ate from the soil. “Our bodies got healthy and strong.
A Prayer Mountain emerged deep into the crisis years. Its origins were mysterious and its role in the crisis and in the revival was equally other-world.
A contributing factor to the glory of God over Bougainville and to the revival has to have been this Prayer Mountain. In Bougainville and in other parts of the world, it is not uncommon for a geographical site to be set aside as a prayer mountain. However, when I began to hear stories of this one particular Prayer Mountain, I knew that God had met with this people in a rare manner, not unique, but certainly rare.
Pastor Ezekiel’s strength and focus on God encouraged others to become giants in faith also. David Gagaso is one such giant. This strong and good looking young man with a soft, melodic voice was the one who received the word from God about this mountain.
David made a choice as a young man to live an uncompromising life of faith in Jesus Christ. He was diligent in his pursuit of spiritual things leading him to a series of miraculous experiences. Phenomena in the night sky, visions, and voices helped him locate a certain mountain on which he, his brother and friends built a bush house for prayer. This became known as Prayer Mountain. In the context of the chronology of the crisis, the Prayer Mountain phenomenon was most intense just prior to the final attempts by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and Papua New Guinea to bring peace to the island.
He said, “In that bush house, the presence of God came down. The place was totally covered and filled with thick fog and smoke. We could hardly see other people in this little house. Pastor began using Prayer Mountain, hosting prayer seminars and prayer programs.
“We began to see manifestations of God. People began to receive songs and others saw angels. We were lost in prayer and fasting.
“If Pastor was going out to speak at a crusade, we would first go up the mountain to pray. Then, while he was speaking, people would stay on the mountain praying. My older brother saw an angel dressed in white.
“When people were disobedient, lightning would appear and wrap itself around the people. For instance, God had showed us how to build the house on Prayer Mountain. It was hard work. We cut the trees down the mountain and then carried the wood up the mountain to the place where we were building. One day, three men decided to go hunting instead of doing this hard work. The lightning appeared and wrapped itself around them. They nearly died. They smelt bad and could hardly speak. They were out of their senses. After an hour, they began to talk to each other, asking how they felt about the lightning. My brother told them the reason for the lightning – that they didn’t follow instructions.
“In 1999, we replaced the bush house with one that had a tin roof. At the opening service for that house, I felt the presence of Jesus Christ as we were worshipping. Everyone was flat on the ground, face down. Even the musicians were on the ground with their instruments. It was an awesome incredible experience for me that I will never forget. We had to stop the whole service because we enjoyed God’s presence so much. It took us a very long time to come back to the rest of the service. We could not pray or dance or sing but could only be flat on the ground before the presence of God.
“Normally before people set foot on Prayer Mountain, the sky would be clear. When people entered the prayer house, cloud would cover up the whole place even though there were no other clouds in the sky.
“We never slept at Prayer Mountain, but would always come back to the foot of the mountain to sleep.
“By 2004, we were not using Prayer Mountain any more. Until this present day, pig hunters who go up there still see footprints in the dusty floor of men walking inside the house of prayer. This is at least six years after the time of serious prayer. These are the footprints of angels who still enjoy the presence of God in that house.”
David paused and then continued. “Our experience in the crisis produced people who can be involved in missions. We are not scared about any situation. We learn language easily; we eat anything or nothing; we sleep anywhere; we need nothing; we carry fire.
“I personally believe that God is going to raise up very aggressive missionaries from our island. One of the things I believe is that the Church should be involved in mission. Our Church in Bougainville is now reaping what we were planting up there in Prayer Mountain. We prayed for Africa and now we have missionaries there. Same with Indonesia. We are becoming the answer to our own prayers. I myself am about to go to a place that is not safe for Christians.”
Jane took up the story. “Prayer Mountain was where the Spirit of God fell. Things happened that are foreign to the western mind.
“It started when we took Bible School students up to Prayer Mountain for a retreat. We planned to be there for two weeks, praying and fasting, before sending them out on a ministry trip.
“At the time of this two week stay on Prayer Mountain with the students, we were not thinking in terms of a revival. We were just being obedient to why we believed God had established Prayer Mountain.
“Soon, people were lifted up off the ground during worship and prayer. One girl was lifted up, flew past me and landed outside the building. Other students went through the wall, breaking it on their flight, landing outside.
“We tried to stop them; to quiet them down; to bring them back inside the building. But there was a fear of God and a fear of the unknown. We were afraid that if we stopped it, we would be touching something that was God.
“One time Ezekiel was up Prayer Mountain. On his way back to Aero Centre, he met two ‘white men’ who were glowing. They asked him where he was going. He said, ‘Home’ and then passed them. He turned around. They were gone.
“Another time a group were cleaning the building at the top of Prayer Mountain. They arrived to find footprints all around the house. You must understand that this is not a place where anyone lived and those on cleaning duty would have seen anyone leave the house on their way up the mountain. They knew straight away that these were the footprints of angels.
“I have to say that, even though we do not now go up the Prayer Mountain, the impact still remains. When we meet for worship, we don’t need to be gee-ed up. Rather, we begin to worship God from the start. We are aware of the danger of following a routine or a program.”
There is no doubt that this mountain played a crucial part in both the revival and in the beginning of the end of the crisis. Ezekiel’s adds:
“Before Prayer Mountain, and into the second year of the crisis, people were singing worship songs to God. The sound of the singing was heard around the mountains.
“When it was time to be in church, people would run to the front of the church, casting themselves down on the smooth rocks that were alongside the front of the church. There were times when the dirt floor of the church was indented by the banging of heads in repentance and worship.
“Then came Prayer Mountain. We stopped at the bottom of the mountain to confess our sins and if we didn’t do this well enough on the first stop, such conviction would come on us that we would stop again. Finally we would reach the prayer house at the top of the mountain and the presence of God would come down. We wouldn’t talk but could only whisper because of the awareness of the Holy Spirit. The day came, after the building was completed, for its dedication. I put a big ceremony on the doors and then we went inside. When we were about to sing the first song we found that we couldn’t stand. We were prostrate on the floor before God. Prophecy after prophecy came.
“We had not expected this. The prophecies spoke against the war. In fact, when the Peace-Keeping Forces arrived in Bougainville, God reminded us of the prophecies from that meeting. What is more, we were praying on Prayer Mountain when they arrived in Bougainville.
“Another time, the Holy Spirit showed Himself by thunder and lightning. I became aware that we needed to keep ourselves holy while on Prayer Mountain. Twice, lightning came and hit the ground. People tried to run away but a lightning bolt picked them up and rolled them all over Prayer Mountain. Seeing these things increased the fear of God.
“It was during this time, around 1995, that I returned from Fiji where I had completed a divinity degree at the theological college. A big hit of revival was happening at the mountain. One of the ladies, an unschooled woman who could not read or write, stood and told me to put knowledge aside and to learn from the Holy Spirit. Straight away, my ears were opened to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. This was now 1996. When thunder came, she would write. When the thunder was over, she would stop writing. People would have to stand beside her to keep paper up to her, so fast was she writing. I was asked to read what she was writing to the people. I remember saying that these were words of encouragement to us during the time of crisis and that it was biblical.
“During the revival, people were writing songs prolifically. One of the great songs of the revival was:
Lord I give my heart in worship as I stand in Your presence
I bow down and I say there is none like You
And my worship captures Your heart
And Your presence lifts me up
And takes me to Your holy place where I can commune with You.
Pastor Ezekiel told me of its final days. “By 1999, a prophetic message came that we had to leave the mountain. God began to speak from John 4:21-24. The message of those verses came to me as,“I am no longer just in that mountain. Meet Me here as you met Me on the mountain.”
“This process of obedience gave us further understanding of the holiness and presence of God. “We began to question God. “Why are we not experiencing what we experienced before?”
“Then God began to give us the understanding that Prayer Mountain was not just for ourselves but was for taking the Gospel to other people. He spoke to us about mission. Now we were to plant churches and experience things that used to only happen on Prayer Mountain. We have done this. For instance, we now even have missionaries in Africa.
“We had to learn about the omnipresence of God. Some young people went back to Prayer Mountain to try to get back what we had experienced but nothing happened. It was a time and a season and a place for a specific purpose.
“In 2000, we launched Christian Missionary Fellowship in Bougainville. We are now sending missionaries into PNG and to the rest of world.”
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1988 – March-April: Solomon Islands District, PNG (Jobson Misang)
Jobson Misang, an indigenous youth worker in the United Church reported in a letter on a revival movement in the Solomon Islands District 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 included 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 criticized for spending too 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.
This is a further example of a strong indigenous Spirit movement needing biblical teaching and guidance to avoid becoming a cult or sliding into error.
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1988 – August: Kambaidam, Papua New Guinea (Johan van Bruggen)
Johan van Bruggen, a missionary at the Lutheran Evangelist Training Centre at Kambaidam near Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, wrote in his circulars:
Tuesday afternoon, August 2, 1988: I was by myself watching a video of Bill Subritzky, an Anglican Evangelist in New Zealand, who has been mightily blessed by the Lord with ministries of healing and of deliverance from demons. A large group of Anglican Christians had been baptised in the Holy Spirit and were on the point of receiving gifts of the Spirit. I watched quite unemotionally when Bill said: “I will mention the gifts slowly and then just let the Holy Spirit impress on your mind which gift(s) he will give you.”
He had just started with the first one: Words of Wisdom when suddenly I was surrounded by Divine Presence. When it started I wanted to run away, scared stiff! But back came the words: Don’t hold back, do not fear! So I stayed and said, “Come Holy Spirit, fill me completely.” Now I know what it is to be drunk in the Spirit. I couldn’t stand on my feet. I slumped on the bed, hands raised, trembling all over, tingling all over. I felt something moving up my gullet and I just said, “Out, out,” and I literally threw up. Don’t worry, I didn’t make a mess. I just got rid of the spirit of fear and doubt! And oh, I felt absolutely fantastic. I cried and laughed and I must have been quite a sight! It rained hard and that rain was a solid muffler! Nobody knew. I came around again because there was the noise of the video set with a blank screen. The programme was finished and I did not know how. I have had earlier fillings of the Holy Spirit but nothing like this time with that sense of being overwhelmed.
Then came Thursday, August 4, 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, a fellow who by accident became one of our students last year, well, this 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 on, with students praying and laughing and crying not quite following our planned programme! 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. …
We have been almost left speechless by what God is doing now through our students. We realize that we have been led on and are now on the threshold of a revival.
A young student, David, in his early twenties from the Markham Valley had a growing burden for his area of Ragizaria and Waritzian which was known and feared as the centre of pagan occult practices. He prayed earnestly. As part of an outreach team he visited nearby villages and then went to his own people. He was concerned about the low spiritual life of the church. He spent a couple of days alone praying for them.
He was invited to lead the village devotions on the Saturday night at Ragizaria. Johan van Bruggen told the story in his circulars:
Since most of the Ragizaria people are deeply involved in witchcraft practices, David made an urgent appeal for repentance. Two men responded and came forward. David put his hands on them and wanted to pray, when suddenly these two men fell to the ground. They were both praising the Lord. Everybody was surprised and did not know what to think of this. David himself had been slain in the Spirit at Kambaidam in August 1988, but this was the first time that this had happened to others through him. The next morning during the Sunday service scores of people were slain in the Spirit. Said David, “People entered the church building and immediately they were seized by God’s power. They were drunk in the Spirit and many could not keep standing. The floor was covered with bodies.” It did not only happen to Lutherans, but also to members of a Seventh Day Adventist congregation (former Lutherans) that were attracted by the noise and commotion.
David reported that there was a sense of tremendous joy in the church and people were praising the Lord. Well, the service lasted for hours and hours. Finally David said, “And now the people are hungry for God’s Word and not only in my village, but also in Waritzian, a nearby village. And they want the students to come with Bible studies. Can we go next weekend?”
We all felt that some students together with Pastor Bubo should go. …
Pastor Bubo told me, “Acts 2 happened all over again!” For three days all the people were drunk in the Spirit. God used the students and Bubo in a mighty way. On Saturday night the Holy Spirit was poured down on the hundreds of people that had assembled there. From then on until the moment the school car arrived on Monday noon, the people were being filled again and again by the Spirit. There was much rejoicing. There were words of prophecy. There was healing and deliverance. And on Monday morning all things of magic and witchcraft were burned. Everybody was in it, the leaders, the young, yes even little children were reported to be drunk in the Spirit. … The people did not want to go and sleep, saying, “So often we have had drunken all night parties. Now we will have a divine party until daybreak.”
This area had been a stronghold of evil 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 to be held for over two years.
That revival kept spreading through the witness and ministries of the Bible School graduates. In November 1990, Johan van Bruggen wrote:
This is what happened about two months ago. A new church building was going to be officially opened in a village in the Kainantu area. Two of our last year’s graduates took part in the celebrations by acting the story in Acts 3: Peter and John going to the temple and healing the cripple.
Their cripple was a real one a young man, Mark, who had his leg smashed in a car accident. The doctors had wanted to amputate it, but he did not want to lose his useless leg. He used two crutches to move around the village. He could not stand at all on that one leg. He was lying at the door of the new church when our Peter and John (real names: Steven and Pao) wanted to enter. The Bible story was exactly followed: “I have got no money, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Well, they acted this out before hundreds of people, among them the president of the Goroka Church District and many pastors and elders. Peter (Steven) grabbed the cripple (Mark) by the hand and pulled him up. And he walked! He threw his crutches away and loudly praised the Lord! Isn’t that something? What a faith!
Their testimony was given at a meeting of elders when Kambaidam was discussed. Mark was a most happy fellow who stood and walked firmly on his two legs. He also had been involved in criminal activities, but in this meeting he unashamedly confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus.
Later I talked with them. Steven (Peter) told me that the Lord had put this on his heart during a week long period of praying. “I had no doubt that the Lord was going to heal Mark, and I was so excited when we finally got to play act! And Mark? He told me that when Steven told him to get up he just felt the power of God descend upon him and at the same time he had a tingling sensation in his crippled leg: “I just felt the blood rushing through my leg, bringing new life!” Mark is now involved in evangelistic outreach and his testimony has a great impact.
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1988 – Madruga, Cuba
In 1988, revival broke out in a small church in Madruga, Cuba. “People would begin to weep when they entered the church,” said their pastor. More than 60 churches experienced a similar move of the Spirit. And today the Holy Spirit’s presence is still being felt. Despite gestures of tolerance towards Christians, believers in Cuba still experience much hardship and oppression. Nevertheless, God is moving amongst the 10 million people of Cuba, just as in the early church.
The revival produced more than 2,400 house churches more than all the official churches put together. Though open evangelism is still outlawed, teenagers were joining the children and adults to witness boldly in parks, beaches, and other public places, regardless of the risk.
There is a “holy and glorious restlessness” amongst the believers, said one pastor. “The once defensive mood and attitude of the church has turned into an offensive one, and Christians are committed to the vision of “Cuba para Cristo” – Cuba for Christ!
1988 saw astounding revival. The Pentecostals, Baptists, independent evangelical churches and some Methodist and Nazarene churches experienced it. One Assemblies of God church had around 100,000 visit it in six months, often in bus loads. One weekend they had 8000 visitors, and on one day the four pastors (including two youth pastors) prayed with over 300 people.
In many Pentecostal churches the lame walked, the blind saw, the deaf heard, and many 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 many house churches.
In 1990, an Assemblies of God pastor in Cuba with a small congregation of less than 100 people meeting once a week suddenly found he was conducting 12 services a day for 7,000 people. They started queuing at 2 am and even broke down doors just to get into the meetings.
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1989 – Henan and Anhul, China
Dennis Balcombe, pastor of the Revival Christian Church in Hong Kong, regularly visits China. He has reported on revival there.
In 1989 Henan preachers visited North Anhul province and found several thousand believers in the care of an older pastor from Shanghai. At their first night meeting with 1,000 present 30 were baptised in the icy winter. The first baptized was a lady who had convulsions if she went into water. She was healed of that and other ills, and found the water warm. A 12 year old boy deaf and dumb was baptized and spoke, “Mother, Father, the water is not cold the water is not cold.” An aged lady nearly 90, disabled after an accident in her 20s, was completely healed in the water. By the third and fourth nights over 1,000 were baptized.
A young evangelist, Enchuan, 20 years old in 1990, had been leading evangelistic teams since he was 17. He said, “When the church first sent us out to preach the Gospel, after two to three months of ministering we usually saw 20 30 converts. But now it is not 20. It is 200, 300, and often 600 or more will be converted.”
Sister Wei, 22 years old in 1991, spent 48 days in prison for leading open air worship. She saw many healings in prison and many conversions.
On March 12,1991, The South China Morning Post, acknowledged there were a million Christians in central Henan province, many having made previously unheard of decision to voluntarily withdraw from the party. “While political activities are cold shouldered, religious ones are drawing large crowds.”
Dennis Balcombe reported in a newsletter on August 27, 1994: “This year has seen the greatest revival in Chinese history. Some provinces have seen over 100,000 conversions during the first half of this year. Because of this, the need for Bibles is greater than ever. This year we have distributed to the house churches over 650,000 New Testaments, about 60,000 whole Bibles, one million Gospel booklets and thousands of other books.”
Revival continues in China with signs and wonders amid severe persecution, just as in the early church.
Tony Lambert describes current revival in China:
A genuine spiritual revival may be defined as occurring when:
1. The people of God are stirred to pray fervently for the low state of the church, and for the unconverted world.
2. Powerful preachers of the gospel are raised up by God to proclaim the gospel with unusual force.
3. The church is convicted of a deep sense of sin before a holy God.
4. Individuals and churches repent of specific sins.
5. A new sense of joy permeates the church, making the gospel and the things of God become real.
6. The Christian church has a marked impact upon the surrounding community.
7. God works visibly in supernatural ways.
Explosive revival continues in China. Estimates of the growth of the Chinese church now exceed 100 million. Only the United States has more Christians than China, but China would have the largest number of Spirit-filled, on-fire Christians in the world today.
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