Fuel For Revival Flames!
By Lois J. Stucky
A letter that crossed my desk recently caused me to thank God and say joyfully to myself: "See how God uses even the printed page to kindle revival fires!" It was a letter from the little country of Rwanda in Central Africa. If we are acquainted with that country, it is likely because we heard about it in the news when an immense tragedy took place there in 1994-5. Terrible tribal animosities resulted in the deaths of a million people, and immeasurable damage and scars yet remain.
Please Share the Letter with Me:
The letter begins, "Thank you for sending Herald of His Coming to thousands of people all over the world, more especially to me." The writer continues, "Ever since I started receiving those blessed papers in the year 2000, they have been a source of spiritual overflow to my life. My personal, private life was totally changed. My ministry was changed, my neighbourhood and family were changed. Look what the Herald has done to me:
"After reading Herald only for one year, revival fire was burning in my heart, and in 2002 I decided to hold a conference in our church with this theme: ‘Catch the fire!’ During this conference lives were converted, transformed and revived tremendously. From that time we have been crying to God always for spiritual renewal. Today I have formed a group of young men and young girls from the church with whom I always meet twice a week only to pray for revival in our personal lives, our churches and in the whole nation. For that reason I will request you two things:
"1. Please don’t put my name off the mailing list. I can’t afford living without Herald papers.
"2. Would you please PRAY for our nation, Rwanda. In the year 1936 God sent a mighty wave of awakening which impacted the whole nation, influencing our cultures and lifestyles. The fire spread around the neighbouring nations like Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, etc. Actually the well-known East African Revival originated from Rwanda. Today some of those nations still have the remains of the fire, but our nation lost the fire for many years. Next year – 2006 it will be exactly seventy years since that great move of God, and God promised that after seventy years, He will visit us and put to end our captivity. So PRAY that the captivity and spiritual darkness be removed.
"God bless you abundantly."
The East African Revival
The East African Revival referred to above was a notable moving of the Spirit of God beginning in the 1930’s among some conservative Anglican missionaries in Rwanda, and it continued for many years. From Wesley Duewel, who writes about it in his book, Revival Fire, we learn that the first sparks were seen in the hearts of missionary Joe Church and a like-hearted young African government worker, Samuel Nsibambi, who hungered for the fullness of the Holy Spirit and a victorious life. God gave other godly African leaders a vision and burden along with them. In these seeking hearts, God had fuel for revival fires and He began to move! In the Bible studies and prayer meetings which were held, "many became deeply convicted of their sin, humbled themselves in real repentance, confessed their sins, asked forgiveness from people they had wronged, and made restitution." Church attendance increased and revival conventions and Bible conferences were held. Revival teams traveled to hold meetings in other towns and in adjoining countries.
The new converts were more a result of witnessing, victorious, radiant believers than through mass meetings. During a famine in the land, the joy of the victorious Christians drew added numbers of non-believers to Christ as they saw how the Christians could rise above the difficulties all were going through. High standards of honesty and morality were maintained. At a convention in 1952 in Uganda, one hundred Europeans and eight hundred Africans were present. Never before had so many tribes been present in such a convention because animosities between tribes ordinarily ran high.
Another account of revival in East Africa, appearing in an early edition of Herald of His Coming tells us: "We have just come from a wonderful week in the most antiwhite tribe out here, the Ababuas. What works of grace! Great, strong men, Goliaths of Gath I called them. One had killed a white man in a fight. One said that in those days six years ago, every nice woman was his animal; another, that he beat his wife like a cow. Another, that he was a slave to wine.
"Then think of hearing these great strong fellows say, ‘Prison and the whip and threats could not change us; we left and did exactly the same again. But the blood of Jesus has power! The blood of Jesus has power! We are different men! We neither do, nor want to do what we used to! We have been born again! We have been crucified with Christ, and now Jesus lives in us!’ We were at four such wonderful conferences in the tribe last week with about eight hundred of them. What welcome they gave us! We might have been angels from Heaven instead of once-hated white men."
Oh, friends, is that transforming power of God not what we desperately need to see in our day and culture? Is it not worth it to humble ourselves and fast and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways in order to experience God in our midst today in great fullness of power? God wants to do it, for He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance and to acceptance of the marvelous work which Christ did in shedding His precious, powerful blood on Calvary to redeem and purify a people to glorify the Father. How many of us have prayed and prayed for certain dear ones, but there seems to be no change? Many prayers are answered when God comes in great power.
Fire, Fellowship, and the Cross
Turning again to Dr. Duewel’s book Revival Fire, we read that a missionary in Uganda, Dr. Stanley Smith, summarized the East African Revival with the three words: fire, fellowship, and the cross.
God’s promise was claimed: "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Matt. 3:11). Hungry hearts sought for the Holy Spirit’s fire in order to serve God acceptably. As God answered and sent the glorious fire to individual hearts, they set out to spread the fire among colleagues and into neighboring missionary stations and into neighboring countries.
Fellowship was encouraged among those who were revived. In the meetings there was opportunity to be transparent with one another, confessing sin and rejoicing in sin forgiven. It also gave opportunity for Christians to exhort and rebuke where sin was present, thus keeping the way clear between God and the soul. In this simple, heart-to-heart way, the revival went on for many years in some places.
The cross was central in the revival. Three of the Gospels record Jesus’ words to His disciples: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).
Many who took up their cross to follow Jesus in time of revival, eventually came into persecution and some even into martyrdom. Again quoting from Revival Fire, we read, "It was the men and women of the revival fellowship who saved the church during the persecution and martyrdom of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in 1953. In the 1960’s others died heroically in Rwanda and Burundi because they hid or rescued members of an opposing tribe. In the 1970’s when Muslim ruler Idi Amin killed hundreds of thousands of Christians, again it was the revival Christians who stood the test…."
Friends, as we pray for the blessings of revival, let us not shun the cross! It is something we must embrace even as we seek to prevail in prayer for revival. And bear in mind, it may be God’s preparation for greater tests for His dear children tomorrow. Denying ourselves in our daily walk is not a leisurely, self-pleasing walk. It is walking in obedience to Christ as He leads us. It is a walk out-of-step with the world, maybe even out-of-step with friends and family. It may be a lonely walk to the place of prevailing prayer. It means crucifying the flesh even when it costs dearly, even when the tug on the heart is strong in another direction. But the glory of Christ’s presence is best known by bearers of the cross who follow in His steps. And one day, it will be all glory when we lay that cross down and "cross that river to our home on high" where Jesus is!