Revival – A Wonderful Spiritual Phenomenon!
By Paul E. Billheimer, 1960
In Dr. Stephen Olford’s article he makes mention of a revival in Rwanda/Uganda that continued forty years or more. In the following article, reprinted from October, 1960 Herald of His Coming, Paul Billheimer writes from firsthand experience of the Rwanda/Uganda revival after making a personal visit to the area where God was blessedly at work.
From the time that I first heard of the Rwanda Revival, I had a great longing to have a personal contact with it, but I was not prepared for the revelations I received as I traveled through the East African countries. The Revival is a most wonderful spiritual phenomenon. It has made the brethren it has touched into one body and one fellowship in Christ--regardless of tribal, racial or denominational background.
All are free to hold their own personal denominational beliefs, and to remain loyal to their own denominational program but they do not permit these differences in nonessentials to hinder their perfect unity in fellowship in the Person of Christ.
Neither do any seek to modify another’s beliefs in nonessentials. In the oneness of fellowship in Christ, all sectarianism has been completely submerged. People from all of the various Evangelical groups meet together regularly in Fellowship Meetings. I have never witnessed anything so utterly heavenly anywhere in the world.
Confession and Praise
The keynote of these meetings is confession and praise. The whole revival spirit is one of spiritual progress through increasing self-discovery, and increasing exposure of all with which the Spirit has a controversy. In these meetings each person tells on himself instead of on the other fellow. No smallest defeat is permitted to go unexposed and is immediately put under the cleansing Blood of Jesus.
Their most minute faults and failures are recognized as sin, and are not tolerated under the guise of shortcomings or faults. Thus there is maintained a continual transparency and walking in the light and consequently, a continual, progressive cleansing--which results in the most heavenly spirit of joy, praise and Christian fellowship my eyes have ever witnessed or my spirit sensed.
Revival in the Home
One major emphasis is upon complete concord of husband with wife, and unbroken fellowship in the home. In the light of African social custom this is most amazing. In African non-Christian life, the woman has two main functions, the bearing of children, and the bearing of burdens or manual labor.
To hear in these fellowship meetings, an African man confessing friction in his home and acknowledging his part in it, praising the Lord that he has put it right, has been cleansed by the Blood of Jesus and is now walking in fellowship with his wife; or to hear the wife confessing her part in a domestic strain and making it right, thus restoring fellowship, is, in the light of general non-Christian culture practice, nothing less than miraculous.
The missionaries testify that only in such homes as this is marriage in Africa anything like a true partnership. In no other areas are the results of the transforming power of the gospel more remarkable than in the domestic life.
In the fellowship meetings each testimony, whether English or African, is translated so that everyone present may understand. In a recent meeting which I attended, two translators were in action at once, accommodating several tribal dialects as well as the English visitors. The meetings are characterized by a spirit of joy and praise expressed in the frequent joyful singing of the following chorus in an African translation:
"Glory! Glory! Jesus saves me,
Blessed be His Holy Name;
For the cleansing Blood has reached me
Hallelujah to the Lamb."
This has become the theme song of the Revival groups everywhere, and is sung again and again in the fellowship meetings. To see the Africans and Europeans singing this joyous chorus together, after the breaking up of their meetings, has more than once completely broken me down in tears. It is the most powerful demonstration of the gospel I have ever witnessed.
I am not sure whether this utter surrender of all that separates and divides God’s people is a result or the cause of this revival. I feel that schism in the Church--the Body of Christ--produced by emphasizing nonessential sectarian differences, is probably the greatest single hindrance to revival in the world--because disunity in the Body ties the hands of the Holy Spirit in convicting the unsaved.
This problem apparently has been completely solved in this fellowship, and the amazing thing is that it originated and has been propagated by the Africans themselves.
In the beginning, the fellowship was opposed and suppressed by the Anglican Church among whose members it began. Instead of pulling off and starting a schismatic movement, those who had come into a new victory in the Lord submitted in silence but continued to demonstrate their new-found victory and to quietly witness in a personal way.
Gradually the fire spread from heart to heart until finally it became as a mighty forest blaze in which people were struck down with terrible conviction for sin, and fell like trees uprooted by a mighty storm.
Confession of Sin Opened the Way for a Moving of the Holy Spirit
This revival came to a church that depended largely upon liturgy, and which was terribly shaken by the confessions of deep sin among its members, including officials and ordained men. Confessions of theft from the church treasury by officers and ministers of the church, of vileness and adultery by ordained Africans as well as European missionaries, brought consternation, but opened the way for the mighty moving of the Spirit of God which swept first through Rwanda-Burundi, then into Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. According to the report, more than half of the African Anglican Church was swept into its embrace, and all open opposition ceased.
The revival brethren are the first to insist that this is not a "Movement" but a PERSON. It is both vertical and horizontal. Vertical in that it is oriented wholly toward Jesus Himself as living Lord, as a universal Christ, not as a denominational, provincial Christ. HE Himself is the Center rather than any technique, system of doctrine as such, or any human leadership.
They recognize God uses weak, unworthy but cleansed believers only as they continually yield to the work of the Cross in ever deepening degrees. Man is crossed out and becomes a zero before he shares in blessing or can be used to bless. In this group, fellowship is on the basis of LIFE rather than opinion, on the basis of Jesus alone rather than a peculiar church doctrine or polity.
The revival is also horizontal. As the light increasingly reveals new defects which formerly were unrealized, and as new areas of the being are brought increasingly under the searching of the Holy Spirit, the things with which HE has a controversy are openly confessed and repudiated. Increasing light brings increasing sensitiveness which results in increasing conviction for previously unrecognized faults and shortcomings, which they confess as sins. Perhaps they are not open transgressions or premeditated sins, but sins of the human spirit, that is, of attitude and of disposition.
When this light comes, these people keep short accounts with God. They immediately acknowledge openly their failures, confess them and thus are kept continually cleansed by the Blood, verifying 1 John 1:7: "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." Perfect transparency with God, and with one another, brings perfect fellowship.