BY GREG WEST
When we hear the word revival, we usually think of an event on the church calendar. That is correct, though I would say, incomplete. I want to share about when God puts revival on the calendar! It seems to me that in following Christ we are so often rowing and rowing but have forgotten to raise our sails so that the wind of the Spirit can move us in ways we never imagined.
God spoke through an angel to the prophet Zechariah centuries ago, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6 NRSV). Jonathan Goforth, a missionary revivalist to China in the early 1900s, commented on this verse: “If revival is being withheld from us it is because some idol remains still enthroned; because we still insist in placing our reliance in human schemes; because we still refuse to face the unchangeable truth that, ‘It is not by might, but by My Spirit.’” As I share about the 1970 Asbury Revival, John Wesley experiencing an outpouring of God's spirit, a powerful revival in Virginia and the Great Welsh Revival, I’m praying that your interest will be sparked, and it will grow into a deep longing expressed in continuing prayer for revival. When God’s people respond to His Spirit by drawing near and calling on Him for more, God shows up in new and transforming ways! Revival can happen!
I’m preaching a revival at Joliff UMC, pastored by Rev. Brandon Nichols, Aug 29 – Sept 1. I’m asking that God would put this on His calendar in a powerful way!
Let our prayer be like the prophet Habakkuk’s: “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2 NRSV).
There have been moments throughout church history when God pours out His Holy Spirit and people are transformed. Of course, all these moments connect back to the outpouring of God’s Spirit at Pentecost, the birth of the Church.
1970 Asbury Revival
Rev. Dennis Kinlaw was the President of Asbury College at the time of the revival. He was traveling in Canada when he received a call from Kentucky concerning the morning chapel service. His thought was to ask how it went, but the report was that it hasn’t ended yet. It was 7pm Kentucky time! The students and people described the powerful presence of the Lord in the Chapel. People were drawn there and felt led to repent of and confess their sins, which led them to experience peace with God. Some were renewing their love for and commitment to Christ and others were coming to know His saving grace for the first time. That chapel service went on through the night and into the next day. Classes were cancelled for the next week as the Revival went on 8 days and 8 nights!
Many students felt compelled to travel to other colleges and to their home churches to share what God was doing at Asbury College. The Revival spread to those places and produced the same results: salvation and reconciliation with God, a deep sense of God’s presence, a renewed commitment to follow Jesus at all costs and a desire to make Him known! Leading up to this, there was a group of students that committed to gathering daily and praying for revival. God is calling us to pray. I encourage you to take a look at a short video with scenes from the revival and testimony from those who were there:
When God Comes (The 1970 Asbury Revival
The Early Methodists Experience Revival
The Methodist movement was launched in revival! Here is an entry from Rev. John Wesley’s journal after a "Watch-Night Service," on January 1, 1739,
“Mr. Hall, Kinchin, Ingham, Whitefield, Hutchins, and my brother Charles, were present at our love-feast in Fetter-Lane, with about sixty of our brethren. About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of his Majesty, we broke out with one voice, “We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.”
Revival in Virginia on the Brunswick Circuit
“Virginia was the scene of a great revival of religion, chiefly under the labors of that warm-hearted English evangelist, George Shadford, in 1775 and 1776.”
The revival took place along the Brunswick Circuit, the oldest Methodist circuit in America, established in 1773. The Methodist preachers then were known as “circuit riders.” They were responsible for a large area in which preaching houses were established and new preaching points began with the aim of making Christ known, loved and obeyed. In that time, the Brunswick Circuit was comprised of 14 counties in southeastern Virginia and extended into Bute and Halifax counties in North Carolina.
Mr. Thomas Rankin, sent by John Wesley to America, visited Shadford on the Brunswick circuit during the height of the revival. He gives the following account of a Sunday he spent with Shadford:
“We went to the chapel at ten, where I had liberty of mind and strength and body beyond my expectation. After preaching I met the society, and was more relieved both in body and mind. At four in the afternoon, I preached again, from ‘I set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.’ I had gone through about two-thirds of my discourse and was bringing the words home to the present now, when such power descended that hundreds fell to the ground, and the house seemed to shake with the presence of God. The chapel was full of white and black, and many were without that could not get in. Look where ever we would we saw nothing but streaming eyes and faces bathed in tears; and heard nothing but groans and strong cries after God and the Lord Jesus Christ. My voice was drowned amid the groans and prayers of the congregation. I then sat down in the pulpit, and both Mr. Shadford and I were so filled with the divine presence that we could only say, ‘this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!’ Husbands were inviting their wives to go to heaven, wives, their husbands: parents their children and children and their parents: brothers their sisters and sisters their brothers. In short, those who were happy in God themselves were for bringing all their friends to him in their arms. This mighty effusion of the Spirit continued for above an hour: in which time many were awakened, some found peace with God, and others his pure love. We attempted to speak or sing again and again; but no sooner had we begun than our voices were drowned. It was with much difficulty that we at last persuaded the people, as night drew on, to retire to their own homes.”
*Quotes taken from The Illustrated History of Methodism in Great Britain and America, from the Days of the Wesleys to the Present Time By Rev. W. H. Daniels, A.M. Copyright 1879, by Phillips & Hunt, New York.
*For those who love history, there is an “Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation.” You can learn more about them here:
and on Facebook here:
The Great Welsh Revival
The Great Welsh Revival (1904-1906), was marked with spontaneous outbreaks of singing, prayer, open repentance, and confession. Again, you can trace the revival to praying people. One of them was a preacher named Evan Roberts. Roberts attended many revival services and committed himself to prayer that he might be “bent by God” and be bent according to God’s will. His was a life surrendered to Christ. Often he would be “awoken by the Lord at 1 am and be in prayer for 4 hours till the break of dawn, as he sought the Lord’s face for revival to break out in Wales.”
He had four points to his message. “Number one: You must confess your known sins and you must make all of your wrongs right. Second, you must put away any doubtful habits. Third, you must obey the Spirit promptly. And fourth, you must confess your faith publically.”
The results of the Welsh revival over a two year period were stunning! There have been estimates that 100,000 people came to faith in Christ during this revival. Courtrooms were empty as so few crimes were committed; many of the police officers formed singing groups traveling to different churches as they had “free time” and were moved by the Spirit! “A story was told of how the horses in the mines were confused because once they were driven by men with use of obscenity and kicks, but now there weren’t any.”
I encourage you to take 7 minutes to hear this testimony about how the Welsh Revival spread.
*For those interested in reading more about the history of the revival. This is a good place to start: www.bcwales.org/1904-welsh-revival
“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2 NRSV).