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Igniting Revival

Evidence of God’s Presence in His Church

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I believe there has been a heart-cry in Alliance churches for revival. Through Dr. A. B. Simpson, God raised up The Christian and Missionary Alliance nearly 120 years ago to bring the gospel to all nations to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our C&MA leaders know that we will not be able to accomplish this enormous task without the extraordinary mani-festation of God’s presence in our lives and churches. Our deep longing is to be renewed in our fervent love for our Savior and our utter dependence upon Him for ministry.

As director for U.S. Intercultural Ministries, I also want revival in my own heart. My yearning for God is like David crying out, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps. 63:1). I thirst for God daily so that “streams of living water will ? ow from within” me (John 7:38).

Fanning the Flame

We began to sense God igniting His embers last year during the “Rekindle the Flame Gathering” at Maple Ridge Community Church in West Lafayette, Indiana. My wife, Kay, and I had an opportunity to attend this revival with Alliance people from Canada and the United States.

Before the conference, Dr. Gary Benedict, president of the U.S. C&MA, told the speakers that the Lord had impacted his heart on the theme of “living the Call together.” Benedict said that to participate in Christ’s Great Commission, Alliance people need to own the mission together, embrace diversity, agree on the vision, serve in unity, measure success through God’s strength, respect women in ministry, practice wholistic ministry, seek the deeper life, desire to glorify God, answer the call and bring balance to ministry.

He then began to confess his sins and the sins of the entire denomination for missing God’s mark in the above areas. Needless to say, this clear message from the Lord given to our president and his humble confession on behalf of the entire denomination set the tone for revival. After a series of powerful messages preached by C&MA leaders Rock Dillaman, Richard Sipley and Richard Owen Roberts, a score of people, including my wife and me, came to the altar to confess, repent and ask God to fill us afresh with His power. God spread the embers upon the whole assembly and over each individual who earnestly sought a fresh encounter with God.

Winds of Change

After the “Rekindle the Flame Gathering,” Kay and I drove to Elgin, Illinois, to minister at the Lao C&MA Association Conference through teaching and preaching. For two days, Lao leaders came to the altar to repent of their sins with tears in their eyes and ask the Lord to renew their hearts. Some of them told me that they were ready to leave the ministry because of discouragement and frustration. However, God graciously saved their ministries through the Word of His Son, who said, “‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing’” (John 15:5).

On Sunday we were invited to preach and teach at the Lao C&MA Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My wife and I did not know that there had been conflict in the congregation for many years, especially among the women. The exact words used to describe the situation were anger, gossip, resentment, evil-speaking, jealousy, dissension, discord and envy.

However, the Lord used Kay to minister to the women after the morning worship service. The men were told to get back to the church immediately because “some strange things were happening.” At the church, we witnessed the mighty hand of God working among the women. They were hugging each other in tears and asking for forgiveness because the Lord had broken their hearts. The women then began to worship God for hours, singing, leaping and dancing with joy. The men of the church could not control their tears either because God had brought reconciliation and peace.

After the Lao conference, the Spanish Central District held a revival conference for all Spanish Central District and church leaders. The venue was the Hispanic church in Monroe, Michigan, where the congregation had just lost their beloved pastor, Rev. Jesse Morales, due to kidney failure. Fred Hartley, pastor of the Lilburn Alliance Church in Atlanta, Georgia, preached about baptism of the Holy Spirit. In response to God’s Word from Matthew 3:11, a score of people came to the altar to repent and to seek God with thirsty and hungry hearts.

God manifested His presence Friday evening when the women of the church broke down in tears and cried out to God for hours. The conference delegates joined them in prayers of confession and repentance and the desire to be renewed by the Holy Spirit. Then the people worshiped God until Rev. José Bruno, district superintendent, closed the service with tears in his eyes. Needless to say, it was an awesome experience to encounter God among my Hispanic brothers and sisters.

God ignited His embers at the “Rekindle the Flame Gathering” in Indiana. Then He fanned His flame to the Lao C&MA Association Conference, the Lao Milwaukee church, and the Spanish Central District, as well as several other churches and conferences within the Alliance inter-cultural community.

Empowered Believers

Before He went back to heaven, Jesus said to His disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4–5). And “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The promise was fulfilled ten days later when “tongues of fire . . . came to rest on each of them. All of them were ? lled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:3–4).

We all know the rest of the story. Peter preached the gospel, and people were convicted of their sins and repented. Consequently, “those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41).

When God’s people are filled with the Holy Spirit, they are filled with His power to carry out the Great Commission. I believe that God is pleased to send His Holy Spirit to our C&MA churches if we earnestly seek Him through corporate and private prayer.

Encounters with the Living God

What will it take for Alliance churches to experience fresh encounters with God? First, the Lord is pleased when His people gather in prayer. In our Western culture, we attend prayer meetings only if they don’t disrupt our schedules. But a heart-cry for revival cannot be “fit in” when it’s convenient. Lack of time in corporate and private prayer is a hindrance to revival and transformation. It is only through prayer that we can become intimate with God. One of the writers in the Transformation Prayer Guide wrote:

Intimacy is the red carpet for inviting the manifest presence of the Living God into our midst. He is not attracted to programs, lofty goals, or gala celebrations. He is attracted to a love-starved Bride who desires Him more than all the treasures, acclaim, and busyness of this world. Where intimacy is lacking, we must confess our lack of desire and ask Him to increase our appetite for His presence. There is no substitute!

Perhaps most importantly, God’s people must confess their sins and repent. He said, “‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land’” (2 Chron. 7:14).

Confession and repentance are a result of a broken spirit. An unfortunate part of our human nature is to resist the very thing that God says He esteems. A core principle of revival is that God is attracted to those who embrace brokenness. The Lord is always pleased to dwell in the contrite heart. “‘This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word’” (Isa. 66:2), and “‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isa. 57:15).

God is always pleased to manifest His presence and hear the cry of His people. Holiness is essential to the Christian walk. The Lord Jesus taught His disciples at the mountainside, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt. 5:8).

Through holiness, God’s people can be united. David wrote, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore” (Ps. 133:1–3). It is not uniformity of doing the ministry, but it is a unity in purpose and mission, built on the bedrock of humble, trusting and mutually esteeming relationships. This is the supernatural unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17:21.

Believers cannot have unity without humility. Local church and denominational leaders need to learn from Stephen, who was chosen to help with the daily distribution of food—something that was distracting the other apostles from the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. Yet in Stephen’s humility to serve, God used him as a powerful display of His glory. When an argument in the synagogue arose, Scripture states that everyone stared at Stephen because his face had become as bright as an angel’s. People no longer saw Stephen; they saw the presence of God in him!

If we want to complete the Great Commission, now is the time for people of The Alliance to earnestly seek the Lord through corporate and private prayer. A. B. Simpson’s prayer was that the supernatural manifestation of the Living Christ would never depart from our churches. He wrote:

The Holy Spirit originated the Alliance in order to produce in modern times an attested copy of the church in apostolic times . . . At whatever cost we must hold to the originated type of this movement as revealed by the Spirit through the Word . . . Only He who gave us the pattern, the blessed Holy Spirit, can keep us true to that pattern . . . I have written frankly out of my heart, for I greatly desire to see the Alliance preserved in an increasing and sustained vitality of spiritual life. (Alliance Weekly, May 26, 1917)

God Did It Again!

Last November, the Office of Intercultural Ministries partnered with Risen King Community Church of the Central Pacific District to organize and host an Emerging Leaders Summit at the Alliance Redwoods Camp Ground in Occidental, California.

God manifested Himself among the 242 emerging leaders through worship and the preaching of His Word. After sharing a powerful message on baptism of the Holy Spirit, Dr. Ron Walborn, dean of Bible and Christian Ministry at Nyack College, Nyack, New York, asked those who were hungry for God to come forward to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Nearly 100 young people walked to the altar with great humility. Some were dancing, some were crying with joy and others were healed through the Holy Spirit. A score of people remained at the altar well past midnight enjoying the presence of God.

My prayer is that this manifestation of God’s presence is repeated in Alliance churches across this land and around the world so that our people will again rejoice in God. As the psalmist prayed, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Ps. 85:6).

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