Purpose of this Session
The last one hundred years has witnessed a multiplication of revivals across the earth, and unprecedented church growth.
Revivals of significance (and these are just a few) include:
In 1900 there were about 50,000 Protestants in Latin America. In the 1930’s the growth surpassed the one million mark; In 1940, two million; in the 1950’s five million; 1960’s, ten million; and in the 1970’s over 20 million born again Protestant believers were recorded in the Latin American nations. The number has continued to vigorously grow in the decades that followed, with no sign of slowing.
For decades a Pentecostal revival has been blazing in Brazil. The positive force of Charismatic Christianity in the nation has caused it to become one of the major missionary sending nations in the earth today. The basic dynamic in this continual move of God is simply the power of the Holy Spirit. Edwin Orr’s visit in 1951-52 provided a catalyst for a move of God which some have likened to Brazil’s own reformation or Great Awakening. Prior to this in 1910 two Swedes, Danile Berg and Gunnar Vingren, were called to Para, Brazil. The AOG work they started at that time is now the biggest in all of Latin America, with over 22,000 churches.
Similar to Brazil, Argentina has a history over the past century, worthy of the Acts of the Apostles. A great move of God was sparked by evangelistic crusades held by American evangelist, Tommy Hicks, broke all expectations and crossed denominational lines. Tommy preached for 52 days, to a total of over two million people. Some 20,000 or more were saved, and growth continued, particularly among the Pentecostal churches. Following the failed war against the Falklands, Argentina experienced a tremendous revival which continued for many years. Hundreds of thousands came to Christ, with the largest stadiums being filled regularly for worship and evangelistic services. Many churches were running multiple services daily to accommodate the number of converts. In Buenos Aires the largest church was running 8 services each day, 7 days a week. The revival was marked by strategic prayer warfare, and power evangelism. This ongoing revival was instrumental in the fire spreading to Toronto and Brownsville with many of the leaders of those revivals having visited Argentina to see what was happening, and to consult with its leaders.
Renowned as one of the world’s most violent countries and the supplier of 75% of the world’s cocaine, subject to guerrilla warfare, ruthless drug-trafficking, blackmail, kidnapping, assassination and revenge murders, Columbia seemed like the last place on earth where an evangelical revival could ever take place. Over the past fifty years however, the Spirit of God has been moving in power. From prime minister to prison convict, the gospel has been touching the population. Great unified prayer concerts, filling stadiums for all night prayer with tens of thousands of believers, have been part of this move of God.
- Moves of God’s Spirit in the 20th-21st Century have also been witnessed in Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and the Amazon valley to name just a few.
North America and Canada
In 1993 pastor John Kilpatrick called his congregation to fervent prayer for revival. The Brownsville Revival began on Father's Day June 18, 1995 at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. Characteristics of the Brownsville Revival movement, as with other Christian religious revivals, included acts of repentance and a call to holiness. Evangelist Steve Hill, together with pastor John Kilpatrick and teacher Michael Brown, was instrumental in the revival’s meetings, preaching a strong message of repentance and holiness. More than three million people from nearly every continent are reported to have attended the meetings since their inception.
The Toronto Blessing is a term used to describe the revival and resulting phenomena that began in January 1994 at Toronto Airport Vineyard Christian Fellowship, now known as Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF), pastored by John and carol Arnott. This move of God, with manifestations of great joy, soaking in the Holy Spirit and other phenomena, influenced churches around the world to embrace the Holy Spirit. Other influential ministers used of God in this move include Randy Clark and Rodney Howard-Browne
Amid great controversy, Florida in 2008 witnessed an outpouring of God’s Spirit. The primary evangelist in the revival was tattooed ex-convict, Todd Bentley. It was reported in May 2008, "The meetings have outgrown four venues, including a local convention center that seats roughly 7,000. Now they meet under an air-conditioned tent that can accommodate 10,000 on the grounds of the local airport. Organizers estimate that more than 140,000 people from at least 40 nations have attended meetings." Reports of miracle, healings and even dead raised were commonplace during the several months the revival continued. Unfortunately, the revival came to a halt because of character weaknesses in prophet Bentley, providing a lesson to us all that revival comes with great pressure and responsibility for those who are used of God during such outpourings.
- Mega Churches
The rise of the mega-church (churches with congregations of over 10,000 people in regular attendance) over the past two decades has led to massively influential churches in several nations. Willow Creek church, and Lakewood church are examples of this phenomenon. Hillsong church, founded by Brian Houston in Australia has also seen phenomenal growth.
The rate of Christian growth in Africa in the eighty years between 1910 and 1990 was about twice that of population growth. In 1902 Africa was 2% Christian. By the end of the 20th Century it was over 48%, making it one of the foremost Christian continents in the world. Almost every country across this vast continent has a host of revival stories to relate. Vast meetings of literally millions of people have been recorded over the past century in many of the African nations.
“The Korean church has set a pattern for perennial revival to which the Church universal looks with wonder and amazement.” Billy Graham.
Until the second half of the nineteenth century Korea was completely closed to the gospel. The late 19th Century saw a number of missionaries venture to Korean shores, some of which were savagely murdered. It was in 1903, when American preacher and pastor, R A Hardie, came and preached the gospel that the fires of Pentecost touched the land. Yonggi Cho, who pastors the world’s largest church in Seoul, Korea, considers these meetings as the beginning of the Pentecostal movement in Korea. The following year Wales was touched by a mighty awakening. News of this came to missionaries in Korea who earnestly began to seek God. In 1907 God’s Spirit was poured out. A tide of prayer swept through the church. It was a concert of harmonious prayer as congregations together lifted their hearts to God as one voice, a feature that continues in the Korean church until this day.
Korea suffered years of terrible persecution under Japan, China and the communists, but despite their best efforts to wipe Christianity out, the very opposite has happened.
In the 1950’s a young Buddhist named Yonggi Cho was healed and saved. This humble servant has been instrumental in developing the largest church in the world, and turning the nation to God. Now a foremost missionary country, and the home of several of the world’s largest congregations, South Korea continues to see phenomenal church growth. Every level of society has been impacted and the churches influence and visible presence in society is unmistakable. A remarkable work of God’s Spirit.
The indigenous Chinese church is the scene of the greatest revival of any in the past century. Despite intense persecution the growth of the Chinese church since the 1970’s has no parallel in history. Operation World records the following statistics: “The 1,266,000 Protestant members and 1.9m affiliates in 1949 had become 17m members and maybe 26m affiliates in 2000 as well as the much larger uncounted but estimated 45m house church Christians. The Catholics grew from 3m to over 12m in the same period.” (Operation World, 21st Century Edition).
China now has the largest number of true born again Christians of any nation in the world. Their lives and testimonies speak of unparalleled dedication to Christ, even unto torture and death, fervent prayer, knowledge of the Word, and unmatched evangelistic fervour.
A large proportion of the born again church in China now plan to support the ‘Back to Jerusalem’ initiative, where one hundred thousand Christians are being trained to carry the gospel all the way from China back to Jerusalem, evangelising every nation along the journey. This will include confronting the three largest spiritual strongholds in the world today as yet unconquered by the gospel – Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Church history is an impossibly large subject. The Scriptures tell us if all the works of Jesus were written down the world would not be big enough to contain the books that would be written (John 21:25). How much more the works of His Body in the earth over the past 2000 years!
Our timeline and overview has only scratched the surface, and many hundreds of thousands of other significant servants have been omitted. A broad sweep as we have seen however, is still an exciting and inspiring journey. Even more so when we realise that we are living right now on the crest of history’s wave, entering into the labours of these fine men and women of God who have preceded us.
To add to this, we also have the prophetic projections of a great wave of revival yet to come. The Scriptures talk about a day for which creation groans, when the sons and daughters of God will be revealed in the earth (Romans 8:21), and of a Body that will manifest the Lord in His fullest sense (Eph 4:12-13).
Many prophets are talking of what has been termed ‘The Day of the Saints’ when the Body of Christ will move in great power at every level of society. Christianity will not be confined to houses of religion, but flood the earth with God’s glory, covering it with a revelation of Christ, as the waters cover the sea.
It is this day, with significant shifts in the paradigm of ministry taking place, and diverse manifestations and models multiplying across the earth, that we are now living. Just as Christ Himself was revealed in fullness and glory once maturity had been reached, so a mature body will rise in these last days to re-present Him to the world before His return.
Oh, the glory that will be seen! The miracles that will occur! The love that will be displayed! The courage that will be shown! And here you are in this great company of called out ones…