Lana and I have been blessed and challenged over this past week as we have ministered in Mozambique. The African Inland Mission asked us to come and for me to serve as the Bible teacher for the annual meeting in this region. We have missionaries present from at least six different nations, all of whom are serving with the mission in Mozambique, Tanzania, or South Africa.
As the Bible teacher for the week I have been teaching more than an hour each morning on the subject of revival from a biblical and historical perspective. This morning we dealt with the revival under John the Baptist and the public ministry of Jesus, and took a look also at the Italian revivalist of the 15th century, Savonarola, of Florence. Some of the traits of people God has used to bring revival to His people are:
A spirit of brokenness
A deep prayer life
Faith in the power of God
A vision from God for His will to be done
An industrious spirit
A life wholly given over to God
Revival always starts with one or just a few who desire a deeper walk with God. Through prayer and the exercise of faith God revives their hearts and then the revival spreads to others. Repentance is the theme of revival preaching, a turning from sin and self and anything that distracts us from God, and a surrender of life to God for Him to use as He will. In revival lives are changed, old habits are put aside, a fresh consuming desire to serve God is gained. There are several loves that are altered in revival; God gives His people a love for Jesus Christ, a love for His word, a love for prayer, a love for lost souls, a love for the fellowship of believers.
Revivals come in all sizes – some are simply personal revivals, others have touched the entire world – but in each case we find that the life-transforming grace of God is poured into His people’s hearts through His Spirit. The result is a transformed and empowered people, filled with the joy of the Lord and a new love for His word, a new enthusiasm for prayer, and a new excitement in worship and service. Often in revival pastors hearts are broken, when they realize how unholy they have been – only holy hands can do the work of God – and they often discover that their ministry has been built upon sand because it was filled with so much of themselves. Richard Owen Roberts wrote, “A revived people must have a revived minister. Nothing else will do and nothing else should be offered.”