J. Edwin Orr describes the Welsh revival as
“the farthest reaching of the movements of general awakening, for it affected the whole of the evangelical cause in India, Korea and China, renewed revival in Japan and South Africa, and sent a wave of awakenings over Africa, Latin America and the South Seas.”
So a God-centered revival is far fetched. It is not limited to a particular demography. It is not bound to a particular people group. It is not limited to a regional or even a particular type of denomination or Church experience. When God does pour out His Spirit, His Spirit is not limited by time or space or a geographical location. Hence, revival is not meant for a particular group spiritual enthusiasm or consumption; but also for abundant outward self-less contribution. It has far outreaching effects that goes beyond any human predicament or imaginations. Historically this has been true of real authentic revivals wrought by the Spirit of God. In 10 Greatest Revivals by Elmer Towns & Douglas Porter, you will find “Guidelines to Ranking Revivals.” I’m sure there are more, but here are five from the book:
1. Does the experience fit the biblical guidelines of revival?
2. Was there a demonstration of God’s presence?
3. Was the larger body of Christ awakened to its New Testament task?
4. Was culture impacted positively by the revival?
5. Are there reliable sources that demonstrate the greatness of the revival?
I’d like to focus on the 4th question in this post.
Having celebrated the arrival of the Gospel for 118 years in Mizoram (India), it’s remarkable to witness the impact of revival on education and other areas of the society. In my previous post, I mentioned that a God-centered revival “touches all spheres of the society, i.e education, politics and socio-cultural and economical issues as people’s heart are changed by the power of the Gospel” (see post). There’s always going to be a cultural impact when God sends revival. One cannot help but embrace this! Over time, as people’s hearts are being changed constantly by the Gospel, it leads to radical social transformation.
It is said that our people group (Mizos) were once
“barely literate but were sure of their Christian faith and eager to know more about it. It was from these modest beginnings that the present flourishing Aizawl Theological College started. They had no building, only a few parts of the Scriptures were in Mizo, and students had no access to any other text books in their own language. It is doubtful whether all of them held a Primary School Certificate” (Mizo Story).
In the history of modern India, Mizoram has always held either the first or second highest literacy rate. This is all owing to the Gospel seed sown by the Welsh missionaries 118 years ago. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes; and it is also the power of God for social transformation.
“In 1905, Japan’s victory over Russia resulted in the Japanese occupation of Korea, resulting in a new Korean nationalistic spirit. Christians looked to the church to organize resistance. Instead, missionary and church leaders preached forgiveness and forbearance. This was followed by a second wave of revival in 1905-1906, described as “a spreading fire” and “a continuing religious awakening.” Hundreds were converted, more than any previous year in the history of the Korean mission. In Pyongyang, seven hundred conversions were recorded in a two week period” (10 Greatest Revivals: Elmer Towns & Douglas Porter).
In a New Testament type of revival there will be a demonstration of New Testament fruit. In other words, New Testament revival will always have profound cultural impact as seen in the Mizo and Korean revival. When people are brought into conformity to Jesus Christ corporately, the result is cultural transformation. Notice the quote below:
“The First Great Awakening in England resulted in Sunday School and educational reform, changes to labor and child welfare laws, significant prison reforms, and the abolition of slavery. During the Welsh Revival, the culture was so transformed that new mules had to be secured to work in the coal mines. The old mules would not respond to miners who no longer cursed and abused the animals. Revivals in England, America, and other places have historically shaped those nations into Christian communities” (10 Greatest Revivals: Elmer Towns & Douglas Porter, 12).
During revivals people’s ordinary ways of life were often disrupted because “society could not maintain itself” in that way. I recall one of the revivals in Aizawl, Mizoram, India. An emergency clinic was almost emptied of its patients because all the sick people were carried off to where they held meetings. Jonathan Edwards once made an interesting observation concerning the physical condition of the community during the Awakening. He writes:
“It was the most remarkable time of health that ever I knew since I have been in the town. We ordinarily have several bills put up, every sabbath, for sick persons; but now we had not so much as one for many sabbaths together. But after this [i.e., after the revival lifted] it seemed to be otherwise” (from EGM)
And of the Welsh revival and the remarkable effects it had on the society, Revival historian J. Edwin Orr also noted,
“Drunkenness was immediately cut in half, and many taverns went bankrupt. Crime was so diminished that judges were presented with white gloves signifying that there were no cases of murder, assault, rape or robbery or the like to consider. The police became unemployed in many districts. Stoppages occurred in coal mines, not due to unpleasantness between management and workers, but because so many foul-mouthed miners became converted and stopped using foul language that the horses which hauled the coal trucks in the mines could no longer understand what was being said to them” (Cited from 10 Greatest Revivals: Elmer Towns & Douglas Porter, pg. 36).
This Friday we will continue our Revival Prayer Meeting from 7: 00 p.m to 9: 00 p.m (and as long as the Lord leads us). Dear reader, we invite you to join us on your knees in praying for this second largest unreached people group called Japan. (read: Why Japan?)
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