“Are you surprised/thrilled/encouraged by what has happened over these years since you left secular work and responded to God’s call?” I am often asked this or similar questions.
In some ways my answer has to be simple and straightforward. “Yes, of course”. With over 1,500 Newfrontiers churches throughout the world, literally from Mexico to Mongolia, how can I not be amazed and excited? Who would have dreamed such a thing would happen?
But still something I actually longed for and which was involved in my initial call has yet to take place. In the early 1960’s, when I felt God’s urgent call to leave secular work, my longing was to see revival. I was often in prayer meetings where the focus was on revival. I had read Arthur Wallis’s great ‘In the day of thy power’, J. Edwin Orr’s ‘The second evangelical awakening in Britain’, James A. Stewart’s ‘Opened windows’. Biographies of George Whitfield and others greatly used in revival had stirred me profoundly.
The so-called charismatic movement had barely started, but I had personally recently experienced a fresh and intimate filling with the Holy Spirit. I was beginning to hear of a growing number of others with a similar testimony. Was this the beginning? Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones had described revival as a time when many believers were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Was revival coming? On 28 June 1963 I left my job in London mostly sensing a call to pray for revival and be available to God for what was to follow.
Dr Lloyd-Jones spent the whole year of 1959 preaching at Westminster Chapel on revival, to commemorate the centenary of the great revival of 1859. His view was that England and its church were in such a desperately backslidden state that only a God given revival could turn the tide. He said this before the so-called ‘swinging 60’s’ changed so much in the UK. Now of course, the 60’s look tame and mild compared to the moral devastation that has taken place in the UK, and largely throughout the Western world. Surely our need of revival is vastly greater.
I have often asked myself what revival would look like now. I have read and re-read Colin Whittaker’s fine book ‘Great revivals’ with its accounts of their great diversity and massive influence. I can’t imagine that another George Whitfield will be raised up but the Gospel must be preached in the power of the Holy Spirit.
More recently I find myself asking God to multiply prayer meetings, small and great. Last week I gathered for the second time for a morning of prayer with half a dozen pastors from right across London, pleading that God will come in power to our capital city.
I know that many churches begin the New Year with extended times of corporate prayer. May God hear our cry and come in fullness of power. At least there are now hundreds of churches across the UK, and indeed the world, that did not exist in the 1960’s; churches which love the word of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit, and which are rooted in grace, flexible, and open to the unsaved to be received with love and added to vibrant communities through excellent discipleship.
May God pour his Spirit upon his waiting Church. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3.