Hello! I would like for us to have a reality check today. I recently pulled an old favorite off the shelf. It is titled “The Shantung Revival.” It is the story of a mighty revival that occurred in the Northern provinces of China in the early 1930’s. We all know my heart longs for this and that is why I keep bringing the subject of revival up!
I want to share some quotes with you from a 1929 area meetingof the missionaries in Northern China. “A missionary reminded the group that in the North China Association at least seventy churches had “died.” Another missionary related her fears for the Chinese Christians. Many, she felt, had accepted God’s grace as an outside coating of whitewash, but had only “covered” their sins, not been forgiven for them. Our best-known Chinese evangelist, on the point of despair because of the seeming hopelessness of the work, echoed these fears. He told the group he felt more than 1,000 church members had been converted to Christianity, not to Christ.” Does this sound at all familiar?
America is dark and getting darker, folks. Churches are dying daily; physically closing their doors. The culture is quickly swinging towards demonizing anything to do with Christianity or God. Do you know what was happening in China in the 1920’s? Communism was being introduced. Pamphlets flooded China talking about the dangers of Christianity and belief in God. Hostility towards Christians and Churches was encouraged. Many believers bought into these lies and left the Church.
America, while on a different political track, is being driven by the same cultural train as China in 1920. Our media has adopted a God-less stance. The business scene is following in lock step. Very few ‘radicals’ are challenging this new system and those that do are seen as rebels rather than traditionalists. Words like “values”, “morality”, and “conscience” are seen as septic and a threat to the new order that is quickly coming into power. We are sheltered from much of this in south Arkansas, but we still see pieces of it. Our kids wrestle with the gender debate regularly. The sports world constantly challenges the Sunday worship schedule. The traditional family unit has long been in the minority. And we too have many Churches in the dead or dying mode.
I write these things to say this: China was on the brink of revival 100 years ago in 1929. 1930 brought one of the greatest revivals the world has ever seen to that region. I would argue that we are not far from ’29 China stats. The above paragraph paints an exceedingly dark picture but, as you’ve heard it said, it is always darkest just before the dawn. I believe revival is coming!
Recently I was in a meeting of pastors from all over our state. After spending seven years in Texas, I can promise you that the spiritual atmosphere is different in our state. As we talked about the signs we are seeing, these are the words we used: brokennessover sin, unity amongst the Churches, a heightened sense of corporate prayer, praying men, a curiosity on the part of the lost and leaders who are willing to devote large amounts of time to prayer. 100 pastors from all corners of our state compiled this list. Southwest Arkansas is enjoying all of these realities NOW. I believe we are heading towards a time of a heightened sense among our people.
What must happen for the doors of revival to be thrown open? The book of 2nd Chronicles tells us. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (7:14)
For the next four weeks I will be writing about what it looks like for these actions to become reality for us individually as believers and corporately as Churches. This week I would ask you to consider my claims of spiritual darkness. I think it would be hard to argue otherwise, but sometimes it is easy for us to ignore reality when we are in the middle of all that is going on. Many times those wisest among us are those who have lived in a different reality and can quickly see the difference. If you think I’m exaggerating about America’s spiritual state ask someone 60 or older what their thoughts are. They will quickly tell you we are farther off track than they’ve ever seen.
In the meantime pray! Ask God to show you your heart and the heart of our nation. Begin asking Him for healing and restoration. And even though it’s dark, begin now to ask for His Light to penetrate our night. I promise He is not far off!