By Emmanuel Many
God had promised Abraham and his descendants Israel that He would give them the land of Canaan and that they would occupy it forever. The journey from Egypt to this land should have been short. God wanted them to love Him above all things but the people of Israel continued to rebel against Him. God performed great miracles and wonders in the desert to help Israel reconnect with Him be built up in faith, but most of them remained hardened. Because of their disobedience God swore that He would not let those stubborn ones enter the Promised Land. Unfortunately, it was an entire generation of the older ones. He kept the people in the wilderness for forty years until all those who had rebelled against Him died. Of all the people of Israel who were over 20 years at that time, only Joshua and Caleb were able to enter the promised land, because they obeyed God and kept their faith throughout (Numbers 14:29-30).
We can be quick to judge the Israelites and forget to look at ourselves. Today allow me to take you back to the East African Revival.
The Right Reverend Dr. William Rukirande (Retired Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kigezi) has so far done what I love the most. He wrote his personal experience of the East African Revival, published in The East African Revival through Seventy Years (1935-2005) – Testimonies and Reflections. There he defined ‘revival’ and gave elements that helped the revival to continue. He mentioned prayer, fellowship meetings, repentance and forgiveness of sins, love of the brethren, Bible reading, Education, (Bearing fruit) – stewardship, gender balance, hygiene, change of culture, music, healing ministry, stewardship.
Someone will probably spontaneously say, “But we have all those today!” And I will say, “No, there’s a huge difference!” In the next 7 – 12 days I will be going over each of those on my Facebook, to illustrate how I believe there’s a difference between our religious culture of today and the deliberate effort of our treasured parents and grand-parents who carefully heeded God’s call in the early 20th century, leading to the great East African revival.
Today allow me to focus on the significance of prayer. Bishop Rukirande mentioned there were times of group prayer in many places, including homes of Christians. He provides just a single sentence on that, but full of wisdom. He emphasized “groups praying in many places and in their homes”. Bishop Kivengere elaborately puts it; in the first chapter of Revolutionary Love, “They would talk about Jesus in all sorts of places, and you never knew where they would burst in song. It was infectious, spreading like a disease.” He again mentions, “Many of them had been good Church-goers for years, but this was something quite new”.
Yes indeed, that was quite new and so it is different today. You see, those prayers and meetings were changing people like a wild fire – from sinners to believers, unfaithful to Godly, bad citizens to great and cooperative citizens!
Some years back I interacted with a few individuals and noticed they had different feelings about the word ‘revival’ itself. Even me personally, I feared being harassed by faithless members who have risen to top leadership levels in the Church and have no relationship with God at all – Do you see the problem we have today? And we also cry against several issues happening outside yet we cannot see inside our own house? Nevertheless, no one has any legacy to front anyone as a reason for their unbelief. The recent global turbulence has taught me to know the fear we have in ourselves is Satan’s intimidation that we can overcome by the same elements of revival that helped believers stand firm the 20th century.
Revival is our salvation. Love it, Live it, Spread it! There’s no life eternal without it. There’s no miraculous walk without it, and there’s no equitable prosperity without it (2 Chronicles 7:14). You’ve seen that in the days the faith of many failed, personal and social problems have worsened and the money everyone chases can’t help enough.
Today’s emphasis: Prayer. We have been taught prayer is not talking to God but talking with God. We need a revival, to be able to talk with God effectively. A revival does not need a group to happen. Start your journey today.