10 Takeaways on Revival (part 1)

Revival is sparked by pockets of people hungry for God. Will you be one of them?

Reverends Naomi Dowdy and Yang Tuck Yoong recently spoke about contending for revival in this generation and the need for stewarding it.

Since the Charismatic Renewal and the Billy Graham crusades that wrapped up the 1970’s, Singapore hasn’t come quite close to tipping into revival. Now in the 2020s, how is revival going to look like for Singapore, and how should we prepare for it?

Asking the hard questions on behalf of a younger generation of pastors was Ps Pacer Tan. We summarise 5 takeaways in this article, and another 5 about sustaining revival in the next post.

#1 The purpose of revival is the harvest of souls

Revival is always on God’s agenda, because its purpose is the harvest of souls. “If pastors do not have a vision for the harvest, they will not be preparing for it, and they will miss out something that is of great, great value to God,” said Rev Yang.

Yet, revival is not just a church full of people, it is a people full of God.

Rev Naomi explained, “Revival, in my view, is God stirring up the church inside, so that we become firebrands in the marketplace and community. We take the repentance of the church outside.”

#2 God wants to do the same thing, but He wants to do a new thing

We can look at past moves of God for clues though we never want to copy the past.

Each outpouring seemed to have a certain identification, observed Rev Naomi as she cited recent outpourings like the Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville Revival as examples.

The Toronto Blessing was a time of refreshing when the church needed encouragement to run the race again, while the Brownsville revival was one of repentance and a return to holiness.

Interesting side note: these outpourings weren’t necessarily considered revivals, but rather, refreshings. The Azusa Street revival was a primary catalyst for Pentecostalism while the Welsh revival impacted every strata of society. In comparison, recent refreshings have tended to be limited to their location.

#3 Revival sparks in a place, and people come to catch the fire

Whether revival or refreshing, there were common elements across the outpourings.

“I try to look for key connectivities in them… and one of the common threads is that revival was in a place, not in a speaker who moved around,” said Rev Naomi.

“We find that people ran to locations to try to catch something, so that they could take a spark back, hopefully, to revive their church… God moves a place, then sparks it out,” she said.

#4 Another common thread: a hunger to seek God

The Charismatic Renewal in Singapore started with groups of people seeking God.

“The revival wasn’t hitting every church first. It started with people who weren’t just praying… but were really hungry for God. So when they heard something happening in this place – it could be a meeting just in the garden of a house… People went there and they would be touched by the power of God,” said Rev Naomi.

She recounted a time when people would stream in and out of an available person’s home in the Central Business District. People would grab their lunch (homecooked bee hoon in the host’s home) and sit to hear the Word of God preached.

Rev Naomi continued, “(Today), we are going through motions. We put a lot of effort into prayer, but we need that hunger that drives us, to say I want it (revival).”

#5 Revival is not spontaneous combustion; people had to a pay a price

“In every account of revival, whether biblical or historical, somebody or a group of people were willing to paid the price, press in… and then we see the fire spreading from one place to another,” said Rev Yang.

Just like a field of wheat doesn’t appear out of nowhere, revival is an outcome of someone or a group of people plowing and planting in prayer.

“To me, one of the misconceptions is that people think revival will happen to everybody at the same time,” said Rev Naomi. “There will be that spark that hits, then it’s going to roll over.” It will be the groups of people who are hungry for God that will catch the fire as it spreads.

Revival has to be sustained – keep reading in part 2.

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