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Monday, 26 January 2015

Indiana Revival Report: Day 15

I was struck today by the list of cities that Time to Revive has been in so far:

"Dallas-based Time to Revive began with the the 2007 Dallas Revival and six revivals that have happened since. What started as a gathering of believers in Dallas, TX has since ignited eight other city awakenings:  REVIVE Santa Fe (NM), Awaken the Valley (Sedona, AZ), reviveFLINT (MI), reviveASHEVILLE (NC), reviveSEATTLE (WA), reviveDEVILSLAKE (ND), reviveRICHMOND (CA), reviveCOLUMBIA (SC) and reviveTWINCITIES (MN).  They are currently planning and committing to reviveINDIANA!"

Notice that, up until now, the focus has always been on a single town, city, or metropolis. This time, an entire state. And so it is. People are driving in from 2 and 3 hours away. Churches are seeing what would normally be a Sunday morning crowd show up at 7am on a Saturday before hitting the streets to share the gospel. Yesterday (a day off from the meetings, in order for people to re-connect with their own churches), a man was so overcome by the need for corporate repentance that he strode to the front of a megachurch, took the microphone away from the preacher, and made the call. Within minutes the stage was crowded with penitent parishioners. 

And this isn't about a man, or even an organization. ReviveTUPELO, which was originally scheduled to hold its first week of meetings next month, is going ahead with the schedule without the Time to Revive team, which has committed to staying in Indiana until the first week of March. The momentum continues to build.

Police cars can be seen parked outside the meeting halls, with policemen in uniform joining in the services (Saturday night's meeting was so overcrowded--over 2000 in a church built for, at most, half that many--that the Clinton Township Fire Department showed up, just in case). Today, the Bristol Sun breaks the story with an online photo:
This is one of the 200 teams that hit the streets Saturday with the pictured New Testaments (either English or Spanish), which are specially marked so people can find and read the gospel message from Romans and Ephesians. About half of the teams 'ate out' together (with or without actually consuming the food), which resulted in numerous encounters with restaurant staff and patrons. And these teams are all made up on the spot--almost always of people who didn't know each other before this week.

The evening services are being recorded and are available online, as well as being broadcast live over 104.7 WFRN. They are simultaneously translated into Spanish, and now sign language.

There's not much more to report, except that the revival continues to grow deeper, broader, and wider. And there are still almost 40 days to go.

BREAKING: This week's theme is "The Marketplace" targeting businesses as well as churches. This is happening NOW:
Prayer & Praise report- An owner of Fork's RV factory in LaGrange County has asked Kyle Lance Martin to come and share with his employees. So this morning he is shutting down the factory line and calling everyone to hear the Gospel - plant 1 and plant 2. God is moving in the marketplace!
TUESDAY UPDATE: There isn't much new to report for Day 16. Wednesday is "Skip for Jesus Day" with hundreds of high schoolers expected to skip school to evangelize. We'll have a detailed report on Thursday.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Indiana Revival Report: Day 12

Last night was the first time the preacher actually called for repentance. Remember, this is not about a man or an organization--it's about equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. So rather than calling people 'forward,' he just had everyone turn to his neighbor and 'confess your sins one to another, that you may be healed.' And it worked.

Oh, and remember the sweaty soccer player who'd invited a friend to the noon meeting? The friend came back for the evening meeting, bringing his dad--who went on to become one of the speakers the very next evening. Can you imagine--teens dragging their parents to a revival meeting?

The teens are totally on board now. They even got a room reserved at one of the high schools so they could literally take the revival there during school hours. Kids are holding hands around the table at lunch as schoolmates pray to receive Christ. School rivalries are dropping away as teens from one school join to pray for teens from another school to have the boldness to request favors from their principal, too.

The Revival has now officially outgrown the building that housed it the first 11 days. There literally is not a church in the area with a building big enough to hold the crowds and their cars, so satellite parking and shuttle service is on the agenda for tonight--and who knows what for next week. There's been talk of an old-fashioned tabernacle building, with plenty of Amish barn-raisers ready to go to work on it.

The building in which the meetings have been held was originally the Goshen Wal-Mart. For being a small city, Goshen has the distinction of actually having two Wal-Marts. The other one was intended to be located in Elkhart, the neighboring metropolis, but when all was said and done its front door ended up on the Goshen side of the border.

At any rate, almost 20 years ago Wal-Mart decided to make this particular Wal-Mart a SuperCenter. There was good reason for this: the Wal-Mart was on the southeast edge of Goshen, within easy van driving distance of over a thousand Amish households. On any day of the week, 15-passenger vans pulling long cargo trailers would pull up and discharge a dozen Amish housewives doing the weekly or monthly shopping. Why not sell them food while they were already there?

So it was that Wal-Mart moved a few hundred yards farther down US 33, into more spacious quarters. But what to do with the old building? It sat vacant for a while, until it was purchased by an entertainment company and turned into a massive movie theater/skating rink/video arcade. If anyone thought that Amish housewives were going to make it a stop on their shopping trips, they could have thought again, and after only a few months of lackluster business, the new complex was shuttered.

Backing up forty years, a man named Mel Shetler had a vision for a conservative Mennonite church in the city of Goshen, reaching out to those in the community from other backgrounds than his own. Thus was started the innocuous-sounding outreach called Maple City Chapel. After a couple of decades, they had wandered a bit from their conservative roots, and taken in a lot of people interested in a more lively sort of church life than what their backgrounds had offered them. That derelict Wal-Mart building seemed just the place to plant a megachurch, and so it was that the skating rink was transformed into an auditorium, and the theaters into classrooms. A bad storm a few years in warped the hardwood floor of the former skating rink, and the insurance settlement replaced it with carpet. Other than the odd oval shape of its auditorium and the high-ceilinged classrooms, the building had now taken on the look of a church capable of handling a congregation of up to 1000 people. By adding overflow seating in the atrium and fellowship area, the maximum capacity reached 2500--as long as the rest of the mall didn't mind sharing their parking spaces. So it was that Maple City Chapel, a popular venue for wedding receptions, banquets, and conventions, became the logical host for the Indiana Revival meetings.

Never has a crowd been so big that every seat was taken--until now. And now, every seat is not nearly enough. Attendance has approached 2000 twice already, and this thing is just getting going.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Indiana Revival report: Day 11

On January 22, 2015, billboards started going up in Elkhart County, Indiana, proclaiming; REVIVAL IS HERE. The night before, hundreds of students from six local high schools gathered on the stage to be prayed for. The youth pastors who had brought them filled the center aisle. What was the reason for this gathering?

It had just been reported that the principals of two local high schools--one public, one private--had released their students to participate in the revival. And before the night was over, a text arrived from the board of another public school proclaiming the same thing.

One of the students on the stage was wearing a sweaty soccer uniform, because he'd skipped showering after the game in order not to miss another 10 minutes of the meeting. That morning, as soon as he'd heard that school was cancelled due to a heavy fog, he hurried in to join the dozens of groups going out to pray across the county. He'd prayed at three homes already before noon, and invited a young man at one of them to join the meetings for the rest of the day--who did. Then it was off the the soccer game and right back to the house of meeting.

We are now on the 11th straight sixteen-hour day of corporate worship, intense prayer, and scattering into the community to pray with anyone who wants it. WFRN-FM has been carrying the services every single night, and people are tuning in from 50, 60 miles away--and worldwide by internet. One woman who watched the online videos at wasn't able to get out of her house until she prayed along with a healing prayer on the video, and 24 hours later her back pain and inflammation was totally gone--so of course she was present in person at the next meeting!

This is an unusual revival in two ways: first, there are no altar calls, and very little preaching on repentance. The assumption is that the church in Elkhart County already has the Holy Spirit, and all they have to do is go out into the community and spread Him around. The focus is on first praying for whatever felt need is expressed, then, with the discernment of the Holy Spirit, leading each contact through a five-verse plan of salvation, giving them a New Testament, and making a commitment to follow up within 24 hours.

Secondly, healing is a primary result of this revival. Not a focus; no one is ever prayed for unless he requests it. But many are requesting healing, and they are getting it. And it's not happening up on stage--its happening in homes, parking lots, and sidewalks all over the community. No one claims to have a gift of healing, but when they pray, they're seeing people healed--often to their own amazement. And it's not just physical healing; bondages are being shattered.

Hundreds of people are testifying that the Holy Spirit is moving in and through them. Doors are opening. Walls are coming down. More and more churches, having had their premises visited by prayer teams the first week, are coming on board. The overflow room has overflowed. Last night, simultaneous Spanish translation was offered for the first time.  At the rate things are going, there soon won't be a building in Elkhart County big enough to hold the crowds--they may just have to move to the arena at the County Fairgrounds, which never hosts an outdoor crowd this time of year.

This has the makings of the first nationwide revival in over 100 years. And there are still over 40 days to go.

Tomorrow I'll write about the building that's about to be outgrown.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

What is revival?

Although as of January 21st, 2015, it hasn't made the news yet, revival has broken out in Elkhart County, Indiana. Over the next few days I will be writing on what is happening and just what makes up a revival. So yes, this blog is actually going to look like a blog for a few days or weeks.  This header post will be revised daily as I write about revival in general; later revisions (this clause being one) will be so identified.

1. It is a move of God.
Revival is not something people do--it's something they experience, because it's a God thing.

2. It comes to people who expect it.
Whenever revival breaks out, it comes out that people have been praying for it for years--earnest, focused prayer. It spreads to a lot of people who weren't praying for it, but it never comes where it wasn't wanted.

3. It is characterized by prayer (this was actually the 9th item I added, but it belongs here).
Hours-long prayer meetings are the distinguishing mark of a revival, especially on college campuses, where it is usually the first mark to emerge. The revival of 1857 began with prayer, and was so characterized by prayer that is is known as the Prayer Revival. I would go so far as to say it is an essential mark of true revival that normal business is put on hold for extended sessions of prayer. And we haven't seen this break out on any scale during REVIVE Indiana. Small groups here and there were often seen in prayer--sometimes extended--but it never spilled over into a revision of the tightly-followed meeting schedule.

4. It brings repentance.
This is twofold: first, repentance by saints of that which has been hindering their effectiveness, and then repentance by sinners unto salvation. The two go hand in hand, because once saints become unhindered they start winning souls to salvation.

5. It restores broken relationships.
There are many categories of relationships that are restored through revival. One example in this instance is a church that split a couple of years ago because its members couldn't agree. Now the two congregations are working together in the revival. Another category is  family relationships. Husbands and wives who used to fight like cats and dogs are now treating each other with honor and respect. Fathers who used to criticize their children are now building them up. Former theological opponents are meeting, hugging, and praying together.

6. It becomes the talk of the town.
The Indiana Revival is still in its early stages, and already it is an item of intense interest. Just to take this blog for example: My posts on albinism have garnered more page hits then the next 25 most popular posts put together--until this week. I haven't even been reporting for a week yet, and daily the hits to my revival updates outpace the usual continued rush to my albinism posts. Several are already in the top 10 for the month, after only seven days! Newspaper websites are being deluged with searches for 'revival' and their phones are ringing with people asking "What's up with Revive INDIANA?" There comes a point when no one can deny that it's the top story in the news.

7. Its draw becomes irresistible.
People are even drawn into the revival who want nothing to do with it, disagree with it, and have been doing their utmost to avoid it.  Either they come to the revival, or the revival ends up coming to them, despite their best attempts to flee it.
Case in point: a carload from the corner of the state, four hours away, that showed up for, of all things, Training Night. Naturally they claimed that they hadn't driven all that way for the revival, and had perfectly logical reasons for just happening to be in town, and felt perfectly free to come 'check out' the phenomenon which they had heard so much of, 200 miles away. Not an extreme case, but nonetheless an example of the phenomena at work.

8. It fills the churches.
Church attendance always goes up during a revival, as does membership, with an increase in baptisms; this at least in the case of churches that aren't opposing the revival.

9. It lowers the crime rate.
As criminals join the ranks of the converted, they stop committing crimes. It may be a bit soon to judge Revive Indiana's effect on the local crime rate, but it is interesting to note the Elkhart, which averages about one murder every other month, has had none since Dec. 19th. And interestingly enough, that last murder remained unsolved until witnesses finally came forward toward the end of January, and a suspect has now been arrested. Many of the arrests in January and February were for crimes committed earlier, with suspects just now being taken in--and, in many cases, pleading guilty. The majority of arrests, however, have been for drunk driving; if this revival is to succeed, historically speaking the drunks are going to have to sober up.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Hurrah for Snopes!

I've been hard on Snopes before, so I want to give credit where it is due: their article on "NASA and the missing day" is spot-on. Look how it ends:

To those who've given over their hearts to God and the Holy Word, this is a deeply satisfying legend. Faith is, after all, the firm belief in something which cannot necessarily be proved, a quality that can leave believers (especially those who find themselves in the midst of non-believers) feeling unsatisfied. As steadfast as their certainty is, they cannot prove the rightness of the path they tread to those who jeer at their convictions. And this is a heavy burden to shoulder. A legend such as the "missing day explained" tale speaks straight to the hearts of those who yearn for a bit of vindication in this life. Being right isn't always enough: sometimes what one most longs for is sweet recognition from others.

That recognition, and that satisfaction, is what this legend provides. Intoxicatingly heady stuff, that. No wonder this tale has survived from generation to generation and withstood the ravages of countless debunkings. Nonetheless, its factual details are wrong, the scientific processes it describes are dubious, and its premise of a "missing day" depends upon some very selective and questionable intepretations of scripture.

Authenticity matters little, though: our willingness to accept legends depends far more upon their expression of concepts we want to believe than upon their plausibility. If the sun once really did stand still for a day, the best evidence we'd have for proving it would be the accounts of people who saw it happen. That is what the Bible is said to offer. Some people accept that as sufficient proof, and others don't.