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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Revival Now--but what follows?

“It is a delicate matter, to write up revival!” wrote Dr. Joe Church, who, by his own account, seeded the East Africa Revival in 1929 by studying the Scofield Reference Bible with Simeon Nsibambi in Kampala, Uganda. Full revival was then launched from Gahini, Rwanda in the early 1930's as preachers fanned out with the message of repentance unto salvation.

Nay, counter the Ugandan Anglicans. The Balokole Revival started there in 1922, and spread to Rwanda from there in the late 1930's--and it was in spite of, rather than due to, Joe Church and his associates, who objected to their revival being taken over by unruly natives.

And an unruly revival it did become. As the Balokole threw aside both Anglican liturgical ceremonies and the animistic syncretism that had crept into them, they had to contend with a rash of new hyperspiritual fads, such as meeting naked (to demonstrate a complete freedom from lustful desires), ecstatic utterances (which had actually begun in 1916 in the Uriya Forest, and 1912 among the Luo), and dramatic physical signs such as collapsing, hyperventilating, quaking, grunting, shrieking, and thrashing--behaviour usually associated in those climes with demon possession. Muslim evangelists produced similar manifestations in their disciples, but without the public prayer and confession of sins that characterized the Anglican revival.

So, like revivals tend to be, it was messy. Yet it swept across East Africa for decades until it finally burned out in the 1950's. Lasting legacies of the East Africa Revival are numerous indigenous religious movements, still outside the mainstream of Christianity. And although Rwanda and Burundi remained over 90% professing Christian, what good did that do in the decades that followed, when both nations reeled under one genocidal bloodbath after another, that cost upwards of a million lives?

Be careful what you pray for, as you may just get it--and its typical aftermath. It's difficult to see how the countries at the epicenter of the East Africa Revival--Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi--could be any worse off now, had revival never swept their land.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes revival happens before God's judgment (war).

    The great 1904 Welsh Revival happened before World War I; I am sure that many Welshmen died in the trenches of northern France between 1914-1918.

    There was a big revival in New York City around 1859 just before the start of the Civil War (1860-1865).

    Revival really stirs up the pot, so to speak. Sometimes things become messy and chaotic, but the Lord is always the one to sort it all out.


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