This evening’s gathering at All Saint’s Cathedral after tea on the grounds was an Opening worship freely flowing with hymns brought by Western missionaries yet touched by an African vigor and sway. It also brought various speakers to the podium to focus our attention on the East African Revival of the 1920s and 30s and which had a second or renewed out pouring of the Holy Spirit in the 1970s. Indeed as the Chancellor of Uganda Christian University reminded us in a stirring address—“We speak of the East Africa Revival as if it is a relic of history. It is not just a relic…not just a movement in history; it is a living movement today.” (Paraphrased from my jotted notes from his address) This movement which has as its center the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the call of the Holy Spirit for believers to “Walk in the Light” and the necessity of repentance, public confession of sins and putting of wrongs right in the believer’s life, as well as a corresponding call for humility and brokenness, was and remains a mighty presence in the Church in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania. This revival like so many great revivals in history was predominately a lay movement. It calls every man to be a Bible student, responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, transcending denominational boundaries yet seeking to keep (in the phrase I remember from several decades ago in the Renewal Movement of the 1970s and 80s) “the fire in the fireplace.” Indeed as the Chancellor noted, from the heart of this living movement today’s Church is presented with some probing questions:
What is the cause of coldness and deadness in our churches?
Why are people allowed to come to the Lord’s Table who are living in known sin?
What can be done to bring revival to the Church?
I left this Opening session this evening reflecting upon my own experience in the revival of the 1970s which influenced my early life as a Christian after my conversion during college and ready for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit today, remembering those words from St. Augustine of Hippo—“Revive thy Church, Oh Lord, beginning with me.”
Well, it is almost 11:00 p.m. I am still more than a little under the sway of jet-lag and 5:30 a.m. comes early. Don’t know when I’ll have an opportunity to blog next but will do so as I am able.
South Carolina XIV