REVIVAL IN ASBURY
I. GOD WILL PROVIDE THE ANSWER
The following chapters originated in the United States of America. During the course of my ministry, I have crossed this great continent on 13 different occasions and have preached the gospel of Christ in several hundred churches, colleges and seminaries. In this way, I have gradually become aware of the actual conditions prevailing in this land.
The scope of the problems there, however, is so wide that one cannot even begin to describe them in any detail. Let me simply quote, therefore, from the daily newspapers lying beside me at the moment. The articles are dated 13th and 14th May 1970.
The first report I see, describes a fresh confrontation between the blacks and the whites in the State of Georgia. A 16-year-old Negro boy has been beaten to death. The whites maintain that the blacks are responsible for his death while the blacks retort, "He was killed by the whites." The result of the conflict which followed was: 6 dead and 63 admitted to hospital, not to mention those suffering from minor injuries. At the same time, 50 fires were reported in the area, and 300 National Guardsmen had to be flown in by helicopter to help the local police contain the opposing groups.
We are faced here with the ever increasing problem of black versus white. As a result of the increased organization among the Negroes, the so-called Black Power movement has come into being. The most radical members of this movement form a kind of elite among the Negroes called the Black Panthers. They make no secret of their aims and openly declare, "Within the next few years we will start a nationwide revolution designed to repay the whites for the way they have treated us."
What are the forces behind the ever increasing intensity of these confrontations? It is not possible to place all the contributory factors over a common denominator.
First of all, there are those who say that America is being presented today with the bill for the slavery she has fostered in past centuries. As history progresses, injustices are balanced out.
Another factor which contributes a great deal to the problem is the question of colour and the discrimination against the Negroes. The oppressed classes always rebel against those who rule over them. No matter what the continent or what the century, this problem has always existed.
Then, again, one of the most important factors is the world-wide political confrontation between Communism and the Free World. Communist ideologists find this racial conflict extremely useful, and they are forever trying to stir up more trouble in order to bring the struggle for power to a head. Even as I write these words, the walls and buildings of the United States are plastered with the slogan - Revolution Now! What does this mean?
There are about 16 million Negroes living in the U.S.A., mainly in the Southern States. The aim, which is continually being fostered by the Communist agitators, is: the expropriation of the white landlords. The blacks must inherit the land on which they have been forced to work for centuries. The 'black belt' must leave the Union of States and become an independent State in its own right. The cry which went up between the First and Second World Wars of 'self-determination' has changed now to one of 'national freedom'. What some of the Communists have in mind is nothing less than a 'negro-soviet' republic - an expression which was first coined as far back as in 1928 by the international Communist, John Pepper. Politically speaking, a breakaway Southern State would be a heavy blow to America, but a great boon to the Communists.
Yet, the struggle is not only racial. The Communist ideologists have very outlined aims, one of which is to win over the youth of the country, particularly the young intellectuals. On the i4th May 1970, the newspapers contained the following reports.
As a result of the events taking place in Vietnam and Cambodia, students from 192 colleges and universities demonstrated against the Nixon administration. In the University of Los Angeles alone, some 8,500 students took part in a protest march. The main roads of the city were blocked. In other towns and cities, the police were pelted with stones, public buildings were demolished, and college property smashed. In Columbus, Ohio, four students were shot dead in clashes with the police.
What inspires these demonstrations? One could think of many answers. Many people claim that the students are being stirred up by minority leftwing elements. Yet, these rebellious young people will be occupying the country's key positions within the next 10 to 15 years. Those who mould their political outlook today will reap the profits tomorrow. The Communists often realize this fact far better than the worn out liberal government officials and authorities of our day.
The world situation is extremely confused. In the West, students march under the Red flag holding the Moo Bible in their hands, while in the East the nations under Communism form one great concentration camp where freedom has long since ceased to exist. Peking's slogan, 'Red or Dead', contains much truth. If students in Moscow or Peking dared to protest like their counterparts do in the West, the Communist crematoriums would soon be working overtime.
Again and again I have heard Christians in the Far East ask, "Why aren't the Western stone-, egg-, and tomato-throwing students given the chance to take an active part in the construction of the Red paradise? They would have no time to protest during their 10 to 12 hours of 'voluntary' labour each day, and although they would get every tenth day off in Russia, they would still have to spend some of their free time in attending classes for political indoctrination. And, in Red China, the only free day they would get each year would be the Chinese New Year's Day. Having to work solidly for 364 days of each year might make them appreciate the freedoms they have in the West, and it might stop the smear campaign they are engaged in against Western democracy."
If one were to believe, however, that the only factors behind these protests were of a political or a social or racial nature, one should apply for a stronger pair of spiritual glasses. The Scriptures are quite explicit about the situation of the world today. In 2 Timothy 3:1-4 we read, "In the last days there will come times or stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God."
We are living close to the end of the age. The chaos is growing and manifesting itself more clearly every day. Law and order is crumbling before the onslaught of the powers of darkness. Today's revolutionaries hang like puppets from the hand of the archenemy of our souls, completely unaware of his true designs. But, how could they know? They neither read the Bible nor are open to the illumination of the Holy Spirit. As Goethe himself once said, "Even when the devil takes them by the collar, people still remain oblivious to his presence."
The end is fast approaching. The world can no longer be saved. No matter what the false prophets of optimism say, nothing will divert the world from its present course.
The columns of the newspapers I have already mentioned, describe a small attempt to solve the racial struggle. A church decided to use all its capital resources, which amounted to something in the region of 3 million dollars, in an attempt to alleviate the suffering of part of the poor negro population. The result was that the church became filled on Sundays with a coloured congregation. The pastor, although white, will have nothing to fear now from the blacks in any future racial strife, yet one wonders whether the day may come when he is struck by a white man's bullet. To take sides is to become the enemy of the opposing party.
The result is the same whether the bullet which kills us was fired by a black or a white hand.
The world is like a great train which is rushing with ever increasing speed towards its final goal. It is impossible to jump off for the train will only finally halt at the STOP sign at the end of the age.
God himself has fixed the sign ahead. In Acts 17:31 we read:
God has appointed a day.
God has ordained a man.
God's judgement is ready at hand.
Our earth is passing away. The solar system in which we live will not abide forever. In Matthew 24: 35 Jesus says, "Heaven and earth will pass away." Only one thing will remain: the Word of the Lord.
We are standing at the threshold of some of this world's greatest events. Those who have eyes to see, let them see! Those who have ears to hear, let them hear! God is going to provide the answer. His silence to date is simply a sign of his patience. His forbearance speaks of his mercy. Yet, the spotlights are already focussing upon the One who is to come.
II. GOD'S PREPARATORY WORK
This century, in which the final accounts of the world will almost certainly be presented, has already seen the windows of heaven open on several occasions. In 1905 Western Europe was richly blessed through the revival in Wales. Then Korea experienced her prayer revival, the spirit of which continues to be effective even today. The German book 'Koreas Beter' describes this. Next, came Uganda in Africa, where God stirred up a great movement of repentance and confession of sin among the people. It was there that the Christians learned to practise the habit of 'walking in the light'. In 1945 a missionary revival sprang up among the Tayal mountain tribes on Formosa. Then, in the autumn of 1965 the glorified Lord lit a fire on the island of Timor in Indonesia, and a revival of an almost apostolic nature began.
And today the Lord is still at work shedding his light in the darkness around us in order to show us the way. The most recent glimpse of his light can be seen in the revival at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, U.S.A. But before we go on to describe this movement of the Spirit of God one important question must be answered:
Are we right to write about a revival?
Many people will answer almost spontaneously, "But of course. Why not?" Yet, the question is justified, for after the original publication of this book in Germany, two missionaries opposed its distribution. They maintained that it would have a damaging effect on the course of the revival. One of them went so far as to try to actively hinder the distribution of some free copies in his area. They lay idle in his home for months before the people they were intended for finally managed to get him to hand them out.
Is it right, therefore, to publish a report of this nature? First of all, let me say by way of a personal confession: not one of my books is written without a lot of 'knee-work' beforehand. The prayer is ever on my lips, "Lord, fill these books with your Holy Spirit and use them for the salvation of those for whom you died."
Let us look at the pros and cons quite objectively. It is definitely wrong to blow something up out of proportion. Sensationalism, exaggeration, and the describing of miracles, for miracles' sake, present a danger to the healthy course of any revival.
Moreover, there is the problem of the devil attacking those involved in the revival whose stories are published abroad. Every genuine missionary and evangelist knows how easy it is for believers to backslide and to become proud when reports of their spiritual histories are made known publicly.
In Moslem countries, too, there are further sources of danger. Christians are often exposed in these places to the terrorization of the fanatical followers of Mohammed and, for this reason, it is often best to avoid the use of personal names and geographical locations - as we have sometimes done so in this book - when speaking about the movement of God's Spirit in these areas.
In the light of these three arguments against the writing of a report on a revival, what reasons are there for publicizing such events?
Basically, there are three important reasons why one should inform the Church of Christ, at large, when a revival has broken out.
Had Matthew, Mark and John been overanxious about writing their reports, their Gospels would not have existed today. Had Luke closed his eyes to the revival which occurred during his lifetime, neither his Gospel nor the Acts would have found their way into our hands. The history of the Christian Church would have taken a very different course had these reports never been published, and what a blessing would have been lost to mankind.
Somehow, a short circuit has taken place if Christians who are called to intercede for mission fields and to donate richly towards their work are later refused the blessing of being able to share in a written report.
But, the problem is even greater than this, and it leads us to the very front line of the work of God in this world. Mankind, today, is passing through a time of great suffering. In Vietnam some 300,000 children have been orphaned since the conflict began there. In Nigeria we have heard of the millions of Ibos who have died of starvation. We are shocked to hear of the cruel tortures which Christians are forced to suffer in Chinese and Russian prisons. Such sorrows as these are almost too much for those who sometimes pray for nights on end for the world in which we live. There is a need to tell these lonely children of God, within whose hearts the suffering of their fellow creatures burns, the wonderful miracles which God is doing in the revival areas of our day. Such reports are like balm for their wounds. Is it wrong for those who weep with those who weep, to be given the opportunity in a similar way of rejoicing with those who rejoice in an outpouring of the Spirit of God?
It cannot be considered right when certain Christians, out of concern for the treasures of a revival, shut out the rest of the Body of Christ. When God pours out the oil of gladness on a part of his Church, it is meant to be enjoyed, not only by those who stand in the actual course of the stream, but by the Church of Christ as a whole.
Not least, we should remember, as one of the chief arguments the scriptural fact, that the Body of Christ is a unity. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:26, "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together." And the word “all” does not only mean those who live in a certain geographical location near to where God's outpouring has taken place.
We are, therefore, more than justified in informing the Church about the revival in Asbury. What a terrific blessing would have been lost by other colleges and universities in the United States if the revival in Asbury had been kept to itself. But, the teachers and the students have testified, sometimes even on the radio, to the American people of what God is doing in their midst. What matters is not the pleasing of people but the building up of the kingdom of God.
The revival, however, is significant in another way. Thousands of Christians in America have been horrified by the hopeless moral, political and spiritual depths to which their country has sunk over the last few decades. And now, at last, in answer to their prayers, God has sent revival. This is proof that God has not finally given up on the Western world. So, are we to keep quiet about it? Are we to remain silent about the answer that God has given to the cry of these Christians' hearts?
Yet, this is not all. Do the students of Asbury realize that in Korean prayer meetings, and in the simple huts of Timor and other Indonesian islands, native Christians have been praying for years for a revival to come to the United States? Have these American students, who have been called to carry the torch of the gospel still further, realized that Christians in Communist prisons too, have been praying for a spiritual awakening of their land?
The Asbury revival may well be called a prayer revival. There are countless thousands of Christians all over the world whose prayers form the backbone of this spiritual outbreak in the U.S.A. The East has not only brought the Red and murderous terror of Communism to America, but it has brought something far better - the prayers of those tortured for Christ in Communist prisons.
I was deeply moved to hear of the testimony of Richard Wurmbrand when he described how Christians with 50 pound chains at their feet pray every night for their brothers living in the freedom of the West, who, although they are not bound by chains of iron, are bound with fetters of a different sort.
The revival in Asbury is a miracle of God. The praying Church in the East has found her brothers in prayer in the West. A chain of prayer has encircled the world. The Church of Christ is being prepared through the Holy Spirit for the coming great day of the Lord's return. But, this is running on ahead. Let us see how the course of events took place.
III. GOD'S GLORY REVEALED
Asbury College is situated in the small town of Wilmore in the State of Kentucky, U.S.A.
On Tuesday the 3rd February 1970, the regular morning meeting was held as usual at 10 o'clock. It was scheduled to last for a quarter of an hour. However, although the preacher kept to the time allotted to him, God had other thoughts in mind. As the minister challenged the congregation to decide to follow Christ, several of the students responded and began to make their way to the front.
As the minutes passed by, however, more and more decided to surrender their lives to Christ. Recognizing what was happening, the school authorities cancelled the lessons for the morning. The Holy Spirit had begun to work in the hearts and lives of the students. "Not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire, but in a still small voice" (1 Kings 19:11-12),
The movement continued on into the afternoon with the students remaining in the chapel kneeling around the altar. Gradually more and more people found themselves joining in the prayers, and the number of those praying in the Hughes auditorium grew to 1,200. On this first day of the revival, several hundred people committed their lives to Christ.
For many, the thought of eating had left their minds completely, and the huge prayer meeting continued on into the evening. By midnight, although the number of those who were praying had fallen by half, many remained praying through the night. On Wednesday morning at 6 o'clock, 75 students were still praying in the hall.
IV. THE PRAYER REVIVAL
That Wednesday, normal classes were still impossible. The students simply knelt on the floor of the great auditorium all day and prayed.
On these first two days no sermon was preached, but instead the time was filled with praying, singing, brief confessions of sin, and testimonies of personal blessing.
News of the event spread quickly through the neighbourhood. Friends of the school, together with many spiritually hungry people, soon arrived hoping to share in the blessing. On Wednesday, the number of visitors rose to 1,300. Yet, there was still no evangelistic message given. The only people who spoke were those students who had been converted in the first two days and who now wanted to tell how God had dealt with them.
Yet, even at such times there were usually over a hundred students on their knees in silent prayer. One particular student, who had been present when the revival had begun, did not leave the hall for a total of 48 hours. The power of the Holy Spirit had overcome him.
Within a few days, visitors had arrived at the college from all over Kentucky. Indeed, they came from all over the United States. And every one of them was able to share in the stream of blessing. A wave of cleansing and a spirit of prayer gripped all those who joined in the large prayer meetings which ensued.
Even people who were unable to be present began to share in the blessing. Requests for prayer and intercession arrived by letter and over the phone. As a result, the whole of North America was soon covered with a network of intensive prayer. But, this would never have happened if the teachers at Asbury College had jealously guarded the blessing of revival and kept it to themselves.
Other colleges and theological seminaries started to send messages of greetings and requests for prayer, as they sought to share in the spiritual renewal which the students at Asbury had experienced.
The spiritual discernment and wisdom of the teachers at the college is underlined by the fact that normal lessons were not restarted until a week after the initial out-break. On top of this, the sports meetings were cancelled at the request of the students themselves.
The theological seminary situated nearby was also engulfed by the wave of prayer.
V. HE SENT THEM OUT TWO BY TWO
In Luke 10:1, we read of how Jesus sent the seventy out two by two. At Asbury, the revival developed in the same way. After three days and three nights of prayer, two of the students rose to their feet and declared that they felt a responsibility towards other colleges in the land. While Mark Davis went to Greenville College, Wayne Anthony felt called to visit Azusa College - a college in which I have also preached only a few years ago.
And so, the missionary work of Asbury College had begun. The college's own report described quite clearly how the students decided after 72 hours of prayer that they should spread the blessing further for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.
The messengers who subsequently left the college were supported by the unceasing prayers of those who remained. In the meantime, requests for prayer were coming in, not only from all over North America, but also from other places throughout the world.
Soon after the departure of the first two messengers of the gospel, other teams followed. On their return, like Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15: 4, "They declared all that God had done through them."
Colleges visited by the teams reported revivals among their own students similar to that experienced at Asbury College itself.
VI. MORE AND MORE BELIEVERS WERE ADDED
In Acts 5:14 we read, "And more than ever believers were added to the Lord." By the evening of the fourth day, some 1,600 people were gathered together in the great auditorium at Asbury. There were students there from many other universities and colleges. But, it was not curiosity which had drawn them. Each one had been driven by a desire to meet with God. Like me, they had felt compelled to come and share in the blessing which God was pouring out.
The college staff appointed one of their members to act as public relations officer between themselves and other institutes of further education. On top of this reporters began to arrive from various newspapers and, above all, from Christian magazines. Dr. Kinlaw, the college president, reminded the newsmen that theirs was not the only college to have experienced revival. Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale had all been scenes of God's outpouring in the past.
There were the critics too, who sought to uncover some extreme or psychical movement at Asbury. But, they were disappointed. There was no sensationalism, no noising abroad of spiritual experiences, and no speaking in tongues either.
The special characteristics of the revival were all on the same plane: a spirit of worship, song and prayer; thanksgiving; supplication and intercession. Each one of these involved communion with God. The intensity of their prayers was the key to the answers they received from heaven. "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (James 5:16).
One of the ministers present begged the students to intercede on behalf of his son who had been paralysed since birth. When a number of the students began to pray for the boy the Lord answered them and he was healed.
VII. THE WORD OF GOD INCREASED
When the shepherds of Bethlehem were honoured by God with the news of the Saviour's birth, instead of adopting a legalistic and pious attitude of secrecy, these simple men felt compelled to spread the story abroad.
In Asbury, instead of shepherds or craftsmen, it was students. But, what the shepherds and the students had in common was a mighty revelation of the grace of God. And like the shepherds, the students could not help but pass on the blessing that God had poured into their hearts.
On the Sunday following the commencement of the revival, instead of attending their usual places of worship, many of the inhabitants of Wilmore went to the college's auditorium. They were irresistibly drawn to this fresh fountain of the blessing of God.
What an experience it was for the visitors when they heard the students testifying of the manner in which the Lord had saved them. In America, even more so than in either England or Germany, students have the reputation of being just 'undisciplined, critical demonstrators'. It is true that such a label only fits one section of the student population, but the negative picture always seems to overshadow the positive one. This, however, only served to increase the astonishment of those who heard the reports as they spread throughout the United States.
Invitations were received from all over the country. It would have been impossible to answer them all, had not many of the students been ready to carry the torch of the gospel further.
One of the teachers told the students of all the requests they had received. The response was enormous. Of the one thousand students at the college, some four to five hundred volunteered to go out and work on the teams.
To keep track of the overall picture, the teams' movements were traced with coloured pins on a map of the United States. Yet, unusual as it may seem for Americans who love to quote impressive figures, the number of those converted was not recorded. This was an amazing sign of the moderation and reserve of the Christians concerned.
Instead, they gave themselves to a far more rewarding task. The college, by means of the radio, brought into being a great network of prayer. Their program is broadcast each afternoon at 5 o'clock on shortwave at 14325 kc. By the end of the first week 16 other colleges had joined in the scheme. By now, however, as I write these words the number has increased fivefold.
Such a rate of growth within a single week is almost impossible to grasp. Just think of the thousands of people who were caught up in the streams of blessing issuing from the world's most recent revival through the gospel broadcasts and the missions of the teams! Our brothers in America did the exact opposite to the two Indonesian missionaries who tried to hinder the spreading of the news of the revival on Timor and the surrounding islands.
Of course, it would be easy for the European in his arrogance to retort, "Well, what can one expect from Americans?" But, this is unfair. If there is a pos sibility of reaching a million people instead of a thousand, then surely it is more scriptural to make use of the greater opportunity in furthering the work of the Lord. Those who only have one talent should not endeavour to hinder those who have had five talents entrusted to them. And, in any case, it is not a matter of either our own 'short-sightedness' or 'long-sightedness', but of the command which we receive from the Lord. God is judge, and not the brother who seeks to measure us according to his own standards.
VIII. THE NEW SPIRIT
By the end of the first week, some 12,000 people had come from all over the country to visit the college in order to share in the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit. The students themselves had continued in prayer for a total of 168 hours. One of them had remained at prayer in the chapel for the whole of the seven days. What physical resources this must have required! Yet, he was able to draw from the same fountain from which Elisha fed during his 40 days journey to Mount Horeb.
Classes had been discontinued during this time, and they only began again on the Wednesday of the week following the first outpouring. Yet, the spirit of prayer at the college was not quenched, and whenever the students were free, they would make their way to the chapel to pray.
The first wave of blessing was carried into 16 different States through the work of the missionary teams in this first week. And several thousands of people were converted as a result of their labours.
Even the reporters were amazed at the miraculous new spirit among the students. In an article from which I will quote, one of them wrote, "What is wrong with these students? .... All of a sudden, they have adopted a different attitude towards the opposite sex. A wave of inner cleanliness has swept away the sexual licentiousness. The militant spirit is gone. Instead of charging through our towns like wild animals, throwing petrol bombs and assaulting our citizens and police, here in the small town of Wilmore a quiet spirit of prayer and communion with God reigns. While the peace of the nation is being disturbed by political and social unrest, here, in this student revival, the atmosphere has been cleared as if by the presence of God. Up till now, I had thought myself to be a Christian. Here in this college, however, doubts have been raised concerning the whole of my Christian life." A minister from Pennsylvania, who invited me to hold a mission in his town, wrote a letter to me describing how he and his own church had been gripped by the spirit of the revival in Asbury. His life and his ministry had been utterly changed.
IX. DAILY WITH ONE ACCORD IN THE TEMPLE
In Acts 2: 46 Luke wrote these words, "And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts." To live day by day under the Word of God! Today, those of us who call ourselves Christians hardly do this week by week!
Every revival is characterized by believers meeting together daily to pray and to hear the Word of God preached. As it was in Korea, so it is in Indonesia, and also in the Asbury revival.
After three weeks, the students were still meeting together every day to pray. Throughout the day hundreds of students could be found on their knees in intercession and prayer. Each evening visitors from all over the United States crowded into the large auditorium which, in spite of its 1,500 seats, was unable to contain all who came.
These meetings illustrate the unity of the Church of Christ. Irrespective of their denomination, everyone shared in this new manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Among those present were Lutherans, Baptists, Nazarenes, Methodists, Episcopalians and Independents, as well as members of various missionary societies.
Questions of doctrine and theological disputes and liturgical differences no longer mattered. Only one thing was important: getting right with God and conforming to His will. Theology only creates churches - the Holy Spirit creates the Church of Jesus Christ.
X. THEY DID NOT CEASE
The ministry of the Early Church was one of almost 'non-stop' evangelism. In Acts 5:42, we read, "And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."
The revival in Asbury has developed along similar lines. In the first few months, as a result of the evangelistic work of the teams, 35 other universities and colleges experienced similar movements of God's Spirit. During the same period, the effects of the revival became visible in 25 other States. Large numbers of people were converted through reading the reports in the newspapers, and through radio and television programs. Why should these modern means of communication be used exclusively as weapons of the prince of darkness?
The following examples illustrate the growth of the spiritual movement. A Christian business man in Anderson, Indiana, hired the local town hall and invited students from Asbury to come and speak there. A number of prayer meetings were held and the hall was crowded with people. Each lunch time the students, together with office workers, business men and manual labourers met together under the Word of God. The spark of revival spread from the town hall to a local church and from there to the nearby college.
On another occasion, a team of three Asbury students, Mark Davis, Janie Wiley and David Nesselroade, accepted an invitation to visit Denver, Colorado. On a Sunday evening some 3,000 people gathered together in the beautiful Calvary Church to hear the Word of God preached.
At the time of writing, meetings of this nature are spreading all over the United States in the wake of the Asbury revival. At the close of these meetings when the audience is invited to surrender their lives to Christ, hundreds of people come out to the front. There is hardly ever enough room for all those who wish to register their decision, and sometimes the area before the altar is filled more than three or four times by inquirers desiring counselling and intercession.
The spiritual wave of repentance and soul-searching is gradually filling the whole country. It was seeing these results for me which caused me to write this report.
Genuine revivals always seek to spread to areas as yet untouched by the Spirit of God. The apostle Paul felt compelled to travel from Asia Minor to Europe and to Spain. Thomas was called by God to go to India. Nommensen was drawn to preach to the Batak. Hudson Taylor felt the call of the Chinese people. It is not a love of adventure or of travel which grips the heart of every true missionary of God, but rather the urge contained in the command of our Lord Jesus when he said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15).
The Asbury revival has been led along this same pathway by the Lord. The first call the students received was to visit Canada, and there they were instrumental in carrying the flame of this new fire further.
The next request came from Columbia, a country in which remarkable changes have been taking place in recent years. Only 20 years ago, Protestant missionaries and churches were being brutally persecuted and opposed. The stamping out of religious freedom had taken on such terrible forms that other countries throughout the world began to voice their disapproval. But, the time of persecution was followed by a period of much blessing. Today, Columbia is hungry for the gospel.
A friend of mine is currently sending thousands of Spanish editions of the New Testament into Columbia and other Latin American countries. The gifts of German and Swiss Christians have made it possible to send 5,000 Spanish New Testaments and several hundred copies of my own books printed in Spanish into these South American countries. And the fruit of this work is already being seen. As I write, another shipment of some 40,000 New Testaments is again on its way. The doors of Latin America are opening to the gospel and to the work of the Holy Spirit. A time of great opportunity faces these countries so shaken by social problems and revolution. There is no human answer to these troubles; only the gospel can help.
While we are on the subject of the Catholic countries in South America, there is one wonderful spiritual event that just cannot be left unmentioned. Only a year ago a Catholic archbishop was converted, and one of the first things he did was to order some thousands of New Testaments for his country. His aim was to supply every Catholic in his archbishopric with one of these New Testaments.
I am aware that there will be much scepticism about a report like this. For example, when the author of the book 'Koreas Beter' described two of Pope Paul's religious experiences, the publishers asked him to leave the stories out of his book. Yet, since then, I have met a minister in Canada who actually heard Pope Paul describe these experiences himself during an audience at the Vatican. The truth of the report was, therefore, confirmed.
There are many strange events taking place today. While Protestant bishops are becoming modernists and are denying the sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ, high Catholic dignitaries are opening their hearts to the gospel of Christ. And I write this as a Protestant myself. God's Spirit blows where he wills.
In Columbia, however, the door has opened to the gospel message among the Protestant population. The visiting Asbury students came face to face with this new situation. It is absolutely essential that the missionaries and evangelists who go to this land take with them a healthy and sober attitude towards the Word of God, for these Spanish countries are in grave danger of being swamped by the extremism of certain Christians and by the tongues movement.
The missionary venture of the Asbury students in Columbia was climaxed by a ten-day missionary campaign. The campaign was financed by the home churches of the students concerned. Neither Asbury College nor the students would have been able to finance this work themselves. Through actions of this nature, tired and weary churches have sometimes been stirred to share in the blessing of the Asbury revival.
Looking back over the first six weeks of the revival, which began on the 3rd February 1970, the results are astonishing. The man in charge of public relations, Arthur Lindsay, says in his report, "More than a thousand evangelistic teams have already gone out. On top of this the neighbouring theological seminary has also given birth to several hundred teams."
One is simply lost for words and compelled to worship the Lord who has wrought such a wonder as this. All the honour is due to his name. In an already chaotic world the exulted Lord has erected a sure sign of his imminent return before our very eyes.
And still certain overanxious brethren attempt to hinder the reporting of these events. Yet, the whole of Christendom longs to be able to share in the workings of God's Spirit today. For this reason, therefore, it is essential to publish the story of the revival at Asbury as it actually took place.
XI. GOD HAS ANSWERED
Several years ago, Billy Graham said that he could see no hope for America in the future if it failed to find its way back to God.
Anyone who has travelled widely - and the Lord has granted this privilege to me - will realize that America is a country which is bleeding from many wounds.
A college lecturer told one of my friends, the Rev. Plaum in Chicago, that 60% of the students at his college were on drugs. It is impossible to imagine what the future holds for a nation whose youth is destroying itself in such a way. America, having freed herself from the grip of the slave-trade, is now gripped by a far worse form of slavery - drug addiction.
I was told, in Los Angeles, of a new sect that had just been founded called the 'New Heaven'. Their meetings consist of the teaching, demonstrating and practice of all sorts of sexual perversity. They are the new kind of slaves, slaves of sex.
In Chicago, I listened once to a discussion concerning the late Dr. Martin Luther King. European Christians, usually, have a much more optimistic opinion of him than Christians in America where he is accused by many of having been orientated more around racialism than around Christ. This, they claim, is what led to his assassination. But, let us avoid discussions of this nature. I simply wanted to point out that his death was basically due to the old evil of racial hatred. The colour problem, which has had a long history in the U.S.A., is like an ulcer which cannot be healed.
While I was in New York, I talked with the pilot of an American air line who was a genuine Christian. He told me that, for the past two years, he had been watching the acts of sabotage which had been taking place under the instigation of the communistically orientated transport workers. When he had informed his superiors, they had merely told him to keep quiet about it and to tell no one of what was taking place, or else he would lose his job. When he found it impossible to live with his conscience any longer, after having seen for example expensive pieces of electronic equipment being destroyed, he reported the matter again. The result was that he was immediately sacked. I asked him why this had happened. He replied, "Many important posts in our country are undermined by the Communists." This amounts to Americans stabbing their own government in its back. They betray their own country in the cause of Russian and Chinese 'imperialism'. During my most recent visit to the United States I heard a lot about the latest student demonstrations. We will mention just one instance as an example. A son of one of the astronauts was beaten up quite unmercifully for the simple reason that the radical leftwing students regard the astronauts as representatives of a form of society they seek to oppose. And so, the son had to suffer for the successful mission of his own father. Students who accept, without gratitude, the benefits of their Western colleges and universities spend their time rebelling against all authority.
We have only mentioned five of the wounds from which the American nation is suffering: drug addiction, sex, racialism, political extremism, and the overthrowing of past traditions and authority.
Neither the State nor the Church, neither force nor reason, have succeeded in dealing with these ever growing problems. Humanly speaking, there is no answer to these questions.
Yet, God has given his reply. What men found impossible to do in spite of their good intentions, He has wrought. He sent his Spirit among the student population which many had already given up as lost. And so, America's youth, part of which is recognized for its rioting and malicious radicalism, is becoming the bearer of the glad tidings which are able to heal every wound. God has begun to work through this movement at Asbury College, and he continues to work today.
In a Western world, in which prayer is almost unknown, He has sent a prayer revival. Instead of the rioting, the protesting, the criticism, and the demonstrations of the past, there is prayer: a praying motivated by the Holy Spirit in answer to the disasters which have almost overwhelmed the Western world.
Forgive me for having the audacity to ask, but I appeal to all those students who have been gripped by the spirit of this revival, to pray for me too. I need your prayers.
Dr Kurt Koch