Greetings church! As I write this blog entry, I sit in a wine cellar that has become my home in Berlin for the summer. I am surrounded by old wine and antique furniture. Throughout my time here in Berlin, Redemption Church has been on my heart and in my prayers as it transitions into a period with new leadership. In particular, I have been thinking of revival.
Throughout my five years at this church, I have heard much about revival. One November a few years back I remember our whole church fasting and praying for revival and to determine in what direction the Spirit was moving. Similarly, throughout this past year I joined our church’s prayer group in seeking for revival and a fresh outpouring of the Spirit.
Revival has been on my mind recently for a few different reasons. Approximately one hundred kilometres to the southwest of Berlin lies Wittenberg, the home of Martin Luther and the beginning of a revival known as the Protestant Reformation. In the current European cup of soccer, Wales, the location of a major twentieth century revival, has defied the odds and made it to the semifinals. Furthermore, a few months ago marked the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the famous Azusa Street Revival.
Personally, when I think of revival, I often feel a sense of hesitation. I hesitate because what comes to my mind is the emphasis of emotions and visible expressions of the Spirit over the depth and conviction of spirituality. I am convinced that true revival has very little to do with these things. The Apostle Paul, in combating the Corinthian church’s overemphasis on spiritual gifts, stresses the importance of love above all things; while spiritual gifts are temporary, he insisted that love lasts forever. But despite these hesitations, I believe that God’s Spirit does move in fresh, new, and surprising ways if the church is willing to listen and act faithfully.
The Azusa Street Revival, from which our church’s own denomination was born, was almost exclusively a movement to immigrants and the poor. It had humble origins by anyone’s standard. The movement met in an impoverished part of Los Angeles and was led by a one-eyed son of a former slave. It was slandered and criticized by many, yet its effects were undeniably far reaching, as the pentecostal movement to which it gave birth became the fastest growing form of Christianity, numbering now over five hundred million adherents.
The Protestant Reformation, though significantly different in character from Azusa, should also be considered a revival. It was a confrontation of a corrupt and sluggish regime that enabled millions to hear the word of God anew. Martin Luther, a former Augustinian Monk, heard from God and spoke against powerful people on the basis of his deep convictions. He saw the deep corruption that existed within the church and he acted on it, trusting God to give him the right words at the right time and protection from harm.
So to conclude, I pray for our church to have the boldness and conviction to confront institutional sloth and wickedness wherever it lies, the humility to go to the poor and needy, and the Spirit of the Living God to provide words, wisdom, and power in excess supply.
Sam is originally from Calgary and has been attending Redemption Church in its various forms for the past four years. He's a graduate of Regent College, and enjoys theology, working with the Redemption youth group, travelling, ice hockey, kittens, and ducklings.