Do You Have Faith For Revival?
It began as a normal Vacation Bible School organized by the Loman Mennonite Church in Minnesota. The year was 1954. Seventy-six teenagers from seven churches gathered together between Christmas and New Year’s to pray and study the Bible. The leader of the event was a man named Gerald Derstine, a local Mennonite pastor.
Pastor Derstine could tell that this was going to be a successful event when, on the first night, thirteen youth were gloriously saved. Thirteen salvations by today’s overachieving standards may not sound like much. Far more important, though, than the quantity of those saved, was the quality of their encounter with Christ. These young people had a true divine encounter.
As these young people committed their lives to Christ, the Spirit of God began to move in ways to which these Mennonites were unaccustomed. Some children reported “hearing angels singing.” Others were gripped by heavy intercession for their unsaved parents. The pastors overseeing the event were certainly impressed with this sudden flood of devotion, but they were unprepared for what would happen next. Students began to fall prostrate on the floor, trembling under the power of God and speaking in unknown tongues. Fearful of demonic influences, the leaders started to plead the blood and pray; but the more they pled the blood, the stronger it became!
This is what the pastor wrote:
“The little clock in the back of the church was ticking away, into the wee hours of the morning, when our first assurance came that this was indeed a work of God. Skip, the first boy who had come crying to the front, stopped the strange jabbering and began to speak intelligibly. A radiant smile lit up his face as he began to clearly articulate one word at a time. He spoke so slowly and so softly we had to lean close to hear what he was saying. His body was relaxed and peaceful now but his eyes remained closed as he said in a gentle, barely audible voice, ‘Turn–in–your–Bibles–to Acts 2:17–and– 18–and–you–shall–under–stand.’
“I quickly reached for my Bible. Thank God, at least he was saying something Scriptural. My fingers trembled as I leafed through to the book of Acts, chapter 2, verses 17 and 18. I began reading to the small cluster of people who had gathered around the boy:
“‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens, I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.’
“I stared at the words in astonishment. Then I looked at the boy and back at the verses again. Could all this truly be the work of God? In fact, could it be possible that this was the very revival we had been praying and fasting for? I wanted to believe it. Yet it was contrary to our doctrine. We had always been taught that these particular Scriptures had been fulfilled in Bible days. I read over the passage once more. ‘In the last days—’
“‘Brother Derstine! Come over here. Connie’s saying something.’ I hurried over to the side of the young girl who was still lying on the floor. She also had a heavenly smile on her face and was talking. She spoke authoritatively, one word at a time, as she told of an ‘end-time revival’ such as the world had never seen. Her friends, hovering over her, leaned close to catch every word. On their faces was a mixture of bewilderment and relief.
“By that time the other young people who had been lying on the floor, ‘speaking in tongues’ and trembling, became still and one by one they began to speak. Some of them sang. Others described heavenly scenes complete with elaborate descriptive gestures. Yet they all still lay on the floor, eyes closed, in a trance. There were prophecies of impending world events. (These particularly bothered me. We were only interested in revival for our own community.) There were words of exhortation and passages of Scripture. As each one ended his message almost invariably he would say, ‘This is my body you see, this is my voice you hear, but this is from the Lord.’”
Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, these teenagers recited Scriptures they didn’t know, prophesied future world events, and encountered the living Christ. One teen even prophesied that Billy Graham would one day preach behind the Iron Curtain. This was in 1954!
In Following the Fire, Derstine recounts the prayer and fasting that led to this mighty move of God, the persecution that followed, and the revival that ensued. Oh, how we need an infusion of this kind of power in the church today! Some years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Gerald Derstine. Since that revival, he has gone on to establish more than six thousand churches on every continent of the world. I asked him, “What is the most important message that the church needs to hear today?”
This general of the faith said to me, with passion in his eyes, “The church today needs a revelation of the Christ, the Anointed One.” That moment has stayed with me throughout the years. The church needs to rediscover the power available in the presence and person of Jesus the Christ.
Something has happened on the inside of you as you read this account. The Bible says that “faith comes by hearing” and as you’ve heard what the Lord did at Strawberry Lake, your spirit has been strengthened. You have now more faith for revival than you did just a few moments ago. Act on it!
Take a moment right now and imagine what you would look like in an historic revival. Imagine what your prayers, your praise, and your worship would look like. Imagine what your giving and your witnessing would look like. Do you have it in your mind? Now, go and do it!
Revival is here, and it’s time for you to receive it by faith and walk in the glory of it.
Do you have faith for revival? You do now!