Pentecost and Beyond
Not long after the ascension of Lord Jesus Christ came Pentecost (Acts 2). It was a time of revival when the Holy
Spirit was poured out in the upper room. The brethren then went outside and Peter preached and those listening
were ‘cut to the heart’ and around three thousand people were added to the Church. This could be declared as
the true beginnings of the Great Commission, Jesus' command to, “Go into all the world…” and preach the
good news (Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-18). The 120 had waited in the upper room and had received
their own enduement of power from on high and only then could they be witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea,
Samaria and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). Revivals have always given a thrust to evangelism and
world missions and out of revival, lay-workers as well as men and women are thrust forth into fulltime
Christian ministry; something which we are commanded to pray for - more labourers (Matthew 9:38).
In Acts 8 we see Philip the evangelists preaching in Samaria and revival breaks out as multitudes with one
accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles that he did…and there was great
joy in that city (Acts 8:5-8).
Missions in North Africa
According to tradition, six of the twelve disciples ministered in North Africa: Matthew and Thomas
in Ethiopia, Peter and James the Less in Egypt and Jude and Simon in Cyrene (modern day Libya). Mark
the Evangelist was the first Bishop of Alexandria (in Egypt) and in this renowned city; the first
Missionary Training School was founded sometime around 150AD. Three great scholars, Panaenus,
Origen and Clement became its principals. Within two hundred years of Pentecost there were
nine hundred churches in North Africa. But when Islam came to the fore five centuries later;
its sword subdued or martyred those who followed in the footsteps of the One came in the sandals
of the gospel of peace.
Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius and Augustine were giants of the early Church and were all from North Africa.
They encouraged missions across Africa and made the earliest translations of the Bible from the original
Hebrew and Greek into the Latin Vulgate. More than half of the twenty greatest names of the early
Church from 150 to 400 and a like proportion of Christian writers of the same period were of North African descent.
Franciscan Revival (1210+)
From 1100 to 1300, two hundred each of Franciscans and Dominican monks lost their lives in missionary
work across North Africa. St. Francis of Assisi, ‘The Apostle of Poverty’ preached to the Saracens in Egypt.
Raymond Lull, a renowned medieval missionary, spent nine years in preparation, learning Arabic before
he went to Tunis, (in modern day Tunisia) in 1300.
The Franciscan monks were not only inspired by Jesus’ words, “Go into all the word…” but by the Franciscan
Revival (1210+) which gripped parts of Italy. It brought genuine converts to the Christian faith who
forsook the pleasure of the world, to preach to the people of the world. On the 24 February 1209,
whilst Francis of Assisi was kneeling before the altar in prayer, he felt himself seized with the power
of the words, ‘As you go, preach saying, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand…’ (Matthew 10:7).
From that moment on he began to preach in the streets and within a year revival broke out. Others
were joined to him and they too became preachers of the gospel in the highways and byways and an
order of rule was began in 1210 and revised in 1223 when he had around five thousand members! Francis
himself went on several mission journeys traversing Italy and preached before the Sultan of Egypt.
Moravian Revival (1727)
It was more than five hundred years later that a revival broke out at Herrnhut (in modern day Germany) in
the summer of 1727 - the Moravian Revival (1727) which led to dawning of the Protestant mission movement.
The Moravians were originally from Bohemia, the native Czechs who had a reformation in the late fourteenth
century under various Bohemian preachers and in the early fifteenth century under John Hus. They were
also influenced by the writings of John Wycliff of England. He was the first translator of the Holy Bible
from the Latin Vulgate into English and his followers – Lollards, were street preachers who preached
the gospel across England. The Moravians had suffered persecution in Bohemia and Moravia for their Christian
beliefs for two centuries until they decided to move to Herrnhut.
In January 1728, the Herrnhut church held their first missionary meeting. They studied different portions
of Holy Scripture and participated in fervent prayer; in the midst of which the church experienced a
remarkable enjoyment of the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Moravian Missions began in 1731 and work
was commenced in the West Indies in 1732 and out of the Moravian Revival began a prayer meeting which
continued for one hundred years!
Jonathan Goforth, who saw revival in China and Manchuria (1906-1909 and 1915), quotes Bishop Hasse who
wrote: ‘Was there ever in the whole of church history such an astonishing prayer-meeting as that which,
beginning in 1727 went on one hundred years? It is something absolutely unique. It was known as the
‘Hourly Intercession,’ and it meant that by relays of  brethren and  sisters, prayer without
ceasing was made to God for all the works and wants of His Church. Prayer of that kind always leads
to action. In this case it kindled a burning desire to make Christ’s salvation known to the heathen.
It led to the beginning of modern foreign missions. From that one small village community more than
one hundred missionaries went out in twenty-five years…’
German historian of Protestant Missions, Dr. Warneck wrote: ‘This small church in twenty years called
into being more missions than the whole Evangelical Church had done in two centuries.’ By 1757, Moravian
missionaries were ministering in nearly every country in Europe and they went into Asia, South Africa,
Australia and North and South America.
The Effect of the Evangelical Revival (1739-1791)
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism was greatly blessed by having fellowship with Moravians.
Aboard a ship to America, they encountered a great storm, but the Moravians were calm and collective
and carried on with their hymns whilst other passengers feared for their lives. It was John Wesley,
an ordained Church of England minister who said, “I went to America to convert the Indians, but I was
not converted myself!”
Back in London he was greatly influenced by Peter Bohler, a Moravian and soon put his faith in Christ
and knew that his heart was changed. The Evangelical Revival broke out in 1739 under George Whitefield
and led to hundreds of circuit preachers riding around Great Britain and beyond preaching the good
news – one quarter of the population were converted within fifty years.
Englishman William Carey, read a pamphlet by Jonathan Edwards, the American revivalist, entitled,
The Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation which led to the ministers of the Northamptonshire Association
holding a monthly prayer meeting for the unreached people of the earth. Carey then read a pamphlet by
Andrew Fuller’s and came to the conclusion that, “If it be the whole duty of all men, where the gospel
comes to believe unto salvation, then it is the duty of those who are entrusted with the gospel to
endeavour to make it known among all nations for the obedience of faith.” Out of this, the Baptist
Missionary Society was formed (1792).
William Carey became known as the ‘Father of Modern Missions’ and laboured in India for thirty-eight
years under the motto: ‘Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.’ Three years
later the non-denominational London Missionary Society was founded.
It was sixteen year old Mary Jones who having saved for six years walked twenty-five miles, barefoot
over the rugged Welsh mountains to Bala to buy a Welsh Bible which eventually led to the founding of the
British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804. Thomas Charles of Bala who saw revival in his church in 1791,
retold the story of Mary Jones to a group of ministers in 1802, proposing to start a society to print
Welsh Bibles. Rev. Joseph Hughes response was, “I say if for Wales, then why not for the world?”
It was this society who sold 666,000 portions of Scripture to the people of Korea in 1911, mostly single gospels
after the Pyongyang Great Revival (1907-1910).
George Müller and his Bristol orphanages in England which at their peak supported two thousand children
and two hundred missionaries from the China Inland Mission were maintained by a life of faith and inspired
four men to meet in Kells, Ireland, to pray for revival. Soon they began to see more conversions and in 1859
the heavenly fire fell and the Ulster Revival (1859-1860) began!
Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission in 1866. Sixteen years before his death, he issued a
pamphlet entitled: To Every Creature, part of which read: ‘The Masters words are ‘to every creature,’
how far are we fulfilling them...How are we going to treat the Lord Jesus Christ in reference to this
command? Shall we definitely drop the title Lord as applied to Him?’ Before his death he had more than
one thousand missionaries in every province of China and many of his workers had seen revival in their
own mission stations!
Haystacks Revival 1806
Samuel J. Mills was born in 1783, the same year that William Carey was baptised. In the summer of 1806,
Samuel Mills was part of the Haystacks Prayer Meeting at Williams College, America which was experiencing
revival. This impromptu prayer meeting under a haystack where the students were sheltering from a storm,
led to the founding of the first foreign missionary society in America which in 1810 was known as
the Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Samuel Mills became known as the Home Missionary
Statesman as in 1812, he saddled his horse and explored the half settled West and South of the
United States where he found the wants of 76,000 families without a Bible. On his return he
trumpeted his finding abroad and returned to the east coast to organise missionary effort
and Bible societies.
Missionaries and Revivals
God does not work without the cooperation of His Church; without the willing vessels of the members of the
body of Christ. Whilst He does not need us He has always chosen to use us. Revival can only come to a nation
when disciples of the Lord Jesus have entered a geographical location and began to evangelise that nation
and persistently call upon God to pour out His Spirit from on high. Rev. Duncan Campbell of the Lewis
Revival (1949-1952) in Scotland said, “God is the God of revival but man is the human agent through
whom revival is possible.”
Charles Finney, nineteenth century American revivalist wrote: ‘It is altogether improbable that religion
will ever make progress among heathen nations, except through the influence of revivals. The attempt is
now to do it by education and other cautious and gradual improvements. But as long as the laws of the
mind remain what they are, it cannot be done in this way. There must be excitement sufficient to wake
up the dormant moral powers and roll back the tide of degradation and sin.’
Fulfillment of the Great Commission
The Bible clearly states that in heaven there will be people out of every tribe and tongue and people
and nation standing before the throne of God (Revelation 5:9 and Revelation 7:9). That is why we are
called and commanded to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15
and Matthew 28:19) to hasten the coming of the day of God (2 Peter 3:12), because unless the gospel
is preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations then the end cannot come (Matthew 24:14).
As Romans chapter ten declares: ‘How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how
shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:14-15).
Missionaries and Revivals
The reason why so many missionaries saw revival is because they were fully committed and surrendered
to the will of the Master. They knew the Holy Spirit as a Person and had a deep intimate communion
with the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. They were men and women of prayer, hardened prayer warriors,
many of whom had been inspired by the revivals of the past and had a hope for the future. They did not
limit God and knew His all sufficiency, His all powerful compassionate nature, the One who is only too
willing to quench him who is thirsty and to pour out His Spirit on a dry and thirsty land, because He
has no pleasure in the death of the wicked and has stated that He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh.
Thus says the Lord: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons
and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and
also on My menservants and My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29).
Some missionary pioneers paved the way for future revivals by their toil, intercession and blood,
through martyrdom by the natives, death by disease or deprivation in the Master’s service.
Some of these pioneers who became revivalists were: David Brainerd and his love for the American
Indians, John Beck who went to the frozen wasteland of Greenland, Robert Moffat in Kuruman,
Southern Africa, Thomas Birch Freeman along the Gold Coast of West Africa, Adoniram Judson who
laboured in Burma (modern day Myanmar), John Geddie from Novia Scotia in the evangelisation of
the islands of the Pacific, John G. Paton for the New Hebrides and C. T. Studd of central Africa
(Belgian Congo) who declared the objective of his mission organisation was to accomplish the
evangelisation of the un-evangelised with the utmost urgency, with the motto: ‘If Jesus Christ be God
and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.’
This article is largely drawn from Global Revival - Worldwide Outpourings
by Mathew Backholer (2010). Used by Permission.
Recommended DVD: Great Christian Revivals
Revival Related Scriptures
‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their
wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Thus says the Lord: “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour
out My Spirit on your descendants and My blessing on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:3).
‘O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for Your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many,
we have sinned against You’ (Jeremiah 14:7).