Dark days and tough times are nothing new to the church of Christ. For generations godly pastors have lamented the decline of the church. Empty seats, careless souls, disgruntled members, and a spirit of worldliness in areas of music, dress, and behavior have prompted them to cry, “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth.” The legalization of same-sex unions as recognized marriages in the United States and Canada, however, is even more alarming to God’s people.
Church leaders must admit their powerlessness to withstand the evils of our times. The fear of God’s judgment upon our nations along with an honest confession that the church has lost its voice in society could well drive the righteous man and woman into despondency. All our efforts to stem the tide of ungodliness and human depravity have been no more than pathetic. We know it, the world knows it, and the devil knows it. Thus we are left to suffer the same vexation of soul as felt by Lot while living in Sodom.
The solution, if God is pleased to send it, is in revival. In this issue of Current we revisit the history of how at various times of hopelessness for the church God graciously poured out His Spirit in spiritual revivals. These were times when people were transformed from benighted souls reveling in sin to new creatures enjoying the fullest revelation of God’s grace.
Even though the hour is late and the day is evil, we certainly do not believe that the Holy Spirit is withdrawn from the earth. Until Christ returns the Holy Spirit will still continue His work of calling sinners out of the world into His church.
In the sidebar on this page you will read how such a spiritual awakening came to Saskatoon, Canada, in 1969 through the ministry of Rev. Duncan Campbell. I have researched this event a number of times and God truly did a supernatural work in saving souls to bring lasting blessing to the church and the community.
There is a cost to revival. Because the Holy Spirit is the agent of revival, purity of life, honesty of heart, and much praying in the Spirit will be required. As at Pentecost revival begins with the call to persistent prayer. We must lay hold of the promises of God and pray through to Him until the answer comes. While it is true that many have prayed for revival and did not see it in their lifetime, there is no excuse for a born again Christian who will not pray for personal revival and then for revival in the Lord’s church.
Perhaps we are afraid to pray for revival. Those who have witnessed revival testify that it is like Judgment Day. Many have agreed that the searching power of God’s Spirit exposing sin and melting guilty hearts bears all the marks of judgment until souls surrender to the Lord for salvation.
Yes, revival has its cost, but think of the heavy price of not praying for revival. It will mean the death of vital church ministry for we will grieve the Holy Spirit. It will also mean eternal judgment upon our nations that are already under the wrath of God. With the conviction that it is either revival or judgment we must begin to pray seriously for revival. As you read through this issue on the three great spiritual awakenings in America may the Lord stir your heart to pray for revival in our time.
Canada was of particular interest to Mr. Campbell. He told audiences of his debt to the Canadian trooper who had saved his life in France, and was actually introduced to a veteran of the Canadian regiment who fought in the battle. He hoped then to meet his benefactor, but never did. Apart from this personal interest, God had placed upon him a prayer-burden for revival in the vast Dominion; a burden shared by small bands of intercessors who were concerned that Canada had never known widespread revival. The burden was transmitted to many more as he thundered out a rebuke of the careless, shallow ways of modern evangelism. A minister, requesting his prayers, wrote that aspirations, dimmed by the stress of human circumstances, were restored to see the possibilities of revival.
Another wrote: “At that time when so many settled down into thinking that deep, lasting revival would no longer be experienced Mr. Campbell proved otherwise, and in this his voice was the voice of God.”
In June 1969 he preached in a small Baptist church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The pastor longed for a genuine movement of the Spirit, and had been guided for three years to pray that God would send Duncan Campbell to his church. During this campaign attendance was small, but desire for God was intensified. The spirit of expectancy deepened so that a minister who attended said: “I know that shortly we shall see revival.” One night the preacher prophesied that Canada would see revival and that it would begin in that very church.
Two years later, Saskatoon suddenly hit the headlines—“Is Canada seeing Revival?” “Saskatoon: Vortex of Revival,” “Renewed Morality Found in Wake of Revival”—so ran the press reports. What began as a typical evangelistic campaign mushroomed into a spiritual awakening.
The church was packed and the venue was moved three times until a large auditorium was necessary to accommodate the people. The Holy Spirit moved quietly and powerfully: church leaders and Christian workers confessed sin and were reconciled to each other; businessmen in the city were surprised when people called to pay for stolen goods; broken homes were restored, alcoholics and drug addicts delivered, and countless numbers freed from the bondage of self and satanic oppression to witness effectively for Christ. Reports indicated similar happenings in other centers throughout Western Canada.
Excerpt from Channel of Revival: A Biography of Duncan Campbell by Andrew A. Woolsey