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Archive for February, 2012

A Rainy Day in Gitegi

It’s raining this morning.  You’d think that would set a somber tone to the day but actually, it feels refreshing, like washing away all the dust from the last few weeks. I don’t have any services until 6 pm tonight, so I can just sit here and muse and let the day roll along as it lumbers past me.  I must be tired.  Just a few more days to go.

There are two strong currents pulling on me. One is pulling on my heart to come home. I’m both physically and emotionally drained and desperately miss my sweetheart and all my girls. It is at this stage of every trip that I turn into a cranky old man and everything gets hard. I am so ready to go home. 

But the other current pulls my heart to keep on going, one more church, one more city, one more soul, just a little more …  The message I bring to these people works.  It is transforming church after church and opening their eyes, not only to what revival is really about, but what it takes to get one. It’s as if this is the missing manual; the secret key to unlock the door; the hidden answer to the desperate cry of their hearts. It is hard to turn from them and head off to the comforts of America when they are so hungry for what the Lord has to give them.

Last night, I spoke to a group of university students. They had gathered to hear about revival from the white man from America. As I have heard in so many other places, they are expecting a soft message of peace, love and blessings with false promises that never come to pass. But there is always hope, so they came to listen.   And once we began, they did not want to go home.  It was as if they were clueless for answers about revival. All they have heard are messages of blessings and prosperity that they are finally coming to realize do not work. So where are the men and women of our past who had the guts to stand up and tell these people the truth and were not worried about what anyone thought?

I hear this all the time – Africans are tired of the message that they hear from the Americans who come here.  One pastor told me that he has to be very careful about promoting someone from America because they always carry the same weak message.  How sad that the country that once produced great men and women of power whose message transformed the world and broke the power of darkness now only produces weak and insipid preachers who have nothing but an anemic gospel to offer in its place.

I preach a different message than what they are used to hearing.  There is a price to pay for revival and it begins on your knees.  My first job is to shatter the illusion of “church”, and point them to the altar of deep, broken-hearted repentance. No revival comes until that threshold has been crossed.

Once the word gets out that here is a message with teeth that is accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, everything changes.  People want to hear the truth, not some Pollyanna Gospel to make them feel good about themselves.  And when they hear it, they come.

So you see, as much as I am dying to go home, there is a strong tugging on my heart to keep going – one more church, one more service, one more group of hungry hearts …

But it is time to go. Three more services and I am finished here in Burundi.  My money is about gone, but thankfully, a church has offered to pay for my hotel and food for the last remaining days I am here in this town.  As soon as I get home, however, I have to turn around and head for Nigeria – a conference in Abuja in March, a series of churches and meetings in Lagos for April, and then a tour of churches, kings, and crusades in the Delta State in August. I dare not stop until Africa is ablaze with revival.  It is only then that the hope of that same fire will spread around the world and reach America.

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Like a Fire

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD;
and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?”
(Jer 23:29)

 It is one thing to talk about the Lord and all the things you believe; it is another to see Him move in power right before your eyes, and we saw God move tonight in His unmistakable power. 

As we have moved through Rwanda and into Burundi, we have seen some wonderful things.  Day after day, God has manifested Himself by showing how powerfully His Spirit can transform a whole church in just one service.  It has happened time after time in Rwanda, it continued in Bujumbura, and now we are seeing it happen here in the rural up country of Burundi. We have preached to almost 10,000 people in the past few weeks and few, if any, have escaped being touched by the hand of God. 

You can not only see the Spirit of God sweep through the congregation, you can feel the wind as it blows through it. Even the unsaved can see it, and that’s what brings them down to the altar. This is the real thing.  It is what you read about in books and stories that happened a hundred years ago. God is really, really alive, and He is showing up here in these services.

We stopped to do a quick review of the past few weeks, and yes, God has electrified every place we have preached in.  This is not the kind of services that these people are used to, neither is it what they have learned to expect from other Americans.  This is something special.

Tonight was such a night. We are in Ruyigi, Burundi in a small rural church. The place has been packed for the last couple of days, but tonight it was overflowing because word had spread that something special was going on. You have to understand that these people have come from all over because they are starving for something to happen from God.  They have been willing to listen to anyone who would promise revival, but have been disappointed every time.  They no longer want to hear about how God is going to bless them and how beautiful Jesus is. Please just tell us the truth!  How do we get revival? What are we missing? What do we need to do?

The services were exciting yesterday and this morning, but tonight it exploded!  By the time I was done, the Spirit was blowing through the church like a hurricane, but when I turned it over to Pastor Noah, the storm let loose!  I don’t know anyone who can pray down the Spirit over a church like Noah can. The church might have been running with their pedal to the metal when I handed it to him, but Noah kicked in the supercharger.  When it had finally died down, over 70 people had crashed the altar for forgiveness – not for the type of regular sins that you would expect, but for settling for “church as usual”.  “Oh God, please forgive us for being so filled with church that we have  ignored the call that You have placed upon us to win the lost!” 

And THEN we had the altar call and more souls came up to get saved!

How I wish I could do this in America!  But I cannot bring this same message there because their hearts are like fallow ground which has not been broken up.  As in the Parable of the Sower, fallow ground that is hard and packed cannot receive the seed and bring forth a harvest.  The problem with America is that, like the Church of Laodicea, she does not realize how far she has fallen from where she once was, and therefore resists any message to bring her to repentance so that her heart may be broken up.  America is not ready for revival.

Not yet.  But it is coming.  Maybe not the way we would like, but it is coming. God may have to bring America to a point of desperation to get her to cry out, but that is the mercy of God.  He did that with the Children of Israel in Egypt because, after 400 years, they had gotten used to their slavery, so God rose up a Pharaoh who killed their children to get them to cry out to Him.  Then He delivered them. 

He may do the same to us.

 Brother Dale

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Fire in Kabunga

We are now in Kabunga, Rwanda, a small town that has the only hotel for miles. The place is clean and tidy and fairly comfortable except for the water. You have to be ready to catch it when its running, which apparently is only for a short while around 6 am. After that, it’s a slow dribble into a plastic tub from which you then scoop it out to pour over yourself for a shower. I guess you might say that it’s part of the adventure …
I preached at the church that we are having services this evening last year, but the pastor had been out of the country. He has been waiting for me to come back ever since. The Lord had energized his congregation after I had been here and had turned it into a soul-winning church. They have taken the message to the streets, the hospitals, and anywhere they could to witness to the lost and his church has grown significantly. And this pastor wants more.
Lately, the Lord has been trying to teach me the lesson of unreserved trust. I got this strong feeling not to prepare my message for this afternoon. While I never prepare my messages in a typical sense, I do like to have an idea of which direction I am going. But not this time. It is difficult to sit there and not allow your mind to search out different passages that I might use or different subjects to follow. But it was like trying to grasp a mist.
Just before I get up to go to the pulpit, I burst out with, “You lead, Lord, and I will follow”. And the scripture about Abraham in Hebrews 11 flashed through my head. Another message about revival that I had never before considered! I wasn’t sure where we were going with this, but we were going somewhere! I jumped up with a renewed exuberance and headed for the pulpit.
Fire ran up and down that church tonight as the message poured out of me. I’m sure glad I didn’t try to figure out what I was going to say because I’d have never figured this one out. I watched as God began to move amongst the congregation and break through to their hearts. Even the pastor, who normally is a very sedate, composed person, was jumping up and down in excitement on top of his chair, and as the services were ending, he was dancing along with everyone else in a Spirit-led celebration. And this was a message of challenge and repentance, not of blessing and false promises! Go figure.
Another 20 souls got saved at the end of the service. That makes well over 400 souls since we began two weeks ago. These souls see the fire of God running in services and they want to be part of it.
Victory comes when you surrender to God. And learning how to let go and trust Him is part of that surrender. When you do that, you untie the hands of God so He can take over and do the miraculous.
My friend Barry put it well: it is like driving a stage coach at breakneck speed down a winding mountain road at night in the rain with a sheer drop off just inches to your side … and you throw the reins to the horses!
It takes courage to trust the Lord to that degree. It also takes a hope that is birthed out of desperation for something more than “church as usual”.
We had a taste of that tonight.

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A Flood in Rukira

Our next stop is at a little village called Rukira in eastern Rwnada. Leaving the town of Kabunga, we have to head out on some dirt roads over the hills, through the valley, and up the next mountain to get there. There are no hotels out here, so we will have to commute from Kabunga for three days. The brothers are telling me that there is going to be a thousand people there. Uh huh. A thousand, did you say? Typically in Africa, whenever you are told one thing, you can expect something else, so I’m figuring that maybe 50 people will show up.
I was wrong. There were somewhere between 3,000 to 4,000.
Coming with us was Theo, a celebrity friend of my partner here, Pastor Isaiah. Both of them are very popular singers and their songs can be heard on the radio throughout Rwanda. Theo is so popular that wherever we stopped, people would throng him. I wouldn’t say he was quite like Elvis, but he was definitely a celebrity. So between Theo and Isaiah, we had a draw that brought people from miles and miles around. Fine with me. I’ll use whatever I can to bring the message to as many people as I can.
Needless to say, we had a great time. Besides all the singing and rejoicing which could be heard from miles away, we had an altar call to which so many people responded that I couldn’t count them — maybe 150 to 200? Calling souls down to the altar is not hard to do. All you have to do is ask and they will come. When you assume everyone is saved just because they came to church, your lack of courage spurns the souls who desperately need more than just a Sunday afternoon service.
The next day, I spoke to the church and the Lord stopped me from delivering any message about revival until sin had been dealt with in the church. At times like these, you have to throw out whatever you think you’re supposed to do or say and trust the Lord to speak through you. Let me tell you, that is not always easy, but if you can just let go, the results are … well, … supernatural. If you want to see God move, you gotta let Him have His way. If you don’t, well, you’re on your own. Good luck with that.
The great sin in this place has to do with unforgiveness. If you cannot forgive others, God cannot forgive you, and subsequently, there can be no revival as long as this sin blocks the path. This area was tortured with the Genocide in 1994 and the bitterness runs deep. They may have covered it up on the outside, but it has been festering away down in the bottom of their hearts. On the surface, these people may have been all good Christians; inside they are like dead men’s graves.
I felt the Lord lead me to call them to repentance, and for the next half hour, it was like a dam had burst! There was no stopping it once their hearts broke. Weeping and crying out to God in tortured desperation, and grasping the Throne of God for mercy, the whole congregation was swept along by a mighty flood of repentance. All Noah, Isaiah, and I could do was just stand there and let them go. They rolled right over us while they poured out their hearts to God.
What a cleansing! What a refreshing in the Lord! You could feel a dark burden lift off the church as they were set free. As we ended the service, there was a rejoicing in the Spirit that had been a long time in coming. People were hugging, laughing and crying with each other as a great joy filled the place. Something great has just taken place here that will affect the future of this whole area. The sin has been washed away and the victory has come.
Surrendering to God implies trust. Not only as trust in what God can do, but also that He will use you if you just let Him. Reliance on organization, planning, and figuring out every detail is just a sign of a lack of your total trust upon the Spirit of God to take over. When you completely surrender to His will, miracles happen.
And when they do, all the glory will go to God.

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Athens

Athens

I know you can’t judge long term effects by short term results, but sometimes it’s nice to see the end from the beginning … or at least as you’re on your way there. We have planted seeds today, but there’s no telling which will grow and bring forth fruit and which will not.
It was another day of contrasts. I spent the night in prayer – not because I’m so spiritual, but because that stupid Jet Lag woke up again at 2:00 am and I was wide awake. I figured I could do one of two things: either torment myself by lying in the bed for the next few hours trying to go to sleep, or make the assumption that the Lord woke me up to get up and pray. Figuring that I might as well make the most of it, I stayed up to pray. By morning, I was pumped and ready for anything. I felt like my feet were firmly planted on something solid and I had a grip on God and could tackle the challenges of the day with all confidence. Before the day was out, I was going to need that confidence.
It was Sunday and the morning service was at a fairly large church in Kigali. Normally, this is their day for healing services, but the pastor had been told that if he let us bring a message about revival, his congregation would be blessed. He took a chance and let me come.
This was a wonderful church. You could feel that warm feeling in the air as soon as you walked in. The joy of the Lord was in this place. If I lived in Kilgali, this is where I would want to go to church. As I took the pulpit, I could feel the Spirit begin to flow. Oh, this was going to be a great service!
I have often said that my job is simply to show up. I don’t control the message or the Spirit that brings it, and I don’t control the hearts of the people to receive it. I just show up. Granted, I had better be in the Spirit- read up, prayed up, and fasted up – so that I can be a yielded vessel for God to control. Our flesh has to be crucified for the Spirit to work freely through us. That’s my job, but all the rest is up to Him. I’m just there to be a mouthpiece. When things are open and flowing, it is because the hearts of the people are open to receive from God. Conversely, when the message is not flowing, something is blocking that connection between them. As in Fluid Dynamics, the receiving end has to be open to enable the flow.
This church was wide open. The Spirit of God touched some souls there like they had not experienced before. You know you’ve hit the bullseye when people tell you that the reason God sent you to Africa was specifically for them. If you are operating under the Anointing, that happens all the time. When God is anointing the message, He is able to reach out to touch the innermost places of their hearts. He is a personal God.
The University that afternoon, however, was just the opposite. We had gone to great lengths and expense to bus these kids in and give them the booklets because they had said they wanted to launch the Gideon Generation Movement, but once the service had started, it was as if something was blocking the flow of the Spirit. We just could not punch through the wall of impassive faces that stared back at us. I felt like Paul in Athens. Intelligence and education can be great liabilities because they promote the cerebral over the spiritual and make you think that you are smarter than what you really are. What a tough crowd!
What was different? All covenants with God are predicated on humility. The Tree of Knowledge offers you a fruit that is desired to make you wise in your carnal mind, but the Tree of Life requires you to surrender all to God. In order to enter into a covenant with God to send revival, we must come to a place of repentance before God so that He can take over the Church. That will not happen through logic or intelligence but only through a broken heart. Unless we realize the vast difference between the corruption of flesh and the holiness of God, we can never truly come to a place of repentance and break before the Altar of God. And until that happens, God cannot use you.
Both Noah and myself prayed over them and cried out to God to pry open their hearts and give them true understanding. They have heard a message that they have not heard before in that revival is not about singing and dancing but that there is a price to pay for revival. We have handed out about 1,000 booklets that have the message that we have been bringing all over Africa. Our prayer is that they will read it and, like the Bereans, will search the Scriptures and see if these things are true.
My job is to show up. It is God’s job to take it from there.¬¬¬¬

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True to human nature, we like to view the idea of revival as a time of great rejoicing, singing and dancing, and an explosion of the joy of the Lord. But the fact of the matter is that for every revival, both Biblical and in history, the doorway to revival is filled with the exact opposite.
No revival comes without repentance. Nehemiah knew this as did Daniel. Even after reading in the Word of God about the restoration of Jerusalem (which is a picture of revival), Daniel did not go party with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but instead dropped to his knees in repentance. It was written and it had to come to pass, nevertheless, revival must be preceded by a time of great repentance. Holiness must precede the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.
It is at the Altar of God where we seek the face of God for entrance to His Spirit. That is the door that leads to revival. But the Altar is not a place of singing and dancing – it is a place of blood, sacrifice, and death! It is the place where the fire falls, but the fire only falls on a blood-soaked dead sacrifice. The desperate cries of Rachael – “Give me children lest I die!” – must be the soul-wrenching cry of those who fall to their knees in humble, broken repentance to cry out to God for revival. These prayer warriors and intercessors are the ones who travail through the birth pains to bring forth any move of God. Their cries must reach Heaven. This is not a time for the faint or hesitant – this is a desperate weeping of the soul for the deliverance of God’s people. There is no room for defeat or denial – we must have revival lest we die!
How quickly these lessons are overshadowed by more superficial images of a church enjoying a great time of rejoicing and praise! We tend to overlook the things that are unpleasant, and focus on the things that make us happy. We are like children. Proverbs says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” To approach the holy presence of God with a superficial attitude that dismisses the chilling fear of God will never bring revival. If anything, it will drive it far from you.
I preached to a gathering of university students yesterday who spent an hour or so in loud singing and dancing, jumping up and down, waving hands, and shouting the praises of God. It was wonderful … until I brought a message of repentance and the price that God requires for a true and lasting revival. The room quieted to a somber level and much of the crowd began to dissipate. It wasn’t fun anymore.
I worried that it might be my fault. Perhaps I was not deep enough in the Spirit, or I had not presented the message correctly, or had done something wrong to change the atmosphere so dramatically. But from there, we stopped by another church in the city where I delivered pretty much the same message to several hundred people. What a difference! The hands went up, the voices exploded with enthusiasm, and the prayers broke through the ceiling! It was as if they had been waiting for God to please send someone with this message. They were so desperate for revival that they were ready to pay whatever price was required.
I went back to the college that evening for another session assured that everything would now be different. I was ready to deliver a message of Elijah’s challenge. I could feel that tingling feeling up and down my arms that told me I was in the Spirit. But, again, after the singing and dancing was over, they were still not ready to receive a message that pointed them to the broken surrender of repentance, deep prevailing prayer, and a desperate crying out to God. What was the difference between the two places? It wasn’t the message – that was the same in both places. It was the hearts.
Unless the fallow ground of our hearts is broken up, it cannot receive the seeds of the harvest. And then that broken ground must be watered with the tears of repentance and weeping. Only then will you see the seeds of the Word of God that have been planted begin to germinate and grow up into a great harvest of souls.
You see, revival is not about having a great church service or a wonderful time of praise in the Lord. It is about winning souls. That is the reason God sends revival – to revive His Church to rise up to the calling placed upon her to be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth with fruit. It is the call to true Charity – the giving of yourself out of love, so that souls can be saved. This is the purpose of revival. It is the message of the Cross. It is the great call upon all of us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. And where did He go? To Calvary to die so that souls could be saved. Including you.
Anything else is a cheap imitation of the Grace of God.

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