Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2014

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ…“  Revelations 1:9

There has always been something about the recurring theme of the sufferings of the Body of Christ that has eluded me.  It is written throughout Scripture, but it is not something that is sought after very much.  It’s almost like huge boulders in our path that we acknowledge are there, but try our best to find a way around them. 

What is it about this theme of suffering that weaves though the Scriptures, especially the New Testament, that is so elemental to the Christian experience?  No one wants pain (at least those of us who are sane), so we are naturally drawn to a more peaceful picture of the Gospel.  Peace, blessings, love, prosperity – these are good things, and the promise of them stand out in the Bible as the rewards to those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

But follow where?  Jesus went to the Cross, and commanded us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him.   That’s not exactly what I would consider a favorite vacation destination (let’s bring the kids and take lots of pictures!), and yet it stands out as a strong beacon to those who would follow Christ.

In America, we do not suffer the level of persecution for the Gospel that we read about in the New Testament, neither have we experienced the depths of suffering that our forefathers went through to establish the religious freedoms we enjoy.  We have resistance, to be sure, but nothing like what we read about in times past.

There are places around the world today where real Christians endure unspeakable persecution and suffering.  The stories that come to us from these places are hard to believe and impossible to get a real grasp on.  None of us would willingly trade places with those in such desperate pain.  We feel horrible for what they have to go through, even angst, and we wish their lives were as good as ours. 

And yet, they often feel sorry for us because we do not know Christ through suffering.  That’s the part that always gets me.

Just recently, a pastor in China was pardoned from serving a long sentence of torture because he was winning too many souls in prison.  He refused the offer for an early release, and demanded his right to serve out the rest of his sentence so he could continue to minister. 

Another pastor in Africa was attacked in the middle of services by armed soldiers who grabbed his baby boy and crushed him right in front of the whole church.  His response to a visitor who expressed how sorry they felt for him was that he felt sorry for us because we do not know persecution. 

I have spoken to men of God who have suffered like things, and their responses are almost always the same.  They glorify God for the honor of suffering for His name’s sake.  How do you answer something like that?

When you read the introductions in each of the Epistles, you can feel the intense fervor and passion that the Apostles had for the Lord and His church.  That passion and intensity comes only through suffering. 

Could it be that we in the West are missing something?  In our prosperity and relative peace, is it too hard for us to perceive an aspect of the Grace of God that defies carnal understanding?  I know there will be those who will answer me that we are supposed to live under the blessings of God, but there is something more to the path of the Cross than easy living.

Richard Wurmbrand, the author of Tortured for Christ, once said that those who have not suffered such persecution can never understand the glories of the grace of God that these martyrs have experienced.

Perhaps we should re-evaluate what our faith is based on and see from a very different perspective than what we are used to, so that we can understand with a new clarity the desperate war between Light and Darkness and the power of the Blood of Jesus Christ. 

It might change our view of our own Christianity.

“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; … That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”
(Phillipians 1:29, 3:10)

Dalen Garris
dale@revivalfire.org

 

Read Full Post »

In ten weeks’ time, Dale and I visited over 10 cities in four different countries, had from one to four services each at 21 different churches, and held 10 women’s meetings!

Our first stop was at Noah’s church in Uganda. Dale, Noah, and Daniel, an evangelist who came along to experience what revival is like in Africa, held crusades in 2 villages, one street crusade, and Sunday services in Noah’s church. In these villages over 400 souls got saved. Both these areas have not had churches established there because of the Muslim influence and witchcraft/demonic activity, but we planted a church in each place that is still thriving. At one of the meetings, a man was supernaturally delivered from a demon possession (he was completely insane, rolling on the ground, eating dirt, with cuts and scars from cutting himself). He got saved and has continued in the newly established village church! It was an incredible deliverance and testimony. When all the people saw this happen, they started bringing all their idols in to be burned. It was just like the Book of Acts! I visited the Ladies of Hope for two days and toured the recently purchased orphanage buildings and the school.

Our next three weeks were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Goma, the first city we visited, we held services in six different churches, ministered to three different women’s groups, and visited a refugee camp church. The spiritual oppression is heavy there; you can feel it as soon as you cross the border into this dark country. We battled issues regarding jealousy among pastors, greed, hotel problems, government corruption, and the after effects of a country battered by many wars. While some people we met were only interested in what they could get from us, some pastors took the Four Steps to Revival message to heart and put it immediately into practice. They prayed for the unsaved souls and then went out witnessing to bring them in! We were so encouraged by their hunger and zeal it made the hardships easier to overcome.

We traveled to Bukavu, Congo on a 3 hour boat ride, which was a lot of fun! While in Bukavu, we ministered in two different churches. The Penuel Church was amazing. Our translator was one of the best in both ability and spirit. We spent four days there where I met with three different women’s groups, and Dale did a radio program, a TV broadcast, four revival services and the Sunday service. The Spirit of God moved in some powerful ways during those services. One woman who had been crippled for three years was healed…she made a point of finding Dale two days later to make sure he knew and saw her! Someone in the congregation was baptized in the Holy Spirit right during services! Many other testimonies of having the Lord touch them and feeling the anointing of the Spirit were told to us the last day we were there. They did not want us to leave. What a blessing!
As we crossed the border into Rwanda, you could feel the spiritual oppression lift off us. The people in Rwanda have a lot of issues because of the genocide 20 years ago. While we were there, the 20 year Memorial Service was held for the Genocide victims. We watched the service and heard the speeches on TV. All meetings were cancelled that first day across the whole country.

We had services in Kigali, Gitarama, and Cyangugu for a total of four churches. A woman who was deaf was healed in Pastor Robert’s church. At another church, our translator (and Noah’s brother) Emmanuel was so excited about the message of Revival, that he was getting the rest of his church excited! He was ready to start a fire under his pastor and everyone else! Pastor Isaiah had already taken the Four Steps to Revival message that he heard from Dale last year, and was conducting street crusades in several cities. Isaiah is a famous Gospel singer in Rwanda and he would take some equipment, set up on a corner, and start singing. Crowds would come and at the end of the “free concert” he would preach and souls would get saved!

We had a women’s conference out in one of the villages and about 250 women showed up! I am humbled by the women who endure such oppression with little spiritual nourishment. They were starving to have someone tell them they could endure and overcome and feel the Lord actually loved them.

Our last three weeks were in Nairobi, Kenya. Pastor Daniel was thankful that we came to the slum area that his church was in to preach a message that challenged his congregation. He is ready to organize another conference with many other pastors for this coming fall! Then we travelled to Namanga to preach at Pastor Samuel’s Maasai church for two days. Back in Nairobi, we ministered with Pastor Gideon, who was already on the path to revival. His church already had witnessing groups going out to win the unsaved to Christ. But after hearing Dale preach, he got down on his knees along with his whole congregation to ask for forgiveness and seek God’s power to win more souls! Our last church service was with Pastor Kibedi. During that service, several children were dedicated to the Lord and they had Dale ordain four new pastors.

Altogether, there were a total of 45 services and 12 women’s meetings. Many churches were energized, over 600 souls asked Jesus Christ into their heart, two crippled ladies were healed, many other illnesses were healed, a demoniac was delivered, and a deaf woman was healed. Even before we left some of these cities, we were hearing of more souls getting saved and women gathering together to read Bible and strengthen each other. In the Congo, the Lord showed the pastor that an American and a Ugandan would come together and bring revival in their church. Two weeks later, Dale and Noah were there! At another church in Rwanda, a woman who was a prayer intercessor praying for revival said that Lord told her He was sending someone from America … two weeks before we showed up. This has happened again and again and it just shows how hungry they are for revival and how desperate their need is for someone to come and show them the way.

We have planted seeds of revival everywhere we have gone. I know God is on the move to raise these people up with hope and vision to carry this message forward and to spread it across the land. I’m just so glad that I got to be a part of this to watch the hand of God move.

Read Full Post »