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Archive for November, 2014

Fire in Butare

Just finished the 3rd day in Butare, Uganda.  I promised this pastor that I would come some day and hold revival services for him. I have finally arrived. The place was packed all three days. I did a service in the morning and in the afternoon and Cindy met with a packed house of women in between. Terriific response for both of us, but wow, I gotta tell ya, that last service was through the roof!

We started picking up momentum right about when the Lord changed the message on me. I was just about to launch into a message about the Alabaster Box and the power of praise – I was so excited with what the Lord had shown me – and just as I am about to get going, He changed it to Jonathan and the power of having a vision for God.

I should’ve realized that we were about to take off like wild horses, but it was all I could do to just hang on. We ran for 45 minutes and ended with Noah and his brother praying with everybody standing on their feet. But then it began to settle down a bit and I felt this little nudge to ask who wanted to make a holy commitment to God for revival. Whoa! Here they came! Chairs and benches tumbled out of the way as the whole place rushed forward.

I don’t know how long we prayed, but it was so intense that several people lost it. It was overwhelming. These people will not forget this service for a long, long time. It may just be the match that lights a revival fire in this area.

That seems to becoming a pattern out here with these out-of-the-way places that are just primed and ready for God to pour out His Spirit on them. That was the case in Gitega, and in several other places that we revisited. Transformation comes and changes a little church to a large, on-fire church with several planted churches birthed from them. All because of one meeting when the glory came down.

I don’t know if I’ll be back this way again.  I have a feeling that after 10 years, this may be my last excursion to Africa.  Regardless of what path the Lord sends me down, we lit a fire here.  I have no doubt that God will begin to move way out here in this back country rural area in ways that were never expected.

You just never know what God will do, where He will choose to do it, and how He will do it.  That’s His prerogative. He is, after all, God.

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WOW–What a HARD week.  Kitimuruzi, Kabarondo, and Kigali.  We have been ministering; Dale has been preaching; and we have been traveling non-stop since Gitegi, Burundi.  That is 13 days.  Sorry, but we are made painfully aware that we are no longer young and spry!  And that pouring out to others all the time means we need God to pour into us also.

Many times Dale gets emails or FB messages and pictures from all across the countries that he has preached in over the last 10 years. “Look at the fruit of your labor, Dale”  Look at what God has done to our church when we took His message that you brought to us and we followed through.”  “God has increased our church and we are winning souls.”  “In spite of the ebola threat, God and many, many people showed up at our conference here in Liberia.”  “God has used two humble pastors and one obedient American to bring a revival in our city.”

But seeing it in Gitegi really did something for Dale.  They will never need us to come back because they are doing it themselves.  God has answered all of us.

Rwanda has had so many issues that a hard shell surrounds them.  I still am shocked at the devastation from the genocide only twenty years ago.  They have recovered remarkably well on the outside.  After being here in the spring and watching a week long memorial marking the 20 year anniversary of the genocide, I need to remember to continue in prayer for healing.  Both Sunday services in this final church started opening up fertile ground.  Dale would be sitting in the chair and say, pray for me.  I still have no message.  Then 5 minutes later he would be standing in front of all these people and have to be ready to feed them.   He opens his Bible, and starts reading and then the Lord guides him along.  I can feel the shift in the Spirit and then I know he has got the answer he needed from the Lord.  This is hard to do when it appears their whole church service is focused on their dance team for the highlight of worshiping the Lord.  Then they settle back in their chairs and kind of fade away.

Not all of them though.  Some of them open their Bibles, lean forward to hear better, and get their little composition books out and write down notes.  Sunday night the place was full with a couple rows of neighboring pastors in the front.  One pastor stood up with his hands in the air and started quietly praising the Lord while Dale and Emma were talking.  So the hard ground is starting to break up and the seed Dale gave them is dropping in.  They prayed for us (just like Gitegi) and then we were on our way back to the hotel.  One pastor met us at the car and told us his congregation is ready for this.  Emma rode back to hotel and we gave him the last package of 4 Steps to Revival to give to this pastor (100 books in Rwandan language).

What is next for them?  What is next for us?  We drive to Uganda, minister in Noah’s church, his brother Peter’s church and a couple more.  We will visit the Ladies of Hope. We will see the Home of Hope children, the new director, and address many issues while we are there.  Then we will be home onDecember 7th.  Thank you for reading the emails, following on Facebook, praying for all of them and us, and financial support that has been sent.

Cindy

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What a week!  Four days of services in Gitega, Burundi were the best we’ve had in a long time. Gitega is in the center of Burundi, which is in the center of Africa. I had been here two yrs ago when the church was small. Now they are huge.  They say the messages I  brought them back then was what lit a fire in them to go out and win the lost. They now have 34 churches and over 2,000 members.

There are times when I look back over the path and wonder if I am having any impact at all, did I make a difference, or was it all just a bunch of flashes in the pan?  And then you see something like this that they say is because of the fire I started in them.  I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel this way or not, but it makes my heart swell inside me.

The song services were so good – they lifted your soul!  They lasted over an hour each time, but you didn’t want them to stop. it was that good.

Each time I got up to preach, there was an anointing that was so strong that it literally carried me along in a rushing wind. Just before the 2nd service, as I was worrying about what to say, the Lord slipped me a small piece of Scripture – “…having no confidence in the flesh…”  wow.  I just sat back and smiled. Everything was going to be okay. He had this one.

On the last day — Sunday service – it was like a goodbye service. I ended with an altar call, my usual plea for people to shed those sins and chains to come down and get set free.  At first, there was nothing.  Then I noticed a young man standing over on the side.  C’mon down, I called.  He did … and so did over 100 others.

They came pouring down to the altar!  There were about 600 people there and I began to wonder if the whole church was coming down to the altar.  What a way to end a campaign!

We are in Rwanda now, preaching in a little tiny church on the border.  I had to remind myself that I told the Lord I would go wherever He sent me, even to the places no one else would go.  I’m in one of those places.  But you know what?  The Spirit of the Lord showed up.  We packed over a hundred people into a tiny little ramshackle building about the size of our Fellowship Hall.  What a service!

But that story will be for another post …

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I ate in a French restaurant yesterday. Trying to order in a French restaurant off a menu that is written in a language you don’t understand can be a little disconcerting. You really don’t know what you are ordering and can only hope that it won’t be too weird. It’s like a Pentecostal trying to explain what the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is like to a Baptist. You know they aren’t going to fully understand the concept, but you hope they can at least get the general idea.

I ordered Lapin, which is rabbit … I hope. That’s as close to a rat as I want to get – a rodent with long ears and a short tail. I just hoped they didn’t bring out Fried Lapwing Bat or Muskrat Stew. You never know with the French.

And I hate to say this, but guess what? It tasted like chicken! Surprise, surprise. Next time I will order spaghetti.

Revival ministry in Africa is often like that. You don’t always know how everything will turn out, but you go ahead with the same message you have been bringing and hope that the results will be something good.

Sometimes the whole place ignites; sometimes they all are crying in brokenness; and sometimes they just sit there and stare at you. Go figure.

You could worry yourself sick about the different results (the devil always tells me that it is my fault because I didn’t pray hard enough), but the truth is that your job is just to show up. It is God’s job to take it from there. It is His anointing, not yours, that will pierce hearts and touch souls. All you can do is be enough in the Spirit to deliver what He gives you. The results and the timing of their effects are His responsibility.

That takes all the sweat out of it for me. Sure, I have a responsibility to seek His face in deep prayer and to saturate myself in His Word, but that only serves to allow Him to use me as a conduit. He is the one who does the work.

So I ordered the lapin. Not bad, even for chicken.

Bon appetite.

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The last three days have been a total of six services.  Thankfully, the hall that we rented was directly across the street from our hotel.  Dale and I could walk across the street and rest between services. He was able to get the full message to this group of pastors from mixed denominations along with some question and answer time as well. Because it was “neutral ground” pastors came from different churches.  There were 4 women there who came all three days. The musicians had beautiful voices.   Our translator was right on!  He kept up with Dale, picked up on the issues and told them exactly what Dale said.  It was great!

       Many times we wonder with all the spiritual battles we go through, the cultural differences, and the general confusion if we are making a difference.  But we always get encouraged by someone or something.  I watch Dale pour himself into the message and pour himself out to these people.  I watch the people respond by sitting on the edge of their chair, writing notes or reading along in their Bible.  I watch their faces either gather darkness or shine in the light of understanding. They received the Four Steps to Revival book on the morning of the third day.  It was printed in Swahili and many of them were reading through it before the service started.  Dale had time to talk about agonizing and desperate prayer that last service.  This is not prayer for what You need, but prayer for what God wants:  souls to be delivered out of sin.  Souls to be freed from Satan’s lies.  Souls to ask Jesus Christ to come in their heart.  Souls to hunger and yearn for righteousness and commit their lives in service to God.
       The questions they asked were good–about the trend in America tolerating homosexuality, should they observe the sabbath, can you get saved if you don’t say a prayer in front of a priest or pastor, why do different denominations have different rules, and should women wear makeup?  Dale’s answers were right on the spot and in the Spirit.  Some cheering and clapping happened on some of the answers!  And everything he answered started with:  what does the Bible say?  What does Jesus say?  I’ll show you in the Bible what that means or what to do.  They can argue with our opinions and answers, but their soul knows when the Word speaks the truth and there is no argument with God.
       Pastors came up to Dale at the end and asked for a few more books so they can give them to others and spread this message of revival.  They understood the practical things he explained on how to read Bible, how to pray, and how to witness. Build a fire in your heart and others will see it and want the same.  Take care of the new souls that get saved.   Yes,  it will work for you here in the Congo.  He has planted the seed in their heart and now it is their choice of what to do with that seed.  Some of them are so bound by their denomination’s church regulations that they are afraid to step out and do it God’s way.  They have their congregation bound up in the grave clothes of man’s attempt at righteousness. Dale preached about Lazarus being in the grave, bound in the grave clothes, with a stone on the grave.  He commanded the stone (the old law) to be rolled away, He commanded Lazarus to come out, and He commanded the grave clothes to be unwrapped from Lazarus.  Lazarus was free!  You can be too!
       Sometimes we have to wait a little while to hear about the results of the meetings.  Sometimes we get to hear how God has moved right away.   Dale received an email from Pastor Theo and Pastor Momo in Liberia.  Dale has already forwarded that on to others.  In spite of the ebola issue, they have had 3 days of services and people are bold to preach and bold to come.  When you are given  truth and deliverance, ebola does not overwhelm you.  God gets all the glory!
       Saturday is our day off and we needed it.  Dale will be giving the message in a new church on Sunday morning. Then we will travel to Burundi on Monday.  I think my prayer request is this:  for the starving souls to be hungry for the truth, for the pastors to be true shepherds to their congregations, and for the people in the church to stop thinking about themselves and their problems and pray for others.
       Pray for the seed that has been planted to be watered and grow.  Pray for an incredible move of God and that we hear that at least Bukavu, Congo is turning to the Lord!
Cindy

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He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias”. John 1:23

Encouraging words, aren’t they? I’m surprised that they haven’t made one of those Praise & Worship songs that repeat the same verse endlessly out of this scripture. (Maybe they have and I just don’t know it.)

Actually, although subtle, this was about as harsh a statement as John the Baptist could have come up with. It really shoved in it their faces. But then, John wasn’t known for his finesse.

There was a pretty big uproar in the churches in those days over this weird guy out at the Jordan River that was baptizing crowds of common people, and the church big shots wanted to know what was going on. Everybody was dumping the dead churches and heading out to the river.

Well, the problem was more than just that they were losing their congregations. John was preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins!

Whoa! Wait a minute! Who the heck do you think you are? You can’t do that! They are supposed to bring a lamb of the flock to the priests to be sacrificed for their sins. They can’t just dunk in some water and ask God to forgive them.

If this thing was allowed to go on, there’s no telling where it would lead.

For one thing, it would be the end of the power and authority that the priests and Levites held over the people, because they would no longer have to come to them for their blood sacrifices.

For another, regular common people might start thinking that they could preach the Gospel. We can’t have that. You’re supposed to have a degree to do that.

Well, John had news for them – the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world had come and would be the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. And yes, it would spell the end of the Levitical priesthood. The religious would end up being rejected, not only by the people, but by God Himself.

What’s more, God would raise up men and women of power and authority in the Holy Spirit, and they wouldn’t be getting their credentials from some stupid Seminary. God can speak through the mouth of a jackass, but He doesn’t need the jackasses that call themselves professors to speak for Him.

So who do you think you are, John? Do you claim to be the Messiah, or Elijah, or some big shot that can turn everything we’ve got going in the churches upside down? You’ve no credentials, no degree, and you have no ordination papers giving you the authority to do this.

No, I’m just a voice, John answered.

But by quoting the prophesy that declared the spiritual landscape to be a wilderness, he was in essence, calling these Pharisees backslidden devils that were on their way to Hell – in subtle terms, of course.

Here’s another thought for you. The same prophecy applies today just before His 2nd Coming.

Same situation, same cast of characters, same landscape, and same timing.

Is that subtle enough for you?

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I’m writing this to update everyone on where we are and how things are going.
It struck me as interesting that I have done so many revival meetings in these last ten years that they are beginning to seem mundane – nothing out of the ordinary, just the same old stuff. But to the people who experience these services, it is anything but mundane. It’s not the excitement that is generated because you can get that kind of excitement anywhere. It’s something that runs beneath the surface. It’s a whisper of revival that you can sense in your heart, a whisper in the wind, so to speak, of hope. Revival is really coming.
I forget sometimes … well, most of the time. I have preached this message so many times that I’ve forgotten what it is like to hear for the first time a God-written promise of a revival to this generation that will be far greater than even Pentecost. What exciting news when the reality hits you that this is not some ethereal promise based on a nebulous timeframe of something that might happen but most often does not. No, this is real and written!
The real gauge of the effectiveness of these services is not in the excitement we see during the service, but the light in the eyes of the pastors and ministers who come up later, beaming with hope and a vision. They are ready to light the torch and send out the word that not only is Jesus coming, but that He also has promised to send the greatest revival of all time. They have heard that whisper in the wind, Elijah’s little cloud on the horizon, and they hear the sound of an abundance of rain.
We are in Bukavu, Congo, meeting with 100 pastors and leaders of the churches here. They have come because they recognize that they have lost that revival power they once had a generation ago. The power is missing, the miracles are no longer evident, and the excitement and draw for people to come to the Lord has vanished. They remember what it was like and they want it back.
We did two services today and will do four more tomorrow and the next day. That feeling of anticipation, hope, and a reestablishment of the dream is rising. They can hear the whisper. Revival is coming.

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The Road to Bukavu

It’s usually little kids in the backseat asking this question.  But it was me, Cindy, in the backseat  asking this last night.  How much farther?  Are we there yet??

Our ride to Bukavu, Congo from Kigali, Rwanda should have only taken 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  But with one mistake in the beginning of the trip, and a series of other unfortunate events (or comedy of errors–whichever you prefer), our ride took 12 hours.  And we didn’t even make it to Bukavu.  Our host has a taxi driver that he uses and he arranged our ride.  But he misunderstood where we were going and told our driver to go to the border at Goma, Congo instead of the border at  Bukavu.  Two hours into the ride, Dale noticed some traffic signs and realized we were going north instead of south.  We told the driver (even before we left the hotel) we were going to Bukavu, but all he understood was take the Americans to the border at Goma.  Ahhh,  so here we are in Goma.  Our interpreter and contact people at the church are calling us from Bukavu wondering where we are.  They are ready to pick us up.  You are in Goma?  What are you doing there?

The driver didn’t want to drive us to Bukavu, but he did.  How long to get there from Goma?  About 4 hours.  OK, not a problem. We will pay you more money to take us there. So begins the adventure. Wrong city, language barrier, road conditions, serious speed bumps, “S” curves up and down the mountain, no network connection to communicate, phone time running out, battery running low, no bathroom facilities (for me),  and more.   Four hours later,  how much farther?  Another 3 hours. Really?  The border closes at 6 PM, so what do we do now?

At six PM,  it’s already dark. .  I don’t handle the night darkness well, especially travelling forever on miles and miles of “S” curves, through the National Forest for the gorillas, with some good roads, but lots of  construction and gravel roads halfway through the forest.  I thought, is this ever going to end?  I made sure not to drink anything before we left at 10 am, but now it is about 7 pm.  NO civilization;  NO lights except oncoming cars and trucks, NO anything.  I hung in until about 9 pm, then little tears starting running down my face.  Dale knew but didn’t want to press the issue.

I started praying for light in the darkness.  I started praying for our driver.  (Dale asked if he was tired; he said,  “no, I am strong.”  OK.)  I started praying very  specific requests–a place for me, a hotel, any village or town with lights, get off this road, find a traffic sign with information, good phone connection, someone who speaks English!

Communication picked up between our interprator (Etienne)  and our driver. He was calling us about every hour checking our progress. Evidence of life started showing up after we finally got out of the forest.    People in Bukavu were looking for a hotel for us so we could spend the night somewhere close and then finish the trip. Etienne found someone to meet us in Cyangugu at 10 PM,  made arrangements at the hotel, and pick us up in the morning. We paid the driver for his room and the extra driving time, and headed for a hot shower and our room.

When we woke up this morning, we had a great prayer hour full of thankfulness and more!  I looked up scriptures about light in the darkness.  Dale looked up the route we traveled and discovered we  missed the turn for the direct road and that’s why we ended up going the super long way through the forest.  We were fine; (just part of the adventure), but I was very glad to see daylight and to make it through the  border, customs, and to the hotel where we will be for the next  days.

Here are the scriptures I hung onto last night:

  • Psalm 112:4 – “Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness:  he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous”
  • Psalm 119:105– “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
  •  Isaiah 42:16- “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not I will lead them in paths that they have not known:  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.  These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”
  • John 8:12- “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world:he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Even though I could see no light at the end of the road, He brought HIs Word to me in the darkness and now I have a story to tell!

Cindy Garris

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“And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants …”   Nehemiah

I know how you feel, Nehemiah. It’s been so long since we’ve had a real outpouring of the Spirit that we don’t even know what it is like anymore.

How long has it been since you’ve gone to services knowing that the presence of the Holy Ghost would be there in such an electrifying power that the very air would be alive with the glory of God? You would literally be beside yourself, caught up in the Spirit so much that you would feel like you weren’t even on the face of the earth anymore. Today, I see people in church doing what I call the “Pentecostal Bounce” in an attempt to make it happen, but I remember when the Holy Ghost would pour down so hard that it would literally “set your feet a-dancing”.

I remember.

Can you remember a time when souls would be flocking to the altar night after night under the over-powering conviction of the Holy Ghost, just dying to get saved?

I remember.

When we talk about healing, do you think back to when the power of God would come down like a bombshell and people would be instantly, supernaturally healed? Or has it been so long since you’ve seen something like that that you don’t really believe it anymore, and are content with a “gradual healing”, little more than settling for crumbs under the Master’s table.

When someone tells you that the Lord spoke to them, do you figure that it was nothing more than some ethereal hint of an idea or some kind of a “strong thought”? Or do you know what it is like to actually hear God speak?

Can you remember back to a time when the supernatural seemed natural? Or does it just seem like a tale that is told?

I remember.

But when I look around, I see Christians debating about points of doctrine and how THEY think things should be, fighting like kids in a schoolyard. I see Pastors subscribing to videos and books and Lesson Plans in an attempt to ignite a resurgence of the Power of God in their church. I see basket socials and basketball games to make church look more fun to the unsaved.

And all the while, they are missing the glory of God.

I am told that you can’t go by feelings – that you have to go solely by the Word of God. (Of course, that assumes that you agree with what they think it says.) Maybe they have just never felt what the real power of God feels like. If they did, they’d know what it is like to be under the Anointing, and experience that feeling that is more real than real. I would remind you that the Bible says the Spirit and the Word are one.

My little girl asked me today if God did miracles today just like He did in the Bible. My answer was yes, He still does. Why then, she asked, do we not see them anymore? Well, for that, you have to go to Isaiah 30:1. (I’ll let you look it up for yourself if you’re really looking for an answer.)

I know that many will read this column and think I’m just on some trip.  Some of the old-timers, however, will remember back wistfully, to a time when the Glory of God flowed through our churches, and sigh with regret, wondering if we will ever see it again.

But there are others, especially you young people, who will see the promise, the possibility and the hope, and will cry out to God with all your hearts like Nehemiah for a restoration of what we have been missing for so long.

Let me tell you that the promise is sure and the possibility is enormous, but the hope must spring from your heart.

The first step to revival is to realize that you don’t have one. The 2nd is to want it more than life itself, and be willing to believe God for it. Our churches, sadly, have forgotten both.

But I remember.

And I still believe.

Brother Dale
www.revivalfire.org

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