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Another article from the booklet, Nigeria-2012


Nigeria is a very different place. I’m not sure how different it is from the surrounding countries in West Africa, but it sure is a lot different than any of the other places in East Africa that I’ve been to.

Your first impression when you get off the plane feels slightly out of focus. On the surface, everything seems the same as other African countries, and yet there something that lies just beneath it that you can’t quite put your finger on.  It’s just different somehow.  A somber blanket lies in the air that lends a subdued feeling to everything. There isn’t that feeling of color and laughter in the air.  It’s as if Nigeria has stepped out of Technicolor into a world that is colored in shades of grey. Life is a serious undertaking here.

Is it the culture? Is it just the way it is?  Or is it something deeper than that makes everything seem so drab – something deeply spiritual in nature?

I have spent the last two weeks bringing a message of revival to several churches whose hearts are turned to God for something other than the same old stuff that they have been hearing.  Something different has to happen. Their desperation for a true move of God is rising and pushing past the ineffective platitudes of blessings and good things that have been promised to them free of charge. It’s not working and they know it.  I am embarrassed to say that these messages of false prosperity and unmerited blessings have poured forth from America, and so many innocent people have believed that, because America has been so blessed, this message must be true.

By now, however, they are beginning to realize that it’s not working.  Something is missing.  This is not the same gospel that our grandfathers preached and they are not getting the same results.  We have forgotten something along the way as we followed the Pied Pipers of Prosperity and Blessings off into a modern Gospel that is softer and more “loving” than that old message of repentance and the fear of God. Our Bible colleges churned out a new generation of pastors and taught them to discard the old God of Judgment for a new God of Love.  And in the process, we lost something so vital in the Church that we don’t know how to find our way back.

Satan has done such a complete job of turning our focus onto ourselves that we don’t even realize how far we have turned from the Cross.  The message that I bring is predicated upon the concept that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about you – it is about others – and revival will not come until we turn our focus to the lost that are dying in sin.   But no matter how hard I drive this message home, I will often hear another preacher get up right after me an promise the same people all kinds of new blessings, new deliverances, new miracles in their lives … all for free!  And the crowd that just bowed their heads in recognition of their own self-serving ways will jump to their feet and cheer as this new preacher promises them all kinds of blessings and negates everything that I just preached.  Just human nature, I guess.

Revival is not free — neither is it cheap — and breaking through this cloud that covers their Pollyanna Gospel mindset, not only in Nigeria but all across Africa, is essential before any move of God will come. Is this the spiritual cloud I feel here that sucks the life and joy out of the very air? Could it be that Satan has entrenched himself here in Nigeria as his last stand of resistance to stop revival at any cost? Is Nigeria the last bastion of darkness that must be conquered to allow the Great African Revival to break forth?

Many here believe that Nigeria is highly chosen for this great move of God and that is why Satan has concentrated his darkness to destroy this nation.  It is not the sinners he must control; it’s the Christians.  And what better way than to lull them into a false sense of security with a “love gospel” that has worked since he first used it in the Garden of Eden.  It’s all about you. Don’t worry.  Hakuna Matata. Thou shalt not surely die because God loves you. Here, take a bite.

There are heroes here in Nigeria. Men and women who are willing to take a stand that will invoke the ire of the Church in an attempt to wake them up.  Many will hear the call of the trumpet and rise to the challenge.  Many will not, but will resist and attack those who will. Battle lines are forming, choices are being made, and destinies are being decided.  It is a time for war, and Nigeria is the battleground.

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;”  (Joel 2:1)

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[Here’s another post from the Nigeria-2012 booklet that I thought I’d pass on. There’s a couple more that I’ll send later. — Dale ]


It’s the eyes that get you.

All the shouting and the praising is great, but it is when you look into their eyes and see the sincerity of their heart that you really know that God is doing something special here. It’s not just another meeting to sing some songs and hear about how much God wants to bless you and bring you into some vaunted abundant life.  The stuff we saw tonight is down to the roots of the soul – serious dedication to do whatever it takes to have revival.

Nigeria is very different from East Africa in that this is a serious people. You do not see the color and gaiety here that you find in Kenya, but neither do you see the lackadaisical attitude that you find in East Africa. Nigerians work hard and have a more serious outlook on life.  Their approach to the Gospel reflects that same attitude.  Whereas in Kenya, the shouting and singing may be louder initially, their ardor begins to wane when it comes time to dig in and do the work of the Gospel. Nigerians, on the other hand, may not be so open and emotional, but they seem to have a more serious fixation on the hard facts of the price that must be paid to have a true revival.

A prominent pastor here told me that they have been fasting and praying for revival but God is not answering.  Something is wrong, and they want to know what it is.  Now that is a serious cry for revival!  This is past the singing and dancing and enters into the serious reality of what God requires. The Altar of God is not a place of singing and dancing, but of blood and sacrifice and death.

One of the biggest lies that Satan has sold the Church is that we can just sit in our little pews and God will have mercy on us and send us revival.  Sorry, but if you do nothing, nothing will happen.  Mercy is not handed out free – it must be paid for.  Mercy begets mercy, unto the merciful He will show Himself merciful, and as James tells us, judgment shall be without mercy on those who have shown no mercy.  What a trip the devil has put us on!  And we believed him!  Or should that be in the present tense?

But these guys know differently.  They know there is a price to pay for everything in God – everything. And the price for a full Holy Ghost revival is extremely high.  That’s why they are so rare – nobody wants to pay that price.  That is precisely why you have to be desperate in order to see revival come.  So desperate that you are like Rachael in Genesis 30:1, “Give me souls or else I will die!”  So desperate that you are willing to give your life so that souls can be saved.  If you are not, you will not see a real Holy Ghost revival because you won’t do what it takes to get one.  You’ll just have some really good “church”.

But these people tonight have had enough of “church”.  They are ready for whatever God has placed before them and are ready to answer the call of the trumpet that is blowing in Zion – the call to the last battle between God and Satan for the souls of Man.

You could see it in their eyes as they came in droves to kneel at the altar.  The entire church came down — even the ushers!  They emptied themselves of their self-interest and pride as they ripped their hearts wide open to repent and surrender all to Jesus.  The passion at the altar was only surpassed by the cries of “hallelujah” that were so loud that my ears over-amped!  There was victory in the church tonight.

When you see a serious dedication like that, you can expect serious results.  I have no doubt that their passion will carry them into the Word of God to give them the power to fast and pray for God to build a fire in their church.  And then watch as that fire spills out into the streets to bring in the lost and dying into that same Holy Ghost blaze.

Just as in childbirth, revivals are birthed in pain and labor and travail. They also end up with the same kind of rejoicing.

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I have a dozen or so booklets from different trips that I had taken in Africa.I was reading  the booklet I had written from the trip to Nigeria in 2012 and thought it would be good to pass along the first chapter. I think I will also send the other chapters in the next few days.


“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  (James 1:27)

Nigeria is like no other place I have been. As the most populous country in Africa, the pressure of their dense population tends to make them a stronger, more aggressive culture.  That is both good and bad – that which is bad is really bad, but that which is good is really good. I saw some of the really good this evening.

The church where I am preaching at for three days is on a campaign to start a true Holy Ghost revival.  As the revivalist guest speaker, I am a major part of that plan.  I tell them what to do to have revival, and they go out and put it into practice.  My goal is that they will grab hold of a vision that will claim their entire community for Christ, and have the faith to believe that they can change the world.  And they can … they just have to have to want it bad enough.

It has to start somewhere, and tonight they started with an open air crusade.  Outdoor crusades do not work well in America – at least as far as I have seen – but they sure work well here in Africa.  At the end of the service tonight, at least 50-60 souls came to the altar to get saved, got plugged into one of the local churches here, and were instructed on what to do next in their Christian walk.  This is pure religion.  It does not get any better, deeper, heavier, or more important than this.

In contrast, our churches have developed a more layered and sophisticated way of operating.  I guess it is only natural given that the Church today has become very much like a corporate business.  Aspiring pastors apply for positions at various churches just like a job applicant fresh out of business school. Once hired, salaries are set, job descriptions and responsibilities are defined, and positions are secured. They start at Youth Pastor (why do we put our most inexperienced clergy In the most sensitive position?) and move on up through the different departments until they arrive at the pinnacle of Senior Pastor.  Programs are instituted, goals are voted on, methods are applied, and the whole machinery of church is organized.

This is denominational religion.  Like it or not, complain, criticize, or praise it, this is how it is done — and I suppose it works well enough for what it is supposed to accomplish — but what I experienced this evening was pure religion. This was raw “go out and get ‘em” Christianity — out in the street, face to face where they live.  Nothing complicated.  Just do it.

I tell the churches I preach at that if they are sitting in church waiting for souls to come, they will wait forever.  They’re not coming.  You know why?  Because they are afraid they will become just like us.  (You can always hear everyone groan when I say that). “Go ask them”, I tell them, “They will tell you.”

What they want is the real thing. They’ve already heard the message – probably know it better than most “church people” – but they’re not interested in what you believe, what you say, or what new fancy programs you got going.  They want the real thing – they want to see the power.  They don’t want the Gospel that is the philosophy of God – defined, analyzed, organized, packaged, and digested in your theological books and scholastic dissertations.  They want the Gospel that is the power of God unto Salvation. Raw power; raw truth.  And if they don’t see it in your church, is it a small wonder why they are not coming?

Proverbs tells us that he that winneth souls is wise.  This evening, over fifty people out here changed their eternal destination and escaped burning in Hell for Eternity.  I saw more wisdom in the simple zeal and faith of these people to go out and do this one thing than in all the sophisticated Bible College programs that our modern religions can muster.

I’m sure the scribes will object … but then, they always have, haven’t they?

“Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out.

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

(Luke 14:34-35)

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One of the messages that I have brought many times is the story in chapter 14 of 1st Samuel about Jonathan, the son of King Saul. It was one of the very first messages that the Lord brought to me about revival. Over time, it has grown to encompass messages about the necessity of the Word of God and prayer in bringing revival and the need for a vision for God.

King Saul had mustered 330,000 men of war to defeat the Philistines, but then sent them all home after the victory except for 3,000 men. But guess what happens when you lay down your defenses. The enemy will attack. And that is what happened to Saul.

The Philistines came with more than a hundred thousand men, and the men of Israel fled to the caves and dens of the rocks. Only 600 men remained, but none of them had a sword. Only Saul and Jonathan had swords. What happened to all the swords? When we do not maintain our grasp of our sword, the Word of God, we lose our defense against the enemy.

But Jonathan was not like his father. He was a man of vision for God. The circumstances around him did not matter. It was not how big the enemy was that he saw, but how big his God was. Jonathan turned to his armor bearer and said, “…There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6)

And up the mountain he went.

Jonathan climbed up that hill on his hands and knees, just as we must do battle on our knees with our hands clasped in prayer. At the top of that hill, as Jonathan wielded his sword, twenty men fell before him. That is the power of the Word of God when it is joined with prayer that contends all the way to the top of the mountain.

But that was not what made the revival break out. What did twenty men matter in the face of 100,000? What good would such a small effort do to bring down such overwhelming odds? Why bother with those little out-of-the-way churches with small congregations? How can God possibly use such puny things to spark a worldwide revival? I don’t know. I just know He is God, and that’s what He does.

God saw the faithfulness of a man who simply believed God and took hold of a vision for God that spurred him to action. Jonathan never looked at the situation around him, but he looked beyond the horizon to a God that was bigger than any problem and any army of the enemy. He had the courage to believe God. That courage drove him up that hill. Had he stayed at the bottom, nothing would have happened and Israel would have been destroyed.

But when God saw that faithfulness, the earth began to quake and the rocks began to fall and the entire Philistine army began to run for their lives. They went down killing each other in their panic to flee.

And the Israelites that had run to hide in the caves? They came out and began to chase the enemy. In like manner, when real revival breaks out, all those Christians that have run to the caves and dens to hide because of their discouragement with a dead religion, will suddenly see what they had been looking for in a new revived outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and will come forth.

This is the picture of revival that I see. It is not by might or by power but by the Spirit of God that revival will come. It is the little people of the Faith, not the big shots, which God will used to bring this great, end-time move of God just before Jesus comes back.

Revival is coming. But it is not coming to everybody. Only to those who answer the call and are willing to climb up that mountain, armed with the Word of God and the power of prayer. We need Jonathans with vision to lead the way up that mountain so that God will shake the earth once more.

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)

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Mornings in Kisumu are fresh and clean in spite of all the dirt that is in the city streets that seems to rise out of the ground during the rush and hubbub of the day. In the early morning, the sidewalk vendors are staking out their sidewalk territories and getting ready for the business of the day as the city slowly rises out of her slumber of the night. I love this time in the morning.

I have just spent the last two days with a very small band of pastors in what seems to be an abandoned schoolroom on the outskirts of the city. The roads that lead to the meeting place have become mud holes and impassible lakes after the all-night rain we just had. We had to forego a couple of the roads because the water was too deep. As it was, I plowed through a couple of 20-foot wide puddles that were up to the axles, hoping and praying that I would not get stuck. This is the rainy season, so this is no surprise for me.

Less than a dozen pastors have shown up to hear the message that I have brought them. My friend who is organizing these meetings for me is developing a network of churches across Kenya and these pastors are part of it. Although there’s only a few of them, if I can plant a seed deep enough in their hearts and light a fire of inspiration that they will take back to their churches, then it will be worth plowing through the mud. God knows what He is doing, even if He doesn’t let the rest of us in on it.

At the end of two days of meetings, they are so excited that they are already planning for a great big conference for me next year. I get this same response from every place that I minister at. Everybody is always so lit up from the message that they all want me to come back the next year. I always I tell them that, no, I am not coming back. If I have to come back, then I didn’t do my job right the first time and what good would it do to tell them the same message again? If I did do my job right, then they don’t need me to come back.

Seriously, though, I don’t think I’ll be back. I can feel the passion and intensity of the burden slipping from me. All I want to do is go home.

But I have one more city to visit. Kisii is a small city a couple hours away and I have three days of meetings there at two different churches. After almost two months out here, I’m almost done.

As I am pulling out of Kisumu in the early morning and I soak up the freshness of the air that has come after the rain last night, I am reminded that we are encouraged to cast our bread upon the waters and it will come back to us. I have done that here. True, the water here may be muddy, but I have cast my bread out there nonetheless.

Someday, who knows when, it will come back to me in the form of churches revived and souls saved. That will make it all worthwhile.

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”
(Ecclesiastes 11:1)

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Ahhhhhh. Three days off! One to travel from Kitale to Kisumu, and two days to do absolutely nothing! I feel like a rich man with time to squander however I want.

Kitale was the same experience as so many other places. Hungry for God to do something special in their lives, they come expecting a miracle. Because I am not like all the other American preachers, they get something they didn’t expect, but once they taste it, they want more.

They expected a soft message of peace and blessings – which is always nice to hear – but they got one of repentance and price, and they recognize the difference. I have found that their understanding of scripture and of the ways of the Spirit are often more sophisticated than we in the West expect. They get the difference between the old fashioned gospel from 50 years ago and the modern gospel they are hearing from us now – as evidenced by their exuberant “amens” when I hit certain points.

They know the truth; they just need someone to inspire them, and only the Holy Ghost can do that. He is the One they are waiting for. Once the fire is lit, however, get out of the way! It is like standing in a field of wheat that is so dry it has turned white and brittle, striking a match, and then dropping it into the wheat. The results are always explosive.

That is what I am experiencing out here. I am getting phone calls and messages from the places I have just been to over the last month or so telling me that the fire is still burning and that souls getting saved. Nothing unusual about that; the message works. Always has.

As I was leaving Kitale after three days of meetings, I stopped at the Challenge Farm, an orphanage run by Cheri Thompson, an American woman who came out here, fell in love with the kids, and never left. She has turned a dream into a sprawling reality. There are hundreds of kids running all over the place, smiling, playing, studying, and growing up as strong, productive Christians. This woman has accomplished something incredible.

As for me right now, I am trying to turn off all the switches and just coast. My batteries are run dry and my spark of inspiration is dead. I need to just shut it off for a while until I can catch up to myself again. I hardly come out of the room. I’ve already seen Kisumu so what is there to see? I’ve been to enough restaurants in my time and seen enough sights, so leave me alone. I’m fine right here. Is this what it is like to get old?

I have heard from the lady pastor at the church I will be going to tomorrow. They are praying. What else can you say? They are praying. God, she says, is faithful and will direct me to meet the brethren of the Lord who are patiently waiting for me. They are praying.

That’s all it takes to rekindle my fire – they are praying. They don’t know who I am, but when has that ever mattered? They are waiting for Him. And He will be there.

 

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After Nakuru, I headed up to Eldoret. Eldoret is a busy city. Imagine all the noise, honking, dust, and clamor of a circus of wild animals and clowns gone wild. That would give you a picture of the downtown streets of Eldoret.

The White Castle Hotel is right in the middle of all this melee. It’s the same hotel I stayed at in 2010 when I was here last. At 16 bucks a night, you can imagine what it was like – clean and basic, but a bit Spartan in comfort. But hey, there was hot water in the shower!

Services were in a small church on the outskirts of town. Typical African church with corrugated iron roofs and walls. Somebody has made a fortune on iron sheets because they are as ubiquitous as dirt across Africa.

The pastor is asking for me to give two services today. While I am not exactly feeling frisky right now, it is hard to say no. These people, like all the others that I have ministered to, are hungry to hear about revival. It is like a dream for them that will lift them out of what they have now.

It’s not the poverty or the drab conditions of their lives; neither is it a discontent with their church – it’s the dream of reaching through the realities of this life and being able to not only touch God, but to immerse themselves in His presence. They need God. And they are looking at me to introduce them to Him in the excitement of revival.

I’m not sure how I’m supposed to think about that. I just keep pressing out this message that God has given me, over and over, place after place, meeting after meeting. No matter how many times I have worried about getting stale and repetitive, it is always new and exciting to them. I get to have the crowd in my hands for an hour each time, and watch their excitement grow as they grasp what I deliver to them.

And then we passed out the Bibles!

I asked how many have Bibles. I think there were three or four out of the whole crowd. How am I supposed to lead them into battle if they have no swords? How will this message find any traction in their hearts without the Word of God to establish them? What good is “be thou warmed and filled”, if you want them to grow into strong warriors in this battle for human souls?

One thing I’ve learned – you never have enough Bibles. I had given the pastor a case of 34 Bibles but they got sucked up immediately. So we dug into a second case, which had been earmarked for another church. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to worry about that tomorrow.

Right now we have some very hungry and insistent people to feed the Bread of Life to.

 

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