The Interceders Encourager No. 15
The Long Process
In the Fiji Report I informed you that the initial meetings held by the Healing the Land Teams were called "The Process". Now even though I know that God is able to accomplish in a very short period what would normally take a long time to achieve, or would be completely impossible by any other method; to get the churches in Britain back to where they should be, and this nation brought back to God, is going to be a long process.
In Fiji, the preparation and process meetings go on for four weeks, sometimes a little longer, but in Britain the preparation and process will need to be much longer, for we are faced with a far more difficult situation, both as regards the Church and the State. In Fiji, the churches were strong and commanded a place of honour in society, even though they were very disunited. Where whole villages have been brought to repentance and transformation, the people were nominally Christian, even though they practised many bad sins. Even in the one village that I visited, where there was no church and no Christians, the people were still religious, and were united in the one religion, even though it was a form of Animism. Furthermore, the people were homogeneous, being all native Fijians. In Britain, however, the churches are weak, worldly and compromising, and do not command a place of honour in society, the people are not homogeneous, most of them being neither nominally Christian, nor religious in any other way, while many belong to strong non Christian or anti Christian religions. The task, therefore, will be far more difficult. Moreover, we have the influence of the establishment, the media, the radio, the television, the internet, the cinema, the newspapers, the education system, the government and the European Union; all of which are controlling peopleís lives in an anti God or God rejecting way, so that everything is seen in terms of materialism and pleasure, living for this world and this life only.
I have been rereading the story of the last revival and awakening that took place in Britain, that in North Uist in the Hebrides in 1957-1958, and noticing how long it took for an impact to be made. Meetings were held in one place every night for four weeks; then six months later, meetings were held in the same place every night for another four weeks. After that, meetings were held in another place on the island, and it was not until the third week of that third session that the atmosphere changed and God really began to work. North Uist is a fairly small island, and people were able to travel from one place to another, so we can think of the island as one area. It, therefore, took nearly eleven weeks of meetings, i.e. over 70 evenings of meetings, which were the main meetings plus after meetings plus house meetings plus many hours of intensive prayer and fasting before the power came down, and even then, the greatest power was not experienced until some weeks after that. Moreover, all this took place in North Uist, a remote island, almost cut off from normal 20th century life, where the population was homogeneous, where the people were already instructed in the things of the Lord, and where the churches were evangelical.
At Balintore in Easter Ross in Scotland, in 1922-23, at a time when the Spirit of God was moving in power, the Faith Mission held meetings there, and continued every night for almost 17 weeks, i.e. well over 100 meetings, in order to procure the needed breakthrough for God to come down and impact the community. Now if such a long series of meetings were necessary in places where there was a homogeneous population, where the churches were strong and respected, and where the word of God was already known in the community, how much more is a long process needed in any part of Britain today?
In the 18th century, as we have noted before, Britain was polluted and infected with all kinds of sins:
cheating lying, stealing, fraud, gambling, (including a national lottery), injustice, degraded literature, cursing, swearing, homosexual practices, rejection of marriage, "blatant Sabbath breaking", drunkenness, violence, mob rule, murder, overcrowded prisons, rejection of the Church and of Christianity. The sins, according to John Wesley, were worse than anywhere else on earth. Yet the population, as a whole, were not atheists and were not materialists, in the way that people are today. This was before Darwin and the deadening effects of evolution, and before the full force of the Industrial Revolution had created the consumer society and its obsession with pleasure. Furthermore, the population was homogeneous, and was not the mixture of races and religions that we have in this country today, so that bringing them to repentance and faith in the one true God was not so difficult as it would be today. Nevertheless, it was no easy task. It required hours of fervent prayer being maintained; and the dedication and sacrifice of some of the most outstanding preachers that the world has ever known, and even then, it took years and years for the situation to change.
On top of that, Wesley and the other revival leaders had opposition from a worldly, ineffective Church that objected to the spirituality and fervour of the revival preachers. The church leaders did not like their comfortable way of life disturbed by these fanatics who took everything far too seriously. To their way of thinking, the preaching of the law of God, of His standards, of His wrath and the punishment of sinners in hell was far too extreme. In their estimation, the preachers were cranks, and were dangerous. This makes us realise how the churches of today have become so like the church leaders in the 18th century who opposed the revival. The attitudes and mindset of the world have been imbibed to such an extent that todayís "Christians" do not want their comfort zone, with its favourite television programmes, its sport, its holidays and its consumerism, invaded. The happiness, health and well being of the members dominate the conversations and the prayers at most churches. Each church, whatever its label, is wrapped up in itself, is concerned, almost totally with its own activities, and exhibits little, if any, concern for the state of the nation, the preaching of the gospel, the extension of the kingdom of God, the Persecuted Church, and the fate of millions of people going to hell. I leave Interceders leaflets in churches that I visit, but I have never had a single reply to any of them. Most of the churches are either liberal, majoring on good works and a pleasant easy going religiosity that will never make any impact on society; or they are shallow, "liberal evangelicals", majoring on the grace of God and the elementary doctrines, giving people a false sense of security, not challenging people regarding holiness and perfection, the cost of true discipleship and laying down ones life for Christ, not creating and building a concern for the sins of the world and its rebellion against its Creator, nor bemoaning, praying and acting against the prevalence of false religions even here in Britain, which do not acknowledge the one true God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of mankind.
Peter Kusmic, a theologian from Croatia, asserts that, "so much popular Western evangelical religiosity is so shallow and selfish. It promises so much and demands so little. It offers success, personal happiness, peace of mind and material prosperity, but it hardly speaks of repentance, sacrifice, self denial, a holy lifestyle and willingness to die for Christ."
I would add that, according to my experience, the churches do not even like to be told about such things. They do not want to be challenged. They do not want to hear about the Law of God and His high standards, about holiness and perfection, about the wrath of God and hell. Such views are too extreme, and those Christians who stand up for Godís standards are regarded as cranks, and even dangerous. The wheel has come full circle.
Andrew Strom from New Zealand, wrote of the Nine Lies of Todayís Church, in which the Church is deceiving itself. Three of these are particularly appropriate for us:
a) The Jesus preached today is not true to the New Testament. We present him as someone who exists mainly for our own happiness, who wants to rain down continual blessings upon us, a God of grace without judgment, righteousness or truth.
b) The modern church seeks to replace the moving of the Spirit with man made programmes which can never achieve what only God can do. The Early Church had much more of God and much less of man.
c) Consequently, there is very little fear of the Lord, no deep repentance and, therefore, no deep moving of the Spirit. "God will not put up with this sham church for much longer," says Strom. "Todayís church has sunk so low that it is almost a matter of people needing to be rescued out of her."
I am reminded of the nation of Judah in the time of the prophet Isaiah. "The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint," he wrote. "From the sole of the foot to the head, there is no soundness in it." (Is.1:5-6) This is a frightening picture of the state of Godís people at that time, and, alas, it is so true of the church in Britain today. There is so much compromise, so much worldliness, so much complacency, so much prayerlessness, so little repentance, so little dependence on God, that the whole Church is sick and faint, it is weak and powerless, and, consequently ineffective.
This is why a huge renovation job is needed, and why a long "process" is necessary. If the churches wonít stand hearing the truth of Godís word, then it has to be taken to the people outside, as Wesley and the other preachers did in the 18th century. Wherever and however it is done, through open-air meetings, through meetings in secular venues, through radio, television, letters and adverts in the newspapers, or through the internet, a consistent ministry will have to be maintained. There needs to be strong, anointed and persistent preaching against sin, against each specific form of sin, as in Fiji, with no punches pulled, and nothing swept under the carpet. The word of God needs to be used as the Sword of the Spirit, and the hammer breaking the rocks, as long as is necessary, until the Spirit is poured out from on high and the rocks are broken. This needs to be carried on in the same place or in the same area for as long as it takes. What has happened in Stoke on Trent with Craig Marsh is an indicator of what is needed. He carried on, in the same area, preaching against sin until there was a breakthrough, but much more is needed.
None of this will happen, of course, without the power of God. All the preaching has to be backed up by strong, anointed and persistent prayer, specifically related to the proclamation of the word of God; prayer in which we plead Godís promises, submit to His working in our lives, affirm our utter dependence upon Him, and take hold of His power by faith.
In view of all this, it seems to me that we are faced with three main alternatives:
a) To carry on as we are, praying generally for God to move in this land, and praying for the Revival Preachers to have success. However, the situation in this country is now so bad and the downhill slide so fast, with the forces of corruption, crime and immorality increasing, and the power of false religion growing so rapidly, that this method will not deal with the problem as it will take too long, and we havenít got the time left.
b) To call together the churches in our areas, (or ask your pastor or another pastor to do so), lay out the truth of our present situation, and ask them if they would be willing to have meetings that will be continued for a long time, and get the Revival Preachers to undertake a long preaching session, however long it takes. This would be better than a), but this would still be a very long process.
c) To really learn from the Fiji experience; disseminate the information on the true state of Britain in our own local areas. (You could use the information in Interceder Encouragers 11,12, 13 and 14, or I could produce one handout for you to use, if you wanted me to). This information could be circulated to local churches, and even put in local papers. All this would have to be backed up by fervent prayer, in order to get people in your area into a state of desperation about the current situation. Tell them what God has done in Fiji when people there realised that only God had the answer to the nationís problems, and how
God is even now working in different parts of the country when they turn to Him, seeking His help.
Tell them we have preachers ready to start the process. If we, through the information we give, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in answer to our prayers, get people to a state of desperation, then the whole process timetable could be radically shortened.
Therefore we need to:
1) Pray earnestly for our merciful God to bring about this state of desperation in Britain and in our local area.
2) Use the information we have to bring people to realise the seriousness of our present situation, and that God is the only answer.
3) Point out the urgency of the situation, that this nation is under the judgment of Almighty God, and unless the situation changes and the churches repent and change and the nation acknowledges the one true God, then His judgment must fall.
4) Tell others what God has done and what He wants to do; that, in spite of all our mistakes and rebellion, He is still willing to have mercy on this nation and heal our land.
5) Pray that God will raise up a team, or teams, of Revival Preachers who will be ready to undertake a long term ministry for as long as it takes until there is a breakthrough, and we see God truly "take the field", (as Duncan Campbell used to say). Revival preachers, as evidenced throughout history, always had to be willing to change their plans and submit all their ideas to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
"Restore us , O Lord. Let Your face shine, that we may be saved". (Ps.80:3)