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God of Revival

God of Revival

I had been pondering for some time what it will be like when spiritual revival breaks out in New Zealand. God’s promise is He will pour out His Spirit on everyone (Joel 2:28-29) and times of refreshing will come from His presence (Acts 3:19).

Today, as I took the washing off the clothesline, I pondered that question again, what will it be like when revival comes. This time I heard the Lord say, ‘You’ve asked the wrong question. You should ask yourself, “what will I be like when revival comes?”’ I instantly knew what He meant.  Revival is a matter of the heart – personalising it to my own heart.

Described in this way: an evangelical revival is an extraordinary work of God in which Christians repent of their sins as they become intensely aware of His presence in their midst, and they manifest a positive response to God in renewed obedience to the known will of God, resulting in both a deepening of their individual and corporate experience with God, and an increased concern to win others to Christ. 

In 1936 revival broke out in New Zealand and it started in Ngaruawahia.  James Orr whom Billy Graham described as “one of the greatest authorities on the history of religious revivals in the Protestant world” was a Baptist Minister. He came to New Zealand (by boat) in 1936 to speak at an Easter revival camp meeting held in Ngaruawahia.  At the time Orr was just 24 years of age. 

Upon arrival he was “greatly struck by the atmosphere of expectancy which prevailed, especially among the young people. There was no end of enthusiasm.” Orr preached to large crowds at the camp meeting.  

After the Friday night meeting was over, a young man approached, telling Orr that he and 11 friends were concerned about revival and would like to meet with him.  Orr went to the tent where the young men were and discussed hindrances to revival with them.  He then asked, “Do you really believe that God is going to give us revival?”  The twelve responded in unison, “Amen.”  Orr prodded, “But do you believe that he will start the revival here in this tent tonight?” After a moment’s silence, one young man answered quietly, “If we pay the price.”

Orr suggested the group put God to the test by praying in unity for revival, to “see if God keeps His Word.”  As several began to kneel, one young man spoke up. “Don’t!” he cried out.  “Before we pray to God for revival, I want to get something off my mind.” He turned to another in the tent and said, “I want to confess openly that I have been criticising you behind your back.  Will you forgive me? I think I ought to get right with you first.”

The friend responded, “It’s my fault, too. I’ve been doing the same thing behind your back.  May God forgive us both.”

As the group knelt, Holy Spirit conviction swept over them. Secret sins, pride, criticism, and unbelief were all confessed honestly before God.  Each of the twelve got right with God, and the meeting ended.  Orr left to go to his hotel room but the men in the group went through the camp, sharing what God had done in their lives. A deep revival began.

At the beginning of the weekend Orr explained to the crowds, “We have come to Ngaruawahia for revival. Take heed that you do not hinder the work of the Spirit.” God was greatly gracious, Holy Spirit conviction brooded over the gathering like a mother hen broods over her chicks. Oswald Sanders, head of the Inland China Mission and one of the leaders at the Camp later wrote, “Those of us who were responsible for the conduct of the camp had the great joy of sitting back and seeing God work in a sovereign way.  We were like men who dreamed.”

Thousands who attended the meetings returned to their homes, churches and communities as transformed men and women.  Before the weekend ended hundreds of young Kiwis committed their lives to foreign missions.  

During the revival Orr, also a hymnwriter, penned the passionate hymn “Search me, O God.” He later set it to the tune of the Māori waiata “Po ata rau” (translated “Now is the hour”) which was sung to him by four young wahine (women) as he set sail from Auckland.

Church, we have come to that hour again. Now is the hour for this generation of Kiwis to keep crying out:

Search me, O God,

Know my heart today.

Try me, O Saviour,

Know my thoughts, I pray.

See if there be

some wicked way in me.

Cleanse me from every sin

and set me free.

I praise thee, Lord, for

cleansing me from sin.

Fulfil Thy word,

Make me pure within.

Fill me with fire, where once

I burned with shame.

Grant my desire to magnify

Thy name.

Lord, take my life, and

make it wholly Thine.

Fill my poor heart with Thy

great love divine.

Take all my will, my passion,

self, and pride.

I now surrender, Lord

In me, abide.

O Holy Ghost,

Revival comes from Thee

Send a revival

Start the work in me.

Thy word declares

Thou wilt supply our need.

For blessings now, O Lord,

I humbly plead.



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