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The Only Thing That Will Save the US

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  • The Only Thing That Will Save the US

    SPIRITUAL AWAKENING: The Only Thing That Will Save Us

    by J. Lee Grady

    We can learn an important lesson from the East African Revival,

    which transformed a region 80 years ago.

    The people of Uganda call it Balokole. In the Luganda language it

    means "the saved ones," but the word became synonymous with

    the East African Revival-one of the most significant Christian

    movements in modern history.

    This revival had humble beginnings in September 1929, just

    before America's Great Depression. Historians trace it to a

    prayer meeting on Namirembe Hill in Kampala, Uganda, where

    a missionary to Rwanda, Joe Church, prayed and read the Bible

    for two days with his friend Simeoni Nsibambi. They felt God had

    showed them that the African church was powerless because of

    a lack of personal holiness.

    It is impossible to explain exactly what happened after this prayer

    meeting or how the resulting spiritual fervor spread. When God

    comes, unusual things happen. Within weeks after Joe

    Church returned to Gahini, Rwanda, Christians gathered to pray

    and confess their sins openly. A heavy spirit of conviction fell on

    the people. Whenever they repented for their sins and failures

    they would weep uncontrollably, ask others to forgive them and

    pledge to make restitution.

    The weeping spread to farmlands and open fields. Unbelievers

    who visited these gatherings were converted after they witnessed

    the sincerity of the Christians. Repentance went deep. Husbands

    publicly apologized for adultery and farmers repented for stealing

    cows from each other. Eventually, as the revival spread from

    Rwanda to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi, even the

    centuries-old tradition of polygamy (which was still common

    among professing Christians) was unraveled in some areas.

    Balokole changed African Christianity forever. In a 1986 article for

    Christian History, Michael Harper writes of the revival: "It's effects

    have been more lasting than almost any other revival in history, so

    that today there is hardly a single Protestant leader in East Africa

    who has not been touched by it in some way."

    I spent the past two weeks ministering in Uganda and Kenya, and

    everywhere I went I met people who still talk about the East African

    Revival-80 years after it began. It breathed resurrection power into

    dead, traditional churches and triggered aggressive church-planting

    movements that affected a variety of denominations.

    Whether sermons were delivered from pulpits or under trees, six

    important themes were emphasized in those days: 1) the blood

    of Jesus; 2) the name of Jesus; 3) the cross of Jesus; 4) the

    Word of God; 5) the testimony of the saints; and 6) the anointing

    of the Holy Spirit.

    Leaders also stressed the message of 1 John 6-7: "If we say

    that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness,

    we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as

    He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,

    and the blood of Jesus His son cleanses us from all sin (NASB)."

    As was true in other spiritual awakenings in history (such as the

    Asbury Revival in Kentucky in 1970), people stood in front of

    each other and admitted their sins, no matter how embarrassing.

    The honesty cut deep into human pride and dealt a fatal blow

    against entrenched sin and religious hypocrisy.

    After hearing more details about the East African Revival while I

    was in Uganda last week, I was convinced that this type of

    movement is the only thing that will pull the United States out of

    its current despair.

    We must have a spiritual awakening, or we die. Political

    engineering, economic policies, government bailouts and stimulus

    packages will not save us. No politician, Democrat or Republican,

    will reverse our course toward destruction.

    Our only hope is that a backslidden American church-a church

    that is as smug, blind and lukewarm as the Laodiceans--will

    "be zealous and repent" (see Rev. 3:19).

    What encourages me is that God, not man, initiated all the

    spiritual awakenings of the past-including the First Great

    Awakening, which gave our country its historic Christian identity.

    Yes, we play our feeble part by praying, and we must storm

    heaven. Yes, awakenings come in response to our weak attempts

    to repent, and we must passionately seek a fresh baptism of


    But we cannot manufacture revivals. Pentecostal fire comes from

    heaven alone. It is a sovereign blessing from a God who loves us

    and desires to rescue us from ourselves. We charismatics have

    generated a lot of our own sound and fury in the past 30 years,

    but much of what we have created is a shameful substitute for

    revival. We must become desperate for the real thing.

    Today our movement is mired in the shallow waters of self-centered,

    carnal Christianity. May God mercifully send us our own version of

    Balokole. May gut-wrenching repentance and public confession of

    sin interrupt our trendy worship services. May this holy fire spread

    until the people of the United States see genuine Christians living

    the message we preach.