Africa, the ‘dark continent’ of history, is lit today with revival. Is America the new dark land—and can the same light shine here?
Those familiar with my story know that early in my ministry God gave me a vision of a blood-washed Africa. I saw an entire continent washed in the blood of the Lamb. How preposterous it seemed at the time! Today, not so much. This vision led and guided me to the astonishing harvest we see in Africa today.
With these millions coming to Jesus, some American friends have begun to ask, “What about a blood-washed America? Can it happen here?” My answer is, “Yes, of course.” But I wonder, What sort of God do my American friends believe in? A God omnipotent in Africa and impotent in America? May it never be. The time has come to speak boldly of a blood-washed America. The gospel is the major force for change on earth, and I sense that America is ripe for change.
The church has been listening to the wrong voices. It has been paralyzed by lies. Professors of religion talk arrogantly of a post-Christian culture, as if this is somehow the graveyard of evangelism. Post-Christian? There is no such thing. The Word of God has never returned void in any generation. It has always remained quick, alive and sharper than a two-edged sword, no matter the label given by academia.
Historians point backward to the so-called Dark Ages and speak of it as if for 1,500 years Jesus did not save souls. We know this is rubbish. In more recent centuries reason was used to deny divine revelation, as science fueled the foolishness of atheists and agnostics. Amazingly, this period has been called the Enlightenment. How ironic.
What comes after so-called enlightenment? Well, today science and reason themselves are being tossed in the rubbish by their own unbelieving children. The new doubters espouse a way of life that embraces irrationality. And again, academia gives us a dire label for it: postmodernism.
Let’s call it what it is: unbelief. The more unbelief changes, the more it stays the same. We simply find new labels for the same old lies that have misled God’s people since the Garden of Eden. Do not let these lies keep you at home, hiding from the Great Commission.
Why the Gospel Can Change America
This may shock some, but when I hear descriptions of postmodernism I get excited. This is not a label that makes me run and hide. Quite the opposite. I sense in this form of unbelief a hunger and thirst for something that satisfies the human soul better than cold rationality.
We must not miss this opportunity for the gospel. Scripture has always revealed that earthly reason is nothing to God. He makes our wisdom foolish. His thoughts transcend human cleverness. Because He transcends and reigns over time itself, we could even say that God is postmodern! Lift up your head from the distorted mirror of expert opinion. Let your vision come from the living God who was never hindered by the Dark Ages, demoted by the Enlightenment nor threatened by postmodernism.
Still, my American friends wrinkle their brows and ask with skepticism, “How can Bonnke’s vision for Africa ever apply here?”
The idea seems to be that Africans are soft, but Americans are hard nuts to crack. This view is nonsense. Those who minimize the challenges of Africa simply have not experienced the dark continent.
It is a stew of competing cultures. Tribalism dominates in a thousand unpredictable ways. It is corrupted by deep-seated bondages that run generations deep.
It is hostile to foreign imports—especially to the new way of life represented by a revolutionary gospel. For more than 100 years missionaries have lived and died in Africa with hardly a convert. Battling these complex and unyielding problems, Africa has produced martyrs. How many Christians were killed for their faith in America last year? Yet even today, African soil runs red with the blood of 21st-century martyrs.
Decades ago, when God planted the blood-washed vision in me, I was leading a small mission in Maseru, Lesotho, near the southern tip of Africa. At times I saw only five or six people at a meeting. A blood-washed Africa seemed a wild fantasy, not to be entertained by sensible people. But it lodged with me night and day and refused to quit.
My reaction was slow, but eventually I made a move in the direction of obedience to the vision. It was as if I had struck the rock in the wilderness! Streams began to flow, and they have continued to flow these 40 years. Like Ezekiel’s river it has became a flood, washing away from African soil the dark stains of the centuries—war, tribal hatred and murder.
America’s soil is likewise bloodied. The violence of the American abortion industry has created an invisible cloud of 40 million witnesses crying out for vengeance, as surely as Abel’s blood cried to God from the ground east of Eden.
Only blood can cover blood. In Numbers 35:33 we learn that when bloodshed pollutes the land, atonement can only be made by the blood of the one who shed it:
“So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.”
This is where the gospel of Jesus Christ enters the American scene with life-changing good news! The Lamb of God shed His blood on behalf of all blood-shedders for all time. He died for the guilty—past, present and future. The precious blood of God’s Son covers and cleanses those stains which the waters of seven oceans could not remove. As a result of this radical truth, we are called to exhort sinners everywhere to repent and be reconciled to God. This liberating word is as powerful for America as it is for Africa.
God gave me the vision for Africa because He happened to have put me there. But He has put others in America. He has no African—or other—preferences or prejudices. Africans neither solicited nor won exclusive compassion or divine patronage to deserve this time of harvest.
The conditions they say are needed for revival certainly did not exist there when we began. Nothing indicated that we would see so many changed by the preaching of the cross of Christ. And so, we see that the gospel has self-contained resources for human needs. Through obedience to the Lord’s command we open those resources and find them more than adequate to meet the needs, whatever the race or time or culture.
The first Christians invaded Greek, Roman, Jew and barbarian cultures with the glorious truth of the gospel. Paul wrote to Rome, the world’s largest, most intellectual city, entrenched in heathenism, and stated, “As much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:15-16).
Switch on the Light!
The vision of a blood-washed America can only be realized when we believe it and act on it. Do nothing and nothing happens. We too often excel at being ordinary. God chose us for the honor of the extraordinary. The intervention of His power is also for the extraordinary. Once, on the Sea of Galilee, Peter saw an approaching figure. To test whether it was Jesus, he asked Him to command him to walk on the waves. Demanding the impossible identified Jesus. He puts fight into timid rabbits and transforms pygmies into giants working alongside His own omnipotence.
Events in Africa have been called a divine visitation. As spiritual as this sounds, we should examine this statement more closely. Is that New Testament language? Are we saying that divine interest is just occasional and selective? Does God keep a visiting list? Does He drop in here or there occasionally, when He has time away from His usual business?
No. He is omnipresent, and we are His business. We are His priority. His desire is to save, to heal and to bless, no matter which continent we inhabit.
Darkness seems to be deepening over America. Like a black storm cloud, new theories deny hope and vision. Secular forces have left millions empty of purpose. Entertainment has become an anesthetic to make life bearable. Some leaders have become apostles of uncertainty. The blind lead the blind into the postmodern ditch. You cannot argue people out of darkness when wisdom is trampled in the streets.
What then do we do? The answer is simple. We don’t argue, we proclaim. Do you see darkness? Go there and switch on the light. Bring the gospel wherever the sinners are—in the highways and hedges. They are seldom found in church. If anything, churches often function like flight simulators. They train in virtual reality but never do any real flying.
An evangelist friend told me that a pastor forsook him in the midst of a gospel campaign to go to a conference on evangelism. Think of it! The pastor felt he would get more from an academic discussion of evangelism than from the real thing. Evangelism is not virtual, my friends. It’s real.
The time has come to think big, not just sit down after cutting our own little lawns. We are the only world-changers there are. Fashions have their season, trends come and go, technologies become the flavor of the month, movements rise and fall, but the gospel reshapes history.
Do not be intimidated. Our cities may seem to us like the walled fortresses the Israelites faced in Canaan. Our walls are walls of unbelief. But the walls of Jericho fell. I say the walls of unbelief in postmodern America are beginning to crumble. It awaits the shout of the people of God to finish the job. Not long ago, communism, a modern Jericho, seemed impregnable, threatening Christian advance. But after 75 years it suddenly collapsed.
It Isn’t Too Late for America
I grew up in Glückstadt, near the mouth of the Elbe River in Germany. Every day I could watch the great ships sail in and out of the tidal estuary, traveling to and from Hamburg. Often, large, flat-bottomed river barges would be tied to the pier in our town.
When the tide receded they would become settled fast in the mud along the bank. No tugboat or marine engine could move them. But every day the tide came in with quiet ripples, hardly perceptible, slowly creeping higher and higher up the sides of those immovable hulks. Suddenly, hundreds of tons of barge and cargo would break free of the mud and float like a cork.
From the quay, as a boy, I remember pushing my foot against one of those massive barges. To my amazement, as a mere boy, I could move it. When we obey the Holy Spirit and preach the gospel, the tide rises. Maybe you can’t perceive it yet, but wake up to the truth. The tide is rising in America.
The Gospel of Mark records in the Great Commission that the signs following those who believe would include speaking in tongues. On the Day of Pentecost when the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke in tongues.
The apostle Peter stood and declared that they were seeing and hearing the promise given in Joel 2:28-29: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
In 1904 a couple of dozen people sat around on nail kegs in a half-burnt carpenter’s shop in a Los Angeles backwater, believing Joel 2:28 and speaking with tongues. The Azusa Street revival was a joke and a source of ridicule to the Los Angeles news media and cultural elite.
Some joke! The year 2000 revealed that more than 625 million Pentecostal and charismatic Christians have sprung from that little meeting. That is more than one in 10 of the adult population of the entire globe!
If two dozen could become 625 million in less than a century, what could the 625 million become? This is no time to be paralyzed with doubt and fear.
How will it happen? It seems to me that God does not copy the past. He is not the God of pat formulas. The Day of Pentecost, the American Great Awakening of 250 years ago, the 1904 Welsh Revival and Azusa Street—each movement was unique to its time and place. So will be the day of a blood-washed America. The past will not hold the present hostage.
Will there be an American revival before Jesus comes? I am not waiting. I am called to evangelize and not speculate. The promise of God in Habakkuk 2:14 is good enough for me: “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Nothing is too hard for God—post-Christian culture, American postmodernism, godless reason, philosophy. These cannot keep the tide of the Spirit from rising.
But, we can miss out, so distracted by mundane interests that we don’t see what God is doing in our day. On the Day of Pentecost, 120 disciples met together in Jerusalem. Paul said that some 500 men had witnessed the resurrected Jesus.
Where were they? Three hundred and eighty of them had found more important things to do than attend the greatest meeting of all history in that upper room on the Day of Pentecost. One hundred and twenty took Christ’s words seriously and waited in Jerusalem for the power from on high. Be counted among them. Don’t miss out.
I am speaking boldly now of a blood-washed America. Open your eyes to see that the tide is rising. Check it out. Go ahead, put your foot on a barge somewhere and see what moves.
Reinhard Bonnke is the founder of Christ for all Nations, an evangelistic ministry based in Orlando, Fla., that God has used to draw tens of millions of people to Christ in Africa and developing nations across the world.
Lights of the World
Revival movements often sprout from the soil of spiritual darkness
By Matt Green
It is easy to bemoan the spiritual condition of the Western world, but one should not forget that—looking in hindsight at the great revivals of the past—they usually emerged in the context of spiritual darkness and cultural decay. Here are a few examples:
- Arguably the greatest revival since Pentecost, the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century arose in dark days when the majority of the known world was dominated by the corrupt leadership of the Roman Catholic church. Political power and religious ritual combined to hide the true nature of the gospel of justification by faith alone, and the reading of Scripture in one’s own language was prohibited.
- In the years leading up to the Great Awakening of the 1730s, American culture had a religious veneer, but congregationalist pastor Jonathan Edwards bemoaned the “general deadness throughout the land,” and his fiery preaching was often greeted with mockery. It was only after extended times of intercession that Edwards began to see fruit for his labors in spiritually cold New England.
- As Eddie Hyatt points out in 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, the Second Great Awakening of the early 1800s came at a time when America had been deeply influenced by the secular values of the French Revolution. Deism appeared to be winning the day, and drunkenness, gambling and sexual immorality were on the rise—particularly in the colleges and universities of the fledgling country.
- More recently, the Jesus Movement of the 1960s and 1970s emerged in the face of the drug and sexual revolutions and cultural cynicism following the Vietnam War. Although some may poke fun at the oddities and extremes of the movement, it became a vital part of the charismatic renewal and contributed to the birth of several significant denominations and parachurch organizations—and the revitalization of many dying churches.
We take for granted that—in the midst of opposition, immorality or church corruption—those who prayed for awakening may not have always been able to see that their nations were on the cusp of spiritual breakthrough.
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