I have heard about revival all my life. Raised in a Pentecostal church, I remember the older people longing for revivals they’d experienced or heard about—but I didn’t see much actual revival happening. The fires that had taken the message of the Holy Spirit around the world and birthed the Pentecostal movement had essentially diminished into a few glowing embers. Although the charismatic movement and the Jesus movement stoked those revival fires once again, it’s been 50 years since the charismatic renewal began, and many of those early ministries have dissipated or gone away.
The church and the world need revival more than ever. What the Bible teaches about miracles and healing is still true today. Unfortunately, the term revival has become synonymous with an extended meeting where there’s a lot of excitement and maybe TV coverage by GodTV. After all, what’s left of the famous Brownsville Revival of the 1990s? Or what about the Lakeland Revival that lasted only a few months before evangelist Todd Bentley self-destructed amid a wake of controversy? Is there any revival that is new, fresh, legitimate and lasting?
The answer is yes. The Holy Spirit is still at work and moving powerfully today—particularly in the small town of Redding, Calif., where Bethel Church has been experiencing revival for more than 16 years now.
That’s why we asked Bethel’s senior leader, Bill Johnson, to be guest editor of this issue of Ministry Today and to focus on the theme of revival and healing. Bill’s ministry is as fresh, exciting and void of hype as any I’ve seen in more than three decades of covering this movement. He avoids publicity because he understands that secular media don’t understand such moves of God, and that the hype that comes with being the key figure in a revival often has negative consequences.
So Bill has been “quietly” ministering in his Redding church, just as his father did before him, building a solid church and teaching people to believe God for the supernatural. The result: Every week Bethel members share amazing stories of praying for people in supermarkets or on the street and seeing them healed, delivered and saved. In fact, Bill once said he envisions Redding as a cancer-free zone because everyone will have been healed of cancer!
I live a long way from Redding, but I’ve made the trek out there twice to see what’s happening, just as thousands of others have. I’ve read and been deeply moved by some of Bill’s books, especially When Heaven Invades Earth. And I’ve heard him minister in conferences I’ve attended. But what I saw with my own eyes boggled the mind:
- Many of their ancillary ministries, such as Jesus Culture for youth (which we covered last year in Charisma), are sparking significant movements of their own.
- Bethel’s music is as good as it gets and is influencing the entire church through songs such as “Where You Go I’ll Go” and “Rooftops.” (Many of their worship songs garner millions of YouTube hits.)
- Bethel’s corporate culture—built upon core values such as risk-taking, empowerment, confrontation and honor—not only reflects its senior leader’s DNA but also a healthy, growing church. For example, Bethel leaders understand the need for healthy confrontation in creating an environment for kingdom success that’s built upon relational trust. When you trust someone, you can confront in honesty without fear of that person walking out the door because there is commitment. And the commitment Bethel staff have in staying true to Bill’s vision of establishing God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven” is nothing short of amazing.
- Bill leads by empowering people—especially his leadership staff—rather than seeking to control them. He’s learned it’s more fruitful to tell people who they are in God and what He’s given them rather than remind them of what they lack.
Over the years I’ve gotten to know Bill and his wife, Beni. I’ve found them to be approachable and humble. They don’t seem to love money and they aren’t in this to become famous. They are examples of godly leaders we need more of in the church. That’s why I urge you to devour this issue. I’ve enjoyed reading the articles as they came in and as the Ministry Today team, especially Special Projects Editor Eric Tiansay, worked on them.
My prayer is that you’ll understand revival and healing better after reading this issue and, as a result, will be hungrier than ever to see God move more in your own ministry.
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