THE URGENT NEED FOR REFORMATION AND REVIVAL IN SOUTH AFRICA
We in South Africa are at a critical point. Both church and society are facing a multitude of serious crises that threaten not only our freedoms, but our very lives.
Over 3,000 white farmers, and their family members, have been murdered in the last 18 years, yet the Commandos have been dismantled. For over two and a half centuries the Commandos provided security for remote farmsteads. Now this protection is being removed. At the same time, the Firearms Control Act, which is seen in many circles as a prelude to the disarmament of many civilians, has made it very difficult for any civilian to obtain a firearm for self-defence.
Along with the crime wave, with an average of 20,000 murders a year, has come an explosion of the drug epidemic. More and more ministries are having to expend considerable time and resources on dealing with more and more drug addicts and victims of crime and violence.
Threats to Christian Radio Stations and Press Freedom
Numerous community and Christian radio stations have been closed down by ICASA (The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa). Other radio stations have reported harassment and pressure to tone down, or remove, programmes that deal with homosexuality, Islam, municipal elections, or other “contentious issues”. Radio Pulpit, long the only national Christian radio station, were informed that they were to be limited to only 2 hours a week, and that between 4am and 6am. Good News Community Radio, which won a national award for its outstanding education programme, continued a long battle in the courts to counter ICASA’s attempts to close them down. There is also widespread concern over the rail-roading through parliament of laws designed to restrict freedom of the press and criminalise exposes of government corruption.
In the public schools, social engineering through Outcome Based Education and Sex Education has been the order of the day. “Love Life”, with a colossal budget of taxpayer money, is blatantly corrupting the youth of South Africa, effectively training young people to be fornicators and whoremongers.
For 16 years now the pornography plague has devastated South Africa morally, with an explosion of sexual crimes, child abuse and rape. Every year 55,000 women and 25,000 children are raped in the country.
An ominous arsenal of potentially anti-Christian legislation, affecting almost every area of life, have either been railroaded through parliament, slipped through by stealth legislation, or are in the process of being approved by the legislature. The implications of these laws and acts are ominous and far-reaching. As is the racist hate speech and irresponsible statements from senior ANC officials and the frequent singing of: “Kill the Boer! Kill the farmer!” at ANC political rallies.
For 15 years, the Abortion Holocaust has ravaged South Africa. Yet, despite over one million babies having been legally killed, with taxpayer’s money, all too many Christians remain apathetic and inactive. Many Christians actually continue to vote for political parties that support abortion – with their taxpayer’s money.
The Battle for the Family
With the Constitutional Court opening the way for the legalisation of homosexual ‘marriages’, and with some denominations openly endorsing homosexual unions and ordaining homosexual “ministers”, we are facing some of the most serious assaults on the family, ever. As families are the basic building blocks of society, the destruction of these foundations can only have the most devastating effect on our future.
Along with abortion, pornography, homosexuality, gambling, drugs, crime, violence and disarmament, we are seeing an increase in irrational hatred and fear of Christianity – Christophobia, including at universities which are meant to be free market places for ideas and where dissent and discussion should be encouraged.
When I visited Chrysalis Academy in Tokai, I was informed that while they had previously had voluntary chapel services, prayer meetings and Bible studies, these had been abolished and the previous principal removed. “Now we have a hard-core Communist, a real comrade, straight from Cuba as principal. There are no more Bible studies, prayer meetings or chapel services allowed here.”
The Battle for the Soul of South Africa
While there are still many dedicated Christians in South Africa, and pockets of great spiritual life, the general picture is getting darker. There are still school principals and governing bodies with backbone and conviction who maintain Christian distinctive in their schools. Unfortunately, most schools have bowed to pressure and removed Bible reading, hymn singing and prayer in the Name of Christ from their school assemblies, and Bible education from the syllabus. As the Bible and prayer have gone out, sex education, values clarification, alternative lifestyles, situation ethics and all the other tenants of Humanism have flooded in. The results are all too evident in the shopping malls of our country.
Once, South Africans were renowned as some of the most conservative and morally upright. Now, all too many are wearing tattoos, multiple body piercings, angry, sullen looks, and ridiculous fashions that so many aimless youth seem drawn to. Ugliness in art and music has come to predominate, with rap, hip-hop, rave, and other noise masquerading as music continuing to pound away its message of rebellion and immorality.
War Against Calvinism
The systematic worldwide campaign to vilify, sanction and crush the Calvinism of the Afrikaners has, in many cases, succeeded. The Dutch Reformed Church once considered the moral backbone of the country, guarding Sabbath observance, laws against pornography, abortion, homosexuality, gambling and other vices, has seemingly lost its moral compass. After decades of relentless attack, much of the Dutch Reformed Church seems to be disintegrating. It has lost vast numbers of members, many of their congregations have amalgamated, buildings sold, churches closed down, and now even attempts to recognise homosexual “marriages” and ordain homosexual “ministers” are being promoted.
The NGK Under Fire
At one time the Dutch Reformed Church sent out more missionaries than all the other denominations in South Africa combined. At one time the DRC funded more Bible translations and Bible printing than all the other denominations in SA combined. Now the DRC is in such a serious crises, that even the definition of marriage itself is being debated.
The Criminalisation of South Africa
Not so long ago in South Africa Sundays were protected as a day of worship and a day of rest, babies were protected from the violence of abortion, pornography was illegal, drugs were almost unknown, crime was low, security gates, alarms and burglar bars were unknown and unnecessary, homosexuality was a crime, schools began each day with hymn singing, Bible readings and prayer, Bible education was part of the school syllabus, and women could walk the streets, safely, without fear of being raped.
South Africa has not only gone through a political revolution, but a moral revolution. Marxist revisionists are busy with the re-writing of history. Most ominously, many in the ANC government are openly supportive of Robert Mugabe’s campaign of terror in Zimbabwe. Apparently they are supportive of the Marxist ZANU’s crushing of political opponents, violating the courts, tramping on property rights, rigging elections, suppressing the independent press, precipitating economic collapse, state sponsored terrorism, and the invasion and looting of 5,000 white farms. Not even the destruction of the homes of 1.5million black people seems to have shaken the ANC’s enthusiastic support for Mugabe’s tyranny.
Partners in Deceit
President Mbeki was quoted as saying, at a South African Communist Party meeting in Johannesburg, that the ANC had to support Mugabe because he postponed his “land reform” policy until after the handover of power in South Africa to the ANC had been completed. Otherwise the whites would never have trusted the assurances of the ANC!
With threats of farm seizures in parts of South Africa, and land claims even being laid against prominent mission stations, the writing is on the wall. Unless Christians in South Africa wake up, and unless Christians worldwide rally to mobilize the prayer and pressure needed to stop the tyranny and lawlessness in Zimbabwe, we could see the same happen here in South Africa.
Learning from Rwanda and Zimbabwe
The Holocaust in Rwanda began with the state media vilifying the Tutsi, while they were being disarmed. We should make no mistake there are those who would like to unleash genocide against Christians in South Africa, just as was done in Rwanda. There are many, highly placed leaders in the ANC government who have publicly stated that they would like to see the same kind of farm invasions in South Africa as have been conducted in Marxist Zimbabwe. The ANC government regularly vilifies whites and uses them as scapegoats to blame for all the ills in the country. Many threats have been made that “when Mandela dies” we “are going to kill all you whites!” Yet Nelson Mandela has not addressed this prevalent sentiment, nor has he warned his followers against such hateful attitudes and genocidal intentions.
In the rest of the world, affirmative action is to protect minorities. Only in South Africa does Affirmative Action discriminate against a minority and favour a majority (who also have political control) with job reservations, racial quotas and vast financial benefits.
Much of Africa has plunged into a new dark age. A report prepared for the African Union estimated that corruption costs Africa $148 billion each year. That’s more than a quarter of the continents entire Gross Domestic Product! Since independence, life expectancy in many African nations has plunged a third to a half. For example, in Zimbabwe, in 1980, life expectancy was 59 years. Today, life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 34 years!
The Spectre of Chinese Colonialism
As parts of Africa are being looted by corrupt leaders and devastated by AIDS, a new scramble for Africa is taking place. The new colonists are the Arabs and the Chinese. Africa may well become colonised by the Arabs in the North and by the Chinese in the South.
Civilisation at Risk
We are facing a crisis and civilisation itself is at stake here. Yet most of our churches are fast asleep and very few pulpits are sounding the alarm. We desperately need Reformation. We urgently need Revival.
All too many in our churches are distracted by worldly entertainment, and materialism, self-absorbed with the endless stream of satellite T.V, video games, Internet and cell phones. The shopping malls are full and prayer meetings are mostly empty. Many of our people are so busy acquiring all the comforts, material acquisitions and latest technologies that they just have no time for Bible study, discipling their children, praying, witnessing to their neighbours or even noticing what is going on around us. Hidden behind their high walls, venturing out only in comfortable air-conditioned cars, to travel to air conditioned shopping malls and entertainment complexes, or to safe, comfortable, suburban congregations, to hear comfortable messages, it is little wonder that the average churchgoer in South Africa today is unaware of the gathering storm and the crisis of a collapsing civilisation all around us.
A Vision of Hope
I do believe that there is hope. I do not believe that it is inevitable that South Africa will go the way of Zimbabwe, or have a Rwandan style genocide against whites. We still have many dedicated Christians in South Africa, and significant pockets of vibrant spiritual life.
A Call to Repentance
However, we have to be honest and admit that most of our churchgoers are only playing church. Worldliness, prayerlessness, compromise and cowardice are pervasive. Unless we wake up, humble ourselves, pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways, we cannot expect God to forgive our sins, hear our prayers or heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We need to be informed. We need to be interceding. We need to be involved.
Be informed: “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6.
Subscribe to Christian Action magazine, with cutting edge reports and updates on the battle for Reformation and Revival. Get on the E-mailing list of firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Visit the www.christianaction.org.za website. Pass on the articles and updates from Christian Action to your church, family and friends.
Be interceding: “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them…” Hebrews 13:3. Earnestly pray for God’s merciful intervention to frustrate the plans of the wicked, to protect God’s people, to raise up Christian leaders to stand in the gap.
Be involved: “Who will rise up for Me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for Me against the evildoers?” Psalm 94:16. There is so much that needs to be done. There is so much that we can and must do.
Africa for Christ
Since 1982, Frontline Fellowship has been delivering Bibles, food, medical and other supplies to Christians in Zimbabwe. We need to help some of the poorest of the poor, who are suffering some of the worst injustices in the world today. Frontline Fellowship is evangelising in the townships using film evangelism, literature distribution, personal evangelism, church services and leadership training seminars. Transforming the nation by changing lives. Discipleship Training Courses, Biblical Worldview Seminars, God and Government Seminars, Reformation Conferences, Great Commission Courses are discipling leaders to make a difference.
There is the power of the printed page, the power of the Word of God, the power of prayer. We can see history changed as people are changed – with the life transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Media and Education
We need to do everything we can to support our local Christian community radio stations and to keep them faithful to God’s Word – and on the air. We need to support strong Christian principals and school teachers who are seeking to maintain a Christian witness in government schools. We need to support Christian schools and to support home schooling. Education is a battle for our future. The philosophy of the classroom in this generation will be the philosophy of government in the next generation. That is why we have to invest in good Christian school textbooks, as well as CDs, MP3s, DVDs, magazines and newsletters.
In upcoming elections, you must organise all the support you can for Christian candidates with Biblical platforms. We have an opportunity to help establish a strong Christian representation in our local municipalities. We need to work to place strong Christian candidates on the governing bodies of our local schools. We need to do all that we can to support our local police in restoring law and order in our communities.
Personal Revival and Biblical Reformation
Facing, as we are, such an avalanche of evil and attacks from so many quarters – nothing less than a comprehensive Christian response will be sufficient. We need to restore our own devotional lives, disciple and strengthen our families, work for the Reformation of our congregations, help restore Christian principles and justice in our communities, and earnestly pray for Biblical Reformation in our churches and spiritual Revival throughout our country.
Prayer Partners and Volunteers Needed
If you share our concerns, about the importance of Reformation and the urgency of Revival, please do contact us. We need more volunteers, we need more resources and contacts, and we need more prayer. Together we can make a vital difference and, by God’s grace, may we work and pray to see the tide turned.
May God be your strength and shield in these difficult days ahead.
Yours for Reformation and Revival
Dr. Peter Hammond
Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
7735 Cape Town
Tel: 021-689 4481
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Corruption and Greed – A Christian Response
Crime and Corruption
Animism, Ancestors and the ANC
A Christian Response to Xenophobia
You Can Make a Difference
A movement that began by viewing the acquisition of political and military power as a satanic temptation now viewed it as a divine blessing. A movement that was birthed by Christ refusing to conquer his enemies in order to die for them now set out to conquer enemies – for Christ. The faith that previously motivated people to trust in the power of the cross now inspired them to trust in the power of the sword. Those who had previously understood that their job was to serve the world now aspired to rule it. The community that once pointed to their love for enemies and refusal to engage in violence as proof of Christ’s lordship now pointed to their ability to violently defeat enemies as proof of Christ’s lordship.
In other words, the movement that had previously suffered because it refused to buy into the nationalistic ideology of the empire was now, to a large degree, defined by the ideology of the empire. The Church allowed itself to become co-opted by typical, pagan nationalism. The beautiful revolution begun by Jesus was largely reduced to an ugly, violent-tending, nationalistic religion.
This is the religion of Christendom, the Church “militant and triumphant.” Insofar as it looked and acted like a religious version of Caesar, it was as far removed from the Kingdom as any religion could be. For the Kingdom always looks like Jesus, not Caesar.
— Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth Of A Christian Religion (via andrewrpierce)
Prayer: the Key to Revival
Presented at the World Prayer Assembly on May 17 by Dr. Younghoon Lee, Pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, Seoul, South Korea
Protestant Christianity in Korea has rapidly developed in a short time-aboutone hundred thirty years-toclaim 25% of Protestant population, which amounts to twelve million people. Korea has the largest percentage of a Protestant Christian population among all the nations of the Asian mainland. It thus deserves to be called one of the most successful Protestant mission fields in the world.
Furthermore, many churches in orea are currently the largest in their individual denominations in the world. For instance, Myungsung Presbyterian Church has approximately ninety thousand members. Kwanglim Church, a Korean Methodist church, accommodates around seventy thousand believers. Suwon Central Baptist Church holds forty thousand Christians.
And Yoido Full Gospel Church-referredto as YFGC hereafter-whichbelongs to the Pentecostal denomination, is the world’s largest church with seven hundred eighty thousand members as of May, 2008, when the transition in the church’s leadership occurred. From that time on, [Pastor Cho’s] “disciple churches”-or 19 satellite churches-hadbecome independent from our church with 360,000 church members, and their full independence was granted to them in January 2011. During the past three and a half years the church has welcome approximately 50,000 new comers, so the current membership of our church reaches 470,000. In sum, our church and the “disciple churches” altogether have more than 830,000 members now.For this reason, a numerous number of pastors and scholars in church growth and missiology are analyzing and studying the various aspects of the Korean church, particularly YFGC’s rapid growth.
Though there are a variety of spiritual, historical, cultural, social and economic factors for such a tremendous revival, one of the most prominent elements is the spirituality of prayer. Prayer has always preceded any true revivals in church history. A revival is unceasing as long as prayer remains constant.
One of the most suitable examples for rising of revival through prayer and spreading of the prayer movement through revival is the Korean church and YFGC. Through my presentation, I would like to state that the revival of the Korean church had been originated from the prayer movement first, and then introduce YFGC’s prayer movement in more detail.
2. The Prayer Movement of Korea’s Early Evangelization Period (1885-1909)
From its beginning period of evangelization, the Korean church had experienced the strong power of prayer on the basis of the word of God. Even before the first Western Protestant missionaries came to Korea in 1885, many parts of the Scripture had been translated into Korean by some Koreans and missionaries who had lived in China and Japan.1 When the missionaries came to Korea, they thus brought the Korean Bible. As the word of God was deeply rooted from the beginning, fervent prayer movements took place in the Korean church. The embers of the fire caused at Wonsan, a northern Korean city, in 1903 and the great revival movement, which started in earnest at Pyungyang in 1907, were not only the Pentecostal Holy Spirit movement but also a strong prayer movement.2
Missionary Robert A. Hardie who ministered in Kangwon province did not bear fruit in terms of the number of converts even though he put in a lot of work and dedication. He attended a prayer meeting mainly with Methodist missionaries at Wonsan in 1903 because of the visit of a missionary to China whose name was Ms. M.C. White. He prepared a sermon about prayer for this meeting. In reading and preaching Luke 11:13-“Ifyou then, though you are evil, know how togive good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”-hewas inspired powerfully by the Holy Spirit. When he testified of his own experience, the missionaries who had gathered there started praying and afterwards they also experienced the work of the Holy Spirit. This Wonsan revival movement was the spark of the great 1907 Pyongyang revival.
At the beginning of 1907, the prayer movement was accompanied by much repentance, which centrally arose from the Jangdaehyun church in Pyongyang.3 Revival meetings were supposed to be held as Bible exposition sessions for 10 days. However, there was a powerful evangelical meeting every evening. According to the missionaries’ reports, powerful works of the Holy Spirit occurred in these evening meetings. While leading an evening prayer meeting on January 14th, Graham Lee asked those 1,500 who attended this meeting to pray loudly together, and they started praying loudly. Then people shed tears, and prayers of repentance arose here and there. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and divine healing,then took place powerfully within that place.
The revival movement accompanied by the prayer of repentance expanded across the entire region of Korea. It followed with the movements against alcohol and smoking. Believers prayed with tears and were deeply moved all night long and the works of repentance with contrition occurred ceaselessly among them. No one could prevent the fire of the Holy Spirit and it spread beyond the boundary of the church and over into schools, finally many cities, and further into other countries including China and Japan.
1 Kyungbae Min, Korean Church History, New edition (Seoule: Yonsei University Press, 1993), 149.
2 On the great revivals in Wonsan and Pyungyang see Young-hoon Lee, The Holy Spirit Movement in Korea: Its Historical and Theological Development (Oxford: Regnum, 2009), 24-34.
3 On the great revivals in Wonsan and Pyungyang see Young-hoon Lee, The Holy Spirit Movement in Korea: Its Historical and Theological Development (Oxford: Regnum, 2009), 24-34.
3. The Prayer Movement During the Nation’s Period of Suffering (1910-1953)
Korea had suffered from the brutal Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945. During this period the Korean church was also severely oppressed. The secret to overcoming these dark and painful times for Koreans and the Korean church could be found only in the prayers of Korean Christians. Pastor Sunju Gil, who played a pivotal role in the 1907 Pyongyang great revival, and many other spiritual leaders provided hope through powerful prayer movements for the nation and people who fell in times of extreme distress. Early prayer meetings and targeted prayer movements were stressed by him and contributed greatly to the revival of the Korean Church.4 They also become the original source of the Korean church’s spirituality that the world church longs to learn from the Korean church.
Even after her liberation from the severe Japanese Imperial occupation, Korea had to undergo an enormous tragedy: that is, the Korean War, which broke out in 1950. Even in this time the Korean church participated in the nation’s suffering and comforted the people through prayer and perseverance. By prayer, the church provided a source of renewal and comfort.
4Younghoon Lee, The Holy Spirit Movement in Korea, 36.
4. The Prayer Movement During the Period of Revival of Yoido Full Gospel Church and the Korean Church (1954-2000)
4.1. Re-igniting the Fire of Prayer
On the close of the Korean War in 1953, the Korean peninsula had emerged as a heap of ashes. From that time, YFGC and Rev. Yonggi Cho played the primary role to lead the prayer movement and the Holy Spirit movement. 5
Rev. Sunjoo Gil had led the overnight prayer gatherings in the period of the Japanese colonial rule. However, around the time when Rev. Yonggi Cho built up a tent church with his five family members at Daejo-dong, an outskirt area of Seoul in 1958, most of the Korean churches did not practice the overnight prayer sessions.
As Rev. Cho relocated the church to Seodaemoon region, a downtown area of Seoul, in 1963, and held the Friday overnight prayer services, many sick people were healed by the Holy Spirit, and the great revival occurred in the church. Church members prayed all night long for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, divine healing, resolution of personal problems, and church growth.
Accordingly, YFGC’s overnight prayer worship services became a location in which a lot of Korean believers beyond their denominations gathered together, prayed fervently, and experienced God’s grace. Due to the church’s Friday overnight prayer meetings, many Korean churches came to recognize the importance of fervent prayer once again. As a result, many churches began to recover the tradition of the Friday overnight prayer sessions from late 1970s.
In addition, Rev. Jasil Choi, a coworker of Rev. Yonggi Cho, restarted the fast prayer movement that had begun as thefruit of the great revival of Pyungyang but had been forgotten for a significant period among the Korean churches. She also established the “Osan-ri Fast-Prayer Mountain,” and made a great contribution to reigniting the fast prayer movement in both Korean and world churches. Even after moving to current Yoido area in 1973, YFGC continued to carry out the Holy Spirit movement and prayer ministry so that the explosive growth of the church went on. In addition, even since the transition in the church’s leadership in 2008, YFGC has placed priority to the prayer movement and continued to be revived by prayer sessions.
5 Younghoon Lee, The Holy Spirit Movement in Korea, 92-117; Younghoon Lee, “The Life and Ministry of David Yonggi Cho and the Yoido Full Gospel Church,” in Wonsuk Ma et al. ed., David Yonggi Cho: A Close Look at His Theology and Ministry (Baguio City and Goonpo: APTS Press and Hansei University Press, 2004), 3-24.
4.2. Earnest and Fervent Prayer with Loud Voices
Many people who attend the worship services and prayer sessions are surprised at the loud sounds of prayer. Because all church members cry out their requests in unison to the Lord, the church is filled with the loud sounds of prayer. People start their prayer by shouting, “Lord! Lord! Lord!” Such a prayer custom spreads through the prayer movement of YFGC all around the country.
The reason for which people pray aloud is that they pray with earnest hearts. Sometimes, church members pray so loudly that it may be difficult to go to the next step of the service. In that case, the presider of the worship requests that the congregation to stop praying by ringing a bell. Praying aloud in unison, which has been widespread through YFGC, has become a characteristic feature that shows the spirituality of prayer of the Korean church.
4.3. Prayer of Faith with Absolute Positivity
In YFGC, prayer is neither a form nor a ceremony. It is not a vague or implicit religious ritual. Rev. Yonggi Cho and YFGC have taught practical and clear thoughts about prayer since the church’s beginning fifty-four years ago. In other words, prayer is a decisive element to receive the salvation and blessing that our good God gives through the cross of Jesus Christ. Therefore, members of YFGC pray with obvious prayer requests and not with indefinite prayer requests. They also pray with the faith of absolute positivity that if they believe and pray, they will be answered.
YFGC often practices the “targeted prayer sessions” which can be held personally, or in groups such as cells or mission groups.A “targeted prayer session” is to set a designated period of time for prayer-for instance, for one week, for twenty-one days (we call this “Daniel Prayer”), for one month, for one hundred days or so)-and pray for a clear pray request like healing or solving any problems. It is difficult to do such a targeted prayer without concreteness and conviction. That YFGC’s members execute many kinds of “targeted prayer” shows that they pray with the strong belief in God’s answer and with the faith of absolute positivity.
Church revival cannot be attained by forceful coercion or by cultivating a sense of obligation. When more members in a church meet the living God who answers their prayer of faith, it will enter into revival. Therefore, I would like to reemphasize that prayer is the key to revival.
4.4. Cell Group, the Community of Prayer
A numerous number of people want to learn about the well-organized cell system of YFGC. They seemingly assume that the secret to the church growth lies in the cell system. However, just as Rev. Yonggi Cho has made every effort to emphasize whenever possible including church growth seminars, those who want to learn the cell system of YFGC for church growth should learn the power of prayer first.
It is true that the cell system of YFGCplayed a great role for church revival. However, the reason for which it has performed such a role is that the cell structure is the community of prayer. Many cell leaders and section leaders have prayed together for their members’ problems and experienced the answer of prayer. Cells and the church have kept growing because all the cell members in a cell gathered together every day at the home of a member in need, prayed together for three days or for a week and experienced the answer from God. Furthermore, some cells or sections have bought or rented a space for their own “prayer place” in their local area, and gathered everyday for prayer or worship service. Once in a month, our church members go to Osanri Prayer Mountain by the districts that they belong to. They have revival prayer meetings there so that they may keep the fire of prayer on. Our church has grown so swiftly through cells because they are not the communities of social gatherings, but those of spiritual prayer.
4.5. Church Devoted to Prayer
All worship services in YFGC have a set time for the whole congregation to pray with a loud voice. After the sermon, the whole congregation always prays earnestly with a loud voice for a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes. Specifically, the service on Wednesday and the night service on Friday are conducted with the main emphasis on prayer. In those services, all pastors of YFGC sincerely pray for the worshippers by laying their hands on the heads of the congregants.
The church also has three early-morning prayer meetings every day at 5 a.m., 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. all year round, and overnight services every night. In these services, the time of praying with crying out becomes longer. The first session of an overnight prayer meeting service begins at 11 p.m. on the weekdays, and the assigned time of praying aloud is almost one hour. Soon after closing the first session at 1 a.m., the second session of the service as a prayer meeting starts with the listed prayer requests for three hours until 4 a.m.
When a new year begins, all congregants come together for a special early morning prayer meeting for twelve days: we call this special designated prayer period “twelve-basket special prayer session.” In summer time, various departments of the church hold retreats for three nights and four days at the prayer mountain. All these events are designed to urge the church members to focus on the prayer activity which is an essential part of the church ministry.
4.6. A Leader who Becomes an Example of Prayer
The capability of a spiritual leader is in proportion to his/her devotion to prayer. If the leaders of YFGC continue to emphasize the life of prayer to the laity but are behind the laity in the spirituality of the prayer, it will be difficult to maintain the spiritual order of the church, let alone the revival of the church. Rev. Yonggi Cho before his retirement strongly encouraged the congregants to pray for more than an hour a day, while urging the pastors to pray for more than two hours. In particular,he prayed for about three hours before any revival meetings abroad.
I myself believe that it is one of the most important goals of my ministry to inherit this spirituality of prayer. Although I carry out various kinds of schedules from early morning tilllate night, I usually get up at around 3 a.m., and come to my office before 4:30 a.m. The reason for this is that I am able to have more time to pray without any disturbances during such an early time period. Coming to the office at dawn every day can sometimes make me tired. However, the more I pray, the more invigorated I am. Martin Luther said, “I cannot help praying because I am too busy.” The busier a pastor is, the more he/she must pray.
What I emphasize most to the pastors of YFGC is prayer. If you do not pray, you cannot do the work of God. Especially, the pastors in the position of important leadership in the church and I go to the prayer mountain every Saturday, and pray individually for two hours in an individual prayer compartment. Only after finishing the prayer, we have a discussion session on the important matters of the church. If you want to plan a revival, you should make a prayer plan first. Without praying earnestly for a long time, neither the revival of the church, nor the change of the individual can happen. In particular, spiritual leaders should be an example of prayer.
5. Praying and Serving-Expecting a New Revival
The 21st century is the “century of change.” The changing world demands the church to take care of many people who are alienated in this world. The church in the 21st century should thus be the community which is sharing and serving with a humble attitude. YFGC is actively practicing such works as relieving the homeless, supporting people in lower socio-economic status, helping people in North Korea through the establishment of “Cho Yonggi Heart Hospital,” and worldwide relief works through the “Good People,” an NGO. Making all the efforts for those relief works with a humble and serving spirit is the vision that I received from God, while praying for the direction of the YFGC’s future ministry. The church in the Acts of Apostles was the church practicing the relief for the world with the devotion of praying and proclaiming the word of God. Above all, all pastoral visions should be received through prayer, and be conducted through the power of prayer.
No matter how much the pastoral environment changes, the truth that never changes is that a church should receive the empowerment through praying and relying on the Lord. Even if the world may change swiftly, the key to revival is always in praying. Therefore, YFGC in the 21st century endeavors to be the church praying more.
The revival of the Korean church and YFGC is the revival accomplished by praying. However, this cannot be a characteristic of the Korean church and YFGC alone. Prayer is the characteristic of all the authentic revivals. All revivals are prepared and maintained by earnest prayer. It is not because YFGC has employed a special method or skill, but only because it has devoted itself in praying that the church has experienced a remarkable revival. For s church to pray is just to follow the teachings of our LordJesus, who himself set an example of praying from early dawn, or through a whole night. Moreover, for a church to make efforts for praying is to succeed to the spirituality of the one hundred twenty disciples who received the Holy Spirit by praying with their whole heart on the Pentecost day.
In my opinion, the most serious problem of today’s Christians is that they do not pray. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, devoted himself in praying throughout his life.6 If the Son of God prayed so earnestly to carry out his ministry on the earth, we should strive to pray much more with our might. Praying is the indispensable factor for the revival of the church. If anyone-orany church-devotesoneself to praying, he/she will come to experience the same revival with that of the early church, and that of YFGC.
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus”(Acts 4:29-30).
6 According to the gospel of Luke, Jesus always prayed before the important things: for example, at the time of baptizing (Luke 4:21), at the time of choosing the twelve disciples (Luke 6;12-13), at the time before Peter’s confession of faith (9:18), at the time before climbing up the transfiguration mountain (9:28-29), at the time just before teaching Lord’s prayer (11:1), at the time of facing with Peter’s disownment(22:31-32), on the Mount of Gethsemane (22:40), and on the cross (22:34, 46).
WHEN ALL MEN SPEAK WELL OF YOU
(by Peter Hammond – Frontline Fellowship)
“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:26
It is interesting how, in spite of all the warnings in Scripture against gossip, slander, and tale bearing, just how much stock we tend to place in people’s opinions. It is said that where there is smoke there is fire. However, the smoke may be no more than dust and hot air.
As Mark Twain observed: “A lie can travel half way across the world while truth is still getting its boots on.”
The great Baptist preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, warned: “Believe not half you hear; repeat not half you believe. When you hear an evil report, halve it, then quarter it, and say nothing about the rest of it.”
The great Reformer, John Calvin, declared: “No greater injury can be inflicted upon men than to ruin their reputation.”
Thomas Brooks taught: “Of all the members in the body, there is none so serviceable to Satan as the tongue.”
John Calvin wrote: “There is nothing more slippery or loose than the tongue.”
The Scriptures command us “to slander no-one, to be peaceable and considerate and to show true humility toward all men.” Titus 3:2
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31
Yet gossip remains prevalent within the church, and the arrogance, bitterness, jealousy and malice that so often accompany it, generally remains unchallenged.
King David wrote: “Whoever slanders his neighbour in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.” Psalm 101:5
Today, however, it is more common to publish the slanders than to silence or rebuke them.
Few seem to consider that whoever gossips to you will gossip of you.
The teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ are very clear: “In everything do to others what you would have them do to you. For this sums up the Law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
When we pray we are to say: “Forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors…. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:12-15
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12
“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets…Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:22-26
Why then do we continue to place such value upon people’s opinions? After all, mass murdering tyrants like Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse Tung have been Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year”.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I was still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
Our Lord Jesus Christ warned us: “Many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.” Matthew 24:10
Even one of Jesus’ hand-picked disciples, Judas, who was trusted as the treasurer of “The Twelve” took money from the high priests to betray our Lord Jesus Christ into their hands (Luke 22:8; John 13:21).
When Moses sent out twelve scouts to explore the land, ten returned with a negative and defeatist report and “made the whole community grumble” to the point of even wanting to stone Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:36). Only Joshua and Caleb, of the twelve, came back with a good report. The Lord severely judged the ten complainers and mightily blessed the faithful Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 16:38).
The great French Reformer, John Calvin, transformed Geneva through his preaching, teaching, writings and Academy. Under John Calvin’s ministry, Geneva became the intellectual centre and hub of the Reformation, a place of religious freedom and refuge for Protestants fleeing persecution. Geneva also became a sending base for evangelists, pastors and missionaries who established literally thousands of Reformed churches throughout Europe and further afield.
Yet historians have noted that: “No good man has ever had a worse press; no Christian theologian is so often scorned; so regularly attacked.” Throughout his life Calvin faced major opposition, often from fellow Protestants and other theologians: “whose objections to Calvin were incessant and, usually, unpleasant.” Even today, there are those who maintain that John Calvin was a vicious tyrant who oppressed the people under an unbearable dictatorship. And that he had people executed for disagreeing with him.
Yet, the facts are that Calvin never ruled Geneva. The city was not a totalitarian society, but a republic with elections and dissent. Calvin held no civil office, he could neither arrest nor punish any citizen, nor could he appoint or dismiss any official. (To argue that his eloquence and logic constituted tyranny, is to invent a new standard.)
History records that refugees from all over Europe flooded to Geneva to find the freedom there that they were not able to enjoy in their home countries. Under Calvin, Geneva developed into Europe’s greatest concentration of printers and publishing firms. It became the epicentre of the movement for freedom world wide. Yet Calvin continues to be slandered by ignorant and prejudiced people.
Libel Against Luther
Similarly, the great German Reformer, Martin Luther, continues to be slandered to this day. Whole websites are dedicated to depicting Luther as an anti-Semite who laid the foundations for the holocaust!
The accusation that Martin Luther was an anti-Semite, responsible for massacres, reveals an ignorance of history. Luther was pro-Christ and he was zealous in evangelism. For decades he lovingly and patiently reached out to the Jewish people in his area with the Gospel. In 1523, Luther accused Catholics of being unfair to Jews in treating them “as if they were dogs”. Luther was outraged and declared that such mistreatment made it even more difficult for Jews to convert to Christ.
Luther wrote “I would request and advise that one deal gently with the Jews…if we really want to help them, we must be guided in our dealings with them, not by papal law, but by the Law of Christian love. We must receive them cordially, and permit them to trade and work with us, hear our Christian teaching and witness our Christian life. If some of them should prove stiff-necked, what of it? After all, we ourselves are not all good Christians either.”
Fifteen years later, however, the persistent rejection of Christ and repeated blasphemies of those Jewish people in his community, provoked Luther to write: “On the Jews and their Lies.” In this pamphlet, Luther wrote against the “madness and blindness that blasphemes Christ” in the Rabbinic teachings. Luther declared that he could not “have any fellowship or patience with obstinate blasphemers and those who defame our dear Saviour.” These blasphemies included describing our Lord Jesus Christ as “the bastard son” of “that whore Mary”, and even worse. Blasphemy was a civil crime. Luther taught that to tolerate such blasphemy was to share in the guilt for it. Therefore, he proposed measures of “sharp mercy” which included confiscating all Jewish literature which was blasphemous and prohibiting Rabbis to teach such blasphemy.
However, to quote these reactions of Luther without explaining their local context of opposing the repeated blasphemies of Jewish individuals in his community, and then to project guilt for the continent-wide, anti-Christian holocaust of World War II upon the great 16th Century Reformer is ludicrous. How can any Christian Reformer of the 16th Century be blamed for the evils perpetrated by those humanists (who clearly rejected his teachings) nearly 400 years after his death!
Hitler was a disciple of Nietzsche (the philosopher who declared: “God is dead”) – not Luther. Luther was not an anti-Semite. His arguments against Jewish individuals were theological, not biological or cultural. He was speaking out against blasphemy and heresy, not opposing an entire race or nation of people.
It is most disturbing that such a humble and God-fearing man, who, against all odds, gave to the church and the world, the Bible, freely available in the common tongue; who introduced congregational singing; championed justification by God’s grace, received by faith, on the basis of the finished work of Christ; who stood for sola Scriptura – that Scripture alone is the ultimate authority; and who was so wonderfully used of the Lord to bring about the greatest Biblical Reformation and birth of freedom that the world had ever known, could be the target of such vicious slander.
The Scriptures implore us: “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the Law and judges it.” James 4:11
Malice and a Contentious Spirit
There is a disturbing tendency throughout the church, seen regularly in homes where they have “roast pastor for Sunday lunch”, to continually set ourselves up as judges of those who are better than us. Many have the gift of criticism and a ministry of discouragement. Few recognise how seriously their casual criticism, of what are often trivial matters, erodes and undermines the ministries of those called of God to service.
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.” 1 Peter 2:1
As the Scripture so plainly shows, slander of every kind is inseparable from malice, deceit, hypocrisy and envy. (The middle letter of pride is “I”, the middle letter of lie is “I”, the middle letter of sin is “I”, so too the middle letter of Lucifer is “I”.) Self-centred pride is often at the root of our desire to slander great men and women of the past, and to drag down others whom God has raised up.
Jonathan Edwards, one of America’s greatest theologians, and a man most closely associated with the Great Evangelical Awakening, was actually dismissed by his own church for applying Biblical discipline. The elders of his church would not accept his position that unbelievers should not be allowed to participate in The Lord’s Supper. In his farewell message, Edwards declared: “…avoid contention. A contentious people will be a miserable people…heat of spirit, evil speaking and things of the like…directly contrary to the spirit of Christianity…watch against a contentious spirit…”
The father of modern missions, William Carey, and his co-worker, John Marshman, had to endure vicious and unjust criticisms from young new missionaries who came “to help” at the mission base in Serampore, India. Many of these new volunteers actually split from the Serampore mission and spent an inordinate amount of time slandering William Carey and his co-workers (the controversy lasted thirteen years). So much so that the Baptist Missionary Society in England actually turned against William Carey for a time.
Writing of this, Carey said: “the evil they have done is, I fear, irreparable; and certainly the whole might have been prevented by a little frank conversation with either of us; and a hundredth part of that self- denial which I found necessary to exercise for the first few years of the mission would have prevented this awful rupture…but now we are traduced and the church wrent by the very men who came to be our helpers…judge for yourselves whether it is comely that a man who has laboriously and disinterestedly served the mission so many years should be arraigned and condemned without a hearing by a few men who have just arrived, one of whom had not been a month in the country before he joined the senseless outcry.”
Slandering Samuel Marsden
On a recent speaking tour to Australia, a couple of people commented on my including Samuel Marsden in The Greatest Century of Missions. They frankly admitted that they had never before heard anything good about Samuel Marsden, but only that he was a vicious “hanging judge” and “religious hypocrite”.
In fact, Samuel Marsden was a pioneer missionary and founding father of Australia and New Zealand. He was a man who upheld justice impartially, and who diligently preached the Gospel. Throughout his life he remained a humble and generous Christian who laid the foundations for the Christian Church in Australia and New Zealand. Although he came to Australia as a chaplain to the convict colony of New South Wales, the Governor compelled him to also be the magistrate. Combining both demanding vocations in one person involved Marsden in one controversy after another. Samuel tried his utmost to provide for the prisoners, to establish a school for orphans, and to right the wrongs suffered by Aborigines.
His attempts to uphold principles of justice placed his life in danger and he endured many threats to his life. On one occasion, he travelled to England to call the attention of the government to the unacceptable conditions and to secure intervention. He presented these grievances to King George III himself.
Samuel Marsden had a great missionary vision which also extended to bringing the Gospel of Christ to the cannibals of New Zealand. Despite vicious disputes between some of the missionaries answerable to him, and relentless criticism, Samuel Marsden conducted the first public worship service in New Zealand, interceded between two warring tribes, and introduced education, standards of justice, and law and order to the country.
It was his sad experience to continually be a victim of malicious and unfounded charges throughout his time in Australia. His fearless denunciation of sin made him numerous enemies, but the Lord vindicated Samuel Marsden. Within 31 years of his first service in New Zealand, 98% of the Maoris had embraced Christianity.
Harrassing Hudson Taylor
In 1865, Hudson Taylor prayed for 24 “willing, skilful labourers” for his new China Inland Mission. Willing and skilful they may have been, but four of these new recruits also brought dissension and controversy. Soon these dissidents had poisoned the fellowship with their increasing bitterness and resentment. After two years of backbiting and disruption, Hudson Taylor had to dismiss the ringleader, Louis Nicole, from the mission. Other troublemakers left with him.
More unrelenting slander and lies undermined the work of the China Inland Mission. One of the accusations against Hudson Taylor was that he was “too familiar with the young ladies.” Hudson and Maria Taylor kissed some of the girls on the forehead before they went off to bed. The ladies themselves denied any inappropriate behaviour, but still the complaint reached London, and for a time led to a fall in support for the mission.
As Hudson Taylor wrote: “If the Spirit of God works mightily, we may be sure that the spirit of evil will also be active.” The China Inland Mission was engulfed in opposition, dissension, controversy, fire and death from the beginning. Their mission house in Yangchow was attacked and set on fire. Furious persecution engulfed them. Storms of criticism and controversy erupted. However, in spite of constant controversies, the number of CIM missionaries grew, in time becoming the largest mission organisation in the world. By the end of Hudson’s long life, the very mission organisations that had belittled and ridiculed his methods had begun adopting many of them.
On his Zambezi expedition, pioneer missionary explorer David Livingstone was afflicted by interpersonal conflicts amongst his team leading to everyone abandoning him in the field, even his own brother Charles. By the time he returned to England seven years later, Livingstone found that his disgruntled ex-co-workers had so spread an ill report against him, that no-one even came out to welcome him back. He was ostracised. Presumed guilty without even a chance to defend himself.
From Outcasts to Textbooks
The greatest Baptist preacher of all time, Charles Spurgeon, was actually the target of vicious and slanderous attacks by the Baptist Union of his day. Now his books are textbooks of Baptist colleges and his statue stands outside the Baptist Union headquarters.
George Whitefield, one of the greatest evangelists of all time and a key figure in the Great Evangelical Awakening, was actually excluded from the Church of England that he had served so faithfully. Today the Church of England in South Africa has named its college after George Whitefield.
A Price of Success
Dr James Kennedy in his book, Delighting God, writes “if you rise just a little bit above the common herd, if you achieve just a modicum more success than your neighbours, most surely those barbs of criticism are going to be shot your way”.
“To avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” “There is no defence against reproach – except obscurity.”
Delighting God quotes one wise old man “if I tried to read, much less answer all the criticism made of me, and all the attacks levelled against me, this office would have to be closed to all other business. I do the best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing this, down to the very end. If the end brings me out all wrong, ten angels swearing I had been right would make no difference. If the end brings me out alright, then what is said against me now will not amount to anything.”
An Opportunity to Glorify God
There is no doubt that adversity builds character. A faith that can’t be tested, can’t be trusted. Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors.
But unjustified criticism is still better than flattery – and less dangerous! We can always benefit – even from the most unbalanced criticism. What man means for evil, God can use for good. (Genesis 50:20)
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Such trials should drive us to prayer, humble us and deepen our devotional life as we search the Scriptures and ask: “What is God saying to me through this?”
It can also enable us to empathise with and comfort others who suffer such injustices.
Christians suffering unjust criticism should find opportunities to glorify God and to witness for Christ.
Ultimately, God’s opinion and approval is the only One that counts. It is He who we should continually be seeking to please.
And one thing that Christ requires is that we forgive those who sin against us – unconditionally, wholeheartedly. We who have been forgiven much should love much. “Blessed are you when men hate you and when they exclude you, and revile you and cast out your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy. For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets…Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Luke 6:22-26
It’s Not The Critic That Counts
As United States President Theodore Roosevelt wrote:
“It is not the critic that counts nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled;
nor where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;
Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows the great enthusiasms,
the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and;
who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while doing greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat!”
A Test of Character
Everything in life is a test of character. Extreme situations expose and bring out the best, or the worst, in people. A person’s character is accurately measured by their reaction to unfairness or bad treatment. The measure of a person’s character can be seen by the size of those things which upset him. The true flavour of a tea bag is only tasted after it has been placed in hot water, and so it is with ourselves. Our reputation is what men think we are. Our character is what God knows we are. And this is only revealed under extreme crisis situations.
So, when troubles and tribulations come, when you are insulted, excluded, reviled and mistreated, do what our Lord Jesus commanded; “rejoice in that day and leap for joy!”
On the other hand; “Woe to you when all men speak well of you…” Luke 6:26
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At the Council of Chalcedon in 433, after 4 centuries of Christ’s death and resurrection the church created a formula to describe Christ’s humanity and divinity. The majority of Protestant churches still keep to this confession. The assembled bishops declared Christ was two natures in one person. “We all with one voice confess our Lord Jesus Christ one and the same Son, at once complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, of one substance with us as regards his manhood, like us in all things, apart from sin…”