Then the building shook…
The Belgian Congo revival resembled the Day of Pentecost in certain respects.
There was also godly fruit afterwards.
This article also looks at the East African revival which has lasted for over a century…
(This is a series of articles, it’s probably best to take them in the correct order.
See Toronto Blessing review: laughing shrieking shaking falling over)
1. The Belgian Congo revival in the 1950′s
Please observe some of the outcomes of the Holy Spirit meeting his people:
It was seven o’clock on a Friday night.An interview with Dr. Helen Roseveare, an English medical missionary to the Congo from 1953-1973. 1
Jack Scholes, our field leader, had just come back from a trip in the south and he had seen revival down there.
He stood up to speak about the revival and started to read from scriptures.
Suddenly we heard a hurricane storm. It was frightening! …
Then the building shook and the storm lanterns down the centre of the building moved around.
There was a terrific noise and a sense of external power around. We were all frightened…
Jack stood at the front and said to us …
‘This is of God, just pray … don’t fear and don’t interfere.’
It was as if a force came in and we were shaking.
There was no way you could control it and some were thrown to the ground off the benches as if someone had hurled them down!
But no one was hurt …
People began to confess publicly what you might call ‘big sin’ (and these were all Christians).
They spoke of adultery, cheating, stealing, deceit …
We didn’t leave the hall that whole weekend!
Most of the time God was dealing with our sins.
Some needed help from the pastors who moved around with much wisdom and encouragement.
Then joy struck the repentant sinners and the pastors moved on…
There were amazing visions from people which were often based on Old Testament scriptures … even though they didn’t have the Old Testament! …
There were also amazing visions of hell and people would break down weeping because of unsaved relatives.
They carried exhausting prayer burdens.
What started off as a ten minute prayer meeting lasted three hours.
We didn’t discuss anything, we spoke with God.
There were waves of out-poured prayer.
Some went off at 4am on one occasion and walked twelve miles to a village, compelled by the Holy Spirit, to share the gospel. Many were saved as a result…
The revival was wonderful: I hope that I still live in the joy of it and that it burns for ever in me.
It’s true that the manifestations were there, even that they shocked us and changed us.
But the lasting effect of revival was not to make us seek for more manifestations, but, rather, a deep desire for a holy life.”
Would you say the manifestations were godly?
Yes, I would say that was God moving, but how do we decide whether this is of God or not?
The answer lies in asking a question:
2. What was the ‘fruit’ of the Belgian Congo revival?
I would say that the list below is the fruit:
- A spotlight was being turned on so that people saw their sin.
- Fear for people who were not right with God.
- An urgency to go out and tell the Good News of Jesus.
- Revitalised prayer times.
- A fresh desire to live a holy life.
- No desire to seek the manifestations.
I would say that this account has the glory of God in it and there appears to be good fruit coming from it.
It’s not wrong to check for fruit – the Bible encourages us to do that.
Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit.”Matthew 12:33 NIV
Obviously, if we recognise bad fruit in something we need to tread carefully and be on our guard.
If we do this we will save ourselves from the pain of being led up false alleyways.
We need more true outpourings of the Holy Spirit.
3. The East Africa Revival movement.
The seeds that blossomed into the East African Revival were planted at the end of the previous century in an earlier African revival that began with British missionaries.‘The Overlooked Revival: The East African Revival was a Mighty Move of God’ New Wineskins Missionary Network. 3
By Easter of 1894 this visitation of the Lord had infused the Ugandan Church with a spirit of missionary zeal.”
In May 1899 two Baganda teachers, Nuwa and Timeseo, introduced Christianity to Ankole which was an area in south-western Uganda, east of Lake Edward. 4
They were converted to Christianity in 1893 in Buganda, which is a large area around the Ugandan capital Kampala. Specifically, it stretches to the Tanzanian border in Lake Victoria (Lake Nnalubaale) to the south, the River Nile (River Kiira) to the east, Lake Kyoga to the north, Ankole to the west and River Kafu to the northwest.5
In December 1899 Bishop Tucker, Dr.Cook and Philip Bamulanzeki became the first church teachers in Mbarara.
In January 1902 the king of Ankole, Omugabe Edward Solomon Kahaya and chief Minister Enganzi Nuwa Mbaguta and their wives were baptized.
In March 1904, the first group of native Banyankole were commissioned as evangelists.
In June 1936 the East Africa Revival movement emerged, leading to the development of lay leadership, which preserved religious fervor and missionary zeal in the church. 6
It is essentially a lay movement, African in style and control, that has transcended tribal, racial, and church divisions.”‘East African Revival’ The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. Encyclopedia .com 7
The East African Revival has a song at its core which sums up the revival, ‘Tukutendereza Yesu’, ‘We Praise You Jesus’.
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Simeon Nsibambi was a key person in the East African Revival.
Corruption within the Church of Uganda and the ways in which sin was being handled led to the initial fervour waning which resulted in dissatisfaction.
This is an often repeated problem throughout church history, that time creates a dullness of the heart.
Simeon Nsibambi’s message of a victorious life sparked a revival that continues today.
He was born in 1897 and was one of the key initiators of the revival, he originally preached in the church at Kampala, Uganda.
Below is an extract of what happened when Simeon met with Joe Church:
Both Simeoni and Joe had a fire that burned in their hearts for the Lord.‘The East African Revival: Overview’ (Yusto Kaahwa, Solomon Nkesiga, and Joan Hall, 2012. East Africa Revival Fellowship — Uganda)
Both of them were aware of the shortcomings in their spiritual life and also in the Church in Uganda (which then stretched into what is now known as Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga in the western foothills of the Rwenzori mountains.)
When they met, they sat together, read their Bibles, and God met them.
Both men were transformed.
Later Joe wrote, ‘He gave no special gift. The only special gift is the transforming vision of the risen Jesus Himself. Pray for a real conviction of sin, and then the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will follow.’ “
Simeon Nsibambi then settled in Gahini, Ruanda and his search for revival began to bear fruit alongside his friend Joe Church, the pioneer of the Ruanda Mission.
In 1929 Dr Church worked at the Gahini Hospital and the revival, in the power of the Holy Spirit, started amongst the staff being spread via personal relationships.
Little groups formed for prayer and fellowship and they promoted repentance, public confession, testimony, and restitution.
John Bunyan’s book ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ (John Bunyan lesson plan) was readily available in Anglican mission stations and encouraged converts to change their lifestyles.
The revival fire spread from Ruanda into multiple countries including Uganda, Kenya in 1937 and Tanganyika. 8