The greatest revival in the history of the Church

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Much is written about great revivals that have taken place in Western countries. But comparatively little is known about one of the greatest revivals in Church history — the current revival in China.

[notice]A special feature on the revival in China, written for Gateway News by a South African Missionary, Paul Z*, who has lived with his family in China for a number of years. He has a great passion for the Chinese people and has studied their culture, language and the development of the Church in China. * not his real name.[/notice]

Henry Blackaby says in his book “Experiencing God”: “Find out where God is at work and join Him there.”

If one were to ask “where is God at work in the world today?”, surely one of these places would be CHINA!

China is currently experiencing the greatest revival in the history of Christianity. Never have so many from one people group converted to Christianity in so short a space of time.

The early missionaries to China in the 1900s would probably never have imagined what was to take place spiritually in the later half of that century.

Much has been written about the powerful revivals that have taken place in western countries (Azusa Street – Los Angeles, Welsh Revival, Revivals in England with John Wesley) – but comparatively speaking, little is known of one of the greatest revivals in Church history and that still continues today – the current revival in China!

Just over 150 years ago, when James Hudson Taylor (Founder of China Inland Mission) arrived in China in 1849, there were but a few thousand protestant believers. In his lifetime his band of missionaries played a key role in the conversion of over 18 000 people.

By 1910 there were an estimated 100,000 believers in China.

These next few decades in China were tumultuous ones – The breeding of anti-foreigner sentiments leading to the Boxer Rebellion; the attack on missionaries and foreigners; the civil war between the Democrats and Communists – that flowed into the World War 2 and the horrific attacks on China from Japan. The rise of the Communist Party after the war and the subsequent flight of the Democrats to Taiwan; the reign of Mao Tse Dong from 1949 that saw the unification of China into a single party state under one written and spoken language; the introduction of communist policies; the Cultural Revolution and the attempted eradication of religions. During this time, all foreigners, including missionaries, were expelled from China. The so called “Bamboo Curtain” was drawn over China and many western believers that carried China in their hearts wondered whether the small, dependent Chinese Church could survive without western input and under such opposition.

‘The world was not worthy of them’
As early as the 1980s western believers were able to peek into China and many were asking “What became of the Chinese Church? Is there anything left of it?” They were stunned and amazed by what they discovered! Here and there in homes across the countryside the believers gathered, no instruments, just quiet “tear filled” praise, simple peasant pastors (often women) leading small bands of believers, evangelists going from meeting to meeting – teaching, preaching, evangelizing under the power of the Holy Spirit – blazing trails of revival through the countryside as they moved from one house to the next sometimes for months at a time – facing extreme persecution – “The world was not worthy of them”.

By the end of the 1900s, it was estimated that the church had grown to a staggering 100 million believers! (1 000 times increase from 90 years ago).

In spite of intense modernisation, mass urbanisation, industrialisation and the rise of a fierce competitor for the souls of Chinese – materialism – the zeal of the Lord for His people has been heavy on this land and daily thousands upon thousands give their lives in service to Jesus.

By 2030 there are expected to be over 250 million believers in China! – more professing believers than any other country.

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Thousands of new believers are being added to the Church in China daily and the Holy Spirit is transforming lives of believers in both the underground church and the government sanctioned Three Self Church.

Some ask “Why, when most western countries are experiencing a sharp decline in church attendance and general interest in God, yet in Communist China quite the opposite is happening?”

One could suggest a few factors that have contributed to this great move, yet nothing except a sovereign and mighty move of God fully explains this awesome phenomenon – That God by His Spirit, even in the face of strong cultural, political and societal opposition, is reviving the hearts of a nation.

How everything changed in their meetings
Here is a brief snippet from an article from CBN News on the work of God, not only in the Chinese Underground Church, but also in the Government sanctioned Three Self Church. “Pastor X” shares how in 12 years everything changed in their meetings:

“We were in the middle of the service; suddenly everyone at the church felt the Holy Spirit anointing fall. Some couldn’t stand straight, others fell down. Some were dizzy and nauseous. When the worship began, people started crying. After the service, some were being healed. I saw demons being chased away from people’s bodies.”

Pastor X says his church had never experienced anything like it. “We were seeing something unprecedented. We had no theological training in the move of the Holy Spirit. This was completely new for us,” he said. “We were one of the first churches to experience this in the area.  Soon, leaders from other churches came to us and were eager to receive the Holy Spirit. Later they also started witnessing the Holy Spirit’s move as well,” Pastor X said.

Twelve years later, Pastor X says the impact of the Holy Spirit’s move is seen in the transformed lives of church members. “Our cell groups are expanding, more people are attending church, and more people are going outside the church walls into society to share the Gospel.”

In spite of all that has been said above, the harvest and work in China still remains huge:

  • Less than 10% of the population profess to be Christian. Most Chinese have never had the gospel presented to them.
  • The majority of Chinese Christians live in the countryside and the east coast area – there are still huge sections and provinces within China that are largely unreached.
  • There is little presence of Christianity in Chinese cities. Of China’s 550 people groups, 456 are still considered unreached (not ONE established church amongst them) – some of these groups consisting of over ten million people.
  • 337 of these people groups do not even have Bible portions available in their language.
  • The great demand for Bibles and training material in China outstrips the supply.
  • There is a need for great numbers of mature leaders that can disciple these exploding church numbers.

World changing potential — and a challenge
In conclusion, the outcome of China in the next few decades will have a profound impact on the entire world. The outcome of China is going to be shaped largely by what becomes of the church in China. Therefore this current revival in China has the potential to change not only the landscape of China but of the entire of world.

The harvesters working in China cannot keep up with those wanting to be harvested . The fields are truly ripe for harvest. I challenge you today to seriously consider joining God in one of the thrillingly great assignments He is currently underway with in the world today – The ONGOING REVIVAL IN CHINA.

If you would like to make contact with Paul Z you can email your request to andre@gatewaynews.co.za

4 Comments

  1. I noted the following in the article: “Twelve years later, Pastor X says the impact of the Holy Spirit’s move is seen in the transformed lives of church members. “Our cell groups are expanding, more people are attending church, and more people are going outside the church walls into society to share the Gospel.”

    Begs the question are we really experiencing the in filling of the Holy Spirit in South African churches. So many Christians happy to be entertained with worship but not excited about sharing Jesus with the lost around them.

    • Exactly my brother. Having been involved with church life in SA and across the world for a lifetime, I would say that we are not yet seeing true revival & the Christ life that Watchman Nee spoke and wrote about in our own country. I’ve been privileged to visit China twice to observe God at work in the ‘underground churches,’ how much we have to learn from them. But thank God, I am beginning to see small pockets of people understanding the true Gospel (1 Cor. 15) and coming into personal and corporate revival in wonderful ways. The Church at large in SA is too comfortable and materialistic to be of great effect. And you know what, the greatest things are happening outside the walls of the traditional/institutional churches.

  2. Persecution will sort out the church in our country, I think.