The South African revival to which I referred in an earlier dispatch is now in full bloom, as evidenced by an extraordinary prayer meeting attended by an estimated 1.7 million people.
The call to prayer – named It’s Time – came from farmer-evangelist Angus Buchan in response to allegations of corruption in government, an intolerable crime rate, violent student protests and immorality at many levels.
Affectionately known as Oom Angus, the preacher has made a huge impact on the nation since experiencing a dramatic encounter with Christ in 1979. In recent years he has focused his attention on men, imploring them to live up to their responsibilities by leading their families in prayer and dedication to God.
For seven years he held annual weekend camps at his KwaZulu-Natal farm Shalom, initially hosting just family and a few friends, but eventually drawing some 400,000 men. Similar events, known as Mighty Men Conferences, have since spread to other parts of the country as well as the UK.
But with the country now embroiled in chaos led by a government apparently steeped in corruption, Angus believed it was time to call Christians to serious prayer – and the venue chosen was 2,500 acres of farmland near the central city of Bloemfontein.
Believers responded by travelling from all parts of the country to set up camp, pray over many issues such as abortion, crime, injustice and poverty and draw inspiration from the beloved evangelist with his uncompromising message focused on living according to the Bible’s precepts.
“You will sleep with no-one until you are married!” he urged young men, adding (echoing a phrase used by Britain’s legendary Pentecostal evangelist Smith Wigglesworth): “God said it; we believe it and that settles it.”
An Israeli flag could be clearly seen fluttering in the breeze as a video camera panned across a sea of people stretching some 1.4 kilometers from the main platform, and strong gusts of wind accompanied prayers in scenes akin to the initial Holy Spirit outpouring recorded in the New Testament Book of Acts (chapter 2, verse 2).
I mention the Israeli flag to further support the thesis of my previous article on the subject – that blessing the Jewish people is a key to revival, something the UK church has yet to grasp.
In addition to YouTube videos, I have friends taking part who have kept me informed of progress, and it is difficult not to see this as further fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that “in the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2.28). Such a time could quite conceivably coincide with the restoration of Israel along with the judgment of those nations opposing them (Joel 3.1f).
It’s Time is evidently inspired by the biblical promise of healing for Israel when God’s people humble themselves and pray. The relevant verses from 2 Chronicles 7.13f read: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain (South Africa has been suffering a severe drought), or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I do not have an exact count of the attendance at this event, but my sources told me that as many as 1.7 million people had registered beforehand. That is equivalent to the population of Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, and greater than Birmingham, Britain’s second city.
Clearly, prayer leads to revival, along with blessing Israel as I have already emphasized. For it is my belief that there is a distinct correlation between this move of the Spirit and a general understanding and support of Israel, to whom Christians are indelibly attached – if we cut ourselves off from our Judaic roots, the Church cannot truly exist. (Romans 11.17f)
Churches in all parts of South Africa – incorporating black and white as well as English and Afrikaans-speaking – are bursting with new life as they prove a counter-cultural provocation to secularists, humanists and others (who are trying it on there too) and especially to a government reportedly rife with corruption and virulently opposed to Israel, even to the extent of virtually cutting off diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. This is in spite of the fact that it was Jews who led the resistance to apartheid in the days of the old whites-only Parliament.
Angus, who has led a similar gathering in Israel, has proved a huge inspiration as he urges men to run their homes, love their wives and discipline their children in the fear of God, leading to inevitable clashes with political correctness.
Moreover, the default position of many of South Africa’s churches today is an understanding of God’s everlasting love for Israel and of the church’s enormous debt to them – for the Bible, for their Saviour and much more. A friend of mine put it this way: “If you don’t believe in God’s plan for Israel, you’re an atheist.”
The point is that these South African Christians have woken up, having for the most part learnt to love God’s chosen people. But UK churches are in desperate need for re-education in biblical truth.
For revival, you have to be in the right place with God so that, as far as is possible, his thoughts become your thoughts (see Isaiah 55). We don’t worship Israel, as they are human and sinful like us, but we do worship the God of Israel who has blessed us with his precious Word and with his Son, the Jewish Messiah, who is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14.6).
I have re-visited my home country a number of times in recent years to see family and friends, and I became aware that it was no longer divided along apartheid lines, but between those who live in fear – the secularists who erect huge steel barriers to protect their property from burglars – and those who live by faith and in freedom, who love their neighbours and believe in the country’s future under God.
I appreciate that Jesus warned of deception in the last days, but I feel that sometimes we are in danger of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel on this point. Author/preacher R T Kendall, writing of how Israel as a whole failed to recognize their Messiah when he came, says: “We are all so sure that we would recognize the authentic when it arrives. You could not have told a Sadducee or a Pharisee that the Messiah would come to Israel without them knowing and acknowledging him. But he came and they rejected him.”
Get a grip. This revival is authentic. And if we wish the same for our nation, we need to humble ourselves and pray, repenting of our wicked ways, especially over our treatment of God’s chosen people.
MIGHTY TURNOUT: Men gather in great numbers for the Karoo Mighty Men’s Conference in the heart of South Africa’s farming community. Picture: Robert Southey
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen
, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem
, available from olivepresspublisher.com