Edited by Robert V. Rakestraw (6-10-2016)
“After much heart searching, a group of missionaries and a handful of spiritually-minded church leaders [in what was then the Belgian Congo] accepted responsibility to plead with God and believe for revival …. [For months they prayed, . . . conscious of the urgent need of the church for cleansing and filling . . . . Those of us who were there will never forget that day in July 1953, when the fire of revival fell at Ibambi. It was the time of the Friday evening fellowship meeting. Jack Scholes had just stood up to read the Scriptures, when suddenly we were all conscious of the rushing noise of an approaching hurricane. Senior Bible School students moved quietly round the hall taking down the shutters to avoid the danger of their being blown in.
Idly glancing out into the dark night, [however], I was aware that the palm trees stood erect, silhouetted against a moonlit sky . . . and there was no sign of the approaching storm, no scudding clouds, no trees bent to the ground by the violence of the gale-force wind.
“Then came a tremendous shock as some great force struck the hall and all of us were shaken. There was a moment of intense silence. Then, some broke out in strong crying; some were thrown to the ground; some trembled uncontrollably; all were under the influence of a mighty unseen Presence.
“ ‘Words fail to describe it, but we know something now of what it must have been like on the day of Pentecost,’ wrote Jack Scholes afterwards, seeking to explain how the Holy Ghost had come down on the church in mighty power. The very building had been shaken as by a hurricane, though the still, silent palm trees etched against the clear, moon-lit sky not only proved the absence of a physical storm, but by nature’s motionless gaze, even accentuated that inner storm.
“All over the building, the Spirit took control. Men and women were shaken by a force outside themselves, a mighty force that they could not refuse nor gainsay. Some cried out for mercy. Some were physically thrown to the ground. Some appeared rigid, gripped as in a vice. Some shuddered uncontrollably, the very bench they sat on being rocked by the force.
“People were under deep conviction of sin, crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness. Tears flowed. Sweat poured. Agonies were endured, as strong men sought to resist, as women sought to flee. Some fell to their knees confessing hidden sins, with no one but God listening to them. Others were thrown down on the cement floor, stretched out before God, bringing to the light things buried in their hearts of which they had hoped never to be reminded.
“Events that previously had been considered as ‘weaknesses,’ such as bad temper or grumbling, irritability or complaining, were seen as sin as the Holy Spirit shone into hearts the pure light of God’s Holiness. No corners were left in shadow. …
“During the days that followed, much lost property was returned to its rightful owners – tools, materials, books, clothing, foodstuffs, even live chickens. A tailor brought back a bag of scraps of material that he had taken home from work as being ‘too small to be of any use.’ Some men asked time off work, as they had to go seventy-five miles through the forest to Wamba, to return stolen goods to Government workshops or to Greek traders. The authorities were dumbfounded and did not know how to react or what to do. ‘Never before,’ they said, ‘have we ever seen anything like
From Helen Roseveare, Living Holiness (Bethany House, 1986, pp. 53-59). The above selection may be found, along with other articles and essays, on Dr. Rakestraw’s website, gracequestministries.org.,where you may also sign up to receive at no cost regular postings such as these, and where you may order Dr. Rakestraw’s books Heart Cries and GraceQuest. You may write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.