Revival in Argentina 1953 with Tommy Hicks
In 1951, Demos Shackarian, a wealthy businessman, was getting very discouraged because things just were not working out well with the Full Gospel Business Men’s organization he had started. Depressed, he began to agonize in prayer. One night, God’s heavenly atmosphere filled their house. Little did he know, all the things that would be taking place that night in his home. His wife began to play the piano in this Glory. Demos, in another room, had an encounter with God. He was taken in a vision by the Lord and transported over many cities in the USA and other countries. The Lord told Demos that all those cities and people would be visited and affected by his ministry, and gave him the keys and strategies that later made the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International such an effective tool in changing the lives of so many people around the world.
Mean while, Tommy Hicks, who was visiting them at that time, was in another room. He had been in prayer for quite some time and had been fasting a lot. So much so, that his friends would tell him that if he did not stop fasting, he would die.
Three times he dug an empty well. Three times he had fasted for 40 days and nights. An intense cry, placed in his heart by the Holy Spirit, led him to continue praying and agonizing for revival. After the last time, an angel appeared to him. He told him many things, and one of the things he said to him was that the Lord had a work for him to do in Argentina, and to go there. He shared this with Demos, who paid for his ticket to Argentina.
Later, as Tommy was on a flight to Argentina, he was pondering just how he would begin the process of holding the evangelistic crusades he was sent to fulfill. He actually knew almost nothing of that nation; not its culture, language or customs. He was acquainted with nearly no one there. While wondering about this, he heard the Lord tell him to go and visit Mr. Peron.
The name Peron meant nothing to him, so he called a stewardess and asked her if by any chance she had ever heard of a man in Argentina by that name. She laughed as she answered, "Of course I have; he is the President of Argentina." Now just how was an ordinary American citizen going to obtain an interview with the anti-American President of Argentina?
Obtaining the use of press and radio was ridiculous to even consider. Under the dictator's decrees, all religious activities were closely monitored and censored. All meeting schedules had to be reported to the police authorities sixty days in advance. Special permission had to be obtained for any unscheduled meetings. It was extremely difficult to obtain permission for a large gathering and careful records were kept in government files. Permissions were hardly ever granted. The head of the evangelical commission plainly told him that such a visit was an absolute impossibility. High ranking American government officials had been insulted and refused an interview with Peron.
How could an unknown, unimportant U.S. preacher ever get an audience with Mr. Peron? But Tommy Hicks believed in his God. He went to his hotel room to pray. Tommy knew that God had sent him to Argentina and to talk with Mr Peron. He knew that his God was bigger than any dictator.
The next day, Tommy, with an interpreter, walked up to the “Casa Rosada” (Pink House) where the government offices were located. As he neared the door, an armed guard, who also served as porter, stopped him with a machine gun aimed at his chest, and asked brusquely, "Who are you? What do you want?"
Tommy Hicks carefully explained to him that what he wanted was to hold a salvation-healing crusade. The more Tommy explained, the more interested the guard became. Finally the guard asked, "Do you mean to say that God can heal?" "Yes, He can, and He will," replied Tommy.
"Well," asked the guard, "can He heal me?" Tommy answered, "Yes he can. What is your problem?" The guard complained, "I have hepatitis, and my liver is killing me with pain right now." "Give me your hand," instructed the evangelist, and right there he prayed the prayer of faith. The power of God surged into that guard's body, and in a moment his pain and sickness were gone.
Feeling the power of God, the guard was utterly astonished. He felt himself all over, then in total amazement said, "Why, it's all gone; all the pain is gone!" "Of course, it's gone," replied Tommy. God has healed you." The guard told him, "You come back here tomorrow, and I will get you in to see the
The next day Tommy returned, and the same guard greeted him cordially, then escorted him to the great oak door of the private office of the President of Argentina. The President greeted Tommy and his interpreter cordially, offered them a seat, and asked their reason for coming.
Carefully, Evangelist Hicks explained in detail the desire that God had placed upon his heart - to hold a city-wide, salvation-healing crusade in a large stadium. "Therefore, I want full press and radio coverage, and I want free rights to congregate in the stadiums and arenas of the nation. "The President listened thoughtfully and was amazed as he heard for the first time of the power of God to heal and save.
Tommy faithfully preached the Gospel to him that day.
At that time the President was suffering from a most persistent and disfiguring skin disease called psoriasis - a type of eczema, which up to that time, no physician had been able to cure. It had grown
steadily worse, becoming so noticeable, that Peron no longer allowed photographs to be taken of himself.
Listening to the story of Jesus - the Son of God who heals through faith and prayer alone - the President asked, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ heals today the same as He did while He was here on Earth?" Pastor Hicks answered, "Of course, I do. Here, give me your hand." Right there, with hands clasped over the big desk, Rev. Hicks prayed the prayer of faith for President Peron, dictator of Argentina.
As the power of God flowed into the President's body, he staggered back under the impact.
Before the eyes of all present, the skin of President Peron became as clean, as soft and as clear as a baby's. He was instantly made whole. Stepping back in utter amazement, he wiped his hand over his face and exclaimed in astonishment, "Caramba, Dios mio, estoy curado!" (Good heavens, My God, I am cured!). Indeed, he was healed; the psoriasis had all disappeared. The Name of Jesus had once more prevailed as God performed an instantaneous miracle of grace and mercy.
Opening his arms wide in a characteristic Argentine gesture, President Juan Peron gave Tommy a hug and promised him everything he desired - freedom of press, freedom of radio and the freedom to hold a large gathering. In gratitude for his healing - under the touch of the hand of God and with his soul awed in the presence of the power Christ - the President made the impossible, possible. He sat right down, wrote out and signed the decree that granted religious freedom to the evangelicals - a freedom so long denied. From that day until now, barred doors were immediately thrown open and God made a way where there was no way. In but a moment, God had done what no man could do.
The Many Argentine Revivals
Revival Carriers Int'l
(A portion of this article was written by Peter Wagner and edited by Chris Simpson, and David Little. Robert Miller added many updates and details to this article as well.)
We can learn lessons in Evangelism and Spiritual Warfare from Argentina. This country has been one of the most successful models of urban evangelism.
Argentina has known many moves of God. It began with the Tommy Hicks crusade and its aftermath in the 1950s. It continued with many waves of glory and manifested Presence of God in the late 1960s. The Charismatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 1970s swept the churches of the entire country. Later, the evangelistic crusades that swept from city to city around the nation with thousands of people converted, delivered, healed and creative miracles under the ministry of Evangelist Carlos Anacondia in the early 1980s. (He is still going strong at the time that this portion of the article was being written in July of 2010.) A profound move of the Spirit named “the fire move” took place in the late 1980s at Peniel Bible Institute in Mar del Plata, and spread throughout the country. A powerful move followed in the 1990s called “the river move” Claudio Freidzen and many other men and women of God were used of the Lord during these many years.
Argentina has also experienced hardships and trials:
There was a change in the spiritual climate after the Falkland Islands war in 1982 when Argentina tried unsuccessfully to occupy the Malvinas Islands, as they call them. The British victory caused a radical change in Argentine social psychology. National pride, for which Argentines were internationally notorious, was severely damaged. The church had failed them, the military had failed them, Peronism had failed them - they were ready to try something new. The fact of the matter is that well before 1982 the basis for Argentine pride had severely eroded. Once the world's tenth strongest economic power and boasting a standard of life higher than that of southern Europe. Argentina was the jewel of South America, peaking during the reign of Juan Domingo Peron and his followers through the 1950s and 1960s. As his influence waned in the early 1970s, Peron linked up with a powerful occult practitioner, Jose Lopez Rega, known popularly as "el brujo" (the warlock). Lopez Rega served under Peron as social welfare minister, and after Peron's death in 1974 became the chief advisor to his wife, Isabel Peron, during her two years as president. He erected a public monument to witchcraft (since dismantled), and is said by many to have publicly cursed the nation when he lost power with the military coup of 1976. Spiritism, principally from Brazil, began to flood the nation. Under the military rulers 8,000 political suspects "disappeared" forever, the bodies of many recently
being uncovered in mass graves. Once the tenth strongest economic power, Argentina now finds itself tenth from the bottom by some measurements. Little wonder the nation is ripe for the gospel message. True, in such a spiritual vacuum, any change is seen by many as a change for the better. The power of witchcraft continues to escalate. False cults such as Mormonism are experiencing rapid growth. A huge ornate Mormom temple dominates the highway leading from the Ezeiza airport to Buenos Aires.
But with all this, the power of God is being manifested in extraordinary ways. Hector Gimenez The largest church is downtown Buenos Aires is pastored by Hector Gimenez, an ex-drug addict and gunfighter. He started the church in 1983 and now leads a congregation of some 70,000. The official name of the church is The Miracles of Jesus Renewed Christian Church, but it more popularly carries the name of Gimenez's radio broadcast, "Waves of Love and Peace." Their church home is a 2,500 seat theater in which they hold eight services daily, seven days of the week. Gimenez himself reaches five services per day, a total of 35 different sermons per week. A study by a Polish sociologist estimates the attendance at 14,000 daily.
Peter Wagner had the privilege of preaching to a packed house at the 8:00 p.m. service on a Tuesday night in April 1990, and saw more than a dozen profess salvation and fifty profess miraculous healing, numbers totally disproportionate to the usual results of my speaking. When we left just before 10:30 p.m., a new crowd had totally jammed the space between the theater door and the street, waiting to get in for the next service! Gimenez told me that a couple of weeks previously on Easter Sunday, they had rented the largest enclosed auditorium in the city, Luna Park, which seats 15,000. They needed three services to accommodate the 35,000 worshipers, and they baptized 3,200 by immersion in portable pools.
Larry Lea says, "The devil's work is to blind the minds of men and women. It is our work to pray that the powers of darkness be pushed back from shrouding people's minds." Powerful intercessory prayer is the chief weapon of spiritual warfare on all levels. For instance, backstage in Hector Gimenez's service I saw three women interceding on their knees on the hardwood floor throughout the entire two-hour service. I was told there are usually more. I doubt that Gimenez would see the spiritual power he enjoys without these intercessors. Larry Lea adds, "Until we do the prayer work necessary to defeat the forces of the enemy holding people in darkness, Satan's blinders will remain."
One of today's most knowledgeable Argentine leaders is Edgardo Silvoso of Harvest Evangelism based in San Jose, California. Silvoso said, "If there is one dominant element that has emerged in the theology and methodology of evangelism in Argentina, I would say it is spiritual warfare. It is an awareness that the struggle is not against a political or a social system. Nor is it on behalf of those who are captives, but it is rather against the jail keepers, against the rulers, those in authority in the spiritual realm." Silvoso contends that understanding this allows Argentine evangelists to get to the root of the problem instead of dealing merely with symptoms. He suggests that the results seem to validate this approach.
Carlos Annacondia may well be the most effective citywide interdenominational crusade evangelist of all time. If this turns out to be only approximately true, his approach to winning the masses of the cities to Christ deserves close scrutiny. Annacondia was the committed Christian owner of a prosperous nuts and bolts factory in Quilmes on the outskirts of Buenos Aires when he was called into evangelistic ministry. It was probably no mere coincidence that the day he launched his first public crusade was the day the British sunk the Argentine battleship General Belgrano in the 1982 Falkland Islands war. He was 37 years old at the time.
Christian leaders in a matter-of-fact way refer to recent trends in their cities as "before Annacondia" and "after Annacondia". There are new sanctuaries constructed to contain the growth after Annacondia's crusade in their city. A basketball stadium had been leased for six years to hold services after one of Carlos anacondia’s crusades. Another church now holds 17 services a week in five rented theaters. Another pastor reports "a notable change of attitude among the people of his city as a result of Annacondia's ministry."
Annacondia has a great deal in common with traditional crusade evangelists. He preaches a simple gospel message, gives an invitation for people to come forward and receive Christ as their Lord and Savior, uses trained counselors to lead them to Christ and give them literature, takes their name and address and invites them to attend a local church. Like Billy Graham and Luis Palau, Annacondia secures a broad base of interdenominational support from pastors and other Christian leaders in the target area.
Like Dwight Moody and Billy Sunday he has had no formal academic theological training. Like Reinhard Bonnke and T. L. Osborne he features miracles, healings and deliverance from evil spirits in his meetings. He is not the only one who preaches in the open air, conducts three-hour services, or has many on-the-spot intercessors praying for the ministry. The major difference is Carlos Annacondia's intentional, premeditated, high-energy approach to spiritual warfare. A permanent fixture of Annacondia's crusades is what has to be one of the most sophisticated and massive deliverance ministries anywhere. Literally hundreds of individuals are delivered from demons each of the 30 to 50 consecutive nights of a crusade.
The 150-foot deliverance tent, erected behind the speaker's platform, is in operation from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. each night. Scores of teams that ministers Botari and Barboza have trained, do the actual hands-on ministry. Never has another evangelist been observed in crusades who is as publicly aggressive in confronting evil spirits as Carlos Annacondia. With a high- volume, high-energy, prolonged challenge he actually taunts the spirits until they manifest in one way or another. To the uninitiated the scenario might appear to be total confusion. But to the skilled, experienced members of Annacondia's 31 crusade ministry teams, it is just another evening of power encounters in which the power of Jesus Christ over demonic forces is being displayed for all to see. Many miraculous healings occur, souls are saved, and so great is the spiritual power, that unsuspecting pedestrians passing by the crusade meeting have been known to fall down under the power of the Holy Spirit.
The 5,000 to 20,000 who crowd into Annacondia's crusades night after night are lower class people. The gospel is preached to the poor as in Jesus’ day.
Omar Cabrera, pastor of the Vision of the Future Church of 90,000 which is Argentina's largest, uses aggressive spiritual warfare in his own style and it filling his meeting places in 40-50 locations with those of the lower class
The Beginning of the Great Argentine Revival
Or The Rap on the Table that Started the Revival
From the book “The Secrets of the Argentine Revival” by Dr. R. Edward Miller
In January of 1949, I came to what appeared to be the bitter end of my missionary career. With another missionary, Robert T., we went to a town named Lavelle (the valley) that lay in the foothills of the great Andes Mountains. Our purpose was to hold a Gospel crusade in a town where, to our knowledge, the Gospel had never been preached before. We fully believed that in that totally churchless town, we would be privileged to see the mighty wonders and see the power of the Holy Spirit manifested before out eyes and see a great spiritual impact on that town. We fully expected to see manifestations such as had happened in the days of my childhood in the old Baptist Church in Ashland, Oregon.
With great anticipation we prepared a tent with what we considered to be proper evangelical accouterment. We labored happily in the hot Andean sun. We dutifully filled the air with recorded music and faithfully visited every home in the community, distributing tracts and Gospel portions. We prayed many hours daily and prepared fine messages for the great congregation we expected to come. Night after night we held a find service, but . . . not one single person attended – not even a child came to see if the tent might be a circus. Then came the torrential rains and flooded us out, but we still kept on. Yet in spite of all our efforts, witnessing, testifying and preaching, we still had a zero congregation. The strong man of Argentina ruled contemptuously over every city, large and small.
After two weeks of expense and labors, we were forced to retreat in bitter disappointment and failure. We had absolutely no fruit for our labors. For me, that defeat marked the end of a long trail and the beginning of a new one.
A New Way
Frances Thompson wrote in his majestic poem, The Hound of Heaven, “I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind.” Those words could well describe my relationship with God up to that time. There had always been plenty of plausible excuses for the lack of harvest and the want of results in my ministry. True, in my childhood and teenage years, I had often witnessed mighty manifestations of the power of God under the ministry of such leaders of God as Dr. Charles Price, Aimee McPherson, Smith Wigglesworth and other mighty men of power in the Holy Spirit, as well as the ministry of my own father.
However, the truth was that these manifestations were completely lacking in my own ministry. Excuses, reasonings, rationalizations, all convenient places to lay the blame, provided me imaginary refuge from the searchlight of God’s truth.
Always, the reason for my relative fruitlessness lay somewhere outside of myself. In one place the people were too hard, in another it was not harvest time yet, or it was necessary to sow the seed first, or the people had no faith. From one pastorate to another, from one mission field to another, the excused multiplied. True, a certain work for God had been done so that in the eyes of man and of my contemporaries there was no need to feel ashamed. After all, no other missionary was doing any better, but in my own secret heart was knowledge that there was a better way.
The ever faithful Spirit of God did not let complacency and excuses continue to hide the truth in my own soul, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah? Where was the God of glory, of power, of miracles? Where was the God of convicting power and of saving grace so often seen in my childhood and youth?” It was impossible to deny that Elijah’s God accompanied the men and women of God that had ministered in power only a few years before.
Lavalle was a town which had never heard the Gospel before; it was not a Gospel – hardened, burned-over territory. The people were not hostile, nor the town rebellious; nevertheless, the God of my early life was definitely not in Argentina. Stark reality judged my ministry and efforts, found them wanting and counted them a total defeat. It was necessary to meet the harsh reality of my own failure. Even with every condition favorable, with missionary equipment complete, with competent missionary evangelist companion – still Lavalle was a failed enterprise.
It was clearly evident that in spite f excellent ministerial training and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit received as a child, there still was an obvious and deadly lack of power in my ministry. At long last the long road of excuses came to a dead end, and the flight from the truth finished. God caused me to take inventory of my ministerial career and the result was devastating disillusionment. No longer was self-deception possible. Our very best efforts of daily prayers and evangelistic efforts had absolutely failed.
Bitterly defeated – all defenses and excuses destroyed – God brought me to admit the total inadequacy of my abilities to succeed as a missionary. With that confession, and in light of all that was happening, came the decision to quit playing the missionary game. Nothing was left but to leave the ministry, return to my own land, get a job and admit that somehow I had mistaken the call of God and did not belong in that profession.
Yet, God continued to challenge me, “Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit . . .” He reminded me that it was not by my efforts, but by His Spirit. But still the answer remained elusive. How was it possible to have His Spirit work for us? After all, we both had already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and obviously that was not sufficient; there was nothing more known for us to do. Still God kept challenging for me to surrender of both flesh and the works of the flesh. Good as flesh works were, they were unacceptable. God was offering a new way – a way of power – an operation of the Holy Spirit Himself released in the ministry of deliverance, but ignorance and darkness still remained firmly entrenched.
“Then He answered and spake unto me saying, ‘This is the Word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts” Zechariah 4:6
“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses (horses represent the works of the flesh), and trust in chariots (chariots represent clever inventiveness of men), because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!” Isaiah 31:3
A Way – A Highway
“There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: the lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.” Job 28:7-8
As my desperate thinking continued, a large circle revolved in my thoughts and would ever return to a place in that circle where God would challenge me to lay every missionary activity down and give myself over entirely to prayer. This I did not want to do, so the circle of reasoning, excuses and blame would begin again only to return to the same place, “Try prevailing prayer.”
The terms God laid down for my surrender were to spend a minimum of eight consecutive hours daily with Him in prayer and in His word. He reminded me that a man must work eight hours a day to earn his bread, so then a minister could pray as long. Finally and grudgingly, His terms were accepted with the promise of an entire week of fasting and prayer, but no more; surely that was enough to prove the point of my inadequacy.
Some of my colleagues openly expressed their disapproval, questioning my sanity. The concluded that no one who spent most of his time in prayer, and not in the traditional missionary activities, had a right to receive a missionary’s pay. Yet there must not be taken one step more in deceiving myself and fleeing from God; the challenge had to be accepted.
There was a small, vacant attic room over the garage of the adobe church in Mendoza where I was serving as a pastor at the time. It was there I decided to retire in fasting and prayer to seek the Lord. It was imperative for me to find God’s answers for revival and the moving of His Spirit in Argentina, to have divine intervention such as was written in the book of Acts and to find a manifestation of the Spirit of God according to His promises; or else, I must abandon the whole missionary project in Argentina.
If a week of fasting and prayer would not do it, then I was free from the missionary responsibility, because I had accepted the challenge of fasting and praying for a week. If nothing changed, I would be free to quit the mission field, go home and find a job – which, honestly, at that time seemed to be by far the most desirable thing to do.
In that week many challenging thoughts were pondered. Was this idea of fasting and prayer merely wishful thinking? Was it truly possible for an ordinary man, without any special qualifications or charisma and having no more from God than a call to the ministry, to meet God in such a way that it would bring tangible results and visible fruit? Did God even challenge men: Could man accept such a challenge? Could time accept the challenge of eternity? Were all the mighty saints and prophets of history special sovereign creations of God or were they just ordinary men who accepted the challenge of God?
Then at the end of my circle of rationalizations there would come a gloomy realization, “If not . . . if my concepts are wrong, then am I at the end of the road of no return?” If there were no answers, then there loomed ahead of me an abysmal disorientation – shattered dreams and illusions long held in sacred secret. I still held the belief that if one ever truly wanted to meet God, then the answer could be found by a week of two of fasting and prayer. Surely someday I would do that . . . but the when never came. If the answers were not found, then the glory and reality of a prayer answering God could never be found. Certainly, trying again to find the desired road to Heaven’s Throne of Grace was hopeless.
“Seek Ye My Face”
In the Scriptures , God adjures man to seek His face; however, He never gives any directions as to how it is to be done. Was seeking God the prerogative of a select few; a limited group of mystics who were equipped from birth to climb high on prophet’s mountain? Many unanswered questions led me to one main question, that somehow this time I had to settle or abandon the project.
Could a most ordinary man – with but the most ordinary talent and preparation, without any special gifts of mysticism or genius – find the personal, intimate Presence of the God of Jesus and find Him in a satisfying reality? Was reality available for such a cloddy, earthy, practical, unmystical individual? Could such a one have a vital, personal encounter with the Lord of Glory? A careful search of the Scriptures from Abraham to Nehemiah, from Elijah to Peter, encouraged me to believe that it might truly be possible.
Being practical and materialistic by nature and more comfortable in shop or field than at a student’s desk or a prophet’s chamber, I, nevertheless, had to find an answer. The answer had to be both spiritual and practical, dynamically real, as well as scripturally authentic. The spiritual and the material just had to come together; after all, Jesus came out of a carpenter shop.
After seven days of prayer and fasting, there still was no answer. Doubts, questions and fear marked the long passing hours. Where was God? The walls echoed back the barren question. Turmoil wrestled within. Was such a demand on God human impertinence? The days crept slowly by and still no answer, save on the penultimate day, the Spirit of God drew near and questioned me as to what I was doing. My answer, “I am fasting and praying for revival.” Then there came a strange Word from the Spirit, which was, “An empty stomach is not the coin of Heaven . . . but rather the Blood of Jesus.”
The week ended and what a relief! I had accepted the challenge and no fruit resulted from it; therefore, I was now free to leave the mission field and to retire to a more fruitful work. But then . . . ahead loomed an apparently dead-end street. An ever deepening dread of defeat threatened me – a defeat so final and abysmal that terrified me. There came a sudden realization of the devastation this defeat would produce in my life. My faith in God would slowly evaporate; my heart would never again believe that the God of others would ever become my God. The God of Elijah, of Peter and of many of God’s men I had known, would never become my God.
This terrifying realization became a strong motive to continue past seven days, for I could not, dared not stop until obtaining at least some kind of answer. Seven weeks went by, and still I dared not abandon my search, for every day defeat seemed more horrible to contemplate. If this search ended without victory, it would take my very God out of Heaven. Weeping, waiting, meditating, searching the Word, walking, kneeling, standing and again being prostrate on the floor . . . Silence! No posture, no fasting, no tears, no cries could pierce the silent, invisible barrier which so oppressively closed in upon my being. The days slowly passed, lengthening into weeks.
God was in no hurry to uncover the secrets of His mysteries. He, who had so carefully hid the diamonds deeply in the Earth for only the most persistent of seekers, did not hurry to reveal His hiding place to one who aspired to visit His treasury. The seeking and digging was necessary. Two months passed – an eternity seemed to slide into time. Not a breeze stirred in the spiritual world, not even a tiny cloud the size of a man’s hand appeared.
However, though I did not find God during that time, certainly the devil was there. The enemy brought an almost continual barrage against my seeming ridiculous attempt. It was against all reason, rationality, good sense and sanity, the friendly enemy warned. And surely it was doomed to defeat as if an elephant tried to fly. By then I had gone too far and could not turn back.
It occurred to me to set God a date. Surely by now a mistake was made. There was no use going on definitely. Accordingly a date was set, “God, if by the end of the week, Saturday evening at five o’clock, You do not manifest Yourself in some tangible way, then it will be known that I am mistaken. I will go out with tracts and return to the conventional missionary routine.” Surely God, knowing my sincere decision, would be forced to move out from His hiding place – this was my clever, hidden reasoning.
But still no breeze stirred. In infinite wisdom and patience, God held his peace and the end of the week drew near. The five o’clock arrived and still God had done nothing. With unutterable bitterness of soul, with tears of frustration and defeat welling up from depths within, I filled my pockets with tracts and slowly walked down the long hall which led to the street. God had not answered.
At that moment, in God’s precise timing, a local pastor arrived with his unconverted teen age son. During the visit the pastor poured out his troubles at great length. Minutes became hours. It became impossible to do the proposed house to house visitation and tract distribution because of the lateness of the hour. As the two visitors prepared to leave, I asked the boy a searching question. One word led to another until the young boy was on his face sobbing his way through grace to mercy, and asking for forgiveness of his sins.
The two finally left. In the darkness of the hall, with the door scarcely closed, a gentle, quiet voice within said, “You see, son, when I wish, I can bring souls to you. Now return and continue in prayer until I tell you it is time to leave.”
Suddenly a Voice . . .
So back again into that little attic room for more weeks of wrestling, prayer and the Word. Weeks went by until time lost all its meaning. Then one day, a day no different from all the others that had gone on before – without any advance warning whatsoever – suddenly a voice, so overwhelming, so penetrating, so sweet, resounded into the very air of that room. A word as spoken; that word vibrated powerfully into the depths and out again into the heights. Accompanying that word came the dynamic overwhelming Presence of God that seemed to fill the whole world around me.
In a voice that seemed fully audible, He spoke a special message in penetrating power that passed through al barriers into the most interior of my soul. The separating veil was rent; the windows of Heaven were opened. Glory shone all around and I was catapulted into hitherto unknown realms of glory in the Spirit.
My question was answered. God had come to just an ordinary mortal man. In inexplicable waves and into realms of glory and power that passed far beyond my highest anticipations, He had come to bring forth His high purposes and His divine will in Argentina. The reality of His manifested Presence and His all powerful Word fully vindicated His promises. The windows of Heaven remained open – windows that have never again closed – and in the Spirit I was things unlawful to be uttered.
Other missionaries chided me for my actions and asked if I thought it was God’s time for revival in Argentina. My answer was that I did not know if it was time for Argentina or for Mendoza or for my little church, but one thing I truly knew was that it was time for me to have revival, because I did not have tomorrow. My personal revival had now come and I was reveling in it.
Six more weeks passed by as I waited and basked in the wonder and glory of that heavenly atmosphere. Then, one morning, quite unexpectedly, again that inaudible – audible voice sounded within my being. A strange order was given, “Now I will pour out My Spirit upon the church. Go tell the people to begin prayer meetings. Tell them to begin Monday night and to come prepared to stay from eight o’clock until midnight. If they are not prepared to stay the entire four hours, they must not come at all,” the voice said.
I thought it a strange order from the Lord. Just a little while previously I had chosen a most convenient hour for prayer meetings, but no one had come. And now, at a more inconvenient time, with four long hours demanded, they were requested to attend a prayer meeting. I thought to myself, “Who of these indifferent folk will be responsive enough to come a meeting that demands hours of prayer so late at night?” Not even the city busses ran at that late hour, so they would have to walk home.
The divine order was undramatic, yet clear; it demanded obedience. Honestly I did not expect a single person to obey. Naaman, the leper, had expected the prophet Elisha to at least approach him and strike his hand over the place of his affliction. He anticipated a dramatic appearance of some kind, not a mere order, “Go wash seven times in Jordon.” I had expected revival to begin in some spectacular way, not just to call a prayer meeting. However, I soon discovered that it is not the order, but he One who gives the order that makes all the difference.
God’s ways are definitely are not our ways. He gave this command and He expected it to be obeyed literally. I must confess that I had many doubts. I know my few church people, their lethargy and lack of interest in the things of God. If there were to be any response at all, I knew it would have to be God.
God was beginning to teach me the importance of simple, explicit obedience. It Eden, it was not the quantity of fruit consumed that brought such chaos; it was the quality of deliberate disobedience that revealed a willful choice to reject the rule of God over their lives. Disobedience is what sundered man from a relationship with his God. Implicit, simple obedience is the only way which leads back into the Presence of God and restores a right relationship with Him.
Come and Pray
The invitation made to the little church group the following Sunday was most unusual; obedience to it would be difficult to fulfill. The cold winter weather, an unheated building and lack of transportation after the midnight hour all combined to make it difficult to respond to such a call. Nevertheless, to my surprise, three individuals indicated their willingness to attend the proposed prayer services.
Three people came that Monday night – a timid servant lass, a backslidden Christian worker and his shy young wife. Not one of the three had ever seen anyone filled with the Holy Spirit of had heard much about Him. The small church, and many like it in Argentina at that time, had never experienced any manifestations of the Holy Spirit. They did not know how to receive the Holy Spirit, nor what it would be like when He came. We spent some time the first night instructing them according to the Scriptures. Then al five of us knelt before the Lord in prayer. The total absolute silence reigned supreme. Whether they slept or prayed, I know not.
I led out in prayer, praise and song, but none joined me; they merely waited in silence. When the four interminable hours had passed, I asked if anyone had received any impulse or direction from the Lord that would call for any cooperation on one’s part. Had anyone any impulse to pray aloud, to praise the Lord, to sing a song, in fact to do anything at all?
Everyone answered in the negative except the young wife; she very shyly admitted to a strange desire to walk to the table in the center of the room and hit upon it. However, that was entirely too preposterous for her to do. She was far too proud to even consider such a thing. She merely commented, “Oh, it would be too foolish!” Nor could she be persuaded to even try it. On this note, the first prayer meeting ended.
Again I went before the Lord; I had fulfilled His command and nothing had happened. What should we do now: But the Lord only said to wait and gather again for prayer. The next night the same group returned to seek the Lord. The second night was an exact repletion of the night before. During the four silent hours, not one felt the slightest impulse from the Lord, save the same woman who confessed to the same strange desire as the first night. She felt like she should go to the table and hit on it. But as happened the night before, she was too ashamed and could not be persuaded to do so. The meeting ended in such dismal failure that I was certain no one would return the following night.
I was attacked with many doubts. Was this yet another failure? Could this be of the Lord – a thing so strange and so out of the ordinary as that desire to rap on the table? What earthly good could that do? Nothing like it had ever been mentioned in the Bible. Why had God not come to us as I had expected? Was hitting on a table the sort of thing God inspired? What possible relation with revival did thumping on a table have? Whey did He delay if He had given the command to gather to pray, promising that He would manifest Himself? Many questions and doubts zeroed in upon my heart and mind. In fear and trembling I awaited the next service.
The third night the same three joined my wife and myself for another evening of prayer. The result was another evening of silent waiting – another evening of no response to any urging or prompting of the Holy Spirit. When the service was nearly over, I called to the timid wife and asked her if she still felt like banging on the table. With much shame and blushing, in her timidity she admitted that she did; however, in no way could she be prevailed upon to do so.
How difficult it is for man to learn to know the voice of God! Thrice God called Samuel and thrice Samuel thought it was the voice of Eli. Only the fourth time did he learn that it was God speaking. Several times God spoke to this young wife. Somehow I knew it was God speaking; after all, He had ordered these prayer services. Would He then not fulfill His promise to manifest Himself? But the woman would not obey.
Thursday night everything continued as on the previous evenings until eleven o’clock when I asked everyone to get up from their knees and be seated. I called the young wife by name and asked, “Do you still feel like hitting the table?” In shame and reluctance she confessed to the same strange desire, be she absolutely refused to get up and do it. So I asked everyone to sing a chorus and we all marched around the table. One by one each one gathered courage to hit the table. All, that is, except the one to whom God gave the order. Fifteen minutes passed with all of us singing a chorus and marching around the table and four of us hitting on it. Finally, the young wife that God had singled out for this act took courage and reaching out, banged on that table.
The Wind of the Spirit
When her hand hit the table, immediately it was like a rushing wind swept through the room from one corner to the opposite corner. In seconds, the retiring, timid servant lass was on her feet worshipping the Lord in great ecstasy. Her hands were raised in the air and her face was transformed. She radiated the joy and glory of the Lord as she spoke in an unknown language.
The backslidden, rebellious man, who had consistently resisted the call of God over his life, fell under the table and there began to worship the Lord in another tongue as the Spirit gave utterance. His young, reluctant wife, seeing what was taking place with the others, cried out in a loud voice, all timidity now gone, “I too, Lord! Please don’t pass me by!” She feared that the Spirit would not bless her. However, in but moments the River of the Holy Spirit flowed upon her and immersed her in the glory of His Presence, and she broke forth in a strange tongue.
We did not realize it at the time, but that day was the beginning of the coming of the Holy Spirit, not only to us, but to the whole of Argentina. It began as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that would in time reach out into the farthest corners of that great country.
An act of simple obedience had been the last key that opened the door. That day God set in motion the forces to change a vast, idolatrous, unbelieving country and make of it a Christian nation. The move of God, for which so many had prayed, had come. Faith had triumphed. All the prayers, tears, longings and countless hours of wrestling with the enemy had at last prevailed. Faith changed into sight and many had longed and prayed – yet had not seen, Others had laid down their lives in faith, not having received the promise; nevertheless, He came- just as He had promised.
The wisdom of God put to naught the wisdom of men. The act of obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit removed the last obstacle to the flow of the mighty River of God. It was early June, 1949, that the River from Heaven began to flow out into the city of Mendoza in Argentina. Precisely, it was the same city, and the only city in Argentina, that one hundred years earlier had accepted and listened to Allen Gardiner and his band who laid down their lives for Argentina. That city, Mendoza, a century later, was the place the seed, planted so long before, began to sprout and flourish.
In contrast to the so called healing revivals we sometimes hear about in the West, the Church in China has and is experiencing genuine revival on a Biblical, Apostolic scale. Today alone approximately 30,000 people will get saved in China to add to their 100 million plus church. Why? The house church believers display a passion unequalled in the church worldwide mainly due to their circumstances of intense persecution from the Communist government. Many believers spend years in prison for their faith. Brokenness, repentance, humility and a willingness to trust, obey and lay it all down for the Lord has turned China into one of the most remarkable stories in Church history. Must see video that will challenge your faith and who you are in Jesus, to the core. In China there are miracles and even people are raised from the dead, but that is never the emphasis of the house church Christians, the Cross always remains at the center of their faith. In our comfortable Western Christianity, we would do well to learn from China.