Extraordinary power was poured out in the Congo jungle
The former cricketer turned missionary, C.T. Studd, had pioneered a gospel work in the Congo in 1914. By 1953 there were many mission stations, but there was still a great need for the power of God to be demonstrated. Many converts still lived sinful lives and showed little desire for real holiness. The missionaries gave themselves to prayer. At a conference in Lubutu, in what was then the Belgian Congo, some African evangelists had a sudden hunger to find God. They went into a house for their usual prayer meeting and the Holy Spirit fell upon them with mighty conviction. They cried out, shaking all over, confessing their sins and worshipping Jesus.
One missionary continues the story of what continued to happen elsewhere "On the Tuesday night in Opienge, Peleza, the wife the chief elder, woke people up with her loud praises. They flocked to the house and saw her shaking violently and thanking Jesus. She said she had seen a brilliant white light and heard a voice saying—"I want to do a great work here, but there is much hardness, If you want to light a good fire, do you lay the wood in the ashes?"
"No, Lord," she replied, "You must clear away the ashes first." "That is right," said the Lord. "I want a clean place for My fire." A week later at a prayer meeting one evangelist broke down weeping and confessed to beating his wife. There was silence, and then the leading elder threw uphis hands, shaking and crying "Thank You Jesus!" It was like an electric current. People fell down weeping, crying for mercy, while others leaped around shouting hallelujahs, falling, jumping, crying, singing, confessing, shaking and laughing! It was the same the following Saturday. The missionary continues: "The Holy Spirit came down in mighty power, sweeping throughout the congregation. We saw a marvellous sight, people literally 'drunk' with the Spirit. Elders and evangelists reeled around, shouting 'I'm filled! I'm filled!' The Lord convicted many of sin. They would call out a name and cry for forgiveness for some wrong done. Evangelists confessed to me their critical thoughts. Children, some in agony of soul, confessed to thieving."
As in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit gave visions and dreams. Many claimed that a white light used to visit their homes, others had visions of the second coming. One evangelist saw a great column of smoke ascending and forming a vast cloud. He was told that the cloud was the prayers of the Spirit-filled believers, forming a mighty weapon in God's hand for revival. Another saw the fruit trees in blossom and heard the Lord say: "Don't harm the blossom if you would see the fruit." He interpreted it thus: "Don't resist the first work of the Holy Spirit Who brings revival, if you later on want to see a harvest of souls."
At one meeting some visitors from England heard everything that was said in English, even though it had been spoken in Swahili. An African woman also said that when the missionary prayed in English she understood what he said, even though she knew no English. One or two tried to resist the reviving power, but they, too, fell to the ground and began confessing their sins. The fruits of the revival were abundant, as the missionary makes clear. "Preaching is such joy now — the people are so teachable. The simplest word is new again. We knew the doctrine before, now we know the power. Many have regained their first born-again experience. Even our church business meetings seem bathed in oil, there is such oneness of mind.
"A new experience in praying has come to us. Everyone prays at the same time. There is amazing power in such meetings — such a taking hold of God's promises. There is no confusion. It begins like the sound of a rising wind and continues in a low roar until the prayers begin to die away, then it descends to a stillness. Some stand, others sit or kneel. The Spirit leads the meeting, and we don't know what is going to happen next."
Looking back on the revival now, those involved agree that it was particularly lasting and widespread, and so preparing the church for the terrible persecutions of the later Simba rebellion and the Civil War.
This article has been extracted from Revival Fires, available online from the Jesus People Shop.
Source: This is That, pub. CLC.
Also read: Revival in the Congo!
- some extracts from our interview with veteran missionary, Helen Roseveare who was involved in the 1950's Belgian Congo revival.