Mid-Twentieth Century Revivals

1962 August 15—Santo, Vanuatu – Paul Grant

Australian missionary pastor-teacher, Paul Grant, saw early stirrings of revival in Vanuatu. He commented in an unpublished report:

It is important to note the following components in the lead-up to later visitation and reviving:

1. A shared concern of missionaries for revival.

2. A significantly developed interest in the quickening power of the Spirit among west Ambai church members and leaders through teaching of the Scriptures and news of revival and the power-works of the Spirit in other parts of the world, e.g. a Series of talks on the East Africa revival, the Welsh revival, signs and wonders and healings as reported from the Apostolic Church in Papua New Guinea, and inspiring records in other magazines.

3. An emphasis on prayer meetings, both between missionaries and in local churches.

4 Regular and frequent prayers for a visitation of God’s Spirit by Apostolic Churches around the world. The first Monday night of each month was observed as a prayer night for worldwide missions.

5. Concentrated, sustained Scripture teaching in the classrooms of the primary school where students later would experience the power of God.

By 1961 I had spent nine years among the people learning many valuable lessons in cross-cultural service and feeling myself being incorporated into their “family” stage by stage. Church services were free and open for much congregational participation. During 1961 in the construction and opening of a new school building a spirit of prayer was noticeably intense.

A week of prayer prior to the special ceremonies for the dedication of the school building was a markedly powerful time. On Santo Island in the town of Luganville a non- professional missionary of the Apostolic Church, a builder, was experiencing a surge of power in the local church fellowship consisting principally of people from Ambae working in this urban situation. Then came a series of significant episodes.

Beginning in the Santo church on Sunday, August 15th, 1962, and continuing there and in churches on Ambae (commencing in Tafala village in October) over a period of about 12 weeks the power of God moved upon young people. There were many instances of glossolalia, healings, prophetic utterances, excitation, loud acclamations to God in public services, incidents of deep conviction of sin, conversions, restitutions, and other manifestations of holiness of life.

From diary and report records I have the following observations:

1. Shouts and liberty and outstretched arms, fervent praying by all…for one hour (24 August).

2. I’ve never seen such passionate fervency (7 September).

3. Abraham (young man) through the day had sought the Lord…at night he was filled with the Spirit (8 October).

4. …these baptisms (in the Spirit) have produced a reverence and spiritual quickening of depth and sincerity (14 October).

5. …reverence is prominent.

6. …Stanley (young man) in the classroom broke forth in other tongues during a Bible lesson on 2 Corinthians 4 … prayer…four students committed themselves to Christ (2 December).

7. Thomas (an older man) told me he was drawn by the Spirit to the school building to listen (3 December).

8. Williamson…has thrown away his cigarettes…agitated over temptation…asked for prayer (3 December).

9. …infusion of new life and power in the weekly meetings (2 January 1963).

This visitation resulted in a liveliness not known before. Initially it was mainly among young people. In later months and years it spread among all age groups and to my present knowledge was the first such visitation in the history of the Christian Church in Vanuatu. To me, the gratification I gained
centred upon the following particulars:

1. The Holy Spirit had animated and empowered a people who were well taught in the Scriptures. Records show a lift in spiritual vitality in all the village churches.

2. It brought the church as a whole into a more expressive, dynamic dimension and also a charismatic gift function. They were much more able to gain victory over spirit forces so familiar to them.

3. It began to hasten the maturation processes in developing leadership.

4. The reality matched the doctrinal stand of the church. There was now no longer a disparity.
5. It confirmed to me the very great importance of being “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

8. It led to significant outreach in evangelism, both personal and group….

In the following years some of the young men and women served God in evangelistic teams, school teaching, urban witness, government appointments, and as pastors and elders to their own people. One of them has with his wife been an effective missionary…in Papua New Guinea (Grant 1986, 7–10).

More recently, fresh impacts of the Spirit have stirred Vanuatu. For example, in a personal letter from Ruth Rongo, of Ton-goa Island, dated August 28,1991, she says:

I’ve just come back from an evangelism ministry. It lasted for three months. God has done many miracles. Many people were shocked by the power of the Holy Spirit. The blind received their sight, the lame walked, the sick were healed. All these were done during this evangelism ministry. We see how God’s promise came into action. The prophet Joel had said it. We people of Vanuatu say “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon us because he has anointed us to preach the Gospel to the poor people of Vanuatu. “Praise God for what he has done.”

In where I live, in my poor home, I also started a home cell prayer group. Our goal is that the revival must come in the church. Please pray for me and also for the group. Our prayer group usually meets on Sunday night, after the night meeting. We started at 10:30 p.m. to 1 or 3.30 a.m. If we come closer to God he will also come close to us. We spent more time in listening and responding to God.

These revival movements continue to increase in the Pacific, especially as indigenous teams minister in other areas with the Spirit’s fire. The Church grows stronger, even through opposition. Indigenous Christians live and minister in New Testament patterns from house to house and from village to village.

© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.