Mid-Twentieth Century Revivals

1965 September 26 – Soe, Timor – Mel Tari

The Spirit of God brought revival to Indonesia during the troubled and politically uncertain times there in the 1960’s. Much of it happened outside the established church with a later acceptance of it in some churches. Thousands of Muslims were converted, the biggest Christian impact on Islam in history.

It started when a Bible School in East Java experienced revival with deep repentance, confession, renunciation of occult practices, burnings of fetishes and amulets, and a new humility and unity among staff and students. The Lord led individual students and teams in powerful evangelism in many islands.

A team visited Timor and saw evidences of revival beginning, which burst into unprecedented power in September 1965. This revival spread in the uncertain days following the attempted army coup on September 30, 1965, in Indonesia. Four days previously a visitation from God had begun in Timor at Soe, a mountain town of about 5,000 people.

A rebellious young man had a vision of the Lord who commanded him to repent, burn his fetishes, and confess his sins in church, the Reformed Church in Soe. He did, on Sunday, September 26, 1965, and he challenged others to do the same. Hundreds did.

That night, as at Pentecost, people heard the sound of a tornado wind and flames on the church building, which prompted police to set off the fire alarm to summon volunteer firefighters. Crowds came running to put out the fire, but the church was not burning. Many were converted that night, and many were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues. Some who did not know English spoke in English. By midnight, teams of lay people had been organized to begin spreading the gospel the next day. Eventually, about 90 evangelistic teams were formed, which functioned powerfully with spiritual gifts.

The young man who testified that night in the church chose 23 young people who formed an evangelistic group, Team 1. They gave themselves full time to visiting churches and villages and saw thousands converted with multitudes healed and delivered. In one town, alone, they saw 9,000 people converted in two weeks.

Another young man, Mel Tari, witnessed this visitation of God and later became part of Team 42. He reported on this revival in two widely read books. Healings and evangelism increased dramatically. Specific directions from the Lord led the teams into powerful ministry with thousands becoming Christians. They saw many healings and miracles, such as water being turned to non-alcoholic wine for communion; they saw some instantaneous healings, deliverance from witchcraft and demonic powers, and raising people from death through prayer.

The teams were often guided supernaturally through provision of light at night on jungle trails; angelic guides and protection; the multiplication of meager supplies of food in pastors’ homes when a team ate together during famines; and conversion of witchdoctors who saw power encounters when the teams’ prayers banished demons, rendering the witchdoctors powerless.

The teams learned to listen to the Lord and obey Him. His leadings came in many biblical ways:

1. God spoke audibly, as with Samuel or Saul of Tarsus.

2. Many had visions, as did Mary or Cornelius.

3. There were inspired dreams, such as Jacob, Joseph, or Paul saw.

4. Prophecies, as in Israel and the early Church, occurred.

5. The still small voice of the Spirit led many, as with Elijah or Paul’s missionary team.

6. The Lord often spoke through specific Bible verses.

7. Circumstances proved to be God-incidences not just coincidences.

8. Often when leadings were checked with the group or the church, the Lord gave confirmations and unity, as with Paul and Barnabas at Antioch.

The Reformed Church Presbytery on Timor recorded 80,000 conversions in the first year of the revival there, half of those being former communists. They noted that some 15,000 people had been permanently healed in that year. After three years the number of converts had grown to over 200,000. In those three years, over 200 evangelistic teams were formed. On another island where there had been very few Christians, 20,000 became believers in the first three years of the revival.

So often in times of great tribulation, political upheaval, and bloodshed, the Spirit of the Lord moves most powerfully and the Church grows most rapidly, as happens in many countries today.

© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.