Mid-Twentieth Century Revivals

1973 September 28—Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Todd Burke

In September 1973 Todd Burke arrived in Cambodia on a one-week visitor’s visa. Just 23 years old, he felt a strong call from God to minister there, the only charismatic missionary in the country. Beginning with two English classes a day conducted through an interpreter, he taught from the Good News Bible. Those interested in knowing more about Jesus stayed after class; he saw regular conversions and people filled with the Spirit and healed. Revival broke out in the war-torn capital of Phnom Penh and rapidly spread to surrounding areas.

During that September, Todd’s wife DeAnn joined him, and their visas were extended. A capable interpreter, Thay, joined their team, and they received government permission to hold a crusade in the athletic stadium, on Friday to Sunday afternoons, September 28–30. A singing team from the States
arrived the day before the crusade began and led each meeting for half an hour with songs and testimonies.

Todd describes that first meeting:

About five thousand people were in the audience, most of them middle and lower class people. Among them was a large number of refugees. Seated to my left was a whole section of soldiers dressed in battle fatigues. Many of them had been wounded or had suffered the loss of a limb and I was touched by the look of hope written on their attentive faces. Before the meeting I overheard a reporter interviewing one soldier who was leaning on crutches near the platform. He had lost his right leg in combat. “I don’t understand what this is going to be about,” he said, “but maybe this Jesus can help to relieve our pain and sorrows.” That was my prayer too….

As the time drew near for me to speak, I began praying for God to anoint me with the Holy Spirit. I needed his power to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus to these people who had never heard his message….

Thay was interpreting phrase by phrase and we seemed to have the people’s attention. “I can’t prove to you that Jesus offers more than you have in Buddha or in any other religion. Only Jesus can prove that to you as he did in the days when he walked the earth.”

Then I began to relate the story of the paralytic man who had been healed by Jesus. During Thay’s interpretation I prayed silently that the Holy Spirit would breathe life into those words and cause them to pierce each individual heart….

With a silent prayer (at the end of the message), I continued, “All of you who would like to know whether Jesus is Lord and has this power to save you and to heal you, please raise your hands.” They went up all over the stadium; an air of restlessness crept over the crowd. “Now,” I shouted into the microphone, “put your other hand on the area of your body where you need a healing. Or place your hand upon your heart if you want to have your sins forgiven and to find a new life in Christ.” …

Slowly I prayed a simple prayer so Thay could interpret every word clearly…. I felt a surging confidence that the Holy Spirit was doing a mighty work at that moment (Burke 1977,22–25).

Todd invited those who had been healed to come forward and testify. After a brief pause, hundreds streamed forward. A lady who had been blind for many years testified that right after the prayer she could see. A lame man who had been carried into the meeting found that he could walk again. There were too many healings for everyone to testify.

Each afternoon the crowds increased, and so did the impact of God’s Presence. American TV crews reporting the war were pulled in to film the final crusade. It was shown across America. Todd described the final meeting:

Nearing the end of the message, I noticed people were already moving toward the front. Why are they coming already? I wondered. Have they been healed while I was speaking? …

Some were coming for prayer, but most of them had been healed already.

I quickly ended my message and prayed with the entire audience, as I had done the two preceding days. When Thay invited people to come to the front and testify of what God had done for them, the response was incredible. For several hours, hundreds of people streamed across the platform as we watched in amazement.

When the procession was finished, Thay asked the remaining audience whether they believed Jesus had proved himself to be the Lord. They roared their agreement and then applauded spontaneously. “How many of you want to receive Jesus as your Saviour and Master?” he asked. A sea of hands raised before us. Our students and workers moved into the crowd to pray and counsel with as many as they could reach, handing out tracts and gospel portions and instructing people where they could go to learn more about Jesus (Burke 1977, 32– 33).

Healings, miracles, and deliverance from demonic powers were regular events, which attracted new converts who, in turn, were filled with the power of the Spirit and soon began witnessing and praying for others. Many of those saved and healed began home churches.

A powerful Church spread through a network of small house churches. Todd met with the leaders of these groups at early morning prayer meetings every day at 6 a.m. Most pastors were voluntary workers holding normal jobs. Some cycled in from the country and returned for work each morning. When the country fell to the communists in 1975, the Burkes had to leave. They left behind an amazing Church anointed by the power of God before it was buried by going underground to survive. Thousands of those new Christians died in the killing fields of Cambodia. Revival often offers mercy and grace prior to times of devastation or destruction.

© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.