Final Decade, 20th Century 1992
Buenos Aires, Argentina – Claudio Freidzon
Karin Detert of Berlin, Germany, reported on revival in Argentina.
The prelude to these events was in the early 1980s, at which time God raised up Carlos Annacondia, a businessman turned evangelist. Crowds gathered together to hear him preach because his ministry was accompanied by signs and wonders, healings (for instance, filling of teeth) and deliverances. In mass crusades thousands of people accepted Christ as Saviour. Virtually every church grew.
In 1992, a second wave of revival began with Claudio Freidzon, founder of a Buenos Aires church that in four years has grown to 3000 people. Pastor Claudio, who was very busy in all areas of his church felt a need to really come to know the Holy Spirit. Whilst he was seeking an encounter with God, the Holy Spirit touched him one day in a powerful way and his ministry changed dramatically. An unusual presence of the Holy Spirit started accompanying him in his meetings.
During the services, as people entered into adoration and worship, some became drunk in the Spirit and could not stand up. Some had to be taken home by others because they could not drive or walk on their own. Others laughed in the Spirit or fell under the power of God. The services were very long (4–5 hours), many miraculous healings were reported. Other pastors came to see and to receive the same anointing. Claudio prayed for them and they received a fresh and new anointing and took it back to their churches.
A hallmark of this revival is an emphasis on worship and praise. God’s presence descends as we immerse ourselves in adoring Him. Some people weep throughout an entire service; others rejoice with laughter. Many are led to deep repentance, pastors and congregation.
An emphasis on personal holiness has caused many to change their lifestyles. Less time spent watching television, for example. Critics have accused some of faking religious experiences. But the emphasis on holiness, the desire of the people to praise and worship, and increase in concern for reaching others with the Gospel are genuine. And although the revival started in Claudio’s church, it has spread to hundreds of pastors and churches in Argentina.
God has also opened doors for a worldwide ministry and, wherever he goes he ministers in this same anointing, which then remains in those places; and so this revival could be brought to many other places around the world, like for instance, also to my own church in Berlin, where God started moving in a tremendous way since September, 1993, when Claudio came to minister in our church.
This new wave of the Holy Spirit started about two and a half years ago in Claudio’s church and is still going on. I had the privilege of being part of their wonderful services where people were always caught up in a tremendous worship, sometimes weeping in the services, sometimes laughing. The presence of God was always very powerful. The people in the church are very healthy and spiritually strong in the Word. There is a bold emphasis on the need for balance between the Word and the Spirit” (Riss 1995).
How did this amazing ministry begin? Australian editor Robert McQuillan gathered reports to file this account:
When Argentina’s Claudio Freidzon stood before a crowd of over 65,000 in Buenos Aires’ Velez Sarsfield stadium it was like a dream come true. As a boy he had dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player; being a pastor had been the furthest thing from his mind. Now, walking onto the field for a gospel crusade, he had the wonderful opportunity of scoring a few goals against the devil! Six hours of revivalist fervour would see many salvations and Holy Spirit miracles, healings and manifestations.
Claudio Freidzon is among the foremost figures of the extraordinary revival that has been taking place in Argentina since 1992. He has also been a catalyst for the current worldwide revival—as the saying goes, “Before there was Toronto or Sunderland, there was Argentina. ” More than 850,000 people have attended his crusades. As well as many healings from a whole range of sicknesses, countless lives have been dramatically changed— restoration of families has been a highlight in this revival, children pray for one another, and youngsters prefer to visit hospitals rather than play ball.
But success did not come easily for Claudio. When he and his wife, Betty, commenced ministry they set up both church and home in the one usable room in a dilapidated building. At night they replaced the chairs with their bed and a cot for the children. Those trying days proved a desert experience for Claudio which led him to a spiritual hunger and discovering complete dependence on the Holy Spirit. He says, “The only fountain is God himself. The only solution comes from heaven.”
With a congregation of just seven for seven years, he was on the point of giving up. But God wouldn’t let him. He recalls:
Sometimes pastor friends came to visit and would find me alone in the meeting. I felt like dying: I wished I could disappear. I used to walk among the empty benches and the devil laughed and jumped around me, whispering in my ear: “You’re no good; you’ll never make any progress; it will always be like this. ”
And unfortunately I believed him. One day I thought: “ This isn’t for me. I’m going to give up the pastorate. I’m going to resume my engineering studies and get myself a job.” But deep down I knew that was not God’s plan.
I went and saw my superintendent for the purpose of handing in my credentials. But before I could tell him, he said, “Claudio, I have something to say to you. God has something to say to you. He has something wonderful for you. You don’t see it, but God is going to use you greatly.”
He went on: “Look, I started in a very precarious house and had no help from anybody. Sometimes I had nothing to eat and I suffered greatly. But we prayed and God provided for each day and we felt grateful. I knew we were doing God’s will. And when I think of you, Claudio, I know you are going to be useful to God and that you are within his will. I don’t know what your problems are, but keep on. By the way, what brings you here today?”
I put my credentials back in my pocket and said, “Well…, nothing in particular, I thought I would just come and share a moment with you.” There was nothing else I could say. When I got home Betty was weeping and I said, “Betty, we’re going to continue.” I embraced her tightly and we started all over again.
Claudio Freidzon went on to hunger from the depths of his soul for the touch of God that would enable him to reach the masses. Desperate, and churning and aching inside as with hunger for natural food, Claudio desired and craved for the bread of life. He was to discover that heart attitude is of primary interest to God and that through developing our relationship with him, the Holy Spirit is free to inspire any committed Spirit-hungry Christian to do great exploits in Jesus’ name.
In his search for more of God, Claudio Freidzon visited Orlando and requested that Benny Hinn pray for him. The evangelist did so, praying that the anointing of the Holy Spirit would rest on the Argentinian’s life and ministry and that God would do a great work through him in that nation. The rest is history! Claudio Freidzon began holding incredible rallies, presenting the message of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and revival swept the country. What began as a personal work of the Holy Spirit in his own life because of his spiritual hunger affected others. Today he pastors a prosperous church of over 4,000 members and is bringing spiritual life to hundreds of thousands both in Argentina and in other nations (McQuillan 1997, 46–48).
The revival ministries of Claudio Freidzon, Hector Giminez, Carlos Annacondia, and Omar Cabrera have won hundreds of thousands to the Lord. All of them have powerful ministries in evangelism with many signs and wonders, healings and miracles. Yet, not only do evangelists make an astounding impact on the nation, but ordinary people in hundreds and thousands are also praying for revival in Argentina and around the world.
Before the fire of God fell on their church in Toronto, Canada, John and Carol Arnott visited Argentina to seek a fresh touch from the Lord. Various leaders prayed for them, but so did converted prisoners. John Arnott reported:
In La Plata, near Buenos Aires, there is a maximum security prison for 4000 inmates. This prison was out of control, and basically run by gangs within the prison. But permission was given to hold meetings there. They had pastors who were given responsibility over the converts. This was under the auspices of Carlos Annacondia.
Over a period of five years, a Christian floor developed in the prison, of eight hundred people. This floor had round the clock prayer meetings, and 180 people were always praying at any given time, waiting before the Lord, and asking God to have mercy. Over the course of five years, 600 men completed their sentences, and only one was later re-arrested. Other prisoners always want to go to the Christian floor of the prison because it is safe and clean. They have corking on the bars to make things more comfortable. So others get saved as a result of going to the Christian floor. When they think they are ready, the prisoners apply to be transferred to another prison, and then start some of the same things in other prisons (Riss 1995).
Describing Argentina as a flashpoint of revival, C. Peter Wagner, wrote:
Like a burning, dry tinder, the Spirit of God has ignited an extraordinary spiritual bonfire in Argentina over the last ten years. From the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) to breathtaking Iguazu Falls in the northeast, the flames of revival have blazed through Argentina and beyond, making the country one of the flashpoints of church growth in the world today….
Argentine evangelist Carlos Annacondia began his crusade ministry in 1982, the year of Argentina’s defeat in the Malvinas, just as the Spirit of God began to spark spiritual renewal. Since then, over a million and a half people have made public commitments to Christ during the course of Annacondia’s ministry.
Hector Giminez was a drug addicted criminal when God called him into the Kingdom. He began ministering to troubled youth; and within a year, was leading a congregation of 1,000. Since 1986 his church in downtown Buenos Aires has exploded in size to over 120,000 members, making it the third largest church in the world.
The world’s fourth largest church is also Argentina. Omar Cabrera and his wife Marfa began their ministry during the tough years of the 1970s. Long before most Argentine pastors, they began experiencing God’s blessing as they learned the power of prayer to liberate people from sin, sickness, and the forces of evil. Now their church, centred in Santa Fe, ministers to 90,000 members in 120 cities.
The revival that began in the early 1980s has touched virtually every evangelical denomination…. The stirrings of revival have drawn Argentine Christians into unprecedented forms of unity. ACIERA, the national association of evangelical Christian churches, and the monthly evangelical tabloid El Puente (The Bridge) has helped believers focus on common goals” (Riss 1995).
Unprecedented unity, fervent prayer, and New Testament ministries of signs and wonders give Argentina’s revival incredible worldwide impact now. Leaders from around the world visit such flash points of revival, catch the fire themselves, and ignite others as they preach and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus taught the disciples to do.
© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.