Final Decade, 20th Century 1994
August 14—Sunderland, England – Ken Gott
Ken and Lois Gott, founders of Sunderland Christian Centre (SCC) in 1987 in the northeast of England, felt dry and worn out in 1994. Ken Gott and four other Pentecostals visited Holy Trinity Brompton in London. The Presence of God among Anglicans humbled and amazed those Pentecostals. Andy and Jane Fitz-Gibbons wrote in Renewal (Apr. 1995, p. 11), that:
Stereotypes were shattered as Ken and the other Pentecostals received a new baptism in the Spirit at the hands of Bishop David Pytches. The change was so profound in Ken that the members at SCC took up an offering and sent Ken, Lois and their youth leader for a week to Toronto. Like most of us who have made the same pilgrimage, they were profoundly touched, soaking in God for a week, never to be the same again.
The Fitz-Gibbons described the result:
On August 14th, the first Sunday morning back from Toronto, the effect on the church was staggering. Virtually the whole congregation responded to Ken’s appeal to receive the same touch from God that he and Lois had received. They decided to met again in the evening, although normal meetings had been postponed for the summer recess. The same experience occurred. They gathered again the next evening and the next…in fact for two weeks without a night off. Quickly, numbers grew from around a hundred-and-fifty to six hundred. Word reached the region and, without advertising, people began the pilgrimage to Sunderland from a radius of around 70 miles.
By September a pattern of nightly meetings (bar Mondays) was established and each night the same overwhelming sense of God was present. That pattern has continued ever since, with monthly leaders’ meeting on a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon (with usually around
300 in attendance) and a daily “place” of prayer being added.
The effect on many churches and on thousands of individuals has been profound (Fitz-Gibbons 1995, 15).
The church began two meetings a day with a daily afternoon prayer meeting in January 1995. Many former criminals have been saved, and crime has dropped in the community.
Philip Le Dune, an associate pastor at Sunderland, sent this e-mail message (edited here) in August 1996:
Sunderland Christian Centre is located in a high density low cost housing area with all the problems associated with inner city deprivation. Prior to the start of Renewal we had had very little contact with the local population, and gave very little indication that we really wanted anything to do with them! The church was heavily protected against burglary with shutters and polycarbonate windows, and a high security fence and video cameras helped the security guards protect the cars
—not a very welcoming sight to any would-be church attenders from the area. Our neighbours saw us turning up in our nice cars, wearing our smart clothes and carrying big black bibles. Many of the on lookers had no car, no nice clothes and some had no food.
Renewal has changed us forever. When God pinned a local gangster to the floor of the church one evening, only God knew that he was soon to be employed by the church, together with his wife, as youth workers. They now hold daily “meetings” with the people from the local community who are increasingly coming to see SCC as “theirs”.
Recently the atmosphere in the youth club, held upstairs in the church hall while the Renewal meetings are held in the sanctuary downstairs, changed significantly. The youths, many of whom are already well experienced in criminal activities, had begun to take less interest in the usual youth club activities like pool and became much more interested in the ministry time. …Last week all of the kids decided to stay behind for prayer and the Holy Spirit turned up! One young lad, aged about 12, named Billy received prayer, and the Holy Spirit laid him out on the carpet.
Billy is notorious in the area and is considered by many, including his social workers to be beyond control. He has tried to break in to the church on numerous occasions and has been involved in petty theft as well as assaulting members of the church staff! Despite this he has been welcome to join with his peers in the youth meeting and has been enjoying himself! A leader asked him, “Why do you come out for prayer Billy?” and he replied, “It’s the only time in the week I feel clean.” …
Keep praying, as this is surely the start of the Youth Church that we want to establish here in Sunderland.
The awakening or refreshing or renewal that impacted Sunderland Christian Centre also spread to churches across Europe. As visitors from around the globe visited them and as they took teams to many countries, that same fire ignited people and churches worldwide. Then 1995 saw a further explosion of revival fire.
© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.