LOOKING FOR EVIDENCE OF REVIVAL IN TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI By David Maddox
Last week the Time to Revive team along with missionaries and volunteers from across the country traveled to Tupelo, Mississippi for what we call our Engage Week after a year of pouring into local Pastors – training Believers and local Church leaders – prayer and worship in preparation for a move of God. We spent the week going out and praying with Pastors and other church staff members – sharing the Gospel and the love of Jesus on the streets – training in how to share the Gospel and discipleship – beginning the discipleship process – prayer and worship together – and opening God’s word together to be changed. The goal of Time to Revive is to unite the Church (all Believers) to get out of the walls of the building and together in obedience of the Great Commission to take the love of Jesus and the Gospel out into their community and beyond – making disciples – not simply converts and seeking to bring the prodigals home. The model is the book of Acts – how God grew the Church and transformed Believers who were then used to transform the lost and stand against an evil culture that sought to destroy the faith.
The fear of a ministry like this is that it will become like so many that have gone before and simply evolved into an event where much occurs and then it ends – converts are not discipled so many fall away – Believers and their local churches continue with business as usual with no long term change after the event ends and the TTR team goes home or to their next place of service. Event evangelism is NOT revival no matter how many converts are made. Revival is God changing Believers’ hearts so that we may be used to change others hearts. The measure then is whether the Church (Believers) are changed and evidence that change by their conduct beyond the event. Does the change in Believers become a lifestyle of obedience evidenced by a change of priorities and an increased awareness of the constant presence of a holy God? Has there been a cleansing from sin and a renewal of the fire (passion) which came with the baptism of Jesus. Do they continue to minister together with to advance the Kingdom agenda or do they go back to individual church efforts to grow their local church?
There is clear evidence that God has changed Believers’ lives in Tupelo and elsewhere which shows that a revival began elsewhere continues in Tupelo. The first obvious evidence is the missionaries and volunteers that came to Tupelo to join in event weeks because of what God has done in their communities. Over 100 people came from Indiana alone where God continues to work as more cities are added by the locals as they seek to take the Gospel and love of Jesus to their whole state. During the Tupelo Engage Week others who remained in Indiana were involved in a similar Engage Week in a different city lead by local leadership and Pastors without the physical presence of the Time to Revive team. Revival continues to grow because the Believers have been changed and are being used to change others.
Although the Engage Week just ended in Tupelo there is encouraging evidence that change has occurred in the hearts of Believers as we have learned that local Pastors have agreed to continue to train and go out together weekly while focusing on real discipleship for converts and prodigals. That passion and desire can only be produced by the Holy Spirit. Additionally in the teams Janet and I were privileged to take out in Tupelo during the Engage Week we saw clear evidence of God’s movement to change hearts and cleanse and release from past sin and enable forgiveness of those who have sinned against them. God is at work in revival in Tupelo, but revival is a fragile move and all who God has called to this and gifted for this must be careful to continue – to listen and obey – for if the Holy Spirit is grieved – if His fire is put out – the revival will end as quickly as it began. We must finish. The vision God has given us for what that means in a city is as follows:
When God added 3,000 souls to the Church in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost the focus for the future was quickly established. Scripture reveals that the Church had three priorities which were conducted simultaneously. First they made disciples of these new converts by teaching, spending time together in fellowship, by the breaking of bread and prayers together (Acts 2:42). At the same time, however, they continued to go out and share the Gospel such that “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Finally, their outreach also focused on the existing “church” and its leadership so that soon it is reported that “many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).
Our vision forward is drawn from this New Testament model. We seek to make disciples of existing converts while at the same time continuing to go out sharing the Gospel, seeking the lost and actively endeavoring to expand the base by sharing with other Believers, churches and Pastors. The ultimate goal is for all of the churches of your city together to seek to reach all of the people of the city to share the Gospel and make disciples. The disciples are to grow in Christ at the same time they are sharing Christ with others until all are reached in your city – and then you go to the next city seeking to reach your state and beyond until the Lord returns.