From Hazel Adamson: September 2020
Tom Lennie reviews 'Longing for Revival: From Holy Discontent to Breakthrough Faith' by James Choung and Ryan Pfeiffer (2020)
"Revival begins with God. But it's lived out through us. While we can't determine how God will act, we can be expectant and anticipate his work". So says the blurb on the back of this book. As a bit of a revival historian, I've read a lot of historical accounts of revival, and nearly as many 'how to' books that prescribe a formula for ushering in a season of spiritual quickening.
Definition of revival
Compared to most of these, 'Longing for Revival' comes over like a breath of fresh air. I love the authors' quirky but unpretentious definition of revival — "a season of breakthroughs, in word, deed and power, that ushers in a new normal of kingdom experience and fruitfulness"- which the authors carefully unpack in the pages that follow. I also love the suggestion that revivals come in all shapes and forms. I use the analogy of revivals being like people. Every one is unique, though they share common features. A baby is still 100% human, although tiny and immature. I have known of genuine, God-breathed revivals in tiny Highland communities, where only a handful of people were converted (such a figure being highly significant in such small villages).
Perhaps the authors' passion for and deep understanding of spiritual awakenings is best understood in the personal connection each has to revivals. James Choung's great grandfather was directly involved in the formidable Korean revival of 1903 onwards. And Ryan witnessed a degree of genuine revival, with resulting transformation of individuals and communities, through his ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in San Diego some years ago. I was deeply impressed by the fact that, almost unique to revival studies, 'Longing for Revival' places considerable emphasis on consecration and humility — and on kingdom seeking rather than empire building. Indeed, the entire book comes over with a true spirit of thoughtfulness, prayerfulness and humility.
The challenge of revival
There's very little that is uniformly true of all revivals, as they vary so much in genesis and expression. But the authors' comment that "revivals always begin with revived Christians" is as profound as it is simple. Sometimes only one revived Christian to be honest — but always at least one. And this is the essence of revival — each one of us needs to be personally stirred and revived in our faith, and brought to a place of deep surrender.
'Longing for Revival' (226 pages) is published by IVP Press and is available on Amazon
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