Tank Man is the nickname of an unidentified man who stood in front of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, the morning after the Chinese military had suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 by force. As the lead tank maneuvered to pass by the man, he repeatedly shifted his position in order to obstruct the tank’s attempted path around him. The incident was filmed and seen worldwide. More than 30 years after the incident, there is no reliable information about the identity or fate of the man.
In history there are the KAIROS times (opportune moments) and there are KRONOS times (regular everyday moments). The whole world has been in the upward swing of KAIROS for the past decade or longer. Whenever there is Revival and Spiritual Awakening there is also tremendous judgment, so many may interpret a judgment as a negative sign of the end-times and they may actually miss the opportunity for revival.
In the early 1990s, we saw communist governments of almost every nation in the world dissolve. This was spurred by demonstrations such as the one in Tiananmen Square. Soviet communism’s twin cousin is western egalitarian humanism. It is collapsing. The riots and hysteria you will see in the streets over the next few days, weeks and months is the evidence of that. God has robbed the faith of the humanists. All they have ever had is their faith in human ability and it has been broken.
This is just the beginning of what is to happen in cities all across America with thousands of people taking to the streets to confront the Godlessness that has gripped our nation.
Back in November 2010 after Republicans won sweeping victories in the U.S. House and Senate, I thought we would begin to see many people taking to the streets around March 2011 when the weather warmed and people began to realize that politicians on neither the left nor right had a quick fix for our economic ailments. As soon as it became obvious that a “political solution” would not jump start our economy, people would begin to take to the streets and riots would occur.
I believed that the “Arab Spring” of that time was also the beginning of a Christian awakening in those countries, not a renewed Islamic movement. I also said this would happen in Europe and America and then it will accelerate worldwide. Then we saw the Occupy America movement by September 2011.
Now ten years later, we are seeing the negative side of the necessary “street movement” erupt again. When economies fail or the government’s rules become too harsh, then massive demonstration in the streets is necessary. It will be costly to some, but it will force adjustments in governments and peoples. It is time for people to revolt and change our nation, or else God himself will make the adjustments.
Revival and Spiritual Awakening usually occurs in a time of deep moral crisis. We are in that now and it is also true that where sin abounds grace abounds much more. So we can have a great hope. In the past, some of us claimed to be part of “revival movements.” We did not change America, but we got little glimpses of what will be. Let’s hope and pray that God will allow us to see it soon!
So now we see thousands of people taking to the streets in America. Some are violent, but we don’t hear about the vast majority who are peaceful. I don’t hear too much Christian analysis of it – or the fact that some protests are being led by peaceful, praying Christians.
The main reason for the emergence of these street movements in the last decade is the growing availability of wireless technology and the Internet throughout the world. Evangelists who will take to the streets in this hour have the right strategy. We can use the machine against the machine. One of the common denominators of the current rioters is they have no questions or demands, only rage. Only a full-orbed Gospel, which includes both the message salvation of individuals and making disciples of entire nations, can transform the riotous crowds. Only biblical rationalism is consistent.
I’ve seen this coming for almost 30 years, so it is not shocking to me. Yet I am amazed at how little Christians understand it. We don’t need to be afraid of the street movement, but we need to jump into the middle and supplant it.
Only the Gospel preached in power – as it was in Whitefield’s and Wesley’s day – can change the heart of our nation and restore our culture to Godliness. This is the reason why it has always been the church that is at the head of social reform movements that bring about greater morality in society.
Every positive social reform movement of consequence in American history has been led by churches and pastors, not simply individual reformers. In each case, pastors led strategies of direct action against the social evils of the day. Likewise, the abortion holocaust will not end without the active participation of pastors. It is the Church Jesus spoke of when He preached that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Furthermore, every successful social reform movement begins on the streets, not the political arena. The miracle of Pentecost was a street demonstration of God’s power that upset the political and religious order. They thought these Holy Spirit possessed men were “full of new wine” (Acts 2:13). We also saw these street movements and evangelistic meetings as the center of Christian reform movements throughout history.
A similar reaction came from a group of white liberal clergymen on April 12, 1963, entitled “A Call for Unity” prompted Martin Luther King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” The clergymen agreed that social injustices existed, but argued that the battle against racial segregation should be decided in the political arena, not in the streets. King argued that the social tension created by the non-violent demonstrations were necessary in order for the civil rights movement to succeed.
Today, King is hailed as a hero. He is only one of two Americans for whom a national holiday is celebrated. And even in the case of George Washington, the Monday holiday is now labeled the generic “President’s Day.” Yet King remained immensely controversial and unpopular until the time of his death. In 1968, he had an approval rating of only 30 percent, which is ironically the similar to recent black civil rights leaders such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
Today’s Black Lives Matter movement is not a Christian movement – not even in name – as was Martin Luther King’s movement. However, into such unlikely upheavals, Revival and Spiritual Awakening takes place. Our Lord commanded us to “Occupy until I come.” This is our movement and only God’s Word has the answers.
That being said, here’s a good article on this from a secular perspective. It is not written from a Christian worldview, but I agree with the principles. It describes how social reform movements get started and why they succeed or fail.