GAINESVILLE, Florida (FR) – A ministry team from Gainesville, Florida recently returned from a short trip to London, England in October, where they took part in Vineyard Ministries’ “Holiness unto the Lord” conference.
The ministry team, which was comprised of husband and wife, Mike and Theresa Williams, and Arty Hart, pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Gainesville, were sent with the purpose of ministering to the Church in England and preparing the hearts of the church leaders for revival.
“We didn’t really see what you would call a true revival,” related Mike Williams, “but more of a preparation with the seeds of an awakening being planted. We saw 8000 people attend the conference. The large majority were church leaders, pastors and elders.”
Mike Bickle of Kansas City Fellowship delivered a prophetic message which “broke the ice” during one of the first sessions of the conference. “God wants His Church back,” explained Bickle. Some English pastors and leaders had been holding their people from God, Bickle said with powerful conviction.
In response to this message, English church leaders gave a general call for repentance. Over 5000 leaders responded to this call and came forward to the platform to repent.
“There was a tremendous desire on the part of the people to return to God,” explained Mike Williams. “This spirit characterized the whole conference. People came together in unity from all kinds of denominations and different church backgrounds.”
The conference was followed by a number of “satellite conferences” held in other parts of England. In a country where the people have a reputation for being reserved, especially in the staid, conservative Anglican churches, there has been a growing movement toward renewal for the past several years. The renewal movement seemed to be culminating at the time of the conference.
Supernatural manifestations were one of the characteristics of this renewal. Vineyard leader, John Wimber, called for church leaders who wanted to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Once again, the altars were jam-packed. Physical healings, including people with diabetes and heart problems were reported during the meetings. Vineyard pastor, Arty Hart, described the manifest presence of God as being “awesome.”
“Throughout the entire conference, we constantly heard people being delivered from unclean spirits,” said Hart. “Demons were screaming out because of the powerful presence of God.”
“Even when John Wimber was just delivering a sermon, we had that happen several times,” said Mike Williams concerning the demonic manifestations.
Historically speaking, such occurrences are not uncommon. Rather, they are characteristic of a powerful move of God in a geographical area called a visitation or an awakening.
During the time when Jesus Christ walked the earth, demonic manifestations were common even among religious people. (See Matt. 8:28-33; Mark 1:23-26; Luke 8:2.)
At the beginning of the ministries of George Whitefield and John Wesley, accounts of supernatural manifestations were also reported. This marked the beginning of a vast move of the Holy Spirit which has become known as “The First Great Awakening.” This visitation ultimately transformed the spiritual life and social structures of England and America in the early 1700s.
In the early 1800s, more outbursts of the Holy Spirit’s activity were common on America’s sparsely populated frontier. Accounts given by ministers, such as Methodist circuit rider, Peter Cartwright, as well as the unbiased accounts of several unconverted witnesses, corroborate with the pattern of spiritual awakenings being accompanied by divine signs and wonders.
Evan Roberts, the great Welsh revivalist, has given us further accounts of the manifest power of God which occurred at the turn of the 20th century in parts of England and much of Wales.
Now in the early 1990s, these signs and wonders are making a comeback among English believers. Remarkably, much of the supernatural activity at the “Holiness unto the Lord” conference occurred among conservative Anglican Christians, who were yet unfamiliar with the practices of the charismatic movement.
This evidence confirms the predictions of many of the ministers who have worked to promote revival among English believers. England is destined to be a focal point of a great revival that will predominate church life in England for the much of the 1990s.
This revival will ultimately result in an awakening that will transform English social life. The economic recovery of England will be heralded as a “miracle” which will become the model for the rest of Europe. England’s role as a spiritual leader for the world will be exalted and again, it will be rightfully said: “The sun never sets on the British empire.”
And once again, England will send missionaries to the ends of the earth, to preach the Gospel until the whole world is filled with the knowledge of the glory of God.