Date - Feb/72
Contributor - John J. Opmeer
Title - Has Revival Come To Canada?
Topic - Focus On Canada
The Seventies are rapidly becoming known as a Decade of Revival. The fires of a Holy Spirit led awakening are burning around the globe. In 1970 it was Ashbury, Kentucky. Southern California followed. 'Then the fine spread to many areas in the world, particularly affecting young people. Now the news is spreading that revival fires are burning in Canada. It has started, not perhaps where one would expect it, in the Prairy City of Saskatoon.
"All these years I've been building my church, and now I've seen everything I built completely crumble. I saw my board members, my deacons, my Sunday School teachers - the best people I had - all coming forward to get right with God. Then I saw God take that crumbled structure and build a real church, HIS church. It's beautiful to behold." That is how pastor William L. McLeod, of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Saskatoon, described the revival that began in his church.
It all started on October 13, when evangelists Ralph and Lou Sutera, 37-year old twins from Mansfield, Ohio, arrived at Ebenezer for a 10-day crusade. The congregation has been praying for this crusade during the past two years. The Suteras brought with them a team of lay people who told what God had done during meetings in Prince George, B.C., earlier that month. Rather unexpectedly, people from many denominations started pouring in, and soon a dozen congregations were co-operating. The University Drive Christian and Missionary Alliance Church canceled its annual missionary convention to participate. The nightly meetings continued through November, and were moved three times to larger quarters to accommodate the crowds. Finally the city's largest sanctuary, which belongs to the United Church of Canada, was used. Following the pattern of other revivals, the meetings featured little singing and only brief sermons. Mostly, people simply got up to share what God was doing in their lives. Numerous conversions were reported. People testified their praise to God, vowed new dedication, confessed sin, offered forgiveness, and told of deliverance from selfishness and other sins. There is much prayer and sharing.
The local impact has been tremendous. Although the revival has received little attention from the news media elsewhere, the Sasktoon "Star Phoenix" noted the local merchants were besieged I repentant shoplifters wanting make restitutions. Principals al teachers remarked about the dra matic changes in student behaviour. Police said the behavior of young troublemakers was changing radically. There was dramatic decline in drug use beginning with the revival meeting'.
As far as the churches are concerned, the revival has brought real unity. Denominational barriers dissolved. Love prevailed. Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Nazarenes and others prayed, wept, and shared together as if they had been in the same family for years. Crusade textbooks have been set aside in favor of flexibility. There are no structures or schedules, "thus freeing the Holy Spirit," says Ralph Sutera. There are no counselors. Instead, volunteers are asked to pray with those who express needs.
The movement has been contagious. People have come from all over Canada to observe and participate, in many cases sparking revival back home. Chaplain W. Gordon Searle, of Toronto's Central Baptist Seminary, arrived skeptical about what was happening, but went home revived. At his invitation, the Rev. McLeod and a team staked by a Saskatoon business-man flew to Toronto and related their experiences to the seminary's 80 students. Two full days of spiritual outpouring later, the students themselves began sending out teams to scores of Toronto area churches.
There is ample evidence that the revival continues and is spreading. "In 35 years of ministry -I have never witnessed such a spiritual movement as this," remarked Central's president, Dr. Donald Loveday. Similar sentiments were uttered by presidents Kenneth Hanna, of the 150-student Winnipeg Bible College, and Alvin Martin, of the 225-student Canadian Bible College in Regina. A team led by pastor Boldt, of the Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Saskatoon, met with people gathered for an all-night prayer meeting in an Edmonton church. "The same thing happened", he said. "People were struck down in deep conviction. They trembled and wept in deep remorse over their sinfulness." Further south, at Wetaskiwin ' ' Alberta, a church was already packed out when pastor Boldt and his team arrived in town. People began weeping and coming forward to the altar during the opening song. And yet, the revival is definitely not personality-centered. According to Leslie Tarr, of the Toronto seminary, there is a three-fold emphasis in the revival: self-crucifixion, the Holy Spirit's ministry, and the Lordship of Christ.
Will the revival reach your area, your church, your life? Why not join many
others in fervent prayer that the Holy Spirit will do a mighty work in the whole
nation. Everywhere there is a sense of crisis, of a climaxing of spiritual
forces, both of God and of satan. Is the Holy Spirit free to move mightily in
your life and church? Revival never comes when we insist on our conditions. It
will simply bypass us, in that case. There has never been a nationwide revival
in Canada, but this could be it. Baptist executive David Clink, one of the many
clergymen whose lives have been deeply affected in the current revival, says: "I
think that this is God's hour for Canada." Will you pray with me that it may be
so, at whatever cost to us and to our traditions.