What is Revival?

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Throughout history revival habe been seen as a magic silver bullet with promises to mend all, lets take a closer look at what revival really means.

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Revival Anointing

In this intriguing dialogue between Jared and Ian, they delve into the enigmatic world of "revival," a term often heard in the halls of Pentecostal churches. Jared, armed with curiosity, embarks on a quest to decipher the true essence of revival, a concept that has often been portrayed as a mythical silver bullet, promising to miraculously mend all. Ian equates revival to a spiritual defibrillation, resuscitating what was once lifeless.

Ian unveils his riveting personal journey through the waves of revival, detailing how divine encounters transformed his very being. Through anecdotes, Ian emphasizes the pivotal role of the Holy Spirit and the profound influence of God's presence in the realm of revival.


Jared: Ian, thank you so much for joining me today. What I would love to talk about would be this buzzword that, if you're in a Pentecostal church for more than 30 seconds you might hear, which is the word "revival".

Ian: Revival?

Jared: Revival. And so I've grown up in church my whole life. And revival to me, after a few years, began to sound like this silver bullet, this word that people would say, generally people that were a lot older than me.

Ian: Right.

Jared: You know, "When revival comes, this is all going to change." We just need to get together and we're going to pray for revival. In the ‘80s, revival will be soon, in the ‘90s, revival is going to be soon, in the 2000s, revival is going to be soon. So it's like this silver bullet that will magically fix everything, but never arrives. And I know that you are someone who's studied revival probably more than anybody that I know. I mean, you've got it on your license plate of your car.

Ian: I have, yeah. They wouldn't give me the first or the second letter. But apart from that, it's "rival"

Jared: Rival. I'm praying for rival.

Ian: I'm praying for rival.

Jared: And so I thought, "Look, let's open this topic up," because I know that revival, in different times throughout our history, has shaped society and brought reformation and all these things. But it's a word that I feel has been drastically overused. The word "revival", in that sense, what does that word even mean? Because for different people, it seems to mean so many different things.

Ian: Well, revival, you know, in itself, say, is a verb. It is really just a resurrection, if you like to put it like that. So you put it in a medical term. I've had, like, 13 years, I worked in a hospital, and my wife, Dayle, you know, was a nurse, a cardiac nurse. And so, you know, the cardiac nurses of course put the paddles on people. We see that dramatised.

Jared: "Clear!"

Ian: "Clear," that's right. Yeah. And they, you know, boot them with a lot of electricity. And it's all done in a medical style. But nonetheless, you did the "clear" thing and you stayed away from the bed, otherwise what could start someone's heart would also stop someone's heart. So you didn't want to get that shock just in case. And so I think, “revival”, if you look at it in that term, it's that that person was dead or dying, and that bolt of electricity medically revived them.

Jared: Right.

Ian: And so it's bringing back to life, revival in its simplest term for me, it's bringing back to life something that was once alive.

Jared: Right.

Ian: And so that's why the church... It's really interesting, in your intro, you talked about the Pentecostals, because I was always in the belief in the past that Pentecostals never had revival, I didn't know that they did, because I was brought up a Protestant Reformed.

Jared: Right.

Ian: You know, theology in all of mine was very strong, conservative, evangelical. And so they had many revivals. And then when I started digging around and found out there was an Azusa Street Revival, I thought "I've never heard of that before." And so of course that was the, you know, the early days of, in the last century, of Pentecostals, you know, getting going.

Jared: So when you began to go into this journey of exploring revival, something must have happened along the way that took this from an interest to something that became almost like a heart focus.

Ian: Yeah. I think as a kid, I always was probably a little mystical and whimsical, and so-

Jared: And diabolical?

Ian: Yeah, that's right. And diabolical as a kid. I have school reports to prove that too, by the way. But it was great, because I got saved when I was 11, and I was brought up on, you know, going to church every Sunday and all of that. And you could set your clock by our church services, you know, but I got saved when I was 11 and got hugely convicted, went to my father and said, you know, I felt really funny in the service yesterday, or last Sunday. And when the man made an altar call, which I had never seen in my life, to my knowledge, at that point.

Jared: Right.

Ian: So I'd never seen someone preach the gospel message and then give an invitation. But when he did do that invitation, and there was something in me that just came alive, you know? I became hot and bothered, and all the kind of physiological kind of, you know, symptoms of that, you know, sweat running down your back, like, everybody's looking at me and all that stuff. But I didn't do anything with it. I just, you know, tried to shut all that down and wonder what was the matter with me. But my father said to me, when I asked him, he said, "I brought you up to obey me." And he was a really great dad. You know, he really was. He wasn't a cruel dad or anything like that. And he said, "Well, you have another Father." And I often joked, "That's it. I knew I was adopted. Now they're going to tell me." And he said, "Yeah, He's your heavenly Father." And he said, "You've been obedient to me, but there's a point in time when you start, need to start hearing His voice, because He will lead you as you get older." And that was profound for me, you know? That really was. That night I went back to the service. They had a, it was Easter time, and they had another service on Easter Monday. And soon, all I was waiting for was the invitation to come forward. So then after that, I started reading books, we were a bit of a family of, you know, bookworms, but I read the story of Billy Sunday.

Jared: Right.

Ian: And so, and of course, Billy Graham was the evangelical hero of the time, and doing huge crusades at that time, was in New Zealand. And later on, in my teenage years, he was at Carisbrook in Dunedin. But in reading those stories, through my late childhood and early teenage years, it really, I just gravitated towards that move of God.

Jared: You know, you mentioned a few names, Azusa Street, Billy, like the revival stories that you began to be exposed to through your reading, for people that have no idea of who these names are.

Ian: Right.

Jared: Just touch on a couple of these stories and what made them so attractive to you.

Ian: Yeah. Billy Sunday, for example, was an American baseball player.

Jared: Right.

Ian: And he got saved under the ministry of D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey. So Ira Sankey was the song leader, and he would play a, kind of a portable, bellows-driven organ thing that the church called the Devil's Bellows.

Jared: Right.

Ian: So he didn't play in some services because they were going to burn his demonic device and that, but Ira Sankey wrote amazing hymn books and songs. And often songs go with outpourings or revivals, and D.L. Moody himself got, he was seeing tens of people saved. When the Chicago fire went through in the 1800s, he went through the ashes of that and he started to pray, you know, "Where are these people now? What's happened to them? What about their souls?" And God really challenged him. And he went to prayer and amazingly, God touched him as He does, you know? If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. And so he was quite profoundly touched, I guess, in what we would call that revival spirit. And so then he started preaching the same messages that he had, but now hundreds of people were coming to Christ, not just like ones or twos, but hundreds and then thousands of people coming. And so he partnered up and all of that, and they were in a tent meeting. There was a young boy there. He was kind of like, you know, he was quite an odd-looking boy, they found out he was one of, part of a traveling family, but he'd got in, Gypsies, in those days. And that was Gypsy Smith.

Jared: Right.

Ian: And so, you know, he was saved. And then of course, Billy Sunday around that time, or later on from that, was influenced by that. He got saved, and they became quite fiery... And Billy Sunday, in particular, was quite dramatic.

Jared: When you're in that space, and your spirit begins to sense something that God is doing, like, what are some of those things?

Ian: So what I mentioned with D.L. Moody, so he went through the Chicago fire. He then went to prayer, started to seek, in a season of prayer and fasting, sought God. And the anointing, what we call the anointing or the presence of God came upon him and changed him. All right? Changed him. He changed in his business principles. He was quite an astute businessman. And a lot of those principles changed. And the fact that he was preaching and seeing one or two getting saved, to immediately after that preaching, under the revival anointing, if you wanted to use that term, his words were way more powerful. So it's like God came behind him like in, you know, the All Blacks, you know, packed down, and you've got the forwards, you know, giving weight to that. God comes in and brings His thrust, if you like, behind us and gives us weight. And so then he saw hundreds coming to Christ, and that was exactly the same with Billy Graham. Now, Billy Graham never talked about it as such. He went out on a retreat, because he was wrestling with God. He was wrestling about marriage, he was wrestling about relationships that he had. God was really pinpointing that kind of conviction of those areas that are unsurrendered in your life. And so he decided to go up into a cabin in the woods. He was up there for two or three days. When he came back, he never spoke of it. But many people have often suggested that he had what was called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And he came back, he was so profoundly changed that his dedication to God was seen throughout his entire life. And he died at 99, I think. And I saw him preach on a video, probably two years before that. And you could feel this great conviction that he carried all his life. He was, really, chaplain to about six or seven presidents, I think, quite remarkable, through that time. You know, having that council and all that. And so those manifestations, I think of revival. Finney was the same. Finney was a lawyer, but he had an encounter with God that was so powerful that when he preached in New York state, and he went through some factories, and there's some pretty famous stories around those, he walked in with the manager or the owner of the factory, up to his office and had to walk through all of the, I think it was a cotton mill. And so there was a lot of kind of Heath Robinson contraption machinery around, built up that kind of stuff. So from one end to the other. And he had to go up into an area where the manager's office was that would oversee all the workers. But as he came in, the workers knew about him, and they knew that he was running these revival meetings, and they started to mock him. And, you know, and as you know, the workers may like to do. You know, who's this guy, you know?

Jared: "Who does he think he is?"

Ian: Yeah. "Who does he think he is?" And so what began to happen was that as he walked through, he carried this anointing that was quite powerful, and powerful in his meetings as well. Now, these are folks that had obviously never been, but that anointing of conviction began to fall on the cotton mill. And as he walked through, people began to stop working and weep, some fell to the ground, some began to cry out to God. By the time he got up to the office, the whole factory had shut down. There was just, no one was tending, you know, the machinery. And so it was running loose and it caused a bit of a, you know, a panic at that time, because, you know, work was being lost, stuff was going onto the floor, but there was just wailing and people weeping. He never said a word to them. And so that's the difference, you know? And so when I heard and, you know, and part of my testimony is I became, out of my conservative evangelicalism, I got baptised in Holy Spirit. And so that awareness of God built tremendously in my life. And then my hunger for reading about the stories, you know, of Charles Finney and those anointings coming on. And there are wild stories right up to today. Heidi Baker, you know, Heidi Baker spent, you know, she was, in her own admission, was a failed missionary, you know? And struggled planting churches. And was good in Hong Kong, came to Mozambique, planted three churches, one already shut down. They were small, she burned out. They were both very, very, very sick. She spent a week at the Outpouring in the 90s, in Toronto Airport Vineyard in those days. And God touched her. She was very cynical. She has a PhD in theology, and through that critical theological eye was kind of like, "What's all this about?" And she got caught up in that. The Lord touched her, someone prayed for her. She fell to the ground. She said, "I need to get up." She couldn't get up. She couldn't move. She was stuck to the floor. And long story made very short, she was in that condition for the week. So I think it was five days or six days. And she was wheeled into those meetings, literally in a wheelchair. And when she finished that, she went back to Mozambique. She was completely changed. And now there's thousands of churches that her and her husband have been responsible for planting in Mozambique. And her ministry just changed dramatically. People getting healed, and that was that, that's the difference. And that's that, that's the revival difference. And so if that happens to an individual, it can happen to a community, it can happen to a church.

Jared: So there's that transformational moment, it's that pivotal moment, like hearing you is, you know, there's an interesting parallel between God making something come to life, but it's almost like there's something of our self that has to die at the start of that process.

Ian: Yeah.

Jared: Like, we die first and then He comes along and starts making things alive that He wants to live. For people listening and watching, how do you go after something like this so that you can be changed, whether it's on a gradual process or, in that, you know, like a five-day thing of time. Is everybody invited into that level of connection with God? Or are there people that are, more specifically, set aside for it?

Ian: Well, I can tell you my journey for a start. That might be different. Saved at 11, as I said, then I talked a moment ago about being baptised in the Holy Spirit as well. But between that, in my later teenage years, so, later by being 17, 18, around that time, I was one foot in the church, and two feet in the world. And I was working on backsliding, and a lot of things didn't go according to plan, because I knew that I had a call of God on me. And I was at that point of running from that. So the day after I got saved as an 11 year old, I opened up my little Bible that I had and read it. And I didn't know where to read. And I was sitting in the kitchen with my mum, I read Romans, I just opened up and I'll read Romans. I was brought up with the Word of God, and I'd read chunks, memorised bits and pieces, all that kind of stuff, for Sunday school and all that. But I read Romans, I got to verse 16. It says, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel. It's the power of God unto salvation to all who believe." And there was something just, it was, I call it being run through with a hot sword. You know? It's like chop, skewered. And the amazing thing was, I just looked up at my mother and said, "I want to be a minister." And she just went, "Oh, you'll have to get your School Certificate first," you know? "You'll have to get educated," you know, "You'll have to get a real job, and then you'll have to go to Bible School. Then you'll have to get..." She, like, prophesied. Now, she wouldn't call it that in those days because of our, the style of Christianity or, you know, evangelical conservatism. But she really, now, just prophesied over me because that's just exactly what I needed to do, all of those things. So I had that call. So fast forward down to my teenage years, when I'm into martial arts, I've been to Outward Bound, I was super fit, you know, teaching self defense, all of that kind of stuff. And I was down at the gymnasium at our local YMCA for probably six nights of a week. And the only day it wasn't open was Sunday. YFC, not Young Farmers' Club, but Youth for Christ, had meals in the YMCA, and a couple of those guys I knew, they'd see me going to the gymnasium engage me, all that kind of stuff, and say, "Oh, why don't you come up and have a meal with us?" You know? "We have a meal." And I thought, "Oh, I usually ate after the gym." But I thought, "Oh well, I'll go up." You know, because they had really good food.

Jared: Yeah.

Ian: You know? And so I went up there and did all that kind of stuff. And then what began to happen after a few weeks of that, a camp came up. They called it a “house party”. But all I heard in my head was a party in a house, and thought, “Oh, that'll be great. They're going away for a weekend.” He said, "Do you mind if we bring, there's a couple of girls I'm taking up, and I've only got a Mini." So he said, "Can you come as well?" I did the math. I went, "Two guys, two girls. This is just going to be a great weekend." You know, like, I'm looking for that. And so, but I only got in the car, we only drove, you know, a few kilometres and I suddenly realised these were Christians, you know? So I needed to change my language. Yeah. I knew how to go into Christian mode, you see. You know, use the language and all that kind of stuff. And that was pretty funny. But we got up to the camp place in Waimate, and the speaker was a guy called Muri Thompson, M-U-R-I, Muri Thompson, Maori evangelist and revivalist. He'd seen revival come. Now, you know, you talk about that, you know, what happens, what's the "struck by lightning" moment, if you like, you know, for a church or that. Well, I was not looking for that. You know, I kind of, wasn't into a lot of bad stuff, but my heart definitely wasn't towards the Lord. I can tell you that. And so I went up, realised I'd been conned into going to a Christian camp, swapped into Christianese, and then thought, “I'll just ride this out.” I listened to Muri Thompson that night. To this day, I can't remember what he said. I can't remember what he spoke on. There was no atmosphere that I remember, but I remember he spoke. I went to bed that night. It was in a bunk room. I was on the top bunk. I went to sleep, my normal, rebellious, you know, going-in-the-other-direction guy, I jumped up in the morning, jumped off the top bunk, landed on the floor, and I was completely and radically changed. There was just a hunger for the Word of God in me, there was a hunger for, I would call it now, the presence of God. But I, in that particular setting, no one was talking about the presence of God. But there was something that I... It was such a hunger. And you know, to see the dramatic change. I came home from that camp, and the guy that took me, in fact, started Manna stores throughout New Zealand, Russell, Russell Dunn, great guy. And he was driving the car. And he says to this day, he said, "I took one guy up with me and another guy entirely came back." And so such was the change. My parents couldn't get over it. The change in me was profound. I was into the Word of God. I was praying. I couldn't wait to go to church. You know, I couldn't wait. I went to work, I’d just started as, like, an intern or office junior, they called them in those days. And so I was in the office there, doing general dogsbody work for everybody. But I had one of the stock agents grab me at the end of the day, and he shoved me up against the wall. And I was doing martial arts, you know? I was used to all this kind of stuff. It was like, I was laughing and, you know, he was so angry. And he was in my face, "Stop talking about Jesus!" You know, like, and I went, "I didn't think I'd been talking about Jesus," but it was just kind of like, "No, I haven't. I was going through my day. I haven't talked about Jesus at all." But it was just like, I was so changed, it was just leaking out of me. And it was quite astonishing, actually. So, I mean, that was my... That was before I was baptised in the Holy Spirit and tongues and that, which I think the Pentecostals look at as the lightning strike of revival for them, you know? So they go, "Yeah, when you get baptised in the Holy Spirit." In the early Pentecostals, you had “tarry meetings”, waiting on the presence of God, waiting on, well, really, waiting on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That was their reason. And so if we get that, if you get that, then you will be changed and you'll be able to bring revival because you carry the glory of God. You know? The great secret of the gospel is, Christ is in us. The hope of glory. The only hope of God getting any glory out of us is Christ in us. I added that bit.

Jared: Yeah, yeah. It seems like a great spot for us to pause and sort of end this part of our episode. And when we come back, I'd love to talk about the presence of God, because you know, we have that sense of God coming alive in us, reviving us. And then that opens up that great invitation to build our life, you know, around his presence, being ones that are totally drawn by his presence and become magnets to it as well.

Ian: Yeah.

Jared: So let's pause here. And then when we come back, let's talk about how do we build our life around the presence of God and what does that look like, and what are the things that, you know, can happen in our life as we're doing that?

Ian: Yeah. Amen.

Jared: Awesome.


Welcome to the "Legacy" series, where we explore the lives and spiritual insights of Ian Wright, Pastor; Keriann Hokianga, Anglican Māori evangelist; and Andy Miller, Global Missionary. Across three interviews, each split into three episodes, they share their unique perspectives on revival, faith, and cross-cultural experiences.

Full series


Release Date:
January 24, 2023
23 mins
Pastor Ian Wright

This content has not been independently classified. Parental guidance recommended. Adult themes.