Faith and Revival
Written by Heidi & Rolland Baker
The rain is beating on the windshield of our little Cessna. Five of us are packed in cozily together cruising along at eight thousand feet. The heater is on. My daughter Crystalyn, my niece Marissa and one of our boys are in the back, wrapped in sleeping bags and sleeping on soft pillows. They are totally at peace listening to worship music on their headsets. But deep inside the storm cloud it is getting very dark, and the pounding of the rain is fierce and loud on our plane’s aluminum skin just inches away from our faces. I turn on the cockpit lights and keep an eye on the glowing instruments. There is nothing to see outside except shimmering, splattering sheets of water on the plexiglass. Christine, one of our staff missionaries in Pemba going back to Maputo with us, asks quietly and as calmly as she can, “Is this normal?” She hasn’t flown in small planes before. “Yes, when it rains!” I assure her. Turbulence is knocking us around a little.
Flying is always serious business, but actually the situation is also quite fun. We appear to be totally cut off from the rest of the world, lost and out of control, with no way of knowing where we are or what we are doing. But without being able to see out of the plane, I know exactly where we are, how high we are, how fast we are going, and where we are headed. With our stormscope I know where the lightning is striking. I am in radio communication with air traffic control. I have a satellite phone and can call anywhere in the world from the air. I am tuned in to world news on BBC shortwave. We are not alone after all, and I know that this rainstorm is very localized and we will be through it soon.
Suddenly we break out of the cloud into spectacular, heavenly beauty. The late afternoon sun is painting fiery orange and red edges on the pure, fresh, white clouds artfully arranged in layers and billows all around us. Intensely rich rainbows come into focus. Deepest blue sky appears in corners of this masterpiece of a panorama, another original unveiling of the Creator’s glory. This is what flying is about! It is another dimension high above the dust, dirt, pollution and problems down below. All is creative wonder, dazzling, indescribable. It seems we could fly in this state forever.
A few minutes ago we could have been afraid and very upset with our surroundings. There was nothing to keep us going in confidence except our instruments and radios. But we pressed on, knowing that the situation was “normal,” and that the darkness would pass. But still we were not prepared for the wonder to be revealed, and now it is here!
Revival is also here in Africa. It is glorious, more than we could imagine or expect years ago: thousands of churches and a nation coming to Jesus. By the grace of our Lord Jesus we persevered, and we are seeing what we have longed for all our lives. It is beautiful, breathtaking. We are almost in shock, having trouble comprehending the goodness of what is happening. We forget easily, and grow dim almost without an excuse. But we also press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenwards in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14). There is far more ahead of us, and in the Christian life the best is always yet to be.
Yet in this outpouring of grace our faith does not go unchallenged. We often suddenly find ourselves in dark clouds. We cannot describe the degree of poverty and suffering here, or the long queues of desperate people begging us for help. We are running ragged, racing from crisis to crisis. Pastors fall, problems develop, disappointments crash down on us. It seems we need an army of managers on rows of computers to keep things running, but expertise and technology are rare. All of Africa needs money. Witch doctors still work evil. There is widespread domestic violence, immorality and misery. Stealing is a great scourge. And now severe hunger is returning to whole provinces. We don’t have hours in the day to deal with it all. Spiritually the rain beats down on us. The noise and distractions are severe. At times we hardly know where we are going — except for our instruments and radios: the word of God in the hands of the Holy Spirit!
Jesus knows how to comfort and encourage us, and to keep us going in His joy. We would have faltered and quit long ago but for His faithfulness. The author and finisher of our faith keeps us on course even when we can hardly see ahead of us. We remember where we have been, and how He has loved us before. We know His voice and will listen to no other. We have tasted and felt His heart, and we will believe nothing but His words. He has planted in us His vision, and in the darkest clouds we can still see with eyes of faith. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). We can navigate and communicate by His Spirit, and we will arrive safely at our destination, His heavenly Kingdom.
We will rise up with His energy, which so powerfully works in us, and move forward, proclaiming him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ (Col. 1: 28-29). We are in the most wonderful revival setting we have experienced in our lives, but we will not sit still, we have not reached a plateau, we will not be satisfied until we have run our race all the way to the finish line. We are enticed by Him, and by the glory yet to be revealed to us. We are not burned out; we are fueled by passion freely poured out on us without measure. This is no time to stop by the wayside, except to refresh ourselves for the next leg of the race. Our Father in heaven wants His house full, and He knows how to glorify Himself and bring His Son back. Let’s participate in His life!
THE KINGDOM ADVANCES IN THE BUSH
The Bride is coming home from the darkest corners of the earth. We are watching the promises of God unfold before us. What an amazing time to be alive. On the Sunday just before the end of the Moslem fasting month of Ramadan, we baptized 672 new Christians in the clear turquoise waters of Pemba. What a sight! We felt the awesome presence of God as people chose to die to their old life and move into a new life with Jesus. From glowing innocent children to old grizzled grandpas, the joy was contagious. We love what God is doing here.
Less than two years ago we began with one church of 15 in this far northern province of Mozambique. It is over 1,000 miles from our main base in the capital of Maputo, and it takes me 8 hours to fly there in our Cessna, but the trip has become routine. We are spread all over Mozambique, and the cry of the people is for more of the Holy Spirit! They have tasted of the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and they will not be denied.
Back home in the West, churches struggle to attract new visitors. Here, resistance to the Gospel is being destroyed by the power of God. We don’t have to beg people to consider Jesus. We don’t have to convince them that He is good. One clear, obvious miracle, and their hearts are melted. Whole villages make up their minds in one night that they want the living Savior, and will no longer tolerate substitutes. Pride is gone. Cynicism is out. Truth and hope have arrived, and the numb and dull have come to life. Unbelief is losing ground all around us.
In a discussion among Islamic evangelists on Egyptian television, Moslem leaders were discussing their progress on various continents. In their view they were doing well in many areas, but then the question of Africa came up. “We are losing Africa,” they admitted. “The Christians there are raising the dead!” Once the people find out who the living God is, and get a touch of His overwhelming, captivating love, the battle is over. They come to the Savior. They kneel at the foot of the Cross in their utter simplicity and poverty, and drink in Life. They are doing so everywhere the Gospel is preached in Mozambique. “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Cor. 2:14-16).
Certainly not us. We in leadership at Iris Ministries are a small band of fishermen on an ocean teaming with fish ready to jump in the boat. Thousands and thousands of people want to go to Bible school. They want bush conferences in every corner of the country. They long for visits from us, from our missionaries, teams and visitors. The want the Holy Spirit, and all the gifts of the Spirit. They love revival and cannot get enough of it! They have known only the gloom of poverty and spiritual hopelessness most of their lives, and now they know a new day is coming to Mozambique. Our pastors, already numbering in the thousands, are fired up for all the more evangelism. They feel like they are just beginning to see fruit. And our little staff is wondering, “How can we shepherd this whole movement? It seems out of control! How can we spread ourselves so thin?”
But one thing we know: there is always enough — to accomplish God’s purposes! We cannot run out. We cannot lose if we stay on track, concentrate on the core of the Gospel, and pursue “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4-6). The all-surpassing power that will build the Bride is from God and not from us. We have no self-confidence, but are more confident every day that God knows how to glorify Himself in the darkest corners of this world, and that He will do so through us. His power is made perfect in our weakness. What is our battle plan? To get lower still, to be more dependent on Jesus and the Cross than we have ever been, to pursue the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Then, joined to Him and one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17), nothing shall be impossible to us.
Jesus says, “Look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting” (John 4:35). May the Lord of the harvest send out workers! Go where there is desire. Go where Jesus is wanted. Go where the people know their need. Go where the devil has done his worst.
Michael Goodnight from Georgia is one of our long-term missionaries in the north, and he has a burning desire to go village to village through the bush. He used to carry a wooden cross through villages in Central America, experiencing the heavy presence of the Lord and seeing many salvations and healings. Then he let himself get sidetracked in business for a few years, much to his grief, but he is back, this time in Mozambique. He recently wrote:
“Pastor Jose and I returned to Pemba on Sunday evening, the 18th of January, after spending thirteen incredible days on the road preaching the gospel and taking money to provincial pastors for the 100 Bible school students who will soon be in Pemba to study. Some of the villages we went to had obviously never before been visited by any vehicle. Without a durable four wheel drive, this trip would be impossible except by foot. Many of the churches greeted us with singing and walked beside the truck singing praises to the Lord as we shifted into low gear to traverse the rough terrain out of their village.
“The difficulties of the journey are not worthy to be compared with the glorious things God accomplished through us in such a very short time (Romans 8:18). In each village we first had a time of worship and dancing before the Lord, and then we showed the Jesus film in their own language. At the end of the film, Pastor Jose preached, I preached and the Holy Spirit moved upon the souls of men. One thousand one hundred souls came to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord, and many were healed from arthritis, malaria, fevers, stomach problems, spinal column pain and various sicknesses. It was absolutely incredible!!! I am so excited about this kind of trip that I want to rest for two weeks and go out again to do the same thing in other parts of Mozambique!…”
Now Michael has a 4WD truck outfitted with extra batteries and a good sound system, and is set to head out on many more evangelistic trips. A whole fleet of trucks and visiting teams could be doing work like this.
We love breaking new ground, going where no preacher has gone before, pouring our hearts out to people who have not already hardened their hearts against the King. We love to see Jesus loved, and we love to see Jesus do what only He can do. We live to see His Presence spread to the far corners of the earth, and find where His Kingdom will shine the brightest.
Heidi writes, “I continue to be drawn to the far northern provinces. My next big challenge is learning another new language, Makua! I am sure to make many friends in the process. Our new children’s center is up and running in Pemba. We are receiving new orphans every week. It is a tremendous joy to watch these beautiful children be transformed before our eyes as the love of the Father heals their orphan spirits. What a privilege to be able to love and care for these treasures from Jesus. I love teaching in our Bible colleges too. We have five now! Pastors are growing in God and developing character. My favorite thing is still evangelism in the bush. It is awesome to load our Land Rover full of singing children and charge off into the bush. We often reach a village where the gospel has never been preached. Night after night glorious Jesus moves through us and hundreds are saved. The miracles are increasing by the grace of God!!!!! Please keep praying for us.”
Jesus has been healing the deaf and dumb, and also a series of crippled and paralyzed people. Just last Friday Heidi and I were back in the Maputo dump in southern Mozambique, and Heidi found a lady who had crawled into our simple dump church on her hands and knees. Her neighbors said she had not walked in years. Her legs were thin and flabby. Her knees bore thick, hard callouses from so much crawling. Heidi asked her if she wanted to walk that day, and she weakly said yes. Praying, we took her by her hands, and she got up and walked (see photo)! Over and over she thanked Jesus. We found her a stick to help her with her balance and took her all around outside. Everyone there knew her and what this meant for her life. It was another great day advancing the Kingdom in the dump and seeing His glory.
On we go in His great love! —Rolland