Five Key Revivals

By E. Michael and Sharon Rusten   •   May 5, 2005

The Church’s first great revival occurred when 3,000 Jews came to Christ on the day of Pentecost, likely on May 24, A.D. 33. That awesome beginning was a foretaste of what would happen time after time throughout history. By the year 300 approximately 14 million called themselves Christian, and by 500 the number neared 40 million. Since the early 1700s, God has brought about a number of notable revivals. Here are some of them:

The (First) Great Awakening
In the New World a series of revivals, known as the Great Awakening, spread through the American colonies between 1725 and 1760. Under preachers like Gilbert Tennent, Jonathan Edwards and English evangelist George Whitefield, the revivals reached their peak from 1740 to 1742. At the same time as the Great Awakening in America was the Wesleyan revival in England. At the time of John Wesley’s death in 1791, Methodists numbered 79,000 in England and 40,000 in America.

The Second Great Awakening
America’s next revival began in 1801 at the Cane Ridge camp meeting in Kentucky, where as many as 3,000 were converted. The banner year for camp meetings was 1811, when approximately one-third of all Americans attended one of them. By 1806 the Awakening had reached Williams College in Massachusetts. There, five students prayed during a thunderstorm in the shelter of a haystack, four of the five committing themselves to becoming missionaries. The Haystack Prayer Meeting, as it came to be called, was the beginning of the American foreign mission movement.

The Prayer Meeting Revival
Beginning as a prayer meeting of six people on Fulton Street in New York City in 1857, the Prayer Meeting Revival spread quickly throughout the world. Over the next two years, a million converts were added to American churches and a million to churches in England and Ireland.

The Welsh Revival
The Welsh Revival began in 1904 under the preaching of Evan Roberts. Within two years, 100,000 converts were added to the Welsh Church. More than 5 million came to Christ as the revival spread throughout the world. As part of this same outpouring of the Spirit, revival came in 1906 to a mission led by William Seymour in a dilapidated building on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The Azusa Street Revival was the formative event of early Pentecostalism.

Modern-Day Revival
Perhaps the most remarkable revival has taken place in China since the last missionaries left in 1953. In 1980 there were 2 million Christian believers in China–and by 2000 there were approximately 75 million. God chose to have the missionaries removed before the explosive growth occurred, that He might receive the glory.

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