The Missional Impact of an Outpouring of the Spirit

What results should we expect to see from a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

Count Zinzendorf, the Moravian leader, preaches the gospel
Count Zinzendorf, the Moravian leader, preaches the gospel

In Scripture we see a definite link between believers receiving the power of the Spirit and an increased boldness and desire to communicate the faith with others.

This is evident in many places. In Acts 1:8, just prior to His ascension, Jesus tells his followers, ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ First the experience of God’s power, Second, an evangelistic community.

We see this again in Acts 4:30-31. Note what they prayed:

‘Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ (v.30)

And see the response of God to their prayer, and their subsequent behaviour:

‘After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.’ (v.31)

It is therefore, not surprising that we see this Scriptural pattern repeated in church history.

The Moravian community had experienced a ‘Pentecost’, ‘an overwhelming flood of divine grace’, as Zinzendorf had described it. Let’s see what happened next!

Their zeal for unreached peoples
As a result of the grace of God on this amazing group of believers they began sending out church planters long before William Carey (often called ‘the father of modern missions’) went to India in 1793.

Their first conference on world missions was held in 1728.  They were already involved in several countries because they had either been driven out of them or had fled into them for safety.  Nevertheless on January 4th 1728 (not even five months after their ‘Pentecost’) they began to intentionally plan to reach un-evangelised nations.

Moravian Historian Bost writes,
‘This first missionary meeting was celebrated by meditations on different portions of scripture, and fervent prayers; in the midst of which the church experienced a remarkable enjoyment of the presence of the Spirit.

The Brethren felt themselves urged to attempt something that might redound to the glory of the Lord; several distant countries were mentioned, and particularly Turkey, Northern Africa, Greenland and Lapland…They were thus inspired with great courage and disposed to hold themselves in readiness to engage in the sacred enterprise whenever the Lord should give the signal.’ (A Bost – History of the Moravians, London 1862, Religious Tract Society p.246)

The Moravians then went on to plant churches in the Virgin Islands (1732), Greenland (1733) – they saw a revival there in 1738 when hundreds of Eskimos were converted, North America (1734), Lapland and South America (1735), South Africa (1736), Jamaica (1754) and Labrador (1771).

Challenged yet? Inspired? Next time we’ll look at how they achieved this…

© 2009 Lex Loizides


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