Revival @ Internet.com
Revival @ Internet.com
Dr. David F. Ingrassia // 05.23.2016 // Charlotte Awake
In 1995 Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were 40 years old. Matt Lauer had a full head of hair. And Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric wrestled with the meaning of “that ‘a’ with the ring around it,” which is now the ubiquitous “@” sign in over 200 billion email addresses directed around the world each day. (And yes, someone counts them, but don’t ask too many questions.)
The Internet had just made its public debut, though it had existed since 1969, when scientists working for the USAdvanced Research Projects Agency connected computer networks at the University of California and the Stanford Research Institute. And, for the first time in the history of the world, accounts of God’s movements of revival on college campuses and churches spread across this new web of communication.
In 1995 the Spirit of God began to move in the hearts of His people from Brownwood, Texas, to Wheaton, Illinois, and many college campuses across the country. The Internet had arrived just in time to broadcast the details of these events that were not picked up in daily news reports.
My Old Emails
I began to save my emails in 1995. I actually printed them out, which is a good thing because just before CompuServe was gobbled up by AOL, I cancelled my subscription and who knows what happened to all those emails I had floating in Cyberspace.
I went back today and read some of the correspondence that became the forerunner of what we would call today, “going viral,” and I came across an email that contained a journal entry from a student in Brownwood, Texas (not to be confused with Brownsville, which is in Florida). The best I can figure, Chris Robeson must have been standing at ground zero of the 1995 revivals.
Chris Robeson, at that time, was a student at Howard Payne University in Brownwood. His story was later picked up by the Baptist Press. On January 22, 1995, Robeson recounted the events in his home church, Coggin Avenue Baptist Church (Pastor John Avant). Robeson had gone forward for an altar call. The Lord pierced his heart with the words from Joel 2:12 to “Rend Your Heart!” With Dr. Avant’s permission, Robeson read the verse to the congregation with the admonition to “Rend Your Hearts!”
Robeson began to weep bitterly over his own sin and the state of his own worship before God. Soon others were joining him at the altar call. The service continued as the Holy Spirit moved on people’s hearts.
Robeson recounts: “Each time I recall this specific service, I know that God was freeing me from some deep, deep bitterness and beginning a process of renewal and revival.”
Four days later, a similar experience took place at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, and the campus revivals of 1995 began.
Internet 2.0, 3.0 and beyond
That was more than twenty years ago. Welcome social media, smartphones, big data and intelligent machines that talk to each other–making me wonder what my iPhone really does while I sleep.
While the technology has changed, the need for revival continues to grow. For the first time since the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) the world speaks one language–technologically, economically, socially, culturally, and yes even somewhat linguistically with Google Translate! We call it “globalization,” which wields the double-edged sword of arguably greater integration and benefits, while at the same time exponentially increasing the opportunities for sin. After all, that is what God said would happen if we were to continue with one language.
But, there is a plus side to all this technology well beyond the cute kitties on Facebook and Instagram, and the 140 character news darts thrown onto Twitter. When God moves His people to revival, we will have for the first time in history, global, real-time coverage. According to the latest annual Mobility Report from Ericsson, there are currently 2.6 billion smartphones spread around the world. By 2020, there will be 6.1 billion, which is not quite as many hamburgers as sold by McDonald’s before they lost count, but is enough to put a smartphone in the hands of 70% of the world.
And THAT reality matters because it means that reports of revival will be instantaneous, and the effects of revival can spread quickly around the world.
So what’s the problem with that?
Knowledge is very much power. No wonder the weapons we fight with have divine power to demolish strongholds and every lofty pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). For the church, technology’s ability to broadcast reports of revival around the world is good news. The reality is, however, that the devil also knows that, and he does not struggle as we often do with the reality of his own existence and his ability to thwart the movements of God and His church to fulfill the Great Commission.
Look at it this way, from the vantage point of the Planning Commission in the Gates of Hell, there is a clear understanding that the next revival can, and will most probably be, global. The possibility of global reports of revival and salvation would be hell’s equivalent of a global pandemic. There has to be a concern that once it starts it won’t stop!
From hell’s perspective, the NEXT revival must be stopped at all cost. It must be aborted before it is born. It must be discredited and divided before it unites. It must be denied, defused, and systematically quarantined as we would an infectious disease.
From the vantage point of God’s kingdom, there has never been a greater opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission; and there has never been a greater opportunity to bring the Bible to all the nations and heart languages of the world. Similarly, there has never been such opportunity not just to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3), but in that unity to manifest the glory of God among the nations and proclaim His salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.
That little “a” with the ring around it…
It’s easy to look back now and laugh about our ignorance of the Internet and the sweeping changes brought by the technology, so we shouldn’t be hard on Mr. Gumbel and Ms. Couric. But just to be clear about that little “a” with the ring around it– it is the single most powerful key in the world for the heralding worldwide revival. It is also that little key that keeps them up all night at the Planning Commission of the Gates of Hell.
And have I mentioned that little #hashtag…?