Last week (January 22-25) a spiritual revival took place at the Michigan Conference worker’s meeting.
This gathering was at Camp Au Sable in Grayling, Michigan. This January meeting occurs annually for pastors, Bible workers and their families. A similar annual meeting occurs every August at the camp for the same group. Typically it is a time of spiritual refection and renewal. Guest presenters bring biblical studies and practical professional seminars on all aspects of ministry and soul winning.
There have been many times through my twenty-eight years as a pastor and evangelist in Michigan when a prayer or testimony service has been refreshing and inspiring. A ‘mountain top’ experience is anticipated. But this past week was more. There was a sense among those present that the Lord had drawn near in a marked manner, a sense of a powerful filling from Him. This “most precious” message, as Ellen White had often referred to it (for example in 1888 Materials, p.629.1) was transforming lives.
The meetings at Au Sable scheduled six plenary sessions. Ron Duffield a layman and author of ‘The Return of the Latter Rain’ and ‘Wounded in the House of His Friends’ was the speaker. He shared close to eight hours of content on the history of the famous 1888 General Conference Session in Minneapolis. It was a profound experience to listen to Duffield as he reviewed the messages presented by A.T. Jones and Dr. E.J. Waggoner at Minneapolis. It was equally fascinating to study the documented reactions to their messages.
The materials that were presented were extensively footnoted and referenced. Perhaps no one has devoted more time over the last thirty years or given a more though review of the history surrounding the 1888 General Conference. This writer found his research to be persuasive and compelling. Duffield’s massive study of Minneapolis is actually a history of the Adventist message as presented from 1844-1891.
The Wednesday evening of our gathering at Camp Au Sable included a prayer and testimony time. Five of the six presentations for the Duffield series had been presented already. This suggests that the objective material led to a powerful heart response.
What did we experience? There was sincere heart-felt prayer including some public confessions. There was an uplifting of Jesus and asking for the long promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit. There was also asking for forgiveness and forgiveness being given. To tell the truth what we experienced was vulnerability, humility, and tears that are not common in a large gathering.
As pastors we have a tendency at times to hold our emotions ‘close to the vest.’ In this prayer time there was an openness that brought oneness at the foot of the cross. What we experienced was so good it is difficult to give an accurate account in words.
It was an experience brought on through a study of the Bible, prayer and heartfelt presentations from a dedicated layman of the church. The message of 1888 proved to be a powerful catalyst for this revival experience. “Wherever this message comes its fruits are good” (1888 Materials, p.228). It is a message our church needs.
As I reflected on these events in preparation for my sermons presented this past Sabbath (January 27) it was a reminder of the massive student revival that occurred on the campus of Andrews University during October of 1970, a revival that impacted Andrews significantly for the next couple of school years. The Andrews and Au Sable revivals stand out in my experience.
Many were praising God for the encouragement this message brought into our midst. Let us pray that our hearts will be receptive to the promise of Jesus given in Luke 11:13 and Acts 1:8. Then we will witness the return of the Latter Rain, the Loud Cry will be given and our Lord Jesus will come!
"So do this, my son, and deliver yourself, for you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; plead with your friend" (Proverbs 6:3).
"Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the LORD of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.”’ But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the LORD" (Zechariah 1:3).
Daniel Towar, D.Min, is the Michigan Conference Evangelist. He lives in Grand Ledge Michigan with his wife Patsy.