A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

Archive for December, 2018

Christmas Story by an Orphan

A Christmas Story By A Russian Orphan.

Best Christmas story I’ve heard in a long time!
You may have tears also.

baby

In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage.

They related the following story in their own words:

It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.

Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. (No colored paper was available in the city.)

Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States. The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help.

All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat — he looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project.

As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.

Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, “And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did.

But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, “If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?”

And Jesus told me, “If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.”

“So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him — for always.”

As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him – FOR ALWAYS.

 

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition, as we now know it, in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if trees were scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

2015 VA Tree3

In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable. The Christmas tree had arrived.

Queen Elizabeth II, 2015 Christmas Broadcast:

At this time of year, few sights evoke more feelings of cheer and goodwill than the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.

The popularity of a tree at Christmas is due in part to my great-great grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. After this touching picture was published, many families wanted a Christmas tree of their own, and the custom soon spread. …

It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

At the end of that War [WWII], the people of Oslo began sending an annual gift of a Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square. It has five hundred lightbulbs and is enjoyed not just by Christians but by people of all faiths, and of none. At the very top sits a bright star, to represent the Star of Bethlehem.

The custom of topping a tree also goes back to Prince Albert’s time. For his family’s tree, he chose an angel, helping to remind us that the focus of the Christmas story is on one particular family.

For Joseph and Mary, the circumstances of Jesus’s birth — in a stable – were far from ideal, but worse was to come as the family was forced to flee the country. It’s no surprise that such a human story still captures our imagination and continues to inspire all of us who are Christians, the world over.

Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another. Although it is not an easy message to follow, we shouldn’t be discouraged; rather, it inspires us to try harder: to be thankful for the people who bring love and happiness into our own lives, and to look for ways of spreading that love to others, whenever and wherever we can.

One of the joys of living a long life is watching one’s children, then grandchildren, then great-grandchildren, help decorate the Christmas tree. 

The customary decorations have changed little in the years since that picture of Victoria and Albert’s tree first appeared, although of course electric lights have replaced the candles.

There’s an old saying that “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”.

There are millions of people lighting candles of hope in our world today. Christmas is a good time to be thankful for them, and for all that brings light to our lives.

See: The Christmas Message: Queen Elizabeth II describes the significance of Christmas

Tree

Revival Fires in West Virginia

Revival Fires In West Virginia

 The Amazing Story Of How The West Virginia Revival Started

 

The day after some 70,000 people jammed the L.A. Coliseum to cry out for revival [Azusa Now, April 9, 2016] God sent the wind of the Holy Spirit many miles away to a humble town of 500 in West Virginia coal mining country.

“We’ve prayed for many years for this,” says Mitchell Bias, pastor of the Regional Church of God in Delbarton, West Virginia. His church had a live stream from the Azusa Now 2016 event on April 9th with their own prayer gathering, but little did he know what would happen, beginning the next day.

It seems Pastor Mitch had invited Matt Hartley, a 31-year-old evangelist from Tennessee, to preach at the church’s “spring revival.”

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“I felt impressed of the Lord to connect with him,” he notes. “I knew he was a young evangelist.”

After Hartley checked his schedule, he proposed April 10-13 for their event. “He came and started that Sunday. We had tremendous services the morning and evening on the 10th,” says Pastor Mitch.

The next day Hartley spoke at a chapel service for the church’s Christian school in Williamson, the adjacent town, which Pastor Mitch describes as another “tremendous” gathering.

On the 12th, Hartley spoke at a prayer club meeting at Mingo Central High School at the invitation of the students. The club normally has 30-40 students show up, but everyone was shocked when 450 students arrived – more than half the high school.

“He (Hartley) preached the Gospel, preached against sin,” Pastor Mitch recounts. “I know it’s not popular, but he did. It wasn’t a lengthy sermon.”

At the end of the message, Hartley gave an altar call. “He gave an invitation and 150 students responded to receive Christ. There was a lot of emotion. They cried. He prayed for them. They were touched. It was a move of God,” Pastor Mitch says.

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“The Lord did it. It was a sovereign move of the Lord.”

 

Called the Greatest Spiritual Awakening in their History

There’s a new sound coming forth from the hills of southern West Virginia – a sound many prophets have foretold but haven’t heard until now.

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For the past three weeks, the large sports complex in the small coal-mining town of Williamson, West Virginia, has been filled to the rafters with people crying out for God.

It all started when Tennessee evangelist Matt Hartley visited a local church for what was supposed to be a three-day revival service but it just kept going.

“This is not man-made, charismatic, hyper-spiritual,” Hartley told CBN News. “This is the presence of God that is overwhelming us, that is being released upon hungry people that are tired of just stagnant Christianity and “safe” church.”

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“They want Jesus more than anything else. That’s why they’re here,” he said.
Hartley also spoke at the local high school where revival seemed to break out among the students.

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“Four-hundred to 450 students got saved at Mingo Central from Matt Hartley coming in and speaking at a voluntary prayer club,” Katie Endicott, with the Mingo Central High Prayer Club, told CBN News.

“It has just gone from school to school, from youth group to youth group,” she said. “Denominational barriers have just been cast down and we’ve just had a great spirit of unity.”

Many are calling it the greatest spiritual awakening in southern West Virginia history.

“We couldn’t have done this if we wanted to,” Endicott said. “We’ve had so many revival services, so many special services and nothing like this. This is true awakening.”

Endicott says prayer plus desperation has paved the way for this spiritual breakthrough, especially among the young people.

“Oh my gosh, it’s amazing!” 18-year-old Belfry High School student Andrew Fletcher exclaimed. “I’ve never seen something like this happen where the young people just get on fire.”

“It’s really cool to come to church and it’s really cool to worship God – nobody’s judging you or saying anything about it because they’re all with you,” he continued.
“We’re starting to have prayer circles at school and we’re reading and having Bible studies at school,” he said.

Others, like Erica Priest of Lenore, are seeing God answer very specific prayers.
“My husband just got saved this morning,” Priest said. “I’ve been praying for him for seven months and he’ll be baptized this Sunday.”

Hartley believes the sound of revival now being heard in these West Virginia mountains has the potential to spread around the world.

“I believe God has preserved this state for the end-time awakening that’s coming to America,” Hartley said.

“I believe that this is the beginning of where it happens and it’s going to spread as a wild-fire throughout the nations of this world, that Jesus is going to be exalted,” he predicted.
“And the more Jesus is exalted the more the river of God is going to flow — and we have not seen anything yet to what God is releasing,” he said.

Source: CBN News

West Virginia Revival Update: Appalachian Awakening Spreading To Neighboring Counties

 

Students who have walked the halls of Mingo Central the last couple years say the West Virginian high school has a different feel these days.

Prayer has mostly replaced profanity in the hallways. Bible studies are more frequent than fights in the cafeteria. And every morning, a group of students meets at the flagpole before the first bell to read Scripture and pray.

handsup

“The Lord has swept through this area,” said Aerianna McClanahan, a junior who is part of the Mingo Central prayer club. “People have been on fire for Him. The thirst we have here is unquenchable.”

Today, on the National Day of Prayer, many southern West Virginians plan to stoke the flames of their regional revival by standing with Franklin Graham during his Decision America Tour stop in Charleston. After all, prayer is at the core of what’s happening in their community just 90 miles southwest of the State Capitol.

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“We know this [revival] was birthed in prayer so we know the only way for it to continue is to stay in prayer,” youth pastor Katie Endicott said. “We are not looking for this season to end here in southern West Virginia. We really believe that revival is going to spread all across the state. It’s going to spread all across the nation. We want to partner with all of our brothers and sisters, and we want to stand united and pray together.”

An ‘Appalachian Awakening’

Many credit a Tennessean evangelist, who has conducted several revival services during the last month in Mingo County, for triggering change. Within a month, hundreds of students have given their lives to Christ and thousands region-wide have been impacted. The Mingo Central prayer club sponsored a student-led worship event that drew almost 3,000 people and included baptisms in an inflatable pool on the school’s football field.

stadiumbaptism

These events have been pivotal, Endicott said, but the native West Virginian knows the roots of this “Appalachian Awakening” go much deeper than that.

“This is an area that has really been consecrated in prayer and through prayer for generations and generations,” Endicott said. “This has been decades in the making. People have been praying for this their whole lives.”

People like her dad, a pastor, who would wake up at 4 a.m. to go to church and pray. Or her uncle, who actually quit his job so he could devote his entire day to prayer. She admits the family wasn’t too sure of that decision, but the fruit decades later speaks otherwise.

A Generation Rising Up

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Lives are being touched, like that of junior Blake Hackney and senior Savannah Estep. Both Mingo Central students accepted Christ during this time of revival.

“It took all this for me to understand that I have a Lord and Savior,” Blake said. “I felt a huge boulder was off my shoulders.

“What motivates me is I think about God. I think about what He did. He died for us so us wretched sinners could have eternal life. He died for me so I’m going to live for Him.”

Blake, Aerianna and Savannah are among the hundreds that are now involved in the school’s prayer club, which is planning another football stadium gathering in mid-May. They’re diving into God’s Word and quickly dismissing the thought that this might be just a trend for the area.

“We’re praying that we’re a generation that just wakes up and uses what God has given us to break all the generational chains and curses,” Aerianna said.

These students have seen hardship as family members and friends have lost jobs in the coal mining business and elsewhere. Economic depression is real in this county, where more than 28 percent of people live in poverty. Drug use is rampant, and at least one report ranks southern West Virginia in the top five for fatal overdoses.

“Our area has been devastated by the economy and by drugs, and like I said, people have prayed and they have prayed and they have prayed, but it has been such a place that has been gripped by all this stuff,” Endicott said. “It was overwhelming, and people were really losing hope.

“This [revival] moment has really turned everything around. People are excited. People are passionate. People have joy. People have hope. You can’t go anywhere without hearing what God is doing.”

A Region-Wide Movement

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The movement of God hasn’t been limited to Mingo County, though. In nearby Logan County, junior Skyler Miller felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to just start preaching one day. A two-time leukemia survivor, Skyler always leaned on God, but he actually began a personal relationship with Jesus after his second diagnosis.

On March 24, 2016, three years to the day of his initial diagnosis, Skyler preached to a group of his friends during his lunch period. He gave an altar call at the end and many, including some curious passers-by, accepted Christ.

Watching God move in the region has been a blessing for Endicott.

“This is what we have believed. We did not give up hope. We always knew that the Lord was going to send true revival and true awakening to southern West Virginia. We’ve had many revival services. We’ve had great moves of God. But there has been nothing like this.”

Source: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

If you would like to accept Christ and make Him your Lord and Savior, go here.

West Virginia Revival Update: Evangelist Declares “God’s Not Done Yet!”

 

After a few weeks of rest, the young evangelist at the center of the revival in West Virginia that brought 4,000 to Christ, says God is not done pouring out his Spirit in coal country and beyond.

“Hear me, West Virginia. I know that God has moved in the last eight weeks where over 4000 people have come to Jesus, but there has been warfare ever since, and the devil is trying to abort what God has started,” Matt Hartley said.

He spoke at the Williamson, West Virginia Field House on August 8th, and will be speaking at the same venue the following two nights. Next week he will preach in Huntington, West Virginia, near the Ohio border.

“Hear me tonight. Man didn’t start this thing, and man cannot control it. It was started by a sovereign God and tonight there is a sound of heaven about to be released in this room,” he declared.

Hartley preached from 2 Samuel 5 when God instructed David in his fight against the Philistines with an unconventional warfare strategy: First, God said to “circle around behind them” and wait near the Mulberry trees. “And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the Mulberry trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.”

Hartley-preaching
Matt Hartley preaching.

When God’s people allowed the Lord to fight the battles, victory was always assured.
“There is a sound tonight that hell is getting nervous over. I prophesy that God shall arise and His enemies will be scattered,” Hartley declared.

“God is connecting heaven with earth, and there is a sound as God begins to walk through West Virginia. I hear God walking through West Virginia tonight, setting captives free.”

Many are praying the revival will sweep the United States, including Hartley. “I hear the sound of God walking through America. I hear the remnant wailing and weeping for His presence to come. There is a sound being released. God is preparing to take this awakening further than you could have imagined it would go,” he declared.

One participant, Bo Copley has been at almost every revival meeting, and last night was no exception. “The atmosphere was still really great. The presence of the Lord was all over the building. It was very similar to the other services,” he observed.

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People are coming to Christ at the revival.

“There is a sense of urgency around what Matt says. He doesn’t water down the Word. There should be a sense of urgency because people are either going to spend eternity in heaven or hell.

“People said after four weeks the revival would die down, but then it went even further. God started it, and He is not finished. If He’s not through, it will not end.”

Related links:

Revivals Index

Blogs Index: Revivals

LINKS TO REVIVAL RESOURCES

Renewal Journal and Geoff Waugh on Facebook – regular updates

Authors of Renewal Journal articles

Revival Library – revival-library.org
Revival Quotes
Tommy Hicks’ Revival Vision

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BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

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