Editor’s Note: The following originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of AFA Journal. It has been updated and adapted below.
While many Christians eagerly express desire for revival, improper understanding of the term may hinder it from becoming a reality.
Richard Owen Roberts, founder of International Awakening Ministries, told AFA Journal the interest in revival that launched a ministry of over 60 years was prompted by his comparison of the New Testament and modern churches. He was 12 or 13 years old at the time.
Preparing the church
Roberts’s passion for revival later led to the founding of *International Awakening Ministries in 1985 (now an online repository housed under the Richard Owen Roberts Trust). He had already been mentoring students interested in revival for many years, and as the outgrowth of that ministry, IAM was established to provide oversight in educating the church on revival.
The work of IAM is carried out through proclamation, publication, and preparation for revival. Above all, the ministry’s mission is marked by a sense of urgency arising from three strong indicators that renewal is needed in the church.
“First, there is little distinction between professing Christians and the world,” he said. “Second, there are vast numbers of people who think they’re Christians but know virtually nothing about the Bible. Third, witnessing is rare among laypeople and not much more common among clergy.”
However, America is not yet primed for revival despite the evident need.
Historically, Roberts pointed out, there have been four stages leading to revival: 1) There is moral and spiritual decline. 2) There is righteous judgment from God. 3) God raises up a person with a message of revival. 4) The people call upon God in fervent prayer, and God raises up a deliverer. Clearly, much work must be done to prepare the church for a state of revival, and that is the purpose of IAM.
It’s what God does
In order to evoke a spirit of true revival, International Awakening seeks to communicate awareness of the qualities that typify genuine revival. As Roberts described, the two distinguishing elements of revival are the presence of God and the power and rapid influence of the Word of God.
“Essentially, revival is what God does for us,” Roberts clarified. “What we’re really talking about is God Himself drawing near to His people, resulting in great depths of repentance and fresh love for Christ. And when the Word of God is heard, people don’t feel they have to think about it, just that they must act upon it. That immediate response has powerful impact on the unsaved world – revival in the church; awakening in the world.”
Roberts added that if true revival overtakes the church, it will transform not only the church, but also the way the world views the church.
“Right now, the world doesn’t believe in Christ because it doesn’t believe in most church members it knows,” he said. “But let the church members become like Christ, and the world will suddenly be tremendously interested.”
*Though the website for International Awakening Ministries has not been updated recently, it still offers valuable information on genuine revival.