When I was a teenager I loved reading stories about revival historyâmighty men and women of God and the works God accomplished through them. I would read two or three books every week, hoping to emulate these men and women. I spent hours every day praying over the Bible, asking God to do the same things again. I was hungry for God and I wanted to see the real thing.
How does a young teenager who loved playing and fighting over video games with his brother become so sold out for God?
I grew up in church and I thought it was boring. I didn't join in worship, nor did I want to. I knew the Bible better than other kids at church and my school, but that didn't mean I was interested in God. What happened?
I experienced God.
Despite my disinterest, God drew me to him. I was about 12 when the Toronto Blessing reached Australia. My parents attended a conference in Sydney which hosted the pastors of the church in Toronto where the revival broke out.
There was lots of strange stuff going on: people laughing, falling on the floor, groaning, preachers that couldn't speak etc. Wild stuff, stuff an 11 or 12 year old boy doesn't want to do in church. No-one wants to look like a fool at that age and I was no different.
Sometimes after church my parents would go out for dinner with other church members and then it would begin: laughter, loud laughter, for no apparent reason. People falling all over the place in public like they're drunk. At those times I wanted to sink under the table and hide. That would be any normal person's response. I did my best to stop this stuff happening to me. But it did. If God is present and you keep going near the flame you will eventually get burnt.
I was in a meeting in Surfer's Paradise during this time. My brother and I were glued to our chairs as usual during the worship, which at this particular service was incredible. The air felt thick. Everything within me wanted to stand up and join everyone else worshipping God, but I was too cool, so was my brother. So I sat.
I remember literally feeling pressure trying not to worship, until I the air was so thick I couldn't sit. I slumped onto the ground, unable to move with what felt like waves of vibration going over my body. When I opened my eyes and woke up the service was over, the preacher had finished. I heard nothing and most people had gone home. I looked around to see my brother lying flat on the floor. We had both been overcome by the presence of God.
Some people think this stuff is of the devil. Well I know from the Bible and my experience that when you resist the devil he flees. You can feel something strange, or see him in a possessed person, and when you say the name of Jesus Christ he goes.
However, if you try and resist God when He wants to get your attention, you are losing that fight. So God got me.
The same thing happened at another conference when the preacher asked if anyone wanted to make a decision for Christ. I thought I already had made a decision. That didn't stop some invisible force from taking hold of my legs and walking me up the front. Well it was lucky I had said a sinner's prayer before because when I got up the front I couldn't stand and soon fell flat on my back. I was changed.
These experiences got me hooked on God, His word and the miraculous. Because I experienced Him, I sought Him and because I sought Him I experienced Him even more. God truly is eternal joy. So, I proudly say I was involved in the Toronto Blessingâeven though I have never been to Torontoâand it changed my life.
A new revival
I recently visited another revival with a different appearance and objective. My father-in-law is the senior pastor of an Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) church in South Africa and in 2013 his church hosted evangelist Todd Bentley.
The meetings were scheduled to last a week but they lasted forty days instead! My wife and I began hearing reports of diamonds appearing, people coming into the church because they saw angels outside as they drove past, and a strong presence of God.
When they decided to extend the meetings for an extra couple of weeks I booked a couple of tickets to South Africa and my wife and I flew over. I wanted us to be there while my wife's parents hosted a revival in their church. By the time we got there the church was getting full every night (it seats about 5000) and seeing it was amazing.
Revival is all about people experiencing God, and that's what happened. I saw deaf people healed. I saw blind people healedâincluding a man who had been blind from birth.
Most of the people getting healed were Hindus and Muslims (the church is in an Indian township not far from Durban, called Tongaat) and 70% of the congregation were coming there for the first time every night.
People were coming to church at 3pm to get seats for the 7pm service. Everyone in town was watching it on TV. When Todd Bentley went to the shopping malls during the day, people would begin to line up for prayer and healing. Muslims and Hindus were getting delivered, healed and saved every night. By the end of the revival probably over 100,000 people had walked through the church doors.
I'm not just writing my opinion, or writing some cunningly devised fable. This is stuff I experienced: this is testimony. This is what the Spirit-filled life is: testimony. Revivals are messy, there are lots of people, but this I know: God is there.
Joshua Robbie is from the Gold Coast Australia where he runs a painting and decorating business. He recently started a church fellowship with his wife Rene' in Currumbin Queensland. Though he has many interests, including basketball and surfing, he with Rene' have determined to give themselves in service to the kingdom of God in all aspects of life.
Josh Robbie's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josh-robbie.html