Have you ever dreamed of birthing the next revival? Or have you dreamed of a move of God that transforms lives all around the globe? Many of us have. In studying the Bible and researching previous revivals, I discovered a foundational key for modern day, revival history. It is the key of growing covenant relationships!
If you look throughout the Bible you will see the beautiful example of the way that God births things on the earth through covenant. One example of this is seen when God made His covenant with Abraham. God promised that nations would come from him through his wife Sarah. All that Abraham had to do was believe. That is being pregnant with promise! Eventually the Savior of the world would be birthed through Abraham’s blood-line. God released His ultimate plan through partnering with a man and woman.
Ruth is a Moabite woman and she is not a part of God's covenant people. After the death of Ruth’s husband and in-laws, she chose to make a covenant with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Naomi was about to head back to Bethlehem by herself when Ruth declared this bold and powerful statement, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16).
As I was studying this topic, I asked God, “Does this mean she got converted?” After researching it in Jewish history, I found that this is recorded as the first conversion in humanity. There are no other recorded conversions until much later. This story of covenant stands out because she was grafted into the family. Ruth’s story reaches a climax when she marries an Israelite named, Boaz. Jesus, the very Son of God, would be born from her family line years later. What started this divine story was an investment of building covenant relationships.
The good news is – God is not looking for perfection or for us to have a fifth generational pastor’s background. He wants to have each of us in His family and to use every one of us to be a blessing to the nations.
You may recognize some of these well known revivalist covenant relationships: William and Katherine Booth, Daniel Nash and Charles Finney, D.L. Moody and R.A. Torrey, William and Katherine Booth, John and Carol Wimber, brothers John and Charles Wesley. Each of these relationships were instrumental in seeing a move of God released to the nations of the earth.
For example, in 1775-1831, Charles Finney would preach and when he felt the need for more prayer, he would begin stomping on the floorboard. His friend, Nash, would be downstairs below the floorboard and he would begin to pray even harder. A modern day example can be found in a covenant relationship through Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton’s (from Bethel Church, Redding, CA) friendship. After serving Bill for many years, Kris Vallotton verbalized to Bill that he would serve him for the rest of his life. The fruit of this covenant relationship is astounding.
Jennifer Miskov has a PHD in revival history and she says, “There is always one. If you look at every single revivalist there was at least one - husband and wife and/or a good friend. She said even Heidi Baker doesn't travel alone. We were not meant to do anything alone.” Ask God to reveal who are your one or more covenant friends.
She went on to remind me that the only revivalist that withdrew from community was Evan Roberts. Once he chose that, he fell into an unhealthy relationship and he never recovered. We celebrate what God did do through Roberts, but what could God have done through his life if he had chosen community?
Our choices have huge impact on the world.
“The LORD had said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people, and your father's household to the land I will show you” (Gen 12:1).
God calls us all on a journey out into the unknown like Abraham. God walks with us, leads us, and when we are in the land, I believe God shows us. It’s like when you go shopping and you find “the shirt” you always wanted, but you couldn’t have drawn it beforehand. When you meet your revivalist, covenant friend/s (which could be your husband or wife), I believe God is faithful to reveal this in a natural way.
“Jesus said, ‘Cast your net on the right side of the boat.’ And the disciples said, ‘there are too many fish in the sea'" (John 21:6). The nets weren't big enough to get all the fish in.
I see this like the world right now. The fields are ripe for harvest (John 4:35). We are not waiting. The time is now! Now is the time to build our net!
It is like an airport map. We all know the lines that stream from country to country. Every time you make an investment in a relationship, you are building strength and connection in your net. I see us beginning to strategize on how to strengthen the global net for Christ. What if our mindset was this? “I have a connection in Brazil, Florida, and London with everyone who has a passion for orphans. I will connect them!” Soon those lines start to intersect, gaps get smaller, and the connections crossover to create a global net that we can use to bring in the harvest.
Ask God, “How can I strengthen my net to bring in the harvest?” For example, it could be sending a text of encouragement. It doesn’t have to be sent often, but even if it is once a month connection, you will still be building!
After reading and researching the Bible and revival history, it is clear that the God of the universe has chosen to use relationships to birth His plans on the earth!
I don’t want to get to heaven and see that I aborted a promise that was in God’s heart just because a bridge was not mended. I want to live a life of forgiveness, commitment, and covenant that gives God something to work with while I am walking this earth. I want to follow the example of the heroes of the faith and revivalists who have gone before us.
Emma Nainby interned as a Global Legacy intern for Steve Backlund in 2015-2016. She is passionate about spreading the love of God through world-wide revival in prophetic worship and seeing Jesus get His full reward.