The great move of God known as the Welsh revival that touched Wales soon after the turn of the 20th century portends the "lightning" of yet another awakening, according to Wallace Henley.
God is up to something huge, he says in his new book, Call Down Lightning: What the Welsh Revival Reveals About the End Times. And it's that particular revival and historical cycle that reveals the world is about to see a fresh outpouring of the Spirit.
Henley, whose previous experience includes time as a journalist and a congressional and White House aide, is confident that we are about to see it happen. He is presently the senior associate pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and what precipitated his latest book was the "immensity of the [political and cultural] crisis," he explained in a phone interview earlier this month with The Christian Post.
When he left the nation's capital decades ago after serving in government, he became convicted that the most important institution in society was the Church. The problems plaguing society were beyond human capacity to solve and such problems have only intensified over the years. But as he looked into the Welsh revival he saw not only a profound move of God's Spirit springing up in the churches, but vast social transformation.
"I grew up in the age of revivals in the 1950s, in the deep South, and we called them revivals but they really are not revivals until we see the fruit of revivals coming out of it, which includes the fruit of repentance," he said.
The fruit of the Welsh revival was so extensive that, historians have noted, the donkeys that were used in the coal mines had to be retrained because the coal miners who had encountered Jesus stopped cussing and the animals no longer responded as they once did.
The Welsh revival, Henley says, "is prototypical of what Jesus predicts for the end of the age. That is, it's a sample on a small scale of the great global revival that He predicts in Matthew 24 and Matthew 13 when there will be mass harvests of people coming into the Kingdom."
The coming revival will be very sudden, just like the Welsh revival was, and will encompass every social group in the culture, he said.
"It will be the promise of God made manifest in the redemption of whole societies," he said.
Christians need not fear the end times, he went on to say. Indeed, Jude refers to this time as the "blessed hope." But many Christians tend to view them as a period of awful dread, he said.
"Yes, there will be suffering. Jesus said there will be many tribulations," he stressed, "but He said this is the beginning of birth pangs. He didn't say that was the summation of the end."
The end times began with the ministry, atonement, and the ascension of Jesus Christ, he emphasized.
"We've been living in the end times for two millennia and as the end times approach we not only will see the tensions and stresses that we're experiencing but we've got to look beyond that and see the tremendous fruit," Henley elaborated.
"So I say to every church: Get ready for the harvest. Do all possible to be ready for the harvest."
The metaphor of lightning Henley uses, both in the title and throughout the book, is that the charge is first built up in the ground and then the ground literally draws the lighting. And so it is spiritually, Henley said.
"God wants to come. The lightning is in the cloud. He wants to send revival. But He moves on us through crisis, through hardship, through dark times. He moves on us to begin to pray for that, to release that. He limits Himself at the point of our freedom. And He sovereignly moves and brings about those conditions that will cause us to move, to cry out to it," Henley said.
When Henley was a congressional aide, it occurred to him on one particular day as he watched members of the House of Representatives vote that they were elected by the people they represent to voice the desire of the people they represent.
"What a picture of intercession," he thought to himself that day.
Anytime a piece of legislation is presented in Congress it's because of a need that arises in a congressional district served by the congressman, and that person is voting on behalf of all those people.
The Church of Jesus Christ, then, is God's House of Representatives. The remnant of people on the Earth who have the authority on the Earth to cast the proverbial ballot through their prayers, he elaborated.
Henley writes extensively about Evan Roberts, a Methodist minister at the forefront of the Welsh revival in 1904–1905, who led meetings at which hundreds upon hundreds of people repented and professed faith in Jesus Christ.
Roberts was known to tarry for hours in prayer with the Lord in solitude and had visions of God doing miraculous things. Though he was a devout Christian and spent his childhood memorizing Scripture and studying the Bible, he had no formal education or theological training. Yet God used him mightily.
"God chooses the lowly things, the things the world counts as foolish, the things that are not in the sense of the world's reputation," Henley says of how God worked through Roberts, referencing 1 Corinthians 1:27–28.
And it's His heart to use people today whom the world regards as unimportant, he stressed.
"You are mighty in the Kingdom when you call down lighting, when you call out to God for revival," he says to readers who have long prayed for God to move again.
"The deeper the darkness, the brighter the light. So I anticipate that with the profound darkness of our times, that when revival comes it's going to come in a very explosive, dynamic form," Henley said, when asked about the state of the United States.
More than anything he hopes Call Down Lighting will be used as a catalyst for revival in congregations all over the world.
"Revival is not going to come through the Republican Party or the Democrat Party, or to America, or anywhere if it doesn't come to the Church. The Church is the key. And I hope church leaders will catch a new vision for the critical nature of the Church and its role in God's great cosmic plan."