Debtors Confronting The Need (The Street & The Church) 

I was intending to move on to another story about a city wide revival that Agape Force was involved in, but I would be remiss if I didn’t lay some kind of groundwork first. What drove us? What was our spiritual DNA? I remember hearing over and over again that we desired revival. I know I sure did! We saw (and I think rightly so) that our generation was literally being swept into hell. Still in the grip of the Cold War and with sexual immorality (Free Love) and drug abuse pulling many of our age toward death we perceived a black hole of need for change that opened our eyes to the fact that a nice, safe, white-picket-fence life was not in the cards for us one way or another. We lived in dangerous times. Without revival our generation would slip into the abyss. Many of us had stood on the edge and looked into it ourselves.

In this post and perhaps the next I hope to take a look at this. We, as individuals had various personalities, various gifting, various abilities, various degrees of brokenness. And we were human and flawed, even with our great longing to be Holy and have the power of purity. Yet we all seemed to have one goal and that was REVIVAL. Not only that but there were two places we wanted to see it ~ The Street & The Church! We modeled the early Salvation Army in our efforts on the streets and we went to the streets with a passion - "going for souls and going for the worst." ~ William Booth.

With the church we tried to engage and wake up the backslidden and lukewarm with our testimonies of personal transformation and saw invitations to church services as opportunities to pray down the fire. In that we were, at least in the style or our presentations, a little bit like Teen Challenge. Music. Testimonies. Short sermons. Calls to Action. Please understand that I am still talking mostly about our beginnings, our roots, what that looked like and how it played out in the places we went and the things we did. 

Essentially we wanted to be, and in many ways succeeded, in being a voice for God's interests. And our message had one key element that was mostly absent in the church of that day and sadly is still hardly heard. His Agape Love for all of us (His love is preached much today, but still the understanding of Agape Love is limited) and His broken heart over us, our rebellion and the resulting loss of relationship. Our message was essentially. GOD LOVES YOU AND YOU ARE HURTING HIM. STOP IT! We had been changed. We saw an enormous need and we felt we had a message to share. Many of us also worked very diligently to learn how to communicate with those we were trying to reach - in both directions. We were like missionaries on the streets and in the churches of our own country. We had to learn the language of the streets AND the language of the church and, for me at least, it wasn’t always easy. 

So as I go in that direction for a few posts I’d like to share another piece that Winkie wrote for the “Tales of Agape” project sometime in 1996 or 1997. It examines our motivations in a wonderful way and with style that only Winkie can bring. 



Confronting The Need

The Street & The Church

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday today and forever.” All human History is really His-Story. Every awakening starts with a revelation from God to people with hungry hearts. God is looking for people who will hear His Word and honor His Name, determined to bring Him glory above all else by their life or in their death. Every godly visitation owes its origin to a fresh Divine revelation of the nature and character of God, the state of the Church and the world, and the all-sufficiency of Christ to show Himself Lord of all. There has never been a fresh work of God without a fresh word from God. Without a vision, people perish. 

Equally significant in an awakening is the grasp and practice of real truth. Whenever God begins to do something in the earth, He “establishes a testimony and appoints a law”. He raises up something supernatural of Himself in someone you can see and gives that someone something significant to say. The sight and the light go hand in hand. There is in the words of A.W. Tozer “no revival without reformation.” The messenger must have a message. 

These young people were committed to real and lasting change in both the Church and the world. They were prepared to study, to train, to discipline themselves for godliness. They sought out the Gospel message in the ministries of revivalists, missionaries, and evangelists who had preceded them in history. They learned what these holy pioneers said and why they said it. They made God’s Book their chief reading priority and counted it especially dear; in their training schools they read the New Testament five times in ten weeks. The libraries and bookstores made available to them were filled with the words and works of their spiritual ancestors in the work of missionary revival-based ministry: the Moravians, Wesley and his Methodists, George Whitfield, Charles Finney, George Fox, William and Catherine Booth, Praying Hyde. They cut their teeth on the works of evangelists and revivalists. They read Tozer, Ravenhill, E.M. Bounds, William McDonald. They gave themselves to serious prayer and learned how to weep for lost men and women. They modeled their lives after missionary heroes Jim Eliot, Sundar Singh, David Brainerd. They sought to come to grips with the challenges of their culture along with C.S. Lewis, Francis Shaeffer, and Os Guiness. They listened to messages by intercessors like Joy Dawson, intense missionaries like George Verwer, and ministers with prophetic hearts like David Wilkerson. “I am debtor” said Paul - “to the Jews and the Greeks, to the wise and the unwise, the bond and the free.” 

The Greeks of Paul’s time defined civilization. They were the cool, the cultured, and the classy. Greek was the language of the civilized world, the words of poetry and song, the record of philosophy, history, and martial victory. To owe a debt to a Greek was to know what was going on in their world, to so appreciate and see in its utter lost beauty the fallen image of God, and to so live in that world as to not speak with an accent when they preached the Gospel to it. 

Agape Forcers were young people sometimes from sheltered backgrounds who had neither known the scars of the utterly secular nor the cynicism of rejected revival. Some were recently rescued themselves and had to learn the language of the Church to tell what had happened to them in words other than those religious people had never heard. They took a risk that they believed was worth it. They gave their lives and futures to the Wind of the Holy Spirit with a concern for the Church to experience revival and to take it to the streets. 

Winkie Pratney