OF THE ARGENTINE REVIVAL
by John C. Miller
The first part of the year transpired normal enough... for the field. Lots of activity, problems, sicknesses and struggles. Church services, and a very demanding class schedule in the Bible College, made up for the rest of the time. Then Peachy and I went to the USA for a short "rest" furlough - which turned out to be more of a "work" furlough. When we left, I felt led to tell the student body that God would move in our midst the latter half of the year -september or october. Little did I know that, when we returned in August, it would turn out to be not just a renewal in our midst, but a shaking of the whole Argentine church.
When we were in the USA, we went to a Benny Hinn crusade in Atlanta. During the service, he prayed for an Argentine pastor named Claudio Freidson. His name wasnt very familiar to us then - but God knew him well. Now, in Argentina, his name has become a byword for renewal and revival.
Later, we were surprised to see him again, along with 30 Argentine pastors, at a Dallas Benny Hinn crusade. They were sprawled all over the platform, totally drunk in the Spirit. We knew then, that this would be more than a local blessing.
When we returned to Argentina we visited his church and learned that, since the Atlanta meeting, he and his church have been totally transformed. Gods Spirit and power have been mightily manifested in every service. In just 4 months it had grown to over 2,000 members. During this period of dramatic change, other pastors began to visit his services. He shared with them what God had done for him, and prayed for them to receive the same anointing. As they returned to their own churches, tremendous changes followed. There were signs, wonders, miracles and healings. Throngs were filled with the Holy Spirit and holy laughter, speaking in other languages. Lives were changed and transformed.
Perhaps you will remember back in 1988 we wrote to you about the tremendous move of God in our midst. Where many of these same things were happening along with visions of heavenly wonders. At that time God said to us that what we had seen in our midst was just the firstfruits of a greater move over all Argentina and the rest of the world.
You will also remember us sharing about Carlos Anacondia, and how God used him back in 1983 - 1987 in mass evangelism and healing. Then, God was visiting the lost. Since then, the churches were filled with new people hungry for God. But little food was found in the storehouses. As in the days of Samuel, " the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision" Neither was there found many pastors that sought after the lord. So the people began to hunger... and wander.
But now God is visiting the churches and pastors, and feeding His sheep.
Many times we wondered about this - as Mary certainly pondered the things the angel had said to her. How could this be possible? Pastors here are so hardened and closed to any new move of God. Many had shunned us back in 88 when God was moving. Yet just as Mary asked "how shall this be?" and the angel answered "the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee". This same Spirit has come upon many of the pastors and their congregations. Time and again we have seen, these same once-hardened and stoic pastors, swaying, laughing and acting as drunks under the power of the Holy Spirit. A fresh and new anointing has come upon their lives and churches. Their services no longer follow rigid forms but end well past the midnight hours. Many times no sermons are preached as the Holy spirit just takes over. Just praise, worship from beginning to end. The news spread like a bush fire and pastors and congregations from all over Argentina are coming to Buenos Aires to get a "double portion" of anointing over their lives.
By October, people couldnt fit in pastor Freidsons church, due to the visitors that were coming from the north, south, and west of the country. Buses came, filled with people. For each service people had to stand in lines that wound all the way around the block. All this in the middle of Buenos Aires. This impelled them to seek a larger place. Soon a 6000 seat stadium was rented - this soon proved too small. Now even the largest covered stadium in Buenos Aires, Luna Park, is too small. By 12 noon the stadium is packed full of christians singing and awaiting the 8 pm service! Doors are closed and outside, thousands crowd the surrounding streets, police have to re-route traffic as Christians and pastors, seeking more of God, wait patiently for hours, singing hymns and waiting for a possible second service. Close to midnight - the second service is announced, the stadium empties and refills again in a few minutes.
It is so beautiful to hear of the testimonies of changed lives, transformed pastors, to hear the joyful singing of young people waving their banners and praising God. News is quickly spreading, people are beginning to arrive from different parts of the world to partake of the table that the Lord has spread before us. We never cease to marvel at the mercy that God has time and again spread forth upon this country.
We have also rejoiced in the mighty harvest. Our church is crowded to capacity - we recently had a baptism service and baptized 60 people. Once again, although not too long ago we doubled the capacity of out church building, we will have to build, buy, or rent a larger building. In our midst also we have seen a wonderful renewal of Gods Spirit also. Young people that when God moved back in 1988 were just finishing in grade school - now are being changed and transformed. There is so much to tell that I fear I cannot include all the testimonies. God has opened so many doors for ministry. Doors that were previously closed.
When the 2 year Bible College course ended in december, and we graduated 31 - we felt we might have a time of rest - but not so. We ministered recently in a chinese church in B.A. and were amazed at what God did there! We also traveled to the province of Cordoba and later Santiago del Estero for special crusades. To the latter meetings we also invited pastors and churches of various denominations. We rented a bus and traveled along with our musicians and ministry team of Bible college students. God moved so sovereignly in those services that many visiting pastors and churches were totally changed. Our pastor there, Carmelo, was chosen leader of the pastors assembly and invited to share on the public radio station in this, previously closed, catholic city.
In mid-December, we traveled to Mar del Plata and had another wonderful crusade. The peculiar thing about this crusade was that, because of the holiday season, no suitable building could be let. The only place available was a run-down lurid dance hall. The worst of the worst. It had a reputation of drawing the addicts, drunks, gays and immoral of the city. Every dance ended in mayor brawls. The walls were covered with posters of nude women, had to be covered with paper. When I first saw the hall - I gasped! "How on earth do you think...", I chided with local pastor Lacovara, "we can have services in this God forsaken place?" He answered " Yes, I know its awful but it was this or nothing - and I didnt want to tell you before, lest the meetings be canceled." The very air was thick, with the demons that seemed to hang from the rafters, and the black cloth that draped down from the ceiling.
They started the first meeting valiantly - but it wasnt till we "cleansed" the place by the blood of Jesus - that we could even breathe deeply. The very next day, when I insisted, we finally found a suitable place - a large church - to move the services to. But before we could announce the change, as I was in prayer, the Lord said to me "I have chosen this place - to show my glory! Did not I choose a stable filled with the smell of dung and urine to be the dwelling place of my son?" He had chosen the worst to shew the best. The Azuza street revival was also in a horse stable. Words can hardly describe what happened those days. The glory of the Lord just came down in that "stable". Pastors, children, people were filled with glory. There was joy, laughter, singing, worship, deliverance, overcoming waves of glory. There was such power present that whenever a group of pastors, workers or children would come on the platform they would be slain in the spirit.
Later we learned that since those services - they have not been able to have another dance festival. Contracts were unexplainably canceled as rock and other music groups evaded the hall like the plague. They say that somehow "Its not the same as before". That reminds me of the time several years ago when we had lovely meetings in the province of Tucuman in a popular movie theater. They were never able to show another film. It is still closed. I told the pastor they should try to buy the place for a church.
I was also invited to preach at an open air evangelistic crusade in the nearby city of "paso del Rey" (passing of the king). As I prayed, (people later testified) even people walking down the street, blocks away - unaware of the meetings - fell under the power of God and were delivered.
Time and space is so short to share all the wonderful things God is doing in our midst. But just let me share a couple of testimonies, as a sample of what is happening here.
In one especially lovely service, I said "ask God for an impossibleand he will do it". One young girl prayed " God please save my continually - backsliding father". Her father was very lukewarm and unstable christian. Daughter and family suffered much because of him. In fact, when I last saw him, I said. "Dorado, tho you are middle-aged, you will soon die, and what will I say of you in the funeral? Will I bury you as a believer or sadly say you went to hell?" He laughed uncomfortably and slithered away. Three weeks later, the very afternoon the daughter had prayed for his salvation, he went to a meeting in our annex church. During the service, as God began to move, a bearded derelict walked in. Pastor Ricardo said to him, "do you also want this joy you are seeing? He said "Yes I do". Pastor then said, "then will you give your heart to the Lord Jesus?" The man said "No!" and stomped out. In that moment, Dorado said "But I will give him my heart!" and walked forward. God did such work in him that he was saved, washed in the blood, filled with the spirit that very hour. He ended dancing in the middle of the hall, face shining with smiles, arms interlocked with his family. As he was praising God he fell to the floor - and was gone to be with the Lord forever. He will never backslide again!. What a strange funeral it was. Not a sign of grief. Daughter and wife were all smiles and tears at the same time! "Daddy is with the Lord" his daughter peacefully said.
After the funeral, as pastor sat at the bereaved familys table, a young scraggly bearded young hoodlum walked in the door, kissed the widow and to everybodys surprise, went into the kitchen. "He is a distant relative" - said the widow. "When he was a child he used to go to our sunday school but he backslid long ago. "We seldom see him". Suddenly, a thud was heard, as they all rushed into the kitchen, there he lay - not dead, as they first presumed - but slain under the power of God! After a while he began to heave. Soon, he was sobbing under conviction of sin, and was marvelously saved there on the kitchen floor!
Alexander is the son of one of our church members. A christian as a lad, but backslidden, he went headlong into the worst that sin had to offer. This is the testimony he shared with us last sunday.
(quote) I want to share not only how far I fell in sin, but what the Lord did for me. A few years ago, I had problems in my marriage, my wife went with another man. I was so shaken, lonely, and depressed, that - not being able to sleep at night - I began taking pills to sleep. Many times, thoughts came to my mind to commit suicide. Someone offered me stimulant drugs. At first I felt better, but later I needed stronger drugs, till finally I was addicted. I then had to buy my own drugs. Entering into the underworld of the drug culture, a dangerous place, I soon found suppliers for my addiction. I even went into what is called the hidden city. (This is deep inside a ghetto of shacks - where even police fear to go) But when I would come out, policemen would stop me and take away all my money. So I bought a little shack and went to live inside that city of sin, where not only drugs abounded, but also thugs, thieves, and all kinds of shady characters. Only God could have kept me there during the 5 months I lived there. How could I have fallen so far, when I had a home, car and family? Because by now, I was totally addicted. Since I needed money for my habit, I bought and fixed a wrecked car. I couldnt sell it, so at a "friends" suggestion, I took it to Paraguay (where they buy stolen cars) and sold it. Then I returned and reported it to my insurance as stolen, and reaped the profits. It seemed so easy! But this couldnt last I knew, as the insurance companies would soon be on to my game. So, along with a crony, I turned to stealing cars, and selling them in Paraguay. One day, Oct. 10th, 1992, we had stolen a Peugeot. After leaving the scene, 20 minutes later,I looked in the trunk and saw a wheel chair - the car belonged to a handicapped person. Suddenly I came to myself and thought: "what am I doing?" Then on an impulse - I drove the car back to the now distraught invalid. He said, "why did you return?". My partner screamed, "are you crazy?" Again, I dont know why I did it. I knew I risked being arrested. I just looked at the invalid and walked away. But since that moment, I began to feel bad about my life. Two days later (an Argentine holiday) we went looking for a car to steal. Although we cruised all day, I couldnt find the "right car". Finally at 10 pm, right in front of the Obras Stadium, I saw a nice car and said to my partner, "this one is mine". Since there was a crowd waiting to get in, I asked my friend if it was a rock concert, and he said "yes". Little did I know that this was a christian crusade with Claudio Freidson, and that my mother was at that very moment inside praying for me. She even took one of my old shirts as a "prayer cloth". Quickly I broke into the new car and ripped out the wires for a "hot start". Suddenly, I slumped over the steering wheel completely "paralyzed", my head pressing the horn! (I know now that I was "under the power" as were many hundreds that were falling that very instant inside the stadium.) In a few seconds, the car alarm started blaring, and a computer voice started screaming " Im being robbed, Im being robbed". My partner yanked my head back by the hairs, and shouted; "are you drunk or something?" Astonished and still immobilized, I answered; "I never drink when I work". Finally, very distraught, we fled. After a long while I asked him to take me to my parents home. On the way back I began to feel deep fear and remorse. On arrival, mom told me she had been to a crusade, (she didnt say where) and that thousands of christians had gathered from all over the country. She also told me about the shirt. I put it on and started to make fun of it all saying, "Im a changed boy now... see?". I stayed home though, and a few days later, a christian neighbor brought a video they wanted me to see. It was of a crusade. When I heard it was in the Obras Stadium, I began to feel nervous. And when I saw it was the 12th of October - I felt panic! The very day, place and time, I had tried to steal that car! Then I heard the co-pastor in the video saying that people were falling under the power even outside the stadium. I began to feel sick. So sick, I had to leave the room. It felt like a fire burning inside. A few days later, mom invited me to go to church with her, where John is pastor. I went, but all I could do was cry. All around me people were laughing and rejoicing. I thought this wasnt for me, because all I could do is cry. I left the sanctuary several times, but always returned. Suddenly, I fell. I didnt know I had fallen, till I opened my eyes and saw my shoes in front of my eyes. I fell many times that service. In fact, every time I got up, I fell again. But each time I fell, I felt more bondages fall from my life. Also a great conviction of sin came on me. It was there I realized it was God that had slain me under the power in that stolen car. If God hadnt touched me that day, I would be in jail with my friends today. For, just a few days after that incident, as my friends were driving their stolen cars to Paraguay, they were all caught in a gigantic national police dragnet. My partner had the least sentence - 11 years in prison! Now I know, that although I was so far from God, he was ever so close to me. He never abandoned me. I thought that, since I was so far from God, He didnt care about me. But in that unforgettable wednesday night service, I felt my sins roll off my body, and God showed me that He loved me. And that He was in control of all things. Without him - I never would have left the "hidden city". Now I understand, that if all this hadnt happened in my life, I might still be sitting in church - alone or with my wife - warming a church pew. Just one more lukewarm Christian. But now I know that Jesus loves me. And the one thing that marvels me, is the mercy of God towards sinners just like me. Thats why Im sharing this testimony, in case there are others just like me - a lukewarm christian. God touched all I had, wife, home, self-respect. During 5 long years I was under great pressure. But now I feel like a new person, a new-born babe! And I am hungry for more of God .(END OF QUOTE)
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