NAIROBI: GAFCON II and the East African Revival
By Michael Heidt in Nairobi
VOL Special Correspondent
October 24, 2013
Leaders of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) are hoping that the spirit of the East African Revival will inspire delegates to the event and revitalize the Anglican Communion. According to John Senyonyi, Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University and conference speaker, the Revival's high moral standards have attracted converts and helped account for church growth. Senyonyi's claim is backed up by the decline of liberal denominations which have abandoned traditional sexual ethics.
The East African Revival has its roots in the late 1920s, when an evangelical Anglican missionary doctor, Joe Church, and a Ugandan, Simeon Nsibambi, experienced a renewal of faith through intense prayer and scriptural reflection. Their brand of fervent evangelical piety spread swiftly through Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and later Rwanda and was marked by an emphasis on repentance and amendment of life. According to Senyonyi: ". . . All sin and sources of evil must be cut and restitutions made to all parties." He continues, "As long as stolen goods still lie on our shelves, the believer's soul will be plagued by guilt with every sight of them. A break with past evil influences necessitates some 'clean-up' work so that the new Christian (through forgiveness) can have 'a clear conscience toward God and toward man'" (Acts 24.16)."
This radical call to repentance is evidenced by "moral transformation" which Senyonyi believes is the hallmark of the Revival, ". . . This is the great message of the Revival, Cleansing and Victory through His Blood. For ourselves it means death to self-pleasing which means lust, and self-seeking which means pride."
Rather than turn people away, the high moral demands of the Revival have attracted converts. "Interestingly, the very high moral standards did not deter," writes Senyonyi, "but indeed attracted unbelievers to this faith."
The proof of this can be seen in the thriving state of East African Anglicanism and stands in contrast to Western denominations which have abandoned traditional biblical morality in the hope of revitalizing their moribund churches. For example, the Episcopal Church (TEC) has steadily declined since 2003, when it consecrated the world's first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson. The same pattern can be seen in every denomination which has compromised the Gospel message of repentance, forgiveness and salvation for disbelieving secularism.
The Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans hopes to reverse this trend by bringing the spirit of the East African Revival to the broader Anglican Communion. In the words of Kenya's Archbishop, Eliud Wabukala, "We need to learn from our history... the leaders of the East African Revival knew that there could be no true evangelism and no true revival unless the scriptures are allowed to speak as what they really are, the inspired Word of God."
If the thunderous worship of the GAFCON event in Nairobi is anything to go by, the hoped for Revival might have already started.
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