In December 2013, I attended the funeral of a dear lady who was 99 years old. She had served God faithfully in the church (which my brother pastors in France), and for many years, her heart’s desire was to see a revival. In almost every meeting, her voice could be heard: ‘Lord, send yet again, a revival!’
I had the privilege of attending her funeral, and it was a truly remarkable occasion where the presence of God was felt so powerfully. My brother Daniel said to me ‘You need to preach in church on Sunday’, and the following weekend, which was the last Sunday of 2013, as I spoke, we began to see and feel the expectation level in the church rising up in an unprecedented way. This led to the beginning of a mighty move of God, and over the next few years, this move of God would lead to many people becoming saved and experiencing healing.
Sometimes I look back and wonder if the funeral of our dear 99-year-old friend was actually the spark that lit a flame. Although she did not live to see it, her faithful prayers over the years led to a new move of God.
I have been thinking about this recently as I have been closely watching world events.
All around us, large churches, which have seen 1000s of members walk through their doors each week, have had to go ‘back to basics’ and meet in small, sometimes online groups. Throughout the Covid crisis, we have been forced to look at how we do things smaller, rather than how we make them bigger.
And we are learning how to not despise ‘small beginnings’.
Just like our 99-year-old friend in the church, her prayer life may have seemed ‘small’ to some, but I believe her faithfulness (even to the end of her life) led to something very big being ignited.
Please don’t get me wrong. I love to see churches filled with many members, but I also believe that there is Biblical precedent for small gatherings too.
In Mark 5, Jesus goes to the home of Jairus to pray for Jairus’ daughter who was very sick. When Jesus arrived there, the Scripture tells us that there were many people present, many of whom were crying loudly and wailing. And Jesus quickly sent them out of the house so that there were just a few left.
It was in that very ‘small’ moment that an incredible miracle occurred, and the little girl, who by this point was dead, was now brought back to life. Often times, we can devalue and overlook what is seemingly little.
As Coronavirus has impacted churches all across the world and forced them back to ‘small beginnings’, it would be easy to see this as a setback, but what if this is a divine strategy to usher in a move of God like we have never seen before?
Matthew 18:20 says ‘Where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there I will be with them.’
The presence of God is just as powerful and real in a small gathering as He is present in a large gathering.
Even here at UCB, our wider team (of more than 100 staff and volunteers) is not able to meet together in person, but I am hearing stories of UCB teams meeting together online, sharing Bible studies, praying for each other in new ways.
I firmly believe that for us as an organisation, we will not be ‘returning to normal’. This pandemic is forcing us to think in new ways and to not ‘despise small beginnings’.
Throughout history, God has used small groups of people to ignite something big. From the disciples (just a group of 12 men) to people like my praying friend, small groups of faithful people have been powerfully used by God to usher in great moves of the Spirit.
If you are part of something ‘small’ today, can I encourage you to have a bigger vision for it? By embracing something small and allowing God to use it, you could be part of ushering in a new move of God.