What Does Revival Look like in My Generation?

What Does Revival Look like in My Generation?

By Alice Clarke

I’ve heard so many incredible stories from the revival that started in Toronto in 1994. Rooms full of people falling down in the power of the Holy Spirit, staying under for hours and hours. People’s hurts and pain healed in a moment. Marriages that were restored. Crazy manifestations of the Holy Spirit that you couldn’t fake or make up. You hear people talk about the “early days’ with a twinkle in their eye. It was truly special.

I was just a preschooler living in England when revival broke out in Toronto. I have vague memories of attending Holy Spirit meetings with my parents. Without my own experiences with God in my life, it could be easy to think that the stories I’ve heard from the ‘90s are just great stories, left in the past. God moved and it blessed a lot of people. It could be easy to think things have just “died down” because it doesn't look the same in our meetings now as it did then.

Instead, revival is supposed to move from one generation to the next, as Duncan and Kate Smith wrote in their recent blog, It’s Time to Take Your Place: How to Steward the Revival Inheritance in Your Generation:

“For the revival to continue and flow throughout the generations, we each must steward the inheritance that we’ve been given. Each generation needs to be willing to dwell in the same promises, to be willing to be heirs of the same promises, but it will manifest differently with each generation.”

In Duncan and Kate’s blog, they talk about the Jacob generation that wrestles for the inheritance of revival:

“I think that’s the millennial generation. I see many young people who love everything that happened in Toronto, who love the revival values, but most of them were only 2 or 3 years old when it was all happening at its peak… This generation must wrestle with God for their own encounters with God, and for the world around them to encounter God. To say to God, “I’m not going to let you go until you touch me,” just like Jacob did.”

So, what does it look like to wrestle for the revival inheritance? I talked to three millennial women who have been impacted by the Toronto blessing.

Not Just My Parent’s Revival

For the revival to flow from generation to generation, the experiences that you’ve read and heard about have to become your own experiences.

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Jo Bonnet leads the ministry team at Catch The Fire Toronto. When she was 11 years old, a team from Toronto came to her church in Ireland, “I can remember being prayed for by the ministry team and falling out in the Spirit. I was able to speak in the tongues for the first time. When you’re a kid, you don’t have any cynicism.” Jo loved what God was and wanted more. 

Jo talked about how she wants to share that passion for the presence of God with her baby daughter. During her time as a youth leader, she noticed the connection between the parent’s relationship with God and how the youth respond, “they get really frustrated with their parents when it’s just a Sunday thing… we really want to live out our faith every day at home so that she [our daughter] sees that it’s real.”

Ruth Broadway was born after the revival began and is now on the worship team at Catch The Fire Toronto. She talked about meeting God for herself,  “I’m walking into something that has been set up before me but I still have to pursue my own revival.”

What Does it Mean to Wrestle?

Danielle Paglionico is a School of Ministry student. She became a Christian not long before she came from the UK to the School of Ministry in Toronto in 2018. She first learned about the Toronto Blessing when she came to the school.

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Danielle talked about how she wrestled to know the presence of God in her own life when she saw other people manifesting in the presence of God, “I wrestled because I was comparing myself to other people.” But that she discovered that experiencing revival in her own life is about her identity being restored, “God is calling us to be so intentional about finding out exactly who we are in our identity so we can take our place and pass it on to the next generation.”

For Ruth Broadway, wrestling for revival in her generation is also about being grounded in Godly identity, “It all comes back to identity… I think that’s where we can do the most is when our identity is set straight in Him. That’s what makes the biggest impact… It’s recognizing when I’m not doing well, just to pursue what God says about me and His presence. And also when I’m doing totally fine just to press in because there’s always more.”

Re-digging The Wells

Jacob re-dug the wells of his father, Abraham. Duncan and Kate wrote about how it’s been important for them to stick close to their spiritual fathers and mothers, and to re-dig the previous generation’s wells. Kate Smith wrote in a recent blog

“God is the God of legacy. He wants His blessing to flow from generation to generation. Each generation is going to have a different outlook or perspective on the way things should be done. Even though Duncan and I have a different perspective to John and Carol in many ways, it’s so important for us to honour their experience and learn and grow from what they have to give.”

Jo Bonnet recently spent a weekend with John and Carol Arnott, and some other young leaders. She said, “hanging around with them you just receive so much from them. Even when they’re not praying, just spending time with them.” Seeing their passion and fire made her excited for what’s to come, “I don’t want to carry a diluted version of the revival.”

Passing it on

Jo talked about how she and her husband David are passing on what they’ve learned and received to people younger than them, by living life and doing ministry together, “We are intentionally passing it on to people who around that are 18-22, like 10 years or 15 years younger than us. We’re still obviously learning how to teach in and grow in the Holy Spirit ourselves from people above us, but trying to pass it on to others at the same time.”

What Does Revival Look Like Now?

Revival in 2019 doesn’t look the same as it did in 1994, but it’s still all about encountering God’s transforming presence and then giving that away to those around you. That will look different for every generation, but as you pursue God’s presence and dig into the Bible, you’ll be transformed and see the world around you transformed, too, which is what revival is all about.