Revival In Hawaii2
What Would Revival In Hawai‘i Look Like?
I pray for revival in Hawaii every morning. I long to see God wake up sleepy saints in our churches and bring dead people across the islands to life through Jesus Christ. I pray with confidence, because I know it’s happened before.
In Hawaii's Great Awakening of the mid-1800’s, hundreds of thousands of people in Hawaii turned to Jesus. The church in Hilo became the largest church in the world, with 13,000 people. In fact, the entire population of Hilo grew ten times larger, from 1,000 to 10,000, all because of the new believers who moved into town so they could be part of the church. People just couldn’t stop themselves from repenting!
After one Sunday service, pastor Titus Coan wrote: “A man burst out in the middle of the meeting with much emotion and tears saying, 'Lord, have mercy on me; I am dead in sin.' His weeping was so loud, and his trembling so great, that the whole congregation was moved as by a common sympathy. Many wept aloud, and many commenced praying together. The scene was such as I had never before witnessed. I stood dumb in the midst of this weeping, watching, praying multitudes, not being able to make myself heard for about twenty minutes.''
And it wasn’t just on the Big Island. A pastor in Lahaina said, “I have never witnessed more earnest, humble, persevering wrestling in prayer. One can scarcely go in any direction, in the sugar-cane or banana groves, without finding people praying and weeping before God.”
Just thirty years after the first missionaries arrived in Hawaii, there were missionaries being sent out from Hawaii. In 1852, King Kamehameha III sent a team across the South Pacific with a message to all the chiefs of the islands, pleading with them to renounce their idols and worship the true and living God.
Amazing! But definitely not unprecedented. This is the same kind of cultural shift the gospel brought to Ephesus in the first century. Acts 19 tells the story of Paul’s arrival there, and we can see what happens when the Spirit is unleashed to bring revival to a people:
1. God will bless the work of the saints
God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. (Acts 19:11-12)
These were the aprons Paul used to keep dust and dirt off his clothes as he made tents in Ephesus. These were the handkerchiefs he used to wipe the sweat off his face as he stood in the sweltering marketplace. There was nothing magical about his handkerchief, apron, socks, or underwear. The handkerchiefs and aprons were symbols of his hard work. He worked sixteen-hour days making tents and preaching the gospel. He "did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (Acts 20:31). So God blessed his humility and sacrifice, and used it for his glory.
Seeing a culture transformed is hard work. It’s not going to happen if our highest priority is our me-time. As Don Carson has said, “People do not drift toward holiness. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” But when the Holy Spirit comes to town, he empowers us to work hard by God’s grace.
2. Many people will abandon their idols
This became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (Acts 19:17-20)
Occultic leaders in Ephesus saw the power of God and they were seized with fear. Enough to start confessing and divulging their practices. Enough to start burning their magical scrolls, which were worth 50,000 pieces of silver (that’s 50,000 day’s wages for an average worker - call it $5 million). These people completely turned their backs on the things they previously relied on to give them security, significance, and power.
When the Holy Spirit brings revival to Hawaii, it will be the same. There are some people who worship physical idols, but we all have idols in our hearts. An idol is anything that we can’t do without — anything that’s so central to life that if we lose it or never get it, we'll feel like life isn’t worth living. Money. Possessions. Relationships. Leisure and comfort. When the Holy Spirit shows up, people will see how worthless those idols are. How little satisfaction and contentment they really bring. They will abandon those idols to follow Jesus.
3. The spiritual, social, and economic climate of the islands will be transformed
About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship. (Acts 19:23-27)
Notice the way Luke described the scene in Ephesus. A disturbance rose up, but it wasn’t concerning the beliefs or the teachings of the Christians. It concerned the Way. The way they lived. The Spirit used Paul’s teachings to transform hearts and minds in Ephesus, and all the new Christians started to live in a way that was radically countercultural. As a result, the idol makers were in danger of going out of business. The temple of Artemis was in danger of being completely snubbed. The tourist trade was in danger of collapsing. If all Asia and the world didn't come visit the temple anymore, that would change everything about the city.
When the spiritual climate of Hawaii is transformed, it doesn’t just mean that people will sing louder at church. It won’t just be more people raising their hands in worship. We’ll see cults and false religions collapsing. Strip clubs and massage parlors closing down. Drug dealers forced to work at fast-food restaurants, because all their business has dried up.
It seems impossible. But God has done it before in the islands, and he is the same yesterday and today and forever. He can do it again. So I’ll keep praying.