Revival of 1972: A Landmark Video

This documentary done by Salt & Light is surely a landmark in Singapore’s Christian media history. We have had books about the history of the Singapore church (“In His Good Time” by Bobby Sng), and about the charismatic revival of the 1970’s (“Unfolding His Story” by Galven and Georgie Lee ), but this is the first time a significant full-length documentary has been launched by Salt & Light a Christian media company. It comprised mainly current interviews, old photos and film footage of witnesses and participants of the revival of 1972. 

I can imagine the challenge it presented to the media team, sourcing and collating all the old photos and rounding up revival witnesses and filming all the interviews. The amount of man hours and talent involved is huge. I first received a WhatsApp message from Thomas Franks introducing himself on 6 February 2022, and he probably had started the ball rolling even earlier. 

If the revival took place in 2022, there will be no lack of videos, social media traces, lots of Instagram pictures and Tik Tok and YouTube videos of the revival. In fact, it will be in excess – a huge video editing migraine! But it happened 50 years ago, when most of us do not own a camera. So lots of archaeological digs! Besides the initial meeting, when Thomas Franks the video producer, noted down facts and opinions, there were many occasions of clarifications about events, facts and photo sourcing. Then there is the script to write and the interviews to do. Monumental task.

The video team came to World Revival Prayer Fellowship (WRPF) an hour earlier than the appointed time to set up their equipment, and they did about two hours of filming on a few cameras, for the two interviews about the revival in Dunearn Secondary Technical School, which then grew into WRPF. By the time they finished work, it was close to 4.30pm. It took a whole day for the media team, and these were only the raw files, which then had to be sifted and edited, to fit with the storyline and script. And ours was only one side story among many side stories. 

I was glad to be part of the project, and to see myself talking in the video and contributing to the story of the revival of 1972, gave me a sense of satisfaction. The revival story was richly multi-faceted and yet there is a unity about it and this is clearly reflected in the video. You can see and hear me at the 8.15/8.30 minutes time stamp.

May this video stir a hunger among generation next to seek a new move of God for their time. It won’t be the same kind because God is not stuck in the past and his wisdom and creativity is greater than our forecasting capacity. Eyes have not seen and ears have not heard what God has prepared for those who love him.

If you were a participant of the revival of 1972 that went on for close to a decade, please feel free to tell us your story in the comment box. Thank you.

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Impact of ACS Clock Tower Revival: 50th Anniversary

This Is The Lord’s Doing

The ACS Clock Tower revival is one part of what God was doing in the 1970’s. I would call it the 1970s Charismatic Revival as the fires that were lit among the mainline Anglican and Methodist churches, among students in schools (of which one is ACS), and at Jedburg Gardens, all happened during the early 1970s and continued to burn strongly for about a decade. This revival would have great impact on the renewal and growth of the church in Singapore and overseas.

In my case, I was spiritually born and bred in the revival atmosphere that began in the backside of science laboratories of Dunearn Secondary Technical School in the middle of 1972. When I reflect on what happened 50 years ago, I cannot help but exclaim with the Psalmist: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23)

The impact of the 1970s Charismatic Revival would vary in significance and lasting fruit. The Anglican renewal’s impact would have the greatest of lasting outcomes as it touched its top leadership, the bishops Chiu Ban It and Moses Tay. Furthermore, Rev Dr James Wong brilliant channeling of renewed Anglican members into church planting works resulted in the formation of several churches that are well established churches today: tangible monuments to the work of the Spirit. The ACS Clock Tower school students’ influence, unlike the top-down of the Anglicans, would be ground-up. It would go on to open the heavy doors of the Methodist Church to the fresh wind of the Spirit, and this was clearly miraculous because students, even Spirit-filled ones, were pretty low in the church hierarchy. The Jedburg Gardens revival would be associated with the formation of the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International, a super-spreader of the renewal to all other denominations in the 1970s. The Dunearn Secondary Technical School revival became a local church with a strong focus on missions, World Revival Prayer Fellowship.

1970s Charismatic Revival Bore Much Fruit

One of the blessings of the 1970s Charismatic Revival was that it facilitated the gathering together of churches of different traditions and beliefs, and prepared the way for unity movements like the Love Singapore unity movement, and the great inter-denominational events like Here’s Life Singapore, Billy Graham Crusade and Festival of Praise.

It would result in the renewal of many nominal members in traditional churches. It would be a great spiritual awakening of first love for Jesus. Their lives would be turned upside down by the Spirit’s dynamic power and compel them into zealous works of service and ministry. Like people madly in love they would boldly spread the gospel and the blessing of renewal everywhere: in schools, homes, and the marketplace. Thousands came to Christ during the revival.

While many of these revived saints will remain in their vocations and be effective salt and light where they were, for some, this experience of first love would result in these revived saints leaving their jobs to go into full time Christian vocations: in churches, mission fields and para-church ministry. Personally, I could count about 20 persons I know from the Dunearn revival who have gone into missionary or pastoral work. I cannot imagine the numbers in other bigger more significant centers of revival.

The growth of the Christian church in Singapore and its expanded role in missions may be attributed to the 1970s Charismatic Revival which sort of raised the tide of spiritual renewal to overcome personal and church structural barriers to evangelism and missions. I would even say that the rise of many of the megachurches could be traced back to the influence of the 1970s Charismatic Revival. 

For those who want to read a well-researched, notable and comprehensive work that described the 1970s Charismatic Revival do purchase and read, “Unfolding His Story” by Georgie and Galven Lee (pic below).

To read more about factors surrounding this this revival, go HERE.

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“Unfolding His Story”: blogpastor’s book reflection

“Unfolding His Story” by Georgie Lee and Galven Lee tells the story of the Charismatic movement in Singapore through the flesh and blood of personal accounts and the skeleton of sound historical research. Like a kaleidoscope, the varied mini-narratives in the book form varied patterns and repeated colours from similar materials with the twist of time and circumstances. It is a must read if you want to gain prophetic insight into the times we are living in. You may not agree with the conclusion of the authors regarding the direction that the altars of the past are pointing to, but you cannot ignore this book.

I first met Galven in Dawson Place. He was an NUS history student doing research on the charismatic movement. My Hyundai Matrix was being serviced and he interviewed me to capture an account of the outpouring of the Spirit upon students that I was a part of. People had heard about the “Clock tower revival of ACS” but little was known about the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon students who were fasting and praying at the back of the science laboratories of Dunearn Technical Secondary School. Later I bumped into his father at a Love Singapore Pastors’ Prayer Summit. He was on fire about a school of discipleship that the FGB Gatekeepers have started. I did not know that at that time the idea for this book had already taken form. It was with some anticipation when I held it in my hands.

It is not follow a strict chronological account of the charismatic movement. In keeping with the living throbbing movement it seeks to describe, the best structure seems to be that of the authors weaving together all the testimonies of many witnesses who were called to the stand to recall their stories as accurately as they can remember them. Repetition, differing nuanced viewpoints and bias will inevitably be present in the integration of these stories, like in the synoptic gospels, but the discipline of historical research that forms the spine would keep that to the minimum.

I read the book during my Chinese New Year vacation in Bangkok. It was interesting, a page turner, and it helped me fill in the blanks in my knowledge of what happened, and I gained some insights as I reflected on what I read. Let me share several of the things I gleaned and some understanding of God’s ways I observed.

Firstly, God loves to use the most unlikely of people to glorify his name. Why was the Spirit poured out on secondary school students? Though they have time and energy, they have no power, position nor money to change the rusty machinery called church. Why was the Spirit poured out on Anglican clergy? They were drier than the bones lying in the valley of Ezekiel’s vision. And the two key persons he used: a mild mannered liberal Bishop, and a prickly social gospel minister. Yet the Holy Spirit saw what humans do not see: one was a stabilizer and the other a bulldozer, and both were needed for the spread of the movement. Then there was that multitude of bored, discontented, nominal, mid-life professionals and businessmen of denominational churches. When the breath of God went into them they became an exceeding great army. Finally even foreign talent were unlikely tools in God’s workshop: an Indian healing revivalist by the name of Edgar Webb; the ang mohs Brother Baker, white haired and mono-toned Rev Brian Bailey and long haired Rev Trevor Dearing.  You cannot help but see that it is God at work through these unlikely heroes.

Secondly, Georgie argued that the spiritual development of the church mirrored that of the development of a Singapore in its search of identity as it sought to shake free from colonialism, its rapid development, and its formation of external wings, and now a maturing and plateauing economy. This was a gem and his arguments were quite convincing.

Thirdly, he mentioned the interesting symbiotic and resistive relationship between the charismatic and Pentecostal movements. It was with refreshing honesty that this was raised in the book. I do recall that each group would avoid the events planned by the other group. The Pentecostals tend to look down on the new kids on the block even though it was their faithfulness to the full gospel that was no small factor in the beginnings and the early nurture of the charismatic movement in Singapore. However, like the elder brother in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, the Pentecostals generally stayed away from the charismatic party of fatted calf and joyful music that the undeserving denominational people were sovereignly blessed with.

Fourth, the authors rightly mentioned the three waves that revived God’s people and swept multitudes of Singaporeans into the churches. The first were the Pentecostals. The second wave was the charismatic wave. The third was the Third Wave. You get a better picture of what these are when you read the book. In addition there is a helpful glossary of these and other terms that are placed at the beginning of the book.

Fifth, the fruit of the outpouring of the Spirit can be seen in many new converts in many new small churches begun, in church extensions or plants, and in the rise of several megachurches in Singapore. This is fruit of breadth. The revival also spawned many missionaries and full time workers and pastors. Out of the revival that birthed the church I serve, I can easily count 19 missionaries and pastors and full time ministry staff. Many other clergy and pastors I have met in countless conferences share a similar participation in the charismatic revival. This is fruit of depth.

Sixth, the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International (FGBMFI) was the platform that God used to rapidly spread the message of the baptism of the Spirit and the spiritual gifts for all. This platform was a catalyst for many great blessings. The organization’s incredible success bred its own decline.  As church members were strengthened and equipped by attending FGBMFI events and returned as revived members, their churches became more capable of doing what FGBMI did. Her revitalizing role suffered gradual erosion and she drifted into irrelevancy.

Seventh, the church today mirrors the maturing economy of Singapore. What is needed for the church to get out of the plateau is to make a paradigm shift and think kingdom of God and not merely local church. It has to focus on uniting to transform all the different aspects of society and culture. The FGBMFI has gone through a name change (now FGB Gatekeepers) to reflect their new cutting edge vision of wanting to transform and disciple all realms of society and culture.

What did I like about this book? It is interesting and chockful of facts and bits of history and testimony that helped fit in the missing jig saws in my understanding of what God did during the 1970s to 1990s. What happened at Jedburgh Gardens; and how the charismatic revival came to the Anglicans and Methodists; and who’s who in the leadership of the charismatic movement, were all puzzles that this book solved for me. It helped me connect the dots. It also gave a clue to the future. Connecting the dots of the past gives me a general sense of where the dots are prophetically pointing to. And of course I liked it that one of the many valuable photos in the book showed a younger me.

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FGB Gatekeepers’ 40th Anniversary Dinner

Beautifully laid table in Fullerton Hotel ballroom
Beautifully laid table in Fullerton Hotel ballroom

Wonderful gathering of people many of whom have served side by side with each other in FGBMF Spore
Wonderful gathering of people many of whom have served side by side with each other in FGBMF Spore

Celebrations began appropriately with songs that harked back to the heydays of FGBMF Spore.
Celebrations began appropriately with songs that harked back to the heydays of FGBMF Spore.

The new face of FGBMF Singapore
Full Gospel Business Gatekeepers Singapore: this is the new name of what was once the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship Singapore ( FGBMF Spore). They were celebrating their 40th anniversary together with the launch of a book titled: UNFOLDING HIS STORY. The dinner celebration on 2nd September was well attended at Fullerton Hotel with most receptionist and volunteers manning the tables under 40 and most people attending the event over 50 years of age. On the stage that night the old and young represented the future of this middle-aged organization injected with a new zip in its movements. This partnership of young and old, hand in hand, is the new face of a miraculous but God-supervised transformation (or as businessmen would term re-invention) of the mid-lifer that was FGBMF Spore.
From dry bones to mighty army
The FGBMF Spore was at one point dehydrated and lacking vitality, if not moribund and breathing its last breath: words I dared not use if the organization was still like that today. It was like an organization that had lost its way. They had done their God-given mission so well that the churches they touched were so strong they did not need the organization’s help any more. Their heydays  were in the 1970s and 1980s. They were the bearer of the transformative experience called the baptism in the Holy Spirit. As people touched by the Lord returned to bless and strengthen their own churches, the role of FGBMF Spore became like the remains of a charcoal pit, covered with glorious ash, but needing some stoking for the fire to be reset. They needed a new purpose and that was found in the outworking of the theology of the kingdom of God in the world, the marketplace. Once a valley of dry bones, it’s now an inter-generational army infused with a clear mission and strategy. Thus they have changed their name to Full Gospel Business Gatekeepers Singapore to reflect the new mission. Some FGBMF national organizations in other countries are coming to Singapore to catch this fire too.

THE UNFOLDING STORY about to be unveiled and launched with prayer
THE UNFOLDING STORY about to be unveiled and launched with prayer

The book with photographs of the newspaper stories of speaking in tongues among students and several WRPF photos is inside
The book contains valuable photographs of the ST aritcle headings of speaking in tongues among students and several WRPF photos

Pictures of my predecessors: Pastor Johney and Bro A.M. Mathew (seated L-R)
Pictures of my predecessors: Rev Dr Johney and founder pastor Rev A.M. Mathew (seated L-R)

Unfolding His Story: new book
The highlight of the celebration was the launch of an interesting book titled UNFOLDING HIS STORY, written by a father and son team, Georgie and Galven Lee. It is the story of the charismatic movement in Singapore with a special eye on the contribution of the Anglican Church and FGBMF Singapore. Even though the writing team directly involved was father and son, it was a pleasure to see the whole Lee family, including the mother and daughter, involved in the production of this book.

With Galven who did a
With Galven Lee who did his NUS research on the charismatic movement in Singapore and was conferred a first class honours for his work. Unfolding His Story used the extensive, thorough research of his dissertation.

I remember being interviewed by Galven Lee, one of the authors. He was then a NUS history research student with a voice recorder and notebook. I shared with him what I knew of our story in the meta-narrative of the charismatic revival of the 1970s. It had to do with many students of many schools being filled with the Spirit. Our little story started with the Holy Spirit pouring out his power upon a group of students behind the science labs of the lowly Dunearn Tech Secondary School, along Bukit Timah Road. What began as students speaking in tongues behind the science labs became a crying revival and finally became the church, World Revival Prayer Fellowship. This not insignificant event was mentioned in the book.

With Rev Michael Teh, Vicar of Chapel of the Holy Spirit
With Rev Michael Teh, Vicar of Chapel of the Holy Spirit

Enjoyable evening
At my table, I sat beside Rev Michael Teh, the vicar of Chapel of the Holy Spirit, an Anglican church that was planted as a result of the spiritual renewal among the Anglicans in the 1970s. We had a nice chat and could connect easily. He is the pastor of the church which originally started in the Lee family’s home. The fellowship was good and so was the food and service but later during the meal I had cold Coca Cola spilled over me. I left for the restroom to clean up and on the way back to my table there was the apologetic head waiter and the waitress apologizing profusely and offering free dry cleaning service. Wished they offered me a free night’s stay at the hotel with breakfast. Good thing I was wearing a Mandarin collar long sleeve not a jacket. It was a long but enjoyable night.

May the Lord continue to bless the FGB Gatekeepers. I have nothing but good things to say about them now and what they have to offer to churches. If you wish to learn more about how they train people to make disciples in the marketplace you may want to read this blogpost I wrote earlier about one of their programs.

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