When we returned to Gabon in 1967, we took over the Bible school, changing the teaching language from the local language to French. The first year Elma and I were the only teachers at this Bible Institute, with more missionaries coming to help the second year.
In 1968, we had an excellent start to the school year, but by the time we got into November, we noticed the students were becoming restless and were often distracted. Due to cultural problems and traditions, several of the young couples were married just before coming to this school, and now the pagan parents were putting on pressure for more dowry payments. My wife and I began to fast and pray. God showed us what to do. We would not close the school, nor would we continue teaching the courses.
One morning when we had our usual 8:00 am chapel time, I announced to all the students, starting that day, classes would not be taught; instead, at eight every morning, I would come, not to teach, but to pray. They were free to go home or to stay and join me. Every one of the students stayed, and every morning they all came to pray. A day and a half later, God moved in, and the Holy Spirit began a mighty work that turned to conviction and deep repentance.
We saw and felt the presence of God in our midst, and we did not want it to stop. Soon our morning prayer times expanded to full days. By the end of the first week, every student had met God in a new way. Some began to share, and the exposition of the Word they spoke was obviously revelations the Holy Spirit had shown them.
During this time, we received a letter from a French evangelist concluding his crusade in a neighbouring republic, offering to come to Gabon if he could serve our church. We invited him to come for two weeks and planned to begin nightly public services in the big Bongolo church. Before long, we filled the church every evening with a thousand people. The revival went on for several months. Soon the services became longer and went on until eleven or twelve every night.
We also set up a meeting platform across the river in the “Sous-Préfecture” in the centre of Lebamba. Every morning we would first meet for prayer with the church full of people. Then in the afternoon, trucks loaded full of workers came from the nearby mining and forestry camps. The young Bible school men preached with power and authority.
As in the Book of Acts, many were healed, and many demons were cast out in Jesus’ Name. One morning a man came with an urgent invitation, “Please come to my home. My daughter is writhing and foaming at the mouth, and we have to tie her to her bed. She hasn’t eaten for days.” One of the youngest men in our Bible school, Mark, usually the timidest, took the lead when we came to the home and prayed to expel the demon. The demon left with shrieks and audible protests. When the girl was set free, she asked for food.
We stayed and sang praises to God as the food was prepared and while she ate. Then we all formed a procession and marched back to the church, singing and praising God. The unbelieving pagans watched with amazement and wonder; many were added to the church in those days. What began as a revival among the Bible school students before Christmas was transferred to the local population centre. There is nothing as convincing for unbelievers as God’s obvious work setting people free, bringing healing, and transforming lives.
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