Holy Harvests: Annual Revivals at Whitsuntide Through Pentecost Feasts

The second truth — that 'Evangelism is the Heartbeat of the Church' — shows how the Church may be revived by far-flung Spirit-guided preaching of the Gospel.   The Church must practise what it preaches.    If it wants to see the Nation 'revived' — it [the Church] must first itself be revived.

Ever since my appointment as State Evangelist of the Queensland Presbyterian Church in 1951, I have cherished in my heart the great dream of 'National Revival Through a Revived Church.'

After eight years in Queensland as State Evangelist, I spent three years in Perth (Western Australia) as the Principal of the Perth Bible Institute; and then ten years as Principal of the Illawarra Bible College outside Sydney.   Of these ten years, I spent the three months' vacation period each year on evangelistic work, also looking for further students.

The records show that 50% of the total number of Bible College Students during those ten years, came from these evangelistic trips throughout Australia and overseas.   That 'Evangelism is the Heartbeat of the Church' is surely no exaggeration.

It is right here that South Africa — and Dr. Lee's stirring essay Holy Harvests: Annual Revivals at Whitsuntide through Pentecost Feasts — comes into focus.  These meetings are special evangelistic services — held annually for ten successive days each Whitsuntide, between Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday.

Rev. Dr. Andrew Murray instituted these Revival Meetings, in 1862.   They are continuing, to this day — more than 125 years later.   Just imagine it — after more than a century-and-a-quarter!

What a contribution to the life and work of the Church!   What a challenge to the Ministers and Elders and Members of our Church!

As Dr. Lee writes in this challenging essay: "In his twilight years, Murray concluded: 'Every believer must be a soul winner….   Continual believing prayer is the secret of vitality and

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fruitfulness….   God calls us now again, to unite in fervent and unceasing prayer for the power of His Spirit!'"

Is not this the heart of the matter — "every believer must be a soul-winner"?  Shall we not, in God's strength, today obey His call?

“Rise up, O men of God; have done with lesser things! Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of kings!

Rise up, O men of God! The Church for you doth wait, her strength unequal to the task. Rise up, and make her great!”  

— Rev. Prof Dr. Harold J. Whitney (Th.M., Th.D., D.D., D.Litt.), Queensland Presbyterian Church State Evangelist, Principal-Emeritus of the Queensland Presbyterian Theological Hall.

Brisbane, Australia, November 14th, 1986.

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It is very strange that perhaps the chief means of reviving Christ's Church has often escaped the notice of her friends.  We easily lose sight of the involvement of the Holy Ghost with seasonal growth and the annual climate.

However, God's Holy Word declares: "All wait upon You, so that You may give them their food at the right season. That which You give them, they gather….  You open Your hand; they are filled with good….   You take away their breath — they die….   You send forth Your Spirit — they are created!   And You renew the face of the earth!"1

After the barren winter, comes the promise of spring.  Throughout the world, spring is followed by the fruitfulness of summer –and then by the harvest of autumn.   In the northern hemisphere’s Palestine, Pentecost is the time of fresh spring growth.   It is followed by the abundant fruit of a glorious summer.2

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