What is the Ravenhill Challenge?

February 18th, 2009 by

n6585412500_7872The Ravenhill Challenge is a grassroots movement seeking to spark a cry in the Church for true revival.

Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994) was a street preacher in Great Britain who moved to America in 1959 at the direction of the Lord. He became a burning voice crying out in the wilderness of Western Christendom in the 20th century.

He was eminently a man of prayer and intercession, and was used by the Lord internationally to kindle flames of repentance and revival through preaching and writing for the better part of 4 decades. To the day of his passing in November of 1994, he challenged sleeping saints and jolted those who were “at ease in Zion.” He held high the cross, exalted the Man Christ Jesus, and yearned for the glory of God to fill earth “as the waters cover the sea.” His legacy lives on, his tears are still reaping a harvest, and his timeless message is as relevant to the Church of the 21st century as it ever was.

Listen to what A.W. Tozer said of Ravenhill:

Those who know Leonard Ravenhill will recognize in him the religious specialist, the man sent from God not to carry on the conventional work of the church, but to beard the priests of Baal on their own mountain-top, to shame the careless priest at the altar, to face the false prophet and warn the people who are being led astray by him.

Such a man as this is not an easy companion.

…he cannot turn off the burden of the Holy Ghost as one would turn off a faucet. He insists upon being a Christian all the time, everywhere; and again, that marks him out as different. (Why Revival Tarries; 1959, Bethany House Publishers)

With no exaggeration, Ravenhill carried a true prophetic burden, particularly for the Church of America. Though he has gone to be with the Lord, he has a vast number of spiritual sons peppering the globe. Men and women young and old have been shaken by his message, convicted by his brokenness, and inspired by his life of prayer.

The Ravenhill Challenge is a movement of a unique kind. We are preparing for a united response to a challenge that brother Ravenhill gave the Church years ago, and we believe that if it is taken to heart, it could have a profound and lasting impact on many congregations and ministries.

WHAT WAS HIS CHALLENGE?

In July of 1989, the Lord moved on the heart of Michael L. Brown, a then 34 year-old Jewish believer in Jesus, who happened to hold a PhD. in ancient Semitic languages. He had been crying out the Lord for 7 years, praying for true revival in the Church and yearning for the glorification of Christ in America. Brown had been in some of Ravenhill’s meetings at the beginning of the seven year period, and the Lord had used Leonard’s books and preaching (among other things) to instill an insatiable hunger for revival in his heart.

Within a month of this stirring in ’89, he had written a book that was the culmination of those 7 years of holy desire. He felt to send the manuscript to Ravenhill, hoping to get his thoughts on it. Leonard contacted him, saying, “I’m supposed to write the foreword to this book.” (You can read Dr. Brown’s own account of this story at http://theravenhillchallenge.wordpress.com/about-the-end-of-the-american-gospel-enterprise/)

Listen to brother Ravenhill’s comments from the foreword to Brown’s book, The End of the American Gospel Enterprise:

There is not much that has been written in recent years that has stirred me. This book stirred me. I read it with great profit. It is vibrant and has an anointing.

Mike’s writing is bold but not brash, incisive but not insulting, alert but not acrimonious, daring but not damning. I believe Mike heard a word from the Lord, an echo of mercy from the voice of God.

…Jesus came to send fire on the earth (Lk. 12:49-50). We need a baptism of fire today to consume our carelessness and erase our effete efforts; to send us with burdened hearts, burning lips, and brimming eyes to a dying generation.

Read this book and be ignited. Then go and be an igniter of others. (The End of the American Gospel Enterprise; Destiny Image, 1989)

A recommendation of this kind should not be ignored. This is not a glib endorsement, but the exhortation of a saintly voice, calling us to consider the message that this book conveys. But we have yet to share Ravenhill’s challenge with you! Here is the rest of what he wrote:

I recommend that this book be read publicly, two chapters at a time without comment, in the mid-week service of every evangelical church in the nation. If they will do that in each church, it could shake the whole country.

What a remarkable suggestion! We are taking it as a challenge.

We are rallying as many as are willing to take brother Ravenhill’s words seriously, setting aside one meeting a week for the reading of two chapters, “without comment,” for eight weeks. Time should be left open following the reading for reflection, repentance, personal and corporate prayer.

This challenge will commence the week of July 5, 2009, twenty years after the Lord moved on Michael Brown’s heart to write The End of the American Gospel Enterprise.

We are recommending a time of worship to precede the reading of the chapters, and an open time for response in prayer and repentance following that. We at The Ravenhill Challenge believe that the message of Brown’s book is even more relevant in 2009 than it was in 1989, and we are praying for a grassroots movement of revival and repentance to sweep through the Church in all denominations and expressions. Who knows what God will do in the earth when his people open their hearts to His word, and respond to the light that is given?

We are challenging Senior Pastors, Youth Pastors, District Leaders, House Church Overseers, House of Prayer Overseers, and Missions Directors to set aside one meeting a week (whether mid-week or not), to take up The Ravenhill Challenge!

Ravenhill used to say that “The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized during the lifetime of the opportunity.”

Let’s seize the day, brothers and sisters. Let’s take The Ravenhill Challenge and see what God will do in our midst.

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