Revival raises the esteem of Jesus Christ. In Revival, God touches a community of faith just as God touches the heart of a single individual in personal renewal for broader societal awakening impacts. God brings revival among many Christians at the same time or region and in individual Christians’ lives as people get saved and renewed individually. Revival, as it was in the day of old through the power of the Holy Spirit, is breaking out while the church today is in schism, disobeying and debating rather than obeying God’s Word. 

2023 Asbury revival remains God’s touch upon a community of faith, while 1930 Oke-Ooye, Ilesa was God’s touch upon Apostle Joseph Ayodele Babalola and the beginning of a deep Pentecostalism in Nigeria. Nevertheless, some common elements in the 2023 Asbury Revival and 1930 Oke-Ooye, Ilesa Revival points to power beyond theologically dead influence and church structure. The 2023 Asbury Revival and 1930 Oke-Ooye Ilesa revival remind us that personal renewal and revival of the church imply that the individual and the church rediscover their apostolic and missionary character and identity. Something missional about the 2023 Asbury and 1930 Oke-Ooye Revivals points to a revival of holiness, confession, repentance, and healing. 

In the revival history, we are reminded to acknowledge that God is sovereign when and where He sends revival. Revival is needed to spare us from God’s awful judgment for our sins and death. The problem in the church today goes beyond decline and schism. Unless the church is revived, it will die. The most common element of revivals remains prayer that God would visit His people with salvation through Jesus Christ (Luke 1). The world needs to see God’s reviving power and manifestation, just as in the early church after the apostles had received the Holy Spirit. We read in Acts that “when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together.” The publicity was noised abroad, about men and women coming under deep conviction. The early church desperately cried for unction, not just debating or promoting public entertainment. We are in an age where secular forces and advocacy are taking the field, defying every known Christian principle. The church today is ‘caught up in a counterfeit movement’ of ‘seculargelism,’ theologically dead influence without power. Revival is about seeking power to overcome theologically dead influences and movements.

Asbury University, a Christian Wesleyan College in Wilmore, Kentucky growing informal events that started as a prayer routine in the school’s chapel on February 8, 2023, remains God’s sovereign act among people ready to receive His grace. Involving 24-hour-a-day participation from thousands of attendees, the biggest night on Tuesday, February 14, with over 3 000 attendees overflowed to facilities around the college. Asbury Revival is a practical expression and living the Wesleyan theology of John Wesley, who was inspired by scripture. It is also essential to recognise the work and mission of Inspire Network under the leadership of Rev Dr. Phil Meadow within and around the Wilmore community.  

Asbury’s history of revivals with significant moves of the Holy Spirit across the nation started in February 1905 through ‘a prayer meeting in the men’s dormitory spilled out to the rest of campus and the town of Wilmore.’ In February 1908, a two-week revival was inspired by prevailing prayer and intercession in the chapel. The Revival in February 1921, which extended for three days, was different from the February 1950 nationwide revival through a student testimony led to 118 hours of interrupted ‘confessions, victories, and more testimonies.’ The March 1958 revival that spilled over into chapel land lasted for 63 hours and began in a student-fasting prayer meeting. Other revivals were 144 hours of unbroken prayers on February 3, 1970; 127 hours of prayer and praise- at the Holiness Conference on March 1992; and four days of continuous worship, prayer, and praise in February 2006.

The 1930 Oke Ooye, Ilesa revival in the western part of Nigeria remains ‘indelible in the wise of the apostolic move of God and the beginning of deep Pentecostalism in Nigeria.’ The 1930 Oke Ooye, Ilesa, Revival with Apostle Babalola at the center could be likened to 1909 Azusa Street Revival in ‘the United States of America, with William J Seymour as the man at the center of it, and the Welsh revival of 1904, with Evan Roberts at the center.’

Apostle Babalola, born on April 25, 1904, to David Lawani Rotimi and Martha Talabi Rotimi died 57 years ago. However, Ayodele Babalola emerged through his renewal, which started on the night of September 25, 1928, when he suddenly became restless and could not sleep. It is on record that ‘before the 1930 Oke-Ooye revival, Nigerian Christianity was entirely ceremonial and coupled with pagan practices which were predominant and prevalent in those days. Under this condition, in 1918, the first Prayer group (commonly known as the Aladura) started with many worshippers from Saint Saviour Anglican Church, Ijebu Ode. The group, filled with the Holy Ghost, claimed to have used prayer to save many lives affected by the influenza epidemic. Around that time, a revival occurred in 1918 during the Influenza pandemic.

The group’s name under successive leaders went through several changes, such as Prayer Band, Precious Stone, Diamond Society, and Faith Tabernacle, in that order, until 1930. The climax of apostle Babalola’s personal renewal experience ‘was the sudden halt of his Steam roller engine while working on the Ilesa-Igbara-Oke road close to River Ariran‘ as an operator in the Public Works department. ‘He went on prayer and fasting for seven days. He had an encounter that gave precision to his divinely assigned mission and was empowered as a prophet with extraordinary power for his generation. God granted apostle Babalola the power to deliver those who were possessed of evil spirits. His mission and spirituality started from his home base, Odo-Owa, in a mysterious way preaching and prophesying about the impending dangers, except the people repent. He was called different names and persecuted, but a few weeks later, there was an outbreak of smallpox in Odo-Owa. The rejected stone later became the cornerstone. He was later celebrated, where he was rejected. Finally, his renewal initiated by God led to corporate healing for all smallpox victims. The spiritual breakthroughs were the beginning of Apostle Babalola as the foremost prophet of God and the man with extraordinary powers during the 19th-century healing corporate Revival in Nigeria.

At a particular time, when the leaders of the Faith Tabernacle were meeting at Oke-Ooye, Ilesa, between the 9th-10th of July 1930, seeking ecclesiastical direction and reconciliation among the group, God was working outside the meeting. Apostle Babalola, though not a delegate to the meeting, traveled to Ilesa with Pastor Akinyele. God used Apostle Babalola, who was put in a separate room to raise a dead child the parents brought for prayer. The miracle led to sudden interruption, a mighty sweeping revival at Faith Tabernacle Congregation Church at Oke-Ooye, Ilesa. God not only used apostle Babalola to raise a dead child, and many of those afflicted with various diseases that came to Oke-Oye, Ilesa meeting were healed through prayer, the use of the prayer bell, and the drinking of consecrated water from a stream called Omi Ayo, Stream of Joy. Thousands of people, including traditional worshippers, Muslims, and Christians from various other denominations, joined the Faith Tabernacle. The Ilesa Apostolic Council Conference meeting venue turned into a revival meeting. When the hall was no longer comfortable, the meeting shifted to an open field-air crusade, where men and women from all walks of life assembled daily for healing, deliverance, and blessings. One day administrative meeting was turned into weeks of a revival meeting, where God used a non-delegate member to the conference, Apostle Ayodele Babalola, to heal and cure hundreds of lepers, blind people, and lame persons.

Other testimonies from the revival included the hopeless barren women who were made fruitful, women who had been carrying their pregnancies for long years were wonderfully delivered. The dumb spoke, and the sick were healed and cured. Witches confessed, and many demons possessed people exorcized. Many Anglicans, Baptist, Roman Catholic, and Wesleyan church members transferred their membership and allegiance to the revivalist. Many patients in Wesley Hospital, Ilesa, abandoned their beds to seek healing from Apostle Ayodele Babalola. Ilesa became another Pentecost city for a corporate revival of the nation through Apostle Joseph Ayodele Babalola personal renewal. Through Apostle Ayodele Babalola, 1930 Oke-Ooye, Ilesa Pentecost spread to all parts of Nigeria. Apostle Ayodele Babalola’s actions affirmed that the renewal of the church implies that the church rediscovers its apostolic missionary character. Apostle Joseph Ayodele Babalola slept in the Lord on July 26, 1959. The revival continued and spread to schools, villages, and cities.

O Lord, revive us again in Jesus’ name.