The Canadian Revival of 1971

On October 13, 1971 Ralph and Lou Sutera began an evangelistic crusade at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (population 140,000 at the time). The crusade was scheduled to last a little over a week, but grew rapidly and ended up lasting seven weeks with participants from around 20 different denominations. It started at a church that seated 300, then moved to a church seating 600, then 800, then 1600, and finally to an auditorium seating 1800. There were meetings every night and two on Sunday along with overflow seating.


From Saskatoon, the revival spread to Regina, SK with similar results over a similar duration of time. From Regina the revival spread to Winnipeg, MB with even greater results. By early 1972, the revival had spread to the interior of British Columbia, and eventually landed in Vancouver, BC. Several smaller cities were also touched by the revival. By December 1971, the revival had generated international attention, with the likes of Christianity Today taking notice.


Key Leaders:


The key leaders were Bill Mcleod, Cliff Dietrich, Nick Willems, Walter Boldt, and Henry Teichrob. While these leaders (along with the Sutera twins) were in the public eye, more than anything this was a lay-revival. It was ordinary Christians who spread the word of what God had done in their own lives, families, churches, and communities. Less than 1.5 years after the revival started in Saskatoon, over 3000 lay teams had been deployed all over Canada and the U.S.


The Results of Revival


No doubt scores of people came to faith in Jesus Christ and for this we can praise God. But revival is by definition, more about the church coming to life than anything. Stories of love in action, broken relationships being restored, and stolen items being returned were legion, and the media took notice of this. As one author put it, the revival produced “a revolution of love” in the hearts of those who were touched. And as one pastor put it, “The revival has accomplished more than a million hours of pastoral counseling could ever have done.”


Spillover Effect – The Revival Spreads


Along with Western Canada and some parts of Eastern Canada, the revival spread to Oregon, California, Illinois, and most significantly, Ohio and Michigan (the Sutera’s served over a year in Detroit and Grand Rapids in 1972-73. Often, as hundreds of lay teams spread around Canada and the U.S., revival followed in their wake and as the Spirit of God moved.


Canadian Revival Fellowship:


Just as in any revival, eventually the flame fades. However, even years later, few could deny the positive effects this revival had on thousands of people. But perhaps the biggest long-term blessing of the revival was the formation of Canadian Revival Fellowship on September 13, 1972, an organization that is still in existence today.




This was not the Welch revival of 1904 or several other international revivals and it is not even on the radar of many students of revival. However, this story needs to be told and it is clear that what happen in the early 70’s in Western Canada was supernatural – a mighty work of God! All we can say is, Do it again Lord!


Obviously, this is a very brief summary of the Canadian Revival and if you are looking for more, the definitive work on the subject is a book by Erwin Lutzer called Flames of Freedom, which was published in 1976 by Moody Press. Having read the book twice, I can assure you it is well worth a read.

The Effects of Revival

What happens when God brings revival? Jonathan Edwards explains:

“This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town: so that in the spring and summer of 1735, the town (Northampton, Massachusetts) seemed to be full of the presence of God: it never was so full of love, nor of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then. There were remarkable tokens of God’s presence in almost every house. It was a time of joy in families on account of salvation being brought unto them; parents rejoicing over their children as new born, and husbands over their wives, and wives over their husbands. The goings of God were then seen in his sanctuary, God’s day was a delight, and his tabernacles were amiable. Our public assemblies were then beautiful: the congregation was alive in God’s service, every one earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth; the assembly in general were, from time to time, in tears while the word was preached; some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbors.

Our public praises were then greatly enlivened; God was then served in our psalmody, in some measure, in the beauty of holiness. It has been observable, that there has been scarce any part of divine worship, wherein good men amongst us have had grace so drawn forth, and their hearts so lifted up in the ways of God, as in singing his praises. Our congregation excelled all that I ever knew in the external part of the duty before, the men generally carrying regularly, and well, three parts of music, and the women a part by themselves; but now they were evidently wont to sing with unusual elevation of heart and voice, which made the duty pleasant indeed.

In all companies, on other days, on whatever occasions persons met together, Christ was to be heard of, and seen in the midst of them. Our young people, when they met, were wont to spend the time in talking of the excellency and dying love of Jesus Christ, the glory of the way of salvation, the wonderful, free, and sovereign grace of God, his glorious work in the conversion of a soul, the truth and certainty of the great things of God’s word, the sweetness of the views of his perfections.”

Edwards continues on for many more pages in his Narrative of Surprising Conversions.

Revival and Awakening

Many people would agree that the church needs revival today, but what does that mean? Dr. Garth Rosell, professor of Church History at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary defines revival this way: “A renewal of spiritual vitality sent to the church by God’s Spirit and always producing in the life of the believer a deeper love for God and a more active concern for one’s neighbor.”

You might be wondering, is there a difference between revival and awakening? Perhaps you have heard about the Great Awakening’s of the past but are not sure what they refer to. Dr. Rosell explains that an awakening is “a general sweep of revival throughout a wide geographical area and across traditional boundaries.”

Here are a few more insights:

–       Genuine spiritual renewal is always the work of the sovereign God

–       No individual or institution is ever beyond hope of spiritual renewal

–       Christians can prepare for spiritual renewal through: (1) repentance, (2) united believing prayer, (3) obedience to the Holy Bible

Psalm 85:6 “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Can God Bless America? By John MacArthur

In this era of terrorism, poverty, oppression and a few less-distinct enemies, waves of patriotism occasionally revive the slogan “God Bless America.” Sadly, though, the sentiment long ago became a cliché to which people rarely give serious thought. The phrase is even seen, ironically, on bumper stickers adjacent to other bumper stickers expressing humanistic and atheistic sentiments. One assumes that even those who don’t believe in God want His blessing on our nation.

Anti-God philosophies and worldviews now clearly dominate most of Western society. God has been removed from public discourse; prayer has been virtually banned from the public arena; agnosticism and humanism dominate public policy. So it is remarkable that the slogan “God Bless America” is still in vogue. We have to wonder what most people have in mind when they repeat it.

Originally, “God bless America” was a prayer for divine blessing. In its current form, it sometimes seems nothing more than a patriotic battle cry — usually intoned without much serious reflection. Perhaps it is sometimes recited with the superstitious belief that merely invoking God’s name can garner His blessing. One thing is clear: while Americans universally want God’s favor, as a whole, they do not want God.

Some apparently believe that America enjoys God’s blessing by divine right. After all, God has blessed America throughout history to a remarkable degree. But His blessings are not measured — as most people believe — by material affluence, power, and world dominance. The greatest blessings God has graciously given America have been spiritual blessings — freedom for the gospel to be propagated, sweeping revivals like those of the Great Awakenings, and growth and spiritual prosperity for the church in our nation. The sad truth is that all those blessings were in serious jeopardy long before the terrorist strikes reminded us that our freedom and material prosperity hang by a fragile thread.

Does our nation really desire God’s blessing? Do Americans truly long for the spiritual awakening that would be the necessary condition for true blessing, or would the policy-makers and media moguls in our society be as hostile to such a revival as they are to the threat of terrorism?

And what are the means by which the people of God should seek to have God’s blessing on our nation? Can we help position modern society to receive God’s blessing merely by influencing public policy through politics and protest, or is something more needed to fulfill the conditions under which God will bless our nation? Can external moral reform alone make America fit for God’s blessing, or is something even deeper needed in the lives of most Americans?

To ask such questions is to answer them. Scripture is clear that a wholesale spiritual renewal, brought about through the preaching of the gospel, is the true pathway to divine blessing. What is needed is not merely moral reform but spiritual regeneration. And unless this occurs on a widespread scale that deeply impacts all of society, we will continue to forfeit the true blessings of God for our nation. Merely reciting the slogan “God bless America” will do nothing for us until it becomes a heartfelt prayer for spiritual renewal and regeneration.

The remedy to our nation’s moral and spiritual woes must begin at the house of God. The process starts with personal repentance. If Christians truly want to see God’s blessing on our society, we ought to be models of genuine contrition and humility rather than merely pointing fingers of blame at the evils of secular society.

The church today is in a serious state of spiritual decline. Many churches are apparently more willing to imitate the world’s fashions and opinions than to confront them with biblical truth. Meanwhile, Christians concerned about the moral evils of society often opt for all the wrong remedies — as if the only thing needed to cure the spiritual malaise of our nation were some kind of federal legislation against abortion, sexual promiscuity, pornography, or other forms of corruption.

I am by no means opposed to legislative efforts to outlaw abortion, drug abuse, and similar abominations. But political remedies to our nation’s moral ills are no cure for the underlying spiritual problems. Of all people, Christians ought to know that, and the preponderance of our efforts ought to be focused on proclaiming the truth that can genuinely set people free. In other words, the majority of our energies ought to be invested in preaching the gospel and living the kind of life that gives testimony to the redeeming power of Christ.

Lives, not just laws, need to be transformed before America will be in a position to ask for and expect God’s blessing. The blessings of God cannot be acquired by any legislative process. Law cannot make people righteous. Scripture is clear on this. No one is justified by works of law, but by faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16). And saving faith is an individual matter; it cannot be imposed by legislative force.

In other words, society as a whole cannot be delivered from moral bankruptcy unless individual lives are transformed by the power of Christ. If that conviction does not frame the priorities of the people of God and drive the activities of the church on earth, we can forget about God’s blessing on our nation.

Excerpted and adapted from Can God Bless America? (Nashville: Nelson, 2002)

A True Call for Revival – by Henry Blackaby

Henry Black is the author of Experiencing God and many other books.

I’ve heard many “calls” for revival recently but with very little teaching and exposition on revival. It seems thatin these urgent days there are too few leaders who actually are leading God’s people corporately to repent, pray, seek holiness and return to God. Do we not realize that scripturally it is impossible to have a call for revival without a call for repentance? This has always been God’s requirement for His people. The passionate, unceasing corporate prayer that is always present in revival is desperately lacking as well. In short, I see little evidence of sincere brokenness among God’s people for our present condition or the condition of our nation. We call for revival without actually crying with tears and brokenness for revival. The “call for revival” seems almost like a spiritual fad, with no true passion and sincerity of heart. Many will say “amen” when they hear mention of the need for revival. But the “call” is fleeting and soon passes away. And then we quickly move on to other activity and return to our business as usual with no follow-through by the leaders of God’s people. We must understand that a true call for revival is first and foremost a recognition that we’ve departed from God. It demands a radical response from God’s leaders and His people. Revival has always been, and remains to this day, God dealing with the sin of His own -– not the world. Therefore, if we never recognize our need for repentance of sin, then our “call” for revival is in vain. Isaiah warned God’s people: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from God; and your sins have hidden His face from you; so that He will not hear”(Isaiah 59:1-2).

This lack of recognition among God’s people to see their present spiritual condition frightens me. The continued neglect of dealing with the sin of God’s people is both obvious and appalling. Have we moved so far from God that we remain content in our sin? Do we not fear the judgment of God? Week after week, wherever I go, I hear no mention of our desperate need of God. There’s no spontaneous concern or cry to God. It’s simply not on the minds and hearts of God’s people -– at least where I am and where I travel. Let me draw to your attention to several things that God’s people must do immediately.

First, we must seek God to grant us broken and contrite hearts. “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones'” (Isaiah 57:15).
And again, “[O]n him will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

Next, spiritual leaders must “return to Lord” –- and stay there. (Zechariah 1:3; Malachi 3:1-7; Acts 6:1-4).

Third, the people of God must pray corporately with one heart and one mind. (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1; Acts 4:31).

Fourth, God’s people must be immediately obedient to all God reveals to them. (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

Then, continually bear witness to God’s people of all that God is doing. (Acts 1:8; Acts 14:21-22, 26-27)

Finally, we should expect and experience Christ’s fullness of joy. Jesus said: “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:9-11).

The immediate need for revival among God’s people is “life and death” for our nation. Apparently, there are too many of us who simply don’t believe that, and there are far too few who sense the awful judgment that is to come if we do not see revival. Believe Christ’s warning: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Let us, therefore, repent and return quickly to the Lord.

A Prayer for Revival

I found this prayer on a revival website. As you read through it, you might be taken aback by certain things in it (and the language is not exactly what you might call modern) but at the heart of this prayer is a call for humility and repentance and a return to God. This is exactly what the Christian Church needs in our day. Here is the prayer:

Oh Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments. We are unworthy to approach Thy Throne of Grace by our own righteousness, except by the Blood of Thy Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away. We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled against Thee, by departing from Thy commandments. O Lord, our sins and iniquities testify against us. Our iniquities have separated us from Thee, and our sins have hidden Thy face from us.

Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God to walk in His ways and to follow His commandment of loving and serving God with our whole heart and with all our soul. Nor have we loved our neighbors as ourselves as we have failed to minister to the strangers, the poor, the orphans and widows. Nor have we loved our brethren in Christ thereby abiding in darkness in that we have failed to minister to the poor saints and to the missionaries in various mission fields. We have gloried in the spiritual gifts given to us by Thee, and have not gloried in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have become arrogant with our eyes being blinded by our self-righteousness.

Because of our backslidings, evil has come upon us and Thou hast sent a drought in the place of rain. Our churches have become desolate, and our adversary has trodden down many vineyards. The children of God have gone into captivity before the enemy. O God, we weep, our eyes runneth down with water; we spread forth our hands and there is none to comfort us. We are in distress. The joy of our heart has ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. The crown is fallen from our head; woe unto us, that we have sinned! Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us, consider and behold our reproach. Thou hast afflicted us for the multitude of our transgressions, and Thy judgments are righteous.

O Lord, we have a name that we live but are dead. We have become wretched, and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

Wilt Thou not revive us again that Thy people may rejoice in Thee! O Lord, revive the dry bones and breathe Thy life into us so that we may live again for Thy glory? In Jesus Holy Name, we pray. Amen


(Copied from “A Powerful Prayer Life” by Gregory Frizzell)

1. Ask God to bring deep conviction of sin, spiritual brokenness, a holy fear of God and genuine repentance among His people. There will be no revival without these elements and only God can produce them in His people. After all we cannot program or work up genuine brokenness and repentance. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

2. Pray for deep cleansing, genuine repentance, and spiritual power to engulf pastors and Christian leaders. Revival and spiritual awakening are extremely unlikely without a mighty move of God in pastors and Christian leaders. Renewed pastors are absolutely crucial to a move of God in our day! (Ephesians 6:14-20)

3. Pray for God to bestow spiritual hunger in His people and draw them to fervent intercession. God has to grant people the genuine faith and the fervent desire for prayer. With all our promotion and programming, we cannot “produce” a genuine prayer movement. (Philippians 2:13)

4. Pray that God will bring loving unity in our churches and a deep harmony between our churches. Many churches need healing among members and many churches need to stop competing jealously with other churches. (John 13:35)

5. Pray for God to fill His people with a passion to see people saved. (Only God can give a genuine burden for souls.) Until God’s people intensely pray for the lost and do aggressive soul winning revival will tarry. Be sure you are constantly praying for many lost people by name. (Romans 9:1-3)

6. Pray for God to give His people a passion for missions and starting churches. Great revivals produce an explosion of mission projects, new ministries and new church starts. Only God can grant a genuine passion for missions. (Matthew 28:19)

7. Pray that God will call thousands into ministry, missions and Christian service. Many churches are dying for lack of soul winners, teachers and church workers. Furthermore, we can start only as many churches as we have church planters to start them. (Matthew 9:37)

8. Pray that God will pour out His Spirit like a mighty purifying flood. Ask God to purify our “motives as we pray for revival. After all it is possible to pray for revival for selfish or ambitious reasons. Our motives must be solely for: (a) the glory of God, and (b) the increase of the kingdom of God. We must not pray for revival just to solve our own problems or make our church successful in the eyes of men. (James 4:2)

9. Pray for a mighty move of conviction and salvation upon communities of cultural influence. Some key examples are Hollywood actors and producers, government officials, educators, teachers, and college professors, news and media people, talk shows hosts, comedians, homosexual activists groups, and the music industry. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

10. Specifically pray for God to pour out His Spirit in a fashion even greater than He did in America in 1858 and Wales in 1904. (Ten percent of Wales’ population was saved in five months!) Ask God for a modern day of Pentecost in the United States and Canada. (Mark 11:22- 24; John 14:13-14.)