Home > Uncategorized > One-on-One with Brian Stiller on “From Jerusalem to Timbuktu”

The gospel springs into life and people are transformed.

Ed: What led you to write From Jerusalem to Timbuktu?

Brian: North America media promotes the perception that the church is slowly dying. But in my travels, I see amazing communities of faith. In Latin America in 1900, there were 50,000 evangelicals. Today, there are over 100 million. In China, when Communism took over in 1949, there were about 700,000 Christians. Today, estimates range from 80 to 140 million. So, I asked, “Why? What brought about this enormous leap?”

My curious nature led me down paths of surprises.

Ed: What surprised you most in your research?

Brian: The biggest one was the contemporary role of the Spirit in witness and ministry. Ed, you and I and our generation have lived with a common reference to, and understanding of, the person and work of the Spirit, be it Reformed or Pentecostals.

What I did not see was that prior to 1900, the Spirit seemed to be caught in the shadows of the Father and the Son. There were periodic outbreaks of Spirit empowerment through the centuries, but not an understanding of how the Spirit gifts and empowers us for ministry and service. This breakout in the early 1900s changed the church.

With ministry no longer confined to pastors and evangelists, the laity discovered the Spirit was in them and that they too could exercise gifts of ministry. When this became more common knowledge, it rippled across the world, and the church has not been the same since.

Ed: Does one person or movement stand out for you?

Brian: When I was a young teenager, a South African names Nicholas Bhengu spoke in our church in Saskatoon. I had never heard such preaching, He was an evangelist who built deeply into his own land, creating an indigenous church plant that spread through the southern part …

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