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Chima Umejiaku: Pursuit of Spiritual Renewal

Chima E. Umejiaku, Pursuit of Spiritual Renewal: A Call to Corporate and Individual Revival (Maitland, FL: Xulon Press Elite, 2017), 180 pages, ISBN 9781545608111.

Dr. Chima Umejiaku is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, which is a classical Pentecostal denomination. He currently serves as pastor of Christian Assembly Church in Lynn, Massachusetts and has been involved in the planting of a new church in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The main body of this book consists of ten chapters. As the title indicates the author’s focus is revival/renewal. In the course of his writing he draws from the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. Some of the Old Testament revivals he cites are those that took place during the times of kings Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. He also references the work of God that took place through the ministry of the prophet Jonah. Drawing from the New Testament, he references the revivals that took place through the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.  He also calls attention to the great moves of God that took place through the ministry of the first century church after the Holy Spirit was poured out. In addition to the biblical accounts, the author also includes information about various figures in later church history. Some of the key figures he refers to are: Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, Charles Finney, and Joseph Lanza (more on him below). The result of all of this is that the author gives the reader a brief glimpse into the history and dynamics of revival.

Christians sometimes need to be reminded of the basics.

Umejiaku identifies some of the key components that go into bringing about both personal and corporate renewal. These are matters of discipleship: worship & praise, fellowship, evangelism, prayer, and study of the Word of God. All of these are vital for the spiritual health and development of Christians, both individually and collectively. None of this should be surprising to believers, the list the author provides is for the most part a list of historically recognized biblical spiritual disciplines. That being said, the truth is that we as Christians sometimes need to be reminded of the basics. This book provides that reminder.

The author also points out the importance of the Holy Spirit in revival. He calls the Holy Spirit “The Chief Agent of Revival” and devotes two chapters to the subject of the Holy Spirit (Chapters 6 & 7). He looks at the work of the Holy Spirit in the Bible and also makes brief mention of the Azusa Street Revival and the impact that is being made by the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements.

The book also includes the questions that were used in a survey that was conducted in Dr. Umejiaku’s church, Christian Assembly in Lynn, MA. This survey was designed to identify both the practices and the needs of the congregation. In the text, the author interprets some of the findings of the survey.

One thing that surprised me was mention of the Quakers’ Clearness Committee. This committee was used in Quaker congregations to help their members who were facing difficult decisions. It served to help people have greater clarity and discernment about what they should do regarding important decisions. The author details the specifics of how the committee functioned. He has used it in his church and he supplies the reader with information about how it was implemented there. He also gives four examples of specific cases in which it was used with members of his congregation.

One aspect of this book that was of particular interest to me was the information about the pastors of Boston Christian Assembly. Dr. Umejiaku and I are both part of the same movement and Boston Christian Assembly (which has relocated to a neighboring city and is now called Christian Assembly) is part of our movement. It was nice to learn a little more about the history of one of our churches. There is a section in the book that focuses on the second pastor of the church, Pastor Joseph Lanza. He was an important figure in the growth of the Boston church and the expansion of the movement in Massachusetts.

Seek and attain: genuine spiritual revival.

This book will remind readers of what God has done in the past. It will also show them the way forward if they want to experience revival in our time. The principles are clearly set forth. May God cause the church, the whole church, to seek after and attain genuine spiritual revival.

Reviewed by John Lathrop

 

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2020

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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