By Ronnie Rosas | Executive Administrative Assistant
What comes to mind when you hear the word, REVIVAL?
For many, (especially those that have been in church a long time), revival might be defined by a series of special meetings at their church, usually with a guest speaker, where additional services are added through the week. The congregation was likely encouraged to invite friends and neighbors to come, bringing people who otherwise might not attend church at all.
Revival usually meant extra trips to church for a few days, with expectations set high, anticipating an exciting time with vibrant Gospel preaching, singing, dancing, shouting, people getting saved or ‘touched’ by God in a powerful way. This brought the opportunity to spend more time at the altars in prayer, allowing a break in the normal routine. Revival provided an appointed time to focus, linger and wait for the Lord to move or speak in a special way.
Without a doubt, there are endless, countless testimonies of those who encountered God’s presence during such revival meetings through the years and were forever changed. After all, Jesus Himself said that even if only two or three would gather in His Name, He would be there, (Matthew 18:20). Salvations, healings, miracle transformations are the outcome – it’s what happens when people seek the Lord wholeheartedly and encounter His presence.
All too often, however, the week of revival would come to a powerful close, and before long the usual daily/weekly routine would take over and once again become the norm. Yes, faith had been strengthened. Yes, a passion for souls was stirred. Yes, a renewed hunger for the Word had been sparked. But somehow, the farther down the calendar days passed, the more distant and quiet the rumbles of revival became. Perhaps, in a year or so, the sign would be posted outside once again and excitement would return, but otherwise, life would return to life as normal.
This may be how some still define revival, based on their personal experiences. But, if this description alone is used to define what revival is, then we have truly missed a profound, significant point. True revival cannot be limited to a few assigned days on the church events calendar. Nor can it be contained within the walls of a sanctuary.
God desires that His children live and walk in true revival, not just once or twice yearly, but daily. There is a way to live in revival, where passion for His presence is not dimmed because of work, or the kids’ game schedules, or the long to-do list of chores waiting at home.
Revivalist and Evangelist, Leonard Ravenhill is quoted as saying, “The only reason we don’t have revival is because we are willing to live without it!” Life gets busy, but the blur of our daily routines need not cause us to lose focus on who Jesus is and how much He loves us. He constantly longs to share the richness of His presence with us if we will pause long enough to receive Him.
As one who grew up in church, my perspective on revival was radically transformed several years ago. I had the incredible privilege of experiencing, first-hand, the awesome move of God known as the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola during the 1990s.
It was 1993 in Pensacola, Florida, where Pastor John Kilpatrick and the congregation of Brownsville Assembly of God began to focus intently on praying for revival. They were not satisfied with just ‘church as usual’. With earnest intercession they would meet weekly, for two years, petitioning the Lord for a mighty move that would reach their families, their community, their church, and nation. They had absolutely no idea that the Lord would hear their cries and answer in the overwhelming way that He did.
Evangelist Steve Hill had been invited by Pastor John Kilpatrick to preach at Brownsville on Sunday, June 18th, 1995. It was Father’s Day, and Steve’s message was simple; he preached on remembering the wonders of the Lord, based on Psalm 77:11. He had two main points: Jesus loves you and He has a plan for your life.
Steve and his wife, Jeri, had just returned to the States after serving as missionaries in Argentina for seven years. The Argentine Revival had profoundly impacted them and they were hungry to see God do the powerful, miraculous things they had witnessed there. Steve had also just returned from a trip to England, where revival was breaking out in London. He had recently received prayer from Sandy Millar, the vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton and had been affected deeply. Steve was hungry and eager to see God do in the U.S. what he had witnessed overseas.
Steve wrapped up his brief sermon that morning and opened the altar, inviting those who wanted prayer to come forward. Nearly one thousand people stepped up to the altars, and God began to move. John Kilpatrick described later what felt like a wind, or river blow into the sanctuary and people began to weep, many falling under the powerful presence of God that swept in. The Pastor called out to the people, “This is it! This is what we’ve been praying for! Get in!” He said he had never felt the power of God like he did that morning. He even felt a wave of God’s presence flow around and between his feet and ankles. He fell backward and was soon out under the power of God, on the floor where he stayed for almost four hours.
People remained at the altars well into the afternoon. They came back for Sunday night service that evening and many drove home as the sun was rising the next morning. God’s presence had so powerfully manifested that the decision was made to add a few extra services for the coming week.
Now, I had been working as Steve’s assistant for two years by this point, and remember that he had already preached in several churches where he would call the office on Monday and say, “The power of God fell last night in a major way! We are adding a couple of services this week!” It came as no huge surprise when the phone rang on Monday morning after Father’s Day and Steve gave the same report.
After a few days came another call, “The Lord is doing something awesome here! We are extending the meetings – maybe two weeks!” Then after the second week came the call, “This is incredible! We aren’t sure what’s happening here – but this could go for a couple of months – maybe all summer!” By October of that year our office was getting phone calls from churches around the country, as far away as Alaska, asking if there would still be services over Thanksgiving week, because if so, they would load up church vans to come and be a part!
Between the years of 1995 – 2000, maintaining a schedule of four to five revival services each week, it is conservatively estimated that over 4.1 million people from over 150 nations attended the services at Brownsville. Each night the altars would fill with people being saved, delivered, and healed. Innumerable marriages were reconciled, families were restored, and countless people were radically touched by God and called into the ministry, where they continue to carry the presence and power of God into all corners of the globe to this day.
The Brownsville Revival was certainly not the first on U.S. soil. We have a rich heritage of great awakenings from the 1700s – 1800s, not to mention the Azusa Street Revival in the early 1900’s, but what about today? Many have questioned whether we will see another great sweeping revival, or are these awesome, past moves of God simply to be filed away as just part of our church history?
The fruit of true revival is evident when lives personally encounter God and He ignites a deep, passionate love for Him. Genuine revival changes lives, plain and simple. It requires that we get the sin out in order to make room in our hearts for heaven to take residence there.
When that happens, our perspective changes. We see ourselves differently. We see others differently. A hunger grows from deep within to find a place in God’s presence and remain in communion with Him. We begin to desire to walk in a way that is not steered by our soulish senses but directed by Holy Spirit. It is in this place that the miraculous draws nearer and eclipses the mundane things of this world. We get wrecked, and ‘normal’ church will no longer cut it.
But revival doesn’t just fall randomly from heaven. It comes because people are hungry and steadfast in prayer. Prayer is key. Revival is heaven’s response to the cries of those in pursuit of God’s presence beyond what has been known thus far.
I believe we are on the cusp, maybe even over the threshold of the greatest move of God yet to be seen. The Lord is raising up a generation of people who absolutely cannot be satisfied by the mundane mediocrity of culture’s status quo.
And it’s not necessarily about trekking to the church house each night either. A.W. Tozer, American pastor during the early 1900s said: “Worshipers never leave church…we carry our sanctuary with us wherever we go.”
Lifestyle Christianity University is a place that I truly believe is a hub, a break-out point for the next awesome move of God. LCU is filled with people who long for God’s genuine, powerful, life-revolutionizing presence. They have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. So extremely good! The passion for Jesus, the choice to live holy and wholly after Him, drives the students and leadership into an insatiable pursuit of God’s Word. To know Him and make Him known – that’s the focus.
Charles Spurgeon, a well-known English preacher from the 1800s is quoted as saying, “If we are to obtain a revival, we must go directly to the Holy Ghost for it, and not resort to the machinery of the professional revival-maker. The true vital spark of heavenly flame comes from the Holy Ghost…We must go to the cross and look up to the dying Savior and expect that the Holy Spirit will renew our faith and quicken all our graces. We must feed anew by faith upon the flesh and blood of the Lord Jesus, and so the Holy Ghost will recruit our strength and give us a revival.”
As a fairly new member of this ministry staff, I’ve witnessed a hunger for revival here in the staff and students that rings beautifully familiar to my spirit. There is a growing wave of excitement, anticipation, and hunger for God to move by His Spirit in a way that will transform our culture.
We are believing that the Lord is raising up a generation of people who have been transformed by Jesus and are in love with Him – an uncompromising tide of on-fire saints, who carry the saving, healing, delivering the message of the Gospel with them wherever they go. This is the pursuit of the type of revival that neither church calendar nor church house could possibly contain. The normalcy of the past will no longer do – it’s simply time to expect far more!