By: Mike Brown
As we enter this end of the year holiday season, I thought it would be appropriate to send you a final, 1996 revival update. We can then join together in giving thanks for these glorious days of visitation in which we are living. Who knows what God will do in 1997 -- if we seek Him with all our hearts, walk humbly before Him, and are careful to obey His Word? The possibilities are staggering.
With no attempt to be systematic or to follow any chronological order, let me give you some of the highlights from the last few months. (This would have come sooner, but with the intensity of the revival schedule, the relocation of our ministry offices -- and family! -- to Pensacola, and the raising up of our ministry training school, it was almost impossible to get out a timely update.) Here is just a small glimpse of what has been happening (and as I write, it is sometimes difficult to hold back the tears of joy):
The Spirit continues to fall among the young people -- dramatically. One Saturday night service, multiplied hundreds of students, from grade school to college, were called to the front of the church. There were far too many to put on the platform, so they filled the front area. When we prayed for them in mass, the Spirit fell on them in awesome power, and most of them collapsed to the floor, consumed with God's presence. After we continued to worship and intercede for our schools ("God, give us our schools!"), we were about to dismiss the young people back to their seats when, suddenly and unexpectedly, some of them began to weep and wail in intercession. Soon, most of them were caught up with the burden for their lost generation -- and the weeping and intercession became intense. There was no formal preaching that night, but the altars were filled with lost and backslidden people. If there ever was a service to attend, it was Saturday night, Oct. 12, 1996. (The video is called "Intercession for Our Schools.")
During a Thursday night youth service with about 700 in attendance (this is the one night that the teens have their own meeting), conviction fell during the worship. One of the Brownsville young people had a word about some of the kids having sinful, idolatrous things in their possession. (There were about 300 kids visiting that night.) Spontaneously, they began to throw dozens of packs of cigarettes on the platform, then condoms, then joint paper, then joints (and, apparently, other drugs), then diet and prescription pills. The pile was so big that it filled a large, kitchen-size garbage bag! When the sheriff of the county, who happened to be in the main sanctuary that night, heard what was happening in the youth chapel, he was escorted over to see things first hand. His comment? "This is what will change America!" Several weeks later, his daughter was saved in one of the services. Yes Lord!
It seems that everything is increasing in intensity: the levels of praise, worship, and warfare, sometimes breaking out spontaneously and continuing for long periods of time; the numbers of souls responding to the altar calls; the depth of conviction. It is very common to see repentant sinners and backsliders drop their heads when you look at them -- even when you're trying to encourage them with a gentle smile. They're too ashamed of their sins -- until they know they have all been washed away. At other times, even after my daytime teaching sessions for leaders and hungry believers, the Lord's presence has been so heavy that people have tried to make it out to their cars, only to collapse on their faces, or on their backs, or to their knees on the grass outside. It is a sight to see! On one such day, the Spirit began to move on the line outside (they line up as early as 4:00 AM now, or even sleep in the parking lot at night so as to be the first on line), and people began to fall under the power and repent of sin right there in the public lot -- without anyone even praying for them. You can't contain revival in a building!
One night, three young black women made their way to the altar, all of them shaking, and the middle teenager literally being carried down by her friends. She was coming forward to get saved and was under such conviction that her friends had to support her as she tried to walk, her arms draped over the other girls, much like an injured football player is helped to the sidelines. That's the way to come to the Lord -- utterly helpless and dependent.
Another night, early in his message, Steve Hill had a word for an unsaved young man named Scott. The Lord revealed his desperate condition to Steve, so he urged him to get right that night. At the end of the altar call -- to which, we learned later from Scott's brother, he did not respond -- Steve had a word for a military man that had resisted God all his life. He told him to respond NOW. At that moment, a young man came rushing forward to surrender his life to the Lord. It was Scott, the military man. Talk about being singled out by the Lord!
A few weeks ago, two lesbians who had been living together and using drugs for years got right with God, ending their sinful relationship. Their baptismal testimonies the week following were glorious. One of the women had previously been married, and she had brought her son into the home with this other woman to live with them. (She confessed this with great sorrow at her baptism.) The night she got saved, she went home and told her son what happened. He said, "My prayers have been answered!"
At this point, you might be wondering, "Well, what happens to all these people who get saved? Are they going on with God?" Yes they are. Of course, I can't account for every single one, but I can account for many. In fact, some of them are coming to our School of Ministry beginning next month! To give you one case in point, I told you in my last update about a man from Chicago named Mark. He was an alcoholic for seventeen years, with a terrible family life as a result. He was dramatically saved and instantly delivered right in his home, watching a 700 Club report on the revival. That was in September. When I saw him in November, he looked so different: He was in the midst of a 40 day fast; his marriage and home were transformed; his brother and wife were wonderfully touched; and he and his brother had brought their construction crew to Pensacola with them (they own a construction company). The whole crew got saved! Some of these men are now candidates to attend our school.
You may have heard the testimony of Robert Lowell, the wealthy businessman who was radically converted when we came to the revival at the beginning of this year to pull his wife out. The whole family has been touched, and in the Fall, one of their daughters got married to an Iranian Muslim, her fiancé who had also been saved in the revival. They got married on a Saturday afternoon and were in church that night. (That's revival!) Why? They had so many unsaved friends and relatives with them that they couldn't miss the opportunity to bring them to the evening meeting. At the end of the altar call, the young bride turned to her lifelong close friend (and member of her bridal party), asking her if she wanted to give her life to Jesus. I could only weep as I saw the two them make their way to the altar, dissolving in tears as they knelt side by side. What a wedding present! A good number of weeks later, I asked the bride what happened to her friends. She told me that ALL of her unsaved friends in the bridal party (along with one tragically backslidden girl) got right with God that week -- and all of them were on fire. What can you say?
The life and death urgency of the hour has been underscored to us when we hear of lost sinners getting saved, and then suddenly dying one or two days later. And there was no warning that they were sick or in ill health. They got saved, and then they were gone. This has happened several times now. Even more striking was the case of a man who was in the meeting, felt conviction, and ran from it, ending up at the pool hall playing pool with three of his drinking buddies. But the conviction there was even more intense, so he left his three friends and returned to the church, giving his life to Jesus at the end of the night. It was just in time. He found out later that, shortly after he left the pool hall, the three friends drove off in their Chevy Corvette which was almost totally disintegrated moments later after a 100 mile per hour crash. Two were killed instantly; the third critically injured. This man would have been among them, had he not responded to the Spirit's pull. He was literally snatched out of the fire!
Interest in the revival has increased. In recent months, the Pentecostal Evangel -- the international magazine of the Assemblies of God -- devoted 15 pages to the revival (get the issue -- it's terrific), the Dallas Morning News ran a front-page story about the outpouring in its Sunday morning edition (by the way, it was the front page of the main section of the paper, not the religion section), and Charisma Now aired a powerful TV special on the revival. Denominational leaders in the Church of God, Southern Baptists, and United Methodists (among others) have been wonderfully touched, and our recent ministers conference was attended by leaders from about forty nations. This is in addition to the large number of leaders -- ranging from 300-500 -- who attend every week. And best of all, the fire is spreading!
A Southern Baptist testified to a dramatic rise in spiritual hunger in his church since he attended the meetings. His son, the youth pastor was living in compromise and hardness -- until God sternly dealt with him and totally turned him around. Back at the pastor's church, after a special series of meetings ended, congregants showed up at the church anyway, even though the services had ended. They were so hungry for the Lord that they climbed into the building through a hole in a broken window. And these are Southern Baptists!
Friends of mine from Phoenix visited Pensacola and went back ignited. The Spirit began moving freely in the services, the power of God fell in unprecedented ways for that fellowship, people began repenting, some of then fasting and gathering for 6:00 AM prayer, the young people got turned on and starting witnessing to all their friends, winning some of them to the Lord . . . . Such stories are common now around the country! One Spanish-speaking youth pastor from Texas with a teens group averaging 8-10 kids returned from Pensacola on fire, and he and his wife began preaching repentance to their group. Six weeks later they were running 120 kids in the meetings! And in many cities, where disunity and lack of cooperation had been the rule, pastors are now gathering together in sizable numbers for special leadership meetings, repenting with many tears, confessing their sins, and committing to pray and cry out UNTIL. That's the key!
One of my former students, an associate pastor in a Messianic congregation, showed the children at the congregational school the video featuring eight year old Whitney Lane sharing her burden for the lost -- until she breaks down crying. He invited the kids who wanted a similar burden to come forward for prayer and then, to his amazement, the younger kids there (ages 5-8 especially) began to weep, sob, and shake -- for forty-five minutes! A number of them had visions of heaven, hell, and Jesus, some of them dramatic. He arrived home with a plastic bag full of the tissues these little ones had soaked with their tears. Jesus is moving in the land!
And here's a personal illustration of the love of God. A Philipino pastor from Chicago felt that he just had to attend the revival services. He arrived at the church by way of Orlando on Dec. 10th, only to find out they we were in the midst of a break until Jan. 3rd. He was totally crestfallen, coming back the next day with the hope that the services would somehow resume. (Of course, they did not; but the revival itself continues.) He then received an out-of-the-blue invitation to speak in Toms River, New Jersey that weekend. It was there that he learned that the very next day -- this past Monday -- I would be speaking at a special minister's gathering in -- you guessed it! -- Toms River. So, from Chicago to Orlando to Pensacola to Orlando to Toms River -- he got in the river! You can't limit the goodness of God.
Finally, I should mention that there seems to be an increase in powerful healings these days, and this too is often taking place outside of Pensacola. A well-respected pastor in Wisconsin, a man whose church has been in the midst of an outpouring since visiting us in June, told me personally about the documented healing of a baby born blind. She is fine today, after receiving prayer from the leaders in that church. Isn't God awesome?
Of course -- how pathetic! -- the critics continue to raise their voices and attack those things of which they are ignorant. But what would revival be like without the critics? (That's similar to asking what the Gospels would be like without the Pharisees.) When God starts moving, everyone falls into place: The hungry press forward and are filled, the lost are drawn in and the backsliders drawn home, the laborers are raised up and thrust out -- and the critics criticizel! What else could we expect? Birds fly, fish swim, liars lie, and critics criticize.
Actually, we ought to pity those who cannot recognize the glorious fruit of tens of thousands of radically changed lives because of a little shaking (as if God's presence makes mountains and houses shake -- but not people!) or falling (as if it is illogical or unscriptural for someone to be overcome by God's power). They reject the Spirit because they don't like the style. Pity their souls (think of having a ministry of criticism!) and pray for those whom they mislead. We don't anyone to be left out.
A few months ago the Lord said to me that soon it will be an embarrassment to be associated with the critics. Day by day, the truth of that word is becoming clearer and clearer. I would hate to find myself standing in the path of a divine tidal wave, shaking my skeptical fist and shouting, "That's not God!" Heaven help the critics.
Please hear my heart: We are literally on the verge of seeing the Spirit's fire sweep through whole public schools, ignite whole regions, and shake our nation from bottom to top. Young and old will meet their God, and the nation could very well be transformed. For the first time in my life, real revival across America is within range. Let's press in without compromise until the whole country is ablaze. It really is time. As Steve often cries out at the altar calls, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?