5/19/10

What Does Revival Look Like?

I cannot claim to know what revival looks like in every instance. God moves as He wills in the affairs of men. “We cannot organize revival,” G. Campbell Morgan said, “but we can set our sails to catch the wind from heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.”

The only revival I’ve ever seen personally came in October, 1973, at Thomas Road Baptist Church and Lynchburg Baptist College. It changed my life. The story of the Lynchburg Revival appears in a book by Dr. Edward Hindson titled Glory in the Church: The Coming Revival (Thomas Nelson, 1975). This posting is based on Dr. Jerry Falwell's account, which is the final chapter of that book.

Dr. Falwell invited the Life Action Ministries Crusade team—then from St. Petersburg, Florida—for a week-long evangelistic crusade. I was part of that team.


Evangelist Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., author of Ablaze with His Glory, preached on “Phoney Baloney Christians,” and more than 50 people came to Christ that day—including many professing “Christians.” Thomas Road’s youth director, Rev. Vernon Brewer—now the founder and director of World Help—gave testimony to Christ working in his own life about his assurance of salvation.

Dr. Ed Hindson—now assistant chancellor at Liberty University, but with Life Action at that time—preached on “Ten Evidences of Salvation,” and more professing “Christians” came to Christ or nailed down their salvation. Later in the week, when he preached on “Revival in the Family,” more than 100 families publicly committed themselves to regular family devotions.

The Life Action team members gathered off campus for soul-searching, prayer, and fasting. About that time, the Spirit of God began to overwhelm students at the high school academy. A student burst into tears in the classroom and asked to be saved; another went to the principal, also wanting salvation. Classrooms became counseling rooms, and around 50 young people became Christians.

One evening, after church and college members shared how God was working, 99 people came to Christ. Dr. Ed met with college students later that same evening. More than 500 students crammed into the lobby of the downtown “hotel dormitory," and as the students called upon God for revival, deep conviction came. Many more were saved. Student prayer meetings continued throughout the night. Spontaneous weeping and singing were heard all over the dormitories.

By Friday morning, “the entire church and campus were electrified,” Falwell said. The college schedule had been totally interrupted by God, and conviction continued to come over the student body. Prayer rooms were packed at the church in every evening service. Dr. Hindson's message, “War with Russia”—which came as Israel and Egypt erupted into conflict—brought a strong desire in God’s people to get ready for the Lord’s return.

Prayer meetings broke out in college dorms and homes; and students, concerned for unsaved loved ones, called home. Many led their parents to Christ over the phone, or drove home to share the Gospel. Students evangelized throughout Lynchburg, and Dr. Falwell’s office was full constantly—people wanted to know Jesus! Testimony after testimony of God’s grace continued to fuel the flames of revival as people heard words of conviction and transformation.

At one point, so many were under conviction that the “timing” for Falwell’s television broadcast was thrown off. They went on the air with tears still in their eyes, and people wrote from all over the country, asking, “What's happening? What is God doing there?”

During 13 continuous days of services, 683 people make professions of faith. But the revival didn’t end when the Life Action team left. Outbursts of revival continued in the church and college. Regarding those days, Falwell said, “I have learned some significant facts about revival. First, you cannot start it without God. Secondly, if God is in it, you cannot stop it when it comes. Thirdly, you cannot keep it going when He has decided to quit!”

Our lost world desperately needs to see the glory of God. Del Fehsenfeld wrote, “True revival is that divine moment when God bursts upon the scene and displays His glory ... The glory comes when God takes over. He fills the church with His presence and power. When He takes over, all the credit goes to Him.”

I picked up Glory in the Church recently, and hungered for the kind of revival that shook Lynchburg 37 years ago. Del used to ask team members the same question that he asked churches: “If revival depended on you—your prayers, your faith, your obedience—would you ever experience revival?” Revival begins when individual Christians cry out to God and are willing to pay the price to know Him.

"Will You not revive us again so that Your people may rejoice in You?" (Psalm 85:6).

2 comments:

Rebecca said...

"Hallelujah Thine the Glory. Hallelujah, Amen. Hallelujah Thine the Glory, REVIVE US AGAIN...".

Rebecca

Dawn Wilson said...

I can't tell you how many times I sang that while traveling with the team in those early years, Rebecca!