Editor’s note: This article was first published Feb. 20 by Bill Elliff on his website’s blog. Elliff is the founding and national engage pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas. He also serves on the Prayer Task Force at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Notice I have changed this title from “Asbury” (in previous posts) to “Spiritual Awakening.” There is a reason. In the wake of God’s movement, of which Asbury was catalytic, we no longer need to look to Wilmore, Kentucky. God seems to be manifesting Himself in increasing measure in many, many places.
He may be taking our eyes off Asbury. We must realize He is near, knocking at the door of His church across our nation and world. We must ask Him to visit our lives, our churches, and our cities in power—not to pass us by.
It is to be determined how vast His movement will be. But the psalmist gives us words to describe this. He speaks of an unusual time of God’s presence in Israel during the reign of a King who humbly sought the presence of God more than anything else.
God … has made Himself known. (Psalm 48:3)
SUNDAY, FEB 19
Yesterday I heard from four different pastor-friends from Mississippi and Texas in unsolicited conversations.
Flora, MS: “A spontaneous baptism service broke out at our DNow (student retreat) last night. We baptized 52 students!”
Brandon, MS: (2:15 PM) “No words for what just happened. Leaving the church now. 106 baptized.”
Baptized over 20 today … (and then later) … oops, I left too early, baptized 33!
Longview, TX: (phone conversation) The church met on Wednesday for prayer, and they have continued to meet (unplanned) each night for hours. On Sunday, their multiple services merged into one continuous service. 60 people were baptized on Sunday.
I’m hearing reports of people showing up at churches simply to pray for hours; churches opening their doors for people to come and pray this week throughout the day. Multiple college campuses are reporting similar ongoing meetings of prayer, repentance, and salvation.
Richard Owen Roberts describes revival as “The extraordinary movement of the Spirit of God that produces extraordinary results.” How are we to explain a normal chapel service that lasts (at this point) for 11 days? Spontaneous baptisms of 251 people saved in a day in just four churches? A myriad of believers across our nation (and around the world) who are being drawn to fervent prayer and genuine repentance?
If you want to read similar accounts, read Chapter 2 of J. Edwin Orr’s historical account of the 1857 revival, “The Second Evangelical Awakening.” Orr was perhaps our greatest revival historian, even renowned in the secular world. He lists the actual number of attendees at noonday prayer meetings and the number converted in New York City.
“At the turn of the New Year 1858, the city of New York had a population of 850,000 people.”
“In the month of February, showers of blessing had increased so much that they had become a deluge of no mean proportions. The secular press, noticing that something unprecedented was happening, began to give space to the news of the revival.”
“Fulton Street, the original meeting place (for the noonday prayer gatherings) was trying to accommodate crowds by holding three simultaneous prayer meetings one above the other in rooms in the same building.”
“On March 14 (Sunday) the Thirteenth Presbyterian Church of New York City received 113 by profession of faith.”
“Before very long, 10,000 New Yorkers had been converted to God and were in the care of the churches and in May a good authority gave the total for the City as fifty thousand converts.”
“As early as the beginning of February, ‘extensive revivals … now prevailing in the Methodist Episcopal Church all over the country’ were reported… a total of 8,000 people converted in Methodist meetings in one week.”
“A Baptist journal attempted to keep abreast of the news of conversion reaching its offices, but its editor apparently gave up the task after listing 17,000 conversions reported to him by Baptist leaders in three weeks.”
“The showers of blessing had caused a flood in New York, and this flood suddenly burst its bounds and swept over New England, engulfed the Ohio Valley cities and states, rolled over the newly settled West, lapped the edges of the mountains in the South, and covered the United States of America and Canada with Divine favour.”
“At any rate, the number of conversions reported soon reached the total of fifty thousand weekly, a figure borne out by the fact that church statistics show an average of 10,000 additions to church membership weekly for a period of two years.”
I was in conversation Saturday with a pastor friend, David Jett, in Mississippi. In his normal devotional time, he said, he was reading Mark 3. He texted me what he observed. This is the exact text.
One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.” Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.”
The Pressures of a Move of God
When Jesus shows up and begins to move, miracles begin, and the Kingdom of God is preached. Six Groups of People begin to form:
- The Followers: These are the believers that are His disciples who will be exhausted.
- The Hurting: These are the lame, sick, and demonized who come pressing in out of desperation.
- The Familiar: These are the ones who love us, but not the movement. They will try to protect us from ourselves.
- The Curious: These will come to check out what is going on. They won’t get involved, but will tell others what they have seen and what they think.
- The Religious: These come to refute and renounce the move, even calling it demonic.
- The Disruptive: These are sent by the enemy to discourage and disrupt the move of God.
We must be diligent and ready to navigate through these various groups with humility to sustain a genuine move of God!
God is making Himself known. He descended upon New York City in the past. He has visited Wilmore, Kentucky, in our day. He is the same God everywhere. He longs to visit your city.
How will we respond?