Although I was not born a Christian, I spent the majority of my childhood growing up in a church setting. I’ve been to my share of retreats, praise nights, prayer gatherings, and so on and so forth.
The word I have heard quite often in these gatherings was “revival.” Every pastor I met seemed to want it. Every church retreat I attended seemed to aim for it. I have heard so many Christian leaders say that we needed it, but no one really explaining what it looked like.
I experienced my first taste of revival in high school. It was a Christian club event, and it was completely student-run. The guest speaker spoke a simple gospel message, and I responded to the altar call. It’s amazing how God is so responsive to such a small act of obedience. I went up to the front of the auditorium, and I experienced the exhilarating touch of the Holy Spirit. In that moment, my worldly burdens were so insignificant. I felt forgiven, loved, and empowered all at the same time! My friends and I jumped and sang our hearts out. Then, I went home, and nothing changed.
It is easy to become jaded by the Western Christian church. We have diminished the meaning of revival to be just a large attendance, loud worship, and hype on social media.
There were times when I have witnessed impressive worship gatherings that had zero impact on the condition of the congregation afterwards. Although some would shed a tear during a moving song of praise, they would leave the event still unwilling to shed their sins. Although they would shout for more souls saved, they wouldn’t allow their own soul to be humbled and sanctified. These moments tempted me to stop believing in the concept of revival. That is, until a few years ago; I saw a glimpse of what God meant for genuine revival with my own eyes.
It was my first retreat with this youth group as their pastor. Right before we left for the retreat center, a mother approached me to say that she was leading a group of the parents to fast and pray together for the entire time we were gone. And, boy, did the Lord answer the cry of their hearts!
The Spirit moved so quickly and powerfully that in the very first service, I saw teenagers (yes, teenagers!) on their feet dancing in sheer freedom and joy! It was a tough year for the youth ministry, but their worship during this retreat was not forced. It was a genuine response to the touch of God. Henceforth, it went from glory to glory.
It was so good by the end of the retreat, that I had to brace myself for what was to come afterwards, because, you see, I’ve been in this position before. I knew the disappointment of watching passionate worship die out and so-called Christians change their tune at the first sign of pain and inconvenience.
But, it only began to grow. The move of God was not weak. The joy of the Spirit was so strong that these young ones repented of their sins and began to hunger for discipleship.
To fellow pastors and leaders, you know when the Spirit is doing something real when the people you shepherd want to worship just as much, if not more, as you do. It was a sign and a wonder. Young ones were being saved. In turn, their parents were being saved. Classmates were being saved. It was more than just an exciting moment. It was an outpouring of life.
There is not just one word for revival in the Bible, but every mention of it or an implication of it has a reference to life, to live again, and to quicken.
Revival is real. History remembers it well. There were the Great Awakenings, the Azusa Street Revival, the Jesus Movement, the Brownsville Revival, etc. All of these waves occurred when the Holy Spirit poured out and rekindled the fire in God’s church, consequently leading to an increase of lives supernaturally saved and restored.
I believe that jadedness and hopelessness are poisons to the believer of Christ. God has so much more for you than just to be a well-behaved church goer and a cheerful tither.
You may be someone that has never experienced revival in your life. Or, perhaps you have experienced it and hunger to see it in your own church. Revival is meant to be asked for, stewarded, and recognized. It is not just something that happens to us, nor will it grow as you passively witness it.
I am currently in a place in my life where I am more excited than ever in what God is doing around me. The reason why I have begun this new Soul Food series was because I know that I have experienced certain things in the past in order for me to have the understanding to steward what goes on today—for such a time as this. As I share these pearls, I pray that it spurs on the faith and wisdom in you to ignite and steward revival wherever you are.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)