Since I live in a region battered by unemployment, drug overdoses, and a future filled with uncertainty, a recent spiritual awakening in southern West Virginia is the stuff of considerable excitement.
And there is additional backstory to this particular episode that is also fascinating.
It started about three weeks ago at lunch with an old friend who lives about 45 minutes away. He stopped while returning home after visiting a revival the night before at a church near Logan, close to the epicenter of this awakening.
Word of Prophecy
As we ate, he told me about the excitement in the area and how more than 1,000 people (since more than doubled) in the Williamson area had made decisions to follow Christ.
He also shared about a woman showing him a live video feed from the Williamson Field House. Packed with enthusiastic teenagers, the meeting was still going after 10 p.m.
Then, my friend shared a story he had heard from the evangelist. It concerned a prophecy delivered more than 20 years ago about the Brownsville Revival, a spiritual outpouring in Pensacola, Florida, that attracted national attention.
Supposedly, the same pastor who told of the Brownsville Revival before it erupted had said a similar outbreak would occur in southern West Virginia.
Initially, I chalked that up to a nice story that sounded encouraging. However, when I returned to my office, I had an e-mail from an editor asking if I could write a story about this awakening.
As usual, I talked to more people about these developments than I could quote, and had more details than I could include in the story.
Still, to say the excitement is contagious would be an understatement. One prayer group reportedly formed because of this activity in a town several hours from Williamson. Youth pastors in the state capital of Charleston fully expect the awakening to reach their area.
A friend from the Williamson area told me one of the most exciting aspects is how so many different kinds of churches are coming together to sponsor nightly meetings. And, how so many people are getting out of the church walls to share the gospel.
As great as all that is, the same week my story posted online, my wife shared an equally fascinating experience.
She talked about how she had been trying to do all kinds of things to minister to the surrounding neighborhood through our church’s food pantry, which she manages. We distribute food boxes twice a month.
We used to do a larger, monthly distribution, but had to scale that back when demand outstripped our modest-sized congregation’s resources.
In addition, by downsizing it my wife hoped to be able to spend more time in one-on-conversation with clients than was possible during crowded conditions.
However, for the first six months that rarely happened. A dozen people would be lined up when the doors opened; their main interest was getting in and getting out.
Slow but Steady
Then, my wife recognized that she had been trying to direct this outreach through her own efforts and strength. Humbled, she prayed, “Lord, I need your help.”
Right after she acknowledged her shortcoming came the latest distribution day. Instead of a dozen people when the doors opened, there was only one. And the families that showed up that day came slowly throughout the three-hour period, allowing her or other volunteers to engage each one in personal conversation.
Whether it’s a crowd of thousands flocking to an arena, or 20 people showing up for a food pantry one at a time, God’s Spirit in action is a marvel to behold.