When the Spirit Moves, Enjoy It: Lessons from Revival
Until recently, I had never talked with someone who had attended the famous Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida.
The spiritual wave broke loose unexpectedly in mid-1995 and went on for nine years. I had interviewed several people about it, including one who had experienced its impact in Africa.
However, I received an even closer taste of the results during a recent midweek Bible study when a woman told of visiting Pensacola with her church’s youth group in the mid-1990s.
She described the incredible fervor that permeated the atmosphere. Crowds lined up throughout the day, hoping to get a seat. But if they didn’t, she said, they didn’t care because of the excitement that bathed the whole area.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “I’d love to see something like that happen here.”
Close to Home
Back in the 1990s and 2000s, I used to travel regularly on various magazine story assignments, but never to Pensacola. I heard about it through the church grapevine and reading various news stories.
However, when this woman described its splendor, it brought to mind the mini-Brownsville my wife and I experienced. Since we couldn’t travel to Florida, the Holy Spirit led us to one closer to home.
It happened in mid-1997. We received a flyer about a revival meeting the next night at a small non-denominational church in a Louisville suburb. (The woman in charge of the mailing list for the group that sent the flyers out later told us we weren’t on their list, so she had no idea how we got it.)
At the time, my wife was leading children’s church-type classes during both Sunday school and church, so she rarely got to attend a service. We decided to go to the evening meeting.
An evangelist from Springfield, Ohio spoke that night with power and gusto, despite a scant audience of about 10. That impressed me. You would have thought he was addressing an auditorium filled to the brim.
When my wife went up for prayer, he prophesied over her; unfortunately, we didn’t record it, so those words are lost in time.
It was around 10 o’clock before the revival meeting ended. We were walking to our car in the parking lot when suddenly the pastor called: “We’re having meetings every Friday night if you’d like to come.”
We told him we would be back.
The Spirit Moves
Those meetings proved to be filled with spiritual energy even though they only attracted about two dozen people.
We especially enjoyed when a bricklayer known as “Brother Jimmie” preached. Despite missing two front teeth, he was gregarious and expected audience participation. If he asked a question, he wanted a verbal answer.
This was where we first heard “Shout to the Lord” and other tunes on an early Hillsongs’ worship collection. One night, I asked if we could hear one of the songs again and . . . instant replay.
The meetings started at 7 p.m. and went until 10:30 or 11. Nobody cared about the time. Nobody was heading out for a snack or anything else. In those days, nobody checked their phone.
Not only did we look forward to Friday nights, we got to know the people so well they invited us to their church picnic and me to a men’s breakfast.
Then, after a year, one Friday night the service concluded ended at 8:15. We knew something was wrong. That was the last meeting.
We’re not sure what happened. But this much I know: you can never tell when the Spirit will move or what He will do. Just enjoy it when He does.