Revive Us Again
(Part 1 of 2)
All of these places are synonymous with one word–revival.
And we need it desperately.
It seems like there’s a lot of debate right now about revival. Some say we are in trouble as a nation and need another Great Awakening.
Others say revival is already here: just preach the gospel, and every time a sinner prays to receive Christ, you’ll see revival before your very eyes.
My question is: why does it have to be either/or? Can’t it be both/and?
I understand some are worried we will just sit around and wait for God’s power to fall on us like pixie dust, but those of us in the trenches of college ministry don’t fall in that camp. We know we can stir a generation to believe for a heavenly outpouring while experiencing the thrill of every nation, tribe, and tongue hearing the good news about Jesus right now!
But I guess we need to define revival to decide if it’s needed.
While my description is not canonized, I define revival as, “The masses being awakened and the Church coming alive.” AKA: the lost saved. The prodigal returning. God’s power released. The prisoner freed.
Anybody not want that? Anyone think those things are not needed?
When people ask how our school year went, I reply, “It was riot and revival!”
By that, I simply mean parts of our year were pure hell: leaders in sin, core members getting offended and turning bitter, and vision seeming to leak faster than ever. Yet we saw more salvations this year than any year prior. I was dumbfounded by how many times I saw a GroupMe invitation from a college student saying, “Headed to the prayer room at 9 PM. Anyone want to join?” And the supernatural miracles we saw were mind-blowing!
Yet last week I was contacted by one of our leaders who had a question. Apparently, two of our students got engaged but the girl did not realize her fiancé had recently been in a homosexual relationship – with pictures to prove it. On top of that, despite my recent series about purity in dating, these two had decided living together was their best option pre-marriage. Oh yeah – apparently they’ve been serving in our kids’ ministry as well. Dealing with that mess the last several weeks has been…well…messy. And I’ve been reminded again: we need Jesus. We need repentance. We need a hatred for sin. We need the fear of God. We need another nation-sweeping move of God.
Our college ministry primarily reaches Baylor University in Waco, Texas. In 1945, the Baylor newspaper recounted that students prayed together at a retreat for a spiritual revival on Baylor’s campus. These prayers were answered and a movement happened across the campus. Through several student leaders adamant about sharing Christ, several hundred students gathered and marched from downtown Waco to campus with a sign that read “Youth for Revival.” Soon the student leaders were getting requests to lead revivals elsewhere. The movement swept the South in the 1940s and 1950s and some estimate thousands of young people accepted Christ.
In the early 90’s, a week-long revival was held at Baylor’s basketball arena. As the late Dave Busby preached passionately, one of the students on the revival committee felt convicted. He came to the front and took the microphone, boldly confessing lust before everyone. Weeping ensued all across the room, and students lined up to publicly confess their own sin – and many gave their lives to Jesus. It was the talk of the campus and the town. People of all ages started flocking to the arena.
It went on for days until campus administrators shut it down, but they could not stop the fire. It spread to the churches, where I personally experienced it. It’s hard to express what goes on in environments like that. All I can say is: God was on the move, and you did not want to miss it.
I remember being incredibly exhausted one Sunday afternoon, but dragging myself to the church for the college service. One of my weary comrades shared my pain and remarked, “All I want is to take a nap, but I’m afraid I’ll miss the revival if I do!”
This was not emotional craziness; it was an ongoing, legitimate God encounter. Students were meeting to pray every single day, and people were confessing major areas of hidden sin and baggage. Salvation was abounding, and people were being set free. I know, because I was one of those people, and I long for another batch of students to know this type of encounter. The kind of moment where God breathes on you, and it’s undeniable. Where compartmentalizing your life isn’t an option. Where Jesus isn’t an add-on. He’s everything. Where fire is sparked, the religious get offended, and the lost come running for rescue. And hundreds begin to pray, “Search me and try me, see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
They say the revival at Wales impacted as many as 100,000 people or more. 70 years later a lady was asked why it had come to a stop. She simply replied, “Oh it hasn’t. It’s burned in me these 70 years.” I feel the same way, and I want another generation to experience the same thing.
And they can.