One of the things I’ve dedicated my life to is reporting on the moves of the Holy Spirit. Throughout history, there have been innumerable movements of God, all of which can give historical perspective to the revival of the University of Asbury that is taking place today.
Jim Garlow says “history is written in phases”. I’m looking at some of those stages in American Revival history, to give Asbury and the beginning of the Third Great Awakening more perspective in my latest podcast “Strang Report.”
First Great Awakening
The first great revival began around 1730 and is often known from Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Edwards depicted a spider hanging by a thread above hell and people crying out in repentance.
Edwards later wrote how there must have been a movement of God due to carnal ministers during the time period. He described hard-hearted ministers and carnal appetites. I spoke about it in 1975 in an article published in the first issue of Charisma magazine.
During the “Bicentennial Era” (1971-1976), Americans gathered to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. In the 1976 issue of the magazine, I speculated that it was the Great Awakening that set the stage for the independence of the colonies from England.
At the time of the Great Awakening, the colonies were not connected to each other and it was a struggle to even survive. This caused new Americans to start believing in something bigger and more important than the crown in England. It was their faith and fervor to serve God that opened the door to revival.
Second Great Awakening
Later came the Second Great Awakening which began 1795-1835 in northern Kentucky, just an hour north of the University of Asbury in Wilmore, Kentucky. Known as the Protestant religious revival on the frontier, people went into the woods to worship and preach. People came from all over the country. From that move of the Holy Spirit came news of demonstrations, of people falling to the ground trembling.
After the Civil War in 1861 came the Holiness Movement with a series of Methodist revivals. There was a deep fervor about taking no part in worldly things like dancing, gambling, drinking and smoking. There has come a deep cry from the Holiness Movement for God to send a revival and baptize people in the Holy Spirit.
Topeka, Kansas and the Azusa Street Revival
In 1900, the Topeka Kansas Outpouring set the stage for what later became the Azusa Street Revival. What began with Charles Parham and a group of students willing to sell everything to study the Bible and go to the ends of the earth led to an incredible encounter. Parham and students read Acts 2 and went on a mission to find biblical evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and found that he was always accompanied by speaking in other tongues.
During a prayer meeting, one of the students, Agnes N. Ozman, asked Parham to lay hands on her so she could be baptized in the Holy Spirit to become a missionary in a foreign land. A halo was described forming around her face and she started speaking in Chinese.
That little prayer meeting led to the revival of Azusa Street 10 years later. Led by William J. Seymour, a house group meeting on Bonnie Brae Street became so crowded that people were hanging out of windows and a porch collapsed. Someone gave a prophetic word that God would carry what happened in that house around the world.
The meeting moved to a larger venue and people from all over the world came. The revival gained notoriety when a Los Angeles newspaper reporter showed up to cover the event thinking it was filled with hysteria. A man stood up and said God would judge San Francisco and days later there was a big earthquake. People came from all over the railroad and received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
After World War II, tent meetings were led by Oral Roberts in the early days of the charismatic movement. In the 1950’s ordinary businessmen came to meetings and were touched by God. They stood up and bore their testimony to the crowds. People were hungry and wanted to be touched by God.
Catholic Charismatic Renewal
In 1967 a group of Catholic students was praying and later became known as the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. A history professor, William Storey, and graduate student Ralph Kiefer were baptized in the Holy Spirit which resulted in a great outpouring. I was in college at the time, and I remember it was a renewal of the gifts of the Spirit.
Then came the Jesus Movement in 1970. In a few days there will be a film out describing what happened called the “Jesus Revolution”. This movement has had a great impact on my life and my close friends like Dr. Michael Brown. Prior to this revival, I had experienced a lot of legalism and was disgusted by it. I found a group of people who had a lot of excitement in their lives and got involved with the youth of the Jesus Movement.
Early Christians were skeptical of the long-haired, fancy-dressed hippies who had come off drugs and given their lives to Jesus. Many of those hippies are leaders in the church today.
The Brownsville Revival in 1995 in Pensacola, Florida began on Father’s Day and people began flooding the altars. The revival went on night after night led by evangelist Steve Hill.
There are many different types of awakenings. There are mass movements that go on for hundreds of years or sometimes a week or two.
What is unique about the Asbury University revival is that it started as a chapel service and then never stopped. There is no great evangelist or speaker, just hungry hearts and the presence of God. As you read this whole revival story, I pray it is stirring in you a hunger for more God in your life. He has for me.
My new book “Spirit-Led Living in an Upside Down World” is available for pre-order and it’s a book I had to dig deep for. It delves into the story of revival and living by the power of the Holy Ghost.
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