Francis Asbury, a Methodist bishop, filed this gloomy report in 1794: “In the American frontier, not one in a hundred came here to get religion, but rather to get plenty of good lands.” Andrew Fulton, a visiting Presbyterian missionary from Scotland, reported that in “all the newly formed towns in this western colony, there are few religious people.”
A young America was suffering from a spiritual drought, but then something extraordinary happened. The rainfall of revival began to fall. The first drops fell in Kentucky. The Cane Ridge Church met in an unassuming building on the side of a large hill. The pastor, a Presbyterian by the name of Barton W. Stone, was one of the dozens of church leaders who had been praying for revival. They met regularly and called churches to gather for extended times of prayer.
One of these events took place at Cane Ridge. The simple meetinghouse could accommodate some five hundred people. Anticipating a significant crowd, the leaders constructed a large tent. It quickly proved inadequate. People began arriving on August 6, 1801. It has been estimated that between ten thousand and twenty-five thousand worshipers gathered over the next three days. They poured out of the hills. They arrived by wagon, on foot, and on horseback. They listened to sermons, worshiped, received communion, and experienced personal renewal. There was no shortage of weeping, groaning, and crying.
What began in the Cane Ridge church spread across the frontier like a spring shower. Churches began to grow. Christians began to influence society. The move of God in Cane Ridge, stated one historian, was “arguably ... the most important religious gathering in all of American history.” It sparked the start of a great move of God in America. For decades the prayer of camp meetings and revivals across the land was “Lord, make it like Cane Ridge.”
Spiritual revival broke out. During the first half of the nineteenth century, church attendance increased. Societal reforms began. The Awakening contributed directly to the abolition of slavery and the defense of women’s rights. The Second Great Awakening was born.
One of the world’s greatest revivals happened early in the twentieth century in Wales. One hundred thousand people came to Christ in less than a year. Local bars were closed for lack of business. Magistrates saw their courts emptied of criminals. Miners even had to retrain the mules that worked in the coal mines. Many of the mules had been trained to respond to vulgar commands, but when the men got cleaned up, their language did as well, and the mule shad to learn a new vocabulary!
We have seen things in America like never before in the past three years. We saw the effects of a global pandemic that, unfortunately, killed millions. We saw the ruins of racial and social unrest destroying properties, and families, dividing communities, and even fragmenting the church. We have seen and continue to see a generation targeted by the works of darkness with a message that there is no such thing as truth, gender, holiness, and personal responsibility. But amid the chaos, we see God at work!
The year 2023 started with an NFL player who died during Monday night football. Both teams prayed that he would comeback to life. The next day on ESPN, a news anchor prayed on live television, and he talked about the healing power of God. Not long after that, during February, God showed up at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. After that, Greg Laurie released a film called “Jesus Revolution.” Initially, it was expected to bring in 6-7 million box office receipts, but it ended up grossing 52 million worldwide. I heard that this past Easter was the most highly attended Easter Sunday in history. God is up to something! I am praying and believing we will see more people than ever get saved in America and throughout the world in the days ahead! Habakkuk 2:14 says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
In the 2020s, our movement is petitioning the Lord to see “A decade of harvest for the Pentecostal Church of God.” Bishop Ming stated, “As a global church with a global mission, we declare His name until the whole world hears. Our vision depends upon multiplying our global footprint by training ministers, growing existing churches, and planting new churches, all to transform cities and nations with the love of Jesus.”
We are people of the Spirit and must be committed to evangelism. We long to see a mighty work of God in our world that will significantly impact the Pentecostal Church of God. A truly Pentecostal experience has always propelled people outward to be witnesses (Acts 1:8). The most natural reaction to the Spirit operating within one’s life is to point people toward Christ. May we function as One Mission—One Movement, working together with the Spirit and one another to build Christ’s Kingdom. May the need arise to retrain some mules in our places of ministry in the days ahead!
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