I have been contending for revival since I was born again on July 15, 1996 on the floor of the Brownsville Revival. It was not just something I thought was cool but I actually believe that what was happening at Brownsville should be normal at every church, Pentecostal or not.
It was not just some fad to me but it was something that I was committing the rest of my life to bring to the earth. Every people, tribe and nation needed to have the life altering encounter with Jesus that I had under the preaching of Steve Hill right there.
There was other revivals happening around the country during the late 1990’s and there was a few happening on the outskirts of Kansas City, my hometown. One of them I traveled to be in the meetings on a regular basis when I was not boxing, wrestling, or play football. I spend many nights on the floor on that small church.
One of the people I got to know had a similar passion for revival and he was going to the school that I had committed to attend. We build a friendship over the years and then something happened. What changed? I am not even really sure.
When friends cool off….
Revival was the fad on the 1990’s. Churches operate in fads. We have had the discipleship fad. We have had the church growth fad. We have had the worship fad. We have the community fad right now. You can add whatever other fad you like. It seems to many revival was something to be on the bandwagon for; not something they would lay down their lives for. Is it not worth the stigma of offense? In short, a lot of pastors saw revival meetings is a way to grow their church.
One of these friends still talks about revival from time to time but it does not burn in his soul as the core of his ministry. He talks about it just like he talks about eschatology or prayer. It is something to discuss and it has become academia. Talking about Azusa Street is great but little hunger for the experience of what William Seymour saw. He loves revival but loves to talk about it along with community, church growth, and discipleship. It is not something he is willing to die for anymore.
Our lives grew apart. I committed my life to revival and bringing it to every fiber of life and he did the whole church life thing. At one point, he even got a staff position at a church and the more comfortable he got there, the less I heard from revival and more I hear about pastoral stuff.
On more than one occasion, I asked him what does any of this have to do with revival and how it is going to being the knowledge of the glory of the Lord to cover the earth like waters covers the sea? If people are not being transformed by the fire of revival, what is the point?
Revival or community?
I have known this friendship was not what it used to be. This was more than we just knew apart. We completely saw about everything differently. A vacation for him was a trip to the Rockies and a trip for me was to be in some random city with Reinhard Bonnke. I have taken the message around the world but never had a vacation for more than a day here or there. I preached for a week in Kiribati but did not even have time to see the beaches there. The same is true about when I was a missionary in Fiji.
I am not saying stopping for a time to breathe in the glory of God revealed through nature is a bad thing. I have admired it as we drove by to go proclaim the gospel to some very remote people. The issue is the attitude of the heart.
I hear people, like my friend, talk about community and how we are made to “do life together,” but what I do not hear is the burden for a fresh great awakening that drives us to pray all night anymore. I honestly could not see him holding all night prayer meetings for an outpouring or tarrying until 3am for just one person to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
It grieves me to see so many people like my friend who have lost that hunger for awakening and content with lesser realities like community and fellowship.
plan of action for broken friendship?
I have known there was some things that just was not right. The bulk of the last few years it seemed that my friend was always too busy to return an email, make a phone call, comment on Facebook or do anything friends do. I had said to mutual friends that it seemed he was purposefully not engaging me. I kept my passion for revival burning and I prayed that someday he will return to his passion for outpouring.
Recently, I have heard from him for the first time in many years and it pained me to see an email that has everything to do with relational ministry and community and not revival, awakening, or outpouring. I would have never dreamed of this from the guy I knew 20 years ago.
I am not sure if we will be friends again as it seems that my obsession with revival will not connect with where he is in life at this point. I can tell you, without question, his obsession with community will never be a core value of Azusa Report. That is money you can take to the bank!
It is hurtful to say that I have had to lay a friendship on the altar for the move of the Spirit. It does not feel good to know that “affairs of life” has cause someone to lose the fire of revival.
I use to say back in the 1990’s and I will say again, “Give me revival or give me death.”