I remember the Smithton Outpouring!
Many know of World Revival Church and Steve Gray but the history goes back to what is known as the Smithton Outpouring that was not in Kansas City. It was a small church in a small town outside of Sedelia. The only thing that anyone about the area was that the Missouri State Fair is there every August. Nothing else of importance every happened.
Many of the people left Smithton at the turn of the century and moved to Kansas City to become World Revival Church of Kansas City. I want to focus the article about the renewal that was breaking out in Smithton before every jetted for “greater pastures.” I should say that I have been in at least dozens of meetings before the move and since the move. I remember meeting in a tent in the worst winter in the history of Missouri.
I still remember the stories that was flowing around Kansas City about this little church in some small town was having a move of God that was like a modern Azusa Street Revival in the area. It was not nation shaking revival but people were starting to come as the stories got out that there was this thing called the Smithton Outpouring!
Revival in the corn field!
I was there around August 1996 the first time. I was on the way back from the Brownville Revival, freshly touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit and we wanted to check out this “revival in the middle of a cornfield.” We did not know anyone involved but we hear the rumors that the Holy Spirit was moving. We also heard that the heavens were thin over the meetings. There was glory in the midst of them. Holy Spirit, open heavens, and the glory. That was enough to make us check it out!
For those of us coming from Pensacola, we did not see the same type of movement. Evangelism was non-existence and missions was not a strong emphasis, either. The attention was on getting fully surrendered to the will of God and having churches becoming healing pools.
I can remember the Steve Gray standing up and singing, “Return to the Lord, be refreshed again, Return to Your God, and break the power of sin.” He did it often and the fire of the Holy Spirit would fall. People were getting filled with the presence of Go
d night after night.
I remember the night before boxing in the Missouri State tournament in Columbia, I was in the revival meetings until way late (against my coaches wishes). I want to be in the fire of revival anytime I could. I know that it was my life calling. Nothing else mattered to me back then. I wanted revival even more than I love boxing. (a close second love)
It was a pure fire back then. It was a place where the heavens were thin and the glory of the Lord was thin. I knew that as the worship leader use to sing: there is fire, fire, fire, in the house!
What happened to the Smithton Outpouring?
We could talk about how things ended in Smithton and how half the church just jumped ship and took off to Kansas City but much has been said about that. I would rather give you another point of view about why the Outpouring just dried up so quickly.
It was self-promotion and I do not just mean in the meetings. It was the self-promotion of the revival itself. When you have people taking out full page advertisements in Charisma Magazine, buying TV time on networks, and become more focused on selling books than the message in the books; God will close the heavens!
Life was taken in a new direction but I knew that things were turning into a Praise the Lord Telethon (TBN) at the Smithton Outpouring and the Steve Gray was set on moving the church to Kansas City to build a national ministry. It was during this period of self-promotion, the fire was started to burn out but too many was that was close to it believe if there is smoke rising, the fire is still there. I call many of these people friends.
As the move to Kansas City happened, the ministry was all about looking like it was the Brownsville Revival #2 including a school of ministry, television ministry, and traveling ministry. I look back at it and realize it for what it was: arrogance of leaders trying to keep the fire look like it was burning when all that was left was the ashes of what use to be the fire of revival.
With that said, I do have to say that Steve Gray that come up with a great concept with the House of Hope and Healing long before the John G. Lake Healing Rooms were cool!
Smithton Outpouring and fruit that remains
While Steve Gray does not have a heart for missions himself, the heart of God moved on several and there was missionaries called out of the revival. I know of a few that went to Africa. One of the served in Mali until recently and another is still in Kenya preaching the gospel today. A former pastor at World Revival Church of Kansas City left the church and moved to South Africa to plant a church.
To be fair, while the missiology of World Revival Church is completely off; they do have a better ecclesiology. The focus on people who are already are born again, not the ones on a bob sled to hell with no hope. The emphasis was always been on churches and especially pastors. Not sure what happens if you are an Apostle, Prophet or Evangelist they loved pastors.
While many have different views about what happened in Kansas City with World Revival Church but I think it is best to look at Smithton Outpouring as a different movement (with many of the same leaders) as things were very different then and many people were radically touched in the fire of revival there.
Here is a video about the Smithton Outpouring