Photo by Abby Daughtry Photography
Several years ago I looked into my family history. I realized my personal connection to so many people, discovering some dark secrets as well. As I read the Bible again with fresh eyes, I saw that Jesus’ family history was quite colorful as well!
I then began to research the history of my church, St. Paul United Methodist Church. I picked up a history book that had been sitting on my bookshelf since 1982. With a Single Eye was written by a genealogist who attended our church. This tome documented the revival and awakening that took place in our budding city during the mid-1800s, before the Civil War, leading to the formation of many churches in the area. Reading the book piqued my interest, and I started doing more research online.
I found the local newspaper article from 1883 that recounted the “Great Revival of 1849.” The article was taken from a pastor’s speech commemorating the laying of the cornerstone of the first Methodist church organized in our community. He himself had attended the revival, explaining that prior to the revival, there were only seven professing believers in the town. He stated, “The preaching of the gospel was with no regularity, and seemed to produce no fruits.” That all changed that first Sunday in September of 1849 when two Methodist ministers began a revival, meeting every day, once in the mornings in a church in the main village nearby, and once in the evenings at the local public schoolhouse in the new city around the new railroad tracks. The first service was quite solemn and many penitent people came to the altar. The revival meetings went on for 21 straight days. The weather was beautiful and large congregations assembled daily, many coming from 20–30 miles away (remember, there were no cars!) The Holy Spirit moved powerfully, and there was weeping, confession, praying for one another, and much joy!
One particular conversion stands out: A very respected gentleman of high character in the town, who was the chairman of the court and a successful businessman, was determined not to get carried away with all the “fanaticism” of his neighbors. He was so irritated, in fact, that in protest he went fishing at a place where everyone in the church would see him. He had no bites from the fish but many from mosquitoes! As he heard the songs coming from the church, a remarkable thing happened. He left with his heart and conscience heavy; the next day he was “at the church, a broken-hearted penitent.” This soul and many others came to know the Lord in the great revival awakening of 1849. At the end of the 21 consecutive days of preaching, 100 people had accepted Christ as their Savior. As a result, churches of different denominations were later built in the area, including the first Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal churches. Soon thereafter was the AME Zion church, and still later, the very first Pentecostal Holiness church in the world!
I now attend this same Methodist church that was built from this great awakening. Last summer, I committed to remembering this great revival and how the Holy Spirit moved so powerfully to awaken many souls. I committed to duplicate the same event, to pray for another revival and awakening in our community and beyond. Several others in our city, representing different churches and denominations, joined me to travail in prayer together. We met each day at sunrise and sunset at the same two sites of the original revival to pray for another great revival and awakening. This time, though, we began on the second Sunday in September, and continued for 21 consecutive days of prayer meetings. We have seen the Holy Spirit move mightily in our community again, and we are trusting that God will bring about another great awakening in His perfect time.
This has been a great revival for me personally, reviving me with a great infilling of the Holy Spirit. On the very last night, glad to be finished, the Lord gave me three dreams in a row, telling me to continue! And so we are, praying still for a great revival and awakening, joining the church all over the world praying for a great awakening, sowing seeds of prayers to blow in the Holy Spirit’s four winds to carry them as He wills…carrying the hope to all the hearts He wants to reach—knock, knock, knocking and waiting for doors to open, so that they will receive the gifts of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and healing, repenting and turning resolutely to follow Jesus. Then the world will know His love, the only true love there is…that there is only one true way to live life, abundantly now and forevermore…for he is the LORD God Almighty, the One who gives life and blessings. No matter how dark the darkness is we may face, no matter our sins and shortcomings, no matter what will come, He is YHWH, holy, holy, holy, who is and was and always will be. Our God! Abba Father God, the Name above all names, we love you, praise you, need you…whatever it takes, Lord, use us to carry out Your will today and every day, until that day comes when we, Your chosen children, will all be together as Your family in heaven, forever. Amen. So be it, thy will!
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.