I devoured accounts of revival that perpetuated a romantic view of this phenomena which caused me to stumble. Maria Woodworth Etter’s stories of setting up a tent and hosting a service where people were healed and delivered created a hunger in me to see God heal and deliver my friends. I wanted to see people miraculously healed and delivered and thousands of people flooding into services. While I’ve seen healing and deliverance in my church that hosted a revival for 20 years, I’ve also seen death, divorce, and people fall away.
When I first started attending my church located in a small country town, I was struck by how ordinary the people were in the church. They were hard working moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, students, teenagers and children who loved God. There were lines of people from all over the world standing in front of their church, but the members were very humble and unassuming people. They attended church six days a week and served behind the scenes in services that were five to six hours long. Many of them left church at 1 a.m. and got up early the next day to go work.
Living and serving among them through the highs and lows of life revealed some myths that I believed about revival. Most Christians believe these myths which can keep them from receiving the work of God. Here are some common myths about revival
1) Revival is for sinners. The definition of revival is ‘to revive or bring back to life.’ Those who were once alive come close to dying and they need to be revived back to life. Jesus was the original revivalist who focused his ministry on his people – Israel.
“But He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel'” (Matt. 15:24).
Revival isn’t for the sinner who has no interest in God although I’ve seen dramatic conversions. Revival is first for the Christian. When revival began at Smithton Community Church, they expected drug addicts and the down and out to flood into their church. Instead, buses and van loads of Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics and many other churches came to the services.
As Christians traveled from other countries and testified of having an encounter with God, the leaders realized that God sent a revival for His people. Jesus brought a move of the Spirit to His people. The Romans and Greeks or Gentiles were not the focus of Jesus’ ministry although they would join His work later.
2. Revival is the solution to all of life’s problems. This is the romantic idea that I had of revival. Revival would save my marriage, make me rich, heal me from sickness or pull in my wayward child. While my marriage was literally rescued by revival and stretched my faith to start a business, I’ve seen people get sick and die, divorce, kids back slide or fall away.
When my daughter was born with special needs after I was on staff at my church, I thought that revival didn’t work. After all, she should have been born healthy since I poured my life out for the cause. That summer after she was born, my husband, Jerome, lost his job. I questioned revival and realized that I made it an idol.
I considered leaving my church until God asked me if I was there to sit on the front row and get phone calls from the pastor. I responded to God by saying I wasn’t there to get special favors but because He had called me. God spoke to me that He had not changed His mind.