I read an article today about the former Brownsville revival in Pensacola, FL, and it makes me so very sad. It’s called
What Happened to Brownsville’s Fire?, featured in Charisma Magazine. The church that hosted hundreds of thousands of visitors from all around the world has dwindled to a few hundred members and has a lot of problems. I cannot express how sad I feel about this… There was an authentic move of God in that place, where thousands and thousands of people were changed, experiencing revival, finding a real relationship with God. And now the fire is gone, and the charred remains are a detriment to the Kingdom of God. Many of the members there have been hurt, some have even left church altogether, and of course this is a horrible testimony.
The author of that article asks, “Did it have to end this way?” Of course it didn’t have to. It shouldn’t have ended at all. God wants to pour out His Spirit and see revival impact the world. So what happened? I don’t know the specifics, and it doesn’t matter — the problem is people and sin. And of course the enemy attacked the revival, but ultimately it was people who let the opposition gain a foothold.
The falling apart of this revival is also sad because it makes God look bad to many people. People may say, “If this was a real move of God, why did it end so badly?” The answer is because people let it. God gave us free will, and we can choose to walk in His presence or we can live apart from Him. He doesn’t force Himself on us. And the people that were involved in the revival are regular people, just like you and me. They are tempted by offense, bitterness, power, selfishness, etc. And they can get hurt just like any of us. God gives us the ability to overcome all these things, but it’s often difficult for us to let go of our way of thinking and feeling. And so any of us can mess up. We all make mistakes. It’s just sad that some people’s mistakes impacted a huge revival.
Some of us pray for revival, though I wonder if we realize the cost of it. I’d like to point out something the author said :
“History shows us that revival is always risky. The devil opposes it, and carnal flesh gets in the way of it. The Holy Spirit is easily quenched by pride, greed, selfish religious agendas and broken relationships.” ~ J. Lee Grady
There’s a high cost (sacrifice) for revival, which is why we don’t see too much of it. But we should still seek an outpouring of God’s Spirit, even though it’s costly. It doesn’t have to end badly, nor should it.
So even though the Brownsville revival has ended, much of the fruit of it still grows and bears more fruit. Some critics will undoubtedly think it was a waste and/or it was fake, but God definitely changed thousands of lives through it. I know it changed my life, in the dozens of services I attended there. And I know a number of people who were changed during it.
And so I press on for revival in my city, praying for an outpouring that will impact the world, one that will last until Jesus returns…