While surfing the internet, I stumbled across the Father’s Day church service that started the Brownsville Revival, also called the Pensecola Outpouring. The revival lasted for five years, with over four million attending and birthed new ministries. I know a pastor and street evangelist whose ministries began in the midst of the revival. I also meet Charity James, the young girl who sang Mercy Seat at most of the altar calls, years after the revival ended. The revival officially ended in 2000 when Steve Hill moved to Dallas and established a church. In 2003, John Kilpatrick, the senior pastor who led his congregation to pray for revival, departed to form a new church in Alabama, leaving his former church millions of dollars in debt.
Frankly, I was disappointed after watching the two-hour video. I heard the move of God was spontaneous. Steve Hill give about ten minutes of instruction to the congregation and then work hard to reproduce what he had experienced in other meetings. He gravitated toward those showing outward manifestations of shaking and brought one man onto the platform, I assume to encourage others to yield to the Spirit.
In my personal experience with God, I displayed no outward shaking or emotion, yet the reality of that experience has kept me in Christianity for over forty years. On the other hand, my sister would go to the altar regularly and fall “in the Spirit.” I had never experienced being slain in the Spirit, so I asked her what it was like. She replied, “I fell because everyone else was falling.” That statement produced a question to ponder. How many people fall at the altars because everyone else is falling, and how many are genuinely overcome by God’s presence?
My husband fell under the Spirit’s power when he was ten years old. He hit the floor before the evangelist could lay hands on him to pray. The evangelist picked him up. Apparently, he was not supposed to fall until hands were laid on him. My husband said his legs felt like rubber. He simply could not stand up long enough for the disappointed evangelist to lay hands on him. Fifty years later, my husband is still a Christian. Time has proved God did not need the evangelist’s hands to accomplish his work in my husband’s life.
I interviewed three ministers who agreed that the Brownsville revival was a work of God. Two of the ministers had taken part in the revival. They acknowledged that there were abuses, but the abuses did not negate what God was doing. The Apostle Paul encountered the same problem. He did not advocate suppressing the gifts of the Spirit. Instead, Paul wrote a lengthy letter to the Corinthian church explaining how to have an orderly service when the Spirit spoke through the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and interpretations (1 Corinthians 12:1-14:40).
My sister taught me that things are not always as they appear, but I can’t discount everyone’s experience based on her actions. My husband experienced the presence of God and could not stand. On the day of Pentecost, the believers who were filled with the Holy Spirit were accused of being drunk (Acts 2:13-15). Drunks stumble and fall. Some Christians find “falling in the Spirit” offensive. Others believe it is evidence of God’s presence.
If you have experienced the presence of God, tell us about it in the comments.
I believe you wrote a blog on January 16, 2012 about Charity James and the song she sang at the Brownsville revival, the Mercy Seat. http://blog.nola.com/faith/2012/01/a_broken_life_and_a_song_1.html
Yet a short 5 years later you say you’ve met Allison Ward who sang the Mercy Seat. It was in fact Charity James.
Also, your bio in 2012 states you are (were) credentialed with the Assemblies of God. I’ve never met an Assemblies of God minister that questioned the Holy Spirit like you have in this publication. If you are in fact the same author of the linked blog, and this article, it’s a bit odd how the writers almost appear to be entirely different.
Thank you for bringing to my attention the error in this article which I have corrected. It’s nice to know people actually read what I write. I have never met Allison Ward. I meant to write Charity James, who I interviewed when she spoke at a women’s conference in Louisiana and who is currently a Facebook friend under her married name. I am still a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God. I am not questioning the Holy Spirit’s work in this article. I am questioning our perceptions of the Holy Spirits work based solely on what we can see with our eyes or that someone must lay hands on us for the Spirit to do his work. Being honest about my sister and husband’s experience does not negate the work of the Holy Spirit in this revival or any other revival, nor does it suggest that everyone who falls in the Spirit is only imitating the behavior of others. I also wrote an article about Rhonda Rock, an evangelist who God miraculously healed after she fell under his power and presence at the Brownsville revival. That story can no longer be found online because I included it in Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot. That book is no longer in print. If you live in the New Orleans area there are a few copies available at the Gospel Bookstore in Gretna, or you can call the bookstore and they will mail you a copy (504) 362-7770.