On September 2, 2000, I stood before several hundred thousand believers who had gathered at the Mall in Washington, DC for the first-ever Call event and said, “Let the White House know, let the media know, let Hollywood know, let the world know that we are here to start a Jesus revolution!”
That same day, we gave away more than 70,000 copies of my just-published book Revolution! The Call to Holy War, and in the crowd that day, as well as standing on the platform behind me, were more than 700 students from our school, the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry. They had traveled by bus more than 20 hours to attend the Call event, and they were the largest group from anywhere in America that day.
It really was quite an event. Twelve hours of prayer, worship, repentance, and preaching; the largest gathering of Christian young people in American history; the supernatural writing, publishing, and free distribution of my book (more than $1 million in retail value); the massive support from our student body in Pensacola (another amazing story). All this was euphoric and deeply moving, and the event itself exceeded even the expectations of Che Ahn and Lou Engle, the organizers and visionaries behind it.
But did a Jesus Revolution begin at that time? Or has it begun since then and has it continued until now?
When the Lord saved me at the end of 1971, I had no idea that my salvation was part of a worldwide move of the Spirit that became known as the Jesus People Movement or the Jesus Revolution. It began around 1967 and lasted into the mid-1970s, and it probably reached its apex in the early 70s, to the point that the cover story of Time Magazine June 21, 1971 was devoted to “The Jesus Revolution.”
But from my perspective, not to mention the perspective of thousands of pastors around the country, there was no understanding that this larger, supernatural move that was taking place.
Is that the case with today’s Jesus Revolution (which I/we always understood to be something very different from what happened in the late 60s and early 70s)? Or are we just putting our own interpretation on a phrase in order to make something out of nothing?
Here are my candid reflections: 1) There has been a new Jesus Revolution moving and growing in America and the nations for the last decade or more. 2) It is nowhere near what I expect it to be and something supernatural must happen for my expectations (and the expectations of many others) to be realized. In that sense, it is still in its early stages. 3) The door is wide open for anyone with a willing heart to dive in and live out the calling to be a Jesus revolutionary (another name for a New Testament disciple!) – and I mean right here and now.
Let me break this down into five categories, and when you’re done reading, I welcome your honest, prayerful response. Please share this others too as you feel it’s appropriate, especially those who had a history with BRSM or its successor FIRE School of Ministry (or, more broadly, with the Brownsville Revival or FIRE Church or any other group that carried or carries this same vision).
1) AN UNGODLY REVOLUTION. In my book Revolution! (which, again, came out in 2000), I wrote, “Only the life-changing power of the gospel will ultimately change a society for good. Only new hearts will bring forth the new life that the oppressed so long for and desire. Only the Spirit of God will truly liberate captives! But if we do not rise up and act, Satan will. The dissatisfaction is rising. The discontent is growing thick. Revolution is near – either heaven-sent or hell-bent – and only we have the truth that will set slaves free.”
I emphasize these last sentences here to say that, without a doubt, there has been a hell-bent, destructive revolution that has been sweeping America this millennium. To give just two examples, there has been an all-out assault on religion and faith by the so-called new atheists (with quite a few of their books being influential, national bestsellers) and there has been an unprecedented cultural shift due to homosexual activism, resulting in the redefining of marriage, the indoctrination of our children, and a growing threat to freedoms of religion, conscience, and speech.
So, there’s no question that, on a national level, we have taken several steps back, and in my opinion, that points to the failings of the Church, since the greatest problem in America today is not so much the presence of darkness as it is the absence of light.
What’s the point in mentioning this? It is simply to say that when other leaders and I spoke in past years about America being shaken and we said that we were living in revolutionary times, those statements have proven true.
2) LOOK AT WHAT GOD HAS DONE. Over the last 10+ years, a number of significant ministries have been birthed, most of them coming together on a grass-roots level, most of them involving (or being led by) young people, and most of them carrying the message and mindset of Jesus revolution: radically changed people going after God with heart and soul, then stepping out in obedience to change the world.
I’m thinking of pro-life movements like Bound4Life, pro-adoption movements like The Zoe Foundation, and college-focused, church-planting movements like Campus Church Networks, just to name a few. And all of these are directly related to the original leaders of The Call, which has also birthed a Nazarite movement devoted to prayer, fasting, and radical commitment.) And when I consider what has been birthed out of the revival and carried on through FIRE, I’m honestly blown away. To repeat: Look at what God has done!
Do you realize the scope of what our FIRE team is doing in the Philippines? Talk about articulating what a Jesus Revolution is all about! How about our teams in sensitive parts of the world that we can’t even mention publicly? Their testimonies literally bring tears to my eyes and make me examine my own life.
How about missionaries like Melody, married to her Indian husband Syam, doing incredible things in Hyderabad? Add to that our frontline soldiers in Mexico and in Thailand and in many other nations – I’m just mentioning a few here; please forgive me for not mentioning everyone – along with some of our grads here in the States who are going into the some of the poorest, roughest communities and giving themselves to rehabilitate both individuals and neighborhoods, and I can only say that this is the kind of fruit we envisioned when we spoke of the Jesus Revolution. And most all of them are doing things in unconventional, not “church as usual” ways.
These grads have exemplified the “by life or by death” attitude that is at the very foundation of our devotion to Jesus and a dying world, and if we could look at a world map from a spiritual perspective and see the impact these various ministries and groups are having – and this is just a small portion of what has been birthed – I think all of us would be very encouraged and would recognize that, indeed, something new and revolutionary is afoot.
3) THE BATTLE FOR OUR CULTURE. The battle for the heart and soul of America – the battle for our culture – has never been a political battle to me (although I recognize the rightful role played by politics) and, in all honesty, I have a personal revulsion when it comes to putting my trust in the political system or a political party. (I was totally baffled to read a post by a BRSM grad who spoke of my shift towards a political emphasis when – and since – I wrote Revolution!. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is a kingdom issue to me – not even a patriotic issue – and a kingdom issue alone. It is all about Jesus and His righteousness to me, about us being salt and light, about us being prophetic voices of justice and compassion.)
For me, the revolution message is very simple: Jesus changes us and we go and change our world. Or, to paraphrase the Great Commission, Jesus says to His disciples, “Come, let’s change the world together.” As a speaker once said at a Call event, “Jesus transforms people, and people transform society.”
Today, we are in the thick of a hellacious battle for our culture, with the ongoing deterioration of marriage (less and less couples are getting married; more and more women are having babies out of wedlock; the very institution of marriage is being redefined), the continual attack on our children (41% of pregnancies in NYC end in abortion, including 60% of African American pregnancies in New York City; the mandatory homosexual indoctrination of kids from K-12 in states like California), and growing problems like gang violence, racial division, and more.
Those of us called to stand on the front lines of the so-called culture wars find ourselves in revolutionary activity virtually every single day, and I am personally living out many of the things I spoke about and wrote about over the last 20+ years. And we need help! A few months ago I met with a grad who, with a gracious spirit, asked me where the revolution was that we talked about. I told him we were in the thick of it right here in Charlotte and we needed his help.
4) A SPECIAL PRAYER FOCUS. When God began to burden me deeply concerning homosexual issues, speaking to me in early 2005 to “reach out and resist,” I began to sense that He was going to pour out His Spirit in the LGBT community, much as He did with the hippie community when I got saved. Over the years, I began to share this publicly, stating that I was praying and believing for this.
When I shared this with Che Ahn at The Call Sacramento, he told me he was prophesying this and believing for it for years now. Then I learned that a prophetic leader had prophesied quite a few years back that 100,000 gays and lesbians would be dramatically saved by the Lord, with many healed of AIDS as well. Then I spoke at a house of prayer in Virginia, given to 18 hours of prayer and worship daily, and when I shared the “reach out and resist message” with them, one of their leaders was blown away and said, “That’s the very commission we received from the Lord when we birthed this house of prayer!” (I was shocked to hear it too; the wording and emphasis was amazingly similar.) I’ve also been part of special gatherings of prayer and fasting devoted to seeing this miraculous harvest come to pass, and I often challenge FIRE church and other churches asking, “Are we ready for this harvest?”
To be clear, this harvest has not yet happened in any significant measure, but it seems clear the Lord has birthed this in our hearts to pray it into existence as part of the Jesus revolution.
5) WHAT HAS NOT YET HAPPENED. Without question, only a small part of what we are believing for has come to pass so far (although I understand many of us could say that about our own spiritual lives in light of God’s Word and promises). On the one hand, we dare not stop here and think that we have arrived (absolutely not!), but on the other hand, we dare not lose heart. God has done much already, many of the visions and dreams he has put into our hearts are coming to pass, and we ought to encourage ourselves with what the Lord has done while we recognize the many, large things that have not come to pass.
In too many of our circles, we’re still experiencing or practicing “church as usual”; there is still no evidence of any kind of supernatural, large harvest in America; the culture is getting worse not better; there are only pockets of spiritual outpouring worth noting; young people continue to fall away or become compromised at an alarming rate – but I am more confident than ever than ever that God will finish what He started, that a Jesus Revolution is underway (although, to repeat, it remains in its early stages), and that the time is more ripe than I can remember for each of us to give ourselves unconditionally to the purposes of God.
Why not you? Why not now? Is God unwilling or unable to help and assist and back and direct?
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Over the course of my 40+ years in the Lord, He has spoken some things to me of great importance – I mean major, prophetic words that I cannot shake – and the pattern of fulfillment has often been the same: first, the supernatural deposit – meaning, specific things that were part of the larger vision coming to pass in a dramatic and undeniable way – followed by years of spiritual agony, crying out to God, asking Him to fulfill the rest of His promises, longing and yearning for His power and righteousness to be revealed, interspersed with seasons of questioning (“Will it ever happen? Did I really hear God? Did I disqualify myself by falling short?) and seasons of great blessing, followed by the fulfillment.
This is what happened to me with the promise of revival, as I began to share with my friends beginning in 1983 that God spoke to me that I would be part of a revival that touched the world, and this is what is happening with the promise of revolution. The Call DC event and the distribution of the Revolution! books was a divine deposit of sorts (to this day, I hear from people who received the book at The Call DC, had their world rocked, and have never been the same); there have been years of intense crying out for God to act since then, along with seasons of questioning and seasons of great blessing, and I now feel that the revolution is rising day by day. (It may be meaningful for you to know that over these years, God clearly spoke to me – as part of the vision for Jesus Revolution – that He would give me a national platform on Christian talk radio and would call me to write cutting-edge, kingdom-based articles on major political websites. The fact that both of these are now happening encourages me that the rest will also come to pass. And please hear this in the spirit in which I say it: This has nothing to do with me; it has to do with the larger purposes of God.)
What is coming next? How soon will things really shake? I honestly have no idea, but something is rising, much is happening, and rather than focusing on what hasn’t taken place we should be stirred and encouraged by the many wonderful testimonies of what is taking place (and has taken place), strengthening our faith for today and tomorrow. (This message, “Write Down the Vision,” preached recently at FIRE, should encourage you too.)
Your thoughts and comments are welcome!