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Posts Tagged ‘Brownsville Revival

Brownsville Revival: 20 Years Later

On Father’s Day, 1995, Brownsville Assembly of God had a special speaker in Rev. Steve Hill.  Hill was scheduled to preach that night (in those days, churches still had Sunday night services even on Father’s Day) in lieu of the passing of John Kilpatrick’s mother the previous week.  Kilpatrick simply was tired and he asked Hill to preach the morning service as well.  Hill preached from Psalm 77:11-12.  You can watch the sermon online and there was nothing in the sermon that was incredible.  Hill simply preached from his life, from his own experience of longing for God.  The altar call is where the “revival” began.  The revival that started that morning would continue until 2002.

I attended the Brownsville Revival (as it became known) three times.  The first was in 1996, once in 1997, and again in 2002.  By 2002, the revival was not really a revival anymore and the church was trying to find its place again.

The Good & The Bad

I went to Brownsville in 1996 very skeptical of what I would see.  People at our local church were constantly going on and on about what God was doing in Pensacola.  I heard strange things were happening and people were going to Pensacola for experience above the Word of God.  I had had a friend go down there and he “fell under the power” for a few hours.  He said the event changed his life (more to that later).  Thousands of people were heading to Pensacola to the point that even the news program, 20/20, did an expose on the revival.  Newspapers reported on the revival.  The church sign out front had to be daily changed as they would put how many souls were being saved at the revival.  At our church, people believed this was the great final outpouring of the Spirit before Jesus would come.  They believed God was preparing the world for the end by reaching out to it one last time. I watched entire churches change their entire services to reflect Brownsville.

When I went down to Pensacola in 1996, I was very skeptical of what I would see.  I did not go there seeking a revival.  I did not go there to seek an experience.  In fact, I had no experiences.  However, I left hungry for God.  While I saw some flesh, I saw some good.  I saw thousands of people praying at the Tuesday night prayer meeting which was the highlight of the week for me.  I saw people weeping over the lost.  I saw people longing to touch God with their prayers for sinners.  That blessed me.

However, I also saw people in the flesh.  I talked to some teenagers (as I was only 21) and they focused entirely on experiences instead of the Word of God.  That said, I also saw the youth pastor (Richard Crisco or Brother Richard) exhorting his teenagers to get into the Word.  Brother Richard preached the best that week in my estimation.  He preached from 1 Samuel 14 about Jonathan and his armor bearer and how we need to be around disciples if we are going to war.

I saw the strange manifestations.  I saw strange people.  One lady asked to pray for me and I said she could.  I closed my eyes and waited for her to lay her hands on me to pray but she did not and all was silent.  I opened one eye to see what she was doing and she was doing some sort of charismatic dance in front of me while, I guess, praying for me?  It was truly strange.

Another girl asked if an Argentinean pastor had prayed for me.  I said no.  She said that if he prays for you, you fall under the power of God (slain in the Spirit in the charismatic world) for hours.  At that time, I was open to this so she went to get him to pray for me.  He prayed for me but nothing happened.  Steve Hill came by and just pushed me down (courtesy drop we called it).

I watched as people literally chased John Kilpatrick around the church.  He took off running and people were running after him for his “anointing.”

I stood in line to talk to John Kilpatrick and was going to ask where in the Bible does he find evidence for the revival.  I was right behind a lady when she asked the very question I was going to ask him.  His reply was bad.  He said, “Woman, lay aside your mind and just let God touch you.  I can’t answer your questions about where this is in the Bible but I know it is from God because I see Him all over this place.  Let go and let God!”  That was it.  She and I both walked away from him shaking our heads.

Back home,  I watched people try to copy Brownsville.  They would preach like Steve Hill or pray like Kilpatrick.  They wanted their praise team to sound like Lindell Cooley and the Brownsville team.  Prayer banners became popular.  The subjective experiences I witnessed at the revival were carried over to the churches with shaking and laughing.

My View 20 Years Later

Did God do something in Pensacola?  Hard to judge.  I have found people who were saved at the revival and still are seeking God today.  I praise God for that.  However, I know a few unbelievers as well who once were “on fire” at the revival but today are enemies of Christ.  When I visited Brownsville in 1996, the neighborhood was hardly touched at all by the revival.  I remember walking over to an African-American woman’s house and asked her about the revival.  She said that she use to send her children to the church before the revival but now avoided it.  She pointed to the lines and lines of people and said the revival was a white revival and not a black revival so she wouldn’t go.  How sad.

Today Pensacola still needs the gospel.  The church has had a hard time after the revival.  The expenses of the revival ran the church into major debt.  The church is still fairly large but nothing like it use to be. Before the revival, the church had 2000 members.  Today they have less than 800.  The lines of people are long gone.  John Kilpatrick left the church in conflict in 2000.  Steve Hill left in 2001 to go back to missions work.  Hill died in 2014.

Sadly, most churches I know who were touched by Brownsville have faded as well.  Today they are seeking to be like Perry Noble or like Rick Warren more than like Brownsville.  What I think Brownsville highlighted was the tragedy of seeking experiences above God.  The churches who adopted Brownsville tactics did so not because of the Word of God but because of experiences and pragmatism.  They wanted Brownsville crowds and not revival.

I know of few churches today that truly pray for revival.  The one blessing that came from the Brownsville revival was that the word “revival” was so common on our lips in the 1990’s.  The Assemblies of God even had a link on their website in those days focusing on revivals breaking out across the nation and the world.  I remember attending the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) camp meeting in South Carolina in 1998 and the entire focus was on revival.  The preaching evangelist had just got back from Brownsville and was on fire.  He wanted to see the Church of God folks go back to their churches with the fire of God. Sadly, those days seem to be gone.  I hear few churches speaking of seeking God earnestly for revival.  Revival seems to be only what we read about today and not seek.

The Brownsville revival did spark a hunger in my life.  After the revival, I went on to long for God more and study His Word more.  I am thankful that He has been faithful to me all these years later.  I love the Bible now more than ever before.  I love sinners now more than ever before.  I long to pray for revival like I use to.  I long to see the churches seeking God for revival yet again.  So I go back to Psalm 77:11-12 and I pray that God would touch His people.  I don’t want another Brownsville revival but I want a true revival of sound doctrine, of sound preaching, of sound praying, and of soul winning.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/20/2015 at 10:48 AM

On the Death of Steve Hill

I was sad to hear the death of Steve Hill, the controversial evangelist who led the Brownsville revival back in the mid 1990’s.  Hill was only 60 years old but had been battling cancer for the past few years.  His battle is over and he has won the victory (1 Corinthians 15:55).

I visited the Brownsville revival three times in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  My first visit was in August of 1996.  I was a young 21-year-old man then and went with a critical spirit.  To that point I believed that the Brownsville revival was a joke and was not of God.  However, after staying for a week in Pensacola, I left seeing some bad and some good coming from the revival.  To this day I still believe that there was much flesh involved in the revival but I do know some men who are still saved and still in love with Jesus after getting saved at the revival meetings.

In those days, Hill was the most popular evangelist in the Pentecostal movement.  Every evangelist wanted to be like Hill.  They wanted his success in his altar calls, his anointing, his hunger for God.  Sadly, they often tried to mimic him rather than seeking God.

I heard Hill preach several times and once at the General Council meeting of the Assemblies of God in Orlando.  Hill’s message was not deep nor profound but simple: repent.  Hill preached hard on repentance of sin and turning from sin and living a holy life pleasing to the Lord.  Hill emphasized prayer and fasting.  His book, Time to Weepemphasized this point.  I enjoyed that book much.

While I didn’t agree with Hill on all issues and could write on the problems I saw at Brownsville, I do believe he loved the Lord Jesus.  He burned with fire for the lost.  He was not afraid to preach the gospel and for that, I am thankful.  You might disagree with Hill here and there but I rejoice that he did preach Christ and called people to repent.  I will rejoice with him in glory in due time.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/11/2014 at 12:46 PM

Posted in Revival

Tagged with , ,

The Hunger for Revival

From time to time my mind drifts back to the 1990’s when I first got saved and when it seemed everywhere I went, people were talking about revival.  I remember the Bible teacher that I sat under those early days of my salvation would often weep over the need for revival.  He would talk about the great revivals of Church history and then he would weep over the lack of revival in our day.  I remember hearing men of God like David Wilkerson or Leonard Ravenhill speaking on revival and how we needed a move of God.  We believed, in those days, that revival would make things right.

In 1995 Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida begin to say that revival had come.  On Father’s Day, evangelist Steve Hill preached to the large Assembly of God church and revival services began.  The revival would continue night after night from 1995 to about 2000.  The revival would slow and finally ended in 2002.  I visited Brownsville Assembly of God three times.  I first went in August of 1996 but I admit I went with a critical spirit.  Myself and a friend of mine attended for a week in August, 1996 and while I was not 100% on board with the revival, I did see many good things.  The gospel was preached with a cry to repentance.  Prayer was powerful.  The hunger for the presence of God was intense.  There were bizarre physical manifestations and there were folks there for experiences instead of hungering for Christ but I walked away believing that there was much good going on at Brownsville despite the claims of the detractors who hated the revival.  It was there also that I met Dr. Michael Brown for the first time and I was impressed with his knowledge and his zeal for the Lord.

I visited Brownsville two more times with teenagers in 1997 and in 2002.  By the time we came in 2002, the atmosphere had changed dramatically and the revival was nearly over.  Dr. Brown had left to start the Fire School of Ministry in Concord, NC and the revival days were over.

What I miss about all this is not the excess flesh.  I miss the passion for God.  I miss seeing teenagers crammed into a building on Thursday nights for the youth service and hearing brother Richard Crisco preaching the Word of God.  I miss the prayer meeting on Tuesday night that was packed with intercessors crying out to the Lord.  I miss the worship of God that filled your heart with joy.  I miss hearing of revivals breaking out in other places from Brownsville.  I do admit that not all of the revival was correct.  After all, we are talking about a revival among fallen flesh.  There is no such thing as a perfect revival.  Every revival will feature things that we don’t like or approve.  Thankfully God uses fallen people despite our sins and errors.

I can’t remember the last time I heard someone speak of being hungry for revival.  Gone are the days of Ravenhill or Wilkerson I fear.  Where is the hunger for God’s presence?  Where is the passion for God in prayer?  Where are the thousands of intercessors who would shut themselves in a room for a night of seeking God?  Brownsville was not perfect but I miss the passion.  I miss the zeal.  I miss the joy of the Lord in singing praises to our King.  I miss the reports of souls getting saved.  I miss the Friday night baptisms.  I miss the hunger for the Holy Spirit to be fully active in our lives.

Oh where are those who hunger for revival?  Oh God send the fire (Acts 2:17)!

For more information on Brownsville Assembly of God check out this article.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/12/2013 at 7:27 PM

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