Swimming in the river of God –
Over 60,000 have received Christ as Saviour!
Brownsville, Pensacola, USA: Harvest Now
Suddenly the name is on the lips of almost every minister wanting fresh fire renewal along with the question: ‘Where’s Pensacola? I hear incredible revival is happening there.’
Indeed it is! It’s called ‘the Brownsville harvest’. As I compile this article I have before me a fax from Evangelist Steve Hill in Pensacola, Florida, dated 24 June, 1996, which reads: ‘The revival here is more intense than ever before. The pace is ever increasing ‑ with no end in sight.’
People continue coming from all over the United States and the world. Over 26,000 received Christ as Saviour in the first year! Within two years over 60,000 have recorded commitments to Christ.
Suddenly the Wind …
It was Father’s Day in June 1995 when the evangelist preached at the Brownsville AOG 2,300‑seater church. The pastor, John Kilpatrick (46), had just lost his mother to cancer and, feeling emotionally drained, had requested his longtime friend Steve Hill to take the Sunday service.
As Evangelist Hill (42) gave the altar call, the Holy Spirit fell and a thousand people streamed forward. There was the distinct awareness of a wind blowing across the auditorium. Some folk shook violently, others did carpet time.
John Kilpatrick was suddenly aware of the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit, more so when Steve Hill laid hands on him and claimed, ‘More, Lord’ Recently Kilpatrick told Charisma magazine’s editor, J Lee Grady, ‘When I hit the floor, it felt like I weighed 10,000 pounds. I knew something supernatural was happening. God was visiting us.’ He was ‘out’ for around four hours ‘feeling heavenly glory resting on him like a heavy blanket.’
The devil’s work? Not according to Steve Hill who calls himself a missionary evangelist, having spent seven years on the Argentinian mission field. He commented, ‘I don’t try to explain the manifestations. I look for what God is doing in people’s lives.’ When as many as 1,000 people get converted a week and lives are dramatically changed, Hill is convinced this is the Lord’s work, not Satan’s!
Prophesied by Cho
News of the Brownsville revival ‑ incidentally, Pensacola is in the northwestern part of Florida ‑ began filtering across the world around October 1995. The Pentecostal Evangel reported that in 1991 Dr David Yonggi Cho was praying for America while holding meetings in Seattle, Washington. Suddenly the Lord told him to get a map. He did so and the Holy Spirit directed him to point his finger at the Florida panhandle and to the quiet city of Pensacola.
Dr Cho then prophesied, ‘I am going to send revival to the seaside city of Pensacola and it will spread like a fire until all of America has been consumed by it.’
The word spread to Pensacola ministers. Serious about revival, John Kilpatrick, described as a gentle‑natured pastor, had church members commence praying on Sunday nights, particularly for their own city and its political leaders, the school system, and leaders of every denomination. Their prayer, and Dr Cho’s prophetic word, are being fulfilled!
The events of that Father’s Day service have occurred repeatedly night after night since, along with amazing healings, miracles, restored marriages and wonderful salvations. Healings are even happening without the laying on of hands and prayer. Sometimes distressed couples, including those divorced, have gone forward for salvation not knowing their partner or former partner was doing the same thing. Gloriously saved they have then found each other again and been restored.
God’s Chain of Grace
The spectrum of those being saved is a wide one ‑ crack dealers to troubled teenagers to Satan worshippers to those in shaky marriages to strippers to the hard working poor to the wealthy. People get saved, then bring their friends and family who also become converted. Steve Hill refers to it all as ‘God’s chain of grace.’
And the fire has spread in the Bible Belt! Many from other denominations, including Methodists and Baptists, attend the five nights a week meetings and in several cases the revival fires have now erupted in other church sanctuaries. ‘Swimming in the river of God’ has become a popular Brownsville theme that has been readily taken up by other ministers and churches.
Nowadays if you want to attend a 7 pm Brownsville AOG service, you’ll need to queue up at 3.30 pm in the afternoon! You’ll be among visitors from the States, Canada, Korea, Australia, Uganda, Brazil, UK … 400,000 had attended ‘the Pensacola Outpouring’ by the April 1996 count. The town itself has only a population of 80,000.
Charisma reports that the church ‑ ‘nondescript and just blocks from bingo parlours and a topless lounge in a Southern city best known for beaches and seafood’ ‑ spends $150 a night on drinking water, $4,000 a month for child care, and $4,000 per month for extra car park security as some services run to 3 am.
What’s different about the ‘Brownsville harvest,’ compared to the ‘Toronto’ blessing and ‘Sunderland’ revival?
In the main, it is probably the fact that the emphasis has been on salvation from the start with signs and wonders secondary. The church has been serious in its praying for revival and that’s what it’s received.
Also, much weeping in repentance and heavy conviction at the altar is another dominant feature.
Thirdly, neither John Kilpatrick or Steve Hill are particularly anxious to leave the church to be special speakers around the world. They are totally, as Steve Hill puts it, ‘committed at the Brownsville revival.’ In fact Hill, who was only supposed to minister once at the Father’s Day service, but has been there since, has moved his family from Texas to Brownsville.
Despite the overwhelming nature of all that has happened and the growing worldwide publicity, the Brownsville assembly remains humble and mystified as to why the Spirit has visited them in this way. But they are rejoicing in the Lord at the results which haven’t stopped coming since the fire fell.
Many American AOG ministers, previously critical of the recent move of the Spirit and sceptical about the ‘Pensacola Outpouring’ have had a change of heart since attending the Brownsville church, and doing unexpected extended carpet time. Visiting with a determination that there was no way they would fall on the floor, they found themselves overwhelmed by the presence of God and getting up from the altar as long as three hours later. Dramatically changed, their own churches are now swimming in the river of God.
Assistant General Superintendent, Charles Crabtree, was a speaker at the April Pensacola Harvest Revival Ministers’ Conference in Brownsville and was visibly touched by all that was happening there. General Superintendent Thomas Trask is a godly man who definitely desires spiritual revival, and reports indicate that what is happening at Brownsville is warmly endorsed by the AOG Executive Presbytery, Springfield.
The Pensacola fire is spreading, impacting the Assemblies of God in particular; and those who are thirsting for more of God and old time revival are experiencing it.
Australians can learn!
Adrian and Kathy Gray, senior pastors Mount Annan Christian Life Centre, Campbelltown (NSW), where the river of God has been flowing mightily for some time, have just returned from Pensacola. They write:
One of the most outstanding harvest revivals of our time is taking place in Brownsville. A number of things stand out very clearly about this revival church:
* As a whole it is very focused on what the Lord has called them to do ‑ build up the saints and win the lost.
* They are definitely some of the most passionate people in revival that we have been among.
* The prayer, intercession and travail that occurs during the altar times is among the most intense that we have seen anywhere in the world. Literally hundreds receive Christ every night.
Those receiving Christ are encouraged to do three main things:
* Come back to the revival meetings each night.
* Bring their family and friends.
* Follow the Lord into the waters of baptism.
Over 4,000 people were in the first meeting we attended. A powerful service; over 200 people came to Christ and 32 were water baptised. Every night, 14 year‑old Charity sings Mercy Seat and people run to the altar. Unbelievable! We are expecting this harvest anointing to ‘come home with us’ as we are particularly hungry for God to begin such a revival in our church.
Australians can learn a tremendous amount from the way the Lord is pouring out his presence in this church. Our nation is ready for revival so let’s keep a spirit of faith, expect the harvest, and pray, ‘More, Lord!’
Moving Into the Harvest Challenge
These are still exciting days! Let’s not drop this current move of God as some churches have done, let’s not fail to embrace it either as some have done, and let’s not keep it in-house as a local bless me club, but see it spill out in evangelism to win thousands into the kingdom.
Sunderland, England: Renewal moves into Harvest
Joy magazine reports that Sunderland Christian Centre (SCC) is experiencing a new and more powerful wave of the Holy Spirit as the church enters the second phase of the move of God.
Along with an amazing explosion of prayer, the church is experiencing some outstanding healings.
A New Emphasis
Senior pastors Ken and Lois Gott feel the Lord is allowing them to model the new emphasis ‑ prayer, mercy and mission to the unchurched ‑ just as they modelled the renewal.
After more than 19 months of nightly revival meetings with visitors flocking from around the country and the globe, SCC began gearing meetings to accommodate a new kind of guest. The building which saw nightly renewal meetings is now used twelve hours a day, seven days a week, as people stream in from the local community where previously there had been little impact.
‘We built an eight‑foot fence to keep the violent street kids out,’ said Ken Gott, ‘but six months into the renewal God saved key people from the local community. Jim Richardson was a major player in the local criminal underworld but God ‘arrested’ him in a renewal meeting ‑ literally knocking him flat on his back! Now he’s on staff.’
Going for the Worst
‘Elaine Arkley, dramatically healed and saved during the renewal, is now running a drop‑in mission. The workers cannot keep up with the numbers flocking to find food and, more importantly, the Saviour,’ adds Ken.
Around 260 people are being accommodated at SCC in this manner, but this is not church as they have known it before. Those coming are being fed, helped and cared for by a church fired by a vision of mission and mercy.
Of course, the church is having to adapt, but, like General Booth of the Salvation Army, they are going for the worst of sinners. And some truly remarkable conversions are taking place.
This change of direction is in line with many prophecies given before and during the current move which predicted a wave of renewal giving way to a compassionate ministry of love, healing and salvation to the desperate and needy.
Visitors to the church are no longer guaranteed to find renewal meetings every night of the week but those still travelling from all over the world are seeing first hand a model of renewal moving on into the harvest.
Extraordinary scenes of reconciliation took place in SCC during a recent meeting led by Lois Gott and attended by hundreds of church leaders.
Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, Salvationists, Messianic Jews, Congregationalists, House Church, Brethren and Pentecostals prayed for each other and confessed their past arrogance and lack of love for one another.
An Anglican vicar, tears flowing, led a prayer for national revival and announced prophetically that ‘the civil war (among Christians) is over.’
Pentecostals, particularly, repented of their arrogance in believing they ‘had it all’ and acknowledged the debt they owed to other denominations, especially the Anglicans ‑ it was Church of England vicar Alexander Boddy who was used to spark off the 20th century Pentecostal revival in Sunderland in 1907!
Also, at the recent 1,000 delegates prophetic conference other reconciliations took place in an atmosphere charged with an awesome sense of God’s presence.
A large group of Germans were called up to the front to be prayed for and Lois Gott, on behalf of the English, asked their forgiveness for the bloodshed of World War II. Amid many tears and embraces, they in turn confessed the sins of their forefathers. A Messianic Jewess who had had relatives killed in the holocaust also embraced them. Christians from the north and south of Ireland also prayed for each other.
Amazing worship was accompanied by rich, anointed singing from the platform, and many were in tears as they sang inspirational new songs along with some wonderful old hymns exalting what Christ has done in the past and anticipating what he is about to do in revival power.
Argentina Revival Fires: Hungry for the Spirit
When Argentina’s Claudio Freidzon stood before a crowd of over 65,000 in Buenos Aires’ Velez Sarsfield stadium it was like a dream come true. As a boy he had dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player; being a pastor had been the furthest thing from his mind. Now, walking onto the field for a gospel crusade, he had the wonderful opportunity of scoring a few goals against the devil! Six hours of revivalist fervour would see many salvations and Holy Spirit miracles, healings and manifestations.
Claudio Freidzon is among the foremost figures of the extraordinary revival that has been taking place in Argentina since 1992. He has also been a catalyst for the current worldwide revival ‑ as the saying goes, ‘Before there was Toronto or Sunderland, there was Argentina.’ More than 850,000 people have attended his crusades. As well as many healings from a whole range of sicknesses, countless lives have been dramatically changed ‑ restoration of families has been a highlight in this revival, children pray for one another, and youngsters prefer to visit hospitals rather than play ball.
Almost giving up
But success did not come easily for Claudio. When he and his wife, Betty, commenced ministry they set up both church and home in the one usable room in a dilapidated building. At night they replaced the chairs with their bed and a cot for the children. Those trying days proved a desert experience for Claudio which led him to a spiritual hunger and discovering complete dependence on the Holy Spirit. He says, ‘The only fountain is God himself. The only solution comes from heaven.’
With a congregation of just seven for seven years, he was on the point of giving up. But God wouldn’t let him. He recalls:
‘Sometimes pastor friends came to visit and would find me alone in the meeting. I felt like dying: I wished I could disappear. I used to walk among the empty benches and the devil laughed and jumped around me, whispering in my ear: “You’re no good; you’ll never make any progress; it will always be like this.”
‘And unfortunately I believed him. One day I thought: “This isn’t for me. I’m going to give up the pastorate. I’m going to resume my engineering studies and get myself a job.” But deep down I knew that was not God’s plan.
‘I went and saw my superintendent for the purpose of handing in my credentials. But before I could tell him, he said, “Claudio, I have something to say to you. God has something to say to you. He has something wonderful for you. You don’t see it, but God is going to use you greatly.”
‘He went on: “Look, I started in a very precarious house and had no help from anybody. Sometimes I had nothing to eat and I suffered greatly. But we prayed and God provided for each day and we felt grateful. I knew we were doing God’s will. And when I think of you, Claudio, I know you are going to be useful to God and that you are within his will. I don’t know what your problems are, but keep on. By the way, what brings you here today?”
‘I put my credentials back in my pocket and said, “Well… , nothing in particular, I thought I would just come and share a moment with you.” There was nothing else I could say. When I got home Betty was weeping and I said, “Betty, we’re going to continue.” I embraced her tightly and we started all over again.’
Craving for the Touch of God
A new book, Holy Spirit, I am Hungry for You, tells how Claudio Freidzon went on to hunger from the depths of his soul for the touch of God that would enable him to reach the masses. Desperate, and churning and aching inside as with hunger for natural food, Claudio desired and craved for the bread of life. He was to discover that heart attitude is of primary interest to God and that through developing our relationship with him, the Holy Spirit is free to inspire any committed Spirit‑hungry Christian to do great exploits in Jesus’ name.
In his search for more of God, Claudio Freidzon visited Orlando and requested that Benny Hinn pray for him. The evangelist did so, praying that the anointing of the Holy Spirit would rest on the Argentinian’s life and ministry and that God would do a great work through him in that nation.
The rest is history! Claudio Freidzon began holding incredible rallies, presenting the message of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and revival swept the country. What began as a personal work of the Holy Spirit in his own life because of his spiritual hunger affected others. Today he pastors a prosperous church of over 4,000 members and is bringing spiritual life to hundreds of thousands both in Argentina and in other nations.
Claudio Freidzon sees the Argentine revival as a sovereign move of God who provided the river to be followed. Traditional style worship forms were changed dramatically and today there’s a great emphasis on joy and freedom in the Spirit. Evidently people come dancing down the street on their way to church. Another emphasis is on holiness and less gossip in Christians’ lives!
AOG Superintendent Testifies
Argentina’s AOG superintendent, Jose Manuel Carlos, recalls a visit he made to Claudio Freidzon’s church:
‘My wife Isabel and I wanted to see for ourselves what was taking place, for we had heard so many things about the King of Kings Church.
We left our car not far from the church. As we started walking towards the building, we noticed our legs trembling. We thought it was just suggestion due to the comments we had heard. When we entered, the place was packed and there were still people waiting outside.
‘An usher recognised us and took us to the front row. People were standing, singing, jumping and hugging each other in unity. When Pastor Freidzon asked, “Do you want to receive more?” a “Yes” broke out from the people like the sound of many waters. Immediately he shouted, “Receive!” and half the congregation fell to the ground laughing, some of them with an expression of drunkenness.
‘He then called to the platform some 50 children and asked, “Do you want to receive from God?” When they said “Yes,” he prayed with lifted hands and all of them fell to the floor as if asleep and with smiles on their faces!
‘I could not find a logical explanation for what was happening and prayed to God: “Lord, if this is of you, please let me know.” At that moment Claudio had begun to walk among the people and pray for them. When I opened my eyes, I saw my wife was falling to the floor as he laid hands on her.
‘He then embraced me and prayed: “Father, bless this servant of yours.” At that moment, something covered me from head to toe. I had a pleasant feeling of dizziness and felt flooded by a deep joy. I couldn’t shake it off; I don’t think I wanted to either! What I was experiencing was so precious that I didn’t want to move, lest I should lose it. Isabel and I had such a great feeling of joy that night we couldn’t sleep. I prayed in tongues until dawn.
‘My ministry has been blessed by this anointing of the Holy Spirit that flows through Claudio’s ministry. My own church increased from 400 members to 800 in only six months. My children were changed. My two daughters, aged 15 and 17, were baptised in the Holy Spirit and called to the ministry. The elder sister has started her studies at the Bible institute and the younger, who is finishing school, is also planning to train for the ministry.
‘This change began to happen one night as Pastor Freidzon prayed for them. My eight‑year‑old son, who is very fond of playing soccer, has stopped playing and is praying and seeking after God as never before.
‘I thank God for this precious ministry that changes lives, ministers and churches and, I dare say, will affect our country.’
Holy Spirit, I am Hungry for You (Kingsway, 1996), is encouraging, challenging reading, especially for those wanting to serve God in a powerful way.
(Adapted with permission from a Joy article. Additional material from Alpha)
© Australian Evangel, August 1996, pp. 29-31, September 1996, pp. 6-8, 18-19. Used by permission.
© Renewal Journal 9: Mission, 1997, 2nd edition 2011
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