There’s a new sound coming forth from the hills of southern West Virginia – a sound many prophets have foretold but haven’t heard until now.
For the past three weeks, the large sports complex in the small coal-mining town of Williamson, West Virginia, has been filled to the rafters with people crying out for God.
It all started when Tennessee evangelist Matt Hartley visited a local church for what was supposed to be a three-day revival service but it just kept going.
“This is not man-made, charismatic, hyper-spiritual,” Hartley told CBN News. “This is the presence of God that is overwhelming us, that is being released upon hungry people that are tired of just stagnant Christianity and “safe” church.”
“They want Jesus more than anything else. That’s why they’re here,” he said.
Hartley also spoke at the local high school where revival seemed to break out among the students.
“Four-hundred to 450 students got saved at Mingo Central from Matt Hartley coming in and speaking at a voluntary prayer club,” Katie Endicott, with the Mingo Central High Prayer Club, told CBN News.
“It has just gone from school to school, from youth group to youth group,” she said. “Denominational barriers have just been cast down and we’ve just had a great spirit of unity.”
Many are calling it the greatest spiritual awakening in southern West Virginia history.
“We couldn’t have done this if we wanted to,” Endicott said. “We’ve had so many revival services, so many special services and nothing like this. This is true awakening.”
Endicott says prayer plus desperation has paved the way for this spiritual breakthrough, especially among the young people.
“Oh my gosh, it’s amazing!” 18-year-old Belfry High School student Andrew Fletcher exclaimed. “I’ve never seen something like this happen where the young people just get on fire.”
“It’s really cool to come to church and it’s really cool to worship God – nobody’s judging you or saying anything about it because they’re all with you,” he continued.
“We’re starting to have prayer circles at school and we’re reading and having Bible studies at school,” he said.
Others, like Erica Priest of Lenore, are seeing God answer very specific prayers.
“My husband just got saved this morning,” Priest said. “I’ve been praying for him for seven months and he’ll be baptized this Sunday.”
Hartley believes the sound of revival now being heard in these West Virginia mountains has the potential to spread around the world.
“I believe God has preserved this state for the end-time awakening that’s coming to America,” Hartley said.
“I believe that this is the beginning of where it happens and it’s going to spread as a wild-fire throughout the nations of this world, that Jesus is going to be exalted,” he predicted.
“And the more Jesus is exalted the more the river of God is going to flow — and we have not seen anything yet to what God is releasing,” he said.
Source: CBN News
Students who have walked the halls of Mingo Central the last couple years say the West Virginian high school has a different feel these days.
Prayer has mostly replaced profanity in the hallways. Bible studies are more frequent than fights in the cafeteria. And every morning, a group of students meets at the flagpole before the first bell to read Scripture and pray.
“The Lord has swept through this area,” said Aerianna McClanahan, a junior who is part of the Mingo Central prayer club. “People have been on fire for Him. The thirst we have here is unquenchable.”
Today, on the National Day of Prayer, many southern West Virginians plan to stoke the flames of their regional revival by standing with Franklin Graham during his Decision America Tour stop in Charleston. After all, prayer is at the core of what’s happening in their community just 90 miles southwest of the State Capitol.
“We know this [revival] was birthed in prayer so we know the only way for it to continue is to stay in prayer,” youth pastor Katie Endicott said. “We are not looking for this season to end here in southern West Virginia. We really believe that revival is going to spread all across the state. It’s going to spread all across the nation. We want to partner with all of our brothers and sisters, and we want to stand united and pray together.”
An ‘Appalachian Awakening’
Many credit a Tennessean evangelist, who has conducted several revival services during the last month in Mingo County, for triggering change. Within a month, hundreds of students have given their lives to Christ and thousands region-wide have been impacted. The Mingo Central prayer club sponsored a student-led worship event that drew almost 3,000 people and included baptisms in an inflatable pool on the school’s football field.
These events have been pivotal, Endicott said, but the native West Virginian knows the roots of this “Appalachian Awakening” go much deeper than that.
“This is an area that has really been consecrated in prayer and through prayer for generations and generations,” Endicott said. “This has been decades in the making. People have been praying for this their whole lives.”
People like her dad, a pastor, who would wake up at 4 a.m. to go to church and pray. Or her uncle, who actually quit his job so he could devote his entire day to prayer. She admits the family wasn’t too sure of that decision, but the fruit decades later speaks otherwise.
A Generation Rising Up
Lives are being touched, like that of junior Blake Hackney and senior Savannah Estep. Both Mingo Central students accepted Christ during this time of revival.
“It took all this for me to understand that I have a Lord and Savior,” Blake said. “I felt a huge boulder was off my shoulders.
“What motivates me is I think about God. I think about what He did. He died for us so us wretched sinners could have eternal life. He died for me so I’m going to live for Him.”
Blake, Aerianna and Savannah are among the hundreds that are now involved in the school’s prayer club, which is planning another football stadium gathering in mid-May. They’re diving into God’s Word and quickly dismissing the thought that this might be just a trend for the area.
“We’re praying that we’re a generation that just wakes up and uses what God has given us to break all the generational chains and curses,” Aerianna said.
These students have seen hardship as family members and friends have lost jobs in the coal mining business and elsewhere. Economic depression is real in this county, where more than 28 percent of people live in poverty. Drug use is rampant, and at least one report ranks southern West Virginia in the top five for fatal overdoses.
“Our area has been devastated by the economy and by drugs, and like I said, people have prayed and they have prayed and they have prayed, but it has been such a place that has been gripped by all this stuff,” Endicott said. “It was overwhelming, and people were really losing hope.
“This [revival] moment has really turned everything around. People are excited. People are passionate. People have joy. People have hope. You can’t go anywhere without hearing what God is doing.”
A Region-Wide Movement
The movement of God hasn’t been limited to Mingo County, though. In nearby Logan County, junior Skyler Miller felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to just start preaching one day. A two-time leukemia survivor, Skyler always leaned on God, but he actually began a personal relationship with Jesus after his second diagnosis.
On March 24, 2016, three years to the day of his initial diagnosis, Skyler preached to a group of his friends during his lunch period. He gave an altar call at the end and many, including some curious passers-by, accepted Christ.
Watching God move in the region has been a blessing for Endicott.
“This is what we have believed. We did not give up hope. We always knew that the Lord was going to send true revival and true awakening to southern West Virginia. We’ve had many revival services. We’ve had great moves of God. But there has been nothing like this.”
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After a few weeks of rest, the young evangelist at the center of the revival in West Virginia that brought 4,000 to Christ, says God is not done pouring out his Spirit in coal country and beyond.
“Hear me, West Virginia. I know that God has moved in the last eight weeks where over 4000 people have come to Jesus, but there has been warfare ever since, and the devil is trying to abort what God has started,” Matt Hartley said.
He spoke at the Williamson, West Virginia Field House on August 8th, and will be speaking at the same venue the following two nights. Next week he will preach in Huntington, West Virginia, near the Ohio border.
“Hear me tonight. Man didn’t start this thing, and man cannot control it. It was started by a sovereign God and tonight there is a sound of heaven about to be released in this room,” he declared.
Hartley preached from 2 Samuel 5 when God instructed David in his fight against the Philistines with an unconventional warfare strategy: First, God said to “circle around behind them” and wait near the Mulberry trees. “And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the Mulberry trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.”
When God’s people allowed the Lord to fight the battles, victory was always assured.
“There is a sound tonight that hell is getting nervous over. I prophesy that God shall arise and His enemies will be scattered,” Hartley declared.
“God is connecting heaven with earth, and there is a sound as God begins to walk through West Virginia. I hear God walking through West Virginia tonight, setting captives free.”
Many are praying the revival will sweep the United States, including Hartley. “I hear the sound of God walking through America. I hear the remnant wailing and weeping for His presence to come. There is a sound being released. God is preparing to take this awakening further than you could have imagined it would go,” he declared.
One participant, Bo Copley has been at almost every revival meeting, and last night was no exception. “The atmosphere was still really great. The presence of the Lord was all over the building. It was very similar to the other services,” he observed.
“There is a sense of urgency around what Matt says. He doesn’t water down the Word. There should be a sense of urgency because people are either going to spend eternity in heaven or hell.
“People said after four weeks the revival would die down, but then it went even further. God started it, and He is not finished. If He’s not through, it will not end.”