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AN EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNT OF GOD-SENT REVIVAL
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
“O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).
The first old-time revival I witnessed was in a Southern Baptist church, my church home, beginning in the summer of 1969, and continuing sporadically through 1972. In that time of revival, over 3,000 people were added to the church. This was not an evangelistic meeting. It was a God-sent awakening, such as the churches once experienced in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries – but which is so sadly absent in the churches of the English-speaking world today. I hope to write an account of that revival some time in the future.
The second time I witnessed revival was at a very conservative Baptist church in Virginia in the fall of 1992. Here are excerpts on that revival from the pastor:
God graciously visited [our] church in 1992. I kept an account of this unusual time of refreshing and revival. Our church was barren and dry. We needed reviving. This awareness led to a spirit of helplessness that soon grew into a spirit of desperation. A holy desperation raged in my soul day and night.
In February 1989 I became desperately ill and had two major surgeries. God was stripping me of self-reliance. He was showing me that without Him I could do nothing.
In 1990 and 1991 our church went through some of its darkest days. We endured fiery trials and testings in our schools. The physical and spiritual pressure was intense. God led me to preach on revival for almost a year. Together our church explored the revivals of the Old Testament, the First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening, the 1859 revival and others. The promise of Isaiah 44:3 burned in my soul: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.”
In 1992 I began to pray for revival one hour every Sunday morning. [I] cried out to the Lord, “Lord, how can I tell the next generation about revival if I have not experienced it? Don’t let me die and not experience revival.” The heart cry of our church has been Isaiah 64:1-2:
“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence.”
While planning our Annual Congress of Fundamentalists of 1992, I felt greatly burdened to pass the mantle of leadership to the next generation of Fundamentalists. To that end, I invited preachers and their sons to come and preach – Dr. Bob Jones and his grandson; Dr. O. T. Spence and his son; Dr. Van Gelderen and his son; Dr. Paisley and his son; and my two sons. Dr. John Monroe and Dr. R. L. Hymers preached as well. Little did I realize what God had in mind.
During this [series of meetings], I sensed an irresistible pressure building up like a dam ready to burst. On Friday night, October 30, Dr. Paisley preached on the Cross. A holy hush fell over the people as Calvary became real and the realization dawned afresh that Christ died not only for the world – but for me!
On Saturday night, October 31, Evangelist Jim Van Gelderen…spoke, and some 35 people were saved. The young evangelist commented, “There was a strange moving among the youth tonight.”
On Sunday morning, November 1…Jim Van Gelderen preached in our morning service, and there was a great spirit of revival. Approximately 200 Christians came forward, confessing sin and making restitution…There was a great spirit of brokenness, and five souls were saved that morning.
That night there was another great moving of the Spirit of God. “The comforter has come” became an experimental reality for us. Dr. R. L. Hymers from Los Angeles preached, and there was a divine visitation of God. Many people came forward and got right with the Lord. One man came forward on his hands and knees, crawling down the aisle. A teenager was saved and began to sing spontaneously. Then she broke into tears. Many teenagers flocked forward to be saved. There were 57 souls saved at this meeting – a great moving of the Spirit of God…The dam burst and, true to His Word, God poured “water upon the dry ground.” The invitation went on for two and a half hours. The people did not want to leave. [The next morning, in the church school] I asked our school administrator to give the high school young people an opportunity to give testimonies. They began to give testimonies, and without any prodding or without any invitation, 71 young people received Christ as their personal Saviour. There was a great brokenness as God sent a deep conviction of sin upon our young people.
Young people were running to find someone to lead them to Christ. Many cried out, “I don’t want to go to Hell! I want to get saved!” Staff members were being saved. Even mothers who were merely bringing their children into the preschool were being saved! This went on from 8:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M. A reverent quietness came over our student body. They organized their own prayer meetings and began to pray. More people were saved throughout the week. Children and parents were getting right with God. Parents were calling the school, asking, “What has happened? We have new children!” The young people were on fire to get out the good news…The young people did not want to quit knocking on doors. (Frontline magazine) .
Dr. Hymers’ statement: As of November 13, nearly three hundred people had come forward to be saved – in twelve days! Fifteen men had surrendered to preach the Gospel.
The pastor invited me to preach in the morning service on Sunday, November 22. I flew back on Tuesday, November 17, and was present in all the meetings from Wednesday the 18th, through Sunday night, November 22nd. Here is a day-by-day report.
1. Wednesday, November 18
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “At noon we had prayer for an hour and a half with nine pastors. It was a good meeting in the pastor’s office. He started by giving a report of the revival so far. Then we prayed for about 40 minutes.
In the evening, the mid-week prayer service started at 7:00 PM. I have seldom heard such singing in my life. The building rang with the deep-felt praises of the people. We sang an old song called “What’s the News?” At the end of each stanza, the people gave brief testimonies of salvation. It was an absolutely thrilling experience of the Lord’s presence with His people.”
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “Then the pastor introduced me and I preached twice, first on John 9:31, showing that answered prayers were no sure sign that the person receiving the answer is saved, since the man who said this was lost himself. I gave an invitation and a teen-aged girl came forward for salvation. Then I preached a second sermon to the saved. About 300 people came forward at the invitation to rededicate themselves.”
2. Thursday, November 19
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “I attended the chapel service of the church’s schools in the main auditorium of the church. There was good singing and special music, followed by the pastor reading from Jonathan Edwards on the involvement of young people in the First Great Awakening. This was followed by a number of very moving testimonies of the young people. I concluded by asking them to bring in the lost on Sunday, and the pastor closed in prayer.”
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “A large number of people went on visitation at 7:00 PM. The man I went with lacked assurance of his salvation and I had the privilege of leading him to Christ as we went visiting.”
3. Friday, November 20
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “An all-night prayer meeting started at 7:00 PM and continued until 7:00 AM on Saturday. There were three prayer groups, in different rooms of the church. The senior citizens prayed in one room, the girls and ladies in another, and the men and boys in a third. Twenty-five men and boys were in our group through the time I was there. I left at 9:30 PM. There were thirty-three praying when I came back at 4:30 in the morning. People came and went. Some stayed all night long. There were many wonderful prayers for the lost, for revival, and for many other requests. Several junior boys prayed very movingly. Over 150 people came to all or part of this twelve-hour prayer meeting. Breakfast was served at 7:30 AM and the people went home rejoicing.”
4. Saturday, November 21
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “At 10:00 AM just under 200 people went soul-winning. They passed out a flyer for Sunday morning and a map to the church. They gave out over 4,000 of these flyers.”
A “Youth Bonfire” was held at 7:00 PM. About 175 young people gathered in the auditorium of the church to sing hymns. At 7:30 we went out to a lot behind the church and the young people threw cassettes of rock music, videos, questionable literature and scraps of paper with sins written on them onto a roaring fire. Several thousand dollars worth of sinful music and books were burned in this dedication service based on Acts 19:19. Then many of them gave stirring testimonies. Several wept openly as they spoke. This was followed, about two hours after it began, with refreshments and fellowship in the church gymnasium.
5. Sunday, November 22
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “At the 11:00 AM Sunday service, I preached on I Timothy 2:5, stressing the need for Jesus’ mediatorial work in order for one to be saved from the judgment of God. Thirty-seven people came forward for salvation, and twelve men came forward saying they were called to preach and would get into Bible school. This made a total of about 27 who surrendered to preach so far in the meetings. Every seat was filled in the church auditorium for this great service.”
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “At 6:30 PM I preached again, and twelve adults came forward for salvation.”
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “About 45 minutes after the evening service, a woman in her fifties came weeping to the pastor’s office, asking how to be saved. Later, after 11:00 PM, two more people sought out church leaders in their homes, asking how to be saved. They said they could not sleep without getting the matter settled. Thus, 15 were saved that evening, making a total of 52 professions of faith that Sunday.”
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “Many people came with tears in both the morning and evening services. Two came forward in the evening service to say God had called them to the foreign mission field. The pastor baptized over thirty people in the evening service. I did not get an exact count, but counted more than thirty myself, as they were baptized.”
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “In both the morning and evening service I spoke for a few minutes after the invitation on tithing. The pastor had people sign their names and put down the amount they would tithe each week. The tithe was raised by $950.00 per week. This was the amount recorded from the pledge cards.”
Dr. Hymers’ statement: “The pastor announced that a service for Thanksgiving testimonies would be held on Wednesday night and asked how many would bring a lost person to this service to hear a brief gospel message he would bring after the testimonies. A large number of people said they would bring a lost person to this service.”
The pastor continues the story:
Sunday night, November 29, I preached on “The Lost Soul.” There were great crowds…Eleven came forward for salvation, two for assurance, and one answered the call to the mission field.
Sunday night we observed the Lord’s Table, and there were testimonies of brokenness…Sobs were heard throughout the auditorium. We baptized nine, and two came for salvation.
This brought us to approximately 350 people who have been saved [about 500 were saved within three months in these meetings]. We did not organize this meeting; we did not advertise it; we did not supervise it – we were finding out which direction the Lord was going and were going with Him.
This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes…This is not a “brag sheet” but a praise sheet. Our prayer is that this news might be an encouragement to you and that the revival fires will spread. Pray for revival!
(END OF REPORT)
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