It’s hard to believe the Brownsville Revival was almost 20 years ago. The Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville Revival were incredible influences on my life. I did not get to go to Toronto, and when Brownsville first broke out I did not have a chance to get there early. But I had a friend who was able to get to both and the impact on his life was so amazing. His spiritual life took some deeper direction in that time period.
When I finally had the opportunity to drive over to Pensacola with my wife for one service, the revival had been going for a year or two. The service was so intense. The worship was powerful. The passion for Jesus was refreshing.
And then there was Steve Hill.
I had not heard many sermons from him at that point. The revival was old enough to be controversial on Christian radio, so most of what I heard at that point was snippets where the hosts of the radio shows could then poke fun at him.
His message that night was not long. The worship was long. Prayer times were long. His message, as I remember, was not long. What I do remember was his frustration. He almost “growled” at the audience. (And the sanctuary was packed with hundreds in overflow areas watching by closed circuit TV.)
He shouted, “You’ve been enjoying this revival. You’ve come night after night and enjoyed the incredible grace of God in this place. You have watched the worship. You have watched the miracles. You have watched Lord change other lives. But night after night you have walked out those doors and kept your heart hardened. How dare you walk out those doors again without giving your heart to Jesus tonight!”
He let them know they could walk out with hard hearts that night as well, but there would be a limit to how many times that could happen. He pleaded with them to fall under the mercy of God.
And then… after that nerve-racking “call to salvation”… he said, “Charity is going to sing and you are going to RUN to this altar and give your life to Christ. You will not walk. Why play that game? You will RUN to this altar and receive the mercy of Christ!”
I was thinking, “Run? Really? This is going to be embarrassing. Who is going to…”
And the worship singer started singing… and… they… ran.
The altars filled up as people literally ran to the altars and fell on their faces weeping before God.
For about an hour there was more worship as altar workers moved among those coming to faith, praying over them, praying with them, weeping with them.
They then cleared out the altar area and started over. This time they had worship and said, “If you’re a Christian and you need prayer for anything, THIS is your time. We have so many altar workers prayed up and ready and anointed by God. You don’t need Steve Hill or John Kilpatrick to come pray over you. You need to come to JESUS, not Steve Hill or John Kilpatrick.”
And the altars flooded with people again. I was one of them. It was an intense time in the presence of Jesus.
Several years later the Brownsville team came to Minneapolis to hold a citywide event. Their hearts for the lost had not changed. Their hearts for the church had not changed. There was always a deep passion for the lost and bringing people to Jesus.
Steve Hill went to his eternal reward over the weekend. A great warrior has gone home.