The Layman's Revival of 1857
By Pastor Donnie Small
Throughout church history there have been periods of time when God's presence has been stronger on the church in certain places than in others;but in each case God has always withdrawn the greater measure of his presence from the church. These times are called revivals and are responsible for some of the greatest out-pourings of the Spirit that the church and the world have ever experienced.
The Layman's Revival of 1857 gave birth to the presence of God in our nation during a time when there was a spiritual drought. People had turned away from God and put their focus on materialism, prosperity and the love of money. In 1857 Charleston, South Carolina, black slaves had their own churches with mostly white leadership. Those churches began experiencing the first signs of revival. Dr John L. Girardeau and his congregation, as well as other mixed congregations were in revival by the middle of 1857 before Fulton Street in New York City. They had begun to have prayer meetings asking God for a spiritual awakening and God did not disappoint them. One evening the Holy Spirit fell
upon Dr. Girardeau and he shouted out "The Holy Spirit has come" and revival was on. Over 1500 to 2000 people were saved and later joined churches.
Fulton Street Prayer Meetings brought people to prayer through out our nation every day at noontime. People would pray causing such an overwhelming presence of God over our nation that there were reported extraordinary cases of people being converted to Christ. Such cases were conversions on ships before entering the harbor, children in schoolhouses leaving class to repent of their sins and many others.
This revival brought our nation to repentance just before the civil war. It introduced our nation to the true power of prayer which prepared our nation for the thousands of deaths during the war but the church followed the same pattern it had throughout the ages and noon day prayer stopped and so did that measure of his presence.
There has always been times when God would show up because of prayer but would soon withdraw the greater measure of His presence when His people stopped praying. This has been the fate of the church in every case.
Some have accepted this to be normal and have said this is how it is supposed to be. I contend that this is not normal, and that the early New Testament church model in the Book of Acts is normal, and that revival should be a perpetual, continuous flow of the Spirit throughout every generation. God has always intended His church to operate and live in that greater measure and dimension of His presence.
The Dark Ages are a testimony to the decay of the church when Christians refuse to corporately seek God. We'd better learn from these patterns of highs and lows or we will be passed over for the next generation of believers who will get the job done.
Thirty Years Ago the power of God was so strong in Hampton Roads that the churches turned people away because there was not enough seating or room on the church van. I can remember people gathering in Calvert Park in Norfolk, Virginia to be picked up by the church van, but the numbers were so great that there wasn't enough seating on the van to take them to church.
The number increased weekly, and grew so much, to the extent that the van driver eventually stopped coming to pick up the people in the Calvert Park community. Everyone knew that God was moving, but the church had no idea that it was revival. A friend of mine, who pastors a church in Virginia Beach,Virginia told me that during that same time period, the church he attended in Portsmouth, Virginia had to turn people away and close the doors because there was not enough seating. This was every Sunday.
The year was 1975 and revival had come to Hampton Roads and just about every ministry and church in our area and the nation experienced a wave of the Holy Spirit that transformed lives. During that time I can recall standing in the middle of the street, sharing Christ with people, and the power of God was so strong on me and others with me, that the presence of the Holy Spirit caused us to shiver.
I tell you no lie; people would start crying in the street and then come to Jesus Christ. It was a time when you would pray and God would move immediately upon your request. People were committed and kept the faith. Sunday evening services where attended and people didn't want to leave. Prayer rooms were established everywhere.
What happened? God has called for a drought in the land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us that He will do this when his people drift away, and that the only way for that greater dimension of God to be restored is through humility, repentance and the vehicle of prayer.
The church on the other hand has turned to entertainment and said that this is normal. Where there use to be power there is step teams, dance ministry, concerts and many other functions wearing the title ministry and now we have cell groups where the unbelievers brings beer to drink and watch movies like Bruce Almighty. Why?
because the church has gone seeker friendly it seems we will do just about anything to get some one saved. We have substituted the power of God for what we think will work and instead of us being a bible driven church we now serve our on purpose.
In short we need revival and God has promised that he will come to the southeastern seaboard and spread like wild fire to the west. It has always been the will of God to raise up a revival company, a 24-hour house of prayer.
A people that will give him no rest with there continuous prayers and in return God will return the church to her former glory and splendor and beyond.
Isaiah 62:6-7 tells us to perpetually make mention to God ?until he makes Jerusalem a praise? throughout the earth. This scripture speaks of a 24 hour a day (give him no rest) prayer in order to bring in the dawn of a new age upon Jerusalem. This is something that Natural Israel never achieved and will never do as a nation simply because the only prayer of this caliber that God will hear is from those who know Christ.
This prophesy is for the church to fulfill, and in the church fulfilling it, I believe it will usher in the return of our Lord Jesus Christ as revival covers the entire earth. God is calling His people to prayer and we must respond to this call or be passed over by the next generation. I pray you will give heed to his call and prepare for one of the greatest moves of God we have ever seen.
Revival: Its Principles and Personalities, Winkie Pratney, 1994 Huntington House Publishers
Scott Smithwork Stephen.org