JENA, La. (BP)–The summation phrase for the nine-week Jena (La.) Revival is captured in the lyrics of the song, “How great is our God … and all will see how great, how great, is our God!”
For nine weeks LaSalle Parish experienced a mighty revival unlike it’s seen in many years. At last count, well over 100 people came to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and most of those were adults. The number of people who reconciled with God and each other are too many to tally.
Jena is the community of less than 3,000 that became divided by a racial incident last year. In Sept. 2007, approximately 20,000 people marched down the streets of Jena to express support for six young men known as the “Jena 6.”
After months of tension and much prayer, something extraordinary occurred. A revival meeting began at Midway Baptist Church Feb. 17. What started out as a typically planned four-day event become so much more. Little did the members of that church know that God would call on church leaders to extend that meeting from four days to 48 days, spanning nine weeks. The impact of the Jena Revival has reached far outside the worship center of Midway.
During the first four weeks, revival attendees participated in Sunday night services together, but during the last five weeks the decision was made to hold the meeting Monday through Friday in order that people could attend their home churches on Sundays. (The reason was so that people could make decisions they made in the revival public at their home churches for baptism, membership, etc.)
So much took place during that nine-week period. To borrow the words of the president of Wild Horse Ministries, Paul Daily, who attended as many of the services as his schedule would allow, there was “openness” to those revival services that had not been seen in many years. People came for one reason and one reason alone: to see and experience the power of God.
God broke down many of the walls we had erected in our personal lives — walls of unforgiveness, walls of bitterness, walls of prejudices, walls of jealously and walls of religion. It was not a “Baptist” revival or any other denomination, but it was truly a revival of the body of Christ.
Contrary to what some might have believed, there wasn’t anything “crazy” or “weird” that took place during the meetings, either. Many thought there was some type of charismatic movement going on until they attended a service and realized the entire event was centered around Jesus -– just singing about Jesus, preaching about Jesus, testifying about Jesus and people obeying Jesus.
We never had anyone jump a pew or swing from a chandelier, but there was plenty of shouting and applause once people got right with God. As it has been said many times, a search of the Bible reveals that anytime someone came in contact with Holy God, their reaction was one of brokenness, humility and obedience. Those three characteristics capture the essence of what took place in LaSalle Parish during the Great Revival of 2008.
In talking with friends who have inquired about the revival in recent weeks, I was amazed that many people outside of the Jena community asked basically two questions concerning the revival: First, they wanted to know who’s doing the preaching and second, how much are they getting paid?
I guess for some, the idea was that if God was to work, He had to use a certain individual to preach for Him and surely that man was getting rich in the process. The truth is many preachers preached and it was never about the money. In fact, during 50 services of revival, only five times was an offering received. But that’s not all the people gave; they also gave of themselves and they gave to others. That’s probably one of the reasons God blessed so many because those in charge were more concerned about seeing God move than the size of a love offering.
There were several things I enjoyed about the revival. First, the fact that there was no competition among community church leaders certainly signified it was a “God-thing.” While Bill Robertson preached more than any other preacher, many others also brought messages. The majority of the preaching was by pastors right here in LaSalle Parish. The wall of church competition that has plagued our parish for years seemed to crumble during the past nine weeks, and I pray it is never resurrected again.
Secondly, I enjoyed the fact that the services were centered around the Word of God and not any other facet of modern-day church life. Some people confessed their disappointment with coming to a service and realizing there was just singing and preaching — no fireworks, no video presentations, no special effects — just the Gospel of Jesus Christ delivered by a humble servant of God. It was powerful to see people hungry for the preaching of God’s word because in the word there is life.
Thirdly, I enjoyed seeing the faces of those who continued to gather week after week and who came to each service anticipating God to move in an extraordinary way. Many had tasted His goodness and desired His presence each service. Many came each night wanting to see God do it “one more time,” and, thankfully, He did.
Fourthly, I enjoyed experiencing the fires of revival once again. I had seen this type of movement years ago and had often wondered if I’d ever see it again. God answered that question with a resounding “yes,” and the Jena Revival far surpassed what I’d experienced years ago.
As a result of His people getting right, we have seen: many people came to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior; churches reconciled with each other; men, women, and children recommitted to following Jesus and serving Him like never before. Our community experienced healing, restoration and unification between races and across parish divides. What man could not do through politicians, the government and celebrities, God did in just a few short weeks using ordinary men and women who’d decided to surrender it all to Him.
The first night that God moved in an extraordinary way was on Tuesday, Feb. 19. That night, the presence of God was so real, so strong, that Bill Robertson didn’t even preach. Seven people were saved that night (five were adults) and the altars were filled for an hour and a half. That night was also the first time we sang the song, “How Great Is Our God.” It would become the revival’s theme song during the next nine weeks.
Although the revival services concluded on Thursday night, April 17, at Fellowship Baptist Church, my prayer is that the revival that God initiated does not stop simply because the services have ceased. My prayer is that the fervency of prayer, unification and obedience that brought us to where we are today will continue to demonstrate how great is our God.
The Louisiana Baptist Convention has videoed and posted several testimonies about the revival here. All of them are great but you should especially watch the one about “dirty horses.” Get your hankies out, open up your blessing box, and listen all the way to the end. May our God ignite the passion of revival throughout our land.
The Jena revival began when one person, a woman, decided to be obedient to God that first Tuesday night. Could it be that God is waiting for one person to start such a movement in your town, your city, your state? Could it be that this person is you?
Craig Franklin the associate editor of the Jena Times.