"A Taste of Revival"

The idea of spiritual renewal has been on the minds of many believers in the wake of the recent outbreak of revival on the campus of Asbury University that began February 8th. The Asbury outpouring is still reverberating throughout the community and beyond after two weeks of non-stop prayer meetings that started in an after-chapel prayer service and spontaneously continued on.

Photo credit: pixabay.com

Driven by social media posts and live streams, estimates are that some 50,000 individuals descended upon the college campus and Willmore, Kentucky, with a population  of only 6,000 residents! Students came from more than 260 colleges and universities to pray alongside those on the Asbury campus. Many of those arriving on the scene were hungry to see what God was doing in that setting and hoping it would be replicated in their lives, churches, and communities.

I had "a taste of revival" at the Second Baptist Church of Marion, Illinois in 1972. I was serving on staff as a summer youth minister and Monique was volunteering as children’s choir director. We had just been married in early June and would return to Eastern Illinois after our 10-week stint to complete our fall college studies before student teaching.

I remember being surprised by the spirit of the congregation after what was a “routine” Sunday night service that turned into something substantially more powerful and renewing. That night life-changing decisions were made public to accept Christ as Lord and Savior by new believers while seasoned believers were confessing sins and rededicating their lives to Christ as well. We sang the Gaither song, He Touched Me, repeatedly along with other choruses and hymns of the faith well beyond the designated service time. It was a very special and reviving experience, but it was only a taste of revival!

An even greater outpouring of the renewing work of the Holy Spirit occurred in Pekin, Illinois in January of 1975. I was serving the Liberty Baptist Church as Associate Pastor with youth, children, and bus outreach assignments. This was my first full-time ministry opportunity after college. I was called to lead various studies, activities, and outreach efforts to further develop a strong program with youth and children.

The Pekin Bible Church had invited twin brothers and evangelists, Ralph and Lou Sutera, from the Canadian Revival Fellowship, to lead a revival meeting after the new year. The meeting was only scheduled for a week or so, but in the end, had to be extended for several more weeks! The evangelists had to reschedule their next meeting commitment in Calgary for some time in February due to the overwhelming response and the Holy Spirit’s outpouring in Pekin. What would later be called, “Revival in the Heartland,” has been etched in my mind as the greatest revival I have ever experienced!

I remember attending the Pekin revival meetings on more than one occasion. I was immediately struck by the feeling that this was something I had never experienced before but had always longed for. While one brother was preaching in the sanctuary, the other would be managing a very active prayer room where participants would come and go. In that setting, testimonies were shared, tears would flow, and prayers of confession could be heard. It was sincere and spiritually refreshing. There were tears of joy, hugs of affirmation, and obvious expressions of spiritual freedom and victory.

Throughout the days of those revival meetings, stories would be told about how individuals and families experienced wholeness, forgiveness, and support for one another like never before. This outpouring touched our church youth and parents at Liberty. It touched me! It made me revisit that earlier “taste of revival” in Marion three years before the Pekin experience. I cannot forget that night with Marion Second as we sang the Gaither chorus over and over as a prayer of praise, “He touched me, oh, He touched me and oh, the joy that floods my soul. Something happened, and now I know. He touched me and made me whole!”

On one occasion, three of Jesus’ disciples were invited to an unforgettable mountain-top experience. Peter, James and John were privileged to share with Jesus in the revelation of His Divine Being through the glorious experience of transfiguration! Giving further validation to this moment, Moses and Elijah suddenly appeared and stood next to the Lord as His face and clothing took on a dazzling brightness. Peter was so caught up in this experience that he blurted out without thinking, “Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!” (Luke 9:22, NLT).

After these two “tastes” I have had with revival in Marion and Pekin, I too, want to exclaim, “Master, this is so wonderful! Let’s stay here while you do it again!” However, that is not how revival works. We learn that God revives us so that we can come down from those spiritual high points to a waiting world that needs the transforming work of the Holy Spirit through salvation. Fellow believers also need renewal to break into our everyday lives as well. Who does not need that life-transforming touch of God?!

Most would agree that our world is in desperate need of revival! We have strayed from the ways of God in so many respects! And every believer needs to be praying that such an outpouring of God’s presence may descend upon us that we will repent of our sin, turn back to God, and then invite everyone everywhere to “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need.” (Psalm 34:8-9).

Let the work of praying for revival and renewal begin!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

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