When The Pattern is Right, The Fire Will Fall, Part One
PENSACOLA, FL - If you have been at Pensacola for the last 7 years then you know that the face and the expression of what we know as the "Father's Day Outpouring" has changed over the years. At first a no-name evangelist came to a grieving pastor and the supernatural came forth on the afternoon of the June 18th, 1995. What has changed, and what is different these days? No doubt the presence of God was much stronger in the first two years of the great move of God.
What is different from then and what has changed?
In the early days of revival the manifestations of the Holy Spirit were visible to the eye of man. In those days it was the birthing of something, which had not been in the Pentecostal Church for many years - signs and wonders were returning to the powerful expression of Pentecost. Early on the power chased away those of poor understanding but many would come seeking God in this burning bush and would begin to lead captivity captive. On different nights we witnessed God showing up through individuals and tangible settings of God's manifest glory.
It was Dick Reuben who saw the angel in the balcony in the fall of 1994, and it was during that week Reuben said that the world would visit the sanctuary. Many people knew who Dick Reuben was in the early nineties along the Gulf Coast. The first time I visited Brownsville Assembly of God in 1991 to interview Pastor John Kilpatrick, Reuben was doing the Temple in the Wilderness at Pace Assembly of God just across the I-10 Bridge on the western side of Pensacola. In those days the blowing of the shofar was not heard in the sanctuary, but the Brownsville secretaries were excited about what they were learning at Pace Assembly about the Temple in the Wilderness. These secretaries and members of Brownsville didn't know it but what they were seeing at Pace Assembly of God would one day be actual manifestation of that Wilderness Temple by the Spirit of God on Father's Day.
Dick Reuben's statement about physical and spiritual would stick in my mind all through this move of God. "To understand the Spiritual side of God you must understand the physical, whatever was done in the tangible in the Old Testament is done in the spiritual in the New Testament." The physical side of God was the Temple in the Wilderness.
As I sat under his teachings during some of the Minister's Conference in the early days of revival, Dick would explain how a Jewish man would court his future wife and there again the physical and the spiritual would be married in the believer's minds. Reuben was called in an affectionate way, "The Big Ugly Jew," but how beautiful were his feet in those early days as he brought the prophetic message of Christ and how He would come to his people in the last days.
We knew God had put his hand on us to do this work of reporting revival -- in the early days we tried to stay married to the city of Mobile. One night we were buffeted into producing the newspaper. I remember telling my friend Luis Lopez about how God was dealing with me to fully concentrate on the covering of revival. Luis looked at me and said, "You need to go down and let pastor pray for you." As I went forward I saw Pastor Kilpatrick as I was in his way, he had a strange way of praying for people. Pastor Kilpatrick took my hand and held my back and began to slap me on the back calling for every pocket of hindrance to fall away. I collapsed to the floor that night and when I got up I received a personal word from God, "If you will cover My revival I will send you all over the world."
It was at that moment I knew, I had been chosen, and it was a call from on high.
This was not just going to be a Pensacola thing but it was going to be a fire that would travel all over the world.
In Sikeston, Missouri, a young man called me and wanted some of our newspapers. I told him I would meet him in Jackson, Mississippi, and give him 2,000 newspapers for the Boot Hill area of Missouri. Rick Irwin met me in front of the capital building in Jackson, Mississippi. As we unloaded the papers in his van I started back home. Rick held one of the papers up and as he began to talk with his companion in the van his hand turned into fire and got very hot. The supernatural message of revival was beginning to travel. It had touched his hand for it was the first time the paper would travel out from the center Gulf Coast area.
It was going to touch people in the Boot Hill area where another unknown evangelist, John Davis was meeting at Larry Davis's church for ten weeks. As Davis saw the hunger in the people he moved into National Guard Armory and the people of that part of Missouri began to be touched by the fire of impartation of the Holy Ghost.
It was in the midst of this fire that I was invited by John Davis to visit South Side Assembly of God in St. Louis, Missouri. It was there my life would be completely changed forever as I met a man who was a true revivalist. I got there late that night, but in the morning I walked into a meeting and a bald headed preacher with a lot of fire was walking up and down in front of a group of pastors. I didn't know who he was but he seemed to know me by the Spirit of God as he called me forward to pray for pastors. Cleddie Keith would begin to be a part of my life and this newspaper. His hunger was contagious and the fire of what we saw in those days was more intense than it is now. People can say what they want to say but when the fire is hot, it is totally different and there is a difference.
I had seen church situations created before my very eyes to help the people of religion hang on, but when the fire is there, neither program nor man can satisfy, it is a God thing.
Revival is all about movement and change, and in the early days of Pensacola it was very sweet. Evangelist Steve Hill was a very rare individual. His "in-the-face" type of preaching brought sinners to repentance. Visitors who would come and watch from the balcony would find themselves in need of a savior. You never knew who was going to be there or what was going to happen -- strippers who had come to Pensacola for a photo shoot layout for playboy, or Patrick, a large bouncer who sat and listened to the man of God pull at his heartstrings. From the darkest of sinners to the people who thought they knew God from religion -- Hill pulled the net every night until everyone who could come could be had.
Charity James, a young 16-year-old girl, sang the Mercy Seat song as they came running toward the front for eternal security through repentance.
Who was Steve Hill and what was his mission to those who heard him first? He came from the tribe of David Wilkerson, and in those days the tribe was in New York City, but more than David Wilkerson had an influence over his life. Hill's heart was the heart of an evangelist and he had come from the place of signs and wonders. After the Falklands War in Argentina he found himself by divine appointment in a country that was enslaved by religious tradition. The entrance of certain people who God wanted to rise up broke that system of bondage.
Carlos Anaconda was raised up as a nobody to break a system of bondage that had enslaved the people for years. Unlike days past, it was the English in Protestant England who were the forerunners of revival, but here in an environment controlled by the Roman Church, great strides were being made in the supernatural. As the man of God would raise his hand in the great stadiums of that country people would begin to violently shake as deliverance was taking hold of a Spanish speaking country.
Steve Hill brought that understanding to the Brownsville Revival and the powerful entry of Toronto would play a major role in his life. Coming back from Russia, the Brownsville evangelist found himself seeking out the places of revival in England that he had read about in a secular magazine. Pastor Sandy Miller and Holy Trinity Bromton in London would wreck whatever normal understanding Hill had of revival from his past experiences. While the past would play a major role in what he would do the next few years, the supernatural touch of the revival was in that Episcopal Church. Miller had traveled to Canada to receive the Toronto Blessing and that blessing was a supernatural touch that would change the English Church. Hill would be a major player in revival as he was being prepared for the ultimate role of his life.
We are like people on a stage and when our role comes God moves us into place at the right time, at the right moment. Those who are obedient to hear His divine voice have tremendous blessing and those who do not listen will never be written of like this.
Evangelist John Davis advises John Kilpatrick at times on certain events and situations. The Brownsville pastor's closest friends know him as Alton. When he is seeking God, Davis often tells him in a joking manner, "Ask God Alton, and if you don't hear anything from Him, ask your wife."
No doubt Brenda Kilpatrick has a touch with God and can feel the pulse of His purpose toward the nations. These days she travels with Holy group women to touch the nations, but it was the plane she took to Toronto one day that would shake a nation and bring revival. If the history of revival is written in future years it will be this women's obedience that will be one of the most valuable contribution to the initial move of God on Father's Day. Before revival, revival moved through her to serve as a witness to her husband.
She would be a voice heard as she began to seek God for her and her husband's own personal life in 1994. Like Steve Hill she would see some radical things in Toronto that would not be a part of normal Assembly of God life back home. It was the return of the supernatural to the church - when that door would be open the price of religion would begin to become the fruit inspectors of this move. You see, God never intended for His people not to see him - many in the church today cannot handle the supernatural. But as the way of Isaiah 55:8-9 began to happen people who had been in dry Pentecostal Churches began to make the visit to Pensacola to bring the flame back to their situation.
What good is a church if no one ever gets saved or delivered there?
The supernatural events of 1995 would challenge religion like it had never been challenged before. It was within these events that the Pentecostal denominations would be challenged to see if they were still as supernatural as their history led them to believe.
Pastor John Kilpatrick was built for a time such as this. If you would have seen what I saw at the Brownsville Assembly of God in 1991, you would have never guessed that the supernatural power of God was about to come though the door. It was Paul Yongi Cho who said that it would happen on the Gulf Coast. Cho said that a great move of God would begin on the Gulf Coast as he attended a meeting in Seattle, Washington. The fire would start there and touch all of America.
It was just two years before revival that the foundation would be laid for one of the greatest revivals in the history of the modern church. Under the direction of John Kilpatrick, a seamstress was asked to create banners to represent areas of prayer. The Brownsville Pastor was directed by God to have prayer meeting instead of service on Sunday night. Harkening back to the days in Columbus, Georgia, when 17 men saw angels at Riverview Assembly of God, Kilpatrick said, "I long for the God of my childhood." A memory of time and a hunger inside of the man created a deep void in the Brownsville pastor's heart. It was a search for an event long ago that caused the leader to abandon church as usual.
Prayer is not a popular thing with some churches. Pentecostal churches on Sunday night in the south are hot places of action but the need for revival outweighed the need for blessings. The verse of Scripture, II Chronicles 7:14, would turn the faithful at Brownsville to stand before banners of repentance over several situations of the country. Pastors, revival, national leaders, schools, and several other subjects would be the targets of prayer for the next two years.
People had spoken to the pastor and told him that the Sunday night prayer meetings would destroy his church, but it did the direct opposite. The population of the church began to grow as people showed faithfulness to the man of God in seeking revival. A generation of Pentecost had never seen the events that were about to happen. Jesus said he came to divide and yet the Holy Spirit came to bring together. How could one divide and the other bring together? What was being brought together were the people who had never been to church before and what was dividing was religion. Pentecost was at hand and the birthing of this baby would cause people to take sides. When man can't control God and when a man begins to be obedient to the Holy Spirit there is the mixture of the two sides that will cause one to go on and the other to stay.
Time after time, as people, pastors, and churches were refreshed you would hear the statement, "What do we have to go back to -- we have longed for God to come and visit us and now He is with us."
Seven months before revival a prophet of God came to a small church on Navy Parkway and said, "I see a fire starting in Pensacola, and I see that fire touching other cities in our country. And I see those fires growing together until the entire country is set on fire.
It was on June 18, 1995, that the match struck the gasoline of the Holy Spirit laid all over the sanctuary for the last two years, just waiting for one to strike the match that would start the fire. Steve Hill was in his office that day, the office of the evangelist, and as the match set the place on fire, people, pastors, and the entire world would come to Pensacola to seek the face of God.
Once they were touched they went home and told others until lines of hungry desperate people circled the sanctuary. It was meant for such a time as this, and it was meant for this place.
Pensacola was known for shooting abortion doctors, and now the Father of the universe would open a vent up in the top of the sanctuary on Mobile highway and send angel after angel down the ladder until a new Bethel was re-established upon the earth.