As a young lad back home in Brownsville Florida I used to see many tents getting put up in a large field near my home over the course of time. It usually meant a revival was in town either from a local church or a traveling road show evangelist was setting up shop for a week. Being I was the kid with a curiosity about any thing I was always Johnny on the spot to see what was going on. I would ride my trusty Schwinn bike up to the event to watch what was happening. Some times they would have only an organ for music or a complete band. The music was what got my attention most of the time but that was only part of the show.
There was always the fellow who was the pastor or evangelist that gave a rousing sermon on damnation and salvation with a choir really getting into the singing. It certainly had my feet moving with the rhythm. As I sat in the back watching all that was unfolding, I witnessed some things that was alien to me at the time and was unable to comprehend at that age. I saw people jumping and waving their hands with joy and glee. Some were crying and some some were praying out loud so I thought. Some times the pastor or evangelist would call out for some to come forward to be healed. The pastor put their hands on the ones that came forward and appeared to be healed on the spot. Some passed out and were revived but all got up and jumped for joy at each healing..This was amazing for a young lad like me to take in but it captivated me to no end. As I sat there transfixed and taking in all that I saw, I had no idea what was going on but I was held captive with what was transpiring. It was never any thing I ever saw in my church I attended during those days as a child but it did move me.
At one of the tent risings for a revival, I looked for what seemed to be a pastor or evangelist and asked him what was he doing that made so many people do what they did. He looked me sternly in the eyes and said "Young man, I am winning souls to Christ and healing broken lives. Do you need to be saved?" (His statement has stayed with me all my life even when I was backsliding) I replied No I live with my mom and dad and go to church. He laughed and invited me and my parents to come to his revival so that they can be saved too. My parent did go to a few with me but they did not feel the captivation I felt at those tent revivals. I guess I had an impressionable mind back then.
Over the years I did go to some revivals as an adult but they seemed to disappear form the land scape over time. It has just been the last few months that this episode in my younger life has returned as a reminder about revivals from the past. I don't know why but the urge to go looking for a big tent has surfaced. Perhaps it is a yearning to experience again what I did as an impressionable youth when I did not fully understand what a revival really was. I know this though. It really made me feel good to attend one and see so many people with joy and happiness for the Lord.
I think that is what I have been missing in my adult life as a self professed Christian. The spontaneity of a revival where the Holy Spirit reigns and there are no regimented worship sessions. It is led by the Holy Spirit, in worship to the Lord.
I does bring up a haunting question of where did the revivals go? Why would such a spiritual filled gathering fall from the landscape in the Body of Christ? Has that been outlawed by our government now too? Do any of you ever hear of revivals any more? p
So with that I am looking for a big tent once again.