CJ Rhodes DMin
Lord, Revive Us Again!
Around October of last year, I sensed the Lord stirring my heart to focus on impending revival. As I searched the Scripture and church history, I came across a text and a time that resonated with me. In Habakkuk 3:2 we read, "Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy." (emphasis mine) In concert with this text, I read afresh the history of Charles Price Jones and recognized this focus on revival in 2022 was no coincidence.
First, I was convicted as I read those prophetic words. As many of you know, I wrestled with agnosticism in my youth. Though I never really left the institutional church, I was, like many of you possibly, participating in a culture I didn't believe had much efficacy in my life or the society around me. Though I grew up and remain in a Missionary Baptist context, My Christian journey spans numerous denominations and for a long time I felt that no place in Christianity made room for my doubts about the presence and power of God. That's how I felt in my teen years. After years of doubt, it was an amazing act of God's providence that led me to abiding faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, made possible through the supernatural that evaded my rationalism, skepticism, and cynicism. Honestly, had it not been for my experience of the prophetic in a charismatic church setting, I may have never put exclusive trust in the God made fully known to us in Jesus.
Not long after experiencing that wonderful season of personal revival, the Lord powerfully called me into ministry (this was not my dream for my life, by the way). As I've journeyed in ministry for nearly 22 years, there have been moments I lamented not being born and engaged in ministry at another time, however. For years I pondered what it would have been like participating in the Civil Rights Movement under the leadership of pastor and prophet Martin Luther King Jr. I even wondered what my Christian outlook would be if I were born in a time when churches were packed, people shouted not over new cars but the ancient Christ, and revival swept over the people in waves of glory.
When I became the pastor of Mt Helm Baptist Church, it was soon revealed to me that this church was the notable fountainhead of a revival that gave birth to the Church of Christ (Holiness) USA and the Church of God in Christ. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, revival broke out at Mt Helm under the pastoral leadership of Charles Price Jones. He, along with colleague Charles Harrison Mason and others, sought the Lord for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Many people were saved, sanctified, and divinely healed. Miracles, signs and wonders were ordinary occurrences. Notably, they were Black Baptists who didn't intend on being anything else. They humbly believed that Baptists were biblical people and thus sought to be biblical in every way. For Jones, in particular, that meant pursuing the Holy Spirit and His gifts such that all believers could live victoriously in the face of personal and structural sins. This empowered living, Jones proffered, would be the remedy to social ills that plagued Black people and the racism that our ancestors encountered hauntingly.
Earlier I said the prompting to focus on revival wasn't a coincidence. This year (June 6, to be exact) will mark 125 years since that revival sparked at Mt Helm. Though in times past I wished I were born in another era, I truly believe this moment is one of the best times in which to be alive. As Habakkuk notes, I've heard of what God did before in Acts and Azusa, in Jerusalem and Jackson, in Athens and Atlanta. I've heard the stories of old wherein souls were saved, bodies were healed, families were reconciled, neighborhoods were revitalized, and devils were terrified. I recall the images of God's people praying and marching until freedom came. The God of our weary years and silent tears led us through dangers, toils, and snares and in each generation raised up a remnant ready to turn things upside down for the Kingdom of God.
My prayer is that the Lord will repeat them in our day, in our time make them known. I am convinced that the Lord is doing just that. Amidst a pandemic, political upheaval, economic downturns, spikes in violent crime, and a rise in moral decay, I believe our time is ripe for revival. The good news is that I'm not the only one. In just the past week I've heard preachers here in Jackson and throughout the state and nation praying for and preaching about it. Everyday people are seeking it. God is up to something and those whose ears are inclined to God's mouth hear the whispers before God thunders, "Revival is here!"
I remain in a prayerful posture, and invite you to do the same. May our prayer be,
Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love.
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.