News of the recent revival in Jena, Louisiana has been covered by Baptist Press and other media outlets. I am excited about what God has done, and continues to do, in this most unlikely of places. Infamous for the Jena 6 controversy of late 2006 and 2007, and the ensuing racial tensions, this apparently genuine move of God has transcended racial barriers and brought hope and reconciliation to a very divided town. The citywide revival meetings began at Midway Baptist Church, but later spread throughout the entire community, embracing Christians of all races, and crossing denominational lines.
As Craig Franklin, worship leader at Midway, and associate editor of the Jena Times, states:
"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 jealousy 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."
I invite you to click here, and watch the video clips from various individuals who have played a role in the Jena revival, sharing about their experiences and insights. It will take a while to watch through all of them, though each individual clip is only between 1 to 4 minutes in length. But I can assure you that, if you are interested in revival, and have a hunger and a thirst to hear of what God is doing in the world today, it will be HUGE BLESSING, and well worth your time.
It is interesting to me that God sovereignly chose to channel his blessings in this small Louisiana town through a local Southern Baptist church. It gives me hope that God has not yet given up on us as Southern Baptists. At the same time, I believe we must be careful to never "put God in a box" or to close our hearts to what God is doing through other parts of the Body of Christ.
This does not preclude the use of spiritual discernment, and a love for sound biblical doctrine. There have also been recent reports of "revival" in Lakeland, Florida connected with the ministry of evangelist-faith healer Todd Bentley. However, as I look through the reports of what is happening in Lakeland, it doesn’t leave me with the same feelings I get when I read about the revival in Jena.
Is this perhaps due to my own denominational prejudice, by which I am quick to embrace something with roots coming out of my own background, and reject that coming out of someone else’s? I think that is a legitimate question, which we would all do well to honestly ask ourselves whenever we hear about things like this. However, I think the bottom line in all of this is a commitment to the authority of the Word of God, the preaching of the gospel, and a heart that is open and hungry to receive whatever God, in his sovereignty and grace, chooses to send our way.
In this same general vein, I was blessed to watch this video clip of Assemblies of God General Superintendent George Wood speaking on the topic of revival (HT: Paul Grabill). I believe that an open hearing of what Wood has to say will go a long way, both toward guiding us in our use of biblical discernment, as well as debunking some of our false stereotypes about what brothers and sisters in Christ from other backgrounds and denominations really believe and teach.