Why I Still Love the Brownsville Revival

Why I Still Love the Brownsville Revival:

A Response to Matthew Oliver's Slander of a Great Revival

"He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends" (Proverbs 17:9).

Many people have come against the Brownsville Revival over the years. Usually these attacks come from the anti-Pentecostal cessationists who teach that the gifts of the Holy Spirit and demonstrations of God's power ceased after the New Testament was completed. People like John MacArthur ignore what the Word of God says about the continuation of the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit. They dismiss testimonies of people falling under the power of the Holy Spirit, having visions, receiving healings, speaking in tongues. They ignore the manifestations of the Holy Spirit under the preaching of Edwards, Wesley, Whitfield, Finney, and others throughout church history. However, the latest criticism of the Brownsville Revival comes from a former attendee of the revival named Matthew Oliver. He was also a student at the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry. His article is called WHY I LEFT THE BROWNSVILLE REVIVAL. [1]

My Time at the Revival

Before I go any further let me share the story of my five year experience at the revival. First of all, I personally knew Vann Lane before he moved and became the children's pastor at Brownsville Assembly of God. I remember one discussion with Vann right before he left Evangel Temple AOG in Montgomery, Alabama where he told me how hungry he was to be a part of a real revival. Later, Vann endorsed the first book I wrote called GRACE ABUSE which was published in 1998. Vann had a heart for children and revival.

I first heard about the revival in April of 1996 when a relative who lived in Pensacola brought me their local newspaper. I was amazed to read about what was happening at the Brownsville Assembly of God. I knew of Steve Hill before the revival because I read his testimony called Stone Cold Heart. That alone gave me reason to think that the revival might be the “real thing.” Because I had started a new church in Montgomery, Alabama I was very busy and unable to attend. But after hearing some more good reports, I made my first trip to the Brownsville Revival in June of 1996.

I was a little skeptical standing in the mass of people crowded around the front doors of the church (that was before the man with the bullhorn made everyone get in a line). I hoped it would be the “real thing” but I had my doubts from attending a lot of “revivals” and Pentecostal meetings that ended up being more hype than God’s power. But once I entered the sanctuary of Brownsville Assembly of God, I could feel the presence of God. It was the presence of Jesus that I had come to know when I was born again and later baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of supernatural tongues. I even saw a vision of Jesus standing on the platform behind the pulpit before the service began. Then, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, "I am here in a different way. This is what you have been longing to see. This is what you have been reading about."

You see, I spent years praying for a genuine revival and reading about the great revivals in church history. I knew that God could do it again in our time, but I had not a seen a major outpouring where thousands were saved and touched powerfully by Holy Ghost conviction of sin and anointed repentance preaching. Needless to say, the revival did not disappoint me. The presence of God touched me that night during the worship time and especially later when Steve Hill approached me to pray. As he came near me and reached out his hand, I hit the floor under the power of God before he ever touched me. And believe me, I knew it was God because I don’t do courtesy drops and I know the difference between the presence of God and emotions.

After that first service, when I preached in my church and other places, it was very evident that a new and stronger anointing of the Holy Spirit had come upon me. I had been Spirit-filled/Pentecostal for years and I had experienced the presence of God and miracles many times, but that first night at Brownsville Assembly of God I was truly revived and refreshed by the Holy Spirit. I received fresh passion for the Lord and for the lost and backslidden.

From that point on, I spent many days and sometimes entire weeks at the revival and even behind the scenes. As a pastor, I helped at altar calls and had friends who attended the school of ministry (some of which are missionaries to this day). I also bought most of the cassettes and videos of services that I missed and even had some from the school. I read most of Dr. Michael Brown's books long before the revival. And I also read Pastor John Kilpatrick and Steve Hill's books. I attended the revival often and became fully immersed in it. I went because I longed for more of the tangible presence of God and I wanted to learn all I could about all aspects of handling a move of God. And I wanted to share the truth and power that I experienced there with others.

Matthew Oliver claims that he was instructed by leaders to get saved over and over, but through all the services and sermons that I listened to from the Brownsville Revival, I NEVER heard that message. He may have interpreted it that way as a 19 year old, but night after night, I heard Steve Hill say, “If you need forgiveness, then step out and come to the altar.” The song Mercy Seat (that was sung almost every night at the altar call) was another testimony to the messages that Steve Hill preached! And Matthew’s complaint about the ongoing repentance messages of Steve Hill only reveals that he did not understand the ministry of an evangelist or the main purpose of the revival…it was for the lost and the backslidden prodigals. Those repentance messages were not for him to get saved over and over...they were for the thousands of new people who came every night. But I digress.

Revivals End

As a student of the Bible and revival history, I knew the Brownsville Revival would not last more than a few years. The Welsh Revival went on for one year. Azusa Street lasted just over three years. The Hebrides Revival was also three years. Charles Finney’s great revival in Rochester New York was only six months long, but thousands were saved and the effects carried on for many years. Human beings are flawed and simply cannot keep anything pure and yielded to the Holy Spirit for very long. Revival history has proven that over and over.

A few years after the revival waned, I had lunch with Dr. Michael Brown and my pastor at the time. I asked Dr. Brown face to face why the revival ended. He candidly admitted that some religion and politics got involved from the AOG denomination but he never spoke badly of anyone involved. He also admitted that he and Pastor John had some issues but they had worked them out. Obviously these old personality conflicts were resolved a long time ago so there is no need to “dig up old dirt” as Matthew Oliver has done in his article. This kind of tension happens in every workplace and in every church big or small. It even happens in Christian homes between born again wives and born again husbands!

That is why Oliver’s critique of the Brownsville Revival sounds more like gossip and bitterness rather than a needful warning to the body of Christ. I believe my wife nailed it when she said that Oliver’s article is a demonic attack