I’ve been following with great interest the present revival—I use that term loosely, it’s also being called an awakening, an outpouring, a move of the Spirit—that began at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, and has since spread to other Christian colleges. It’s so good to hear some good news these days, especially that this began among young Christians, college students simply longing for more of God. Reports of the revival mentioned that a similar revival had happened at Asbury back in 1970. This got me reminiscing; it seemed to me that the 1970 Asbury revival had to be called a revival in the midst of a revival.
Fellow oldsters will know what I mean. In the days of my youth back in the mid-1960s a revival among young people was gaining momentum. It also began in the United States; the young people involved were called hippies. Their world had betrayed them—the arms race, the threat of nuclear war, Viet Nam… Why be a part of a world like that? It was all so pointless. So they dropped out of their world with slogans like “Make love, not war.” “Flower power.” “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” They cast off restraint and gave themselves to free love, marijuana, LSD… They had found a watershed that left their world behind, they had discovered a river of powerful music heading in the opposite direction, and they decided to just “go with the flow”. No, this was not the revival I have in mind; the hippie movement only prepared the way for the revival that happened.
It happened because many of those who had crossed the great divide into hippie land discovered that the chasm of emptiness was still there, in fact was even deeper now. And who alone can fill this void, but Jesus Christ? Thus, out of the hippie movement a new movement was birthed, this one a move of the Spirit. And the world began to hear of the Jesus people, and the Jesus revolution.
I never quite made the grade as a hippie, I was only a wannabe. I remember once when I was hitchhiking home to the Crowsnest Pass from university—this would have been in ‘66 or ’67—a car heading south stopped for me on the outskirts of Calgary. There were four in the car, young men my age; they were headed to California, they said. (It seemed everyone my age was going to California in those days.) They talked about Jesus as we drove along; I mean they couldn’t talk about anything else, and they were going to California to tell the hippies about Jesus, and they invited me to come with them. There was something about these guys, I felt so drawn to go with them, almost compelled. But how could I? I was in university. They dropped me off at the Fort Macleod junction and continued on their way south to the U.S. border. I watched them drive away, kind of envying them and feeling I was missing out. But another car heading west was coming up. I put out my thumb.
I recall another time hitchhiking home from Calgary. (I hitchhiked a lot in those days.) An elderly couple on their way back to High River stopped for me. The car was old, yet in remarkably good shape. I got into the back seat and thanked them, and after a bit asked the man what make the car was, and the year. He said it was a 1948 something-or-other—I can’t remember the make. What I remember is the impression I had of this couple. There was something about them. They were old, yet still very much in a young couple’s love. They held hands across the seat as they drove along, the woman turning to me and talking, and the man talking too as he drove along. They were so… so warm toward me. So loving. There was something else about them. They had such a joy about them. They almost seemed to have light in their eyes. After a while they asked me if I knew Jesus. I don’t recall how I responded, for I didn’t know Him. They smiled so warmly and the elderly lady gave me a tract to take with me as they dropped me off at the High River turnoff.
So… by young and old while I was hitchhiking, seeds were lodged in my young heart… though they lay dormant there for a time.
But it wasn’t too many years before those dormant seeds began to germinate. My own life had collapsed into ruins about me. And who better can build a life out of ruins than Jesus? So… even though I had not been a bona fide hippie, and was only on the fringe of the Jesus people movement, He’d also been drawing me to Himself—even as far back as my childhood, I have since come to recognize—and now at last, a very lost and very empty young man, I finally went to my knees one night and responded. That was in 1971.
A hippie-styled Jesus even made the cover of Time Magazine in June, 1971 under the banner The Jesus Revolution. This wasn’t a new idea back then, nor is it now; something like a hundred years earlier William Booth of the Salvation Army had penned a hymn: “Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame, send the fire, send the fire, send the fire… The revolution now begin…”
But is it a coincidence that in these days of a fresh move of the Spirit of God, a new movie called The Jesus Revolution is making quite a stir? A young friend of mine has seen it; she says it is “definitely worth seeing… very much what people need to focus on after the last few years.” I think I’d like to see this, but apparently it’s only being shown in theatres at this time, so because of my poor health I’ll have to wait till it’s available to watch at home. Meanwhile, I got reminiscing, as I said, and found quite a bit of footage about the Jesus movement on YouTube.
Another video I found is a gathering decades later of the some of the musicians from among the Jesus people. I didn’t know many of them, but I much appreciated their grace and humility. They hadn’t been trying to break into the “Christian music industry,” they just wanted to sing the songs of their first love for Jesus. I recognized Annie Herring, whose Easter Song (He Is Risen) was sung so powerfully by Keith Green. At about the one hour mark I listened to the testimony of Terry Clark, “a Jesus music pioneer,” as he has been called. I didn’t know of him, wasn’t familiar with his music. But I want to share his testimony, which I found deeply moving.
Clark began by giving some background. He was born in 1946 (the year of my own birth). Yet he wasn’t involved in the first years of the Jesus Movement because at that time, he went on to say, “I had been in the U.S. military in ’68, ’69, ’70, ’71 in northern Thailand close to the border of Laos and Cambodia. I had gone through some real traumatic changes. There was also this breaking inside. I just checked out. There was really no redeeming piece of evidence, there was no way that human existence could be justified. I made the conclusion, stepped over the little picket fence into ___ [couldn’t get this word] that night, embarrassed, totally humiliated, that I was a human being, because of all that I’d been, all that I’d seen human beings do, all that I’ve been a participator in. Of course when you throw off any kind of responsibility of being a human being, then you have no restraint, and so when you do that, pretty soon they come in the white jackets and take you away. So they came in the white jackets, and of course they had to put clothes on me and everything, because, you know, there’s no restraint there either, no reason to wear clothes if you’re not a human being. But they took me to the hospital in Munich, to the mental ward, and did all their tests, and their diagnosis was actually ‘no hope’, they decided the psychosis was too deep because I’d seen death close to me, people I loved, people I cared for, in fact I had to care for their bodies, things like that, in northern Thailand, and, they found that [my condition] was really based in this traumatic turn that I had made in my thinking, and that I would never recover.”
[At this point in his testimony, Clark goes on to speak of an encounter he had with Jesus while still in the mental ward in Munich.]
He continued, “Jesus said, ‘Terry, I know how you feel. You know, I’ve seen everything human beings have ever done. But I want you to understand the difference in our response to that. You’ve decided not to be a human being. And I decided to become one.’
“And then He… He took my emptied-out shell, and flooded me, drowned me, in how He feels toward human beings. It crushed me, it drowned me, it… and I figured it’s probably just a glimpse of how He feels toward human beings. But it was enough to almost kill me, just from His passion toward us as His prized creation, His family, His children.
“But needless to say, they issued a new diagnosis. And where it said, ‘no hope’ before, now it said ‘recovering satisfactorily.’”
What a powerful testimony. That laid hold of me—“You’ve decided not to be a human being. And I decided to become one.”
I’m thankful for the present revival among Christian college students. I pray they will take it beyond their schools—how deep the need for a move of the Spirit beyond those boundaries, a move that reaches and releases the multitudes of young people captive in deep darkness. So much sexual confusion. The sexual revolution of the ‘60s was a Sunday school picnic compared to now. Now they’re being taught they can even decide for themselves what sex they are. It’s part of the whole “woke” agenda conceived by the Prince of darkness. His darkness is now called light, and light darkness. It’s engulfing a whole generation. Their lives are their own, they can live their lives as they see fit. Or throw them away. For what is life? Something to play with. For what else is there? I’m especially burdened for those who are caught in a culture of drug abuse. In my own locale I hear again and again of another young person dying of an fentanyl overdose. And this is happening all over. Satan knew what he was doing, where he was going, when he turned the hippie generation on to drugs. A dear friend tells me that the graveyard on his reservation is filling up with the graves of young people. Life is cheap to them, it seems. They have so little to live for. They throw away their lives for naught.
…Where are the words?
…Please pray with me.
…Thank You, Jesus, thank You. We cry unto You, Lord. More and more of our young people are asking the same questions some of us asked in our youth—what’s this all about, this world I live in? They see what’s going on in their world, and they see what’s in their own hearts, as we ourselves have seen, and all too often with anguish they too are ashamed to be called human beings. Yet You saw it all, and more, Lord, yet did not turn Your back on us, did not abandon us to the depths of our depravity, our sin, but turned toward us, became one of us, became a human being, going so far as to be made sin for us, going so far as to become unrecognizable as a man, as the prophet Isaiah foresaw: “Your visage was marred more than any man, and Your form more than the sons of men…” Why did You do this, Lord, what love is this? It was because the image of God in man had more and more become unrecognizable. So You took that upon Yourself, that You might make lost human beings to be like You. Like You—the very image of God. You, the Son God, became a human being, a man, that men and women may become like You—sons and daughters of God. So, we pray, we cry… move among our young people in this hour of terrible darkness, Lord, rescue them, that they may turn from darkness to Light, from the power of Satan to God, so that instead of “checking out,” instead of living a life unto themselves without purpose, they may give themselves to You as You gave Yourself to us, and return to You the love that led You to Calvary’s cross on our behalf, that we might become the kind of human being that none in heaven or earth can be ashamed of. Amen.