What are you doing Lord?" Amy asked.
"I'm cleaning you out," was His reply.
Though she didn't fully understand what was happening, one thing was certain—life for Amy Elizabeth Ward would never be the same.
It was 3:30 in the morning, and Amy was just getting up on her feet. For the past three hours she had been powerfully moved upon by the Spirit of God at the altar at Brownsville Assembly of God. Her older sister, Alison, had been there at her side the whole time. In fact, it was Alison who had brought her to the altar six hours earlier. Alison had hoped and prayed Amy would have an encounter with the presence of God, but this was more than she could have ever imagined.
Before that night Amy was a rebellious teenage girl who lived for the weekends when she would party hard with her friends. She showed little concern for others and only cared about what made her happy. This was not at all how she had been raised. Amy and Alison grew up in a well-respected and disciplined household. Their mother was a godly woman and a schoolteacher. Their father was a doctor. Amy's mom had tried her best to raise her girls in the fear of the Lord. She constantly encouraged them to do the right thing and walk the straight-and-narrow path. Yet despite all her mother's efforts, Amy rebelled; her heart and eyes were fully set on the world.
Obviously, spending long nights at church was not how Amy originally planned to spend her summer, but that was before revival broke out. It started just one week earlier at their home church, Brownsville Assembly of God.
Brownsville was a large, prestigious church that resided in the historic but now run-down business district of Pensacola. The church had chosen to remain, even as the area went into decline. Recently they had completed construction on a beautiful two-thousand-seat sanctuary. The new red-brick campus took up a city block and was the one shining gem in an otherwise run-down part of town. Little did Brownsville know that their presence in the community would soon bring transformation not only to Pensacola but to the nations as well.
The revival began on Father's Day when missionary and evangelist Steve Hill was invited to speak during the morning service. It was unusual for a senior pastor such as John Kilpatrick to give up his pulpit on such an important holiday. However, he had just lost his mother and was still mourning her passing. The grieving pastor welcomed the opportunity for a break from preaching. Steve Hill was a familiar face to Brownsville. He had spoken there a few times in the past. But something was noticeably different about him this Sunday.
Steve was a fiery preacher with intense blue eyes that burned with a passion for the lost and the Lord. He spoke that morning from Psalm 77:11–12, which says, "I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate also on all Your work and ponder on Your mighty deeds." Steve said, "This may be Father's Day, but friends, the Lord is going somewhere today. ... We are going to look back and say, I remember Father's Day of 1993. I remember 1994, but let me talk to you about [Father's Day] 1995. I'll never forget that Sunday. I will never forget what happened to me on that day. We will remember the deeds of the Lord." The preacher then shared about a powerful encounter he'd recently had with the Lord. He said that ever since that experience, everything in his ministry had changed.
Steve spoke for another 45 minutes before giving an altar call for salvation. Seven individuals responded to the appeal. Steve asked for prayer workers to come lead the people to the cross and then invited all those who wanted a fresh encounter with the Lord to come forward. There were nearly 1,800 people in attendance that morning. More than half responded to the call for prayer; the other half took the opportunity to dismiss themselves. They left too soon.
Steve walked down the steps from the pulpit and began working his way through the crowd, laying hands on one person after the next. His voice bellowed across the sanctuary.
"Touch him, Jesus!" he cried as he laid his hand on one man. "Fresh touch," he said to another. "More, Lord!" he prayed for yet another. Steve's voice was forceful, but his touch was gentle. He barely laid his fingers on the foreheads of the people as he prayed for them. Yet many were powerfully touched by the presence of God. They fell to the ground as if a great weight had fallen on them from overhead.
John Kilpatrick had never seen anything quite like this in his church before. Originally he wasn't too keen on the idea of keeping his folks long on a holiday weekend. But it was obvious God was up to something. He stepped down from the platform to join Steve. As soon as he moved into the altar area, Kilpatrick noticed what seemed to be a strong gust of air swirling around the floor. The air moved about his legs like a river of water, making it difficult to move. He then heard a sound coming from somewhere in the room. It rumbled and roared like wind being blown across a microphone. He looked up toward the speakers clustered above his head, but the sound wasn't coming from there. It was coming from behind him.
It sounded like a violent wind, and it rushed into the sanctuary from above the platform before spilling into the altar. Kilpatrick felt it flow right between his legs, forcing both his knees to buckle outward. It was an overwhelming experience.
There was a man close by who noticed that his pastor was struggling to hold himself up. He went to him and helped Kilpatrick back to the platform, where he could address the people. Kilpatrick picked up the pulpit microphone and began to speak. What came out of his mouth, he didn't intend to say. It leaped out from the depths of his spirit.
In a loud voice he proclaimed, "I have never felt the power of God like I feel it right now ... I am telling you this, there is power in this place ... the glory of God ... don't fear. Just receive it!" John Kilpatrick was convinced that this was the outpouring the church had been praying for, and he wanted his people to get in.
The moment Pastor Kilpatrick spoke those words, the heavens above the church seemed to open, and the Spirit of God descended into the room. Whole sections of people were swept right off their feet. From his vantage point on the stage, Kilpatrick saw people falling everywhere. He had never seen or personally experienced anything like it. Even he found it difficult to hold himself up as the weight of God's glory surrounded him. He started to descend the steps once again, but instead collapsed hard to the floor. His head bounced on the marble floor of the stage.
After the church had prayed one and a half years for it, revival had come to Brownsville Assembly of God. The service on Father's Day lasted through the afternoon. The sound of revival permeated the room. People were filled with joy and began to laugh and sing praises to the Lord. Others groaned and wept with the cries of repentance. Many just continued to lie on the floor or they sat in their seats in silence, enjoying the manifest presence of the Lord.
Steve Hill was invited to stay as the services continued. Each night more people would come. Every night sinners filled the altar, repenting before the Lord. Hundreds were being saved.
The preceding was excerpted from Daniel Norris' book, Trail of Fire (Charisma House, 2016). You can purchase a copy of the book here.
Daniel K. Norris, the founder and head of Daniel K. Norris Ministries, served alongside evangelist Steve Hill for more than a decade. Today, Daniel continues on in the footsteps of his mentor, bringing that same message of revival and repentance to the nations.
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