Scheduled for four days, revival lasts four weeks at East Rogersville Baptist Church
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
ROGERSVILLE — East Rogersville Baptist Church planned and prepared for a four-day revival conference from Feb. 2-5. God had other plans.
At the conclusion of the Feb. 5 meeting, members told pastor John Butler “we need to keep meeting.” Butler agreed and the revival extended four weeks, concluding on Feb. 28. The revival has included participants from churches of different denominations and non-denominational churches as well.
This was not just an East Rogersville Baptist Church event, the pastor stressed.
As of Feb. 28, there had been nearly 30 professions of faith, and many of them have already been baptized he added.
Butler provided a glimpse into how the revival came about. The pastor heard about a movement (Awaken Nashville) that began in Middle Tennessee with pastor Dave Clayton whom Butler had never met. Clayton had a burden for churches in Nashville to come together to fast and pray for every person by name in Nashville. As others heard about the effort, it spread to other communities throughout the state, leading to an Awaken Tennessee effort in 2020.
In November of 2019, some leaders in Rogersville heard about the effort in Nashville “and suggested we encourage churches in our area to participate this year,” Butler recalled.
Sheldon Livesay of One Accord Ministry in Rogersville served as East Tennessee coordinator for Awaken Tennessee. Prior to East Rogersville’s revival, he noted that 3,100 Awaken Tennessee prayer packets were distributed to 220 churches who joined the 30 days of prayer and fasting throughout East Tennessee. They were among more than 1,000 churches all across Tennessee who committed to pray during February. “Prayer is always the foundation for revival,” Livesay observed.
In conjunction with the prayer effort and Awaken Tennessee, East Rogersville prepared to host a revival conference with guest speaker John Avant, president of Life Action Ministries and worship leaders Terry and Barbie Franklin of Nashville, “not knowing it would (become) something incredible,” Butler said.
The church hosted a community launch service for the Awaken fasting and prayer initiative on Sunday, Jan . 26, with multiple churches gathering for a night of praise, prayer and worship with speaker Ron Brown. Brown, along with his wife Becky had been present at Asbury College in 1970 when revival broke out on that campus and spread across the nation. Brown shared how that revival has impacted him and his wife over the last 50 years.
The week between Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 “was filled with prayer in our church,” Butler said. “Each night people gathered in homes to pray. It was an intense week of prayer for many of our people,” he noted.
“God had been quietly working in many lives but we had no idea of what He was about to do,” Butler said, noting that people in the church had been “disheartened and divided” in the months preceding the revival.
In addition, there were struggles and roadblocks that the church had to overcome in order to have the revival, but the church “decided it was all just a spiritual attack from Satan and he would not win,” Butler said.
Butler recalled that the Sunday morning service “was electric, different and filled with anticipation,” but even he never expected what was about to happen. After the offering, the worship leaders sang “10,000 Reasons.”
One man came to the altar and began to weep and pray, Butler said. “A host of other men gathered around him and prayed. Before the end of the song, the altar was filled with people.
“Slowly the altar began to empty, then it would fill again with wave after wave of people, broken before the Lord. Jesus had walked into our midst that morning and set up His throne and He has been here ever since,” the pastor affirmed.
After the decision to continue the revival services, Butler reached out to others who had extended revivals. “All of them said extended services take on a unique character,” he recalled, adding that they were advised to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and not about times or schedules.
Space will not allow for all the “revival stories” that have come forth, Butler said. “Every service was filled with God’s presence. People were getting serious about dealing with personal sin and people were coming to Christ for salvation.
“Thirty-year feuds were made right, relationships have been restored and many masks have been removed,” the pastor said. In addition, people “made public confessions of sin, bitterness and laziness about their involvement in God’s kingdom activity, Butler continued.
The East Rogersville pastor noted the effort has been “all God. We are most blessed to be experiencing revival,” he said. “We pray that revival begins to spread rapidly across our state and nation.”
Butler is optimistic that his congregation will not let the excitement created over the past four weeks slip away. “Our church has experienced a seismic shift in the way ‘we do church’ and view ministry.
“I am beginning to attempt to figure out what’s next. We want to guard ourselves from returning to the staleness we had before.”