Final Decade, 20th Century 1995
January 1—Melbourne, Florida – Randy Clark
Five local churches in Melbourne, Florida, invited Randy Clark as guest speaker at the Tabernacle Church on New Year’s day of 1995. Unusual revival broke out with large numbers of people falling down, laughing, weeping, and many dramatic physical healings. Thousands flocked to the meetings, which were being held six days a week. Pastors and musicians from 15 different congregations hosted the meetings in a new expression of cooperation and unity.
Randy Clark reported:
In 1994 I spent about 150 [days] in renewal meetings. During that time I never was in a meeting which I felt had the potential to become another Toronto type experience. That was until I went to Melbourne, Florida [on] January 1, 1995. Another revival has broken out. Many sovereign things have occurred which indicate this place too will be [the site of] unusual renewal meetings. I shall share some of these.
First, what made me expect something special at these meetings? I never schedule over four days for meetings, but I scheduled fifteen days for this meeting. Why? I believed there were things going on which indicated a major move of the Spirit was imminent. The Black and White ministerial associations merged a few months prior to my going. The charismatic pastors had been meeting together for prayer for six years, and pastors from evangelical and charismatic and Pentecostal churches had been meeting and praying together for over two years. There was a unity built which would be able to withstand the pressures of diverse traditions working together in one renewal/revival meeting.
The meetings are held at the Tabernacle, the largest church in the area. It holds 950 comfortably. This was Jamie Buckingham’s church, now pastored by Michael Thompson. The church sanctuary is filled by 6:15 with meetings beginning at 7:00. About 1,200 are crowded into the sanctuary, another 150 fills a small overflow room, and another 200–300 sit outside watching on a large screen (Riss 1995).
The Christian radio station WSCF, FM 92 at Vero Beach, Florida, an hour’s drive south of Melbourne, interviewed Randy Clark on Friday, January 6. About this interview, Randy Clark wrote:
During [the] interview a DJ fell out [under the power of the Spirit] in front of the station manager who was interviewing me. He shook violently. Other station employees fell out under the power. After we left the station kept on sharing [on the air] what was occurring live for hours. People were healed listening to the broadcast. Others came under conviction, drove to the station and gave their lives to God. Others were rededicated while listening. One man had to go home from work unable to continue driving his truck because the Spirit was so strong upon him (Riss, 1995).
The General Manager of the radio station, Jon Hamilton, wrote this circular letter:
January, 1995. Dear Friend of Christian FM 92:
I had already put the finishing touches on my first letter of 1995. I really liked it. It was full of optimism and inspirational resolutions for the New Year.
It will never make it to the printer.
Instead, I am compelled to offer to you a testimony and witness as to a most remarkable day. I pray that it may serve to encourage those who seek God, and terrify those who oppose Him.
January 6, 1995 began in a rather ordinary way. It was Friday, it had been a busy week, but I was looking forward to a slow day. As I was leaving the house, I actually told my wife, “There’s not much on my calendar, I may try to take the afternoon hours off and come home early.”
I had agreed to interview a pastor from St. Louis, Randy Clark, that morning. Randy was the guest speaker at The Tabernacle Church’s renewal services nightly, and since “The Tab” is a good friend of FM 92 (and many other area churches were participating in the meetings), we had decided to clear a slot on the morning show for a brief interview.
My guest was one of the leaders of the so-called “Toronto Revival”. I had read about the Toronto meetings, but frankly, I’ve heard a lot of “revival rumours” over the years and have learned not to pay much attention. Normally, I don’t do the interviews myself, but I was feeling cautious and let the “morning guys” know I’d be there during the show.
The interview was innocent enough at first. The subject turned to a discussion of the Holy Spirit’s manifest presence in a meeting (as opposed to His presence that dwells within our hearts always). Rather suddenly, something began to happen in the control room.
It began with Gregg. He was seated behind me listening, and for no apparent reason, he began to weep. His weeping turned to shuddering sobs that he attempted to muffle in his hands. It was hard to ignore, and Randy paused mid-sentence to comment “You can’t see him, but God is really dealing with the fellow behind you right now.” I looked over my shoulder just in time to see Gregg losing control. He stood up, only to crash to the floor directly in front of the console, where he lay shaking for several minutes.
I don’t know if you have ever tried to conduct a radio interview in such circumstances, but let me assure you I never have. I was mortified. We have always attempted to avoid any extremes at FM 92, so it was difficult to explain to our listeners what was happening. I had always known Gregg to act like a professional, so I knew something was seriously going on. I did my best to recover the interview under the embarrassing circumstances. I thanked the guest and wrapped it up. (And thought of ways to kill Gregg later!)
After when we have a guest minister in the station, we ask him to pray for the staff. Before Randy Clark left, we asked him to say a word of prayer.
We formed a circle and began to pray for the staff one by one. My eyes were shut, but I heard a thud and opened them to see Bart Mazzarella prostrate on the floor. He had fallen forward on his face. What amazed me most was that Bart was known to be openly sceptical. He simply did not accept such things. Within seconds, another and another staff person went down. Even those that remained standing were clearly shaken.
When they prayed for me, I did not “fall down”. What did happen was an electric sensation shot down my right arm, and my right hand began to tremble uncontrollably. My heart pounded as I became aware of a powerful sense of what can only be called God’s manifest presence.
Remember, our staff is not primarily Charismatic. We are Episcopalian, Nazarene, Evangelical, Pentecostal…and a couple of “not quite sure”. While I personally am associated with an Assembly of God church, I’m quite the skeptic when it comes to “weird stuff”. I don’t watch many evangelists on TV, because too often I am turned off by what I see. This was completely new to us.
Randy was scheduled elsewhere, so after just a few minutes of prayer, he thanked me graciously and left quickly. Our staff remained in the control room, staring at each other wide eyed, and hovering over Bart, who still appeared unconscious on the floor. (He was completely immobile for over half an hour.)
There was a sweet atmosphere of worship in the room, so I told someone to put one of the Integrity Worship CD’s on air while we continued to pray together.
I thought the atmosphere would abate after a few minutes and return to normal…but instead, our prayers grew more and more intense. The room became charged in a way that I simply cannot describe. After an hour of this, we realized that it was 10:30, the time we normally share our listener’s needs in prayer.
I switched on the mike, and found myself praying that God would touch every listener in a personal way. After prayer, with great hesitation I added “This morning God has really been touching our staff, so we’ve been spending the morning praying together. If you’re in a situation right now where you are facing a desperate need, just drop by our studios this morning and we’ll take a minute to pray with you.” This was the first time we had ever made such an invitation.
This is where everything went haywire.
Within a few minutes, a few listeners began to arrive. The first person I prayed with was a tall man who shared with me some tremendous needs he was facing. I told him I would agree with him in prayer. As I prayed for his need, a voice in my head was saying “It’s a shame that you don’t operate in any real spiritual gift or power. Here’s a man who really needs to hear from God and you’ve got nothing worth giving him!” I continued to pray, but I was struggling. I reached up with my right hand to touch his shoulder, when suddenly he shook, and slumped to the floor. (He lay there without moving for over 2 hours.) I was shocked and shaken.
Two others had arrived at this point, and staff members were praying with them. Suddenly they began weeping uncontrollably, and slumped to the floor. This scene was repeated a dozen times in the next few minutes. It didn’t matter who did the praying, whenever we asked the Lord, he immediately responded with a visible power, and the same manifestations occurred.
I didn’t know whether to be terrified or thrilled, but clearly, something completely unusual was going on. A young man cautiously entered the room, and began to tell us that he was “just happening” to be scanning the radio dial when he heard “something about prayer”. He reported that he was immediately overcome with conviction. Years before, he had contemplated going into the ministry, and had even attended a couple of years at a Christian College, but he had since strayed from God. As a chill of conviction swept him, he felt God suddenly tell him it was now or never. He drove to the station. We prayed with him to receive Christ as Lord, and afterward, he too slumped to the floor.
One by one they came. We continued to play praise- oriented music, and every hour (sometimes on the half- hour) we’d invite people to come.
Fairly early in all this, we ran out of room. The radio station floor was wall to wall bodies…some weeping, some shaking, some completely still. People reported that it was like heavy lead apron had been placed over them. They were unable to get up. All they could do was worship God.
Fortunately, our offices are inside of the complex at Central Assembly, so when the crowd began to grow, we moved across into the Church, leaving the radio station literally wall to wall with seekers.
Some teachers at Indian Christian School had heard what was happening, and asked us to pray for certain children they were bringing in the room. As we prayed for the kids, many began to shake and fall to the floor. Some would begin to utter praises to God. Others lay completely immobile for periods of over an hour. (If you’ve ever tried to make a seven year old lay still, you know it’s a miracle!) A few simply experienced nothing at all.
By now I was convinced that we were experiencing a bona fide move of God. I had read about such manifestation experiences being common in the revival meetings of great men like Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley. I had also read of the great camp meeting revivals in the early 1800’s, where thousands upon thousands experienced being “slain”, but I never imagined I would really live to see it.
The crowd continued to grow, and lines began to form. The power of God continued to fall on those coming. It was almost like being in a dream. I would look up and see our staff members…eyes red, faces puffy, and hands trembling, but with a fire in their eyes and the power of God upon them. I couldn’t believe it was the same people I knew and worked with. In a matter of hours, something we never even dreamed of (much less aspired to) was happening.
The floor in front of the sanctuary was soon covered with men and women, boys and girls. The aisles began to fill and we were pushing aside chairs for more floor space. Usually, one of our staff would “catch” the person as they fell, but on quite a few occasions we were caught by surprise and people fell hard on the floor. Frankly, we had no idea what we were doing. (I’m not sure I want to learn!)
At some point I looked up and saw a local Baptist Pastor walk in the door. I must confess that my first thought was, “ Oh Boy…I’m in trouble!” While I knew this brother to be a genuine man of God, nevertheless I was concerned about how a fundamental, no-nonsense Baptist might take all these goings-on. (Besides, I didn’t have an explanation to offer!) I walked up to greet him. He just silently surveyed the room, and with a tone of voice just above a whisper said, “This…is…God. For years I’ve prayed for revival…. This is God.”
Within minutes more local pastors began to arrive. Lutheran, Independent, Assembly of God…. The word of what was happening spread like wildfire. As the pastors arrived, they were cautious at first, but within just minutes, they would often begin to flow in the same ministry. The crowd was growing and pastors began to lay hands on the seekers, where once again the power of God would manifest and the seeker would often collapse to the ground.
It did not seem to matter who did the praying. This was a nameless, faceless, spontaneous move of God. There were no stars, no leaders, and frankly, there was no organization. (It’s hard to plan for something you have no idea might happen!)
Eventually, word of what was occurring reached Fred Grewe, the Melbourne pastor who had brought Randy Clark to the station earlier that morning. He and Randy, along with several other Melbourne pastors, jumped into the car and headed down to Vero Beach. At this point, we started broadcasting live from the Church. As the group from Melbourne arrived, more and more people also began to show up asking for prayer. It seemed like there were always more than we could get to.
Amazingly, unchurched, unsaved people were showing up. I got a fresh glimpse of the power of radio as person after person told us “I’m not really a part of any church….” A few were sceptical at first, and later found themselves kneeling in profound belief.
Sometimes people would rise up, only to frantically announce to us that they had been healed of some physical problem. One woman’s arthritic hands found relief. Neck pains, jaw problems, stomach disorders and more were all reported to us as healed.
We have received at least a dozen verified, credible, reliable comments from people who told us that when they switched on the radio, they were suddenly, unexpectedly overwhelmed by the presence of God (even when they didn’t hear us say anything). Several told us that the manifest presence of God was so strong in their cars that they were unable to drive, and were forced to pull off the road.
The “falling” aspect of this visitation was the most visible manifestation, but it was not falling that was important. What was important was the fact that people were rising up with more love for God in their hearts than ever before. They were being changed, and their hearts set ablaze. I have lost count of the numbers of people who told me of the change God worked in their life.
It’s hard to imagine the impact this has had on our staff. It seems like God has almost given me a new staff, composed entirely of men and women with tremendous zeal for God. What is occurring in our local churches is even more amazing. My phone is ringing with the calls of excited pastors. At least a dozen area churches from completely different ends of the theological spectrum are already experiencing this powerful move in their church. The leaders of many, many other local fellowships have been visiting these churches to “check it out”, and they too are being touched to “take it back” with them. It’s almost like a tidal wave has hit this area of Florida.
If you are sceptical, I understand and forgive you. (I might have thrown a letter like this one away just days ago.) I share this only to try and offer a faithful rendition of what has really happened.
I only ask that you remain open to whatever God wants to accomplish through you. Christian history is full of accounts of those times when God elected to “ visit” His people. When He has, entire nations have sometimes been affected. I believe you’ll agree, our nation is ripe for such a revival. For such a time as this, let us look to God with expectancy.
With warm regards, I am, Sincerely Yours, Jon Hamilton General Manager” (Riss, 1995).
The revival in Melbourne continues with an astounding mixture of white, black, Asiatic, Hispanic, and American Indian people being touched by God, filled with the Spirit and witnessing to others.
© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.