Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jesus Freak

I found this to be very interesting....I learned a few things about my own history...and if we care to look, about the history of the church in this country.

Growing up in the late 70's I have nothing but incredible memories of the Jesus Movement. The Deep South was at least 5, maybe 10 years behind the west coast as far as this movement was concerned so as far as Alabama went I grew up smack dab in the middle of it....and let me tell you...it left an indelible mark. What a time it was...the Jesus Movement swept across my community like a tidal wave...washing everything in its path with freedom, joy, excitement... and trouble....like all new movements with the imprint of Christ, it was fought against tooth and nail by the religious traditional Christians of the day...don't think it doesn't happen even still..it is simply the way of mankind to resist change and anything we do not understand.
How could long haired, unkempt, psalm singing, blue jean wearing, miracle believing, street evangelizing kids possibly be touched by God, saved by God, cleansed by God or accepted by God?!? How could these ragged, heathen looking, often heathen acting, young people possibly know anything of God or His ways or lead anyone else to Him?? It was beyond the imagination or scope of many...especially those heretofore regarded as pillars in the church.
But see Him, know Him and love Him we did....
well, not me exactly at first....I was knee deep in the traditional world...but I couldn't help but be drawn to this exuberant fresh display of the body of Christ, this living witness of the Holy Spirit, by the reality of what I saw happening,,..not only in the very churches who were fighting this so strongly but i the entire community. Fortunately, a tiny church pastored by my 2nd cousin (once removed for all you Southerns) opened their doors to these masses of young people in our area who were seeking they knew not what...and they found it there in that full gospel, spirit filled little church. Before long the congregation of about 50 was completely over run...the "movement" led by the Holy Spirit Himself took charge and we were caught up in the wave. Famous speakers came to our small town...to "speak", "lead revivals", and generally see what was going on...stirred by these men of God, traditional youth groups ventured out enmasse to find out what was happening locally and at my cousin's tiny church, which seemed to be one of the few places in the immediate area allowing the kinds of things written of in scripture and who was embracing the Jesus people...these youth groups..enmass, got saved upon being in one or two meetings and never went back to their traditional churches...much to their parents dismay and their churches relief....one night an entire football team got saved in a random prayer meeting we held weekly...they never went back to their traditional church either....this phenomena was spreading all across town...deacons were furious....Sunday School teachers were frantically teaching the Four Spiritual Laws...teen agers were asked to sit down and shut up or leave...so leave they did..and soon after their parents followed...supposedly to keep an eye on the kids....our little church in particular, now counting in the hundreds...and others in the area were filling up...with crazy on fire for God fanatical Jesus Freaks! It was wild...fantastic....unbelievable...incredible...it was happening spontaneously all over north Alabama and I was a part of it...gloriously blessed to see hundreds of people both young and not so young come to Christ...almost like magic...all that was needed was to breathe His name and they fell on their faces crying out for Salvation...one local high school (public, mind you, lest you think it was a Christian school) shut down for several days to allow the students time with God after classes had to be stopped for lack of attendance with kids crying and praying in the halls...I know what you're thinking...no, I'm not exaggerating...at all...gangs of youth went out weekly to witness to the homeless, the drug addicts and just kids hanging at the local hangouts...more got saved, addicts were delivered, sick were healed young and old alike...miracles happened daily...it was almost more than an average person could absorb...we were caught up in some supernatural tsunami with no explanation and no end in sight.
By now I had completely abandoned my traditional upbringing for the much more exciting and frankly the more realistic of the two worlds...I was living right in the middle of the book of Acts...and needless to say...like the disciples of old, I was, have been and forever more am changed....many were....of course some were along for the the ride..thats how it always is...but many many were marked forever with His mark and still today, 30 years later, follow Him. ..of coursel all good things must come to an end..and the furor of the Jesus Movement eventually died down..though as the linked article mentions..modern mega church may never know how much they owe to those glorious days....that tiny little church of 50 now boasts regular attendance of 4000+ and counting....

As for me, I will never again settle for what was before...I will always know...no matter what the Christian churches of today look like...that there is more...there is something deep and spiritual, real and non surface ...and completely un-containable...There is Christ! ...who if He so choses can sweep in like a flood and overwhelm any society on earth.

Personally I believe that many Christians who lived through that era are the very ones drifting, unsettled and unhappy with church and their spiritual walk as it is today. Yes, there was sin mixed in with the glory...yes there was a lot of misunderstanding...yes the Jesus Freaks took things perhaps too far or interpreted things in a weird new way....and though there was much to be found fault with.... the free love, the God accepts everyone as they are, never judge anyone mentality of the day...Oh wait...maybe that was the part we should be holding onto....
all I know is that I, as well as the Church at large, was forever marked...and some of us are never going back...never forgetting what He did...what He has done...what He is capable of...even in our limited understanding... cause you know...the spirit of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy...what He has done..He will do...
He is the same yesterday,today and forever

19 comments:

bjk said...

I linked this....just very much liked this

everydayRANDOM said...

You Story brings tears to my eyes. I am so happy for your indelible, everlasting frame of reference. It has been what has guided you all this years. I can only imagine what it must have felt like and being able to watch it unfold in front of you. Ok, now I can live vicarously thru you - you made my Day. Jesus freak, I will forever be. Thanks my friend, for the reminder!

Pat said...

I loved this post. Having been around long enough to witness the before and after of the 'movement', I've had a lot of re-thinking to do. I have to say that when I compare my teen-age years in the church to my grandsons teenage years - they are miles ahead in their "sold out" Christianity. Just the freedom of worship they experience sends me to my knees in praise. They go to church not out of obligation but out of desire to be in the house of the Lord. How wonderful!!
Like that old song says "I wouldn't take nothin' for my journey now"...

Joni said...

I came in on the end of the whole thing, but was definitely a beneficiary of what those ahead of me had done.

Thanks be to God that He always sends a surge of His Holy Spirit when we most need it!

Tammy said...

I kind of caught the tail end of this movement. What's sad is when church becomes routine or something we feel we have to do...there is nothing routine about worshipping and serving our God. I love our church because I feel free to praise my God and love doing so. Sometimes though we do need to light that little candle under us don't we?

Deborah and Sally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicki said...

Loved this account. I'm not sure why I didn't witness it more myself here in GA...maybe I was still untangling from my Catholic roots back then:-) But I do remember two believers, in particular, who hounded me with a holy love--Jesus Freaks both of 'em --and I backed off from them at first..then finally stopped running and dealt with my sin when a neighbor shared those Four Spiritual Laws with me over coffee one morning.

Jesus Freak now ~
V.

J. Samuel Thomas said...

How wonderful!
This Spirit still lives on, even if it's not all lumped together in the same way it has been, He is ALIVE AND WELL!!!!

Hallelujah, Sister!

Amy said...

wow what an incredible experience! I've read alot about the Jesus experience in the 1960's and that was amazing!

Sara said...

i LOVE this post. raised in tradition i now attend the rock and roll church where my kids are dead center in nontraditional loud living for God. i spend much more time defending their Christianity to christians than i do to the world. we are so quick to cast overboard the ones who don't step in time, aren't we? and yet these kids are doing and serving more than any traditionalist i know. thank you for this.

An Ordinary Christian said...

The church I go to sprang from the large church out of which a lot of these people came from. Thank you for your visits!

Goody said...

How I loved reading this! Yes, there are still some "freaks" around and we cannot settle for anything but Jesus Christ and his life in his church. Praise the Lord1

Hattigrace said...

My experience at Brownsville Revival was similar, though at a church. Thousands gathered from all around the world, all demoninations. They would have the "parade of Nations" every night and the pastor would ask where they all were from. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Holy Spirit seems to show up and do some great things, stirring our hearts, giving us a taste of heaven.

But when He withdraws and leaves us with "normal" life, what do we do? Curse our roots?

A study into church theology and history will show that throughout the last 2000 years the ongoing work of Holy Spirit through the Church. He said "the gates of Hell will NOT prevail against (it)."

The first 1500 years of the Church, He was as active as today. There is something to give serious study to between the book of Acts and the Jesus Movement.

Our hearts are forever bent on straying, on going lukewarm/cold. We can make stale the freshest bread, rote the most meaningful prayer, vacant the richest hymn or contempory worship song.

Jesus gave us the Lord's Prayer as a model. A cool, self-sufficent heart will recite it robotically, yet those same words traveling through the being of a repentant, worshipful, humble heart will bring chills to the listener.

It is not the liturgy, the sacraments or the traditions of the Church (not confusing them with evil men's traditions) that is dead. We grow dead.

The visitations of the Holy Spirit are a special grace to help warm our heart to return to Him as our Lifesource. (We who have had the great grace and priveledge of such an outpouring are not superior to one sister or brother in Christ. In fact, we need to remember, "to whom much is given, much is required".) He never means that for us to later turn and disdain any portion of His Church.

Bek said...

wow, this was incredible to read....i don't think i've ever had anyone tell me a direct testimony of being a part of the Jesus Movement....i've heard about it, but never had a real good sense of what it was....thanks so much....come, Jesus, come move and sweep in this nation again, and like never before!!!

Becky said...

traditional church?
on vacation, we went to free will something or other-no words can explain... then turned around and went to a "modern" church, like my own. there is such a need for GOD to preached big and not the act of pharasees-ing.

Vikki said...

so glad I stumbled on your blog. We only heard about the Jesus movement last year, when we met our Pastor who is from Calvary Chapel St Petes. Since then I've read several books about the history of CC and the Jesus movement. It fascinates me as we have seen so many addicts in our city getting saved, filled with the holy spirit and delivered! Nice to read a personal account from someone else who experienced it and is still a Jesus freak!!

Danielle B. Blogging for Balance said...

Quite an interesting post you have here ;). At a time when we have been struggling for almost two years to find a church in our community...rather than attend the one we love that is an hour away....we have made the decision to return to the church that is an hour away. I love going to a 'non-traditional' church where I feel as though I need to light my bic during praise and worship..and so does our daughter. If she were a child of the 70's she would wear the label of 'Jesus Freak' proudly...on her first day of school she wore one of her 'Christian' t-shirts from church ;)You are always a great role model for me ;)

Kabrown said...

i praise the Lord for what He has done in your life and your community. I thank you so much for putting this story on here... tonight i have been struggleing to find something to help with the message that i will give to my youth group tomarow. well surely enough I FOUND IT! i have also heard about the Jesus Freak movement thats still going on and i have wanted to check out there web site but keep forgetting. I sure sill now. May God Bless you and keep you always!

Mike Grello said...

Thank you; I was researching the movement for a paper I am doing at Church (Garden of Grace UCC) and I was filled with such despair due to what I was finding in my research; then I came across your article.
You tell a beautiful story and make me feel that maybe I am not crazy after all.