Pastors orchestrated first revival

Hill's persistent urging pushed crowd to react

The Pensacola News Journal/November 19, 1997
By Alice Crann

Pensacola -- For 2 1/2 years, the Rev. John Kilpatrick, pastor of Brownsville Assembly of God, and evangelist Steve Hill have promoted the Pensacola Brownsville Revival as a spontaneous arrival of the Holy Spirit on June 18, 1995. Kilpatrick also has repeatedly described the arrival of revival that day as "a mighty wind" that suddenly blew through the church. Everyone who was there felt it, he says.

But videotape and statements of numerous people who were there indicate that nothing like that happened and the congregation in general was far from overwhelmed.

In addition, say present and former church members, the revival did not suddenly arrive. They knew what Kilpatrick was setting up because in the months before the revival:

  • He talked persistently about bringing revival to Brownsville and threatened to quit if the church did not accept the revival.

  • The pastor's wife, Brenda Kilpatrick, and a number of Brownsville church officials traveled to Canada and observed revival crowd-control techniques and prayer-team methods at the phenomenally successful ongoing revival there, the Toronto Blessing.

  • Kilpatrick showed the congregation a video of a Toronto Blessing service, in which people fall to the floor, "slain in the spirit," as they feel the Holy Spirit taking over them.

  • Kilpatrick had followers of evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne attend a Brownsville service, where they functioned as an example of highly expressive worship. Howard-Browne, a dramatically energetic evangelist who calls himself the "Holy Ghost bartender," is known for promoting the "holy laughter" phenomenon in which people succumb to hysterical convulsions. His followers did that at Brownsville.

  • Kilpatrick invited Hill, an "on fire" evangelist whom Kilpatrick knew to be in search of a place to conduct a long-running, big revival to give the sermon on Father's Day 1995.

The video shows what happened after Kilpatrick turned the stage over to Hill.

Hill says: "Everyone who would like a refreshing from the Lord you'd like God to touch your life I want you to come forward, just stand right in here."

Hundreds move into the area in front of the stage.

Hill: "Now if someone falls next to you, work with me, OK? Just work with me. If someone falls right in front of you, help them down to the ground."

Hill goes into the audience, touches people on the forehead with one or two fingers. In some cases, he uses his whole hand or puts his hands along side of people's heads as he shouts: "Now Lord! More! More! More! Jesus! Now Lord! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Now! Now Jesus! Fire! Now! Now!"

Hill continues this for several minutes. He touches dozens of people. Most stand still. Nine fall down.

Just a trickle

Hill gets back on stage, gestures to the choir to stop singing and says:

"Listen, this is happening exactly like every one of our services. What is happening? It's just a trickling going on. It's almost like there's a river going by and some of us are doing this (he demonstrates treading water).

"Stay with what the Lord is doing. We've had the Lord move like this gently, and then the power of God hits, friends, and I want to tell you, it is the most spectacular presence of the Lord!

"How many of you believe in the power of God? There's people already down here, receiving from the Lord! Wait on the Lord right now! Go after the Lord!"

Hill goes back in the audience and repeats his anointings and chants for several more minutes. No one moves or falls down.

He gets back on stage.

Hill: "The Lord just spoke to me right here in this section. I want everyone right here to go after the Lord right now. Go after the Lord."

Hill again goes back down into the audience and rapidly moves around, touching dozens of people on the head. Six fall down. Most watch curiously or continue praying.

Confusion reigns

Kilpatrick takes the microphone from the pulpit and announces he is seeing something wonderful occur. "I've never experienced anything like it!"

Many in the audience look confused.

Hill hurries back on stage and says:

"Pastor! Some of you, if you had any idea what the Lord is about to do for you! Just get back! I've had God hit people already in this place thrown them to the ground! They're in heaven right now! They're not in Pensacola they're in heaven right now! Just stay open to the Lord!"

A number of people start to leave the church.

Hill shouts: "Don't leave! Don't leave!"

He hurries into the audience and again begins laying on hands. Four people fall down.

He gets on stage again and says: "Hey! It's getting deeper, friends! It's getting deeper! Getting deeper! Don't leave! We've had the Lord pour out His Holy Spirit en masse! He just came down in the meeting! Don't leave! Sweet Jesus! Sweet Jesus!"

Hill goes back into the audience. Two men and one woman fall after his touch. He takes hold of a man, puts one hand on his head, the other on his shoulder, and shakes him.

Kilpatrick falls

It is at this point that Kilpatrick falls down. The videotape shows that he trips as he steps backward up onto the stage. He puts out a hand to break his fall, drops into a sitting position, pauses a moment, then lies back. He does not get up until after the video ends.

Hill pays no heed. He goes up to a man who is shaking and shouts into his face, "More, more!"

Hill leads the man up onto the stage and backs away from him. He waves his hands at him, and yells: "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! More! More! More! More! More! More! Fire! Fire! Fire!" for several minutes.

The man does not fall down. Instead, with his head bowed he walks past Hill toward the steps. Hill and another man grab him and take him back to the pulpit.

Hill asks him: "What's happening?"

The man, eyes closed, speaks unintelligibly.

Hill walks away, and the man leaves the stage weeping.

Hill then says: "Friends, let me explain something. We may pray with you, and you think, 'Well, nothing happened.'

"No, no, no, no, no, no! No, no, no, no, no, no! That's not what God is into."

Hill talks some more, referring to some of his previous services when people did not think anything was happening but "the voltage of electricity was just flowing there."

"Some of you are thinking, 'The way this thing is going, I'm never going to get prayed for.' Friends, let me tell you what I've seen happen. As the people wait on the Lord as they wait on the Lord there have been times when I have turned to a crowd, and literally just walked through, and everyone was just hit everywhere by the power of God, 'cause they waited on the Lord.

Hill talks some more, touches a child and she falls down. He immediately lifts her back to her feet and says: "Did you lose all your strength?" The girl nods. Hill gets back on stage and motions the singers to stop.

Hill says: "I want all the children! Make room right here for all the little kids.

"Now, kids. I want all you children to look at me. ...OK, I'm going to be praying for you, OK? Some of you are going to be filled with the Holy Spirit!

"One little girl who was 8 years old her parents brought her to me I touched her, she went to the ground, her hands went up, she began speaking in tongues, and her mom and dad went bananas! I mean they just they were sitting there watching her, filled with the Holy Ghost instantly!

"I'm going to pray for you, you're going to fall to the ground. Don't worry about it. You're going to love it. The Lord is touching your life.

Hill begins touching the heads of the children, occasionally touching some adults. After several minutes, five adults and one little girl fall down.

Hill leaves the children and goes back to the adults. This time, more people begin to fall.

The crowd has thinned. Many have left the building or returned to their pews.

Hill suddenly falls down with a loud cry. He moans and cries out, then quickly gets up. After some more anointings he goes back to the platform.

He says: "I like it when the crowd starts thinning out. Then the Lord starts coming down.

Praying for the people

Pointing to his left, Hill says: "God has just moved over here! Lord, have mercy! I want to pray with every single person now! How many of you kids have been prayed for? Did God touch your life?"

Nobody responds.

Hill points to someone out of view and says: "Reconstructed his life!"

Again, he goes back into the audience.

Since Hill began, two hours have passed.

Most of the congregation has left.

The tape fades to black.

Kilpatrick and Hill's ecstatic reports about the wonders of that day have gained nationwide attention and since that time have brought hundreds of thousands of people to the revival.

Kilpatrick says: "When I fell on the floor, it was the most life-changing experience. Steve was beside himself because he was under a powerful anointing.

"It may look foolish when watching the video, but a nation will not come to a place if the Lord is really not there.

"Every night we walk into that church we say: 'Lord. Will you do it one more time?' If we could manufacture that, we would be really hot items."

Albert James Dager, who writes Media Spotlight, a Christian watchdog newsletter, based in Redmond, Wash., said he closely viewed the video of the Father's Day service and observed that "nothing really extraordinary happened."

Media Spotlight is nondenominational, nonprofit and independent. For 20 years it has been providing a Biblical analysis of Christian messages appearing in the media. University religion departments, Bible scholars, theologians and some 5,000 pastors of many denominations subscribe.

Dager said that viewing the tape, "I felt sorry for Steve Hill. He was working so hard to get something to happen, prompting the people, telling them what great things they were going to witness and experience.

"Any objective person would have been embarrassed for him."

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