The Old Wells of Revival in Appalachia
by Michael Edds
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The Old Wells of Revival in Appalachia
by Michael Edds
Written on Charles Finney's tombstone in Oberlin, Ohio are the following words: "The Lord Our God be with us as He was with our fathers, may He not leave us or forsake us."
In study of the great revivals of old, I have longed to see God do in our day what he did in the historic past of our nation. As Frank Bartleman, one of the leaders of the Awakening of 1905 at Azusa Street in California, once wrote, "To understand what God is doing and going to do, we must understand what he did in the past." Each awakening in America and throughout the world has been a move of God to restore some lost element of truth that the Early Church possessed.
God spoke the following statement to me: "Old wells, fallen mantles and new fountains." He said that He was going to reopen the old wells of revival and awakenings of the past, that the fallen mantles of anointing and ministry that fell to the ground at the death of the great men and women of God of the past would be picked up and placed on worthy men and women of God today to finish what was started long ago. In addition, He said that He was going to do a new thing, something that had never been done before in the history of the Church. The reason God is reopening the "old wells" of revival is that He wants TOTAL truth restored to the church. He wants the Church to operate in the power and anointing of the Early Church. God always extends a hand of mercy before judgment falls upon a nation. The historic great awakenings have usually preceded a time of calamity in our nation. I believe that judgment looms over this nation and this generation. This is God's last mercy call before judgment.
The Lord has given me a great passion to research and study the Great Awakenings of times past. Of great interest to me is Appalachia. Often overlooked or ridiculed today, this historic region has been a seedbed of revival for generations. I believe that this region will be at the forefront of the next Great Awakening. The Lord said that His Holy Spirit is hovering and brooding over these beautiful mountains. He did the same in the Book of Genesis just before He spoke "life and light" into existence. It is amazing that throughout this region that people are meeting in homes, workplaces and in churches to seek God, repent and pray for revival. SOMETHING is about to happen!
The Appalachian old wells of revival and camp meetings of the Methodists circuit riders were dug as early as 1784. The great circuit rider and Bishop, Francis Asbury, crossed the Alleghenies into Pocahontas and Greenbrier Counties in West Virginia every year from 1776 until 1815. He followed the old Staunton Turnpike to preaching stations where he ministered at each visit. One such place was at Elizabeth Morrison's home in Hillsboro, West Virginia. This area is called the Little Levels. Great moves of God occurred in Hillsboro. In fact, the Second Great Awakening of 1801/02, which exploded in Cane Ridge, Kentucky, came to Hillsboro as the result of two young men traveling from Cane Ridge to Hillsboro to share what they had seen and heard. The Second Great Awakening burst forth there, swept into the Old Stone Presbyterian Church in nearby Lewisburg and then throughout the state.
One of the first churches in the Greenbrier Valley region (which includes Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Monroe Counties) is Old Rehoboth Church near Union, Monroe County, West Virginia. It is a small, sturdy frontier log structure that doubled as a fort if necessary to protect against Indian attack. Asbury dedicated this church on July 1788. The crowds were so great that he had to stand in the doorway and preach to the people standing outside since the building could not hold them. Stith Mead recorded in his journal about that day. He said, "God manifested Himself in His Spirit's power, the doors were opened and sinners came in, and there was a great shaking among the dry bones. Such a time, I presume, was never seen and experienced at this place before. Ten souls were converted and many sinners cut to the heart. The lively exercises continued till nearly sundown."
Great meetings were held by Asbury and others at Old Rehoboth. Great men of God, a who's who of revival of that day preached there. Jesse Lee, William McKendree, Freeborn Garretson, John Tunnell and Francis Poythress. Jesse Lee led a great move of God and brought revival to New England. His first sermon in Boston was preached under an elm tree since none of the churches would let him in.
The Great Revival of 1842 occurred at Old Rehoboth with over 100 conversions. This is incredible in view of the fact that this was a sparsely populated frontier area.
A Great Revival occurred in 1877 with the Reverend V. W. Wheeler. There were over 110 conversions.
Great camp meetings were held in "the groves" all through this region with as many as 3,000 attending at one time. River banks were covered by hundreds of new converts waiting to be baptized. God truly "walked the dark hills" in the historic past of Appalachia. He is looking for "Isaacs" who will reopen the wells of their Father.
Much sacrifice was made to dig these old wells of revival. Asbury, advanced in years, made the following statement in his journal while traveling through the rugged mountains of frontier Pocahontas County, "If I could have regular food and sleep, I could stand the fatigue I have had to go through much better. This is impossible under some circumstances. To sleep 4 hours and ride 40 miles on horseback without food or fire is hard. But we had water enough in the rivers and creeks. Ah! If I were young again!"
An aged Methodist once penned...."I know the world's a-moving on, as Galileo said. For now I rent a cushioned pew to hear an essay read, but when through stain-glassed windows the sun throws blue and gold, I cannot help a-thinkin' how the Glory shone of old!"
May the Lord our God be with us as He was with our fathers! May He revisit us again and reopen the old wells! 2nd CHRONICLES 7:14 states that He will if we follow what it says.
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