I wonder if Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield had an opportunity before they died to look back and examine how God had used their lives to spark a Great Awakening (1730s and ’40s) in America.
The First Great Awakening was a time of religious excitement, revival, and from what people described, a very real sense that God drew near to His people. This tangible desire for Christ spread to nearly 80 percent of the population bringing with it hope and change. Some historians even say that the work of this “awakening to God’s presence” was one of the causes of the American Revolution because it sowed seeds of equality, showed that different tribes of Christians could be unified, and brought colonies together in unity under God.
Revival, return of purity, respect, self-control, and then the American Revolution? That’s leaving a legacy!
The Second Great Awakening had an even greater effect on the newly formed United States of America. America’s population had grown during the late 1700s and early 1800s from five to 30 million — and during this time tent revivals became popular: James McGready, Barton Stone, Timothy Dwight, Lorenzo Dow, Alexander Campbell, Lyman Beecher, and Charles Finney helped to bring about a renewed sense of purpose and destiny to new followers of Christ.
Reforms of temperance, woman’s rights, and the abolition of slavery along with the founding of hundreds of social help organizations has led this era in U.S. history to be called the Benevolent Empire. These new followers of Christ helped end slavery in America. God used the men mentioned above for mighty change: revival, a godly sense of purpose, repentance, and a desire for Christ. Some would call that more than just hope, but real help.
I meet with a group of pastors from Wilmington in prayer every Wednesday. We are praying for a new revival in America—asking God to spark another Great Awakening in our country. We desire people to be set free from their addictions, hang-ups, and bad habits.
We are praying for a movement that gives people real healing. We keep seeing signs that God is beginning to spark revolution in our community and nation, but we know that only true, lasting, eternal change happens with submission to Jesus Christ and the deliverance from sin that He offers.
One beginning sign and an answer to prayer for many families in our community is the Hope Over Heroin Movement (www.hopeoverheroin.com) that is making a stop in Wilmington on Oct. 9 and 10. Hope Over Heroin reaches out to the addicted and those who are impacted by drug-related issues in a two-day event offering free food, free music, and testimonies from those delivered from their addictions.
Attached to the event will be the City of Resources that connects people to drug and addiction counselors, twelve step programs, family and individual helps, and groups that can lead to life change.
One of the great accomplishments from each Great Awakening was the idea that healthy, lasting change could be found and embraced bringing hope to those who had none. That’s what Hope Over Heroin will accomplish in our community: Hope for those with addictions; Hope for those whose family members are hurting; and Hope for those who have none. Already churches from Clinton County and Fayette County are pulling together for change.
If you are concerned with our community’s drug epidemic, you can help spark a great awakening of hope by doing three things: 1) Spread the word — tell everyone you know that HOH is coming to Wilmington; 2) Connect to the event through Wilmington Community Churches Facebook page and find out how you can help; and 3) begin praying that this event sparks healthy change in our community for real help, real healing, and real hope.
Dale McCamish is Pastor of the Wilmington Church of Christ.