Los Angeles — With minimum promotion, a grassroots movement comprised of mostly Christian youth groups throughout the U.S. generated more than 115,000 online registrations for people to attend Azusa Now, a prayer and worship event at the L.A. Coliseum Saturday.
Drawing from the historic Azusa Street Revival held in 1906, organizers say what made the event special was that it "mirrored the reality of the formation of the church in Acts 2."
"Firstly, there was a multi-ethnic gathering of unity in Christ, (Acts 2:1-11). Secondly, the miraculous, attesting ministry of the Holy Spirit was enjoyed in a unique way, (Acts 2:2-4). Finally, there was a clear presentation of the Gospel leading many to salvation, (Acts 2:37-41)," they stated. "This outpouring of Heaven descended on the poor districts of Los Angeles during an incredibly dangerous, volatile and prejudiced period of American history. God used an African-American named William Seymour to launch this modern Acts 2 movement. Black, white, Asian and Hispanic came together in bonds of love, unity and prayer. It came to be said, 'the color line was washed away' at Azusa."
"This is the legacy — the well of revival — we seek to reclaim: Unity. Prayer. Miracles. Healing. Salvation," they add on the Azusa Now website.
The following is an edited transcript of an interview with event spokesman Luis Cataldo, who is also the media liason for the visionary behind the event, Lou Engles.
AM: On the night before Azusa Now, what's your feeling in general?
LC: There's two parts to the answer. One is just the amount of effort that it takes to organize something like this so that you can get some kind of structure with not just 110,000 people coming but the level of leaders that are here — speakers, singers, musicians — at their own expense with no guarantee that they are going to be up on the platform. They are not coming to present their ministry.
The response from the level of leaders, I looked around the room (leadership meeting Friday night), and thought, oh my gosh, this is a who's who [of Christian leaders]. Every one of these people practically could run their own big stadium thing and they are here.
So, one part of that is that the feel is, my goodness, a lot of people are sacrificially buying into the vision of unity, not just sort of lip service, but they are actually here and they're actually willing to sacrifice their name, their ministry, their time on the platform on the behalf of somebody else. That's the number one remarkable thing.
The other remarkable thing is that it takes a lot of effort to mobilize, to get that kind of response, 115,000 people pre-registered. It takes a lot of media coverage, it takes a lot of videos and presentations, and speaking and all that kind of stuff, [but] there hasn't been a megaphone broadcasting this thing. There hasn't been a constant saturation, even in social media of: "You gotta go, you gotta go, I'm going. Let's go." It's completely different. It's more like a sense of: "I just felt like I needed to be here."
The second feeling I had ahead of time is that the Lord is drawing people to this thing and it hasn't been a product of a great mobilization strategy. The mobilizers worked really hard. They did their deal, but they didn't produce a sound that results in 115,000 people pre-registered. This is something entirely different. There's a real expectancy because of those two things: lots of leaders willing to sacrifice and lots of people being drawn. There's an expectancy, God is doing something and I'm looking forward to it.
AM: What have organizers done to make Asusa Now all-denominations friendly?
LC: At our leadership meeting, Lou Engle is walking us through the schedule, and he's saying, "So, you've got our Catholic brothers here, let's standup. You'll be doing this section here. Then, we've got our African-American leadership from this ministry and that ministry and you guys stand up. And now we've got the seven different streams from where there's been revival before, you guys stand up. There's my good friend from Indonesia and here's my friend from the Philippines, and he's doing this. Here's my good friend from Brazil who's starting this … and oh, my gosh, are we going to have time for this sister to do this and this brother to do that?"
He's going through the day and I'm thinking this is a three- or four-day event. There's so many people here (at the meeting) and it's actually a picture of the body of Christ, where every nation, tongue, tribe, is in the room. There actually in the room.
AM: Again, what makes this all-denominations friendly?
LC: I wish there was a recipe and we could just make the perfect cake every time, but there isn't. It's a combination of things, but also a culmination. The combination is that many of us are looking around and saying, "Jesus have mercy. Lord help."
We are sort of past the days of "I want to do my thing better than your thing." Nobody is interested in that anymore and so one thing is that we are all looking around and saying, "There's serious trouble in the Church, in America, on the Earth."
We can't pretend that just getting a few more people to show up to my meeting verses your meeting is going to do anything. That's one of the things that's made this denominational friendly. The second thing is that this generation has zero interest in fighting denominational wars.
My generation, I'm 56 years old, my generation has built fences around our theological differences. This next generation has zero interest in that. They want an authenticity in Jesus. They want real justice that reflects the nature of Jesus. They will go wherever Jesus is glorified in whatever way he gets glorified.
I think the other thing, too, is that we are looking across denominational lines and saying, you love Jesus, you love the Bible, you love to worship Him, you love for other people to know Him, I don't really care that you sprinkle and I don't. I like what you like. As Lou Engle has said many times, the things that are coming against us are greater than the differences we have between us, and this has caused us to be denominational friendly.
The combination of all those things has caused us to be denominational friendly. And another one as well, is simply that God is jealous for His bride and He desires for a covenant that He made to love people and draw people to Himself so that His covenant would be fulfilled. The Lord is moving perhaps in some unique ways, like what He has done in the past but unique for our times.
This is called Azusa Now, not let's look back and look at what God did in Azusa back then in 1906. It's Azusa Now. In 1906 the color lines were erased because people were encountering Jesus and denominational lines were erased because people were encountering Jesus. Azusa Now has that same sort of feel.
AM: Going back to that meeting you had tonight, where you say it was a "who's who," are you purposefully holding back names?
LC: One of the things that Azusa Now is doing and is actually doing very, very well is that it's not about names. Even for the media, I'm the spokesperson and so all interviews will be with me because, number one, it's really not about who's up on the platform, whether it be a worship leader or a guest speaker, or this ministry.
Number two, there's a consistent message that everybody is saying anyway. The message is that it's not about me, it's about Jesus, and we love being together rather than trying to do these things apart. That's the only story line that anybody is really interested in. If we publicized who was going to be up on the platform nobody would care. The next generation is not interested in that.
AM: What can people expect when they attend?
LC: From what I heard laid out here I think the expectation is that there is going to be a unified movement through a series of interactions with Jesus. We are going to worship, we are going to repent, we are going to reconcile in front of Him, we are going to release worship to raise up the fame of Jesus, and we are going to do these things together throughout the day.
I think what people can expect is to be participating in interactions with Jesus and with other believers who want that as well in many, many different expressions. … It's going to be fluid. There isn't a published exact time [of scheduled people to go on stage].
We are really here for something much bigger than "my little time on the platform, or my song getting sung." So, the anticipation is that if God is doing something and we can participate in that, that's fine."