Beach revival underway in So. Calif: 'A return to a gritty, raw Gospel, Jesus people movement'

Saturate OC outreach occurs in Huntington Beach on July 11, 2020.
Saturate OC outreach occurs in Huntington Beach on July 11, 2020. | Courtesy of Kara Beth Nixon

A "beach revival" is underway in Southern California in what some say signals the beginning of a new Jesus movement.

Over 200 Christians recently gathered on the shore in Huntington Beach to worship God, hear the Gospel and learn how to share the Good News with others. 

It first began as a vision God gave to its organizers, Parker and Jessi Green, four years ago. In the vision, the couple saw thousands of people being baptized along Huntington Beach Pier and large numbers of people receiving Christ, according to the Saturate OC website.

In January, Jessi Green sensed God say to her that He was shaking everything that could be shaken and that it would feel chaotic at first, she said in an interview Monday with The Christian Post.

"It would be like a threshing floor movement where God was going to start to separate the wheat from the tares," she said.

Jessi Green wrote down what she sensed, having no idea of the challenges that 2020 would present.

As part of California's response to COVID-19, on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a second lockdown mandating churches in 30 counties to again cancel in-person worship services as the state continues its ban on singing in churches that are allowed to remain open with restrictions in place. 

Four years ago, Green and her husband were living in New York City and partaking in a 21-day fast that their church was doing. During a worship session amid this three-week fasting period, she had a vision of thousands of people being baptized at Huntington Beach. So many, in fact, that people were turning around and baptizing each other.

The vision was so overwhelming she wasn't even sure what to make of it — particularly if it was theologically advisable for that manner of baptizing to occur.

"The next revival would come through the equipping of the saints," she sensed the Holy Spirit say to her.

After that, the Greens felt burdened to disciple people. They quit their jobs in New York City and moved across the country to Huntington Beach and began to share the Gospel in the streets of southern California and start micro-churches in homes called SALT churches.

Green said she prayed to God, asking, "'When is this vision going to happen?'"

She told CP that she kept feeling God "pause it" and encourage her to continue to make disciples. But then last spring, during a night of prayer, she heard the Holy Spirit say to her: "Green light. The harvest is summer 2020."

The word was so clear that she felt as though she would be in disobedience to God if she didn't start moving on it.

Although not every Orange County-area pastor received news of their vision favorably at first, the Greens persisted in what they saw as their calling.

Saturate OC was soon born. They had planned to do a conference at a hotel in Huntington Beach earlier this year, but on the day Green was about to sign the contract to reserve the venue, the coronavirus pandemic was just beginning to spike in the U.S. and she called it off.

"I assumed that we were just going to cancel or postpone it and then I did a two-week fast and God said to me: 'Just because it looks different than what you thought doesn't mean that I lied when I told you [to give it] the green light.'"

After praying some more, they decided to host a weekly event on the beach every Friday in July. Momentum has grown with more churches participating in the past few weeks. Repentance and deliverance have characterized the past two gatherings.

"People were coming to the front repenting of sexual sin, and falling to the ground and not knowing why they are falling to the ground, and then feeling the presence of God in a way they've never experienced," Green said.

People pray and join Saturate OC at Huntington Beach, California, July 2020.
People pray and join Saturate OC at Huntington Beach, California, July 2020. | Facebook/Saturate OC

"And this revival is really moving among the children. We are seeing tons, and I would say within the last two weeks 60 children chose to be baptized — ages 3 years old to 16."

The vision for the Saturate OC initiative was to share the Gospel outside on the streets and not be a "one preacher kind of revival," but rather, a "ripple effect," she told CP.

While they have received some criticism about people not wearing masks and pressure to worship elsewhere, Green recounted a story she shared two Fridays ago where she and a few others were worshiping on the pier earlier in the week. A troubled woman named Connie who was nearby approached the group and ended up receiving Christ. She went to the event on a Friday, was baptized on a Saturday, and has now joined a home church.

"She was homeless, and so now she's being put into family," Green said, adding that she'd spoken with her recently and Connie relayed that her whole life has changed in one week.

"It mattered to Connie," Green wrote on her Instagram account, explaining why they chose to worship God outdoors on the beach, in response to objections they'd received from some. 

Worship artist Sean Feucht, who has been leading worship with Saturate OC, believes the church is in a season that resembles the late '60s and '70s, a period in U.S. history marked by political strife, racial tension, government instability, and economic volatility.

"What we're seeing now is a return back to a gritty, raw Gospel, Jesus people movement foundation. A lot of that is in part because we can't be in our churches. We are kind of forced to be outside of our buildings and forced to be innovative and creative and come up with alternate solutions," Feucht said in an interview with CP on Monday.

"And I think what it's doing is stripping off the sheen and the polished nature of what we've built in America and it's allowing us to return to the simplicity to the power of the raw Gospel."

The worship leader recalled the story in Isaiah 6, while the prophet was distressed about the death of King Uzziah, and yet in that same year, Isaiah saw the Lord. Thus, despite the hardship surrounding the death of the noble king, there was a grace for a higher revelation for what was taking place in that time in history.

"I think people are having to choose faith over fear," he added.

"So now, if we unplug from the perpetual fear-mongering narrative of the media and we press into the heart of the Lord, I believe that He's still saying, 'the whole Earth is full of His glory.'"

The focus on God's glory is not escaping the challenges we all face, he said, but being aware of what God is doing.

"The church has been quarantined. We've been separated, isolated and alone. And society is crumbling. And for pastors and leaders to not understand that society is literally crumbling, I think, is a tragedy."

"The church has got to become courageous again and remove this Gospel that is wrapped in caution and self-preservation. I've spent enough time in persecuted nations around the world to know that that's not how those churches function. There's a real dividing line that is happening right now in the church and it's going to be really helpful. Who are the ones that are going to believe the Gospel and take a stand? And that's the side of history I want to be in."

Feucht, who ran for Congress last year but did not win his primary, said that lately it has been easy to lead worship because people have been so hungry to sing to God.

"Whether you're singing something from the '80s or something brand new that they've never heard before, people are engaging and they are not allowing their doctrinal stances or their denominational barriers get in the way. There's a real unity that we can access that is profound."

Organizers announced on Saturday that Saturate OC will be extended to Aug. 7.

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