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How a Youth Minister Became a Revivalist

bible, microphone, worship

I have roots in the Wesleyan Methodist movement, roots which go back several generations in ministry. I watched people live, suffer patiently and die, leaning strong on their faith, comforted by the Word of God

I suppose there were a lot of prayers, which went up silently that I knew nothing about, but audible prayer in our house was mostly confined to saying grace at dinnertime.

I was 23 when I first visited a church where somebody really prayed out in what I know now to be the anointing power of the Holy Spirit. The person prayed loudly! They prayed with authority! They prayed long and they prayed specifically, as if they were standing in front of God Himself. I definitely had a WOW moment! Something about that experience made me long for more of God in my life than I had ever had. For the next few years I continued to attend that church and I began to ask God to fill me every day with more of His power. I began to see a huge difference in so many areas of my spiritual life. As I have testified in another article, I was coming out of a very worldly life experience. I had left my childhood faith for a season, and took a long journey into a sinful life. The Lord's "new wine" was proving to be ten times better than anything the world had to offer. Spending time with Jesus and being led by His Holy Spirit became my daily delight!

I soon discovered the hardest thing about having wonderful new experiences in God, totally by His grace, was hanging around people who have not had those experiences. The thing I discovered is you would think everyone would be eager to find out just how you discovered this treasure of a deeper experience in God. The fact is they're not. Many of them will flat out tell you so. Others will often check their watch, roll their eyes and stare at the ceiling to make sure you get the picture. The third group excitedly says "Amen" with a big smile, and says "Praise God Brother, I am so happy for you!" However if you ask them to come to a Bible study or revival services you are holding, somehow they are always too busy!

God wasted no time plugging me into helping with my first youth group. At that time the only thing I knew about ministering to youth was that I used to be one! Actually, I now think that it was a blessing in disguise. My ignorance drove me to pray, spend time in the Word and to study other youth ministries in my area, which were being successful.

The spiritual aspects of ministry came a bit slowly, but as God led, in spite of some foolish mistakes on my part, over time my ministry began to prosper. What I didn't know at the time is how big the walls were which I would have to try to get past to manage the more practical aspects of youth work.

Imagine for a minute you are with me in a financial planning meeting. Most of the people in the room are quite a bit older than you are. In addition the group is comprised of successful business people from your community. The Senior Pastor of your church is there and the church secretary is taking notes.

The meeting is opened with a five-minute prayer, and a list is read of the business at hand for that month. Now you have been really seeking the Lord about some very important needs for the youth program, needs that are important to you being able to move forward and effectively minister to the needs of the youth. You wait patiently, as line upon line, item upon item, in alphabetical order. Finally they get down to your category. "YOUTH".

You are given a few minutes to describe your needs. You excitedly explain that you have been praying and that God is blessing the teens of the church. You state that as you were in prayer He really spoke to your heart to spend some money on a badly needed upgrade to your sound system. You present each member there with some price comparisons, showing them you have done your homework and have tracked down the best deal for the dollar. As you finish you're carefully thought out presentation, you look up to see six somber faces looking down their glasses at you. As you start to choke, you pray silently under your breath. Then one of the voices says "I know you FEEL God is leading you in this direction but we have just had so many expenses this month that there just aren't funds available for any new expenditures. Then you clear your throat and say: "Yes, but I have been fasting and praying and I know God spoke to my heart about this." One of them rolls their eyes and looks at the Pastor and you can tell he is saddened by what he is hearing.

Then the meeting is closed and everyone is encouraged to bring their needs back next month

While this can be a legitimate meeting, at a church with legitimate needs, often sad but true these same decision makers are not the ones who show up for the weekly prayer meetings. In over thirty years of sitting through similar meetings I am sad to say my heart has been compelled to call churches everywhere to repentance and revival. We all need to learn again how to seek the Lord for His leadings!

Our greatest lack is the fact we are not seeking the Lord, as we know we should. The second is knowing to do good and doing it not! James 4:17 (KJV) I became a Revivalist out of a need to call churches back to their first love and back to learning how to hear from God, and back to wanting to!

Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is

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