SAN DIEGO – There is a lot of doom and gloom being portrayed in the news these days.
Natural disasters, school shootings, murders, economic chaos, major superpowers on the verge of war with one another.
And yet, there are also some very encouraging signs out there of which we all really ought to take note.
A modern day “Jesus movement” is taking place.
That is, people who really love Jesus are finding new and bold ways to get His message out there in a culture that has increasingly turned its back on Christ.
What began quietly is now becoming something that’s hard to miss.
Are you able to see the Jesus signs in 2023 that are emerging all around you?
SUPER BOWL ADS FOCUS ON JESUS CHRIST
On Feb. 12, for example, the “He Gets Us” campaign ran two major ads on the Fox Channel during the Super Bowl, reaching tens of millions of viewers with a Gospel-focused message.
The campaign is designed to raise the respect and relevance of Jesus in our culture.
“It’s time for the real Jesus to take center stage in the American cultural imagination,” notes Christianity Today. “And that’s exactly what the ‘He Gets Us’ campaign is doing. While the Super Bowl will represent the largest splash their ads have made, the campaign has already made a tremendous impact.”
Indeed, since the spring of 2022 when they first started running, the “He Gets Us” ads have already had over 6.5 billion impressions.
The campaign’s slogan – “Give Love, Get Gear” – allows people to get their swag and merchandise for free, in order to spread the love.
I worked with the team behind the campaign in 2022.
I was wearing a hat that said, “He Gets Us,” at the airport while I was checking my bag. The airline gal behind the counter asked me what my hat meant. With hundreds of people behind me in line, I told her that it means that, “Jesus gets you, He sees you. Whether you are struggling with anxiety, loneliness, or depression, you’re not alone.”
She paused and responded with, “Wow, I think this is a divine appointment.”
I asked her to tell me more.
She said, “I feel like you are speaking exactly to me and this was just what I needed to hear.”
But the TV ads are just the beginning.
HOLLYWOOD RELEASES “JESUS REVOLUTION” MOVIE THIS MONTH
On Feb. 24, a major motion picture called, “Jesus Revolution,” will be released across the United States.
This movie depicts the story of the “Jesus People Movement,” a tremendous spiritual awakening in the 1970s that spread across the U.S., leading millions of people to come to faith in Jesus Christ and see their lives transformed.
The movement was catalyzed by a long-haired, hippy street preacher named Lonnie Frisbee.
Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus in the popular film series, “The Chosen,” plays Lonnie Frisbee in the film.
Frisbee befriends a straightlaced but not particularly fruitful pastor in Orange County named Chuck Smith, played in the film by Kelsey Grammer of “Frasier” fame.
Together, Frisbee and Smith start showing the love of Christ to hundreds of hippies in southern California who were lost, on drugs, sleeping around, and searching for meaning, searching for truth.
Two of the kids that got radically saved by Christ by their ministry in those early days were Greg Laurie and his girlfriend, Cathe.
As depicted in the film, the Lord goes on to completely transform Greg and Cathe’s lives and use them to start preaching the Gospel message to other hippies and teaching them the Bible.
Greg Laurie has gone on to become one of the most impactful evangelists in America today, and the pastor of one of the largest Evangelical churches, as well.
It’s his autobiography upon which the script of “Jesus Revolution” is based.
The “Jesus People Movement” also had a vast impact on Christian music, the Vineyard Movement, and the growth and spread of hundreds of Calvary Chapel congregations across the U.S. and around the world.
Thousands of people were baptized at Little Corona beach in Corona del Mar, California, all of which ended up being reported in a Time magazine cover story on the Jesus Movement at the time.
FASTING AND PRAYING FOR PENTECOST
If all this weren’t enough, churches across Southern California are preparing to baptize large numbers of people on May 28, 2023, at several Orange County beaches, during the Biblical Feast of Weeks and Pentecost.
They are also asking people to fast for the three weeks leading up to Pentecost, beginning on May 7.
“As goes California, so goes the nation,” is a common expression.
Does it apply to spiritual revivals?
Dr. Jennifer A. Miskov, Ph.D. is a historian of Christian revivals, and she thinks so.
“The influence that comes from California has the power to impact the world,” Miskov says. “Just imagine what would happen if the entire state of California was on fire with revival, it could transform the world.”
Sure enough, California appears to be once again the epicenter of all this Gospel and prayer activity.
Being a Californian – and being one of those people who packed a U-Haul when many people were fleeing the Golden State – there is nowhere else I’d rather be right now.
Sadly, many American Christians don’t yet see what God is stirring.
Many remain stuck and blinded by Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020 and a perception that evil is rising and there is no hope.
They are unable to see the new thing that God is doing and are paralyzed by fear and looking backwards.
IS A SPIRITUAL REVIVAL BREAKING OUT IN KENTUCKY?
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)
That’s the verse on my heart today because I believe that if we look carefully, God is doing something new and exciting.
Across the country, in Wilmore, Kentucky, for example, a revival appears to have broken out on the campus of Asbury University.
People are flooding the town and the campus to experience the peace and presence of God that the students began to tangibly experience starting on Feb. 8.
For most of the past week, the university chapel – which seats 1,500 people – has been “standing room only” with students, faculty, parents, and other local Christians, praying, worshipping, studying the Scriptures, and seeking the presence and power of God, wrote Thomas H. McCall, a professor of theology at Asbury Seminary across the street, on the Christianity Today website on Feb. 13.
Now, students are arriving from other universities to join the spontaneous prayer and worship movement, McCall notes, including those from “the University of Kentucky, the University of the Cumberlands, Purdue University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Ohio Christian University, Transylvania University, Midway University, Lee University, Georgetown College, Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, and many others.”
“My colleague Steve Seamands, a retired theologian from the seminary, told me that what is happening resembles the famous Asbury Revival of 1970 he experienced when he was a student,” McCall added. “That revival shut down classes for a week, then went on for two more weeks with nightly services. Hundreds of students went out to share what happened with other schools. But what many don’t realize is that Asbury has an even more extensive history with revivals—including one that took place as early as 1905 and another as recent as 2006.”
SOMETHING EXCITING IS STIRRING
Recently, my daughter and I attended her church in Encinitas, California.
The congregation has just hired a South African pastor and his wife to plant their second location in downtown San Diego.
They were asked why they would uproot their family with two young boys and move to “the uttermost ends of the earth,” from South Africa to San Diego.
“Because more revivals have come out of California than any other place in the world and we don’t want to miss it,” they replied.
I love that.
After all, let’s not forget the powerful Gospel movements that had their beginnings in California:
In the 1950s, Billy Graham’s influence was dramatically magnified and expanded when he held his first series of crusades in Los Angeles. They were covered nationally by news magnate Randolph Hearst, who encouraged his newspaper chain to promote what Graham was doing and the salvations that were resulting.
Also in the 1950s, Bill Bright founded Campus Crusade for Christ (now called, “CRU”) on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), a ministry that has grown to 22,000 staff members and produced the “JESUS” movie based on the Gospel of Luke that has been seen by billions of people all over the world.
The 1906 Azusa Street Revival profoundly influenced the modern Pentecostal movement and led to the founding of many mission movements.
Other important ministries have been born in California. Jim Rayburn who founded Young Life was influenced by Bill Bright and Henrietta Mears from the Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Loren Cunningham founded Youth with a Mission (Y.W.A.M) in southern California. Prayer leader Lou Engle launched “The Call” (now known as “The Send”) in California, a movement sending people out with the Gospel from places as diverse as Argentina, Norway, and the USA. And numerous modern Evangelical church movements also began in California, including Saddleback Church (Rick and Kay Warren); the Calvary Chapel movement (Chuck Smith); and Grace Community (John MacArthur).
I SEE JESUS MOVING POWERFULLY
What’s happening in California today reminds me of the popular song, “I Speak Jesus,” by Charity Gayle (duet by Steven Musso).
As I see all that God is doing, it makes me wonder if a new song should be written soon called, “I See Jesus.”
I see Jesus moving in the hearts of pastors and ministry leaders to preach and pray with more passion.
I see Jesus moving in the hearts of wealthy Christians to give more money to ministries that are zealous for Christ and for fulfilling the Great Commission in our generation.
I see Jesus creating a spirit of generosity among spiritual entrepreneurs, moving them to invest millions of dollars into these movies, ad campaigns, and movements which are reaching millions of souls.
And I see Jesus making it clear to one lost soul after another that He really does get us and He really does love us and He really does want to save each one of us – if we will let him.
People who are tired of the Church being irrelevant are responding.
They’re investing their money like never before to get the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
As it says in Esther 4:14, we are here at this significant moment in history, “for such a time as this.”
We live in exciting times.
What if at least one more great revival is about to break out not just in California but all over the world?
Open the eyes of our hearts, Jesus.
Help us to see You moving powerfully in 2023 and join You in doing what You do best.
Being the Great Shepherd to a world of lost sheep.
Kimberly Moeller is the San Diego Area Director of the National Christian Foundation, and a speaker who loves to encourage people to be generous with their time, talents, and treasure.