A revival began on Father’s Day, June 18, 1995, at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. Millions of people are reported to have attended the revival with more than 100,000 salvations.
The atmosphere of the church was charged with the presence of the Lord. Something happens to saints and sinners alike when we encounter His manifest presence like what was occurring in that place.
One of the hallmarks of the revival was the song “Mercy Seat.” It was sung every evening for five years during the altar call for salvation. It was such a stirring song. A 14-year-old named Charity James sang it for all of those five years.
Recently, I read Charity’s story about the song as told by Teena L. Myers. It really spoke to my heart. It is an amazing illustration of the five loaves and two fishes told in the gospel of Matthew chapter 14.
“Charity had been singing in revivals since she was ten-years-old and had grown weary of the same routine: a church invited a special speaker, she sang a special song, meetings were held daily Wednesday through Sunday. She never witnessed a true deep change in the people and her heart drifted away from her Savior.
The process of restoration began when her mother heard “Mercy Seat” on the radio and believed her daughter was meant to sing it. “I don’t want to hear it,” snapped Charity.
“This is a great song, you need to hear it,” her mother pleaded. Charity consented to listen to the song but didn’t like it. Her mother encouraged her to listen to the song again.
Charity started the song again and listened to the lyrics. “The lyric’s seemed to melt into me. I had never heard a song like this before. That happened shortly before my fourteenth birthday, which is the day before Father’s Day,” said Charity.
On Father’s Day 1995, Charity stood to sing Mercy Seat for the first time in the independent church her family attended. The power of God filled the church. People that Charity had known most of her life came running to the altar. An hour away, Steve Hill stood to preach the now famous sermon that started the Brownsville Revival.
Three weeks later, Charity’s mother, a devout Christian who longed for the presence of God learned about the Brownsville Revival and encouraged Charity to attend. She wasn’t interested in attending another revival but agreed to make the hour-long trip to Brownsville with her mother.
Charity and her mother had attended every night of the Brownsville revival for a week when her mother announced, “Charity, you are supposed to sing “Mercy Seat” here. I know it.” Fearful of singing before the large crowds that the revival attracted Charity said, “No way, that’s not going to happen.”
Undeterred by Charity’s objections her mother spoke to the youth pastor, who brought Charity to the attention of Lindell Cooley, the minister of music at Brownsville. “I was so nervous my knees were knocking when I sang for Lindell. My life changed that day. On the way home, I looked out of the car window at the moon and stars and recommitted my life to Christ. Whatever God wanted me to do, I was ready to yield my life to him.”
Lindell scheduled Charity to sing “Mercy Seat” during the offering the following Friday. She sang the last note and found herself face to face with Steve Hill. “Will you sing that song again during the altar call?” he said. That request resulted in Charity singing “Mercy Seat” every night of the revival for the next five years.
Charity grew thoughtful as she shared her final thoughts. “I didn’t have much to offer God. All I had was a song. He took the little I had and changed the world around me.”
There is so much we can get from this story like the persistence of godly mothers, the unlikely people God will use to do mighty things, and of course, giving God your 5 loaves and two fishes and watching Him change the world around you with them.
I love to read the stories of revivals but even more I long to see corporate revival for myself.
Lord, do it again with us.