"Four days on the National Mall for a new Jesus Movement" was the theme of Awaken the Dawn, a MASSIVE charismatic prayer and praise event that took place in DC in early October, 2017. It was pretty impressive. Each evening tens of thousands of 'Holy Spirit filled' people packed the field north of the Smithsonian castle to weep, shout and praise God. A good number of big name speakers like Francis Chan and Lou Engle graced the stage, each calling for personal transformation and national revival. Each day and on into the night smaller crowds gathered at 50 tents representing each state in the US and continued to pray and worship. People sang, danced and embraced each other. They had visions, spoke in tongues, experienced healing and spoke prophecies. What's more they vowed to turn America back to God and end the scourge of abortion.
Sounds pretty good, right? I want to agree. Even though I'm not terribly comfortable with the emphasis on signs and wonders, the emphasis on repentance and renewal alone would give me hope that this event just might spark a new Jesus Movement and finally begin to turn the tide in the disastrous "culture war" that has, among other things, brought us 56 million dead children.
But there's a problem. Living in the DC area, I see this sort of thing a lot. This city is no stranger to enormous gatherings of all sorts, many of them Christian in nature. Outward acts of contrition and promises of re-dedication are pretty common at events like that, as they are in many of our churches. I don't think this is anything new. But talk is cheap, and the church is to be known by her fruit. Good fruit is the best indicator of a Christian's health, and that of the church as a whole. After years and years of extravagant 'revivals', do we see fruit commensurate to our rhetoric?
I would submit ... no. I see a church big on emotionally charged experiences but sparse on Christians who sacrifice personal agendas, career plans, family plans, money, security and freedom to save their preborn neighbor's life. Such facts force me to draw the painful conclusion that most of the beautiful words and 'manifestations of the Holy Spirit' we see at events like Awaken the Dawn are lacking in legitimacy.
"A new Jesus Movement" they say. But what did the first Jesus Movement of the 1970s accomplish? I don't know exactly, but I know this: it didn't stop abortion and it didn't apprehend the downward spiral of American society into base depravity. If we want to reverse either of those abominations, we'll have to do better. The fact that Awaken the Dawn models itself after the Jesus Movement is not an encouraging sign. After all, he who doesn't learn from the past is ... well, you know.
Optimists will note that at least some hearts are being changed, and have been changed, through events like Awaken the Dawn. I believe that. But since it seems manifestly unlikely to be the norm, and since ending abortion demands the awakening of the church as a body, it is essential that we who are trying to take the fight seriously not refrain from exhorting and even chastising those who (deliberately or unintentionally) don't.
This video is the first of perhaps several videos we plan to create out of the footage we acquired why challenging believers at Awaken the Dawn October 6-9, 2017. Please watch and consider how powerfully God could move through these people, and will move through them, once they make themselves vessels willing to do works as mighty as their words.