Thirty years ago I traveled as an itinerant, preaching on the streets, in fairgrounds, provincial parks, school auditoriums and in those churches radical enough to have me. We were experiencing amazing revival with thousands coming to Christ throughout the Ottawa Valley (actually, all over eastern Canada and across the United States). In a movement now referred to as “The Jesus People” or “Charismatic Renewal” sleepy, dead churches began to fill up and over flow.
In Merrickville, where we started out, our house was jammed full of people every Tuesday night for Bible study. As many as sixty or more would show up and stay until all hours of the morning. Merrickville Christian Fellowship began with less than a dozen and grew to more than 200 in as little as three years and ninety percent of these came out of non-Church backgrounds. This is even more notable because this all took place in a village of around nine hundred people. Merrickville was dubbed by those Christians living in surrounding towns, “Miracleville.”
Thirty years later many of the churches that once experienced this movement are languishing. The children of ardent Christians are living secular lives with many addicted to drugs and alcohol. There is a sadness and despondency among believers everywhere.
This is how I got to Elgin. When I was traveling and preaching years ago a young man by the name of Brian Hunter came along with me. Several others formed a band and they would open up the meetings with LOUD, unappreciated rock ‘n roll, Keith Green and Larry Norman style music and afterwards, I would preach. Brian is all grown up now, married to Margo and has about four kids in various stages of childhood and adolescence.
Brian met with his pastor, Robert Crump and decided to have me come. They wanted to see something change in their church and community. The Board got behind the idea and so here I was – three days in Elgin, Ontario.
Over the next few blogs, I’d like to tell you some of the story of those days.