During the late 1700s, many people wondered if the new nation would survive. The United States went down a road that had never been travelled. It was a grand experiment of politics, freedom, and faith. Many historians believe that the First Great [Spiritual] Awakening produced the desire for freedom, brought unity to the people, and enabled the colonists to win their liberty.
It was the Second Great Awakening that once again brought unity to the people and gave them the courage and character to overcome what had the potential to destroy the new experiment. The roots of this spiritual revival took place in the most unlikely place – a cane field in rural Kentucky. A Presbyterian church had experienced a move of God’s Spirit in one of the most crime-ridden areas of the new frontier. Word about the move of God’s Spirit spread rapidly, and more than 25,000 gathered in those fields. The wind of the Spirit blew across the hearts of the people, transforming the culture and character of the nation.
I’ve visited that historic site and was amazed at some of the things I learned. There were several truths that captured my heart after I arrived in that field in rural Kentucky.
It was the first truly American revival. The First Great Awakening took place because of great men and women who had come from Britain. But, this work of God was a genuine American experience. Americans will never understand Evangelicals until they understand what happened in the Cane Ridge Revival.
It was egalitarian. This was a time when people were categorized by their race and economic status. However, whites, blacks, Native Americans, free persons, and slaves all worshiped together. A spirit of brotherhood filled their hearts.
It transformed cultural norms. Although many of the Christians in the South held to slavery, the Second Great Awakening produced a number of abolitionists. The leaders of the Cane Ridge Revival came under conviction about slavery and freed their slaves.
Lives were dramatically changed by the preaching of the cross. Testimonies abounded about the hardest and meanest of people being transformed by God’s power when they placed their faith in Jesus.
The revival was multiplied through common, ordinary people. There were no huge sound systems in those days. So, how did they communicate to the 25,000 people who had gathered? They had “exhorters” who went from campsite to campsite, calling people to repentance. They trained those who exemplified the character of Christ to reach others with the message of the gospel. Those who came to Christ then filled the frontier with the message that Jesus changes lives and forgives sin.
Satan always attempts to counterfeit the real thing. God changed lives. Many of the experiences of those who came to Christ were very dramatic. However, frauds emerged. They attempted to duplicate the external without experiencing the eternal.
Immediately following the birth of the new nation, an Evangelical revival was birthed. It had been bathed in prayer, dispelled the darkness, and perhaps saved the nation. One can only look to the cane fields of Kentucky and wonder what it will take for God to send another great awakening. You may want to keep your eyes open and your ears attentive. The wind of God could blow in a place you never expected.