What Happened to Brownsville?
In a recent column for Charisma Magazine, Editor J. Lee Grady asks “What happened to Brownsville’s fire? The Florida church that hosted the Brownsville revival has dwindled to a few hundred people. Did it have to end this way?”
Brownsville Assembly of God church in Pensacola Florida was the scene of a massive spiritual ‘disturbance’ starting in 1995. Some called it revival. Others, including myself called it demonically inspired apostasy. Grady reveals that he attended “not only as a reporter but as a hungry seeker.” He should have at least maintained his reporter’s sense of skepticism along with a true Christian’s sense of discernment. Now he wonders how the great ‘outpouring’ has come to naught.
The short version of the story is this. The so called revival was conjured up by Pastor John Kilpatrick and revivalist Steve Hill. It was never more than an extension of the heretical Toronto laughing revival which itself was an offspring of the demonic spirits brought to North America by Rodney Howard Browne.
Like Toronto, the alleged revival at Brownsville was never really about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ but rather strange ‘signs and wonders’ some of which included uncontrollable shaking, barking like dogs, roaring like lions, stumbling around in an apparent state of drunkenness, and seekers rolling on the floor like lunatics.
Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. Is 29:9-10
Scripture equates this type of behavior with God’s judgment rather than revival but that didn’t matter to the leadership of Brownsville because they repeatedly ignored God’s word by claiming that God was doing ‘a new thing’. Those who did come to them with scriptural concerns were dismissed as trouble makers. Many true bible believers left the church never to return. All that was left were undiscerning sheep who were easy prey for wolves like Kilpatrick and Hill.
I ran over to where Hill was praying. He grabbed my head and screamed, “Fire! Fire! More, Lord!” I was one of the thousands who fell backward on that floor. I was not pretending. I felt as if God had placed a heavy blanket of His presence on top of me.
Failure to hold fast to scripture is at the heart of Grady’s problem. He has accepted his own subjective experience as validation of the revival rather than holding to the clear word of God. And the saddest part is that he still doesn’t seem to realize it.
“I don’t question whether the Holy Spirit was in that place. But today, more than 10 years after the Pensacola Outpouring occurred, I am asking other questions. “ Lee Grady
Clearly his experience has dictated his belief that despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Holy Spirit was in that place. In one sense he is correct. It was God who was pouring out a spirit but it wasn’t holy. It was a perverse spirit. This is God’s promise for his people who forsake him and seek other Gods.
The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit. Is 19:14
"I can’t be the judge of what brought Brownsville’s demise. But we must face the facts and learn some lessons, or we will repeat the scenario next time." Lee Grady
If Grady can’t judge a tree by its fruit how will he ever know the difference between the holy and the profane? The truth is that the Brownsville ‘revival’ was a bad tree from the beginning.
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Mat 7:17-19
It is time for people to stop making excuses and admit that Brownsville was never a revival or a Holy Spirit outpouring. Brownsville was one the most obvious cases of Gods judgment upon a harlot apostate church that one could ever imagine. It was a bad tree that brought forth bad fruit just like Jesus said. It left a wake of broken lives, massive debt, and at least two leaders who pocketed millions of dollars before moving on to start churches elsewhere.
The lesson is this. When we move away from God’s word we run the risk of being deceived. You must never, never, never allow experience to trump the word of God. Regardless of how good it feels. No matter who is running the show it is your responsibility before God to study to show yourself approved. God promises that if you will hold to his word you will be justified when you are judged. His word is the only righteous standard. Everything else is a lie.
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. Rom 3:4
When you stand before the God of the universe, the false prophets won’t be there to take the blame for you. You have a bible, use it! If you are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit you are fully capable of hearing from God yourself. You are fully capable of understanding His word and obeying Him
Steve Lumbley 2006