Tuesday, September 14, 1999

Free revival draws thousands

Awake America mixes God, music

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Firstar Center took on the feel of a rural revival tent Monday evening, as more than 6,000 people from eight states gathered there to get closer to God.

        An hour before Awake America — a free, two-day evangelical-style revival — a diverse, devout crowd chatted and prayed while others knelt, faces to the ground, in silent homage on a plush blue carpet spread before the stage.

        Contemporary Christian rock and folk music bellowed from massive speakers, calling dozens to dance, arms held high and swaying, on the floor of the hockey arena.

        Pat Steinbrunner came to the revival from Dayton, Ohio, for a “closer walk with the Lord.” The 69-year-old grandmother said the revival-goers were guaranteed new revelations.

        “Every time you get close to him, you get changed,” Mrs. Steinbrunner said.

        Changing lives is a goal of Awake America organizers. The event is modeled after a revival started by the Brownsville Assembly of God Church in Pensacola, Fla. The Brownsville worship sessions began on Father's Day 1995 and have reportedly drawn 4.5 million people from 110 countries. The message of Brownsville spread, and soon organizers were inundated with requests from ministers across the country to bring the Brownsville crusade to various cities.

        As the Cincinnati event began, a minister issued the first of the evening's many altar calls to draw the crowds to the stage for redemption.

        Hugh Hunt, Awake America's associate national coordinator, said Cincinnati is the 17th host city. He said an average of 4,000 people in each city have repented and been saved by Jesus.

        “We feel like America needs to repent,” Mr. Hunt said. “The unsaved people who don't know the Lord at all, come to Awake America and get saved.”

        More than $90,000 was raised by a collaboration of churches in Cincinnati to bring the Brownsville fire here.

        “In a real sense, this effort is a gift of the churches of Cincinnati to Cincinnati,” the Rev. Mr. Dukes said.

        Downtown resident Michael Bailey, 39, was one of the thousands sharing that intense hunger for God. Monday's gathering was his first time at such a large revival.

        “You definitely feel the spirit of God moving you,” he said


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