Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thirty-Year Anniversary of Mother's Day Outpouring

Canyon High School gym where God poured
out His Spirit thirty years ago on Mother's Day

Follow this link for a video and background to the
Jesus People and Third Wave Revivals.

This Mother’s Day is the 30-year anniversary of an outpouring of the Spirit that gave birth to a very powerful revival that went out to the nations and affected many lives, including my own.
Known by a few different monikers including “The Third Wave Revival” (named thus by missiologist and Fuller Seminary Professor Peter Wagner who includes it as one of the three most important outpourings in the Twentieth Century) it has also been called the “Vineyard Revival” and, though this may be a more popular term, I prefer Wagner’s term because the roots and the reach of the outpouring went way outside the bounds of the Vineyard movement.
Thirty years ago John Wimber, pastor of the then called Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda, had Lonnie Frisbee come share his testimony for a service which happened to be on Mother’s Day. Frisbee had previously been the instrumental evangelist in the Jesus People Revival, a movement which had given rise to the growth of Calvary Chapel churches—as well as being the leading evangelist at Calvary Costa Mesa, Frisbee had also actually led now well-known evangelist Greg Laurie to the Lord, discipled him, and started his church out in Riverside, now known as the mega church Harvest Christian Fellowship—though Frisbee never received much credit for all God did through him (follow this link for more on the Jesus People Revival and the Third Wave Revival.)

What ensued on that Mother’s Day has been the subject of multiple books (1), articles, research, documentaries, and even seminary discussions. Frisbee basically just shared his testimony, which was nothing unusual. What happened afterwards was what turned things on their head. Straight after his testimony, as Frisbee began to invite the Holy Spirit to move on this pretty straight-laced evangelical group, the Spirit of God began to be poured out in radical power. People who didn’t even believe in speaking in tongues began to speak in tongues; in fact as the Spirit moved on people and knocked some over to the ground, a dog pile of young people fell near the front inundated by the power of the Spirit, and one of them ended up on top of a microphone crying out in tongues over the amplification system which seemed to cause a reverberation of the Spirit’s power throughout the meeting. An all out radical outpouring of the Holy Ghost took over. Wimber, who had no idea what was happening, was completely perplexed and in his own words “fit to be tied.”

After such a wild service he was at first angry, but as he began to pray and examine the Bible, he came to the conclusion that “Lord, maybe this is from you.” In the middle of the night he received a call from Tom Stipe, a fellow Calvary Pastor who knew nothing of what had happened that day and had a word from God for him. Calling in the literal middle of the night Stipe told Wimber that he had been kept awake all night long with this word from God for him: “John, the Lord says ‘This is [of] Me.’ ” With the word from God confirming this was of the Lord and a fresh examination of the Scriptures, Wimber had what in the lingua of Fuller Theological Seminary, where he had previously taught, was now his very own experience, a complete paradigm shift, and went forward full force with what God had just done.

That Mother’s Day outpouring sparked a revival that continued on at full throttle. The church in Yorba Linda tripled in size over that very year and many, many people began to get saved, filled, healed, delivered as well as experiencing the outpouring and fullness of the Spirit in their own lives.

In time a team was assembled from the Yorba Linda church that went out to different nations with Wimber and Frisbee doing conferences on the subject of “The Power of God,” further spreading and widening the acclaim of this move of God.

This outpouring was made even more prominent by Wimber’s subsequent course at Fuller Seminary entitled “MC510 – Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth” which became the most popular course in the mainline evangelical seminary’s history.

Some people just don’t know a good thing when they have it, as Fuller eventually caved to those whining about people getting healed on campus, like when Prof. Peter Wagner got healed of high blood pressure during a class by Wimber. The view that prevailed was that a seminary should be a place for mere extracted thought and not practice and so Wimber was pushed out, but not without having had a huge impact on the place and those attending.

I was blessed to attend one of the last classes Wimber taught there with Wagner, which had been synthesized with some other issues to keep the basic course and idea going titled “Spiritual Issues and Church Growth.” The Signs and Wonders name was just too potent for some, so the name was dumbed down a bit, but the basic premise was the same: the Power of God as seen in the Bible is integral to the spread of God’s Kingdom on earth—why such a clearly biblical topic should be so difficult for some to stomach is still hard to figure out.

Like Dr. John White says in his book When the Spirit Comes with Power (another book that recorded these events): When one steps out to radically follow God he is usually met with scorn by those who hold to the status quo, later on however he is often given an honorary doctorate—usually posthumously—by those who finally realize the contribution he has made to the community of believers. Such is the case with figures like William Seymour who is only now, a century later, being recognized by publications like Christianity Today as one of the top ten most important Christian leaders in the Twentieth Century. Previous to this, Seymour received mostly the obligatory scorn from the larger Christian community for founding the Pentecostal Revival. Surely the same pattern is already starting to emerge for Frisbee and Wimber as even many who had no connection to this revival are looking back, documenting its events, and seeing the major contribution to the Body of Christ of these two as well as other players who played pivotal roles.

Political correctness ruling the day, Wimber’s Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda was eventually given the left foot of fellowship and asked to find itself a new name, not one with “Calvary Chapel” in it and so joined up with another former Calvary Chapel leader named Ken Gulliksen and his small group of churches called “The Vineyard.” Folk singer Bob Dylan was hanging around these fellowships back then and radical things continued to happen and spread as the Vineyard movement with Wimber taking the helm became a major force for renewal and revival over time.
Frisbee’s impact on both Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard has been mostly understated and underreported. His impact, however, in both these movements is huge and instrumental. (Click here for more info on Calvary Chapel history)
Wimber’s first ever “Power Encounter” took place when Frisbee ministered on that Mother’s Day service, according to Wimber’s own words in his book Power Evangelism. The fact that his four books Power Evangelism, Power Healing, Power Points, and Power Encounters as well as his conferences on “The Power of God” are all based and flow out of that seminal encounter, clearly demonstrates the enormous impact of Frisbee’s influence on Wimber’s subsequent thought and practice, thought and practice that had a huge impact on the body of Christ.
Nothing ever happens in a vacuum and the Third Wave/Vineyard Revival itself was actually rooted in the Jesus People Revival, which interestingly enough, has itself roots that tie back to the Pentecostals—both Lonnie Frisbee and Chuck Smith were originally in the Pentecostal movement. Chuck Smith was originally a Foursquare Pentecostal Preacher and Frisbee originally came to Christ as a youth at a Pentecostal camp. John Wimber’s own spiritual roots are from the Quakers, itself an early radical revival movement that sprung up in England and the American Colonies but which later became mainstream, seemingly being led back to his true roots unaware.
Furthermore, one of the most interesting things I’ve noticed is how much the Third Wave/ Vineyard Revival as well as the Pentecostal Revival so closely resemble powerful historical revivals of the past: The Great Awakening as well as the Camp Meetings along with the English Revivals all experienced similar outpourings and manifestations which were duly noted by some of their leaders and participants, something I’ll expand on more at another time.
My Own Experience in Context

Bryan Marleaux in the tube.  (Photo © Surfshot)

Quiksilver Ad: Bryan Marleaux (2nd from right) and Mark "Smerk" Mangan (far right).

The unexpected outpouring of the Spirit way back on Mother’s Day in the high school gym where Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda (later to become Vineyard Anaheim) held its services, turned life upside down in a good way for many people, myself included.
I was dragged to one of its services by others, hoping to receive healing for an injured knee that was putting the brakes on my surfing/life-guarding/modeling career. I had been surfing the amateur circuits for years where contemporaries like Tom Curren and eventually Kelly Slater were making their mark, it was a wild time to be involved in such a sport (find out more about this time and experience by clicking here) definitely a season of great change in many aspects of society. I had been influenced to turn pro by my sponsor Quiksilver and shortly after I did, I had a massive knee injury while surfing, which brought my new venture to a complete halt. Having appeared recently in an advertisement in Surfing Magazine for Quiksilver, the pressure was on to get healed up and get back on track with things. And so it was that I went to this odd church up in Yorba Linda with the goal of getting my knee healed and moving on with my life, having no idea of the whitewater rapids I was about to be thrown into.
Like being thrown into a raging river, I entered into this weird gym with people holding their hands up in the air and singing what seemed like songs that never ended, all just connecting together for what seemed like forever.
Due to the lack of windows and air conditioning in the gym the place was about as hot as a Swedish sauna. I looked around as some were singing with hands raised, others were crying or laughing, and some had even fallen over or off their seats, while still others seemed to be muttering strange languages. All I could equate it with was a Shriners Circus I’d been to as a kid where my friend and I were the only ones without a disability and where I spent more time looking at everyone around me than at the performance itself.
Here I was in this church that met in a school gym sweating every ounce of fluid out of my body, listening to all this singing and mesmerized by people crying and laughing for no reason whatsoever.
Finally after all this endless singing the speaker John Wimber, did his best to ramble on in the unbearable heat for a while and finally wiped his sweaty face and said, “ You know, it’s really hot in here, let’s move on to some ministry.” And then got down to the reason I came and sent all those who wanted prayer for healing to a back room.
I was expecting some kind of mini miracle service in that back room but instead found a completely disorganized mess with what seemed like just regular people praying for one another. I was expecting someone in a three-piece suit to be throwing crutches in the air and proclaiming people healed but nothing really significant seemed to be happening here.

Bryan being prayed over by Lonnie Frisbee and Jill Austin.

Then a crazy hippie guy seemed to take charge of things—I remembered having seen him before at the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa church as well as at a small group one time where I also happened to be dragged to by some other people.
This small group I had gone to before had been another endless singing escapade, singing and singing all night long. I got bored at one point and started singing too rather than just looking around the room, just to make the time pass faster. All of a sudden something happened when I started singing, that same crazy hippie guy, who I later found out was Lonnie Frisbee from Calvary Chapel, came up behind me and placed his hands on me. Immediately something happened where I felt the warmth and love of God come over me just momentarily. I’d never experienced that before.
When the small group meeting ended I told some people outside what had happened, and their response to me was: “Don’t you know anything about the Holy Spirit? That was the Holy Spirit starting to come on you.”
I told them that the guy over there had prayed over me without even asking me or anything. Someone said, “Hey, that’s Lonnie Frisbee. Everywhere he goes radical things happen!”
Now, here a little later on, as I was in that back room of the gym at Calvary Yorba Linda just kind of looking around and thinking, “This is a big disappointment. This thing isn’t even organized.” And suddenly out of nowhere something began to happen to me, this heavy feeling of God’s presence just began to come over me. I suddenly began to feel an incredible sense of God’s presence multiplied exponentially a thousand times over, God and His glory were right there with and upon me. All at once I began to be overwhelmed by God’s manifest glory, and like those people I had watched mesmerized whom I thought were disabled and/or strange out in the gym, I was starting to cry and then laugh and then cry and then laugh and on and on for no visible reason whatsoever. His love and grace began to be downloaded from my head into my heart at light speed and it was overwhelming me. Waves of something like liquid love began to wash over and over me, again and again.
Next, Lonnie Frisbee, while standing on some wrestling mats, started pointing at me and praying over me and saying stuff over me; I didn’t know at that time that he was speaking prophetic words over me. He started yelling that the Spirit of God was moving powerfully now on this young guy here as he prayed over me. It was like being thrown into an ocean of God’s presence and suddenly, gloriously, drowning in His tangible mercy and grace. I became so overwhelmed I couldn’t stand up anymore and some people sat me down on some rolled up wrestling mats where they prayed for me as I continued to get hammered, being baptized in the Holy Spirit for the next three and a half to four hours at least.
When I finally opened my eyes from what seemed like an altered state of consciousness, the place that had been full was now almost empty. Without a doubt I had been in the presence of God in a major way. It was an encounter with God that would change my life forever.
Much like the people Paul encountered on the way to Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7) who believed in Jesus but knew nothing of the Holy Spirit or His power, I had been in that same boat. Paul had immediately prayed for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit though they had limited knowledge, likewise God didn’t wait for me to take a course on the Holy Spirit before he filled me to overflowing. The gift came without any knowledge, effort, study or merit on my part whatsoever. Just like the Bible teaches, “You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, to…all who have been called by the Lord our God.” (Acts 2:38-39.) In my limited knowledge, I had the same experience as those Ephesians Paul prayed for, getting filled unaware and even speaking in tongues later while praying at home after this.
This was a life-changing event, my life was completely transformed at this point as I began to pray and read the Bible regularly, something I never had done much of before, and I also began to realize that God had a higher purpose and calling for me regarding serving Him and ministry versus just doing and pursuing my own thing.
Being baptized with the Holy Spirit like this brought a complete paradigm shift in my thinking regarding the reality of God’s love and presence and the reality of His call and purpose for my life, which soon began to be played out as I began to witness to others and even lead others to Christ and eventually even starting a Bible Study with those I’d led to Christ where we had our own Holy Ghost times. And so it was that I was led into ministry and became a witness of God’s grace, love, and power by God’s Spirit soon after being filled with the Holy Spirit just like Jesus says will happen. (Acts 1:8.)
God brought healing to my knee, though I still had to suffer through that cast and doing some weights to get rid of the atrophy for a while. It was a break in time that took me away from just going after my own pursuits. 

I was brought into the reality of God’s presence and love and grace in a way that I had never heard nor knew could happen and then was directed into God’s call and ministry all through the work and power of His Spirit.
Mine is just one of countless testimonies of so many whose lives were changed and impacted for good in this revival.

We were blessed to connect with Lonnie Frisbee later and as good friends learned many important lessons in that discipleship time.
The Third Wave/Vineyard Revival went on to spread out to many different parts of the country and different nations, bringing renewal and reviving many.
This is just one of many of God’s great outpourings throughout the centuries that traces itself all the way back to the Day of Pentecost recorded in the Book of Acts where Jesus’ words were fulfilled: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Video of Jesus People
Video of Bryan's Testimony

(1) When the Spirit Comes With Power by John White; Power Evangelism by John Wimber; The Quest for the Radical Middle by Bill Jackson.