The first part of this article is derived from Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Revival Fire: Discerning Between the True & the False, available from Amazon and at www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.
(1970) Praying quietly, my two friends and I walked back and forth in the tiny Sunday school room. This was something we had been doing regularly for several months without much happening, it seemed. But this afternoon was different. Suddenly, it seemed that the heavens opened, and the glory and power of God descended on us.
First, my friend, Charles, fell to floor and lay there weeping. This was followed by my other friend, Ruel, also falling under the power of God’s Spirit. (We didn’t know about “catchers” at the time.) I didn’t fall, but as I continued walking back and forth, praising God, a sense of awe came over me and I felt a burning sensation, beginning in my solar plexus, spreading across my chest. Like a thick, warm liquid, it spread slowly across my chest, through my shoulders, and down my arms to my elbows. Suddenly, for the first time, I experienced a gift of the Holy Spirit and I began to prophesy.
I am not sure how long this experience lasted, but after the glory of the moment had somewhat subsided, we sat down and talked about what had just happened. Charles said that, while he was lying on the floor, the palms of his hands began to burn as if he were holding hot coals of fire. He said that the heat started in his palms and extended up his arms to his elbows. Then, suddenly, he saw clouds swirling in the room—no one else saw this—and Jesus stood before him with His hands outstretched and said, “From this time forth, you will be used in the gifts of healings.”
Ruel then shared his experience and I shared mine. We were in awe and filled with joy and expectation. What was God about to do?
A Deep Hunger to Know God and His Power
I was 23 years old at this time and had recently returned home to northeast Texas after three years in the U.S. Army. Charles, too, had recently returned home after serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. We had both been raised in Christian homes, but had strayed from the faith as teenagers and soldiers. After returning home from military service, however, we both had rededicated our lives to Jesus and were attending the small, rural Assembly of God in Chicota, Texas, pastored by my Dad, Clarence Hyatt.
Having a deep hunger to know God and His power in a more intimate way, both Charles and I began to meet for about an hour before each church service to discuss Scripture and pray. We were also fasting, praying, and studying the Bible in our individual, personal lives. We had been seeking God in this way for several months when the visitation came that Sunday afternoon, about an hour before the regular service was scheduled to begin. That experience and what followed marked our lives forever.
Revival Breaks Out.
I don’t know exactly how it happened, but what we experienced in that tiny Sunday school room flowed out and into the congregation. It wasn’t that we imparted anything by preaching or laying hands on people because, at that time, we had no part in the leadership of the church. We neither preached nor prayed with people. In fact, we were both so shy that it was hard for either of us to lift our hands during praise and worship. To give even a one-minute testimony was an almost impossible challenge. So, we did not stir things up with testimonies of our experience. In fact, except that Charles told his wife, Delilah, what had happened, we told no one.
Nonetheless, a powerful work of the Holy Spirit began in that little, country church that impacted the entire area. People began to get saved, baptized in the Holy Spirit, and miraculously healed. People were even healed in their homes, as prayer was offered for them at church.
At the same time, Holy Spirit conviction was gripping people throughout the community. One night, for example, a man who was not a believer knocked on our door in the middle of the night, wanting prayer because he was under such powerful conviction by the Holy Spirit.
Word spread that God was doing something significant at the Chicota Assembly of God, and people flocked to the services from throughout northeast Texas and southeastern Oklahoma.
I recall what happened one evening when the service was about to conclude—or so we thought. It was about 10 p.m. and the little wooden building was filled with people because God was working powerfully in our midst. The pastor gave the benediction and sat down, but no one moved because a sense of awe seemed to have settled over the congregation. We sat quietly, not knowing what to do next, but sensing that God was not finished.
Then we watched as God orchestrated events. First, the front door opened and a young man walked in and made his way to the front where he knelt in prayer, giving his life to Jesus. Then, others came through the door, wanting to give their lives to Jesus. During the next hour, 17 people from outside the church were apprehended by the Holy Spirit and came through the doors and surrendered their lives to Jesus. This, of course, caused great rejoicing throughout the house.
About 11 p.m., I went outside for a breath of fresh air, where I observed with my own eyes how God was working so powerfully outside the building. Two young fellows, Billy and Rayburn, known in the community as “party animals,” were standing by Rayburn’s car. Rayburn was bent over the hood of his car, face down, weeping. Billy was pacing back and forth, saying,
“Let’s go! Let’s go!”
I had never known of Billy or any of his family even to visit a church, so I assumed he wanted to get out of there. Curious, I asked,
“Where are you going?”
He looked at the church building with a mixture of longing and fear in his eyes and, in a solemn tone, replied,
“There is something in there. I’ve got to go in there.”
I said, “Ok. Let’s go!” and walked with them to the front door. When I opened the door, they literally ran to the front of the church and fell across the altar bench, joining others, as they called out to God with all their might. I could only stand and watch in amazement. That meeting lasted until 1:30 a.m.
Teenagers Saved Without a Youth Program.
Many teenagers were saved in this revival, yet there was no youth pastor and no organized youth program. Of course, in the midst of genuine Revival Fire, programs are never an issue. Instead, fellowship tends to be spontaneous. One weekend, for example, a number of the young men decided that they would have an all-night outing at Pat Mayse Lake, a popular recreation area near our community. On the night of their outing, I decided to find them and see how they were doing.
It was a warm, summer night and I had my car windows rolled down as I drove slowly around the lake, passing the RVs, boats, and campers with their flickering lights. Finally, I heard loud praying in the distance, and as I followed the sound of prayer, I located them. Their hearts were so on fire for the Lord that they spent the entire night in fervent prayer. When I left them, I thought,
“The campers and boaters in the area must think that these are the strangest bunch of teenagers they have ever seen.”
Such is the state of things in the midst of genuine Revival Fire!
I Preach My First Sermon.
My Dad recognized that God was doing a good work in Charles and me, and so he gave us responsibility to lead the regular Friday night service. It quickly became the largest meeting of the week, even exceeding the Sunday morning meeting in attendance.
People didn’t come for a celebrity preacher, special music, or planned events. They came because God was working so powerfully. We had none of the things that we think are necessary for having revival today. We did not have the confidence or the skills to put on an exciting meeting. We could neither sing nor preach. We had to have God! God responded to the cries of our hearts and what happened was not the result of emotional hype and religious manipulation. It was an outpouring of God’s sovereign grace and love. Gifts of the Holy Spirit flowed and lives were transformed by the power of God.
This revival lasted for about two years, and during that time, I preached my first sermon. In spite of the fact that it was only five minutes long and I had it memorized, when I finished, there was a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit. In fact, as I look back on that meeting and that revival, I realize that it was, in its entirety, a sovereign work of God’s Holy Spirit.
Again, let me say that we had none of the props that we think are necessary to have revival. We had no praise band, no worship team, and no special singers. (In fact, I am convinced that good, Christian entertainment today is often mistaken for revival.) We had no famous preachers, just some down-to-earth folks pouring their hearts out to God.
That was over 35 years ago. A lot has happened since then. Ruel recently died from a heart attack. The devil tried his best to destroy Charles and the calling on his life. For many years he worked as a mechanic. Recently, he began experiencing the stirrings of God in his heart and decided to begin having meetings in his mechanic shop.
This Saturday evening (Feb. 6) at 7 p.m. I will be with him for a “Biblical Awakening” event. If you are looking for a place of worship with beautiful décor and comfortable surroundings, you don’t want to come to this meeting. However, if you are sincerely hungry to know God and His word and power, this meeting may be for you. The meeting place is 2110 Old Bonham Road in Paris, TX. If you need further directions go to mapquest or call 903-739-2556.