I became a Christian in 1970 at the height of the Jesus People Movement. But my conversion — at the same time as my mother and stepfather — was in a farming community in the Central Valley of California. Our country church seemed a world away from what was happening in Costa Mesa, San Francisco, and other hot spots where God was moving among the youth.
But then I discovered Larry Norman. He seemed like an odd guy to me at the time, but I really liked his music. “Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation” and “Unidentified Flying Object” played regularly on my Buick’s eight-track tape deck. I was intrigued by this hippie’s undeniable commitment to Jesus Christ and was encouraged by his faith. Then I discovered Love Song, Mustard Seed Faith, Second Chapter of Acts and other Jesus People groups. But Keith Green, above all, inspired me to rise above a complacent, domesticated form of Christianity through his passionate, Jesus-focused, music. His 1978 album, No Compromise, was an especially moving collection of his songs.
God was working in a powerful way in the ’70s through some of the most unlikely means. But the impact was incredible. I have met so many people who were saved during the Jesus People Movement — including some professors at Talbot!
In our feature article for this issue, Ed Stetzer and Andrew MacDonald point to the zeal for evangelism that characterized so much of the movement. And that was my impression of what was happening across Southern California. So many thousands of people were becoming Christians and following Christ. But this revival was not happening only here; it was happening across the nation.
In his article on the movement, Oscar Merlo asks, “Can the Holy Spirit do this again?” He answers with a resounding YES! I agree and pray that it happens soon. There is an increasingly desperate need for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit’s work across our nation. We need the Spirit not only to set us ablaze to share the good news of redemption in Christ, but for the Spirit to work powerfully in transforming the lives of Christians and shaping us more into the image of our precious Lord.
I look forward to the Ablaze Conference on October 7–9, 2021. We want to ask God to stir a genuine revival. We have much to celebrate and learn from the past. But we long to be in step with the Holy Spirit of God who can do a great work once again.