[07.22.08] Crowds of people run to the altar, a preteen ushers in the presence of God, signs and wonders abound—all marks, observers say, of a revival that has shaken a Kansas City, Mo., church to its core.
Since May 2 hundreds have gathered at World Revival Center in the heartland city to experience the miraculous power of God.
“I can hardly stand up half the time,” said Casey Lohman, 47, a member of the church for 13 years. “It is that incredible. You’re stumbling for words all of the time.”
Senior pastor Steve Gray said he knew something was different in his congregation after multitudes of people began testifying of miraculous healings.
“The doctors could not get it fixed,” said Jim Conner, referring to a “nagging” pain in his lower back. “No one even laid hands on me. The power of God overwhelmed me and knocked me back. The pain was instantly gone.”
During the four services held every week, many have given testimonies of being healed of blindness, deafness, lameness, high blood pressure and a myriad of other ailments. But what astonishes Gray most are the transformed lives observed after the altar call has ended.
“They’re becoming different people,” Gray told Charisma. “We see the fruit of it. The commitment and desire to love Jesus and to serve Jesus more … than they ever had in their entire life. They have obviously been revived.”
Children and teenagers are also testifying of healings and to the presence of God.
“A lot of the children are receiving as powerful a touch as anyone,” Gray said. “If [the Holy Spirit] doesn’t hit the children then, to me, it’s not a revival.”
The power of God apparently fell so strongly on the congregation one night that Ivan Ramirez,a 9-year-old boy who was praying for congregants at the time, recalled feeling warm, “like a thousand blankets all around me … it felt so good.”
Gray says the presence of God also manifests powerfully in meetings when he opens up his Bible to preach. “It’s so intense that when I preach or when I say God’s moving people just don’t saunter down [to the altar]. They run down,” he said. “I always laugh when people say ‘The Spirit was moving so strongly I couldn’t even preach.’ I always say: ‘That’s probably the time you should have preached.’”
The pastor of the 800-member church says that revivals in the past have had a bad reputation of being “emotional and scripturally weak,” which is why he makes sure he preaches Scripture and sound doctrine.
“We have these tremendous powerful moves of God,” he said. “Then we sit down and we listen to the Word and we let the Word of God do its work in us.”
Gray’s congregation is familiar with revival. The church was the home of the 1996 Smithton Outpouring, which lasted more than five years and drew 225,000 people from every U.S. state and 60 countries worldwide.
Gray doesn’t want to keep silent about the move of God transforming his congregation.
“We want to bring this to every local congregation that we can,” he said. “[We want to] get a hold of the pastors and the leadership of the churches. I think the leadership of America need a fresh touch from God.” —Felicia Mann