Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Prophecy for Appalachia

 
A Prophecy for Appalachia

Appalachia has been the object of ridicule for many, many years.  We have borne the "Beverly Hillbillies" stereotype for too long.  The real ignorance is among those who verbalize such bigoted nonsense.  We have a rich heritage of God in this beautiful and historic region.

The largest ethnic group in Appalachia is the Scots - Irish, who left their native land by the thousands long ago.  Due to generations of atrocities by the English in their motherland, they did not settle in the English Tidewater of Virginia.   They chose the wild, mountain wilderness of Appalachia to call home.

As early as the 1500's, great awakenings swept through Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Marvelous awakenings occurred during the summer Presbyterian "Sacramental Services" (communion services).  June marked the beginning of these high holy days. Thousands were swept into the Kingdom of God.  The Scots-Irish immigrants brought that same faith and heritage of revival with them to Appalachia.  The Sacramental Service was the forefather of the unique Appalachian phenomena - the camp meeting.

The Second Great Awakening in 1801 exploded in all its divine glory in Appalachia at a Scots - Irish Presbyterian communion service at Cane Ridge, Kentucky.  In this backwoods log church, one-tenth of the population of Kentucky came by foot, wagon and horseback to the astonishment of the pastor of the church, Barton Stone.  Between 20,000 to 30,000 not only came but stayed for seven days!  Even the Governor of Kentucky attended.  The heavens were rent and God came down!   Thousands of lives were radically changed by the New Birth.   Miraculous signs, wonders, and healings were common place.  At least a thousand fell to the ground under the power of the Holy Spirit. Forgetting their denominational allegiances, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist labored together.  The Awakening swept through Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and throughout the South.  What is called the "Bible Belt of the South" today is nothing more than a residue of this Great Move of God.  God turned horse thieves, murderers, drunkards, adulterers and sinners into men and women of great piety.  The Awakening changed the very fabric of Southern society.  It still is the foundation of culture in the South today!!

Some historians have stated that the Second Great Awakening bypassed West Virginia.  THIS IS NOT TRUE!!
During the time of the great Cane Ridge revival, Presbyterians were meeting in the farm house of William Poage in Hillsboro, Pocahontas County, Virginia (West Virginia).  Meetings were held in homes before the church building was erected.  On one special night in 1801, many had gathered at the Poage home to hear the testimonies of two young men who had come from the Great Cane Ridge Awakening.  Traveling by horseback and buggy, 20 young people and their pastor, Rev. William Wilson, from Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg came also to hear these men.  As the young men began to tell of the wonders that they experienced at Cane Ridge,  the Holy Spirit fell upon the hearers.  The Glory of the Lord filled the Poage home.  The saints of God wept, shouted, fell under the power of the Holy Spirit and sang the glories of the Lord.  The Second Great Awakening had arrived in Hillsboro!!  As the believers left that cottage prayer service, the power of God swept throughout Hillsboro and Pocahontas County.  The pastor of Old Stone Church and his young people headed over the mountain for Lewisburg shouting, singing and praising God.  The Awakening hit Old Stone Church and Lewisburg like a hurricane.  From there, the Second Great Awakening swept all over West Virginia!  Thousands were converted.
  
Appalachian people have either lost or forgotten their rich spiritual heritage.  We have bought into the cultural inferiority complex imposed upon us by today's dominant culture.  NO MORE!!!!  Appalachian people have responded to every great move of God in unprecedented numbers!   We must understand and recapture our rich spiritual heritage. God is about to visit us again!

As I stood on the site of the old Poage farm, I pondered the holy things that had taken place there.  I felt a residue of Divine Presence still remaining.  I wept and offered up a prayer to the Father to "do it again, Lord!"  Finney once said, "The Lord our God be with us as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us or forsake us."   We have abandoned the God of our fathers.  Like the prodigal son, we must repent and make our way back home to Him.

The Holy Spirit is now hovering and brooding over Appalachia.  The very heavens above us are heavy with His Presence.  Heaven is about to rain down upon us! God is going to visit Appalachia once again!  As the old prophet said, "I hear the sound of abundance of rain!"  God has not forgotten you, oh Appalachia!

"In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines ... will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord's house and will water the valley of acacias."  Joel 3:18
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