What does 1798 have in common with 2014? More than you might think – at least in America. Many Christians bemoan the situation we face today, but it’s not too unlike the circumstances of the church shortly after we established our nation and declared our freedom.
Two friends, Bill Elliff and Byron Paulus, have just written a book to call America to pray for spiritual awakening. In their book, One Cry, they cite research from Bob Bakke, a mutual friend as well as an authority on the Second Great Awakening. Bob lists some of the conditions found in America at the close of the 18th century: “eight years of war, pirates and terrorist threats, bankruptcy, real estate collapse, plagues, the Enlightenment, social unrest, Universalism, French ‘Reign of Terror,’ famine, political rancor, nasty elections, coarse sensuality, and empty churches.
”It sounds much like the conditions in which we find ourselves. It’s very interesting to note that when God set about to change the nation in the late 1700s, He chose one of the darkest places in which to pour out His Spirit – Logan County, Kentucky, also known as Rogue’s Harbor.
The famed preacher, Peter Cartwright, described the area in his autobiography: “Murderers, horse thieves, highway robbers, and counterfeiters fled here until they combined and actually formed a majority. ”God’s stars seem to shine brightest on the darkest nights, in the most dangerous places, and the most dreadful circumstances.
Cartwright described what took place next. “Somewhere between 1800 and 1801, in the upper part of Kentucky,at a memorable place called Cane Ridge, there was appointed a sacramental meeting by some of the Presbyterian ministers, at which meeting, seemingly unexpected by ministers or people, the mighty power of God was displayed in a very extraordinary manner; many were moved to tears, and bitter and loud crying for mercy…. Thousands heard of the mighty work, and came on foot, on horseback, in carriages and wagons. “It was supposed that there were in attendance at times during the meeting from twelve to twenty-five thousand people. Hundreds fell prostrate under the mighty power of God, as men slain in battle.