Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Heart to Reach the World

Leslie Basham: In the 1980s, Sammy Tippit visited a Romanian church that had been persecuted by the government.

Sammy Tippit: By the time the service started, it was not only packed, but people were standing down the aisles, standing outside all around. There was not room inside the church for the people.

Leslie: How does a church like that grow in the face of persecution? We’ll hear about it on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, August 14.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Ever since I was a young girl, probably twelve or thirteen years of age, I have had deep in my heart a longing to see God send revival and spiritual awakening to our world, and we’ve talked about that often on Revive Our Hearts.

You’ve heard me explain perhaps that revival is not, first and foremost, something for the lost world around us, but that it’s a need within the church for the people of God. “Will you not revive us again,” Psalm 85 says, “that your people may rejoice in you?” (v. 6) But I think it’s important to remember that when God revives His people, there will be an effect on those who are outside the church.

My friend Sammy Tippit is an international revivalist and evangelist. He has a heart to see God revive His Church and to see that revival impact lost sinners outside the church. Not long ago I heard Sammy speak at an event that was called “A Vision Gathering.” It was hosted by Life Action Ministries, which is the parent ministry of Revive Our Hearts. As I heard Sammy speak that day, I thought, We need to share this message with our Revive Our Hearts’ listeners.

I think it will give you a fresh burden to believe God for revival among His people, but I hope it will also give you a greater desire to share the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, with those who don’t yet belong to Him.

Now, at this conference, Sammy was asked to explain the connection between revival and evangelism. Let’s listen.

Sammy: I am so thrilled to be able to do that because if I were to tell you who I am . . . When people ask me, “Who are you, and what do you do?” I am a revivalist evangelist.

Now, I want to explain what that means, and that’s what I’m going to do in this session—to explain what the connection between revival and evangelism is and what a revivalist evangelist is.

In the mission statement of our ministry, it simply says this: “We exist to glorify God by reaching the world for Jesus Christ.” That is what an evangelist is. That is what an evangelist does. He has one purpose: To glorify God by reaching people for Jesus Christ.

But in our vision statement, we say this: That we believe that evangelism is best done through a revived church.” So we commit ourselves to reviving God’s people, and we have done that over the past forty-three years in our ministry, principally because of a couple of things.

One is that my ministry was born in a great revival that resulted in many, many people coming to know Jesus Christ.

In 1970, my wife and I had been married about a year-and-a-half when I was asked to go to Monroe, Louisiana. I met a guy in New Orleans who just was aflame for Jesus. He loved Jesus, and He loved telling people about Jesus. He had a ministry in the French Quarters in New Orleans. He would go down to people that nobody else cared about—drug addicts, hippies, runaways, motorcycle gangs—and he would just share Jesus with them. He would feed them, and he would have coffee and donuts and sandwiches and things that he would provide for them, and he’d just share Jesus with them. We would pray together.

I’ll never forget. His tears would just flow and would touch the ground. When they would touch the ground, as he would weep for these people, God touched my heart, and God gave me a burden to reach people. My heart was set aflame to share Jesus with other people.

I was invited during that time to preach at a youth revival. I was a young youth evangelist at that time. My wife and I had dropped out of school to just start telling young people our age, our colleagues, our peers, what Jesus had done for us. So I was invited to preach at a little Baptist church in Monroe, Louisiana.

This church was going to have a youth meeting, and their young people were not interested, and so their pastor had asked me to come. I went, and I was totally discouraged at first. There was absolutely no interest. The only one who was praying was the pastor. But he had a heart for God, and he had a heart for the young people, and he wanted to see the young people reached.

I preached there the first night, and nothing happened. Twenty-five people were present. The second night I preached again, and twenty-five people were present. Nothing happened. But as the service came to a close, a man walked up to the pastor, and they knelt down, and they began to pray, and his heart was broken.

Then he stood, and he told the people, “I’m the leader of the young people in this church, and I’ve been a poor testimony. I just got down on my knees and asked God to forgive me and to cleanse me. As I did, God cleansed me, and I knew I needed to stand and ask you for your forgiveness as a church because of my poor testimony to the young people.”

When he said that, there was a release of the Spirit of God in that little church, and God came, and God visited that little Baptist church in Monroe, Louisiana. The next night, the church was full. The next time, we didn’t have room in the church. This started on Wednesday, and by the time Sunday came, I had to park blocks away to get to the church.

There was a singing group from the University of Louisiana at Monroe—it was called Northeastern Louisiana University at the time. At the university campus there was a singing group who had sung, and that night that this guy confessed. God broke that singing group, and they fell on their faces and began to confess sin and get right with God. Then they went back to the campus and started sharing.

Well, the pastor came to me and he said, “Sammy, we can’t end tonight. We’ve got to continue.” So we continued on, but we couldn’t stay in the building, so we moved to the university campus. The first building on the university campus wouldn’t hold all the people, so we moved into another building on the university. It wouldn’t hold us all.

So the pastor, who was a man of prayer, came and said, “Sammy, I’ve been praying, and I believe that we ought to go and talk to the former Governor of Louisiana who owns the television station here in Monroe and tell him what God’s doing and ask him for permission to just tell the whole city what God’s doing.”

I said, “Well, I’ll go with you, but I don’t think he’ll be open to that.”

He said, “Well, let’s go.”

So we went, and we talked to him. He not only gave us two fifteen-minute spots at prime time to share what God was doing in the city, he also said, “You say you don’t have enough room?”

We said, “That’s right.”

He turned and called the mayor of the city, and he said, “Mayor, we’ve got some young people who are finally doing something positive in our city. I’m going to ask you to donate the Civic Center to these young people.” And he donated the Civic Center to us.

Thousands of young people came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. One of those young people was the most notorious drug dealer in the area. In fact, she was facing thirty years in prison at the time. The judge was so impressed with the change in her life, he released her to my wife’s and my custody. She was just a couple of years younger than us, but he released her to our custody at that time.

There was something that was happening. God was moving. People were coming to Christ, and as people came to know Jesus . . . We had this prayer room that we set up in this little coffee house. We would pray, and these prayer meetings would go on. We would pray all day leading up to the services at night, and then after the service was over, we would pray afterwards.

As we prayed, God just began to speak to my heart about something unusual. He’d been speaking to me, saying, “I want you to walk across America and get a wheel barrel and fill it with Bibles and just pass out Bibles.”

I thought, Lord, that’s crazy.

I shared it with my wife. She’s been so sweet over the years. She said, “Sammy, if that’s what God’s told you, let’s do it.”

So I shared with the singing group from the university campus what God was doing and what God was saying to our heart. The guy who was the leader of the singing group said, “I believe God wants me to go with you.” His wife was pregnant.

Then there was a guy, Ken Hall, who was a freshman, an outstanding student on campus, and part of the singing group. He said, “I believe God wants me to go with you.”

There was from LA Tech, over at another campus in Louisiana, who heard about what was happening. People were coming from over in Rustin to Monroe to see what God was doing, and this guy Richard came. Richard was a brand new believer. He had been a hard rock drummer in a band, and he’d just gotten saved. He figured he’d never use his drums again in his life, so he’d put them up. He came, and God touched his heart. He’d started coming to the prayer meetings, and God touched his heart during the prayer meetings.

I think I understood for the first time what prayer, genuine prayer and fasting is. It’s not just something that you decide to do. I mean, we couldn’t eat. There was a sense of the presence of God so real in those days that we would go out to eat to discuss, “Well, are we going to do this? How are we going to do this? What’s going to happen?” And we just couldn’t eat. We’d order something at the restaurant, and nobody would eat anything.

There was these times and these seasons of just seeking God, and oh how our hearts were aflame for Jesus.

Well, we ended up walking, and the most amazing things happened. Wherever we would go, there was just God. We didn’t have a keyboard or a guitar or anything. We walked into Tuscaloosa, Alabama, University of Alabama, and we set up Richard’s drums on the steps of the Administration Building.

Whenever classes would let out, we’d say, “Cut loose, Richard.” Richard would cut loose with a solo on his drums, and everybody would just start running to where the drums were. When everybody got there, he’d stop, and I’d stand and preach. People came to Christ. We would preach, and God would move.

We arrived at the University of Georgia in Athens, and we walked onto the campus there with our wheel barrel. Right as we walked on to the campus, it had just been announced that at Kent State students had been shot and killed. Of course, this was during the Vietnam war, and riots broke out across campuses all over America.

At the University of Georgia, radicals had taken over the Administration Building. They were threatening to burn it down. So we walked in with our little wheel barrel with Bibles, and we started passing them out. The student government administration actually made a proclamation and sent it formally to us, asking us if we would pray for peace on the campus.

So we got with Campus Crusade for Christ and some other student organizations there, and we just made up posters. In that year in the University of Georgia yearbook you will find a full-page photo of my wife holding a poster that says, “Real peace is Jesus.” And on the back of it, you will find the four spiritual laws from Campus Crusade.

We broke out during these demonstrations, and we were witnessing. I’ll never forget, I got on the platform, and I was just passing out gospel tracts on the platform behind the speakers. This one speaker was up there yelling, “Let’s burn down the Administration Building, there’s no hope for our country,” and all these things. He was yelling all these radical things, and I was passing out tracts. When he finished speaking he thought I was the next speaker, and he handed me the microphone.

I said, “Oh, God.” And then I said, “I want to tell you what: There will be no peace in America.” They all went, “Yeah!” And I said, “Until we have the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, in our hearts.” And there was dead silence.

I just started preaching, and God fell on that place, and the discussion or the debate changed from burning down the Administration Building to, “What would Jesus do if He were here?” Amazing!

I could just tell you story after story of what God did as we walked across America. And the reason I share that with you is, you see, my ministry was born in a revival that resulted in evangelism. I can tell you this for fact, when God comes, the greatest harvest always comes during seasons of revival.

My study of history tells me that there are primarily three things that cause people to pray for revival, to really begin to seek God for revival.

The first is the lack of holiness in our own lives. When we see the Church get so corrupted and the lack of holiness in the Church, we begin to pray, “Oh God, there’s not only darkness in the land, there’s darkness in my heart; there’s darkness in our church. We are powerless as a people. We have been given this great opportunity, but we have absolutely no power ourselves.”

When the Church comes to that place, where they find themselves powerless to be pure, then they begin to cry out to God. The Church begins to cry out and they say, “Oh God, would You send revival?”

The second thing that normally causes the Church to pray for revival is the testimony of history, that testimony of what God has done in the past. When we hear about it, there’s something . . . I don’t know about you, but there’s something that stirs in my heart when I hear about the Second Great Awakening, and I say, “Oh God, do it again.”

And then there’s a third thing, and that’s when we see the world—so needy, dying, lost, hopeless—and God breaks our heart with His heart.

Sometimes people ask me this question: “Which comes first, evangelism or revival?”

Now, you have to understand that I see this probably through a little bit different lens than most people see this because I am an evangelist, and I am a revivalist. I am sort of both, but I am convinced it’s not an either/or. To some extent, it’s a both/and. Because when God begins to work in your heart in revival, one of the things that’s going to happen is you’re going to have what’s on His heart. You’re going to feel what He feels. And so you’re going to be getting to do the work of evangelism.

I developed this message of revival and evangelism in Romania. It taught me several things because my ministry was birthed in a revival, but I think everything was clarified in Romania in from 1980 until 1989. During that decade God was moving in the church in Romania. God showed me one specific thing that He taught me while I was there.

In fact, some of the guys who were in Romania, they were experiencing revival. There was a pastor in the mid 1970s by the name of Pastor Ola Liveu. He did two things: He called the church to pray, and he called them to pray in a very unusual way. He said, “You pray that one day in the great stadiums we will proclaim the name of Jesus Christ. You pray that on radio and television that we will proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.”

And then he said, “And secondly, the repenters must repent.”

You see, in Romania in those days, evangelical Christians, who were basically the Baptists, the Pentecostals, and the Brethren at that time, the evangelical Christians were called repenters. That was a derogatory term used by the world about them.

He’s crying out, and he’s weeping. What he’s calling them specifically to repent of is their lack of concern for the lost world around them. And he’s crying out, “The repenters must repent! The repenters must repent!” Then you hear the sobs begin to grow. As they grow, he continues to preach. I mean, he’s shouting. He’s shouting, all of a sudden, you can’t hear him preaching anymore. The weeping is too great, and people are broken, broken over the lost world around them.

The government exiled him. They thought, We’ll get rid of this guy, and that’ll stop this movement, because the church began to grow. In the next six months, they baptized 200 people. In Romania, it’s a very dangerous thing to be baptized. The church began to grow. In fact, today, that church is the largest evangelical church on the continent of Europe.

As the church began to grow, the government said, “We’ve got to stop this.” So they got rid of the pastor. But what they didn’t know is you can stop a pastor, but you can’t stop the prayers of God’s people when God moves.

If you go today to the northwestern region of Romania, you’ll find the largest evangelical churches in Romania there, and there’s a reason for that, and that’s what I want to share with you in just a moment.

But I went in 1980. When I went in, they wanted a youth singing group and a young pastor to come in and reach the young people for Christ. Of course, back then I was a young pastor or a young evangelist. So I went in with a singing group. We got there an hour early to set up the sound equipment, and when we got there, the church was full. It was packed—an hour early—and for one reason: The people were praying for the services.

Now, they didn’t know we were coming. This was all done clandestinely to set up for the meeting and everything, and so they didn’t know we were coming, and the church was packed. By the time the services started, it was not only packed, but the people were standing down the aisles, standing outside all around.

This was typical for that whole region. In that whole region of Romania, the northwestern region, every church we went to it was that way. There was not room inside the church for the people. God was moving. There was a great spirit of revival that was taking place, and the church kept trying to break out, and they were reaching more people, and the government was trying to contain what was taking place.

It was just a wonderful season. When I’d walk in, I’d see things like I’d never imagined. It was things like I’d read about in the history books, things like in the Second Great Awakening, the First Great Awakening. I’d say, “Lord, what have I walked into? It was like I’d walked 100 years, 200 years back into history in time. God, You’re working today in a nation just like You did back in those days.”

My heart was thrilled. From 1980 to 1988 we traveled throughout the country. Then I was arrested in 1988 and put out of the country. I was told that I would never be allowed back in the country. But during those eight years, it was great.

What I can tell you is, I’ve never experienced fellowship with brothers and sisters like that. We would talk about revival. These guys, who had no books, who had no theology, who only had the Bible, knew more about revival than anybody I’d ever talked with in America. We would talk about what revival is and how it is.

One of the guys said something to me, and this is what I want to communicate to you. One of the guys said, “Sammy, what has happened is we have had revival in the northwestern region of Romania, but it’s confined to the northwestern region. You go to the south, and you go to the east, and you’ll find that the churches are small, very weak, and there are very few Christians in that area of Romania.”

There’s a reason for it. On the eastern side there’s a mountain range, and to get over that mountain range, the roads were very, very poor—terrible roads. In fact, some days you’d be driving up the mountain, and the road would just stop. That’d be the end of it. Then you’d have to go back down the mountain and find another way around the mountain. So it was almost impossible to get over that mountain range on the eastern side.

On the western side was the Hungarian border, and it was very interesting because you could go into Hungary, just six miles away from Oradea, where this revival was centered. You could go into Hungary, just six miles away. You could go to a Romanian church inside Hungary, and they were dead because of a political boundary.

The revival was contained. So one of my friends said to me, “Sammy, we can’t go. We can’t cross these mountain ranges. We can’t do that. We don’t have transportation. We don’t have vehicles. You do! You have a car here! Take us, and let’s go across the mountain range. Let’s go to where the revival hasn’t been, and let’s preach the gospel there.”

I said, “What kind of problems will we have?”

They said, “We don’t know, but that’s okay. We must reach the world.”

Nancy: Well, I need to break in here. Sammy Tippit has been telling us about the season of revival that he observed firsthand in Romania. Tomorrow, we’ll hear what happened when he and the team made that dangerous crossing over the mountains to share the good news of Jesus with those who had never heard.

Sammy Tippit gave this message at something called “A Vision Gathering,” an event hosted by Life Action Ministries, that’s the parent ministry that helped launch Revive Our Hearts.

Now, if your heart has been stirred by what you’ve heard today, would you just stop and pray that the Lord would revive His people, and that, as a result, thousands who don’t know Jesus would be attracted to Him by watching a revived church in action?

And if you’d like to learn more about Sammy Tippit and the passion in his heart and the ministry God’s given him all around the world, we have in our resource center here a book that he has written called Fire in Your Heart. We’d be glad to send that to you as our way of saying, “Thank you,” when you send a donation to Revive Our Hearts, a donation of any amount.

You can just give us a call at 1-800-569-5959, or you can visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Your donation of any amount is important to help keep this ministry going and to make it possible for us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with women throughout the United States and around the world. And when you call or visit us online to make your donation, be sure and ask for a copy of Sammy Tippit’s book called, Fire in Your Heart.

Now, be sure to join us tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts as we continue to hear from Sammy Tippit and the amazing story of what God did in Romania.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Tomorrow we’ll hear from Sammy Tippit again. He’ll tell us what happened when he and the church leaders made that danger trek over the mountains. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.