Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Preparing for Brokenness

Leslie Basham: Twenty years ago a group of Christian workers heard a message on brokenness. God used that message in some incredible ways.

Several of these Christian workers:

"I remember when this little gal walks up on the stage."

"And God was just using her to soften my heart."

"We began to walk humbly with God. We began to be honest with each other."

"The fog just kind of lifted from my eyes and gave me the opportunity to be honest with myself."

"I had become clean in a way I couldn't have imagined just six months earlier."

"I didn't know where the tears where coming from. I'd never cried like that before."

"This was something special that God was doing. I've never experienced anything like this before."

"I never heard a message like that before."

"I never experienced anything like it since, but it'll never leave me. I will never forget that."

Song John Elliott:

When we are broken,
We can be mended.
In heart confession,
We can be healed.*

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, July 6, 2015.

Twenty years ago this month, the staff at Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ, met together in Fort Collins, Colorado. Nancy Leigh DeMoss was invited to speak, and God multiplied her efforts in ways no one expected. We'll hear that message later this week on Revive Our Hearts, but today we'll hear the story from some of those staff members who were there, including Bob Lepine from Family Life Today. He talked with Nancy about those events twenty years ago.

Bob Lepine: There was in 1994 and 1995 on a number of college campuses something happening spiritually. Do you remember when you first became aware of any of that happening?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I do, Bob. I got a call at my home one night saying that God was stirring and that there was revival taking place on the campus of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Some friends and I went over the next night to see what had come to pass, to see this thing.

I remember these kids were lined up one after the other to confess sins that God had convicted them of. They had been moved by two college students coming from Brownsville, Texas talking about God moving on their campus. Now these Wheaton College students were responding to the conviction of God's Spirit. There was repentance. There was brokenness.

I remember they put some big garbage bags on the platform, and kids would come up throughout the course of the evening and place in those garbage bags things they had retrieved from their rooms that they were convicted didn't belong in their rooms.

I think one of the most stirring things to me was sitting in that balcony watching on as hundreds of students gathered below—the sobriety, the quietness, the students with their heads in their hands just bent over in repentance, in anticipation, listening. Students all over the place gathered in small clusters—twos, threes, fours, praying, sharing, weeping, hugging. It was very quiet, but a very deep, penetrating work of the Spirit.

I think it was that work of God on many of the college campuses that caught the attention of some of the Campus Crusade for Christ staff across the country. I think that's part of what God used to stir in their hearts a sense of desire and need for God to work that way within the ministry of Campus Crusade.

Bob: You're right. As all of this was happening, it was right before the bi-annual gathering of the staff for Campus Crusade for Christ. Every other year the staff gets together in Fort Collins, Colorado for a week's worth of training and meetings and spiritual refreshment. And you had been invited to speak at this particular staff conference. How did that happen? Do you remember?

Nancy: I do. Steve Douglass contacted me. I had known Steve for many years. He knew of my heart for revival. He said, this is in the spring of '95. He called and said, "We need revival in our ministry. We want to see God move in a fresh way in the hearts of our staff, and we know you have a heart for this. Would you come and speak, and would you help us think and plan through how we might set apart this week in a special way for that purpose?"

Steve Douglass: We certainly were hopeful that God would do something special for us at staff training.

Leslie: This is Steve Douglass, President of Cru.

Steve: And yes, we were aware that His Spirit was moving on certain campuses, and it would seem reasonable that He would move at our staff training if our hearts were right. But at the very least we wanted to participate in the right kind of thinking about God and the fact that our hearts could be revived even if it didn't happen right then. We wanted to have the possible chance of hearing from God and being open to whatever He wanted to do.

Bob: Do you remember where the idea of asking Nancy to speak at the staff conference in '95 first came from?

Steve: Well, there were a group of us thinking of what the program should be at CSU that summer, and I remember the topic of staleness and the little sins kind of taking their toll on the movement. What that led us to was a speaker that would talk about revival, and Nancy was just the leading candidate. We called and hoped that she would say yes, and she did.

Bob: When they came and approached you about speaking, did you know immediately what you wanted to speak about?

Nancy: I didn't. I labored over that for months. But it was actually only two weeks before that conference, as I recall, that I finally settled onto what I should be speaking on. Over those months I had been reading and meditating in the book of Isaiah. It was in that process that the Lord just impressed upon my heart from Isaiah this message of humility and brokenness and repentance. Isaiah 66:2 says, "To this man will I look even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at my word."

God had been doing in my own life a fresh work of repentance and brokenness on a relational issue, so there was a fresh tenderness in my own heart toward the Lord. There was a fresh brokenness and revival going on in my own life. I think it was out of that combined with what God had been saying to me out of the book of Isaiah that said this is a subject that's at the heart of the matter. This is the kind of heart God can revive, so I was led to speak then on that subject.

Leslie: God was preparing other hearts among Cru's staff as well.

Bob Helvey: I was dealing with apathy. I was dealing with mediocrity. I was dealing with a coolness that I've had for the Lord for a long time that I didn't recognize.

Leslie: Bob Helvey had spent fifteen years doing missionary work in New Zealand and came back to the States just in time for the Cru staff training.

Bob: I was succeeding well. I was doing well in ministry. People were respecting what I did. There were some exciting things that took place in New Zealand. I had all that kind of in my bag that I could present this. "Yes, I'm doing great things for God, etc." But in my heart there was a coolness. There was a distance. There was a fog. There was an apathy that was taking place in my endeavor to seek God with fervency. It was a coolness, mediocrity.

You know, when I became a Christian what I prayed to God was I'll become a Christian. I didn't know anything about becoming a Christian, what it would entail. "I'll follow You, God, but just don't make me a hypocrite. Don't allow me to be a mediocre Christian. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this full out." And here I was living in mediocrity, from a spiritual point of view, and I hated it. I hated it.

Leslie: Dave Warn was on staff with Cru ministering at the University of Wisconsin. The revival at Wheaton College had spread to Dave's campus causing him to experience a time of repentance and brokenness right before the training in Colorado.

Dave Warn: We were hoping that God would take this powerful move of the Holy Spirit that for us had began with these Wheaton students. We had hoped that it would spread throughout the whole ministry and affect all of the students that were involved under our leadership and affect the whole country. So there was a great anticipation that God would show up and move our hearts again.

Tim Spyridon: Well, I showed up at the conference with a cold, weary heart.

Leslie: Here's former Cru member Tim Spyridion.

Tim: I was exhausted from ministry activity. I was just not in the mood for fellowship, was not in the mood for worship. On the opening evenings I just remember I didn't want to really be with anyone or see anyone. I was as far up in the bleachers as you could get and as far away from the stage as you can get. I began with, maybe, mouthing the words to the songs and sometimes I didn't even sing, just listened. I was just like a dry-cell battery that was on low, low, low.

Bob Lepine: You were speaking in a basketball arena. There were 4000 staff gathered in that field house on the campus of Colorado State University.

Nancy: You have got to get the picture, and I know you were there. Chairs on the floor of the basketball court and then bleachers all around. It was not exactly the kind of setting that you would design for a place to meet with God.

Bob Lepine: It wasn't a cathedral; it wasn't a sanctuary. But it was for those days; it was a sanctuary. Were you nervous?

Nancy: Once I knew what God had put on my heart, and once I knew my life was right before the Lord on this particular issue He had been dealing with me about, and once I had the blessing of the leadership of the ministry, I just set my eyes on the target and set out to please the Lord. My heart was all that I was conscious of.

Bob Lepine: You were praying about what to speak on and planning for that message. I also know that you were praying that God might use that time in the lives of those hearing. I know anytime you go out to speak there's a lot of prayer for God to use whatever you're doing, however He would choose to. Did you have an anticipation that He would do what He did as you spoke that time?

Nancy: You know, Bob, anytime I speak I'm asking God to work in my life first and then to work through me. I pray for the anointing and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. I always have a sense that this could be the time when God chooses to move in an extraordinary way in the hearts of His people. I pray for that. I long for it.

You know me well enough to know that anytime I speak it's kind of life and death. I take it very seriously, but at the same time I could not have begun to imagine what it was that God had ahead, and I think that's a good thing.

Recording of Nancy in 1995: "During these days we've been encouraged, stirred by the wonderful reports of what God is doing. The stirrings that God has been sending on many college campuses."

Bob Lepine: Was this the largest crowd you had spoken to?

Nancy: It probably was.

Bob Lepine: And you didn't have a national radio ministry. You had been a part of Life Action Ministries for fifteen years at that point.

Nancy: Isn't it just like the Lord, Bob, to choose and use nobodies? This was not one of the leadership of some national ministry, and I was just there with an awareness of my own need for the Lord and a desire for us together to meet in His presence. Nobody can take the credit.

Recording of Nancy in 1995: "I felt directed by the Lord, I believe, to touch this morning on one of the most crucial ingredients of experiencing that visitation of the Spirit of God, not only this week but in an ongoing way in the days ahead."

Leslie: Kathy Helvey was a great friend to Revive Our Hearts who has gone home to be with the Lord. She was at that Cru staff training and in 2005 and she told our team about that day in Colorado.

Kathy Helvey: I remember when this little gal walks up on the stage . . .

Leslie: This is Crus staff member Julie Denker.

Julie Denker: A petite woman in a red blazer speaking powerfully . . .

Kathy: . . . and very unpretentious and just starts talking.

Julie: . . . and God was just using her to soften my heart.

Kathy: And I thought, Oh, I wonder what she's got to say. As she started to talk it became evident pretty soon into the message that she had a lot to say.

Recording of Nancy in 1995: "So, we ask the question, what kind of heart does God revive? And what does it take in my heart to experience ongoing, continual revival?"

Bob Lepine: The first thing that struck me as I listened to you speak was how thoroughly biblical what you were saying was. The theme was certainly biblical, but it wasn't just a biblical theme you were expounding on. You were speaking God's Word to us. You were taking us to passages. And you were showing us how the Lord had spoken to your own heart about these passages.

As I turned in my Bible and followed along with you, there was a fresh sense of understanding of how important this theme of brokenness is to the heart of God. I remember specifically as you described how a horse is broken using that illustration.

Recording of Nancy in 1995: Even as the horse that has been broken is surrendered and sensitive to the direction and wishes of its rider . . . it's a lifestyle of saying, "Yes, Lord. Not my will but Yours be done." Brokenness is the shattering of my self-will so that the life, the spirit, the fragrance, the life of Jesus may be released through me.

Bob: We tend to think of brokenness being a crisis.

Nancy: A crisis.

Bob: It's a crushing. It's something that is . . . well, if an appliance is broken, it doesn't work. But a horse that is broken goes from being a horse that is untamed and wild and self-directed to directed by the rider. That was a perspective on brokenness that was fresh for me and gave me an understanding that we're to live our lives in a perpetual state of brokenness.

Recording of Nancy in 1995: Brokenness is a lifestyle of responding in humility and obedience to the conviction of God's Spirit and the conviction of His Word. And as His conviction is continuous, so my brokenness must be continual.

Leslie: Here's staff member, Tim Spyridon.

Tim: I think that the part of her message that God used to set off His revival that happened afterward was when she contrasted a broken, contrite heart with a prideful heart.

Recording of Nancy in 1995: Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit, but broken people have a dependent spirit and recognize their need for others.

Tim: I keep that list in my Bible today and occasionally will look at it during a quiet time. It's hard to not go through that list without seeing some aspect of sin ooze up out of the surface and the Holy Spirit point His finger at you and say, "That's real. That's active in your life right now. You need to deal with that."

Recording of Nancy in 1995: Proud people claim rights and have a demanding spirit, but broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit. Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights . . .

Leslie: Here's Bob and Kathy Helvey.

Kathy: And as she started saying, "And this is what a proud person is . . ." She'd list something, and then she'd list the opposite of a broken person.

Bob Helvey: The differences between the two were so great. It was like a fog just kind of lifted from my eyes and gave me the opportunity to be honest with myself about what kind of person am I really.

Recording of Nancy in 1995: People have a subconscious feeling, This ministry is privileged to have me and my gifts.

Kathy: And I sat back to my shame kind of smugly thinking, Well, that's not me. I can tick that off. I'm not that one. I'm not that one either. Well, maybe that one. But as she started rolling with that list something happened in me, an honesty, facing issues in my life right there in my seat. I started thinking, Oh no. Yes, yes, I'm that. Yes, oh yes, I've done that. Oh, that is me.

Recording of Nancy in 1995: Proud people are defensive when criticized. Broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.

Kathy: As she read off that list, I remember feeling this devastation. One after another, there must have been thirty, thirty-five, forty examples of a proud person. And I had to be honest in thinking, Now, I am almost every one of those, but I don't want to be. I want to be on that other side where the brokenness begins.

Recording of Nancy in 1995: Proud people have a hard time saying, "I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?" But broken people are quick to admit their failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.

Song John Elliott:

When we are broken,
We can be mended.
In heart confession,
We can be healed.*

Recording of Nancy in 1995: When confessing their sin, proud people tend to deal in generalities, but broken people are able to deal under the conviction of God's Spirit and acknowledge specifics.

Nancy: About ten minutes before I finished speaking, out of the corner of my eye I saw two men come down out of the stands, come down to the front of that auditorium and kind of make an altar out of that platform, and just knelt there. To this day I don't know who those two men were. I don't know why they came. I don't know what God was doing in their hearts. There was no invitation given at that point, but in humility and brokenness, those men just stepped out and responded to God's conviction without any human prompting.

Kathy: Even during the talk people were starting to weep. They were starting to get out of their seats and kneel by their chairs. People were holding people as they were crying.

Nancy: People began slowly, quietly, with no major direction to begin to respond to the Lord. Some began to go to other people in that auditorium and to deal with some of the pride issues that had caused barriers in relationships.

Kathy: People were getting up out of their seats, going across the auditorium, and hugging people, making things right with people. This went on, not for twenty minutes, but for hours.

Bob Helvey: This sorrow started to well up in my life, and I started to cry. I'm the kind of guy that when people start sharing things and they get a little teary-eyed, I roll my eyes. Maybe that's being a little judgmental or something, but I just don't like people getting emotional in front of other people that way. I remember that I was saying to myself, "Now Bob, what's going on here? You're getting a little misty." But that passed really quick because after awhile I was just crying like a baby.

Nancy: And all this time the staff, the leadership at service were sitting back and saying, "What do we do next? What is God saying?" They, wisely, didn't want to shut down the moment. There was a sensitivity to the fact that God was moving, and we wanted to let Him have freedom to do that.

Bob Helvey: I'd been at meetings before where there's been this kind of repentive orchestration going on. I always thought, or I've been to meetings where I always thought, this was kind of orchestrated, maybe that's the best way to put it. I thought it was manmade. I didn't think it was from the Spirit. It was a good thing. It was a good exercise. There was nothing wrong with it, but it just didn't really feel like God was in this.

This was different. I could tell right from the very beginning and even more so as time went on, this was something special that God was doing. I've never experienced anything like this before. I'm kind of hard-nosed about those kinds of things. So that was really helpful to me to see that this was a genuine, special act of the Holy Spirit that I had never witnessed before.

Song John Elliott:

Joy comes like the morning.
Joy comes like the morning.
Joy comes like the morning, bright and clear.
Yes, joy comes like the morning, bright and clear.*

Leslie: That's John Elliott's song, "When We Are Broken."

This week, we’re marking the twentieth anniversary of a message the Lord used on brokenness. His Spirit stirred the hearts of His people in a special way.

Some people who heard that message twenty years ago mentioned the list—the list contrasting Proud People vs. Broken People. You’ll find that list in Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book Brokenness: The Heart God Revives. And our team has printed that list on a bookmark so you can be reminded of it easily. We’d like to send you the book and bookmark when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount this week.

This book is having a profound effect on listeners. One woman wrote to say:

I read Brokenness while I was separated from my husband. He had had an affair. The Lord brought revival to me. I have finally fully surrendered my life and dealt with the sin issues in my life. My husband and I have recently reconciled. How in the world have I had such unimaginable joy, peace, and hope during the most painful time of my life? That's what happens when you die to yourself and are given new life in Christ. Thank you, Lord Jesus.

We’ll send one set per household with your donation of any size. Ask for the Brokenness book and bookmark when you call with your donation. Dial 1–800–569–5959, or visit

Today, we heard what happened when a group of people accepted brokenness and godly sorrow over sin. But their response didn’t stop that morning  We’ll hear more of the story later this week. But tomorrow we’ll start to hear that classic message on "Brokenness" Nancy delivered twenty years ago. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

*"When We Are Broken." John Elliott. Used by permission.

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

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.