Howard Payne University Revival

On January 22, 1995, at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood, Texas, two students from Howard Payne University, a Christian institution, stood up and confessed their sins. As a result of this incident, many others started to confess their own sins before the congregation. On January 26, a similar event took place on the campus of Howard Payne. Word quickly spread to other colleges, and Howard Payne students were soon being invited to other college campuses, which experienced similar revivals. From these schools, more students were invited to still other schools, where there were further revivals. (CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, May 19, 1995, pp. A39-A40.

One of the first two students from Howard Payne to confess his sins was Chris. As he testified about his own life and the spiritual condition of his classmates, "People just started streaming down the aisles" in order to pray, confess their sins, and restore seemingly doomed relationships, according to John, pastor of Coggin Avenue Baptist Church. From this time forward, the church began holding three-and-a-half-hour services. Avant said, "This is not something we're trying to manufacture. It's the most wonderful thing we've ever experienced" (NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL RELIGION REPORT, vol. 9, no. 7 [20 March 1995], p. 1).

The events at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church were preceded by about seven weeks of increased, widespread prayer. According to Avant, "God is shaking us--something no person could do. God began by doing some things in isolated ways. He transformed the life of a prominent man in the community who was considering suicide, and couples who were within days of divorce were walking the church aisle to seek God's forgiveness at the altar. . . . " (press release from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1 March 1995). Avant said that after the events on January 22, the motto among several local high school students had become, "God's going to rock the world, and it's starting in Brownwood," and that "Southern Baptists, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Independent Baptists, and Presbyterians are getting together just to kneel and pray for revival" (ibid).

At Howard Payne, revival broke out during a January 26 "celebration" service, as students praised God in song and shared their testimonies. Students then started to schedule all-night prayer meetings in dormitories. (CHRISTIAN WEEK, 11 April 1995, P. 1 and Ken, "'Activity of God' Produces Renewal in Texas City's Church, Campus, 1 March 1995).

Then, on February 13-15, during five meetings at Howard Payne, Henry, a Southern Baptist revival leader ministered at a series of five worship services, attended by guests from up to 200 miles away. On Tuesday, February 14, more than six hundred attended, and students leaders went up to the platform to confess publicly their secret sins. About two hundred stayed afterward to continue praying. One of the students, Andrea, said, "Once we saw the Spirit move, we didn't want to leave" (ibid). "Experiencing God" discipleship curriculum had been used recently in many of the Brownwood area churches that became affected by the revival.

After Howard Payne, some of the first schools to be affected were Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Forth Worth, Texas, Beeson School of Divinity in Birmingham, Alabama, Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Ill., The Criswell College in Dallas, Moorehead State University in Moorehead, Ky., Murray State University in Murray, Ky., Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La., Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. In each case, students went forward during long services to repent of pride, lust, bondage to materialism, bitterness, and racism.