The Jesus People Movement was a Holy Spirit inferno that began in Orange County, California in 1965 and grew exponentially, like embers blowing in the wind across America, then around the world. It transformed Orange County. As it journeyed afar, it rapidly brought in millions of people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; with converts who were saved in that time still bringing the Good News to souls, even today.
The Jesus People Movement caused dramatic changes in Christian music, as there was no contemporary Christian music before, nor Christian contemporary radio. In churches, guitars, drums, keyboards and bongos began to be in worship instead of just organs, pianos and hymnals. Jews for Jesus began. Christian television began. Barriers were broken as people, previously uninvited, were welcomed in church. But what caused such a movement of God during a raging political climate in the 60s and 70s?
History - Sounds Like Today
This supposed Age of Aquarius held great stress and trepidation, and was not just an era of fashion and rock bands as some people think. There were dire concerns like the Vietnam War and the creeping threat of communism. The United States was divided with some for the war and others against.
Anti-war protests occurred all over America with several young people killed. The war started in 1955 and ended in 1975 (20 years of combat) with America in disgrace as we watched the fall of Saigon on television. Communism and its terrorists won. Sound familiar to recent days?
The Cold War prevailed with monthly air raid sirens in American cities after World War II. We had to practice dropping under our desks in school as drills, in case of an atomic attack. Youth dropped out of society, turning to drugs and sex, believing they might die tomorrow. People feared that America would not survive.
Peaceful racial protests were led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while others led violent riots. In 1965, a few miles north of Orange County, 34 people died in the Watts riots. Rev. King, President John F. Kennedy, and Senator Bobby Kennedy were all assassinated in the 60s. This brought more fear to all.
Laws were enacted against God and His followers, not unlike today. Prayer in public schools was banned by Supreme Court decisions starting in 1962. Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973. Christians were outraged.
Activists argued for abolishment of prisons, left-wing feminist rights and communism. The Beatles set the tone for espousing¬†a Maoist¬†revolution. John Lennon wrote the song Imagine, which urged people to frame a world with "no religion" and "no Heaven or Hell" – virtually the Communist Manifesto. Does this sound like today's news?
On top of all that, tensions in the Middle East erupted with the 6-Day War and Yom Kippur War. Troops, tanks and bombers were supplied to Egypt and Syria from communist countries to fight against Israel. This resulted in the oil embargo which caused gas rationing, due to the U.S. support of Israel. All this contributed to an age of disagreement and despair, not unlike today. If Christians could act in love in those times and bring such a harvest, why not now?
Harvest in a Time of Unrest
I was brought up in a denominational church 25 miles north of the start of the Jesus People Movement. News spread like wildfire, so our youth group ventured down to see for ourselves. While there, we all caught the fire. We learned that Jesus was alive and that He loves us.
Church was exciting as some sat on the grass – after riding their bikes barefoot to church – and listened to sermons broadcast outside. There were also concerts outside while some played volleyball and others chatted about our marvelous Savior, picnicking on blankets. There were beach baptisms, evangelism on the piers, services deep in the Word, and worship that brought us into His presence like we had never felt before. (Photo via Flickr)
The movement began after Kay Smith and Pastor Chuck Smith demonstrated the love of Jesus to hippies in California. I remember the talk in different churches across America that the "long hairs" were not invited in their churches, but Chuck and Kay Smith welcomed all to know Jesus and His saving love. So, God blessed it.
"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.¬†By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34-35, KJV)
Looking for God's Love and Peace
I heard Chuck say that the Lord told him to "concentrate on Jesus' love" for the life of his church. People tried to get him to emphasize other things, but he was obedient to the Lord's instructions. Genuine love was why millions have been saved.
I can still picture it today, a woman sitting directly in the pew in front of me, who had diamond and gold jewelry on, a fancy Sunday hat and wearing an expensive suit sitting next to a young man with very long hair, barefoot and wearing a flowery shirt. Both of them were demonstrating God's love.
This agape love spread fast with excited converts being called "Jesus freaks," and had Ichthys fish on their vans and surfboards. Some street and business names were even changed to Bible names. It was God's love and peace that people were looking for in those crazy times.
"And Jesus answered him, 'The first of all the commandments¬†is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this¬†is¬†the first commandment. And the second¬†is¬†like,¬†namely¬†this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.'" (Mark 12:29-31, KJV)
It was not about a certain group of churches, nor was the concentration on end-times, as revival fire spread to other cities. It was about God's love being demonstrated. Countless ministries sprang up such as Hope Chapel, Harvest Fellowships, Vineyard churches, Christian communes and Christian biker groups. Many apostolic leaders were born-again in this movement including Che Ahn, Greg Laurie, Chuck Pierce, Dick Bernal, Robert Heidler, Chuck Missler, and John Wimber.
"As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love. If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and¬†that¬†your joy might be full. This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you... These things I command you, that ye love one another." (John 15:9-14, 17, KJV)
Did You Learn to Love?
Jesus tells us that love is an actual commandment, not just a suggestion. The Jesus People Movement was the first time that the world began to hear that God is love as the converts acted in love. (Photo via Unsplash)
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." (1 John 4:7-8, KJV)
These are strong words from our Lord that we need to heed. When prophet Bob Jones died, he returned from Heaven with a mandate from the Lord to ask us: "There is only one question the Lord will ask you when you stand before Him in death, 'Did you learn to love?'" Have we, as the Body of Christ, demonstrated that love lately to the secular world or to those who oppose us?
"And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also." (1 John 4:21, KJV)
The unregenerate (unsaved) mind cannot possibly comprehend the Gospel, nor understand that certain sins are wrong. How can they, when they are blinded since the Gospel is veiled to those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 4:3)? However, they can see our love. The biggest threat shown to the devil is when we love. We must look inwardly and be perfectly honest: why would the unsaved want to be a Christ-follower right now?
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." (1 Corinthians 13:1, NIV)
While the world has lost hope, Christians should be bringing hope and love. Without love, no one will listen to the Gospel. There is hope for America and the world. Prophetically speaking, I see that the greatest reformation in history with that billion-soul harvest will only happen when the Church acts in love.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.¬†But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)
The GREATEST of these is love.
I hear the Lord say: "Have you lost your first love? Do you think that I cannot take care of the present political situation? Am I not bigger than a virus and the issues concerning that? Can I not change people who sit in office? For My Word says, 'I remove kings and set up kings' (Daniel 2:21). Am I not your shield and buckler? Am I not your refuge and fortress (Psalm 91)? For when you do what I have called you to do, act like I have commanded you to act – in obedience and in love – then I will take care of the rest. Trust in Me. Act in obedience to Me, in love.
"Do not get overburdened by things that can only be changed through prayer and obedience to Me. Rejoice in Me. Put the burden on Me and believe. Some of you have not even asked Me for help in that which concerns you. Am I not your victor and defender? Yes, you will see justice. I am the one capable of enacting perfect justice, but you must be obedient, demonstrating My love. Bring it to Me. Have faith in Me."
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Strategic Prayer Command Ministry
Melissa Nordell¬†is a graduate of Wagner Institute and founder of Strategic Prayer Command Ministry. She is an ordained teacher of intercession, who regularly teaches and speaks on the prophetic and intercession. She was the former lead intercessor of The Dwelling Place Church in Hemet, the "Transformations Church," featured in George Otis Jr.'s first "Transformations" video, and has continued to teach intercession, spiritual warfare, and transformational intercession ever since. She is also a writer and editor and has written articles for The Elijah List, Breaking Christian News and God Reports.com. Melissa has a hunger to see the world transformed for God, more souls reach Heaven, and lives transformed through Jesus Christ.
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