‘Fresh Wind’ Hits Mount Vernon, Ohio
When Jim Betts was a lieutenant back in 1999, he brought Pastor Jim Cymbala’s book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, along with him on a band trip to Scandinavia. He was so impressed with Cymbala’s story of revival at Brooklyn Tabernacle that he wanted it for his own congregation.“I basically preached the book when I came home … Cymbala says that you will no longer be judged by your Sunday morning meetings but by your prayer meetings.”
Following Cymbala’s model, Betts and his wife, Lieutenant Sue–Ellen Betts, moved their Sunday morning prayer time—which had a typical attendance of three—to Wednesday nights. Now 30 or more people come each week. A group called Prayer Warriors, again about 30 people, slip out in pairs to bathe the Sunday service in prayer. When the 15–member worship team meets on Wednesday nights, half of the time is devoted to prayer. And any weekday morning at 6 a.m., people are praying in the chapel.
Sunday morning services were transformed; people were coming to the altar even before praise and worship was over. After the message, the altar was lined with people. What excited Jim was what he had seen happening in young people. At a “rave” at the corps, two girls went outside to pray and weep together.
“I just stood there watching. Someone else came out and laid hands on them and began to pray. Soon the whole staircase was jam–packed with people praying. Someone started singing, ‘I love you, Lord.’ The foyer is [dark], and the song echoed through the staircase.”