This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of [the World Christian Fellowship president] (Collection 514, T59) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted. In a very few cases, the transcribers could not understand what was said, in which case "[unclear]" was inserted. Also, grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers of this transcript should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and even rule than written English.
. . . Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence of the speaker.
. . . . Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Word in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
This transcript was completed by Paul. A. Ericksen and Zingrin Shishak in December 1999.
Collection 514, T59. Continuation of an interview of [the World Christian Fellowship president] by Paul A.
Ericksen on March 27, 1995.
ERICKSEN: Okay. I don't know if you want to say anymore in addition. What kind of feedback did you hear from faculty and staff?
INTERVIEWEE: Well, again, I think it, same for...same as the student feedback that I heard.
INTERVIEWEE: I...I wouldn't have received much negative feedback from faculty and staff, personally, probably because of my position in this.
ERICKSEN: Would...from...go ahead.
INTERVIEWEE: I just haven't heard much, either way, actually. I know that a lot of students are...were distressed at the lack of faculty attendance. But I don't know what the answer to that is. I really don't, because I can see the two sides of it. I can see faculty or who were not concerned or who were [pauses] perhaps don't believe in what's going on, and I can also see the fact that faculty have families, and that coming out to start a meeting at nine thirty is not the ideal [Ericksen laughs] for them, so I don't know the answer.
ERICKSEN: Uh-hmm. Okay. [pauses] We've already talked about...you've talked about peer pressure and really trying to diminish that as much as possible. I noticed on Wednesday night that as part of your (I think it was Wednesday night and I think it was you; maybe it was Kevin, I don't know) comments of caution as to how things were discussed outside.
ERICKSEN: Was that a regular item from the very beginning?
INTERVIEWEE: No, but, as...as I said earlier, as the week went on, certain things became apparent that we needed to reemphasize and reemphasize.
ERICKSEN: And that was one of them?
INTERVIEWEE: That was one of them. That came really from Chaplain Steve [Kellough], but it was a good caution that we all agreed on. Yeah.
ERICKSEN: And what was the primary issue that was trying to address?
INTERVIEWEE: Well, students were getting up and sharing the very depths of their hearts, and the...and the...you know, the very deepest of their sins. It was important that those students did...did not regret the experience.
INTERVIEWEE: It's important that the morning after that students aren't gossiping about them. It's important that they are still received in the community with love. You know, "We need not gossip. We need to pray and support." That was the message that went out.
ERICKSEN: So it's mostly trying to cut off, "Did you hear what so-and-so said last night."
INTERVIEWEE: Yeah. That's the idea. "We're not..."
INTERVIEWEE: "...we're not here to...to.... We're here to heal one another. We are not here to...to get a good juicy piece of information that we can enjoy," Yu know? So....
ERICKSEN: How much was there a sense that this is a College thing and not a...a community thing? Or how did...was there a...a identity...
INTERVIEWEE: I think....
ERICKSEN: ...issue there?
INTERVIEWEE: I think there was. I think this was for the College. I feel like...that's my own perspective.
INTERVIEWEE: There was not an attempt to publicize this. There was a...less than an attempt to publicize it. We really wanted it just...we...I mean, we had a lot of work to do, the Spirit of God had a lot of work to do with the campus, and, you know. I know a lot of visitors ended up coming, but....
ERICKSEN: What effect did that have?
INTERVIEWEE: Didn't have too bad of an effect. I think there were...I think they ended up leaving earlier too, most of them, 'cause they were people who had jobs and families and needed to get back. It ended up making the numbers look bigger, I think, on the last nights. But that's about it.
ERICKSEN: Okay. What about press coverage?
INTERVIEWEE: There's been a lot of Evangelical press coverage, calling [pauses] me personally, the Office of Christian Outreach, Chaplain Steve's office. I think the press is supposed to be directed towards his office right now. So...on the other hand we don't want to stop students from, you know, giving the glory to God, when they can, and from encouraging other people with what God has done, so, I'm not sure how to give an authoritative answer there.
ERICKSEN: Well, it doesn't sound like anything's coordinated though. You're not...nobody's trying to manage....
INTERVIEWEE: No one is...certainly no one is trying to get, or trying to proclaim, or...or publicize this yet. I mean, that's not on anyone's mind. It hasn't been a thing like that, you know. It hasn't been a....it's not "Look at us. We're Wheaton. God visited us. Yeah!" you know. It's [pauses] a very personal work to our community, I think [pauses]...to our community of...of Coll...the College community.
ERICKSEN: What kind of [pauses] ...what kind of feedback that you're aware of was coming in from Wheaton as a...as a city?
INTERVIEWEE: I'm not aware of that.
INTERVIEWEE: I'm sure others are aware of it. I'm not aware of it.
ERICKSEN: Yeah. Okay. Any...anything you were sort of...anything trickling in...parents calling in from the hinterland?
INTERVIEWEE: Boy. I...I don't know.
INTERVIEWEE: I know that students were calling their parents across country and reconciling things. I know that was happening. I know that students were calling parents telling them what God was doing here. I know that words did...word did spread quickly and...and [pauses]...across the nation, evangelically speaking, that...that something was happening here. But, certainly there hasn't been an organized effort to do that.
ERICKSEN: Yeah. Now you mentioned kind of at the beginning talking about the convergence of providences. You mentioned your...the class in revival that ended with this report.
INTERVIEWEE: And that had happened the day before, our last day of class.
ERICKSEN: Yeah. Anything else from class, or maybe the interview that you did with an alum about an earlier revival that kind of was a factor for you personally.
INTERVIEWEE: Yeah. I mean, I can just tell you that [pauses]...with all of the revival stuff on my mind for so many weeks and months in...in advance, constantly on my mind.... I mean I had already been praying for years that the Lord would bring revival to our school. But, you know, I just think that that was providential that...especially that class, and having to read all those books, and getting to study the revival of 1970, and 1950, and the Asbury revival of 1970, and [pauses] the first and second Great Awakenings, and Jonathan Edwards, and all of those guys, you know. Just for me personally it was...it seemed providential [laughs], you know, that such a thing would happen for...in my own life at this time.
ERICKSEN: Now for your...for the interview that you did, for which we've ha...now have the tape....
INTERVIEWEE: Right. I did...I did the interview with.... Do you remember who I did it with?
ERICKSEN: I don't.
INTERVIEWEE: Okay. I...I did it with Dr. [Ray] Ortland, and Mrs. Ortland...
ERICKSEN: And so that was the...was that the 70...?
INTERVIEWEE: That was the 70 revival, and they were invited to speak at the 70 revival and that's the night that they ended up not speaking [laughs] when God moved in 1970.
ERICKSEN: Anything that they told you during their interview that was especially significant for you this time?
INTERVIEWEE: [pauses] I guess it [pauses]...the most powerful thing that they said to me that I remember the most, and is just the testimony that they gave, that that was the most life-changing event of their lives, and that it entirely changed the course of their lives, their careers, and their work for God. And I guess realizing that made this week seem very special, too, because just realizing that this week is a life-changing week for so many, you know.
ERICKSEN: What impact has it had on you?
INTERVIEWEE: Well, I was asked that already once this week, and [pauses] the first thing that comes to my mind is no sleep. That sounds trite, but it's pretty big right now for me. [pauses] I feel as one who has been grabbed by the collar and just pulled through this by God. I do not feel that [the WCF president] has had [pauses] the...any real part in bringing the...bringing revival to Wheaton College. I feel that the only part I may be able to claim in that is praying, and that leads right back to the power of God. So, what I feel like is someone who has been used of the Lord to help serve in a time of revival. And I would have been just as...just as happy (I think I can say with honesty) to be sitting out there worshiping God throughout the entire event. I just feel like a vessel and a tool that he used to...to fill an important spot that needed to be filled in leadership. But.... What was the question? How has it affected me?
ERICKSEN: What impact has it had on you?
INTERVIEWEE: I think it's going to effect the rest of my life. I think it's going to [pauses]...it's going to be, well [pauses]...I won't...I can say that I haven't had a profound, life-changing [pauses] repentance of sin that I've had to, you know [pauses] radically change about my life. That's not true. I guess it...it has had the impact of helping me to keep shorter accounts with God and with my fellow friends, just as far as, you know, confessing sin on a regular basis. One...another reminder we kept making throughout the week was that this is normal. James 5:16: "Confess your sins one to another that you may be healed." That's what the body of Christ is supposed to look like. We just don't do it. So I encouraged them that this is not the end. This week is the beginning for us, as a people, of something new, you know. But I don't know how to answer that question...
INTERVIEWEE: ...in a...in a spectacular way.
ERICKSEN: Well, maybe we'll have to interview you in...
INTERVIEWEE: Interview me later.
ERICKSEN: ...fifty years.
INTERVIEWEE: Yeah. Interv...
ERICKSEN: We'll see.
INTERVIEWEE: Interview me in ten years and see what the Lord has done in my life because of this revival, and....
ERICKSEN: Now, I notice you using the word revival, and I know from, you know, different things I've heard people talking about, things I've seen on [pauses]...on Internet, there's some debate on [laughs] whether revival is the right word to use. Having been through the course with Tim, do you feel comfortable using that word, or you're just short-handing...?
INTERVIEWEE: I was...for the last few years at this years when I was praying, I was ashamed and embarrassed to say things like revival, simply because of the campus ethos of cynicism towards that word, which I think is half legitimate and half illegitimate. It's legitimate because of the misuse of that term that has happened in our society, as far as revival meetings scheduled this week, seven to ten every night. Well [slaps hands on lap], you know, who can plan when God moves? But in the historical sense of the word of revival, I have changed my mind, and I am very comfortable calling this a revival. Revival is [pauses] a suitable word, you know. It just needs to lose its cultural baggage, and its...some of the historical baggage that's been attached to it through misuse. Does that make sense?
INTERVIEWEE: If you wanna...if people want to call it spiritual refreshment, they can. Revival means a bringing back to life of something that was dead, and [pauses] a lot of students have been revived. It's still a legitimate word in our language. I don't see any problem with using it.
ERICKSEN: Okay. How...I had somebody...I had my brother-in-law say to me, "Are they going to keep holding meetings?" And I said, "Well, I don't know." Was that a conversation that you had at some point la...at the end of last week, about what...what happens next week?
INTERVIEWEE: I think we...what we did...we concensed [sic] as leaders to...that Thursday night would be the last plenary session. But keep in mind that things like WCF are going to keep happening. Things like chapel are going to keep happening. Chaplain Steve is going to keep encouraging students in the very same things...
INTERVIEWEE: ...that they heard during revival week. Get in an accountability group. Pray. Confess your sins one to another. Live the holy life, you know. WCF is going to keep happening every Sunday night, and...and as it happened last night the week after. Doug O'Donnell, the...the worship leader for the evening got up and said ther same things.
INTERVIEWEE: So that's...that's what we're talking about. We're talking about long-term changes. You can't have what we had last week every week...
INTERVIEWEE: ...or we'll all die, you know, from exhaustion. But I shouldn't say things like that, but [laughs] you know what I mean.
ERICKSEN: Well, I think it's a reflection of how tired you feel.
INTERVIEWEE: Yeah, it is.
ERICKSEN: I'm reminded when [pauses], I don't know if it was Elijah or Elisha had just done battle with the...the priests of Baal and had Jezebel after him and he needed to get away, so tiredness is not [pauses]...
ERICKSEN: ...a problem. Was WCF any different last night?
INTERVIEWEE: Yeah, it was packed out. There was probably eight to nine hundred people instead of the usual five hundred. I...I think there's probably still a great level of excitement on campus. The worship was just amazing. People were just singing with all their hearts to the Lord and praising God. And, you know, after a song a song of great praise there would be an eruption of...of...of thanksgiving and clapping, you know, so I...I just think that this...this campus has been truly affected by what has happened.
ERICKSEN: Now have there been any signs (this is something we've talked about in the office wondering, there was this revival up in Toronto [also referred to as the Toronto Blessing]...any signs of any impact of that here?
INTERVIEWEE: Well...no. But let me tell you...I feel...I feel free to tell you one confession. It was less of a confession than a request for prayer. One pastor who was visiting one night, he came up to the stage and he asked me if he could have please have prayer from some students because at his church they had experienced something of the Toronto Blessing but nothing of the repentance that he saw happening here...
INTERVIEWEE: ...the deep repentance. And he asked and so I said, "Yes," and let him make a request for prayer. And then students and I think probably some other faculty or maybe pastors who were visiting prayed for him. No, we haven't had any direct connection with the Toronto Revival that I'm aware of.
ERICKSEN: Do you envision yourself being invited [pauses] or...or other student leaders being invited the same way that the two fellows from Howard Payne were.
INTERVIEWEE: It's already happening, yes. It's already happening.
ERICKSEN: And how do you feel about that?
INTERVIEWEE: I don't know yet. Partially, as you already mentioned because of my fatigue, I'm tired. But I feel like I don't want to get in the way of God's Spirit moving either, you know. I think if God wants to do things on other campuses that we want to facilitate that. And we are expecting calls to come in. Dr. Beougher, who is a historian of revival said, "Matt, pack your suitcase." So...and it's not just me. There are many, many other students who experienced the things of this week who I think are going to be invited to speak and simply what great things God has done in our midst...
INTERVIEWEE: ...just like Brandy and James did. And God is a God of variety as we learned in our class, and He doesn't choose to move in every place in the same way, but I think that He will move in other places as students go out.
ERICKSEN: Now, you mentioned Southwestern and Howard Payne. Are there other...
ERICKSEN: ...campuses already where things have been happening?
INTERVIEWEE: There are, and I've heard of them. In Florida and throughout Texas for sure. But I...just yesterday I heard of some...some great things happening in Florida that I really just can't recall.
ERICKSEN: Yeah, okay.
INTERVIEWEE: I just know that things are happening on campuses across our nation.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Well, what we've tried to do is help you tell your part of the story. Is there anything you would like to add?
INTERVIEWEE: Have you already heard the story about the [pauses]...the confiscation of [laughs] goods, you know, the students bringing goods?
ERICKSEN: Yeah, some have mentioned that. Who...how did that start? I...that's....
INTERVIEWEE: Basically, it was either my idea, but I don't think it was. I think it was a student's idea, who said, "Why don't we do this," you know. "Why don't...I think there's a lot of students with stuff back in their rooms that's going to cause them to stumble the second they get back there on the commitments they just made. Why don't we give them the opportunity to bring it up here and put it right here on the stage." Yeah, now...now that I think about it, I'm...I'm positive and I remember that it was a student who suggested that. So I got up and I read Scripture from the Old Testament where God told the children of Israel to utterly destroy the cities that they were conquering. And the reason he wanted them to utterly destroy those cities was because [pauses] he knew that the things that they would find there would cause them to stumble. And I also quoted the New Testament example of [pauses]...the Acts example of people burning the stuff that...the sorcery materials, etcetera. And then I just said, "Why don't you...if you have things in your room right now that you know or that you feel the Spirit is leading you to get rid of or that you know are going to cause you to stumble, why don't you just go get those right now and bring them up here and put them on the stage, and we'll take care of them for you." So that Monday night, the young men carried five garbage bags full of hundreds of CDs, I think, and tons more of other stuff, which you'll...you'll be able to find in other records of this event. But it was a...an amazing testimony to what seems to be a permanent work of God in a lot of these students' lives. And it...that happened every night after that. Not as much stuff came in, but stuff kept coming, so....
ERICKSEN: Okay. Anything else?
ERICKSEN: Thank you very much.
INTERVIEWEE: Thank you, Paul.
END OF TAPE