Sharon Wissemann wrote this article on Pensacola Evangelist Steve Hill in her Diploma of Ministry studies at the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia.
Stephen Hill has remained ‘holy, humble and hungry’,
enabling God to entrust him with powerful leadership in revival.
Since Sunday 18th June, 1995 hundreds of thousands of lives have been changed as a direct result of the Pensacola Revival in Florida, USA. The spark that ignited the revival was an evangelist named Steve Hill.
Born Stephen Hill into an upper middle class family in January 1954 in Ankara, Turkey, Hill began to rebel at a very early age. His life of drinking, smoking and taking other drugs began at nine years of age. The next twelve years of his life was spent in cults, travel, hard narcotics, parties, music and jail. Hill was arrested 13 times for car theft, narcotics trafficking and other related crimes. His life was changed on October 28, 1975 when a Lutheran vicar led him to the Lord by simply saying the name of ‘Jesus’ over and over. At 11 a.m. that Tuesday morning he had a dramatic conversion when the power of Jesus Christ flooded his soul.
In 1977 Hill entered the Twin Oaks Academy, a leadership training institute in Texas founded by David Wilkerson. At the Academy he was taught prayer by Leonard Ravenhill and evangelism by Nicky Cruz and through personal experience. He met his wife, Jeri at the Academy. After graduating from the school, he entered into church ministry. God called Hill to the mission field when he took a group of young people to Mexico.
In Argentina that Hill first saw Carlos Annacondia minister to tens of thousands of people. In his first Annacondia meeting out in the middle of a soccer field he witnessed fifteen to twenty thousand people ‘craving God’. Although he always had the desire for evangelism, Hill believes that he received the evangelistic anointing from Annacondia, who has lead over two million people to Jesus, when he laid hands on him.
Hill was involved in the Argentine Revival, seeing multitudes saved and healed. For seven years he helped plant seven churches in Buenos Aires and Southern Argentina during this revival. He also planted churches and conducted church crusades in several other countries such as Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Spain, Russia and Belarus.
As well as from planting churches in various countries, Stephen Hill has been involved ministries such as Teen Challenge, street evangelism, counselling, youth conferences and crusades. He has helped to establish drug rehabilitation centres in several areas around the world.
In 1995, Hill read an article in Time magazine about the move of God in an Anglican Church in London. He arranged for a meeting at three o’clock on January 19 with Pastor Sandy Miller of the Holy Brompton Anglican Church to see what was going on. Over 500 people were shaking and laying on the floor under the power of God when Hill arrived. Instead of having the appointment, Hill asked Miller to lay hands on him. He received a new impartation from Miller’s prayer.
On Father’s Day, June 18, 1995 Hill was invited by John Kilpatrick, the Pastor of Brownsville Assembly of God, to speak at the Sunday morning service. Kilpatrick had just lost his mother to cancer was emotionally and physically weary, so he requested his longtime friend Hill to speak in his place. Hill issued an altar call and a thousand people responded. Kilpatrick says that he felt the sensation of a wind blowing in the church. Various manifestations occurred such as falling to the ground, weeping and violent shaking. The morning service was scheduled to finish at noon but continued till 4 p.m. Likewise the night service was extended and became a five-hour long service. The Pensacola Revival had begun.
Congregation members asked Hill to stay a several more days. This he did and began to cancelling appointments, including a trip to Russia. He decided to stay and moved his family to be near the revival. It is estimated that over 100,000 people have been saved and over 1 million people from all over the world have visited Pensacola since 1995. Hill continues to minister in the revival services Wednesday to Saturday nights at Brownsville Assembly of God to this day. Steve Hill is a leader in current revival.
Why did God choose Hill to start the Brownsville Revival? There are two answers to this question. Firstly, God is sovereign and he can choose whoever he pleases to start a revival. Secondly, Hill possesses certain attributes that enable him to be one of God’s chosen vessels for this revival.
Several features of revivalists outlined in the 1795 classic Accounts of Revivals by John Gillies apply to Steve Hill.
The first feature Gillies listed was that revivalists are earnest about the ‘great work of ministry on which they had entered’. Steve Hill is an evangelist. His primary passion and compassion is for the salvation of the lost. Hill’s preaching echoes the words of John the Baptist and Jesus ‘repent for the kingdom of God is at hand’ (Matt. 3:2; 4:17).
Revivalists are also men of labour. Gillies explained that they labour for eternity knowing that ‘the time was short and the day of recompense was at hand’. Hill is convinced of the urgency of this hour. As an evangelist Hill’s preaching and prayers are geared towards the salvation of the lost, the backsliders and the prodigals. It is because of his own past of crime and drug addiction that he can relate to the lost in a with insight and compassion.
Revivalists are people of ‘most decided doctrine’. There is a ‘breadth and a power in their preaching’. This feature applies to Hill’s preaching. He knows the Bible and delivers his messages bluntly and directly from the Word of God. Personally Hill would rather ‘hear the hard truth and live than to fall for a soft lie and die’. This belief compels Hill to preach the full gospel, including the reality of hell, to people. He preaches Christ crucified, total atonement and the Blood of Christ. As the revivalists of old, Hill’s trumpet gives no uncertain sound.
Revivalists are also people of prayer. Hill sets time aside to pray and sit in God’s presence to learn his instructions and his ways for each day. Early in his Christian life Hill had been instructed in prayer by Leonard Ravenhill at the Twin Oaks Academy.
Another reason that Hill is involved in this current revival in Brownsville could be that he ‘caught the fire’ from elsewhere and was the spark that ignited the flame. Throughout his Christian life Hill received impartations from leaders in different fields. While at Twin Oaks he was taught by David Wilkerson, Leonard Ravenhill and Nicky Cruz. In Argentina he ‘hung around’ Carlos Annacondia for seven years. Hill received an impartation from Pastor Sandy Miller of the Holy Trinity Brompton Anglcian Church in London in January 1995. Several months later, revival broke out in Pensacola.
Hunger is another contributing factor to Hill’s involvement in revival. At the height of the great revival in Argentina, Hill experienced a personal, spiritual drought even though his devotional time was intact, his marriage was strong and new churches were being planted. Through this time of testing by God, Hill maintained his time with the Lord during the morning hours. This drought created a passionate desire within him to have more of God and less of himself in his ministry. He wanted a fresh touch, a new anointing and craved intimacy with Jesus. This personal famine produced in him an intense desire for genuine revival amongst sinners. He wanted a ‘deep holy move of the Spirit amongst sinners’ and to see them ‘drawn to the Lord just by sensing His presence’. Pensacola is the realization of those desires.
The Brownsville Revival is different from past revivals in history. This revival is not focussed on one particular personality, such as John Wesley or Charles Finney. Instead it has occurred in one particular location, the Brownsville Assembly of God, Pensacola, Florida, USA, where God has chosen to pour out His Spirit. Brownsville also illustrates the new team concept that has been prophesied about in recent years. The team has been nicknamed as Pastor Watchful, Evangelist Street Smart, and Music Director Trendy. God chose a team without fame or significant national acclaim to lead his revival.
Steve Hill is the evangelist in the current revival at Brownsville. Saved radically from a life of crime and drug addiction, he has ministered in many places throughout the world. He was the spark that ignited the Pensacola Outpouring on Father’s Day, June 18 1995, that continues to impact the globe today. The fruit of the revival proves that Hill has been effective in his gifting and calling as an evangelist. He is a man of earnest labour, prayer and doctrine dedicated to saving souls and bringing prodigals home. Hill has caught the fire, ignited it and carried it successfully to this day.
Stephen Hill has remained ‘holy, humble and hungry’, enabling God to entrust him with powerful leadership in revival.
© Renewal Journal 10: Evangelism, 1997, 2nd edition 2011.
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