Prayer and desperation has led to a great movement of God in the coal-mining country of Mingo County and surrounding counties in southern West Virginia since late March. In five weeks, 3000 souls have been saved and baptized as the fire of the Holy Spirit fell in great power on this area. It has been called the “Coalfield Revival” and the “Appalachian Awakening.”
Katie Endicott, a young wife and mother of two children and an English teacher at Mingo Central High School, is one of the leaders in the movement. She is also sponsor of the Prayer Club at school.
Katie relates her story. “Two years ago, I was driving several miles through the mountains to school before daylight around 6:15. I looked up and the mountains were on fire. I saw nothing but fire and smoke all over the mountains and I wandered where are the fire fighters? I got to my classroom and students began to tell me, ‘Mrs. Endicott, you stink. You smell horrible. You smell like smoke’ and I did. I said, well didn’t you all see the fire on the mountain this morning and they said, ‘what fire?’
“Then I thought of another teacher who drove the same route and I brought her in to see if she smelled like smoke. I asked her didn’t she see the mountains on fire this morning. She said, ‘what fire?’ Then the Holy Ghost stopped me, sat me down and told me that soon revival fire was going to fall from Heaven in our area.
“I was overwhelmed and blessed because this is an area that has really been consecrated in prayer and through prayer for generations and generations. This has been decades in the making. People have been praying for this their whole lives. People like my dad, a pastor, who would wake at 4 a.m., go to the church and pray for revival. Also my grandparents and great-grandparents prayed for revival throughout their lives for this area.”
On March 24, Skyler Miller, a football athlete at Logan County High School, 28 miles north of Williamson, WV, was boldly led of God to preach in the school hallway after lunch. Skyler had been healed of leukemia twice and gave his life to Christ after the first healing. Students listened to Skyler that day with his great passion and conviction. Some repented of their sins and invited Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior.
On April 10, the Regional Church of God in Delbarton, a coal mining town of 1,237 people, held a three-day Revival with Evangelist Matt Hartley from Cleveland, TN as the preacher. Matt had preached at the church previously. The next week, Matt was invited to Mingo Central High School to speak at the Prayer Club, which is held during an activity period. Normally, the Prayer Club has 30 students but on this day, 400 students came and 150 were saved. This is when the Revival really began.
“Skyler helped light the spark,” says Katie, “but the credit for this wave belongs to God. The awakening is larger than any one person, school, church or denomination and reflects decades of prayer and sowing seed. When Skyler started preaching in the hallways, it inspired students to rise up and be bold in the faith.
“We had never seen that many souls come to the Lord in such a quick time,” she says of the 150 who responded to Hartley’s invitation. “We knew there was something unique going on.”
The Prayer Club held a student-led worship event at the Mingo Central football field and 3000 people came. The service lasted four hours and hundreds came forward. Many were baptized in an inflatable pool on the football field that night.
Kaleb Hanshaw, youth pastor of Regional Church of God, along with Katie has also been one of the leaders of this movement. “We had a service early on in our church that seats 400. When 700 people came, we knew we had to find a larger place for our services. So we went to the Field House in Williamson and began to have events on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Crowds of up to 2000 have attended those services crying out to God and that’s where hundreds have given their hearts to Jesus.”
EVIDENCES OF REVIVAL
Evangelist Hartley was interviewed by CBN News and he said, “This is not man-made, charismatic, hyper spiritual. This is the presence of God that is overwhelming us, that is being released upon hungry people that are tired of just stagnant Christianity and ‘safe’ church. They want Jesus more than anything else. That’s why they’re here.
“I believe God has preserved this state for the end-time awakening that’s coming to America. I believe that this is the beginning of where it happens and it’s going to spread as a wild-fire throughout the nations of the world, that Jesus is going to be exalted. And the more Jesus is exalted the more the river of God is going to flow, and we have not seen anything yet to what God is releasing.”
Pastor Mitch Bias of the Regional Church of God in Delbarton says that prayer and desperation have caused the spiritual awakening especially among the youth. “It’s a climatic time,” he says. “ I think the many years of creating a spiritual vacuum inside the kids by not teaching them the true reality that there’s a destiny in God—time plus chance, plus matter—has produced a vacuum on the inside. I think when they hear the message of hope, it really speaks to them because they’re kind of hanging in a spiritual limbo. And they press into it quickly to take it ‘cause they know that’s the truth.’”
It is especially good to note that the Decision America Tour with Franklin Graham came to Charleston, West Virginia on May 5, the same day as the National Day of Prayer. How appropriate since this great Prayer Revival in West Virginia was taking place at the same time. Said Katie, “Evangelist Matt Hartley and a number of people from Regional Church of God went to Charleston for the prayer rally. Our people were greatly blessed.” One report said that “Many southern West Virginians plan to stroke the flames of their regional revival by standing with Franklin Graham during his Decision America Tour stop in Charleston. After all, prayer is at the core of what’s happening in their community just 90 miles southwest of the State Capitol.” A crowd of 4,300 came from across West Virginia for the prayer rally.
Recent developments in the “Coalfield Revival—Appalachian Awakening” occurred on Saturday, May 15 when a revival event took place at the Logan County High School football field. Logan is 28 miles north of Williamson. Katie Endicott, Kaleb Hanshaw and the revival team invited evangelist K.C. Doss of The Ramp ministry in Hamilton, AL to speak. The team felt led to move from the Williamson Field House into a new area to spread the movement.
It had rained most of the week and a 1,000 people gathered for the 7 p.m. rally with their umbrellas under rainy skies. It was windy, damp and 50 degrees but the praise band warmed this crowd as the Holy Spirit of God came quickly. Katie led the crowd mixed equally with youth and adults in worship. She gave some highlights of how God had moved powerfully over the past six weeks. She had six people to pray individually for the families, the schools, the churches and for revival to come across the area. Skyler Miller stood on the platform on his high school football field and gave his testimony of overcoming leukemia and how the Lord boldly led him to preach in the hallways of his school, located across the football field. He prayed that students would boldly stand for Christ in their schools. Then Katie had the people to pray out loud for the service, asking God to forgive us of our sins and boldly before the throne welcome his mighty power on the service.
At 8:30, the fiery evangelist from Alabama took the platform with Bible in hand and said this is the coldest place I’ve ever preached. The crowd laughed but nobody moved about waiting for the Word from God. K.C. preached from Matthew the fifth chapter and concentrated on “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” He focused on his ministry theme throughout that “Jesus Is Better” but used the verse to point out sins that must be repented of before we can come pure before God and see and experience Him in a joyful and close relationship.
When he gave the invitation, about 100 people came forward without hesitation. Katie said later that 30 came for salvation and the others to get their hearts cleansed from sin and claim a pure heart before God. And yes, the inflatable pool was ready as Kaleb was assisted by another young man to baptize 10 of those who came forward in 48 degree weather. It was to get down to 37 that night. And the rain held off during the three hour rally.
Katie says that they plan to hold monthly Saturday revival events in the next three months in other towns and allow the Lord to lead. Meanwhile, the revival spirit carries on in the schools, churches, homes, places of business and neighborhoods.
Williamson (pop. 3,191) is the hub of the Revival. It was a booming coal-mining town in the l920’s. The Regional Church of God where the three-day revival took place is 10 miles south. The Mingo Central High School is 23 miles south of Williamson. The 90-mile drive on Hwy 52 from Bluefield, WV to Williamson is a narrow two-lane highway, curvy with switchbacks that requires almost a three-hour drive. Residents live beside the highway and in the hollows. Some 70 percent are coal-mining families. One must be reminded that the great Wales Revival of 1904-05 began with a 27-year old coal-miner named Evan Roberts and spread to many parts of the world.
In 1929, the five-story Mountaineer Hotel was built and is still in business in downtown Williamson. In 1960, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy spent the night there while campaigning for President. In 1938 and 1939, future Hall of Famer Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals played Class D baseball here as a 17 and 18-year old pitcher.
The baseball field sits beside the Williamson Field House that was built and dedicated to the youth of Williamson, West Virginia in 1950. How thrilling to note that 66 years later, it would hold Revival rallies for a great movement of God for its youth. Popular news reporter Wendy Griffith of Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network was a cheerleader for the Williamson Miners while in high school here. She came back to do a Revival news report from the Field House where she had cheered for the basketball team.
So for what started out as a three-day Revival on April 10, this area of Southern West Virginia has seen the Holy Spirit move like a mighty rushing wind. “We know this (revival) was birthed in prayer so we know the only way for it to continue is to stay in prayer,” says Katie. “We are not looking for this season to end here in southern West Virginia. We really believe that revival is going to spread all across the state. It’s going to spread all across the nation. We want to partner with all of our brothers and sisters, and we want to stand united and pray together.
“Our area has been devastated by the economy and by drugs, and like I said, people have prayed and they have prayed, and they have prayed but it has been a place that has been gripped by this stuff. It was overwhelming, and people were losing hope.” One report said that 28 percent of people in this county live in poverty. Economic depression is real.
However, the Revival has given hope. “This (revival) moment has really turned everything around. People are excited. People are passionate,” says Katie. “People have joy. People have hope. You can’t go anywhere without hearing what God is doing.
“This is what we have believed (for). We did not give up hope. We always knew that the Lord was going to send the true revival and true awakening to southern West Virginia. We’ve had many revival services. We’ve had great moves of God. But there has been nothing like this.”
2 Chronicles 7:14…”If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”
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Students who have walked the halls of Mingo Central the last couple years say the West Virginian high school has a different feel these days.
Praise the Lord! Praying with you for continued spiritual awakening, and that the students of Mingo Central would know Jesus!