We recently finished our 11th ReFRESH® Conference in the Smokies. For over a decade, we’ve held conferences in Albany, Pigeon Forge, Branson, and Richmond for the IMB stateside staff. We will be going to Boston/New England for our first conference there in September. By the end of the year, we will have hosted 30 of these conferences.
If it were not for the members of Sherwood Baptist Church having heart for revival and for pastors…if it were not for members who give up vacation days to travel, serve, and assist with the conferences, we couldn’t do this. If it were not for men with a heart for revival and awakening, there would be no conference. The various men God has used through these years have blessed and ministered to now over 1,000 pastors and countless numbers of laity.
Every man who speaks, comes with a unique giftedness, personality, and calling. Yet, when we are together, there is a seamless flow to all that happens. We don’t orchestrate it; God does it. We never know how many times we will speak, but every man is ready to speak or just to attend and pray for the meeting.
ReFRESH® is the closest thing to the Deeper Life Conferences I once attended with folks like Ron Dunn, Manley Beasley, Miss Bertha Smith, Jack Taylor, and others. We are not trying to recreate those events because they can’t be recreated. We are simply focused on the same things they were focused on: revival, the Spirit-filled life, awakening, and prayer.
Yet, having said all that, that’s not the explanation. There is no explanation for this conference. We do it on a shoestring budget. We keep it small to have greater impact and personal time with the pastors, staff, and lay leaders who attend. We give away nearly $1,000 in free resources at every conference. We scholarship pastors who can’t afford to attend. Looking at it on paper, it’s not practical, financially successful, or even well-known. Looking at it on paper, we should have stopped doing it a long time ago.
Nonetheless, there is one thing constant with all the conferences we’ve done – God has been the only explanation. There is no way to describe what God has done in the hearts of people. We’ve seen pastors who were ready to leave the ministry, renew their commitment to stay in the battle. We’ve watched men and women beaten up and scarred by carnal people have the joy of their calling restored. We’ve seen tears at the altar, joy in their faces, and restoration in their souls. Only God can do this. Only God has the power to change lives. No preacher, no conference, no sermon can bring revival or bring a blessing. That is all birthed in the Spirit of God by the power of God for the glory of God.
The most recent conference reminded me that God is in charge. We shuffled the order, changed speakers at the last minute, and we never missed a beat. God reminded us that when we are available, He is able. When we are surrendered, He will take over. When His people seek Him, He will be found.
I’m praying for the day when ReFRESH® is unnecessary. If we see a weeping, sweeping revival in our land, we won’t need this kind of conference. Until that day, I want to keep my hands to the plow. I want to keep asking God to rend the heavens and come down. I am believing God for another great move of His Spirit across this land. I am blessed to know so many others in various ministries and across denominational lines who are like-minded.
May God send an unexplainable refreshing to you and your ministry today.