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The New Gatekeepers: A Portrait of the Jewel City Revival

Jason Michael Morgan | February 22, 2022

Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city!" When the worship team at Christ Temple Church in Huntington, West Virginia sang this Chris Tomlin song over a room that was filled with the Holy Spirit, a true spiritual shift took place.

I spent part of the third week of February with Nik Walker Ministries as they entered into the fourth week of what was original a single weekend revival. Coined the "Jewel City Revival," these services, hosted by Christ Temple and led by traveling evangelist Nik Walker, have brought people from multiple states into a place of worship, and many of them, ultimately, to the waters of baptism.

This revival had spread even into the local schools in Wayne and Cabell counties in West Virginia and Boyd County in Kentucky. And although these in-school services were hosted by Christian clubs at the schools and were completely voluntary, this sparked much backlash when two teachers from these schools allegedly brought their students, without choice, to these meetings. This backlash led to the Jewel City Revival receiving national recognition, both positive and negative, from giants in news media such as CNN, ABC, and NPR.

I spoke to Evangelist Walker, who shared the impetus of this revival.

Evangelist Nik Walker: Several leaders and church members from Christ Temple came down to a Boone County (WV) revival and were really touched. It sparked a hunger in them... they wanted this here. This is the end of week four, but the original plan was four nights of revival with spontaneous baptisms. We didn't anticipate what would happen, which was 238 baptisms in four nights. Then the schools started calling.

I questioned how the response of the school meetings had effected the revival.

Evangelist Walker: It's unfortunate. All schools have their clubs and all clubs are voluntary... everything on our part was done correctly. I can't speak to the procedural errors, but it sparked a walkout and national news attention. And it's unfortunate because the kids who voluntarily attended the meetings really got touched... We're not trying to give Christianity a special privilege... the students were just exercising their rights... I think the enemy is trying to get ahold of it and make something negative out of it, but everything that the enemy has done to try to affect us negatively, God has used it to bring more people here. Like the news who posted about it... first it was a state-wide thing, then national news stations got ahold of it, and then people begin asking, "Well, what's going on there in Huntington?"

After the news hit the national scene, the service attendance grew from five-hundred a night to over seven-hundred in one day. I, as well, was curious about this revival and went to get a firsthand look at what the Lord was doing there.

I began this particular Tuesday evening in the lobby of a hotel. Nik Walker, originally from Mullens, WV and now operating in Cleveland, TN, met up with key members of his team who had all also been taking up their temporary residence in Huntington. This rag-tag group of under-thirties followed Evangelist Walker around, joking and laughing on the car ride like good friends—likely because they all are.

When we arrived at Christ Temple and entered a prayer room to prep for the service, you could feel a sense of expectation from everyone in the building from the staff, to the volunteers, and even those slowly making their way into the foyer. As you looked around the prayer room, you could see the trend continue—most of the prayer team looked to be under thirty, many in high school, and some were as young as eleven. This revival was being helmed by young people.

As the team entered a nearly hour-long time of intercession and prayer for the evening, the atmosphere shifted and the Holy Spirit began a journey into the building. I moved into the spacious sanctuary of Christ Temple, where the room was nearly filled at 6:45 on a Tuesday evening. On the stage, above the worship team, a screen scrolled name after name all night long - these were the names of those who had been baptized during the revival. After a joyful and active time of musical worship, Pastor Charles “Chuck” Lawrence, the senior leader of Christ Temple Church, came up to introduce Nik. Evangelist Walker had spoke four nights a week for a month now, but on this night, something very peculiar happened.

As Evangelist Walker went to preach, there was a stirring in the room. For over an hour, he didn't begin to speak as the room settled—with different levels of comfortability—into an atmosphere of Jesus. A true glory—the weight of God's presence—was pouring over the room. Interspersed in this extended time of tarrying, there were many moments of prophetic worship from the worship team as they sang lines such as "Here comes the Glory of the Lord, sweeping in the room," "If He did it in me, He’ll do it again," and the Tomlin song quoted at the beginning of this article.

After nearly an hour of this heaviness, it began to be lifted by more energetic, yet highly moving, worship which led to what is arguably the hallmark of Walker’s ministry—baptism, and more specifically, re-baptism. Re-baptism is a concept that many are unfamiliar with, but that Evangelist Walker speaks on at length. People often realize their baptisms might not be valid, that perhaps they were baptized at young age before they knew what they were doing, or they had gone astray from God and need to renew their covenant with Him. This message, along with a powerful Gospel message, resulted in over 650 baptisms in four week—and the number continues to grow.

As the worship settled, Pastor Jay Morgan, Director of APC Ministries, was invited to deliver a word to the people of Christ Temple concerning their “gatekeeping” role in the community. "Watch your words. Our words have more power than we realize... Quit cursing those we should blessing." And then another beautiful moment of God's work happened—the room assumed their responsibility of looking after the broken people in their community and began shouting blessings, prayers, and uplifting declarations for their city and its people.

Evangelist Walker: It starts with hunger. These people are hungry. We are in perilous times, as scripture says, and people are hungry for something that doesn't leave you void. And when these young people get a taste of it, they latch onto it because they want something in their life that has consistency... it's the only thing they've latched onto in their life that's not temporary. We're watching a move of God transform the whole community. They're coming to the meetings, getting touched, and they are the ones taking it back to their schools and peers—not even us.

I spoke also to Pastor Chuck Lawrence about the how future of the community will be affected by this move of God.

Pastor Chuck Lawrence: Without a true genuine move of God, I believe this city is destined to repeat its cycle of a downward spiral. Money isn't going to fix this, putting people in jail isn't going to fix this. The only thing that will fix this is true hope that comes from understanding there is a God, I have a purpose... When Hope arrives in a city it begins to flourish. I really believe that it's imperative that we have a move of God, and believe this revival is part of that.

At the end of this service—filled with powerful worship, Holy Spirit presence, and many salvations and recommitments—a profound testimony was spoken. A woman who was deaf in one ear came to the Sunday night service a few days prior, - that night she was completely healed and her hearing was restored. She then shared that her daughter, who had left home ten months ago, had returned and was coming with her the next night to revival services.

And that's exactly what happened—her daughter came the next night and was baptized. And this is just one vignette from hundreds of personal testimonies. That Wednesday night—with a fuller room than even Tuesday—Pastor Lawrence announced that this single-weekend of revival services would be extended into its fifth week.

Evangelist Walker: The biggest move of the Lord in this region has really been the testimonies of the people. There's really something genuine taking place. That's how it works in the community... it's people who are speaking about it. It isn't me. It's the people getting touched... As the lost are saved and as the church is thriving, generations are raised up... It's a heavy mandate. What's next for this city is that the people of Huntington raise up and become the gatekeepers they are meant to be.

Pastor Lawrence: When we revive, in other words we come back to life, it does cause us to shift a culture. Culture is created by our responses, and when we have Godly responses it begins to change a culture... what we truly believe in is what shapes a culture. So if we really believe in God, a culture will shift to match the heart of God.

The term "gatekeeper" assigned to the people of Christ Temple and Huntington at large speaks to their strategic placement as a gateway to the state—so shifting the culture of that area, as well as taking responsibility to bring the area to Jesus, is crucial to spreading revival in West Virginia. I witnessed this declared in this revival, but this is just one portrait of a single week from a single move of God. Greater things are yet to come.

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