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'Lord, we need a revival'

A summerlong tent revival will feature women's conferences, guest speakers and plenty of singing.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 28, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- An old-fashioned, sawdust-floor tent revival is set to start Saturday and continue every night for at least two months near 34th Street and 26th Avenue S.

Organizers hope to fill a 1,000-seat tent, which will have no air conditioning but be decorated with three chandeliers, through August.

Tuesday morning about 40 people, including several preachers, gathered for a pep rally and last-minute planning session at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.

They sang and prayed fervently for the success of the revival, which will be led by Stephen Paul Wilson of International Missions Inc., which is based near Jacksonville, and the Rev. Patricia Nevins of the local Eternal Life Revival Ministries International.

The Rev. Nevins opened the morning meeting by asking everyone to stand and applaud for the Lord. The audience obeyed. They clapped. They shouted and they spoke in tongues.

"I just thank you, friends of God, for being here," said the Rev. Nevins, a former Roman Catholic, who was ordained three years ago.

"This is the beginning of a tremendous evangelism effort in the St. Petersburg area, and God's hands are in the midst of us," the Rev. Don Browne of Traveler's Rest Missionary Baptist Church said in his opening prayer.

"Send us a revival. Lord, we need a revival," he prayed.

Those attending the breakfast gathering came from a variety of churches and were both black and white.

Among them were Ray and Darlene Brubaker of God's News Behind the News, a television and radio show that looks for signs of biblical prophecy in world events.

"I am here," said Browne, "to act as a catalyst between various communities and churches and to make this revival a spiritual success. I have sent out letters to most of the African-American churches in the community. I am looking for souls to be saved."

St. Petersburg is ready for a revival, several people said Tuesday.

"Just riding down in the area, you can just sense there is something to be had," said Wilson, 37, who has been preaching with his father, Ronald "R.D." Wilson, since he was 17.

The Rev. Nevins said: "St. Petersburg has a lot of churches of a lot of different denominations and a lot of them are empty. God is calling upon his people. He is bringing in the harvest." The 41-year-old moved to Florida from New York and once worked for an Off-Broadway theater and in the movie industry.

The summerlong event, titled the 21st Century Tent Revival 2000, will feature women's conferences, guest speakers and plenty of singing.

Just days before the event, though, there was still much to be done.

A call went out for money. In addition, pleas were made for ushers, greeters, evangelism team captains and members, altar call prayer counselors and trustworthy people to pick up the nightly offerings. The Rev. Nevins also asked for help to find someone to guard the trailer in which Wilson and his family will live throughout the revival.

This, said R.D. Wilson, is not a typical revival.

"Everybody has a one- or two-day revival, but a real revival takes time," he said.

The Rev. Nevins has set her sights high:

"The goal is to fill the churches with new believers and believers who have left the church and that they will strengthen the church, strengthen their families and increase the kingdom of God."

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