The 1960s saw the hippie generation change many of America’s youth. A non-conformist spirit prevailed in a movement known for sex, drugs and rebellion, but God saw a generation searching for something more.
The Spirit of God moved and what became known as “The Jesus Movement” was born. Its beginnings were in California in the late sixties. The movement expanded in power and breadth by the early seventies with several branches forming over the next decade.
Young people were awakened and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Mass baptisms took place along the California coast. It was all about accepting Jesus, finding joy and peace in Him. The emptiness of drugs was replaced by the fullness found in Jesus. Evangelism ignited and many were the souls on fire, unashamedly witnessing of Christ.
One author described attending a mass baptismal service and interviewing a young lady who had just been baptized. What he couldn’t get over even years later was the radiant joy this girl possessed, totally in love with the Savior. God had done a genuine work in the hearts of searching young people.
Some have looked at this movement with skepticism and refuse to call it a revival, primarily because those involved didn’t “look right.” Their reasoning is that if this were a true work of God, then the people involved would have changed. They would have conformed to a given box of understanding. However, this argument holds a wrong perspective. The real question is did this movement pass the tests of the Spirit in 1 John 4? Were people pointed to Jesus and away from that which is anti-Jesus? Were they pointed to the Word and away from man’s philosophies? And was the love of God shed abroad?
When hippies left marijuana parties to attend Bible studies, you cannot chalk it up to the devil. That doesn’t mean everything was pristine. We must remember that God blesses faith, and when He does, that does not imply God condones every doctrine or practice in a given group. He is simply blessing those who seek Him.
Since I have begun to mention the revivals of the early seventies in my meetings, a number of individuals have told me they were born again at that time, several of them on college campuses. Praise the Lord, He loves and cares for all and is willing to meet the seeking heart even when they come from an unorthodox setting!
John Van Gelderen