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Flames of Revival: Cain Ridge

By Scott Ross
The 700 Club - - America's victory over the British in the Revolutionary War ushered in a time of expansion and prosperity. Settlers headed west to seek free lands, a new life, and more freedom. As the population of the frontier grew, so did a sense of religious indifference. Methodist circuit riders traveled hundreds of miles to reach out and become the only church that these rugged people knew. Camp meetings became popular as people looked forward to a break from the hard frontier life. In the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, about 20 miles outside of Lexington, people traveled from all over to experience a touch from God. Scott Ross continues his investigation of revivals with what has been called the most important camp meeting in American history -- the Cain Ridge revival. This outpouring set the western frontier ablaze.

Scott Ross: Let's go back historically -- what were the events that lead to the Cain Ridge revival?

Dr. Elmer Towns: Cain Ridge was in Kentucky in 1800. It started at a communion service and it began with a Presbyterian serving communion. It was kind of a community communion service and a woman had a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

These extraordinary services exploded into the Cain Ridge camp meeting. The firey preaching started at sun up and didn't stop until well into the night. Many people fell to their faces as the weight of their sins struck them cold. Others sang and danced as they felt the presence of God in their midst. Thousands flocked to Cain Ridge to experience a touch from God.

But as you look at Cain Ridge, it had the Pentecostal manifestations that some of the other revivals didn't have. For instance, people would fall like timber before a sharp axe. When you look at the interviews they would fall out of agony as in the phrase I was scared to death. I was so scared that I couldn't move and they would lay on the ground for two, three days out of agony -- agonizing to pray through until they got saved.

Scott Ross: You see some of that today -- these manifestations -- and there have been other historical, people who jerk, who jump up and down. Are these legitimate expressions?

Dr. Elmer Towns: I understand what you are saying. Now historians have said several things. Let me come to you from the line of the historians. They have seen this, and about a hundred years ago, historians said God is so infinite so powerful so large that when the divine fills on man, man can not contain Him. And man breaks out with God all over the place doing things that he wouldn't have done otherwise. Such as the jerks, and falling to the ground.

Scott Ross: How did the Cain Ridge revival change the western frontier?

Dr. Elmer Towns: Well it changed the western frontier because from it exploded these circuit rider preachers who went everywhere planting churches. These churches became points of evangelization. These were the great things that changed the frontier from being a place of what we would call the wild west, with all types of lawlessness, to people wanting law and order because God had come into their life.

Scott Ross: The Cain Ridge revival has gone down in the history books as a very "human" affair. Yet for a brief moment in time, people praised, groaned, shouted, danced and came face to face with the living God. This encounter changed their lives forever.

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