Leaders of the All Nations Camp Meeting are too young to have experienced the “Jesus Movement,” but they say they know of it and that camp meeting participants display the same awareness of and touch by the Holy Spirit.
The Jesus Movement started with “hippies” on the West Coast in the late 1960s and spread nationwide. With the recent release of “The Jesus Music” film, more and more are remembering the era when young people objected to the Vietnam War and the excesses of modern life.
“In the early 1970s, the Jesus Movement touched a generation, including many of our leaders today,” then-Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd wrote in 2014. “Through this work of God, thousands came to Christ, followed by many of them being called into ministry. The greatest year of reaching and baptizing teenagers in our Southern Baptist history occurred in 1972, all due to the influence of the Jesus Movement.”
The All Nations Camp Meeting started Oct. 2, 2019 on the Coushatta Indian Reservation in southwest Louisiana, and has been meeting six nights a week since, through two hurricanes, two major tropical storms, the car-crash deaths of three teen girls and the Oct. 15 COVID-19 death of one of the organizers, Randy Carruth.
“We’re not praying for revival,” John Cernek, longtime pastor of Indian Bible Church asserted. “We’re living it!”
Preston Nix, who teaches about revivals at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said he was a “Jesus Freak,” turned on to the Jesus Movement by a high school teacher who was “an algebra teacher by day and a flower child” by night.
“All of a sudden we had an awareness of the Lord,” Nix told The Baptist Paper. His teacher had a morning Bible study in her classroom, and from his youth director at church and other sources, Nix heard about long-haired hippies on the West Coast becoming Christians.
“God began to move and to work,” Nix said. “There were three primary groups that made up the Jesus Movement: hippies who called themselves street Christians, young people in established churches and ‘charismatic Catholics.’
“We were ‘Baptist hippies,’ kids in the church who were affected by the [Jesus Movement] culture.”
Jesus & the hippie culture
Nix recalled several songs of the era, such as “Pass It On.”
“That was probably the signature song among church kids and street Christians,” he said. “And ‘I Wish We’d All Been Ready.’ We didn’t want our friends to be left behind when the Rapture came.
“One of the biggest things out of the Jesus Movement was that we wanted our friends to be saved,” Nix asserted. “We wanted everyone to know the Lord.
“Also, we wanted to know the Word of God. Anyplace we could get together to study the Bible was good enough for us.
“Jesus fit the hippie culture because He had long hair, a beard, wore sandals and He traveled around,” Nix continued. “Jesus was considered a revolutionary in His own day. He rebelled against the establishment of that time. He was an example to the younger generation. He was attractive to them.
“He revolutionized their lives, kept them from drugs, alcohol and sex, and gave them purpose. They had tried everything and found that Jesus was the only one who could give them satisfaction and freedom.”
Good news for a wandering generation
A June 2020 article in Biola University’s Talbot Magazine described “four common features” of the Jesus Movement: It was counter-cultural; a theological blend of evangelicalism; combined “end times” theology and evangelism; and did not have one leader or organization.
“Central to understanding the Jesus People Movement was their singular devotion to and zeal for evangelism,” according to the article written by Ed Stetzer and Andrew MacDonald. “At the core of the movement’s identity was an abiding belief that the gospel was good news for a lost and wandering generation.”
Internationally acclaimed Evangelist Sammy Tippit has an insider’s perspective on the Jesus Movement. Even as word spread about it, the young Tippit had a burden for teens and young adults and was invited to lead a youth revival in Monroe, Louisiana.
Few came the first night, more the second; the revival stretched into a second week and culminated with thousands at the Monroe Civic Center. At that same time, on Feb. 3, 1970, revival broke out during a 50-minute chapel service at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, lasting eight days.
“Neither one had anything to do with the other, but God at the moment was moving in the country,” Tippit told The Baptist Paper. “It was just a move of the Lord. There was no organization, no church, no anybody who could take credit for it. It was in answer to prayers of people desperately praying for revival.
‘Desperate to see God work’
“It was very much like the time we’re living in right now,” Tippit continued. “There were racial tensions, political tensions, assassinations of prominent people, the Vietnam War, drugs flowing into the country. All this darkness, and some people became desperate to see God work.”
Tippit soon moved from Louisiana, with his wife Tex, to Chicago to minister in the city’s high crime areas, on downtown streets and in the nightclub district, and became known for leading the Jesus Movement in the city.
Nationwide, Christian communes, coffeehouses and the music style of the day imbued with Christian lyrics sprang up as local expressions of the Jesus Movement. They attracted young people who rejected mainstream America and yet longed for connection.
“In the midst of the nation’s pain, chaos and uncertainty it was solely through trusting Jesus that aimless people could find the peace and joy and love they craved,” Tippit explained. “It was because of the Jesus Movement that numerous Baby Boomers remain involved in conservative evangelical churches even to today.
“This was much more than an emotional and counter-cultural religious phenomenon,” Tippit asserted. “It was a moment in history when God answered the prayers of His people, a time in which He intervened in the culture of the day, and a season in which the wind of God blew across the hearts of an entire generation of youth.
“God heard the cries of His people, and a transformational movement was birthed: the Jesus Movement.”