Following Sean Feucht & the Revivalists During the Outbreak of a Pandemic
The plan for a planned revival called “Movement 2020” was announced in September of 2019. It was held December 31st- January 2rd, 2020. David Bradshaw of Awaken the Dawn and Sean Feucht of Burn 24–7 planned this “collaborative family gathering” in Sean’s home state of Virginia. Although Feucht spent his younger years in Montana, his family moved to Virginia when he was a teen. His late father, a dermatologist, was offered a leadership position at Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing medical ministry, headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA. He and his wife, Kate, met in high school. Feucht attended college at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a college student, he and other volunteers started a 24 hour prayer ministry that would come to be known as Burn 24–7.
In the advertisement above, Bradshaw’s Awaken the Dawn, along with well known New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) or Independent Network of Churches (INC) leaders. Mike Bickle of IHOP-KC and Heidi Baker who is associated with Bethel Church in Redding, CA are named among the big name speakers promised for this event. NAR/INC churches, like Bethel Church, “believe in apostolic succession, the continuance of the charismatic gifts (healing, speaking in tongues, prophecy, etc) and a belief in the invisible interference/ intervention of angels and demons in the lives of humans”. The Circuit Riders and Brian Brennt are part of Youth with a Missions (YWAM) and/or an affiliated ministries. Many of the Revivalists have several ministries or side hustles, along with a least a couple 501(c)3 nonprofits to match. They often help each other out by serving as board members on each other’s nonprofits.
Awaken the Dawn is a 24–7 prayer initiative founded and lead by David Bradshaw. Evangelistic outreach and activism at locations, such as family planning clinics, are planned as part of the ministry. Bradshaw’s prayer events appear to culminate annually (since 2017) in Washington, DC with what they call “Tent America”, located at the National Mall. It is intentionally planned for the week of the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacle, even though Bradshaw and his group are Evangelical Christians. The tents are meant to represent the tabernacles of that feast. Prayer and fasting leading up to and during the event are encouraged. In 2017, Bradshaw posted a video asking for volunteers and participants to come to Washington, DC, along with pleas for donations of at least a million dollars total.
The day after that gathering on January 4, 2020; Awaken the Dawn announced a “100 day procession across America”, with a stop off at Franklin Graham’s Prayer March in Washington, DC and “culminating in Kansas City for Awaken the Dawn 2020 in collaboration with “The Send”. “The Send” a is a progression of “The Call”, a stadium event of INC minister Lou Engle’s which focused on fasting and prayer “that America would turn back to Jesus”. Engle initially focused on anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQIA messaging, but he added a call for missionaries and promoters of the gospel to that focus and renamed the gatherings. “The Send” promises to “unite around Jesus and declare one thing- A WAR ON INACTION” (sic). Although the speakers featured in The Send come from many different ministries, it appears that they are all in some way affiliated with IHOP-KC.
Lou Engle prophesied that 2020 would be a year of “Stadium Christianity” and he cited that over a dozen stadium sized gatherings of Christians had been planned for that year. This vision came from an older prophesy that originated from Paul Cain who was one of the Kansas City Prophets. Cain died in 2019 and NAR/INC followers seem to believe that the “mantle” of Paul Cain and Billy Graham will fall on young believers and cause a revival. Neo-Charismatics emphasize the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers lives and believe that can manifest in special calls (being chosen for a task) and “anointing” (being a conduit of spiritual power).
These prophetic words have been referenced by other members of “The Send”, including point man Andy Byrd. Byrd is affiliated with YWAM and is the leader of a ministry called Fire and Fragrance. Byrd and Feucht have authored a few books together, including a set of books entitled “The Culture of Revival- A Revivalist’s Field Manual”.
Let’s pause here for a definition of Revivalist. While the standard definition of Revivalist is one who “travels about to conduct revivals specifically : a member of the clergy”, the self-designated Revivalists seem to have updated the usage to include preparation for the task by fasting and participating in a period of 24–7 prayer. Large rallies that include preaching and music, water baptisms, prayers for healing and on location spiritual warfare are some of the practices that Revivalists use to prepare for and witness to the move of the Holy Spirit.
Sean Feucht was having a busy February in 2020. He decided to run for Congress, while still maintaining oversight to and leadership over his Burn 24–7, Sean Feucht Ministries (two of the same name) and “Light a Candle” non-profit ministries. Feucht also founded a Super PAC called Hold the Line which is stated purpose of it supporting a “political activist movement. Our goal is to engage with the church and with millennials in a way that charges them to become more politically active.” It was difficult in 2020 to tell from Feucht’s social media which nonprofit or political group he was promoting with each post. At times he attached a logo to the photo in the post, but in my observation the content did not always match the initiative.
In February of 2020, Feucht released a new worship song entitled “God of Revival” with husband and wife, Brian and Jenn Johnson (son of head pastor Bill Johnson and his wife Beni). It certainly seems like a plan for revival was afoot.
The year for “The Send” started promisingly, with a historic turnout to their rally in Brazil that was “a 12-hour event that took place simultaneously in three stadiums in two of Brazil’s largest cities.” 140k attended, along with Brazilian President Bolsonaro, who stepped on stage to say that he “is a believer in Jesus and that Brazil belongs to God.” Speakers Andy Byrd, Daniel Kolenda, Lou Engle, Michael Koulianos, Todd White, Brian Brentt, and Teo Hayashi led the rally.
By late March 2020, plans were pulverized when the news of a worldwide pandemic sunk in. A hasty detour, led to the promotion of “Home Revival”, which was offered as an alternative because of the shutdowns and stay at home orders in most states throughout the USA. It seems that The Revivalists were being compliant with restrictions at this stage of the pandemic.
Lou Engle asked his followers in March if they would reserve a special three days for prayer and fasting (in the middle of a 40 day fast that he had already organized) so that the coronavirus could be stopped and “The Send” rally in Kansas City could go on as planned. A “The Send” rally in Argentina was planned for April 25th, 2020, but it had to be cancelled due to shutdowns.
Revivalist, Andy Byrd said of the virus: “It is threatening the global advance of evangelism and is determined to stop Stadium Christianity and the sending movement,” Byrd told Engle. “The Send Kansas City must not be stopped! Other great gatherings must not be stopped!” Byrd might have also been concerned about the possibility of losing hefty deposits on Arrowhead Stadium if the event needed to be rescheduled. I wonder if they would have been able to schedule this event in the first place if the CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs, Clark Hunt, was not a vocal supporter for the intermingling of football and Christian faith.
The above pic in an event that was planned for May 2020. A conference and worship event that appears to have been provided via streaming.
On March 17th, 2020 the USA director for Burn 24–7, Matthew Lilly, published the following statement: “In general, I am very encouraged by the way the body of Christ is rallying to pray through digital video calls, 24–7 prayer chains and small prayer meetings. I also believe that this demonically-fueled pandemic (and subsequent pandamonium) needs to be confronted boldly with faith, fasting and intercession so that God’s purposes for 2020 in America will prevail.”
In late March of 2020, Sean Feucht joined the online revival initiative calling it a “USA Nationwide Digital Burn”.
In late April 2020, Saint Paul, MN based GodTown community and ministry planned an outdoor worship event, during the shutdown due to the spread of Covid-19. Safe practices were noted, but masks were not. SafeCity is a nonprofit that works in collaboration with Saint Paul, MN law enforcement, but is closely tied to GodTown and religious events are held in the SafeCity storefront. SafeCity was given essential services designation because of their weekly food shelf. I am not certain whether their other activities of GodTown, including outreach to houseless people sheltering in tents, were approved by MN Governor Tim Walz. The Awaken the Dawn event was held at a church in Minneapolis (near the University of Minnesota) and there was no mention whether it was indoor or not.
In March 2020, Awaken the Dawn held two events, one in Blaine, MN and the other near the University of Minnesota, to plan the revival initiative and to recruit local Christians for labor and financial support. Joshua Lindquist, a volunteer of Awaken the Dawn and a volunteer staff person for a small Minnesota communal based ministry, Godtown, advertised the plans to join this “Vision Game Plan!!!!!” (sic.) of Awaken the Dawn.
It appears that David Bradshaw and his staff still were holding on to their Kansas City dreams and the Tent America 100 day tour. A Gen Z for Jesus event was planned for June 17th, but it appears that it was changed to an online, rather than in person, venue.
Not a lot seemed to happen in May of 2020, but in early June the wind of change in the Revivalists methods start to be evident. Following the police initiated death of George Floyd, crowds of protestors to the streets of Minneapolis. Sean Feucht, a vocal opponent of the Black Lives Matters movement, was perhaps spurred into action to counter their message or to get involved in a piece of the action as crowds gathered in public for the first time since the shutdown due to the pandemic. This picture of the arch in Saint Louis, MO on Feucht’s social media marks what some would call the beginning of his plague tour, which kicked off on June 5th of 2020.
“Social media started to buzz as people tried to figure out who Feucht was and why he had a crew with him that were on stage singing, baptizing people in a large tub of water and praying for people (“laying on hands”) without wearing masks or social distancing.” In Minneapolis, Feucht received both criticism and praise. He had planned to hold a rally at a Christian University, Assemblies of God affiliated North Central, which is located not far from where George Floyd died. Alumni from North Central University demanded their alma mater to dis-invite Feucht, which they did. Feucht blamed the change of venue on rioters. The university later became the location for Floyd’s memorial service.
Local ministries gathered volunteers and resources once it was announced that Feucht and the crew from the YWAM affiliated group, the Circuit Riders, were on their way. A video filmed on June 6th features a local Christian DJ pleading to borrow a stage for the “Fire and Fragrance” and Circuit Rider groups who flew into Minneapolis from all over the USA, including California and Hawaii. The initial event was planned to be held on the 6th and 7th in the parking lot near the memorial site.
The DJ invited his watchers to come out to the site of George Floyd’s memorial, where from noon to sundown, they could expect to be “blasted with Jesus music, upbeat music. We’ll be doing prayer, worship, salvation call…to lead people to Jesus. To change the atmosphere of our city from riots and destruction to peace.” He encouraged his watchers:“Let’s be revolutionary people and bold Christians, to be the spiritual militia that we are. To rise up and raise a standard in our city.” He emphasized that “this is all grassroots”, despite naming some very high profile organizations. This reminded me of Feucht, who seems to love to use the term “grassroots” when he actually means astroturfing.
Let me highlight here a little more about the religious practices of folks who follow the New Apostolic or Neo-Charismatics. Although there are a variety of practices that can be unique to the congregation or leaders of each group, there are practices that are widespread among those in these groups. They include prayer through the laying on of hands (often for physical or emotional healing or for impartation), praying and baptism in the Holy Spirit (glossolalia), being slain in the Holy Spirit (falling backward and experiencing a trance-like state), water baptism by immersion, and “doing spiritual warfare”. Music preformed in these groups can be repetitious and/or highly emotive, along with emotionally charged preaching styles. With the 24–7 prayer initiatives, more practices have been added, along with a worship method called Harp and Bowl, that was developed at IHOP-KC.
I am not writing this in order to tear down those who ascribe to these practices. My desire is to explain them to those who have not been a part of this belief system. Having left the Charismatic Movement a long ago, I now see that some of these practices might seem strange, even in normal times. But in 2020, the amount of direct contact with others meant that Neo Charismatic Christianity had become a risky religion to practice and religious practices that easily spread the virus were not avoided by these groups. In addition, face masks were boycotted by many of these groups. Although I don’t want to downplay personal responsibility, I find that the leadership of the most notable organizations dropped the ball in not tailoring their practices temporarily to accommodate for ways that would be less dangerous and less likely for their members to catch and spread the coronavirus. One of the reasons for that seems to be that many of these groups had an affinity for former President Trump and followed his example.
Neo-Charismatics and Evangelicals share a value for the practice of proclaiming a message of salvation in Jesus Christ through repeating a prayer that usually consists of contrition for sin and acceptance of salvation. This often happens at either a large evangelistic rally or in a one-on-one situation where a stranger from the group approaches another stranger to share their testimony or personal story. Missionaries are “saved” persons who aren’t from the location where they are performing ministry and their goal is usually to bring as many people as they can to pray that prayer or to have them get baptized in water or the Holy Spirit. Any of those three things can be counted towards successful ministry and reported to donors at home who are paying the missionary’s way. Healings also serve a similar function, but are less common.
Private prayer, fasting, tithing and bible reading are commonly practiced by individuals and these make up the practices that could be done safely during a time of social distancing. However, for churches and bigger organizations, all but tithing are practices that fail to benefit the public image of the church or organization.
There are multiple accounts of the appearance of Feucht and the other groups that joined him and the YWAM missionaries near George Floyd Square in Minneapolis. Above is a through list of the ministries that joined Feucht. Some groups from the Twin Cities joined the astroturfed revival movement. Many of these groups had churches and ministries located in the suburban Twin Cities Metro area. Charles Karuku, a preacher whose church is in Burnsville, MN ended up tagging along after Feucht for much of his summer concert tour.
Volunteers from local churches connected to the GodTown Ministry were recruited to pray for and baptize whoever they could talk into it. There appeared to be few masks worn by volunteers and ministers. It seems that the State Chaplain for Minnesota Senate made an appearance.
I would like to note here the cozy relationship that Feucht and the GodTown groups both have with law enforcement. The branch of their organization that was founded to work with the Saint Paul Police Department is called SafeCity. I am bothered by the picture of a police officer with his hand on the shoulder on a young Black person’s shoulder. They look distressed and afraid. The point of this picture seems to be to use this person’s trauma to make a statement that the police can be trusted. I call this trauma porn. Not cool.
Feucht and the Revivalists were strategic in utilizing local ministries and pastors, like Charles Karuku, who joined Sean Feucht’s tour for most of the summer. Karuku, who is a dual citizen of the USA and Kenya, appeared to serve as a shield for any criticisms of Feucht’s racism and tone deafness. This does not surprise me. After all, Charles Fox Parham used Black Pentacostal preacher William Seymour, who initiatated the 1906 Azusa Street revival, in a similar manner. Once the Azusa Street revival took off, Parham and other white church leaders segregated the interracial meetings. This led to a long rift between white and Black followers of the holiness movement. Parham also questioned Seymour’s follower use of glossolalia and claimed that his followers spoke in “missionary tongues”, with fluency, although they had not studied other languages. This claim appears to have been false.
Other ministries and ministers were present at the stage that was erected close to the memorial for Floyd. Prophet and author Joshua Giles preached there, as well as evangelist and non-profit ministry founder Sammy Wayonyi.
By July 2020, Feucht had made his summer tour official and he was able to raise enough funds to purchase and remodel a trendy airstream trailer and is pictured here in a custom painted and restored VW bus. The design his white classic Tee (available for $30.00 on his website under “Merch”) was borrowed from an t-shirt designed by CRU (Campus Crusade) for the 1972 Explo conference that was held in Dallas. Feucht has repeatedly declared his fascination for the Jesus People Movement of the 1970s, even though he was born in 1983- long after this movement had passed.
Feucht created a well planned cosplay of the Jesus movement, including baptisms in Huntington Beach, CA to harken back to the ministry of the late and disgraced minister Lonnie Frisbee. Saturate OC and YWAM in Huntington Beach provided volunteers for the water baptisms. For his mainly Boomer donors, these tactics must have worked like a charm for raising funds. Airstream trailers aren’t cheap.
Interns make up the backbone of all of Feucht’s ministries. This is likely true of Bradshaw’s ministry and organizations like GodTown. Ministries like these rely on the energy and passion of young people that they recruit by promising them that they will play an integral part in bringing the gospel to broken and lost people. This promise is tempting to young people who have been groomed to think that they have a special message and are entrusted with supernatural powers that will benefit the world. Usually they raise donations from sponsors from home to fund the fees that the ministries charge for joining them. Not only do the organizations raise money from donors, but the interns usually pay them for the privilege of working for them for free.
Volunteers help for a shorter period of time, but they also provide free labor. Independent contractors are occasionally hired by ministries like Sean Feucht’s. Musicians and tech help might be paid positions (short or long term) if they are not able to recruit skilled interns to fill those spots. Family members, like Sean’s wife Kate, might be paid a generous salary from the 501(c)3.
This is the first of a 2 part series on the Revivalists and the astroturfed revival of 2020. Check back for the follow up.