Daily I see trailers for the movie "The Jesus Revolution". From what I gather it is a re-telling of a spiritual awakening that came in the days of great social unrest that was boiling in the baby boomer generation in the late '60's and early '70's. Hey! That was my time! Out of the Viet Nam protests, free love, the hippies and Woodstock a hunger was growing among the boomers for truth. Lots of songs sang about love, but it seemed hard to find and define.
Then God intervened in a big way, not at first in churches so much, but among the hippies, college students and high schoolers. I'm greatly interested in the movie because I saw it happen all around me as a high school student in Orange, CA. At first I was like the Israelites when they woke up and saw manna - bread from heaven - sent by God to feed them in the wilderness. Like them I thought "what is it?", which is what manna means. As a fifteen year old sophomore I was suddenly and unexpectedly seeing and hearing things that caught me off guard, even as a Christian - the born again kind. (Is there any other?)
With the trailers popping up, my memories of living in the epicenter of that spiritual earthquake are floating to the forefront of my mind. So, before they vanish (those my age will understand) I thought I should write them down. This is as good a platform as I have.
It started for me on that first day at OHS (Orange High School) as the second semester started. Our family had just moved to Southern California from Northern Virginia (two very different cultures, for sure) due to my Marine dad's orders. So, I went to a school where I knew no one in a town where I had never before been. I didn't know how much my life was about to change. But, something was very different here.
There are three distinct memories - well four now that I think about it - that I carry from that first mid-January day. First, outside around the amphitheater before classes began I saw what must have been a dozen or so students in a huddle, arms around each other's shoulders. And they had their heads bowed. Honestly I thought, "This is California. Must be some kind of a cult gathering." But on the back of one of the guys' jean jackets was an unmistakable graphic that made me wonder. In the center of the graphic was a fist with the index finger pointed up. And around it were these words: "One way to God. Jesus".
What the heck was this? I believed that too, but NEVER had I seen an open display of faith like that on a school campus. That was my first clue. And I had to find out more. But, I had to find out where my classes were, so the second memory (and the least important as I look back at it), was being taken around the campus to all of my classrooms by a stunning blonde girl - a senior at that. And she was nice to me! I was going to like this school.
The third memory was during lunch, which was also outside. (I hear there was a tiny cafeteria, but never ventured there.) Seems it never rains in southern California, so much of the day is outside. All the classrooms opened to the outdoors. What I saw at lunch were several gatherings of students, sitting cross-legged on the ground in groups of maybe ten to fifteen, eating their lunches with Bibles in their laps. in each group one of the students seemed to be leading. Bible studies at lunch! I had never seen anything like that before! What is going on here?
And the fourth perhaps most profound memory from that first day was in band class. Again, I knew nobody, and for whatever reason the band wasn't practicing or playing anything that day, so we just sat and talked. Seated by myself on a folding metal chair, minding my own business a guy comes over and sits beside me, and introduced himself. Everyone else had to notice there was a new guy, but only Jim bothered at first to meet me. "Hi. I'm Jim." "Hi, I'm Rick". Innocent enough. But then the next question out of his mouth shocked me.
"Hey Rick. Do you know Jesus?" I'm sure my jaw dropped.
Of course I did. I had been saved when I was ten and I knew what that meant. But NEVER had anyone outside of the preacher at church asked me that question, and NEVER EVER anyone at school. Yet it was so natural for Jim to ask.
"Yes, I do. Do you?" My question surely revealed my surprise. And his answer was just as surprising. "I do, too. And there are lots of us here who do."
I didn't know about a revolution or movement and had never heard the phrase "Jesus freaks", but I was about to be introduced to something that still impacts me today, 52 years later.
If you have a personal Jesus Movement experience, feel free to share it in the comments!