A Man, Drugs, & Penn State Revivals

[The following is a true story based on events that occurred at Penn State during their Christian Revivals of 1980-1983. If you don’t believe me, look the revival up. This story was once told to me from the person who experienced it.]

fire 3

Yesterday was cocaine. Today is weed. Just an ordinary Spring day at Penn State when Mark and his friends would skip class to get high. They sat around the sofa stoned, laughing hysterically at the stories they’d tell of their latest escapades. Freshman year was a blast and sophomore year for Mark and his friends was a breeze.

One by one the guys left Mark’s dorm room as they wrapped things up. Mark remained on the sofa –  his eyes glazed, shoulders slumped, his head barely upright on his body. Somehow the drugs hadn’t reflected in his college grades. Mark was a decent engineering student to the point where it would be impossible to guess what was going on behind closed doors – or so you would expect. The year is 1981 and drugs are a normal recurrence with many students on campus. Buying a bag of marijuana was almost easier than buying box of pencils.

As Mark’s high eventually began to calm down, he realized that he’d soon have a choice to make. Up to this point Mark had done (and enjoyed) practically every drug except heroine. His friend Ashley was able to buy some heroine earlier that day and they planned on doing it together. They say, as Mark thought to himself, “Once you start heroine there is no going back.”  Nevertheless, he settled on joining her that evening. Since Mark could handle all the other drugs he concluded that he could handle heroine just fine.

Just before evening time there was a knock on his door. As he opened it he barely recognized who it was, but he’d seen them around campus before. They were two preppy-looking Freshmen guys inviting him out to a Christian gathering for later that evening. They added that there would be food and the opportunity to meet some new people as well.

[The odd thing about this occurrence was the rarity that someone would even come to Mark’s door about this. Percentage-wise, Christianity was not a big thing at Penn State at the time.]

Mark, extremely reluctant because he didn’t know much about religion, heard his conscious urge him to go so that he could get out of his heroine date later. After little debate, Mark decided to take a chance and go to the Christian gathering instead.

At the Christian event that very night, Jesus saved Mark and he began to believe.

In the days following, Mark went cold-turkey from all his drugs. He would still hang out with his normal crew of friends and just not partake in the usage. His friends didn’t mind. Sure, they thought it was strange, but it just meant more enjoyment for them.

When Mark wasn’t in class or hanging with his old friends, Mark now spent all his time swimming in the scriptures and going to the Christian events of that small campus ministry.

After about a month of being saved Mark and his two closest old friends took a weekend camping trip. That night his two friends pulled out some Crystal meth to use. They begged and pleaded Mark to join them. Mark initially refrained.

They reasoned with Mark, “Come on man, just this once like old times. It’s not fun if you don’t join us. You’ve gone a month without a high anyways.”

Mark eventually gave in. The three of them got started and immediately the high kicked in for each of them. Mark could feel the familiarity from the high that he used to feel, but something was different this time. It was as if his heart wasn’t for it. He began to feel his face melting, which is a typical reaction to meth. Mark glanced over at the flames from the fire pit and heard a distinct high-pitched, demonic laugh come out from the fire.

[To this day Mark believes that was Satan’s demons laughing at him as they realized they’d gotten one of God’s chosen to slip.]

Without delay Mark fell to his knees after hearing the demonic laugh. He began to cry out loud to God that he was sorry. All the while his friends stood enjoying their own highs. Mark cried continually asking that Jesus take away the high. After repeatedly praying aloud for healing…. suddenly…. the impossible happened…. Mark’s high vanished. Not only that, but Mark’s friends had their high abruptly taken away as well.

[You see, a Crystal meth high doesn’t just abruptly end after a few minutes. A Crystal meth high literally lasts anywhere between 8 to 24 hours and has a gradual decline of its effects.]

Knowing this from their past experience, Mark’s friends freaked out. They frantically asked Mark what just happened. Before Mark could respond his friends tearfully got on their knees and asked Mark to tell them about this Jesus he’d been following the past month. This same Jesus who Mark just prayed to who impossibly took away their high. What a miracle, what a God. Mark’s friends got saved and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord that night.

What happened the rest of the school year at Penn State was nothing short of a miracle. revivalMany other of Mark’s drug friends also became believers. There began to be a Christian revival on campus that year and subsequent years. Numerous campus ministries formed and each experienced drastic growth in numbers.

But for Mark, how long did it last? Was it just a little phase or spiritual high that Mark went through?

There are other spiritual stories to tell of Mark and his obedience to Christ. However, I’ll end with this: Today, Mark is pressing harder than ever into Christ as he wrestles for more faith as his wife of many years is now struggling with ALS. Both having a life lived well for the Lord, are now living life well through suffering. But still, the fight goes on. “It is the worst time and it is also the best time,” Mark says encouragingly.

Mark and his wife were asked, “If you knew what your life would hold, would you still choose it?”

Their reply – a resounding ‘Yes’.

Oh to have such remarkable faith.  The angels rejoice over Mark and his wife. For all eternity, we will celebrate.

“I’m a pilgrim passing through. We’re just passing through on this journey. I’m blessed that I’ve had such a wonderful wife all these years. Whatever God gives us today will be wonderful. So what about the dreams we had, heaven is so much better. It is said that it is better than anything I can hope for or imagine. And I have a pretty good imagination.” – Mark

When all we hear is SILENCE

You know those times when you’re praying with all your heart that God would fix a certain something in your life? Not that one time, that one night that you asked for it. I am talking about months, sometimes years, of the same pleading prayer in asking for God to heal, give, or take something away. But he doesn’t respond. As a matter of fact, things get worse. It is as if he does not hear you at the moment and chooses to let what is happening continue to occur despite the reality that it is haunting your very soul. Night after night after week after year you ask in hope that maybe just maybe he’ll finally save the day like you learned in Sunday School class. However, each night you get nothing. You’re left lying down in bed wondering. Funny, in times like these I’m reminded of when Jesus claims that all we need is ‘the faith of a mustard seed….’ But as I pray I can pretty much guarantee that my faith in that moment is at least the size of an medium-sized orange; and I’m yelling for God to please come into the picture and help!  I mean, why would he constantly not?

It’s very frustrating when you know theology and scripture well because you then, inadvertently, answer you own “why God, why” questions. My conscious likes to arrogantly tell my heart, “That’s easy, just wait on the Lord and remember his sovereignty…read Romans 8 and 9 dude.” Now as beautiful and true as those verses are, NOTHING in me wants to listen to them in those moments, they are too painful and too hard hear. This is why the Apostle Paul is such an enigma to me. For a Just as Paul had spoken, not one life was lost in the shipwreck.single man to suffer as he did in a plethora of ways and keep moving forward…the Spirit must have been strong in him. Good gosh the man was beaten, flogged over and over again, hunted down by cities and countries, periodically went through starvation, sometimes did not have clothes to wear, was stressed out by churches going crazy, shipwrecked 3 times (4 if you count being lost at sea), almost died on numerous occasions, had a physical ailment allotted by God, and never even really had a place to call “home”. On top of that, a snake randomly bit him. Really??? Talk about a rough season. I wonder how many nights he spent sobbing. I wonder how much joy he was divinely able to attain by the grace given to him by God. You know there had to be a ton of both. Oh to see Paul’s face right now as he’s living it up in Heaven.

I wish we were all more open as a people. More of a family. The Internet was brought in to make everything and everyone more accessible and closer. Instead, much of what it has done is make us more superficial, taken the depth out of our relationships, and turn us closer into recluses. This makes us more prone to always act as if we’re “ok” in front of others…when on the inside we are secretly crumbling and drowning underwater. All the while, we’re smiling and not saying a thing, “as long as someone retweets me I’m happy.” Satan is soooo sneaky there and he is not stopping anytime soon. It hurts when you see the fruit of his schemes. Especially when those exact fruits are somehow eaten by the people you care about. If believers in Christ were more honestly open and unified as a people the power and boldness from that alone would overwhelmingly change the world. The Bible and secular history attests to this over and over again, but we miss it. We miss it. We.continually.miss.it.

For example, in Acts 19 the Gospel enters the city of Ephesus and immediately changes the entire socioeconomic climate throughout the city. Riots began to break out because those that were still doing evil were no longer getting paid their dirty money. We can look at history as well. If you have time, please look up “The Welch Revival”.  Hundreds of thousands of people in the country of Wales were saved and the entire culture at large was a family. No crime no worries… just peace, worship, joy, and love in the Lord. When are we going to start believing in the strength of the Gospel and our unity as believers and stop giving in to societal norms? We need to start. The quicker we do so the more joy there is to have. I must keep praying because I know he’s listening. Prayers for things in my life, those around me, and for the world. God constantly has me thinking about these things for some reason and I do not know why. But I’ll ask until he answers, as I know he will in his time. Because even when it seems like he has not listened to any of my particular prayers….I know he has and cares more than I do. He even knows what I am going to say before I pray. My faith has to be in that eternal being there. I long for the day that the earth will be filled with the knowledge and the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

 [Other verses used-Habakkuk 2:14, Acts 17:24-28, Luke 17:6, 2 Corinthians 11:23-31, Philippians 1:27,28]