The life of Steve Hill should not soon be forgotten. Steve had the fire of God burning inside of him, enabling him to preach at the Brownsville revival four nights a week with the same high intensity and power, without ever allowing it to wane. The consistency of the fire and intensity in his preaching is something rarely seen these days. As a friend of mine put it recently, “he lived his life with eternity in his heart.” I think this characteristic, above all others, made him successful as the preacher of the Brownsville revival.
Without the Brownsville revival, there would be thousands fewer souls saved and millions fewer lives rededicated to the Lord. There would be thousands fewer pastors, and evangelists preaching with fire and fervency in the world and thousands fewer people delivered from sinful addictions. But perhaps more significantly, there would be no FIRE School of Ministry. This school was birthed as a result of the revival, and it has already sent close to 200 missionaries around the world, not to mention countless pastors, revivalists, and evangelists serving in America. The number of souls saved, delivered, and revitalized through the ministries of people trained by FIRE will eventually exceed exponentially those directly reached by Steve Hill, and all of this is the fruit of the revival he helped lead.
Nevertheless, there is potential that Steve Hill may have a far greater impact on the world after his death then he did while he lived. A man’s legacy continues long after he breathes his last breath, and in some respects it does not begin until then. I have already heard of many people refocusing their lives and ministries as a direct result of hearing of Steve’s death, and only time will tell how much more impact these ministries will have because of the respect being paid to this man’s life and ministry. But God may do more than that.
It is God’s pattern to use death to produce life, and I believe he may have a plan to do that in the case of Steve Hill. Many wonder how a man of his caliber, used so mightily of God, could pass away at the young age of 60. The only answer I can give that makes any sense is to suggest that there are great things that God wants to, but cannot, accomplish until after Steve’s death. If this is the case, then the tragedy of his death at a relatively young age will become the glory of a move of God that came sooner than expected. before I explain this further I wish to briefly tell of how God seized hold of me the day before Steve’s memorial service and virtually compelled me to attend it. These events are a big part of the reason I believe God is moving mightily behind the scenes of Steve Hill’s death.
Though I very much wanted to attend Steve’s memorial service, I did not have the financial means to make the 10-hour trip to Pensacola. I could think of only one person who might to help me, so I told God if he wanted me to go, to have this person call me and offer to pay my way. I had not heard from this person in months, so I was surprised when the next day he called and told me he would pay my way if I wanted to come. The next morning I told my wife, but she said she needed me to be home for the weekend because she was almost ready to deliver our seventh child. So I told her I would stay home with her. My 15-year-old son was in the room at the time, and little did I know that God spoke to him at that moment, saying, “He is going. Sit back and watch how I work it out.”
The next day was Thursday, the day before the memorial service. The spirit of God was very heavily upon me the whole morning as I attempted to teach my four classes. During the first class a student told me she felt that I was supposed to go to the memorial service, and from that moment I was distracted by the sense that she was right. After class another student told me the Lord had spoken to her, saying, “He must go.” In the next class, the Spirit was upon me so heavily I could not teach the class, so we all spent the time in prayer. By this time I had texted my wife to tell her what was happening and to ask her if I could go to Pensacola. Her answer was an unenthusiastic yes, which was not satisfactory to me. I wanted her to be fully behind it. A few minutes later, a student with no knowledge of what my wife had said, told me the Lord had just spoken to him, “If yes, then go.”
In all I received five indications from God that I needed to go to the service, and I was offered a ride with someone local who was driving there, so needless to say, I went. But I went with the indication that this was more than just to honor a man whose life had impacted mine. I had the sense that God had more in mind than that, and being at that service would contribute to what God wanted to do. That is why I believe God wants to birth something through Steve’s death.
Jesus gave us the pattern of birth through death when he pointed to the death of a seed being necessary for it to produce fruit (John 12:24). This illustration from creation serves as a type for the death of Jesus, which has produced eternal life in millions of souls. But the principle extends beyond the death of Jesus to others as well. We glean from Tertullian that the blood of martyrs is seed, and countless souls have been saved after the path was cut by those who paid for their obedience with a martyr’s death. In Acts 7, Stephen’s death led to a great persecution of the church, causing believers to flee Jerusalem to escape it. As a result they preached the gospel all over Judea and in Samaria (Acts 8:1-4). The great Commission was fulfilled and many new churches were birthed as a result of Stephen’s death. A man full of God’s grace and power (Acts 6:8) had a greater impact after his death than he did during his life.
But one does not have to be a martyr to bear fruit after death. God killed Ananias and Sapphira for their act of deceit (Acts 5:1-11) and one of the results of their deaths was a revival, where God’s power was so great that people thought even Peter’s shadow would heal the sick (Acts 5:12-16). In fact, some believe the Brownsville revival was strategically placed by God to occur only months after the death of Leonard Ravenhill, who devoted his entire life to preaching and praying for revival. Steve Hill was a disciple of Leonard Ravenhill.
If this is true, then what might God be strategically planning for the months following Steve Hill’s death? I believe God is planning something big, and I encourage all who want to see a greater move of God’s Spirit than what we have experienced already to commit yourselves to prayer. Prayer is the most underestimated and underused instrument of power in the universe. Let us utilize this tool to ask God to move in power in America and turn around this backslidden country. In the Brownsville revival we saw thousands of nominal Christians dedicate their lives to Christ and become firebrands for God.
Christianity in America is mostly nominal. What America needs is an encounter with God, and this encounter will not come in a church building. It will come when the church goes to the people and brings the fire and power of God to them. Let us bring the reality of Jesus Christ to this nation, and let us pray that God will so move on people’s hearts that they will fall down in repentance right where they are. I am convinced that America no longer can be evangelized apart from a move of God. One of the fruits of Steve Hill’s ministry was the concept of a Jesus revolution, which God birthed in the heart of Mike Brown, who was one of the leaders of the Brownsville revival and is President of FIRE School of Ministry. It is time for the Jesus revolution to begin and for America to be awakened to the reality of Jesus Christ. On with it, by life or by death.