Prominent pastor David Jeremiah has revealed that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, his ministry has reached an unprecedented number of people with the message of the Gospel, indicating an “online revival” may be taking place.
Due to government-issued social distancing orders enacted to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, many churches have been livestreaming their services online as large physical gatherings are temporarily halted.
Jeremiah, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, and host of the radio program "Turning Point,” told The Christian Post that ever since the shutdown began, viewership of his online services has dramatically skyrocketed.
“The church is alive and well and maybe more responsive now that I can ever remember except for the possible exception of 9/11,” he said. “What we've learned from all of this is God doesn't need a building for there to be a church.”
The founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries revealed that on Easter Sunday, a staggering 90,000 people tuned into his online worship service.
“I'm preaching right now to more people than I have ever preached to my life,” he said, adding that after the service, he gave viewers the opportunity to receive Christ.
“I said, ‘If you pray this prayer and invite Christ into your life, He will come to live within you,’ and I actually led them in a prayer,” the pastor recalled. “Then I said, ‘If you prayed with me, there’s a little place on the screen you can click on where we will send you more information to help you get started on your walk with Christ.”
According to Jeremiah, over 600 people clicked on that button.
“I’ve been doing this for over 50 years; I’m all over media, and I've never had anything like that happen, ever,” he emphasized. “Would I rather have the 12 or 15,000 people that we have on Easter sitting in the church with our choir and orchestra and the Easter lilies and everybody cheering and praising? Yeah, I'd rather have that. But this is a new and different thing that God is doing. It's unprecedented.”
Similarly, the pastor revealed that a recent sermon he delivered in which he addressed whether COVID-19 is mentioned in biblical prophecy received over 1 million views on YouTube.
“We've never had anything on YouTube get that kind of traction,’” he said. “When everything in which we have trusted is taken away and we are left with ourselves, we have to ask the hard questions. ‘If this is it, what happens to me now?’ There’s a renewed interest in the Gospel and a desire to know what the Bible has to say.”
“Is this the beginning of a revival? This may not be a revival in the truest sense of the Great Awakening, but I believe we are seeing an online revival.”
While the pandemic is “frightening” and “frustrating” for many people, Jeremiah stressed that God is clearly in the midst of it all, adding: “He is with us wherever we are. You don't have to be in a crowd to have God. You just need a quiet moment.”
The pastor released his latest book, Shelter in God: Your Refuge in Times of Trouble. In it, he shares how the book of Psalms can aid those struggling to find meaning during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everybody is currently sheltering in place and that’s one thing that might help you physically, but if you want to get help spiritually, you must shelter in God. He's the only answer for the many things that are ripping people apart during the coronavirus epidemic,” Jeremiah told CP.
In the 10-chapter book, Jeremiah focuses largely on the “sheltering Psalms,” which he revealed were particularly meaningful to him as he battled cancer two decades ago.
“These Psalms speak of God being our refuge and the one in whom we shelter when we're going through storms or when the storms are passing by,” he said. “We grabbed hold of those Psalms and put them together in about two weeks to help bring comfort to people during this time.”
In addition to the Psalms, the Bible is full of comfort for times of trouble, Jeremiah said, referencing Philippians 4:7: "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“If you don't know Christ, you can’t understand this peace; it's beyond explanation,” he said. “But if you're a Christian and you've ever been through anything that rips at your soul, you know what that's all about. I don't know how to explain it, but I do know that God draws near to us in our times of suffering and disaster.
“I know that during the coronavirus, God has drawn near to many people. We've had unbelievable numbers of people die during this time, and yet at the same time, we've seen so many people healed from it. Even as we speak right now, one of my dear friends is trying to get this out of his system and it's just really awful to watch it. And yet, it's also wonderful to see how God is wrapping His arms around him during this time.”
According to Jeremiah, God may be using COVID-19 to remind people of their reliance on Him.
“We are a great country, there's no question about it. We have the greatest economy in the history of the world. We are a nation of self-made people, according to them. If we’re not careful, we can begin to think we are the master of our own souls, in charge of our own fate," he said.
God “sometimes just reaches down to remind us, ‘You think you've got this thing under control, but I can take a germ you can’t even see and bring [you] to your knees,’” he added.
He also addressed some of the relational struggles families may be facing during the shutdown, acknowledging that many marriages “can be pushed to the limit when you're stuck in the same room with somebody."
"During this time, we need to learn to serve one another well, which I believe is a biblical mandate for marriage,” he said. “When you're serving one another, it takes the focus off of yourself. We can all expect there to be some bumps; we just need to have the strength spiritually to get over them and know that God hasn't forgotten us. He's with us.”
The pastor encouraged couples to find “structure” during this time of quarantine, warning that “idleness is the enemy’s great entry point.”
“You can't get up and just live in your pajamas all day. You have to ask God to help you get on a schedule,” he said. “What are some things you need to do? What are some things you can do while you're at home? And structure those things and get a schedule for them, because if you don't, that's where the enemy can get into your heart.”
Every human was “born with a virus way worse than the coronavirus” — the virus of sin, he pointed out. The pandemic has burned into his heart the need for spiritual revival across the world.
“The only cure for that is through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ in His death on the cross,” he said. “If you don’t have Christ, how do you get through situations like this? We can get so caught up in doing church and our small groups that we forget that the reason God put the church here was so that it might be the means whereby men and women can come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
“I really feel a strong rebirth in my spirit of the purpose and importance of evangelism and not being so satisfied with what we have that we fail to share our hope with others. My prayer is that the virus will push the world to know of its incredible need for the Lord Jesus Christ.”