For almost four decades, Dove award-winning singers/songwriters Terry and Barbi Franklin (of LoveSings.com and WorshipCity.US) have faithfully served the Lord through worship events and marriage retreats worldwide. Since they began, they have fervently prayed for revival and awakening, especially here in America.
“This is it! This is what we’ve prayed for,” exclaimed Barbi. “We are seeing God answer the prayers we have prayed for the past 40 years through AWAKEN.”
Barbi went on to explain that AWAKEN is a relatively new initiative. It originally began in January 2019 by Pastor Dave Clayton of Nashville’s Ethos Church. Clayton felt God’s call to pray for all the people of Nashville by name, so crossing denominational lines, he invited other churches in his city to join his church for 30 days of corporate prayer and fasting.
“Pastor Clayton is such a humble man,” Barbi said. “And from the beginning, it was evident he did not desire attention or notoriety. Instead, he simply desired to see the churches in Nashville come together to pray for every single resident of their city.”
Consequently, AWAKEN 2019 started with two packed out worship services at the famed Ryman Auditorium, and it was a tremendous success, with over 400 churches in the Nashville area committing to pray and fast for their neighbors during the end of January and most of February. Pastor Clayton remarked that sometimes it’s hard to even gather churches together to share a meal, much less pray and fast in unity for a whole month, but AWAKEN Nashville did just that.
In fact, the movement involved praying for each Nashville family by name, using public phone records. But church members across the city quickly realized many citizens were not counted on the public phone list, so they had to get creative. Using social media and other resources, they asked for names of college students, new residents, incarcerated citizens, and even the homeless of Nashville, anyone who might not be prayed for otherwise.
As a result, Nashville churches experienced an unprecedented wave of unity and revival, and the momentum grew. Other churches wanted to participate, so the initiative got a new name for 2020, AWAKEN Tennessee.
Because of the Franklins’ lifelong passion for fasting and prayer, Barbi stepped up as the statewide coordinator. She and her husband Terry worked through AWAKEN’s Tennessee Prayer Coalition leaders to distribute prayer packets all across the state. In the end, well over 1,000 congregations in 10 major cities or counties joined the prayer and fasting movement in February 2020, which took place from Jan. 26 – Feb. 23, 2020. In all, 40,000 prayer packets went out to individuals and their families in these churches to pray for neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers across Tennessee and beyond.
One participating congregation, East Rogersville Baptist Church (ERBC), launched AWAKEN that first night, Jan. 26, with a gathering of multiple local churches from Hawkins County for a night of praise, worship, and prayer. ERBC had also planned to host a revival conference beginning the following Sunday, on Feb. 2, featuring the Franklins as worship leaders and speaker John Avant, president of Life Action Ministries.
ERBC’s lead pastor, John Butler explained how God used the week between the Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 services to change their church plans in a mighty way.
“The week between these two Sundays was filled with prayer in our Church,” said Butler. “Each weeknight, people gathered in homes to pray. It was an intense week of prayer for many of our people. God had been quietly working in many lives, but we had no idea of what He was about to do.”
On Feb. 2, when the Franklins opened the revival conference with a time of praise and worship, they were astounded by the response, beginning with their very first worship song.
“We have sung the song, ’10,000 Reasons’ many, many times,” stated Barbi, “but this time, the response was amazing. People began to flood the altar with wave after wave of people weeping in repentance and praying throughout the worship time. When one wave left the altar, another wave came.”
This didn’t end. Sunday night, then Monday, and each night after, many joined from at least eight other churches. The waves of repentance and spiritual awakening continued, so ERBC extended the nightly services for the next four weeks.
“We heard testimony after testimony of how God was changing hearts and lives. Entire families were reunited and even many who’d been in the church for decades got saved – one by one, night after night,” said Barbi. “People were saying the whole atmosphere in the church has changed and true worship has been reignited.”
But Rogersville wasn’t the only Tennessee town where hearts were ignited. Churches all across the Volunteer State experienced revival and shared reports of repentance, salvations, rededications, and baptisms.
By Feb. 28, Pastor Butler realized that even though his congregation was completely committed to continuing the AWAKEN nightly services, his church members needed rest. So, ERBC announced that on March 1, they would return to regular service times and begin to focus all attention and efforts into disciplining new converts and reaching out to their community.
Pastor Butler had no idea how timely his call for rest and refocus truly would be. For less than 36 hours later, in the early hours of March 3, devastating tornadoes ripped through East Nashville and Middle Tennessee, killing more than two dozen people.
Within hours, ERBC, and many other churches across the state that had just finished AWAKEN’s 30 days of prayer and fasting, began to reach out and minister to other Tennesseans in the midst of the devastation and loss.
Barbi said even brand new Christians, recently saved during AWAKEN revival, joined ministry teams at places worst impacted by the storms in order to help other Tennesseans. Clayton said, “Many church members have taken in neighbors who’ve lost everything they have, and have shared the love, comfort, and hope of Jesus in their time of need!”
And in the days since this tragedy, the entire world has watched as Christians across Tennessee have ministered to their neighbors with the love of Christ in practical, life-altering ways.
In fact, when one of the lead correspondents for CBS News, David Begnaud, spoke with news anchor Amanda Hara of Knoxville’s WVLT, Begnaud commented on the amazing sense of unity he felt when interviewing Tennessee’s tornado victims.
“There was a resilience that seemed to bond them together, which was inspiring to me,” said Begnaud. “…Every single person I talked to mentioned God.”
Begnuad’s comments came as no surprise to Pastor Dave Clayton, Pastor John Butler, Terry and Barbi Franklin, or the thousands of other Tennessee citizens who had prayed and fasted for 30 days prior to the storms.
“Through AWAKEN, God had totally prepared all of us for what was to come,” Barbi explained. “Christians across our state are proactively working together to rebuild, restore, comfort, love, and give hope in the midst of this tragedy. We thank God that the church is rising up to be the church.”