By Mark Ellis —
He grew up in a pastor’s home, and spent “endless hours” in church. His father traveled frequently, preaching in evangelistic crusades. But the son had a superficial response to his father’s message and after he left home, spent a dozen years pursuing worldly pleasures.
“I’ve been a preacher’s kid my entire life,” says D.R. Harrison, 34. “I traveled across the country with my dad as he preached crusades and revivals, but I never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
He describes his father as an independent, fundamental, King James Bible preacher. “I grew up under the best preaching you could hear,” he says. “I taught a Sunday School class and led a youth choir, knocked on doors on Saturday, read my Bible and prayed, but there was always something missing on the inside.”
When he turned 21, Harrison left home to “chase after money and fame” and build his career. “From age 21 to 33 I never darkened the doors of a church,” he recounts. “All I cared about was how much money I could make.”
He started drinking and became an alcoholic. “I did a lot of things I never dreamed I would do. I was bitter and angry and God seemed so far away.”
But while he was still pursuing his own path – and had zero interest in God – God’s great love began to draw him in an unexpected way.
On Mother’s Day, May 8th, 2016, revival arrived in Burlington, North Carolina at New Hope Baptist Church. Pastor Randy Hobbs had invited evangelist C.T. Townsend to spend a week in his church, and as the power of God fell many were saved and the revival stretched on for more than two months.
D.R. Harrison happened to own a video production company in Burlington. On May 19th, he was surprised to receive a call from evangelist Townsend, who wanted editing of some videos for a message. Harrison was supposed to be headed out-of-town on business, but two hours before Townsend’s call, the trip was cancelled.
Townsend said he wanted the video editing finished by 5:00 p.m. that day.
“That’s impossible,” Harrison protested. “We schedule our projects months in advance and there’s no way we can do it.”
“D.R., God told me you were supposed to edit this video,” he replied.
“God may have told you that, but you’re not going to get them today,” Harrison said.
“Well, at least try.”
Harrison never edits videos himself, but that day, he edited the video. The video content Townsend gave him reenacted what a lost man would experience when he died and had to stand before God at the judgment.
“It was nothing I had never seen before. I’ve heard it 10 million times,” Harrison says. “But for the first time in 12 years, the Holy Spirit started dealing with my heart while editing those videos.”
During the editing, God spoke to his heart and said, Son, I love you and I want to use you in ways you could never imagine. If you turn me away tonight, I will never speak to you again.
Unnerved, Harrison turned in the videos to the evangelist and went to a bar to drink and try and get away from God. “The Holy Ghost was convicting me so much I couldn’t drink. I had to turn around and leave.”
He went home and “wrestled with God all night long.” He woke up the next day and God continued to hound him.
“I didn’t want to get saved; I didn’t want to give up my lifestyle,” Harrison says. “I didn’t want to risk losing everything I had by serving Jesus – that’s what the devil was telling me.”
What will your business partners think? a malevolent voice whispered in his ear.
That Friday night he couldn’t take it anymore. On his smart phone, Harrison began to watch a live stream of the revival service.
The power of the Word and the Spirit overwhelmed him. He got down on his knees and cried out to God: “I can’t save myself… I’m just a poor, lost, hell-bound preacher’s kid, but God, if you’ll save me, I’ll give you my life.”
After a moment, he stood up and says he felt like a different person. “Everything I had been taught in my youth made sense for the first time,” he says.
The next day he called the evangelist and he called his dad. Filled with jubilation, they were shouting and praising God over the phone.
After his salvation, Harrison had one major concern. “My wife was lost and as soon as I got saved I began praying for her. I was worried about what she would think.”
Three days later, Harrison and his wife went to the Burlington revival. It was still in the church, the third week of the revival. There were 1000 people in the church on that Monday night.
“The Lord told me I would get up and speak that night. I hadn’t talked to C.T.,” he says.
After the choir finished singing, C.T. Townsend got up to speak. Harrison was surprised – but not completely surprised – when Townsend turned to him and announced: “D.R. needs to come up and say something.”
“I began to share what God had done in my heart. The whole time I was up there I looked in the corner at my wife and she was crying, she was bawling, she was weeping.
Harrison prayed silently, Lord, please save my wife tonight.
“By the time I was done, 17 people walked the aisle and got saved. The first one down to the altar was my wife! She got gloriously saved that Monday night. This was three days after I got saved.”
The next day Harrison surrendered everything to God. “I said ‘Lord, I’ll do whatever you want me to do. You just tell me what you want.”
I want you to preach, God impressed on his heart.
In the next few days, God began to miraculously open up doors for Harrison. “I started getting calls from everywhere about people wanting me to come and share my testimony,” he says.
He began to travel to churches in several other states sharing his testimony. “Pastors from everywhere began to call me.”
“I became overwhelmed,” he says. “I said, ‘Lord have mercy, I wasn’t expecting this.’
But everywhere Harrison shared his testimony, people got saved.
By July 1, the Burlington revival meetings were being held in a borrowed tent that accommodated 3500 people.
On that Friday night, 4200 people had showed up. After the choir finished singing, “the Holy Spirit was really moving in the service,” and Harrison was sitting on stage.
The Holy Spirit touched his heart: Tonight is the night for you to preach.
He had no prior arrangement with Townsend to speak. I want you to lay it on C.T.’s heart, he thought.
I’ve already got it covered, the Lord impressed on him.
“This is the 1000% truth. He (C.T. Townsend) was walking up on the stage after the choir sang and we caught eye contact and all he did was stick up his thumb.”
“I automatically knew and he knew we were both on the same page.”
Townsend began talking about Harrison’s testimony. “I feel led that it’s D.R.’s time to come up and speak. He needs to do whatever God tells him to do,” he said.
“I don’t remember what I said,” Harrison says. “I preached some. I used Isaiah 61 about how God anointed me to preach. The next thing I knew 43 people walked the aisle and got saved.”
As soon as that happened pastors started calling from everywhere. “I began to start preaching revivals and youth nights and all kinds of services. Now my calendar is filling up all the way through the end of next year,” he says.
This has only been 11 weeks. Eleven weeks ago I was sitting on a barstool drinking. God has done all this in 11 weeks.”
Harrison’s father prayed for many years that his son would take over the ministry. “But I took a different route,” the younger Harrison says. “I went to chase money.
“But we talked and prayed and God allowed me to take over my dad’s ministry five weeks ago. God has done every bit of that. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
“The only reason the (revival) meeting shut down is because we couldn’t keep the tent any longer. The man needed the tent back.”
“On the last night of the meeting 62 were saved. The tent was packed full. The power of God was so real. It was just unbelievable. It broke our hearts to shut it down. We tried every angle to keep it going,” he says.
“There is no doubt in my mind that if we set the tent back up it would pick right back up where it left off, the power of God is so real. People are so hungry for God. They have tried so many things, drugs, alcohol, the things of this world, false religion, to get peace and nothing has worked.
“Once they get around the power of God and see how real it is, they are never satisfied with anything else.”
“It would take the rest of eternity to tell people what God has done in my life in the last 11 weeks. It’s a modern day miracle and I thank God for what he’s won.”
If you would like to know God personally, go here
On New Hope Baptist Church’s Facebook page, the revival services are archived. C.T. Townsend and D.R. Harrison raised the money for another tent and are having it built right now. When it is finished, they plan to take the tent throughout the United States, preaching revival.