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The First Promise Keepers Event: Witnessing the Power of God

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).

The first formal Promise Keepers meeting took place on Saturday, July 27, 1991, at the University of Colorado Events Center in Boulder, CO. It was a one-day event starting at 9:00 a.m. Coach Mac had rented the football stadium for this event, but after our registrations came in, instead of the 55,000 men we had anticipated, we had approximately 4,200 registrations. (Had we had the 55,000 registrations, we would have been massively overwhelmed! The Lord knew what He was doing.)

Coach Mac worked with the University to change the venue to accommodate the size of the crowd. We had communicated to several states around Colorado concerning the event and had a good response for the first formal event known as Promise Keepers.

My Encounter with the Power of God

Our team approached Saturday, July 27th with great anticipation. We looked forward to our first event. The Board of Directors and our limited staff agreed to meet at the Events Center for prayer at 7:00 a.m. that morning. I drove to the Events Center and parked at the designated location.

When I arrived, getting out of my car, I noticed that there was a large entrance to the Events Center near where I had parked. It turned out to be the entrance where a semi-tractor trailer would be backed into the building for loading or unloading. Instead of climbing the myriad of steps to the main entrance two floors above, I simply entered the building through the large, thick sheets of plastic which overlapped one another in the opening.

I walked through the plastic sheets past a set of black curtains onto the floor of the building (where the moveable basketball floor would have been located.) As I stepped into the main room, I remember a cart of greenery being pushed past me, intended for the stage. I remember the bright lights overhead dramatically lighting the room.

In that moment, there on that floor, I felt a Presence like I had never experienced before.

It actually made me stop and pause.

And wonder.

This is different.

Heavy. Powerful. Joyful.

I had a spiritual awareness that had not been part of my journey to this point.

Let me pause and share with you from my heart that I walk in the Holy Spirit every day. I live by the Spirit and follow my Father’s daily direction through the Holy Spirit. I totally depend on His leading and quickening for my life and ministry. I am a Bible-believing, conservative evangelical. In addition, I need to tell you that I am not of the Pentecostal/Charismatic persuasion.

I am telling you that there was something in that room that day that I had never experienced before. It was real. It was impactful. Friends of mine tell me, “You were just excited about the first P.K. event starting.” I was excited, for sure.

But that’s not what this was. It was different.

I know this explanation is very subjective. I realize that. Please know that I am a 53-year veteran of local church ministry. I have had a long seminary teaching career. I have an earned doctorate and have authored or co-authored over twelve books. I have preached and taught the Gospel in over 37 states in the U.S. and in over 18 different foreign countries. I have formally discipled (in the manner of Jesus’ relational ministry example) over 330 men.

I am not an emotional novice or a wide-eyed beginner. I am also telling you that what I experienced that morning was something that I had never experienced before.

It was a visitation of the Holy Spirit upon the church of Jesus Christ.

And it was awesome!

And that morning was just the beginning.

Our team met that morning in the basketball coach’s locker room a little after 7:00 a.m. We spent an hour together in sincere and intense prayer, seeking the Lord for the men who were coming. We prayed for the safe journeys of those attending. We prayed for the Lord to be in our meeting in a powerful way. We prayed for the salvation of the unbelievers who would be there that day. We prayed for the believers who would be attending, that they would be deeply touched with the messages from Scripture.

We prayed that men would be called to a new level of commitment and love for Jesus.

Our group prayed for at least 50 men to respond to the invitation that would be offered immediately after the first message of the morning. We would invite them to come and accept Jesus as their Savior or to come to publicly rededicate their lives to deeper living in Christ.

By 9:00 a.m., the crowd had assembled and been welcomed, and our worship team led in a time of worship. One of our menthen preached a thirty-minute message and included a clear explanation on how to accept Jesus as your Savior. At the end of his message, we all stood and began to sing. I will never forget what I saw transpire in the next fifteen minutes.

We did not see 50 men come forward. We saw over 600 men come forward to answer the invitation!

They came up the aisles between the seats on the floor. They came down the stair aisles from the seating sections. The front of the arena around the stage filled to capacity. There were so many coming down the stairs, we simply could not get them down onto the floor!

As our leadership team watched, we were deeply immersed in such awe. We were floored. Some of us began to cry. I was standing toward the front of the arena. As I looked at what was happening before me, I slowly prayed, “Lord, what are you doing here? What is this?” Our counselors were overcome with the numbers, trying to get information for follow-up.

I learned that many men are hungry, want to know God, and truly want to grow in their walks with Christ.

We finished the day together there in that arena, all 4,400 of us. Singing and praying and listening to exhortation from the Word of God. The men seemed to really be glad to be together. They were engaged. They sang like I had never heard men sing together before! No more half-hearted, mumbling through the worship songs. Men were belting out the worship songs with gusto!

There was an interesting unity in the group. There was such excitement.

We didn’t know who was Baptist or Nazarene or Methodist. For some reason, it didn’t seem to matter. What mattered was that men were being called to their Biblical posts as believers, husbands, fathers, and sons of our Heavenly Father. It was truly an amazing experience. It was a wonderful beginning. Obviously more than any of us had expected.

What did I learn from that day in our first formal meeting?

  • I learned that God is massively powerful, beyond our expectations.
  • I learned to pray more expectantly.
  • I learned that many men are hungry, want to know God, and truly want to grow in their walks with Christ.
  • I learned that when Scripture is preached with clarity and power, men accept and love
  • I learned that men want to be together in Christ and enjoy deeper fellowship. The kind
    that moves beyond passing social greetings on Sunday mornings in our church
  • I learned that when our Father decides to move, He moves in an amazingly impactful,
    life-changing way.
  • I learned that powerful prayer moves our Heavenly Father. He responds when we specifically ask.
  • I learned that you can’t put God in a box.

With great anticipation, our team looked forward to the next July in Boulder. What was the Lord going to do? What could we expect?

We spent the next year preparing for the last weekend of July, 1992.

This is the second installment in our series on the Promise Keepers by one of PK’s founding members, David Roadcup. Here are the other articles in the series: 

  • Part 1: “Promise Keepers: The Beginning” 
  • Part 3: “Promise Keepers and the Power of Prayer” 
  • Part 4: “The Promise Keepers and Spiritual Warfare” 
  • Part 5: “Promise Keepers & Stories of Changed Lives” 
  • Part 6: “Promise Keepers: The Night We Encouraged Our Pastors” 
  • Part 7: “Promise Keepers: Stand in the Gap” 
  • Part 8: “Revival: God Could Do It Again.” 
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