I am a Circuit Rider.
What’s a Circuit Rider? That’s a natural question to ask. Contrary to what my electrical engineering friend Frankie might think, a Circuit Rider is not an electrical current who zips through his circuit contraptions. No, to understand what I mean by a Circuit Rider, let me take you back to the Revolutionary War era.
The late 1700’s and early 1800’s were the days of the Circuit Riders. The Circuit Riders were Methodists who were zealous for the spread of the Gospel. Inspired by Bishop Francis Asbury, founding bishop of American Methodism, Circuit Riders were usually men in their 20’s or 30’s that were radically transformed by the Gospel and set out to share the same message with others. They hailed from humble walks of life as blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, sailors, tanners, and such.
The ‘circuit’ part of their name comes from the fact that most Circuit Riders rode on horseback through rural areas of the Americas in circuits whose circumference was often 200 to 500 miles. Since settlers of that time were spread out, they often lacked the means to hire a full-time preacher or pastor. The Circuit Riders sought to put a preacher in nearly every community through the riding of their circuits. Oftentimes meeting in the homes of settlers, the Circuit Riders would show up anywhere from every two to six weeks to preach a sermon and gather anyone who was willing to hear the Gospel.
The life of a Circuit Rider was rough. On average, a Circuit Rider was paid one-fifth that of a congregational minister and dealt with the perils of a pioneering lifestyle. Because of its difficulty, nearly half of all Circuit Riders who died riding their circuits were under the age of 30. When asked of the reward for becoming a Circuit Rider, Bishop Asbury said, “Grace here and glory hereafter, if he is faithful, will be given.”
Despite its lack of safety and physical appeal, the Circuit Riders were successful in accomplishing their purpose. In helping shape the landscape of the American settlements, the Circuit Riders helped the American Methodist congregation grow from less than 1,000 in 1770 to 250,000 in 1820. Although they were usually men untrained in the Bible or even church in general, these men said yes to the calling of Holy Spirit and became a part of a reaping of souls into the kingdom of heaven. Holy Spirit accompanied their preaching and they were made effective in their ministry. Just as God did with his original 12 disciples, He used seemingly ordinary men to accomplish extraordinary purposes.
With the history of the original Circuit Riders near and dear to our hearts, let me pivot to share with you the present day Circuit Riders.
Present-Day Circuit Riders
Birthed out of Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in 2011, Circuit Riders is a piece of God’s heart for America. Before it was ever a group of people, Circuit Riders was a prophetic vision spoken to a prophetess named Amy Sollars. In summer 2010, God spoke to Amy by showing her a vision of a man dressed in colonial clothing. She heard the name “Revere”. She realized that the man was not necessarily Paul Revere himself, but that “Revere” meant he was a messenger. Paul Revere was the messenger of the Revolutionary War. The messenger spoke to her in the vision and said, “I represent those that will ride through the night to declare a message of a revolution that will lead to revival and reformation.”
Suddenly in her vision, Amy saw a group of people with fire in their eyes. They were criss-crossing, in growing intensity, across America and they were riding and revival fire was going everywhere they went. The thing that was most intense was the fire in their eyes and they were wild-eyed revivalists!
Amy then noticed that the messenger had a messenger bag on his side with messages in it he was about to release and he said that the Circuit Riders were going to ride again. At the time, Amy had no idea what a Circuit Rider was. For the next several months, Amy, Brian Brennt, Andy Byrd, and other leaders surrounding her sought the Lord in prayer and did not act immediately on this vision.
Then, in September of 2010, Amy again had a vision of the man dressed in colonial clothing and the man told her that Los Angeles was a key place and that the mantels of Circuit Riders were being given out again. Amy felt that God was wanting to train Circuit Riders to live and preach the simple Gospel. As we saw earlier in the story of the original Circuit Riders, they were simple men who proclaimed the Gospel in simple terms. Souls were saved!
After more deliberation and prayer, some of the leaders at the YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii, gave traction to the vision. In 2011, they called for the first Circuit Rider school in Kona. Amazingly, 300 people showed up and became the first Circuit Riders.
In 2012, God turned up the intensity of the Circuit Riders. The Circuit Riders hosted schools in Orlando, London, Denver, Los Angeles, and Kansas City. At these schools, those who came were trained to live in freedom and were then sent into these cities as evangelists. My sister, Victoria, actually attended the Denver school and was radically transformed as she experienced Jesus more than ever before and saw his hand at work. From her experience, she ended up becoming a missionary to the Middle East. You can see her blog at http://www.victoriarn.com.
Now, Circuit Riders are found scattered throughout America, but they are headquartered in Huntington Beach. We are weekly visiting college campuses to catalyze people to seek Jesus passionately and become his hands and feet. We also just finished an 8-stop national tour called the Living Room Tour where we gathered college students to inspire unity and bring Jesus to their campuses. We are attempting to build platforms that use social media as an avenue to see souls saved and missionaries launched into the nations. Circuit Riders live to see Jesus glorified and his name made famous in the earth. Circuit Riders believe that Jesus not only wants to bring revival to America, but he is doing it and he is doing it right now! For some reason, by God’s grace, he called me into this lifestyle and into this wonderful story.
I am a Circuit Rider.
Simpson, D. R. (2014). Circuit Riders In Early American Methodism. Retrieved November 24, 2014, from General Commission on Archives & History: http://www.gcah.org/history/circuit-riders
Wigger, J. H. (2014). Holy, “Knock-’em-down” Preachers. Retrieved November 24, 2014, from Christian History Institute: https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/knock-em-down-preachers/