Dr. Desiree Etienne, with her co-leaders Pastor Edris Webbe and Minister Ava-Ann Pennyfeather, leading a virtual ‘Boston United’ revival service on April 10th-11th.
When UniteBoston’s staff heard about a church event called “Boston United,” we knew we needed to talk with the organizer of this event, as it had such synergy with UniteBoston’s own name. We had the chance to interview Dr. Desiree Etienne this past week – read below to hear her goals for a time of revival and awakening for Christians in Greater Boston that transcend traditional church (or virtual) walls.
By K. Percy Ballah
Twenty-seven years ago, Dr. Desiree Etinenne moved to the United States from Antigua with a dream to pursue higher education. As she began pursuing this, God placed another dream in her heart to “see a revival that would awaken the church and the world.” While pastoring at Bethel Abundant Life Church over the past twenty-three years, she has grappled with how to make her God dream a reality. As her experiences in life and ministry revealed the spiritual and emotional challenges people were facing, and as she perceived the widened divisions within the body of Christ, she sensed that it was time to launch a gathering to invite the Holy Spirit to do a deep work of awakening in the hearts of Christians throughout the city. Last year, she took the next steps by meeting with two other women pastors to establish a revival gathering called “Boston United.”
In UniteBoston’s work to highlight the beautiful work that God is doing through various churches and ministries throughout the city, we wanted to meet with Dr. Desiree to learn about what makes her dream for awakening and revival unique. In our conversation with her, we discovered some key things that undergird her God dream:
First of all, we learned that her dream was birthed out of a personal spiritual encounter that she witnessed when her husband was miraculously healed at a revival worship service. She described, “I believed in miracles and often prayed for them, but I never saw a physical miracle happen until my husband was healed five years ago at that worship service.” That defining experience clarified her vision for what could be possible at a revival gathering. She wanted to see this type of supernatural healing take place with Christians from among the city because many people are facing overwhelming challenges that require divine intervention.
In the past year, there has been a significant increase in the struggle with emotional, mental, and physical health challenges. Also, many people are feeling lonely because they have been living in isolation. Dr. Desiree believes that these complex challenges have presented an opportunity for people to experience a spiritual awakening that could happen through a revival service.
With the restrictions in place for in-person gatherings, it has been difficult for churches to host physical gatherings. Finding a solution to this significant problem was critical to making her dream of awakening a reality. She expressed that she had been thinking through these types of questions since last year when her original revival service was canceled because of the pandemic. Consequently, Dr. Desiree and her team have adjusted their strategy to host a virtual revival gathering on April 10th and 11th. This gathering will have a virtual worship experience, praying together in breakout rooms, and a sermon by Bishop Dr. Jonathan Ramsey Jr., the Bishop that God used to heal her husband.
This adjustment to the original plan has been an unexpected twist to how Dr.Desiree envisioned awakening would happen in this revival service. However, Dr. Desiree and her co-leaders, Pastor Edris Webbe and Minister Ava-Ann Pennyfeather are determined to host this gathering because they believe that it is God’s timing. They know that God is not restricted by our distance physically from each other. God’s spirit can easily travel through the barriers of our computer screens and smartphones to touch our souls–and perhaps, wake us up so that we will step boldly into His greater purpose for our lives.
Historically, something special always happens when Christians unite to worship and pray together. This type of unity has always been a spark that ignites great awakenings and revivals. Dr. Desiree believes that “when we as a Church can unite across the denominations, and ethnic backgrounds, we will have a greater testimony to offer the world.” At times it has been frustrating for this team of women pastors to see the church not reaching its full potential and seeing the fiery love some believers once had for Jesus to grow dim.
Ultimately, they expect God to show up in a mighty way up to strengthen the bond of Christians and rekindle believers’ fire and passion for Jesus. In recognition that the oneness that Jesus prays for in John 17 is a testimony about the reconciling love of Jesus, they hope that unbelievers will then be attracted to the Church and also experience a spiritual awakening.
The “Boston United” revival service will take place on Saturday, April 10th, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm and Sunday, April 11th, from 4:00pm to 5:30pm. We would love to see Christians throughout Greater Boston join with Dr. Desiree in her dream for awakening and see how the Holy Spirit might show up as we seek God together. Click here for more information and to register.