Most of you are aware the Feb. 8, 2023, chapel service at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, has yet to end … seven days later. Night and day, people gather for worship and prayer.
As a boy, my dad was a seminary student in Louisville and pastored a church in Frankfort, around 30 miles from Asbury. In 1970 revival broke out at this small Christian college. In that chapel service 53 years ago, students began pouring to the altar.
Revival broke out.
Gradually and inexplicably, students and faculty members found themselves quietly praying, singing and weeping. They began to seek out persons to whom they had done wrong and ask forgiveness. And the chapel service went on and on day and night.
The 1,500-seat auditorium stayed packed as not only students came and went, but people from communities close by and far away came to be touched by the presence of God.
This revival spread to 130 campuses around the United States. College students, touched by the revival, came and shared at the church my dad pastored. We also experienced a move of God. During this time, I was saved. The Lord used the fire from the 1970 Asbury Revival to change many lives … and I am one of them!
So it is with much interest that I traveled to visit Asbury University this Monday (Feb. 13), to see first-hand what is going on in Wilmore.
10 observations from Asbury revival
1. It is spontaneous. You can plan “revival services,” but humans cannot orchestrate true revival. It is God sent.
2. Christ is exalted. The name of Jesus was lifted up the entire evening. Jesus was honored by these students.
3. There is much anticipation. On Monday evening, people gathered in three chapels with a waiting line outside of Hughes Auditorium. There was standing room only at 10 p.m. in the main chapel.
4. It is student-led. I was encouraged to see these young people worshipping the Lord.
5. There is a beautiful balance of order and freedom. While researching and writing on “revivals” while I was in the doctoral program, I witnessed many so-called “revivals” that appeared out of control. Asbury is not like that. There is freedom to kneel, pray and cry out to God, but at the same time, everything is done in an orderly manner. Worship through music, sharing Scripture, confession of sin and prayer were the norm when I was present.
6. God is moving. I know this to be true because I witnessed Him at work in people around me.
I also know it to be true because God moved in my life. I went as an “observer” but quickly was overwhelmed by the manifest presence of God. I knelt by a side window, and tears flowed down my cheeks as I prayed for a more intimate walk with Him.
As I wiped the tears away and stood up, I noticed people lying prostrate up and down the aisles. One college student near me was on her face crying out to God in repentance. I recalled my professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Tim Beougher, saying that a sign of true revival is it begins with agony, not ecstasy.
7. Worship in song is powerful and with much joy. There seemed to be genuine joy in the lives of those present. Furthermore, I agree with one of my friends who serves on our SBC Prayer Link, “the worship is powerful.”
8. Time seems to slow down. This fact was one of the most surprising insights for me. I stood – and knelt some – for hours. I looked at my watch, and it was 11 p.m. Hours had passed, and it seemed only a short time to me.
9. There is a desire to spread the news. Students at Asbury, and others who are experiencing the grace of God, are eager to tell others what they are experiencing. Word is spreading.
10. People are coming. Many Christians are longing for revival. Car tags revealed that people travel from various parts of the U.S. to see what God is doing. One family near me flew in from El Salvador.
Is this the spark of a mighty revival that will spread across our nation and world? Only God knows.
I only know that I experienced Christ and left uplifted and encouraged.
I drove back to Alabama with a renewed desire to see true revival spread worldwide. In his sermon on Ephesians 4:4–6, the late Martin Lloyd-Jones preached that “the one supreme need of the Church is revival. It is its only hope. The first duty of Christians is to pray for it [revival].”
Look around you. Our state and world needs Christ. Lloyd-Jones believed that God does more in a day when revival breaks out than in a century in “normal church activity.”
I long to see, as Jonathan Edwards called it, a “Surprising Work of God.” I pray the fire that some people are experiencing in Asbury spreads into a genuine blaze of Christ’s love that spreads all over this globe.
Please join me in asking God to send another great awakening!