Revival at Asbury
On Feb. 17, three friends and I made a trip to visit Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. Now why would we do this? If you weren't aware, news was circulating that a religious revival was breaking out at Asbury University, a private Christian college. This news spread quickly through Christian social media circles and then on TikTok to the nonreligious Gen-Z crowd.
The revival started after a normal chapel service, which essentially never ended: students stayed behind, singing, praying and reading the Bible. This continued throughout the next day, and then it turned into a 24/7 revival event that lasted for about two weeks.
When I first heard about this revival, I saw pictures and videos mainly of musical worship. I personally like musical worship, but I was a little skeptical of the label, "revival." As a natural skeptic, I wondered if this was truly a revival or just a group of Christians coming together to sing and get a spiritual-high type feeling—which would be perfectly fine and good if that was the case, it just might not be a revival.
Historically, revivals have been defined by a reawakening of spiritual interest that transcends cultural boundaries, denominations and backgrounds. The aftershocks of these revivals reveal a culture that has been hungry for the Lord, much like what was portrayed in the recent film, "Jesus Revolution." So, was this truly a revival at Asbury? Were nonbelievers finding Christ? Were believers being renewed and sent out by the Spirit to fulfill the Great Commission?
The first hint at an answer to my questions came in the form of a text message on Feb. 13. An old high school friend of mine, who was not a believer in high school, sent a message to our high school group chat, boldly proclaiming the gospel to our unbelieving friends as a result of his trip to the Asbury revival. This signaled to me that, if nothing else, what was happening at Asbury was not merely a contained, feel-good worship session, but something actually encouraging believers to be bold in spreading the gospel. So, I gathered up some friends — Jaret Maxwell, Jack Seiple and Blake Carson — and we headed down to check out the revival for ourselves.
After a five-hour drive down, we arrived at Asbury University at about 8:30 p.m. Even before we reached the campus, we knew we were in the right spot: out of nowhere there was a long line of cars, as well as a line about a half-mile long of people waiting in 30-degree weather to get into the chapel. We were able to park close and walk right up to the chapel. We wanted to get an idea of what was going on and talk to some people before we hopped into line. Outside near the chapel there were space heaters set up for the folks in line, as well as projector screens and speakers so that people could listen to the teachings and worship music from inside the chapel as they waited. We stood there listening to a teaching for about 20 minutes while trying to figure out our next move.
I saw a group of guys about our age in line and decided to talk to them and ask what had brought them there. I wanted to get an idea of what the Lord might be doing. It turned out that they were a loosely tied together friend group from Ohio, who all had come at the invitation of their one believing friend, Reagan. Reagan had received Christ seven months prior through a Christian TikTok. The other five guys were all unbelievers who had each separately felt God was calling them to get to know Him. When Reagan let them know about this revival and asked them to join him, they all said yes. My friends and I decided to hop in line with them and continue our conversations. (We sort of felt bad about cutting the massive line, but not really.) In this conversation, we witnessed amazing boldness from Reagan as he prayed for his friends to come to know the Lord... with them! We were all blown away and very encouraged to see his boldness and how the Spirit was so clearly using him to reach his friends. We were able to catch up with them later in the night as well, and we have been staying in touch with them since then.
INSIDE THE CHAPEL
The teaching we attended focused on discipleship and a call for Christian living firmly rooted in a body of Christ.
The whole revival was clearly structured for the youth: college students had their own separate line to get in the chapel quicker. In addition, many of the people leading sermons were college students. We got into the chapel after about 20 minutes and split into pairs of two to find open seats. Here’s a general flow of events in the chapel: a 15-to-20-minute teaching, followed by about 10 minutes of worship, an altar call and a time of prayer. This generally repeated on a loop, although it was all very informal, and there wasn’t a strict structure.
The teaching we attended focused on discipleship and a call for Christian living firmly rooted in a body of Christ. There was a big call for evangelism and for taking the word of God out from Asbury to everyone’s respective areas. The man giving the sermon coined the phrase “Reverse Vegas:” instead of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” he was challenging people not to let what was happening at Asbury stay at Asbury! He urged everyone to take it back to where they were from and spread the Good News.
After the teaching there was musical worship, followed by an altar call, where anyone who didn’t know the Lord but wanted to know Him could join in prayer and ask the Lord for forgiveness. Numerous people stood to receive Christ each time this happened. Volunteers gave these new converts some beginner resources and urged them to go back to wherever they were from and get plugged into a body of Christ and into a discipleship relationship. It was a beautiful thing to see such a diverse crowd: people of different ethnicities and people with different disabilities and needs coming together to praise the Lord, and come together to receive the free gift that he offers.
Now I’m not sure what the clear-cut definition of a Christian revival is, but by all accounts it seemed to be happening at Asbury. Only the Lord knows what the full effect of this revival will be, but pray that a revival in America would happen! Pray that more and more of the younger generation would find what they are searching for in all the wrong places: God. Pray for Reagan and his young faith as he reaches out to his friends. Pray for the new believers who accepted Christ at Asbury, as well as the thousands of believers who renewed their faith. Pray that believers would be bold in spreading the Good News and taking the Great Commission’s call to discipleship seriously.
Of course, much more happened over our weekend at Asbury. We saw the Lord work in great and powerful ways, but unfortunately that cannot all be contained in my word-count constraint. So if you want to know more about our experiences, come talk to us! I’m sure the fellas would be more than happy to share about their time there and how they saw the Lord move. Pray that the Lord would continue to make his name great.