Revival Has Come to Asbury University

“I got to the auditorium late last night and the stage and carpet were still damp from tears.”

These were the words of a campus minister in Kentucky describing Hughes Auditorium at Asbury University the evening of February 8, 2023. Revival has come to Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. Earlier that day, during a routine Wednesday morning chapel, the Holy Spirit fell, resulting in continuous worship, praise and confession over the past days. A chapel service that, as of this writing, is still going on.

Alexandria Presta, a senior and writer for the school newspaper, announced to the world:

“I have been in Hughes Auditorium for almost twelve hours now without an intent to leave anytime soon. … No one even expected this to happen. Not on a random Wednesday for sure. Yet, we sit and sing about God’s love pouring out and His goodness.”1

The Spirit of God has met Asbury students in a very powerful and very real way. Students, faculty and staff are gathering in Hughes Auditorium, singing, praying and confessing. The Spirit of God is thick in the air.

I’ve heard stories of campus revivals all my adult life. Throughout history God has moved in powerful ways on university campuses. God’s Spirit pours out on a campus and students’ lives are changed. Prayer, confession and reconciliation become commonplace. It is always powerful for those who experience it, and it never stays on campus. It spreads … like wildfire. It’s happened at Asbury before. In February 1970, revival broke out on Asbury’s campus and the ripples washed over college and university campuses across our nation.2 In 1995, the Lord moved in a powerful way again. This time at Howard Payne University, a small Baptist university in Texas. Within weeks it had spread to Wheaton College and over 20 universities across the nation.3

History has shown over and over that when a campus experiences revival it never stays on that campus. The firefall will spread. God is on the move at Asbury. What could God do with this? Where will the Spirit take this? What can those of us outside of Wilmore do in light of this marvelous movement of God?

Revival is a multigenerational event.

In 1885, the great evangelist D.L. Moody made his way to Cambridge to preach. The students were not impressed, and were disruptive in attitude and behavior during his talks. Moody rallied an army of 300 praying mothers to pray for the meetings and for the campus. Within a few days countless students were broken over their sins and the sins of the campus. Among those convicted were C.T. Studd, Stanley Smith and D.E. Hoste, who would later become part of the Cambridge Seven, the most catalytic missionaries and mobilizers of a generation of British college students. The heart of the older generation turned toward the younger generation, and the younger generation went on to change the world.

As revival breaks out at Asbury, let us follow the example of Moody’s army of 300 praying mothers, and pray for our spiritual sons and daughters—this generation. Let us be standing in the gap, holding the rope and rallying each other to pray.

Let us pray for the fires of revival to burn long and lasting.

Revival is a movement of God. Nothing we can do can send the fire from heaven, but like Elijah, we can prepare the altar and stack the wood, all the while asking God to let the fire fall. Let us pray for the students at Asbury to continue to experience the power of the Spirit on their campus, and that the fires of revival would burn hot. Let us pray that the campus is radically transformed by the power of the gospel, but let’s pray for the other 4,000 U.S. college and university campuses to experience a similar thing. What could God do if this fire burns, not for a week or two, but over the coming months and years? What if the defining moment of this generation isn’t the pandemic of 2020, but the Revival of 2023? How would it change a generation? How would it change our nation? Let us celebrate God’s presence at Asbury, but may we be content with nothing less than seeing this spread, by God’s grace, to every campus.

Let us pray for those who will hear as it spreads.

Jesus prayed, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word” John 17:20. At some point we want to pray that revival (God calling his people back to himself) would turn into spiritual awakening (God drawing the lost to himself). As word of what God has done on this campus spreads to other campuses it will be seen and experienced by non-Christians. Students will testify of the goodness of God.

Let us be diligent in praying for those who will hear the gospel as the result of this outpouring of God’s Spirit. May they be cut to the heart and ask, “What must we do to be saved?” like in Acts 2. May they be like the Samaritans in Sychar who met Jesus because of a woman’s testimony and responded, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:42). 

What God is starting at Asbury could result in hundreds and thousands across campuses experiencing the power of God and coming to Christ. Believers, like in Acts 4, experience the power of God, and will go out and share the word of God boldly. Students will take this to their friends, back home to their communities and their families. There isn’t a segment of our population that the college campus does not intersect. In the words of Bill Bright, “If we reach the campus, we reach the world.” Let us pray that God’s Spirit falls on soft hearts and this spreads.

Collegiate Day of Prayer (CollegiateDayOfPrayer.org)

In 1823, as a response to what God was doing on university campuses during the Second Great Awakening, every university and major denomination adopted the fourth Thursday of February as a focused day of prayer for believers young and old to stand in the gap for the college campus. They had seen and become convinced that “as goes the campus, so goes the nation.”

It’s no coincidence that on the 23rd of this month, on the heels of this most recent outpouring of God’s Spirit on Asbury’s campus, is Collegiate Day of Prayer. Not only is CDOP in a few days, but as always in God’s providence, it was already arranged to be broadcast live from Hughes Auditorium on the Asbury University campus—the very place students and staff are already gathering.

Collegiate Day of Prayer has given all of us a way to “adopt a campus in prayer” and intercede for it. On the website there is a list of campuses and who is praying for them, resources to help pray for the campus and students, and a place to join in virtually with the livestream from Asbury University on February 23rd to intercede with thousands across the nation to see God continue to move among this generation.

Would you join us in praying for the students at Asbury? Would you join us in praying for the 20 million college students on over 4,000 campuses across the U.S.? Pray that the fire of revival would continue at Asbury and spread across the nation. Pray that God’s Spirit would be poured out on our sons and our daughters, that we would join in the legacy of Moody’s 300 praying moms in order to see the destiny of a generation changed eternally, and that God would walk on our campuses and change the world.

O Lord Jesus, thank you for your grace you’re pouring out at Asbury. Please don’t let it stop. Let the fire of revival burn hot and bright so it spreads across our nation to every campus and every generation. As your servant Habbakuk prayed, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Hab. 3:2). For your glory Lord, amen.

Sources:

[1] TheAsburyCollegian.com/2023/02/revival-strikes-asbury-once-again/

[2] For a full account of the 1970 Asbury Revival read Wayne Atcheson’s The Asbury Revival: When God Used Students to Wake a Nation.

[3] For more on the Howard Payne and Wheaton College revivals check out Revival Revived: The 1995 Brownwood, TX Revival and its Enduring Impact by John Avant and Alvin Reid as well as Accounts of a Campus Revival: Wheaton College 1995 edited by Timothy K. Beougher and Lyle W. Dorsett