What began at the conclusion of a regular chapel at Asbury University on February 8th continued and grew beyond anyone’s expectations. Campus leaders have referred to it as an “outpouring of God’s deep, deep and abiding love and His desire to have a personal relationship with each of us.” As the unceasing worship and prayer moved into its second week, World News Group reporter Travis K. Kircher offered this description:
The line to the front doors of Asbury University’s Hughes Auditorium stretches down the concrete steps, across the lawn, around a corner and down the block to a stoplight. As the sun sets on a mild Tuesday evening in February, hundreds of people wait patiently to get inside the crowded chapel.
For a moment, the heavy front doors on the historic building open, and yellow light pours out, along with the clapping and singing of over a thousand worshipers.
As stories and personal testimonies of this extraordinary movement have spread on social media and been reported by major news organizations, questions are emerging as well.
- What does it mean?
- Is it authentic and real?
- Could it be the beginnings of time such as the First or Second Great Awakening, the Prayer Revival of 1858 or the more recent Jesus Movement in the 1970s?
- Many who have been praying for years for spiritual revival and awakening are asking, Could this be the answer to our prayers?
- How should I respond?
A FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT
My friend Bill Elliff, the Founding and National Engage Pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock and his wife decided to take the nine-hour drive to Wilmore, Kentucky to get a first-hand account of what has been happening at Asbury. For over 50 years Bill has studied revivals and has experienced similar moments of revival at universities and churches personally. He has also prayed for and led seasons of prayer for revival.
The following are Bill’s observations from his first day at Asbury:
- This is real. God is very present.
- Students from many other colleges are here, having traveled from across the country.
- Worship is glorious, unified and simple. A piano and guitar, led by various student teams who understand that worship is not performance.
- It is not weird. Everything is extremely orderly but vibrant, spontaneous and powerful.
You can read all of Bill’s “Reflections From Asbury” on his blog. Here is what Bill shared in Part Six of his reflections:
WHAT IS ASBURY ABOUT?
It seems to be no coincidence that this extraordinary movement of God (that began at Asbury University but is now spreading like a rising tide to many campuses) is erupting among our next generation. What could happen if God spread this movement like a prairie fire to thousands of campuses and churches?
- What if multiplied thousands of 17-20-year-old students are genuinely saved in the next two years (just as they were in the Jesus Movement)?
- What if this is birthed, not in a nice church program, but in a moment of a radical visitation from God?
- What if it’s marked (as is Asbury) by radical humility, deep repentance, aggressive obedience, and unashamed testimony?
- What if the next generation is healed from the deep dysfunctions of broken homes and commits to building godly homes that live to raise their children for Christ?
- What if this generation sees and understands the glory of God far more than their parents?
- What if a whole generation’s hearts are set ablaze (just as Christ’s is) for every tongue, tribe, nation, and people, and the next missionary force arises?
- What if God is interrupting our subnormal Christianity, marked by mere intellectual knowledge of Christ and little experiential relationship with the living God?
- What if our Biblical orthodoxy is ignited and informed by experiencing the manifest presence of God? If we move from knowing about God to KNOWING God, just as Paul did?
- What if the remedy for our tragic reality of plateaued and dying churches (85%) in America was raising church men and women full of God, just like the book of Acts?
Samuel Davies was shaped by the first great awakening and later became the President of Princeton and was known as the Apostle of Virginia. He said that he saw humble pastors preach for years with little results. “Then the revival came,” he said. The same pastors, Davies noted, preached the same sermons, and 200 people were saved. “The gospel became almighty,” he wrote, “and carried everything before it.” He also said the following about the movements of God and their place in culture:
“There are eras when only a large outpouring of the Spirit can produce a public general reformation.”
GOD’S MERCIFUL INTERVENTIONS
God has given America a nationwide awakening every 30-60 years. A course correction that has radically brought us back to Him. In these times, churches have become vibrant lights for the gospel. The salt of New Testament Christianity and its morally preserving effects has returned. We must remember that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34)
If this is true, we should not discourage but deeply encourage the next generation’s involvement in these days. We should pray that we will all not only understand God’s ways in such a movement but that we will join them. That we would become participants and illustrations of what happens when a people are fully surrendered to God. Most historians believe that the Jesus Movement was far more short-lived than possible because many churches resisted the work among the next generation and the new wineskins it required. God helps us.
These students will make some mistakes in their zeal, but God forbid that we should seize upon a few things we don’t agree with and discount the great movement of the Father redeeming a generation! The Pharisees did that and ended up crucifying the One who’d come to save them.
It is absolutely no coincidence that for over a year, the nationwide broadcast for the Collegiate Day of Prayer has been scheduled to be live-streamed from Hughes Auditorium on the campus of Asbury University this Thursday, February 23rd.
Next Thursday, what is happening in the sacred spot of God’s visitation will be opened to everyone. Believers and churches will adopt the 4,196 American colleges and universities nationwide for laser-focused prayer. You and your church or campus can adopt a campus and join this 2-hour live stream from the auditorium in Asbury here: https://collegiatedayofprayer.org/. Gather your church or campus to watch and pray. (Please take time to read of the amazing history of God’s revivals on campuses here: https://collegiatedayofprayer.org/about/history/. It will give great perspective to you regarding what is happening right now.)
What if millions of believers united on this one day to pray for God to visit every campus with an extraordinary movement of God’s Spirit that produced extraordinary results?
The providence of God has provided this. And, adding further fuel to God’s fire, the “Jesus Revolution” movie (produced by Jon Erwin, whose father was radically changed by the Jesus Movement) premiers across America the very next day (February 24th). It will be seen by millions.
A TIME FOR EXTRAORDINARY PRAYER
Last Thursday Central Arkansas pastors gathered for monthly prayer and we prayed for:
- The continued outpouring of God’s Spirit at Asbury and that it would spread.
- The Collegiate Day of Prayer on Feb. 23rd. Asbury was selected as the location a year ago to focus on praying for a fresh outpouring and another Jesus movement. That prayer is being answered as they prepare to host their service at Asbury during a student awakening.
- The upcoming release of the film Jesus Revolution next week.
- The Arkansas Prayer Summit (Feb. 27th – Mar. 1st) where pastors from across the state will gather for Spirit-led and worship-filled prayer.
Now is the time for us to unite in extraordinary prayer. Now is the time for us to offer God prayer that is increasing, unceasing and persevering.
Will you join us in prayer?
Ray Williams, Co-Founder and Network Coordinator, CityChurch Network