What began as a typical chapel service Feb. 8 on the campus of Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky has entered its seventh consecutive day, with around-the-clock prayer, testimonials, Scripture reading and praise and worship of Jesus Christ by hundreds of college students, faculty, staff, community members and out-of-towners.
For more than 150 hours and counting, Hughes Auditorium, which has a seating capacity of nearly 1,500, has been abuzz with nonstop prayers of confession, repentance, intercession and adoration. What is being described as a spontaneous outbreak of revival followed a chapel message from Romans chapter 12 about confession, repentance and forgiveness.
“The sweet spirit of adoration of the Lord, that is what has marked the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” Jim Shores, an Asbury University professor, said Tuesday during a video interview livestreamed online by Intercessors For America (IFA), a national prayer ministry.
Shores said that by 8 p.m. on Feb. 13, Hughes Auditorium was filled to capacity and two other chapels across the street on the school’s seminary campus were also full of worshippers. “It’s praise and worship, but it’s going 24/7,” he said. “We are responding to our Maker. And we are responding to His love. And that’s what it feels like. It feels like love. The presence of God is love. I think so much of what this outpouring of the Holy Spirit has been marked by is people coming to know that God loves them. And that’s who God is. That’s the heart of God.”
Charity Johnson, a student at Asbury and a member of the chapel worship team, told IFA that she skipped her afternoon classes on Feb. 8 to return to the growing gathering of students inside the chapel where she remained from 2 p.m. until midnight. She said that she has remained in the chapel until 3 a.m. several times over the last week.
“Allowing God just to have His space and welcome His spirit in, I believe, is what gave people the comfortability to just come to the altar and not feeling like this is a quick thing and let’s go to class,” she said. “It’s made people see that it’s OK to just sit in His presence and not just rush off to the next thing. So, people being in one accord and being in agreement with just letting the Spirit lead, I believe is what was inviting God to just come and move like He did.”
Tim Beougher, pastor of West Broadway Baptist Church and a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, visited the Asbury University campus Monday afternoon. “The manifest presence of God filled Hughes Auditorium,” Beougher wrote on Facebook. “… This afternoon there was teaching on dying to self that was followed by a directed prayer time asking God to help us do just that. The focus was clear: die to self and live for Christ and others. I do think that is Biblical.”
A breakout of revival on the Asbury University campus—a private Christian university with roots in the Wesleyan-Holiness movement—isn’t unprecedented. Historians record similar movements from the 1930s, 50s and more recently in 1970, when a chapel service extended for seven days and nights as a catalyst to the nationwide revival called the Jesus Movement.
And over that past several days students have begun arriving on the Asbury campus from other universities: the University of Kentucky, the University of the Cumberlands, Purdue University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Ohio Christian University, Transylvania University, Midway University, Lee University, Georgetown College, Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, and many others.
Bill Elliff, director of OneCry! A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening, drove nine hours from his home in north Little Rock, Arkansas to attend the Feb. 11 revival services on the Asbury campus. Elliff writes about his experience in his blog:
“When the microphones were opened for testimonies, there were long lines of grateful people telling what God has done in the last 72 hours. Healing—both emotional, spiritual, and physical has happened in glorious ways. Very real and profound things are occurring quickly in hundreds of lives. Within the first hour, I had moved from a spectator to a humble participant. The unity and worship are heavenly. No pretense, pride, or show. No manipulation. You don’t want to leave. The Scripture was read this afternoon for a long time by multiple people, washing over the congregation. After each Scripture, the response was, “The Word of God, and we believe it!”
Beougher, who wrote his seminary thesis on the 1970 Asbury revival and how it impacted Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, also served on the Wheaton College faculty when the school experienced revival in 1995. He wrote on Facebook:
“The manifest presence of God filled Hughes Auditorium. I experienced that same overwhelming sense of God’s presence each day/night during the 1995 Wheaton Revival.
“What every believer should be doing right now, regardless of what you think about the early reports out of Asbury, is praying. Who would deny that we need revival in our churches and spiritual awakening in our land? God has visited this nation with powerful awakenings before—we study these great movements of revival in church history classes. Is Asbury the spark of another awakening? I don’t know—but I’m praying—and you should be too!”
Photo: Courtesy of Asbury University