A scheduled hour-long chapel service at Asbury University has turned into something much longer and, to many attending, more meaningful. It turned into hours and then days of worship and repentance.
Asbury University is a private Christian University in Wilmore, Kentucky (pop 5,999). On Wednesday, February 8, 2023 Rev. Zach Meerkreebs (Envision Leadership Coordinator, Christian and Missionary Alliance) spoke to the students in a regularly scheduled chapel service. (Watch his message – Becoming Love in Action.)
Since the 8th there’s been 24/7 prayer, worship, testimony, confession of sin, Scripture reading and silence. In the age of social media, live-streaming videos, and other wonders of the internet age, what is going on at Asbury is happening on a world stage. As of February 19th, you can watch a live stream of the services here. Seekers travelled to Asbury from across America, Canada, and as far away as Brazil.
Experiences and Response
Asbury student, Anna Lowe recounts her experience. “My heart shifted, and a resentment that had followed me for months was lifted by the grace of God alone.”
There is mixed response from around the world. All the way from excited anticipation of what God is doing, to a self-righteous dismissal of the experience because it is happening at Asbury, an institution deemed to be “woke” and in need of “…a return to the truth of God’s Word…”
Shock the System
Pete Greig, pastor and founder of the 24/7 prayer movement observes, “What’s happening at Asbury is not everything but it is something and right now we need something to shock the system so that this generation can experience for themselves the life-changing power of God. We need repentance and holiness. We need the kind of outpouring of the Spirit on campuses that can incubate and detonate a new generation to preach the gospel with greater confidence, fight injustice with greater defiance, and transform society with greater intelligence.”
Asbury has been the scene of several revivals in its 132-year history, perhaps the most famous of which occurred in 1970, when students spent 144 straight hours in worship, prayer and repentance following a chapel service.
The president of Asbury Theological Seminary Timothy Tennent explains,
“Despite the endless coverage in social media and the regular media which is calling this a revival, I think it is wise to see this, at the current phase, as an awakening. Only if we see lasting transformation which shakes the comfortable foundations of the church and truly brings us all to a new and deeper place can we look back, in hindsight and say “yes, this has been a revival.”
An awakening is where God begins to stir and awaken people up from their spiritual slumber.
Not Business As Usual
“This is definitely happening not only in Wilmore, but as this move of God spreads to other schools and communities across the nation and even the world. There are many reports that this is what is happening. But, we must keep our hearts and eyes fixed on Jesus and ask for him to complete the work he has begun so that, over time, there is a lasting transformation in the lives of those who are being touched by God. This is the reason why both the University and the Seminary have not cancelled classes.
It is not because we are in a “business as usual” mode. Far from it. There is talk of little else in every chapel, in every classroom, in every hallway conversation, and, I suspect, in every home and apartment in the community.
The desire is to “mainstream” renewal into the very fabric of our lives so that we are transformed right where we live, and work and study. We all love mountaintop experiences, but we also know that it must be lived out in all the normal rhythms of life. We have to live into this desperation for God to do what we cannot do. In short, we must embrace what it means to really live as Christians in the midst of a church culture which has largely domesticated the gospel beyond recognition.
We will know that revival has truly come to us when we are truly changed to live more like him at work, at study, at worship, and at witness.
David Thomas, greatly used by God to shepherd this awakening, reminded us daily that we should let God move us to a permanent place of transformation before God and the eyes of the watching world. In that sense, we are seeking to take what is clearly an abnormal move of God and ask how this can become normalized in a deep way.
Someday, we will look back on these days and thank God that he visited us in ways we will talk about for years to come. But, what we are doggedly seeking is not lasting memories, but transformed lives long after the lights go out in Hughes auditorium or Estes Chapel or all other places which are experiencing this work of grace.
In short, it is not about “this place” or “that place” whether Wilmore or any other city. It is about Christ himself. None of us “owns” this awakening. But all of us must own in our own lives His work and his gracious beckoning to that deeper place. Come, Holy Spirit!”
God Will Meet You
I like how one student summarized her experience, “I feel like we’re reaching this stage where a lot of people are coming and seeing, which is great. Come and experience Jesus, but also recognize he is where you are. And the Holy Spirit is where you are. And he will meet you where you are and then start this beautiful journey of healing and reconciliation with you.”
On February 18th the President of Asbury announced that public evening services will conclude on February 19th. “As we enter the third week of this renewal movement, our desire is to be faithful to our mission as a student-centric Christian University,” Brown wrote in the statement. “Further, we believe that the continued flourishing of such a movement invites us to commission our Asbury community, visiting students, and other campus guests from across the world to neighbour-serving, God-honouring work.
Please join us at REVwords in praying for a responsiveness across Canada to the revitalizing work of the Jesus and his commission to share the gospel.
Are you following what is happening in Asbury? What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment below and share this on your social media platforms.
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