Revival at Asbury

Gen Z Experiences an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit by David Reardon

Wilmore, KY – At the beginning of February, a normal chapel service in Hughes Auditorium at Asbury University turned into something extraordinary when a group of students decided to stay and pray together when the time for chapel was over. Reverend Zach Meerkreebs, a member of the faculty, had just delivered a sermon about becoming love in action based on Romans 12. Meerkreebs would later tell others that it was a subpar sermon because no one responded to the altar call.

When Meerkreebs finished, the gospel choir took the stage to sing one final song. “I felt led to stay for a couple more minutes than I usually do,” said Donovan Chung, a freshman. “I felt led to keep praising and keep going, and I was 30 minutes late to my next class. Then I went to lunch, and I heard that people were still in the chapel. I thought, ‘That’s a little weird.’ So then, theory class rolls around later that day. I asked my teacher, ‘Hey, once this class is over, can we go to Hughes for praise and worship?’ She sat there for a minute and said, ‘You know what, if you feel led to go and start praising and praying, I won’t stop you. I’ll give you all excused absences.’ A couple of us went to Hughes, and as a result, I stayed for seven hours.”

The word spread around campus: a revival was happening. It was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Mary Beth Durham, a sophomore, was at Hughes for four days straight, and shared a bit about what happened at the nonstop worship meeting. “There would be music continually. They would switch worship bands, and nothing was planned. They would only find out what the next person was singing an hour before, and then they would put them on stage. We would have testimony times … It wasn’t just standing and singing, it was sitting down, praying, being with friends. It was also helping friends, strangers, praying for them and helping them in their journey. Because there were so many people there, there was always something to do. There were always people to pray with, people to pray over and people to pray for you.”

It wasn’t long before people began to post about the ongoing event on social media, the story was covered on the news, and people longing for contact with God began to journey to Asbury. They came by the thousands.

“Wilmore is such a small town,” says Andrew Johnson, a sophomore. “We have one gas station and two stop lights. When the town got overwhelmed, people asked, ‘How can we help?’ People were opening their homes to visitors; they were passing out free food and water and snacks. It was really inspiring to see the town come together like that, and especially to have fellow students welcome 50,000 people onto our campus.” Andrew says that even on days when the Hughes Auditorium was closed to the public, people still gathered on the lawn outside the building to worship. 

Justin Bowman, a junior, says that everyone he met over the two weeks of revival had an encouraging attitude. “I got to meet all these different people from all over the country and the world. And there was no awkwardness, it was just immediate, ‘Hey, my name is Justin. Where are you guys from?’ and they’d tell me their backstories and it was so moving to see that God worked through them and they had let Him work when He brought them here.”

Reverend Diane Ury, The Salvation Army’s National Ambassador for Holiness, was one of the many who were able to make the journey to Wilmore and worship with the students and faculty at Asbury. 

“By the time I arrived it was day nine, and I recognized my 19-year-old self in these seekers from near and far,” said Ury, an Asbury alum. “The response of the Asbury students openly coming to Jesus, worshiping Him with abandon, testifying to cleansing from sin, deliverance from anxiety, and fullness of joy unleashed the latent, but fully human-created longing for God in young people all over the country and the world! They were invited by the Spirit to ‘come and see’ what Jesus was doing in the lives of kids their own age.”

Reverend Ury joined the prayer team at the altar and spent her time with students and those who’d come to experience revival, praying over them and instructing some in how to accept Jesus into their hearts. “I asked each person if they’d ever given their lives to Jesus,” she said. “Many had not and would say, ‘But I want to! I don’t know how to do that! How do I do that?’ Together, I walked with them through the goodness of who He is and what He has done and will do in their lives … They confessed their sins aloud to Jesus … With each statement their voices rose in intensity of joy and freedom, sometimes their confessions grew longer as they experienced the freedom of God’s release.” 

With the students’ education and spiritual health in mind, Asbury University administration had to put an end to the open ongoing services on February 24, more than two weeks after it had begun. They resumed their regular service schedule and limited entry to people between the ages of 17-25, while livestreaming for everyone else. Thankfully, the revival was not contained at Asbury. Students left the campus to share their experience and preach at their home churches, and similar continuous services began to pop up at schools across the country. 

“We can’t just have this whole revival and do nothing with it,” said Donovan. “Don’t come to the revival and do nothing with it. Go out and start your own revivals. Go out and allow others to receive what you’ve done here.”

“Asbury’s part is pretty much over, but God is still moving on our campus,” said Mary Beth. “Lives are still being changed every day.”

Donovan, Justin, Andrew and Mary Beth all had the same message: the God who moved at Asbury is the same God that lives in every church, and revival is possible for all of us. Don’t let it be for nothing; go forth! Spread the good news of God’s love. 

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