By Pr. Rhoda Klein Miller.
For the past month, I’ve maintained curious and awed interest in what’s been taking place at Asbury University. In part I couldn’t avoid it due to the many Christian accounts I follow. It brought to mind similar experiences I’ve had, mostly in camp and spiritual retreat settings but nothing compared to the duration of 24/7 worship extending for days. From February 8th till Feb 23 a spiritual ‘revival’ or ‘awakening’ took place at Asbury University in Kentucky. Students and visitors from around the world gathered to participate in unending worship of God. On February 8th the assistant soccer coach spoke at the required morning chapel service using Romans 12 to convey how the love of God takes action and humbly serves others. No one came forward at his closing appeal but after a gospel trio sang the final song a dozen students remained in prayer. Those prayers turned again to songs of praise and drew other students back in. As the day progressed more students gathered to pray, sing and experience a special peace within the 100 year old auditorium. Recognizing the spiritual movement taking place, the university president cancelled classes for the remainder of the week and faculty rallied to support the unfolding event. While live-streaming was not permitted, videos and stories began to go viral and attracted visitors from far and wide, beyond the small town and university’s capacity. After two weeks of 24/7 worship the administration closed the hall to support student preparations for midterms.
What are my takeaways from following this remarkable occurrence? People long to experience God’s presence. It doesn’t require celebrity preachers or complicated production. The genuine surrender of just a few hearts can spark an awakening. The movement of the Holy Spirit was sweet, joyful, peaceful, and gentle in this outpouring. Asbury leaders were wise to steward and guide participants, quickly dismissing anyone who came with a loud or aggressive tone. The touch of the Holy Spirit and revival is not limited to a geographic location. Other campuses are reporting revivals or at least extended worship services from students persistent in prayer and praise. Beyond emotional sentimentalism revival is evidenced by repentant and reconciled hearts. Alison Perfater, the student body president spoke to a documentarian about students who were known to hate and avoid each other seen embracing in prayer. Eventually true worship results in changed hearts and love in action. That takes us back to where this revival began with the study of Romans 12. I’ll add Matthew 17 holds some applicable insights too. Finally as I pray for revival in my own soul, church and city, let me share this quote from a favourite author, Sarah Bessey: “Revival is also realising that the imaginary line we’ve drawn between sacred and secular is drawn in chalk and Holy Spirit is washing that line away with a grin”.