Asbury University and the visitation of the Holy Spirit

Mar 3, 2023 | INSIGHTS, Prayer Focus for the Nations

When times are hard, and pressures great, the Spirit of the Lord finds ways to break out in often highly specific ways through God-inspired revivals. You will all have heard of what is happening in Asbury; these samples and reflections will hopefully inspire, including an assessment by Pete Grieg, the sermon that launched it, and a precious first-hand account of it. May the warmth of His all-encompassing presence and reality reach ever outward to many at this testing time.

In this we can find fresh encouragement from what the Holy Spirit has manifestly been doing with refreshing power amongst people of student age in Asbury University in America. Many revivals have been ‘contagious’ through the centuries, and this one is no exception, now that the Lord is causing it to spread to other universities across America, and indeed far wider too.

It is good to renew our seeking and praying for the Lord’s transformative power, that many towns, villages, regions and churches may experience the crest of this particular wave, causing streams and rivers of grace to flow into many parched places in America and beyond. May the Lord Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness, find and purify for Himself a multitudes in ‘Gen Z’ who are His very own, eager to do what is good, (Tit. B2:14) as He raises up a fresh generation to be full of spiritual passion, knowledge, and wisdom.

See Dr Jim Garlow’s report on how the university revival has already spread worldwide:

Asbury is a small town indeed, no bigger than Church Stretton in Shropshire, but as David Barratt pointed out the other day, there is a significant historical link here. Firstly, the college is named after one of the best-known Methodist Circuit Riders of the early C19th. Secondly, at that same time Kentucky (where Asbury is situated) was where the Camp Meeting Revivals began. In other words it was on the spiritual as well as the physical frontier in those days – and that revival led eventually to early Pentecostalism as well as to the ministry of DL Moody.

A first-hand account of the Asbury Revival

You can find many reports and videos online, but this is a joyous account from the early days of the move of God by Sarah Baldwin, VP Student Development at Asbury University.

“From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1:1-4)

  • Last Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 11:00 a.m., the Holy Spirit filled Hughes Auditorium (our chapel) and has not let up. Again and again, people report experiencing God like they never have before in their lives.
  • Early on, thick clouds came down and settled around our campus . . . I will never forget how it seemed to be the visible thick presence of Jesus settling in on us.
  • The movement of God is across the generations – from 93 years old to 2 weeks old – they have shown up. College students arriving with backpacks and pillows, wheelchairs and elderly people, babies in strollers, in arms and in front packs. Children and many teenagers. And of course, at the heart – Gen Z.
  • The Holy Spirit lit the wick of Gen Z, and now people from around the nation are putting their candle into the fire, experiencing the goodness and grace of God.
  • Many testimonies from college students about release from anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation. Come Lord Jesus! This generation needs this.
  • Words that people keep saying to me about their experience: LOVE of God, JOY of Jesus–“I have never experienced this! I have never felt Jesus like this!” I hear this all day every day for 7 days.
  • News of incoming students – constant updates about colleges pulling up at all hours of day and night. Another bus is coming! 50 arrive tomorrow. 100 expected tonight!
  • No lyrics! Can you even imagine this, churchgoers? Except for two hours in our planned morning chapel services – not a lyric to be seen for 168 hours. It’s just been simple.
  • Afternoon testimony time! Hearing people testify to the goodness of God with incredible testimonies often about freedom from addiction, healing of relationship, a word of blessing proclaimed.
  • Food arriving unrequested, day in and day out for the ministry team. A beautiful table with flowers and scripture laid out for us, piled high with every kind of healthy snack. Homemade baked potato soup, a grandma’s hummingbird cake, scotchies, homemade cheese balls, vegetable platters, mountains of chick-fil-a, protein bars, protein drinks, fruit.
  • So much food arriving for students unrequested, 50 pizzas at a time (again and again)!!!, anonymous Chick-fil-a massive drop off, a mom who made chocolate chip cookies all day in Indianapolis and drove them here in the evening
  • A food truck (showing up today!) – “God told me to cook for God’s people for free, here I am!”
  • The student who has felt called to create and staff a coffee station for the last 7 days. She took it on herself (she said Jesus called her to it), to make coffee for hundreds with two keurigs. She ran out of cups and prayed for more cups. She got more cups.🙂
  • Mostly student worship leaders (volunteer in every way) who have led in worship from about 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m. every day (sometimes the full 24 hours), without stopping. Coordinated by an incredible husband & wife ministry team from Asbury who have pastored and organized these leaders with such grace and wisdom.
  • Testimony by a young man named Gage from Michigan – the JOY abundant in his whole being! I will not forget his face and words.
  • “May I pray for you?”, “May I pray for you?”, “May I pray for you?” A prayer team of volunteers, trained and prepared all day and into the night.
  • A healing of a freshman who due to a mild cerebral palsy had never run before – running!
  • SO MANY people who have shared – I was here in 1970, I was here in 1953!!!!, when God showed up. I had to come back, I had to come back.
  • “Christian celebrities” unannounced and without introduction or crowd awareness in the room
  • A crowd waiting to get into Hughes. Like hundreds of people waiting. Seating people 2 here, 3 here throughout the evening as others leave.
  • A core team that has fully shared leadership – we have learned and discerned every step of the way together – trying to keep our balance on the surfboard of the wave of God.
  • Asbury volunteers (and now others!) who have showed up 24-hours a day. Everyone mobilized and supported 24-hour infrastructure for crowds on a dime.
  • Some point (maybe last Friday?), we saw the crowds were picking up and we started planning an evening event for what would be 3000 in literally under an hour – pivot, adapt, move, change, stretch, grow.
  • The infrastructure of it all has been a text thread. I just love this. For all my spreadsheets, organizational plans for all the administrative work we do at AU, when it comes down to it, we have had a text thread keeping us in step with each other. Literally minute by minute.
  • Somewhere early in this . . . without talking to each other about it at first – we just stopped introducing ourselves at the mic when we gathered people (with the exception of the actual 10-11 chapel hours, M/W/F). Nameless. It just seemed unimportant to even say our names. When we coordinate so very carefully introductions all throughout the year at AU, now it has been just been about Jesus.
  • We are really tired, pray for us for strength and discernment. Overall, we are a really joyful bunch. It’s hard to leave at night, even at by 1:00 a.m. We have to push each other out the door. It’s like proud new parents who can’t leave to go out for that first date without the baby – we all feel tender to what God is doing in our midst.
  • I have felt the prayers of hundreds, sustaining and supporting. So much encouragement and kindness. Thank you. I will remember these days for the rest of my life and how much love and grace came to us. It’s all a gift. My faith is encouraged. Thank you.

It is good to catch the flavour of this move of the Spirit so that we can know how to pray for Gen Z and understand what they bring. You might like to listen to the heartening and simple sermon which was preached in the meeting where the awakening began. May you also receive from the Lord as you do so!

Banner Photo by Christian Dubovan on Unsplash

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