This week I am more of a reporter than a writer. If you are not aware of what began at Asbury on February 8 (scripturally 8 speaks of new beginnings) please read on.
First some context. Nearly two decades ago I gathered a group and together we organized a conference on Israel and the church which we held at Central Baptist church in Edmonton. The conference title was Prepared for His Purpose. The point we sought to communicate with the name of the conference was that it was about Him, not us. Proverbs 16:1 in the NKJV says it is our responsibility to prepare our hearts and He decides how to answer. In that vein I and many others have prayed for revival for many years. I have had encounters with Jesus’ presence, experienced moving times of worship and seen some dramatic things. I have never been part of anything I would describe as revival of the type I have read about in history or what is taking place now at Asbury.
I have read a number of articles and firsthand accounts of what is happening at Asbury and the tears start, it happens even as I type this. What I love about this movement is that it is quiet worship and genuine repentance and healing of hearts. One of the staff said he didn’t go for the first day and a half because he needed to complete some work. When he went, he said 10 minutes there altered his life forever. One person who drove to Asbury received the following reply when trying to book a hotel room. The staff person at the hotel said, “We have no rooms, we weren’t prepared for revival.” Are we prepared? Please read on.
Most of the rest of this is about what is happening at Asbury and spreading. For context, I have long believed that one of the things that stops moves of the Spirit is our lack of practical wisdom. I have long believed that in a revival context there are two things that need to happen, ongoing encounters and ongoing teaching paired with practical wisdom. We see this in Acts 6:3-7 when the apostles put the deacons in place to manage practical considerations yet said they would give themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word (verse 4).
There is wisdom needed to steward the human part of what the Spirit is doing. I have just finished reading another book on revival and a common theme is people got off track because they loved the Lord’s presence but failed to exercise wisdom regarding when to rest, when to engage and when to let others lead. Then there are all the practical matters, examples of which are enumerated in the information from Dutch Sheets and others. Here are the accounts.
Craig Keener – a prolific writer and scholar, a Professor at Asbury, here is his comment on what is happening, “The university chapel (seating 1500) and seminary chapels (seating 1000) and a local church are filled and lines are waiting outside. But what strikes me most is that, even walking near the chapel or out on the street (itself full of cars), I CAN FEEL THE TANGIBLE PRESENCE OF GOD. Not something that can be manufactured. We’d prayed for this to happen someday, but it’s still way beyond my expectations!
Brian Blount – a Vineyard pastor from Oklahoma – “Here are my thoughts so far on the Asbury, outpouring/revival…This is real. No hype, no flash, no superstars. Real people hungry and thirsty for Jesus. It’s sweet, full of the love of God and love towards one another. It’s an authentic outpouring. Lots of worship, prayer, and testimonies with a bit of teaching and instruction. It’s multigenerational. It’s very much lay led. It’s deep, contemplative, vulnerable, very humble. It’s a move of the fruit of the Spirit and the deep working of the Love of God.
It’s really authentic. It’s really Jesus! This could lead to a real Jesus movement. The main focus is the love of God, and repentance through and only by the love of God. It’s nameless and faceless. The only name and face is Jesus!!! It’s ALL about Jesus moving through His people.”
Pete Greig – pastor and teacher and promoter of 24/7 prayer. Here he includes comments from his friend, the former chaplain at Asbury – The reports coming in privately from those on the ground and behind the scenes at Asbury are…encouraging. Something sovereign does appear to be unfolding and there are seasoned leaders – neither famous nor naive – quietly minimising the hype and maintaining the focus on Jesus.
You won’t find a more trustworthy source, for example, than my friend J D Walt. J D was for many years the Asbury chaplain. He knows the place like the back of his hand having sowed in tears with rare zeal, yearning and longing for something like this to take place.
“Here is the most compelling evidence of authenticity for me,” writes JD. “The first picture (below) depicts the chapel immediately after the usual chapel service last Wednesday. Nothing impressive. Just another day. But then students for unknown reasons other than the hand of God began to come back to the chapel. They asked their professors if they could return— uncharacteristic to say the least—- and within a few hours it was… the second picture below.
“It hasn’t stopped since then— 24-7. People are coming here from all over the country and world. Last night we opened up four overflow buildings and all were packed. Student groups from many campuses are here.
“It is clearly an outpouring of the Spirit but beyond that we are reticent to call it anything else. History can define it as it will. It is extraordinary and yet nothing new. Many of us have seen and experienced all that is happening here elsewhere. And yet none of us really have been in this kind of sustained move.
“The hunger of people coming from everywhere is enormous. It is characterized by exuberant worship— empowered by the Spirit— led by students, no production whatsoever—- no screens or words projected—seemingly no song lists— they sing until the Spirit seems to give another song. There is a lot of prayer being led all over the house, there are testimonies given throughout the day. It is the holy love of God rising like a tide and rolling like waves.
“Jesus is the only celebrity here. No one even remotely considers the names of anyone in leadership here. They are not unseasoned just unknown. Incredible humility characterizes this whole move. This has been enormously disruptive to the life of the school but no one seems to care. There is a vigilance of love supporting these students.”
Dutch Sheets – I am receiving numerous reports and updates regarding what is occurring at Asbury University (and elsewhere). Carol Stratton shared the following report, which is especially helpful, as it gives behind-the-scenes information regarding how to pray and support what is taking place. The logistical details that have to be thought through and implemented, as well as the tremendous weight of spiritual responsibility on the leaders, is no doubt daunting.
Carol and her husband, Dr. Stephen Stratton, are local residents, alumni of the university, and active in the community. Dr. Stratton teaches in the seminary. Her insights are astute. She states:
“‘Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I WOULD
RATHER BE A DOORKEEPER in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of
the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10)
“Last night, I got an entirely different perspective on the Asbury Revival, which
is still robustly happening, by the way!
“First, let me provide some context. Wilmore, Kentucky, is our home. Steve and I are alumni of the university, and Steve has enjoyed a career at both the university and the seminary. The leadership team of this Revival are our friends and neighbors. This is happening in our backyard!
“So, yesterday, I arrived on campus at supper time, hoping the crowd had adequately thinned to provide me with a seat in Hughes Auditorium. I didn’t HAVE to be there, but I LONGED to be there. The line that stretched toward entry to Hughes was as long as the line to a thrill ride at Disney!
“By this time, I knew there was no way for me to be a participant as an attendee, like Mary, basking in the presence of Jesus. But I could ‘Martha’ if needed. I walked around to the back and was stopped by a worker, but quickly
informed them that I was a community person and just wondered if the lead team needed anything. I would be happy to run an errand. Get something? Help in
“A long-time buddy quickly handed me a ‘prayer team’ tag, and instructed me to monitor the side door near the Library, because people were slipping through there. For safety’s sake, the leaders needed to be able to get a head count of folks in the auditorium. So, from 5 to 9:30, I ‘guarded’ the side door, in an alcove behind the auditorium. It was fascinating. I was able to engage attendees with grace and humor, while explaining the needful boundary.
“I was able to thank prayer teams and worship leaders as they entered and exited. I was able to experience the ‘runoff’ of the River of Life, as it swelled its banks and overflowed into my little nook. I was also able to visit with a couple of leaders who gave me an insightful glimpse into all they are addressing as this miracle keeps unfolding! Here are some observations from my Doorkeeping Duties last night:
“Every worship team is prayed with and prayed over before they step on the platform.
“As they exit the platform, every worship team of musicians is met by a leader who helps them process what they just experienced and prays over them. This intentional intervention guides these young musicians back to the focus: Always Jesus. Always God’s glory. Don’t confuse His goodness [with a feeling of greatness on your part]. You had the privilege of participating in a ‘God Thing’!
“Like a River, this God Event is fluid. The leadership is constantly challenged to respond to the ever-increasing swell of people and their needs. Parking, seats, food, water, restrooms…are just the basics. (One mother drove non-stop from North Dakota with her daughter, and begged that her daughter might take a shower, so they didn’t have to leave!) AND the Community is responding again and again! One attendee (knowing I hadn’t eaten all night) handed me a chili dog and informed me that ‘a venue down the street’ was giving away FREE chili dogs, chips, and water!
“More structures and guidelines are being constructed.…college-age folks can attend actual ’Chapel.’ The remaining ‘Program’ starts at 2 PM, though worship continues [after chapel]. Overflow venues are being made available, including Estes Chapel, McKenna Chapel, GCF, and Wilmore UMC. They are all bursting with hungry worshippers. Some buildings are being closed during the early morning hours for the safety of attendees and equipment.
“Prayer is happening constantly: in pockets backstage, in hallways, in places hidden from view but not hidden from God.
“The Front Line of leaders is running on grace. They are understandably weary, yet undaunted in their mission. One leader had worked a 40-hour week as of yesterday (Tuesday night). They need reinforcements and refreshments. God is sustaining them, and they continue to serve with unbridled joy and faith-filled fatigue.
“The needs remain varied and enormous! One student gave a testimony from the stage, and immediately, people physically responded to his expressed need. It was like watching the Church in Acts leap into action! The eruption of applause as they responded to his need was deafening!
“Our prayers are making a difference. Just before I ended my ‘shift’ a couple approached my door. I asked if I could help them. They looked at my tag and said, ‘We just wanted someone to pray with us before we drove home to Memphis. We are dealing with a lot.’
“I smiled, opened the door, ushered them into the warmth, and said, ‘Right. Come talk with me, and we will pray.’ And we did. I walked them to their car, and they left satisfied by the One who is ’feeding the 5,000’ again!
“YOUR prayers are needed. The needs are enormous. The mechanics of practical need-meeting are daunting. The Leadership Team is tired. God continues to pour out His Spirit in box-bursting ways! Please cover all of this in prayer!! It is THRILLING!! God is pouring out His power, grace, mercy, and goodness! And He is pouring out opportunities for each of us to be the hands and feet of Jesus where we are!
“I heard someone quote: ‘There are FIVE Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and You. Most people will never read the first four.’
“Keep praying. Keep watch. Hold the door OPEN that all may enter!”
Thank you, Carol, for allowing us to share this insightful, first-hand report. Finally, we must also pray for this entire community. As glorious as this is, Wilmore will likely be hit with a tidal wave of people. Unlike past revivals there and elsewhere, social media has already caused this one to go viral. Millions have heard about it. And people are hungry. Alumni, pastors, and seekers are showing up from everywhere. If my sources are correct, busloads of students have arrived from:
Bethel University (Mishawaka)
Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Nazarene University
God’s Bible School (Cincinnati)
Indiana Wesleyan University
Kentucky Mountain Bible College
Mt. Vernon Nazarene University
The Ohio Christian University
Ohio State University
Olivet Nazarene University
Oral Roberts University
Southern Wesleyan University
Spring Arbor University
Trevecca Nazarene University
University of Kentucky
University of Cumberlands In conclusion, let’s pray that this grows and spills over here to Canada. Moves of the Spirit always start with scenes like the ones below from Asbury. They are the pictures Pete Greig referenced. The first picture, a handful of the faithful praying after the chapel service that started this off. Later that day the second scene emerged.