ALMOST two weeks of non-stop worship at a small Christian university in the United States is being hailed as a “revival”, as thousands of people have travelled to join the service there.
The so-called “Asbury Revival” began at Asbury University, a Methodist-affiliated institution in Wilmore, Kentucky, after students stayed on in the chapel, praying and worshipping, after a morning service on 8 February. The student president, Alison Perfater, told Fox News: “For seemingly no reason at first, on Wednesday, February 8, it didn’t end. That’s kind of the logistical side of what’s been going on.
“On the deeper side of things, what’s been happening here since Wednesday is there’s a young army of believers who are rising to claim Christianity, the faith, as their own, as a young generation and as a free generation, and that’s why people cannot get enough.”
News of the phenomenon spread across social media, and among those who posted on Twitter about was the former Vice-President Mike Pence. People began turning up in their thousands. The university has now arranged with other churches and buildings near by to take the event off campus, because of its inability to cope with the influx of people. The university has said that it will no longer live-stream or broadcast anything from indoors.
Asbury University has fewer than 1700 students, and the surrounding town has just 6000 residents. An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people attended revival services over the weekend. The number of people wanting to participate caused the university to expand its services to five overflow buildings. The hashtag #asburyrevival had 96.8 million views on TikTok as of Wednesday afternoon.
The university president, Kevin Brown, posted a video this week, saying: “Whether you call this a revival, a renewal, an awakening, or an outpouring, what we have experienced on our campus these last few weeks is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life. We look to other schools, other churches or ministry communities as co-commissioners in this movement that’s taking shape for us.
“Whatever happens from here, our deep desire is to see a life-transforming renewal of our younger generation to faithfully serve their communities, their schools, their churches, and their professions. To see them go into the difficult and dark places in the world and to be light.”
The university’s director of strategic communications, Abby Laub, said that the “revival” — which the university are calling an “outpouring” — was begun by students, and led by students throughout. She said: “Gen Z has been through a lot, and are hungry for truth and for peace.”
Despite the huge numbers of people turning up to join the worship, it was “overwhelmingly peaceful”, she said. “There are people here from all around the world, many languages spoken, with many different flags — all here for one common purpose: to worship and share this gift from God.
“Only history will tell if it’s a revival; our hope and prayer is that this does, in fact, turn into revival, and that the world is changed as a result.”
Asbury has a history of hosting outpourings: one in the 1970s, which lasted 185 hours, and another in 2006, which lasted four days.