US Christian University Ending 24/7 ‘Revival Worship’ On Campus As ‘Fire’ Spreads (Worthy News In-Depth)
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WILMORE, USA (Worthy News)— A Christian university in the U.S. state of Kentucky says it is ending around-the-clock worship services on campus that spontaneously began over two weeks ago and spread across the nation.
“Many of us were praying for revival for our university and seminary,” Craig Keener, a professor of Biblical studies at the seminary affiliated with Asbury University in Wilmore.
However, they got more than they ‘bargained’ for, he suggested. “We didn’t realize how many others were thirsty, now filling the university’s auditorium, front lawn, seminary chapels, a Baptist church, a Christian church, a Vineyard and Methodist church, plus some of the seminary cafeteria and gymnasium.”
Therefore “The public phase needs to wind down soon–right now, there are twice as many visitors in town as residents, and some lines stretched into the next block,” Kenner said.
Similar “revival movements” have reportedly spread to Christian campuses such as Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio, and Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.
Tens of thousands from across the U.S. and the world traveled to the university’s chapel to participate in what was called the “Asbury Revival.” It began as a regular morning service on February 8 when students refused to leave, saying they experienced “God’s presence.”
AWAKENING FOR GOD
Word quickly spread after worshipers shared videos on social media outlets TikTok and Instagram. Footage showed people praying with their hands extended above them, holding hands with strangers, and crying to worship music.
Christians have described a “revival” as a re-awakening search for God by believers and unbelievers. Those attending services said that appeared to happen at the Christian university, which has fewer than 1,700 students.
“Oh, how he loves us,” the crowd sang in unison at one point. “I walked into Hughes, and the peace I felt was immediate,” said Anna Lauren Jacobs, a 2022 Asbury graduate and current law student at the University of Kentucky who came to experience the revival. “It’s a kind of joyous peace that is transcendent and just invites you into a deeper understanding of what it means to partake in Heaven.”
Among worshipers were reportedly Christians arriving from Brazil and other nations, including believers with one-way flight tickets.
Yet the campus and the rest of Wilmore, a town of 6,000, could soon no longer cope with the international attention and influx of worshipers from the U.S. and worldwide, officials said. Local restaurants and hotels were scrambling to keep up with demand, and more people were in town than the number of available bathrooms.
Among those arriving were groups of students from at least 22 colleges and universities who even got public support from former vice president Mike Pence, a devoted Christian. But Kevin J. Brown, the university’s president, said the crowds became too much. Additionally, “Students have not only had to juggle various campus commitments … but also the throngs of people who have entered the dimensions of their space,” he stressed.
“For some, this has created a sense of being unsettled and even alienation from their campus community,” Brown explained.
Worshiping will continue on campus in a more limited way, he said. “Along with a new schedule, we are working with several groups to increase security, prayer and ministry support, event management, and overall logistical planning,” Brown pledged.
It planned to hold its final public evening service Sunday and move “revival services off-campus.” The school also announced it would no longer live-stream or broadcast anything from indoors.
And following recent mass shootings at other schools and universities, it will search bags before people enter the 1,500-seat Hughes Memorial Auditorium, named for John Wesley Hughes, founder of Asbury.
Yet those involved in worship doubted that what they viewed as the spiritual fire of the “Asbury Revival” would be extinguished soon, with similar movements emerging elsewhere.
One of the latest locations is Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where graduate student Grant Bynum said: “It’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen to Acts,” a reference to the Bible book.
The book of Acts describes how followers of Jesus Christ were filled with the Holy Spirit and began spreading the Gospel.
Back at Asbury, officials say the university has a history of revivals in recent decades.
For instance, the “Asbury Revival” of 1970 happened on February 3 after Dean Custer B. Reynolds invited students to share “personal testimonies” during a chapel service.
It became a “seven-day revival” that lasted around 144 hours with what Christians called “nonstop rejoicing in the chapel” while classes were canceled for a week.
In 2006, a four-day revival swept the campus, Christians recalled.
However, the current “Asbury Revival” has broken worship-length records prompting evangelist and author Anne Graham Lotz to wonder: Could this be the “latter rain” and an “outpouring of God’s Spirit in one last great awakening before Jesus returns?”
She added: “Lord God, let it be so…for the glory of Your great name, for the salvation of our nation, for the revival of Your people.” Lotz, the daughter of the late evangelist Billy Graham, quoted the New Testament’s James 5:7: “Therefore, be patient…until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.”
Lotz suggested this passage of scripture could help answer the question: “what was going on at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky?”
Writing online, she included a message from her husband’s nephew, Associate Professor John-Paul Lotz, teaching the breadth of Church History from the ancient to the modern church.
He was recently sent to Asbury by Regent University to observe the event, where he noticed that there was “no leader, no rival, no envy, no pride, all humility, meekness, gentle hearts, stumbling sinners, tender students serving thousands of curious visitors in their love for mercy without knowing they are doing so! It is legit.”
John-Paul Lotz stressed that those youngsters of Generation Z, born between the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s, allowed “us to peek in on this surprising work of God.”
And, “They serve us like priests, unconsciously dragging us into the presence of the Lord through young, redeemed, romantic hearts for God. Christ is being honored; God is being glorified, the Spirit is at liberty,” he wrote.
“The real awkward cringe-worthy gawkers are the over forty’s like myself who can’t put down their phones. The Z’s left theirs at home…” the professor added.
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