My Asbury Journey

February 11-14, 2023

It began with a phone call from a friend on Thursday afternoon. He had heard that a spiritual awakening was underway at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. In February 1970, Asbury was the epicenter of a campus revival that impacted hundreds of college and seminary campuses across North America. After reaching out to other friends and searching online, I began piecing together a few facts.

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, following a routine 10 a.m. chapel service in Hughes Auditorium, a small group of students remained behind to worship and pray. As students made their way to the altar rail across the front of the stage, the Holy Spirit ignited a deeper, heart-level work.

Word spread swiftly as students began to message one another “you need to get back to Hughes!” As I write this account 180 hours later, the worship of our Father continues without pause. Two other campus chapels and a local church building have been opened to accommodate the crowds that now exceed three thousand students, faculty, and guests.

Slipping into Hughes on Saturday evening, I was one of those “guests.” I became a part of the Asbury awakening for the next two days and nights.

For most of my adult life I have been a student of revival, but I am no expert. In smaller groups, I have “tasted” a little of what happens to His people in His Presence, but never on the scale that I experienced at Asbury. While I was driving home, a friend sent a message asking, “what were the marks of this revival?” Without hesitation I replied, “His Presence. Worship. Prayer. Testimony. Scripture reading. Brief pointed preaching. Life change and deliverance.”

Although leaders are carefully shepherding what is happening behind the scenes, the movement is not being orchestrated by human personalities or manmade agendas. Care is taken not to quench or grieve the Spirit. Grace and mercy are evident in every remark and request from the platform.

The gathering is constantly changing as new people arrive. As seats are vacated, they are quickly filled. People come and go, and that’s okay. It’s a 24/7 movement, but it’s not about how long you stay – but how responsive you are to Him while there.

I sat on the floor. I sat in the balcony. I made multiple trips down front to pray. I spent time in the overflow areas and outside as crowds gathered to hear the service over loudspeakers. With my Bible opened, I listened carefully to the messages, testimonies, and scriptures that were shared. I heard what He was saying to me. I made notes in my journal. I prayed with people I didn’t know, and they prayed for me. Then we would sing praises to Him – and sing, and sing, and sing.

It quickly became obvious that once there, no one wants to leave. Why?

Our Father is there. He is making Himself known, and that is the simplest explanation for this unusual moment in time at Asbury. There is a great difference between knowing that “God is here” with my head and knowing His Presence with my heart.

For those dear ones experiencing His Presence, well-worn truths are becoming vibrant realities:

  • Experiencing the fullness of His love, they become more alert to the needs of others.
  • Experiencing His majesty, their worship becomes an act of bowing before Him in every moment.
  • Experiencing His kingly authority, they willingly invite Him to come rule over all the spaces in their hearts.
  • Experiencing His holiness, they are wrecked to realize how their sins have grieved His heart.
  • Experiencing His forgiveness, they can see how fiercely He loves them, bearing their sins on His cross.

Every thought of what He has done to rescue them now melts their hearts, fills their souls with gratitude, and reduces them to tears.

Must you go to Asbury to experience Him? Of course not. He has promised that if you draw near to Him – as an individual or with a group – He will draw near to you. And then with His people at Asbury, you can join in singing this chorus. (May this become the heart cry of His church in North America!)

You are worthy of it all.
You are worthy of it all.
For from You are all things,
And to You are all things,
You deserve the glory
. *

* Worthy of It All by David Brymer and Ryan Hall © Capitol CMG Publishing, Integrity Music

This piece was written originally for the Baptist Message (Alexandria, Louisiana) and published February 16, 2023 as First Person: My Asbury Journey. It was later reprinted and published by the Arkansas Baptist News, Little Rock, Arkansas (February 18, 2023), and by The Baptist Paper, Birmingham, Alabama (as Asbury journey: ‘Grace and mercy are evident’ – February 20, 2023).

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