Allyson Dix, Jobe Publishing, Inc.
People from all parts of the nation have traveled hundreds and thousands of miles to the small town of Wilmore, Ky., to worship, praise, and feel God’s presence in an ongoing worship service sparked by the youth of a university, with many calling it The Asbury Revival.
The massive amount of people that made their way to Asbury University has captured the attention of the world, and the many denominations of Christianity matter not. All that matters is seeking God’s presence and praising Him. In a time where most Christians are voicing the ever-increasing presence of darkness spreading across the nation, God is making His Holy presence known to believers and unbelievers on an immense scale beginning with Asbury.
The influx of people to the small community just southwest of Lexington has wrapped the entire university grounds daily with people waiting for hours to get into the Hughes Memorial Auditorium where, on February 8, the revival began following a Wednesday chapel service. Ultimately, attendees are returning home with a revived exuberance for sharing God’s love, which is causing the movement to spread like wildfire as thousands are returning to their first love: Jesus.
Many locals have also trekked the journey to Asbury to experience the Spirit of God moving, and a few of those have shared their experiences.
Pastor Paul Grider of The Way Church said he chose to attend after word spread about the revival and the movement of the Holy Spirit through friends in ministry and social media.
“We wanted to see and experience it for ourselves,” Grider said. “One of the main reasons we went was so our son could see people his own age completely surrendered to the work of God in their lives.”
Grider spent four hours inside Asbury’s main worship location, Hughes Memorial Auditorium, with his wife, Angela, and their 17-year-old son, Logan.
The Holy Spirit could be felt before going in, and people were praying and singing outside while in line to enter the building, Grider said.
However, once inside, Grider said it was undeniable that God’s presence was there.
“When we walked in the door, the power of God was so evident,” he continued. “People of various ages, ethnicities, denominations gathered together as we sang, cried, shouted, and prayed.”
The student-led worship service has a lot of ebb-and-flow, Grider said.
“For a moment, complete peace and the rising crescendo of shouting and clapping, it was awesome to behold,” he shared.
Being present with his wife and son, Grider said the service was even more special because when their own church has service, they are often working even during the service.
“Watching Logan worship in this environment was so amazing as his father and his pastor,” Grider added.
When it comes to the unfolding of days-long worship at Asbury, Grider explained the need to celebrate instead of criticizing it.
“There will always be arguments like this, but I truly believe they are missing the point,” Grider said. “Regardless of your denominational background, there are college kids leading a (currently) week-long revival with focus on forsaking all else to worship Jesus with everything they have. That is to be celebrated by the people of God.”
Grider concluded his experience at Asbury is a reminder for him: “Ministry is hard, and sometimes even I need to be reminded just how awesome the God we serve truly is, and I was.”
Another group of 12 from Creekside Church attended Asbury on February 13, and Jackie Fulner said the longing to experience the move of God happening there was the deciding factor for her to attend.
“The presence of God was so strong, so peaceful, and a very small glimpse of heaven,” Fulner said. “There were a few testimonies shared, and scripture was read.”
Fulner explained what makes The Asbury Revival stand apart from a regular worship service.
“Unlike Sunday morning church service when you have people showing up because it’s tradition or routine, you have believers driving for miles to experience the move of God,” she said. “They wanted to be there and wanted to worship Him.”
The Holy Spirit will move where people allow it to move, and Fulner said, “I think if all believers search their heart, truly want to worship God, and get out of the religious junk they are stuck in, then we here in Hart County can experience the same revival they are having in Asbury.”
Pastor Scott Coats of Rowletts Baptist Church said he had a moment like Moses in Exodus 3 when he saw the burning bush after learning about and seeing videos of the Asbury Revival outbreak. He, alongside several others, made their way to Wilmore on February 14.
“I knew I could keep my distance and hear 1,000 different opinions about this revival from people who knew absolutely nothing about it, or I could just travel a couple of hours and find out for myself what all the fuss was about,” Coats said.
The group waited in line for a couple of hours before entering Hughes Auditorium and once inside, the nearly 1,500-seat capacity was full of people worshiping God with overflow areas that spilled outside the auditorium. Accommodations were made for those outside with large screens and sound of the main worship area.
Hughes Memorial Auditorium was constructed in 1929 and, according to the university’s website, it has been the scene of many great spiritual awakenings and witnessed a number of revivals including the well-known revival in February of 1970, which ultimately led to some 2,000 witness teams that went out from Wilmore to churches and around 130 college campuses around the nation. In the last two weeks, thousands of people have filled the building, creating a need for two other chapels to be open for service nearby.
“We heard a sermon on True Sacrificial Love while in the auditorium, a picture of what the church should really look like,” Coats said. “Different denominations, different races, different ethnicities, and very different backgrounds coming together for one common cause, to tell the world that Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!”
When it comes to The Asbury Revival, Pastor Coats said it’s not for him to endorse. However, his experience was one he says was beneficial to the body of Christ and according to scripture.
“But what I can endorse is God was very present during our visit because I do know him,” Coats explained. “He was with me before I got to Asbury but sometimes in certain settings, we can see him more clearly than others. We clearly seen him there in the worship and in the Word and in the love displayed by all we encountered.”
Over the past 25 years, Coats has experienced several outstanding moments in ministry, some great revivals, and services, but is unsure if he’s ever been in a service quite like the one experienced at Asbury.
“I don’t care what name is over your church door. I don’t have the promise of eternal life because I’m a Baptist,” Coats said.“I have the promise of eternal life because of my faith in the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross. Our faith must be in Christ…and that is what the atmosphere was filled with, a lot of Jesus and very little of man, and I desire more of that.”
It appears Coats is not alone in his desire. As of press time on February 21, The Asbury Revival has made such an overwhelming impact on the small town’s infrastructure that logistical changes have been implemented, which included a final public worship service on Feb. 20 for Asbury’s campus. Many say the move indicates the ending of the revival.
On Sunday, Asbury University President Kevin Brown shared in a video message on the school’s website details on the decisions for the changes.
“While it’s true Thursday evening will conclude the last service at Hughes Auditorium on the Asbury campus, we know this is not a conclusion to the hungry hearts being stirred and response by seeking Jesus Christ,” Brown said in the video.
More information on the changes in The Asbury Revival can be found at https://www.asbury.edu/outpouring as well the video message from the university’s President.