Editor’s note: This article was first published Feb. 11 by Bill Elliff on his website’s blog. Elliff is the founding and national engage pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas. He also serves on the Prayer Task Force at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Yesterday my wife, Holly, and I decided to make the nine-hour drive from our home to Wilmore, Kentucky to observe and experience what God seems to be doing, once again, at Asbury University. I’m so grateful we did.
… was the year God broke into a normal chapel service which continued non-stop for the next seven days and nights at Asbury University. The Jesus Movement was already beginning, but the Asbury Revival accelerated it dramatically. Eventually, teams of students left Asbury and went across the country, telling the story. Everywhere they went, revival and awakening broke out. We came this week because our lives were transformed by the movement at Asbury in 1970 and the Jesus movement that occurred. We have longed for and sought revival ever since.
This past Wednesday morning, the Lord moved in another chapel service in Hughes Auditorium. That single service has continued morning and night and is now on its fourth day (Saturday, February 11). I talked to one of the leaders who was there on Wednesday. His observation was that these last days have been days of consecration, but we are yet to see what could happen in the days ahead.
I hesitate to even write of this because I’ve only been here one day. I have no idea of the magnitude of what God has done in the last few days.
Many are asking me what I’m observing, though, so I would give these cursory thoughts. Heaven records the full reality.
- This is real. God is very present.
- Several hundred gathered in the morning hours, but the crowd filled every seat by the afternoon in the 1500-seat auditorium.
- Since Wilmore is almost exclusively a college town with very little else, the crowd is primarily students, although many, like myself, are coming in to see what God is doing.
- Students from many other colleges are here, having traveled from across the country. The leaders at Asbury are very aware of this, even commissioning them at one point today to go back and cry out for revival on their campus.
- Worship is glorious, unified, and simple. A piano and guitar, led by various student teams who understand that worship is not performance.
- The altar is almost always full. Wonderful prayer counselors from Asbury are helping them.
- There are wise leaders from the University who are helping shepherd the moment. I’m sure they have learned from the past movements how to steward this best.
- It is not weird. Everything is extremely orderly but vibrant, spontaneous, and powerful.
- In some ways, it is a worship-based, Spirit-led, Scripture-fed prayer gathering (to copy Daniel Henderson’s term). It is just what we should be doing all the time: waiting before God, worshiping Him, praying to Him, listening to Him, responding to Him, and being shepherded by wise leaders who see themselves merely as facilitators of God’s activity. (The Holy Spirit is a very good leader, by the way. Far better than mere men.)
- When the microphones were opened for testimonies, there were long lines of grateful people telling what God has done in the last 72 hours. Healing— emotional, spiritual, and physical has happened in glorious ways. Very real and profound things are occurring quickly in hundreds of lives.
- Within the first hour, I had moved from a spectator to a humble participant.
- The unity and worship are heavenly. No pretense, pride, or show. No manipulation. You don’t want to leave.
- The Scripture was read this afternoon for a long time by multiple people, washing over the congregation. After each Scripture, the response was, “The Word of God, and we believe it!”
- People seem to be moved by Christ deeply, not merely by emotion, although emotions are present. (How could we not be emotional if God is in the room in power and lives are being transformed?)
Samuel Davies, the president of Princeton who was in the First Great Awakening, said that during that time, “the gospel became almighty and carried everything before it.” In that nationwide movement, 15% of the population of America came to faith in Christ. Whole towns reported that there were no adults left who were unconverted.
Asbury is not that yet, but it is a beautiful mercy drop. In these days of social media and rapid communication, the flame could spread quickly. Millions of desperate believers in our nation are crying out for the next nationwide spiritual awakening. Small outbreaks are happening everywhere.
Asbury has a history of such movements, even before 1970. Their expectant faith has provided fertile ground for the Lord’s visitation. (Faith is undoubtedly an ingredient in why this is happening. There were some places where Jesus could do nothing because of their unbelief).
AND NOW …
Pray for Asbury … and pray for your church and the churches and people of your city. Cry out as never before, pleading with our reviving God to be merciful to us. Seek revival personally and fervently. Ask God to search your heart and remove anything that is quenching the flow of His Spirit. Ask God to break through your church this Sunday with a Wind that will not stop.
Pray that God would send revival to His church and then a mighty awakening to the lost. Ask Him to manifest Himself in power so that millions can be brought to Christ and the church can rise again into its missionary calling. Pray for the acceleration and rapid expansion of the gospel … for His Kingdom to come.
As I spoke to the hotel receptionist this morning, she told me they were sold out of rooms. “We were not prepared for revival,” she said.
May it not be true of us.