Editor’s note: This article was first published Feb. 16 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.
One of the most remarkable realities about the extraordinary spiritual movement that is happening at Asbury University is its beginning.
After a normal chapel service on Wednesday, February 8, the speaker challenged the students to stay around if they wanted to pursue God more. Twenty students remained. Twenty. Not 200 or 2,000. Twenty. As the day wore on, they were joined by dozens more, then hundreds, then thousands in this chapel service that has now lasted for nine continuous days.
In our day of mass promotion and careful strategies, we are enamored with big. “How can we make it go viral?” “How can we get the crowd?”
The beauty of God’s activity at Asbury is who God used in its initiation. He called 20 students. Not 20 faculty, 20 pastors, or 20 high-capacity Christian leaders. God moved 20 students to pursue Him, and they humbly obeyed.
We must remember that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which has been unstoppable for 2,000 years, began with 12, then 120. They waited on the Lord, per His instructions, simply pursuing Him and waiting. Their activity seemed like inactivity.
These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:14)
In a matter of days, their waiting was rewarded by an invasion of God, and 3,000 people were saved in a single day.
My friend, Byron Paulus, who founded the OneCry initiative, often says, “Movements begin by not moving.” Waiting on the Lord. Seeking Him. Listening for God-initiation and then aggressively cooperating with Him when He speaks, doing exactly as He directs.
Robby Gallaty, a pastor who saw 1,000 people saved in 15 months in his church DURING Covid, was instructed by God to sit on his porch every night and be quiet. He learned the art of waiting. God began to break him of his pride. Then, after months, God began to give instruction, which led to an explosion of spiritual harvest. It started in silence and solitude. Waiting on the Lord.
If you have the privilege of visiting Asbury during these days, you will be shocked by how quiet it often is. Hours of simple worship, interspersed by silence. There are great moments of joyful singing, testimony, preaching, joy. But there are hours through the night and early mornings of waiting on God. The room has been soaked in humble prayers for days. I wonder what would happen in our churches this Sunday if the rooms were soaked for hours in prayer.
As the early church began, a new convert named Paul headed to Ephesus. He met a group of Gentile seekers who had not yet heard about all God was doing. He shared the gospel with them, the Holy Spirit came upon them (just as He had at Pentecost), and then we read this simple bit of helpful travelogue.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus … there were, in all, about twelve men. (Acts 19:5,7)
Twelve. (Not even twenty!) Paul continued to follow the Lord’s initiation, discipling these followers. And then we read a few more amazing historical statements.
All who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord. (Acts 19:10)
So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing. (Acts 19:20)
“You see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people (i.e., from pagan worship) (Acts 19:26)
“I WANT REVIVAL IN MY CITY!”
Thousands are taking quick, modern-day pilgrimages to Wilmore, Kentucky, to see what God is doing. While I was there on the third day following its outbreak, I had booked a hotel room for several days but felt led to leave after three days. I went to check out, and a man was checking in.
“Are you coming for the revival?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
“How long are you staying?”
“Well, take my room. I’ve already paid for those days.”
“That’s awesome!” said the hotel receptionist.
“By the way,” I asked. “Where are you from?”
“I drove ten hours from Toronto, Canada.”
“That’s amazing,” I said. “I drove ten hours from Arkansas.”
Like moths to a flame, we were drawn from north and south just like others from around the nation (and now, around the world.) God knows how to “get the crowd” when He desires to accelerate His movements and display His glory.
Don’t despise small beginnings. If you long for a spiritual movement in your life, family, church, and city, gather a few hungry believers. Like the first followers, continually devote yourselves to prayer (not promotion or programming, but prayer.) Confess all known sin, do nothing to quench the Spirit, move at His slightest promptings, and testify of what God is doing. Cry out to Him for His merciful intervention. Don’t try to manipulate or make a movement, but cry to the Only-One-Who-Saves. You don’t have to go to Kentucky … Christ is in your city. You just may be one of the first twenty.