A chapel service at Asbury University in Kentucky started on February 8. Nine days later, it is still going. Many are referring to this gathering as a “revival” that is being compared to the famous Asbury Revival of 1970. The 1970 revival spread across the country to other college campuses, including Andrews University and several other Adventist institutions. Although I have since read more of the details, I initially heard of the 1970 revival through messages from Pastor Dwight K. Nelson and wondered if a similar revival could happen again at Andrews University.
Just a few days after the start of the current Asbury revival, a similar prayer gathering began on February 13 at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, with similar long-lasting results.
Social media reports of these events have been both positive and negative. From a Christian standpoint, some are talking about a “long prayed-for revival,” while others are just assuming sensationalism is leading to a “false revival.” From a secular standpoint, many are wary, and even antagonistic, of anything with a Christian label.
On Thursday evening, February 16, I made the short trip to Lee University (after strongly considering the much longer journey to Asbury).
The Stone Chapel on the Lee University campus was packed, with more people coming in on regular basis (while others were leaving). There were probably 350–400 people by a rough estimate. The pews were full. The area in front of the stage was crowded with people sitting on the floor.
For the two hours I was in attendance, the service was primarily very orderly and thoughtful. There was singing, testimonies, sharing, as well as a few times of prayer with everyone praying aloud at the same time. There were scattered groups praying over individuals, and some were involved in foot washing.
The programming was very simple—no microphone, no praise band, just one keyboard. The leaders specifically mentioned these aspects as evidence that no one was trying to sensationalize the event. They stated they just wanted to do as God led.
During the two hours I was there, two or three students gave testimonies, including one who said he had just given his heart to Jesus, which brought the congregation to their feet in thunderous cheers. Another student shared how this event was more than just excitement, and it must make a difference in holy living.
Most of the “sharing time” was done by two or three older adults (about ages 45–60). They spoke of prayer, repentance, and the essential act of forgiving others. They also encouraged people to give others privacy, particularly instructing not to live stream video as people were praying, weeping, etc. “If that is what you are here for, you are in the wrong place.”
This prayer meeting had been going 24 hours for three to four days. The leaders announced that they were going to pause at 1:00 a.m. Thursday night, then reopen the chapel at 7:00 a.m. (I later learned that similar hours are being introduced at Asbury University). This would be the schedule going forward, so people could be sure to get rest. And because they “honor the Sabbath,” the public prayer times would be ending Saturday night at midnight and resuming at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, so people could go to their own churches (on Sunday) and hopefully spread the revival. During the times when the chapel would be closed, there were groups assigned to keep the prayer time going nonstop.
Most of the music was calm but energetic (as mentioned above, just one keyboard was being used). Songs included Nothing but the Blood of Jesus, I surrender All, Amazing Grace, and several praise songs, both new and old. They also sang a few songs I didn’t recognize. I am not sure if they are simply newer songs that I don’t know yet, or just common songs of another faith community. The most energetic song was one I wish I knew! It was complete with some motions that the (mostly collegiate) congregation sang with utter joy. I think it would make a great summer camp song.
Large gatherings of people inspired by the Holy Spirit are found throughout Scripture, especially in the book of Acts (see Acts 2). The stories of the Protestant church’s history echo with revivals, from the two Great Awakenings to the Fulton Street Prayer Meetings in 1857. From Evan Roberts in Wales, right through to the camp meetings of the early United States—and also to Asbury College in 1970 and 2023, to Lee University, and beyond.
I was excited to see so many people (mostly young, but some older as well) with a seemingly powerful encounter with God. I pray that it will continue to become a long-lasting genuine revival that will change many lives as it flows to my own faith community while sweeping the nation.
Greg Hudson (DMin, RN) is Pastor of Church Life at Collegedale Community Church in Tennessee. He is married to Joely, has three grown children . . . and a dog named Watson. He loves hiking, burritos, and ice cream, but not necessarily in that order.
Photo by Greg Hudson.
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