By Hannah Schultz & Aaron Evans, Features Editors
It was an ordinary morning chapel service at Asbury University in Feb. of 1970: 50 minutes of an expected routine. Custer Reynolds, the academic dean at the time, gave his testimony just as many faculty members had in the past. He then opened an invitation for students to talk about their own Christian experiences—a customary altar call at the end of a service.
“I always have been reminded of the verse ‘take off your shoes, for you are standing on holy ground,’” said alumnus David Hunt of the atmosphere in the auditorium as Reynolds gave his invitation. “You just walked in and sensed that God had indeed sent His Spirit.”
And the students began pouring to the altar.
“Gradually, inexplicably, students and faculty members alike found themselves quietly praying, weeping, singing,” writes The Forerunner in an account of the event. “They sought out others to whom they had done wrong deeds and asked for forgiveness. The chapel service went on and on.”
The revival lasted 144 hours non-stop, 24 hours a day. Asbury officials cancelled classes. Word of what was happening reached the media and strangers flocked to the university to join the students in worship. By the summer of 1970, Asburians had traveled all over the globe, bringing revival with them. It reached more than 130 other colleges, seminaries, Bible schools and scores of churches. It spread from New York to California, and even to South America.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]REVIVAL IS PURIFYING WATER. A SINGLE DROP MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE, BUT CAN YOU IMAGINE A TIDAL WAVE?[/pullquote]
This is only one of eight large-scale revivals that have taken place on Asbury’s campus, according to the Asbury University archives. In Feb. 1905, during a blizzard, a prayer meeting in the men’s dormitory spilled out to the rest of campus and the town of Wilmore. In Feb. 1908, revival broke out while someone prayed in chapel; the revival lasted two weeks and was signified by prevailing prayer and intercession. In Feb. 1921, the last service of a planned revival lasted until 6 a.m., and services were extended for three days. In Feb. 1950, a student testimony led to confessions, victories and more testimonies. This went on uninterrupted for 118 hours and became the second leading news story nationwide; it is estimated that 50,000 people found a new experience in Christ as a result of this revival and witness teams that went out from it. In March 1992, a student confession during the closing chapel of the annual Holiness Conference turned into 127 consecutive hours of prayer and praise. And in Feb. 2006, a student chapel led to four days of continuous worship, prayer and praise.
It looks like Asbury is due for another revival soon—or are we in the midst of one now?
“I think there’s little debating the notable breath of change in the air since students returned on campus in August,” said junior Claire Van Der Eems. “In networking with different areas of campus leadership, I can testify to how God is stirring up revival in various pockets of student life across campus.”
Senior Simeon Bell asserts that revival is happening on a personal, individual level, not necessarily in the evangelistic style revivals—courtesy of the Great Awakening. “The Spirit of God is truly moving,” he said. “God has put prayer, discipleship and service on my heart. I believe that revival will and is taking place in one heart at a time.”
Revival, senior Benjamin Calicott explains, happens when we work as a community to serve a higher purpose and abandon our old lives. “Revival is an awakening to a fuller way of life,” he said. “When we choose what’s best over what’s acceptable. When we choose compassion over apathy, accountability over tolerance, and community over disconnect. Revival is hard and messy, but the alternative is comfortable misery.”
Junior Matt Jackson hypothesizes that it is only a matter of time before the spark of revival turns into a blaze. “I would say that it is obvious—from the many, many stories I have heard around campus—that God is working in so many lives on an individual level,” he said. “As this is happening, I see people becoming more and more open about what God is doing, and I believe that eventually this will be even more apparent on campus, in what I believe will be a testimony of God’s glory for all to see.”
“The coolest part has been to see that collection of leaders gather together to pray that it spreads farther,” said Van Der Eems of how she has seen revival in her position on Executive Cabinet. “We have to remember that revival starts in each of us. It’s not a matter of asking when revival is happening, but realizing that it certainly is happening within the hearts of many right now.”
“Revival is purifying water,” said Calicott. “A single drop makes the world a better place, but can you imagine a tidal wave?”