What is the “Revival”?
A typical church service that began on February 8th, 2023 at the chapel at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, has turned into a worship session that has been going on nonstop for 24 hours a day for the past seven days. Now, thanks to some viral videos on TikTok, people from all over the world are visiting and taking part in the “revival.”
It all started rather randomly when a few students hung around after service. Soon, more people started to trickle into the informal gathering to pray. The simple, no-frills interior of the chapel is filled with wooden chairs - and that’s it! With the help of Instagram, TikTok, and the hashtag #AsburyRevival, videos are gaining over 24.4 million views, and the word is spreading.
Some are calling it a spiritual revival, which can mean that there is a resurgence in religious interest. Many of the people who have attended said that they felt a spiritual presence at the event, which drew them in.
Others are more cautious about using the term revival since historically, revivals have involved a significant number of conversions and rapid growth. Instead of revival, the terms gathering, outpouring, or nonstop worship meeting are being preferred.
Nick Hall bought a one way ticket from Minneapolis after seeing some viral videos and says that the event doesn’t have the characteristics of a revival. There is no big speech happening. The scene looks mostly like students praying, reciting scripture, and individual testimonials. “This is acoustic guitars, pianos and very noncharismatic speakers. This is as un-sensationalized as it could be.” He added that the Gen Z generation is the one behind the gathering, “They’re the ones that started it, they’re the ones that sustained it, and they’re the ones that have been on the platform the whole time.”
In the videos, you can see people with hands raised to the sky. Others are crying and singing worship music while smaller groups gather to offer prayers to others. While most people have simply “liked” the videos, others are making their own pilgrimage to Asbury to experience the event for themselves.
This Isn’t The First Time - What Happened The Other Eight Times?
Interestingly, something similar happened at Asbury University 50 years ago.
And even that wasn’t the first time it happened. This 2023 event marks the ninth “revival” that’s happened at Asbury, according to their records, dating back to 1905 and the most recent happening in 2006. The school has seen revivals come from student confessions and testimonials to prayer groups that just kept on going.
The revival in 1950 claims to have led to over 50,000 people having a spiritual experience. The 1970 revival had over 2,000 participants and spread to over 130 college campuses. But now in 2023, thanks to social media, this event has made this latest event even bigger and longer.
People Are Now Traveling From All Over The World For the Event
The 15th marked the largest number of attendees with 3,000 people gathered in the chapel and spread across four other overflow facilities. At this point, about two-thirds of the people have come from out of town, according to university President Dr. Kevin Brown. So far they have noted people from 22 different schools and groups from as far away as Massachusetts and Hawaii. Visitors from Canada and Singapore are expected to arrive on campus soon.
While social media has spread awareness of the event, the university has made it clear that they are not advertising the event. “The university made an intentional decision not to publicize this, because we wanted to place an abundance of respect towards the experience of our students,” said Brown. Wwith the exception of three hours of scheduled live streaming, all of the videos have been posted by attendees.
It didn’t take long for people to make the trek to Asbury after seeing what was happening on social media. T.J. Reeves left Wheaton College in Illinois without a plan, to make the 6.5 hour drive shortly after he saw a video. “In chapel at Wheaton there was an encouragement to pay attention to a move of the Lord in Asbury,” said Reeves.
While attendance is still on the rise, many students have returned to their schools and started their own prayer gatherings. Lee University in Tennessee now has its own nonstop prayer meeting that began on Monday. Ohio Christian University near Columbus, Anderson University in Indiana, and a few other schools have joined in. It’ll be interesting to see how big this one can get.
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Header Image Photo Credit: Nick Hall