What is the Asbury Revival?
Asbury University, a private Christian college in Wilmore, Kentucky, received an influx of visitors from throughout the United States and abroad, due to what many are calling the Asbury Revival.
On February 8, the college’s typical Wednesday morning chapel service concluded with an altar call, where students could ask for prayer and continue to worship. Instead of the typical dissolution of students after a time of prayer, more people began to fill the sanctuary as the day progressed. A week and a half later, the service continued, and people from around the world traveled to join.
Additionally, the experience inside the chapel at Asbury was primarily student-led. Viral TikTok videos of the worship service portray that there was no smoke or lights, or even a screen with worship song words on it. There was not one person leading worship in a self-glorified manner; in fact, Gen Z was at the heart of the moment. They were described as repentant and hungry for God.
The 1970 Asbury Revival
2023’s revival was not the first large-scale faith movement coming out of Asbury University. Their website detailed that similar movements with days of unbroken praise, worship, and prayer have occured in 1905, 1908, 1921, 1950, 1958, 1970, 1992, and 2006. The 1970 Asbury Revival, in particular, was recognized by various books and films because of how powerful it was. At that time, a week of classes was canceled, and students were free to focus on worshiping. Upon the conclusion of the 1970 Asbury Revival, 2,000 witnesses left the site and traveled to bring their testimony of it to colleges and churches all over the U.S. Even now, the movements that occurred in Asbury have led many to compare 2023 to the 1970 experience.
Social Media Presence in the Revival
One key difference between the 1970 and 2023 revivals at Asbury was the influence of social media. What started as a typical chapel service became a service for those around the country and the world. Social media platforms such as TikTok were a large factor in raising awareness for what was taking place at Asbury. Short videos of the worship service garnered millions of views online, with comment sections filled with excitement for the revival, and their plans to experience it for themselves. While short recordings were allowed, Asbury University posted on their Instagram requesting that visitors refrain from live-streaming the event “to eliminate distractions and to keep the space sacred for what the Holy Spirit wants to do.” Other than posts similar to this, the University itself has allowed Gen Z student leaders to spread the news of the gathering.
The Religious Impact on Individuals and Hope’s Campus
Sarah Reed, a student at Radiant School Ministry in the West Michigan area, traveled with a group from her school to visit Asbury. She explained that on Monday, Feb. 13, her pastor presented them with what he referred to as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Asbury that same night. Though this was a fairly spontaneous trip, Reed explained that she and the school had been praying for a revival for months and even years– so the trip had been long awaited.
The school took three fifteen-passenger vans and stayed for a day. Reed described the trip as life-changing, explaining: “When you stepped into the room, the weight of God’s glory I felt was thick in the air. It was nothing to be messed with, you didn’t wanna interrupt it.” Coming back to Michigan, Reed described herself and her classmates as torchbearers, carrying the light they experienced with them.
Here at Hope College, many students expressed that they are expectant Asbury’s revival will spark a movement on our own campus. One such student is Rebecca Powell, a freshman at Hope who helps lead Met By Love– a Monday night, student-led worship service that takes place in Dimnent Chapel’s basement. She explains: “…revival has been something I’ve been praying for with some friends since the beginning of first semester.” As the events at Asbury begin to spread to other campuses and churches, she is “hopeful and so expectant for Gen Z and for Hope’s campus in particular.” Because faith-related events at Hope are voluntary, Powell explains: “The fact that almost every chapel. . . has been near-packed. . . is such a testament to how the Lord is already working at Hope. . . there’s already a lingering hunger that is looming over this campus. So I really do hope, pray, and believe that those voluntary chapels will just kind of stir this renewal that happened at Asbury.”