Tens of thousands of worshippers have flocked to the rolling revival meeting at Asbury University over the past 14 days. The national director of Vineyard in the UK and Ireland, Debby Wright joined the crowds and filed this report while on a plane back home
I’m writing as I fly back from Asbury University in Kentucky, where thousands of young people came to worship and encounter Jesus. It’s been incredible and I am deeply encouraged.
When I arrived at Asbury, I waited for over six hours in the bitter cold, singing and preparing my heart with hundreds of others.
Many I spoke to in the queue were prayerful people, expectant for a fresh outpouring. There were lots of worship leaders, eager to encounter Jesus, to receive a fresh impartation, or to just learn from the whole experience and take something back to their own churches.
Many, like me, have been praying for this generation of young people to encounter Jesus in a profound way. Over the years, we have prayed for something like: an awakening, a revival, an outpouring or whatever it may be called. We can leave the name to those who write history, because it feels like this is indeed history in the making and the beginnings of something significant.
For several hours, during worship, I couldn’t hold back my tears
There were folks from everywhere - some had driven for over 13 hours to be there. All of us had our own unique stories of why we had come. It wasn’t just charismatics - there was a beautiful spread of the wider Church present. Some I spoke to described a sense of being pulled or called with a strong feeling they had to be there.
When the doors finally opened the young folk were let in first. The rest of us cheered and clapped as they walked calmly up the stairs. No one ran, it was all very orderly. The stewards were so welcoming, some in tears at seeing young people pouring in to the main auditorium.
The closer I got to the doors, the greater the sense of his presence. I was feeling the effect of several days of non-stop worship and prayer, something very serious and beautiful had been happening in this place.
There was no hype, no emotionalism, no manipulation or stirring up. There were no famous names, sometimes not even a face, just a voice coming from the side of the stage.
What was evident was a holy reverence. Sweet simple singing and a strong sense of being in the presence of Jesus. It was so tangible that there was a weightiness in the room.
One man sitting in front of me felt compelled to share a prophetic word with me. He had never done anything like this before, and he was truly shocked at the realisation that God had indeed spoken to him and that his word was deeply profound and accurate.
The focus at Asbury is clearly on the young, yet us older ones are being abundantly blessed too.
MORE ON REVIVAL
For several hours, during worship, I couldn’t hold back my tears. Was it relief that something was finally happening? Was it because this was something that only God can do? Was it because this is something for young people - those who most need a fresh outpouring? Or was it because it was just what I needed: a renewed hope, here to witness a sign of something only God can do?
Like many church leaders I have been recovering from the effects of the last few years (the pandemic, the hard work, the struggle). I was personally so grateful to be in that room, being led by young people abandoned in worship, immersed in him. The whole atmosphere drew me in and nine hours later I was still there worshipping. I didn’t want to leave. I was caught up in the throne room of the king. If it wasn’t that others outside were waiting for a turn to be in the room, I would have stayed all night!
As I witnessed the young people who were singing, praying, reading scripture and giving powerful testimonies, the most moving were those who had been set free from anxiety, receiving a fresh vision for their lives. Some had come feeling hopeless with their faith in tatters, and yet here in this place of simple worship and adoration they were being transformed and called afresh.
Within this so many people are being delivered and released from suicidal thoughts, fear and anxiety. Hopelessness is being lifted and the freedom being experienced is a joy to behold.
What struck me most was the utter abandonment in worship - there was no holding back. The fervour in the room was not dependent on who was singing or leading, it seemed to be more dependent on the hunger with which the young people worshipped and responded to Jesus.
so many people are being delivered and released from suicidal thoughts, fear and anxiety
This is all about young people. Young people drawn by him and in response are consecrating themselves before the king. They are being renewed and transformed by Jesus, his Spirit strengthening them in their faith. It’s serious, it’s beautiful and it’s wonderful!
What might this lead to, I wonder?
We are hearing of the same outpouring happening in other universities, young people taking it back with them. Because of live streaming it’s easy to enable others to gather, and this makes it such a reproducible model. I think that once a group of youngsters catch the vision, there’s no knowing where this could end.
I leave with such anticipation, thilled by the thought of a generation consecrated before the Lord, just old enough and independent enough to respond and act on the call of God, young enough to take the risks necessary for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in unprecedented ways.
For those of us over 25, let’s pray for these students. Let’s be cheering them on, doing everything we can to get behind this. God is blessing young people. I would encourage us to prioritise young people, make sure we take all we have been given and give it to them, pass on the baton, encourage them, train them, invest time, energy, money, and pray that they receive abundantly more, and as John Wimber used to say “bless what you see the Father blessing.”
I believe that what’s happening in Asbury is genuine. God is blessing the young people, restoring and renewing them. I pray that God would use them, and in the next wave bring in a great harvest of souls.