At Asbury University, Kentucky, students have been worshipping God continually for the past seven days, with reports of miracles and the manifest presence of God. Pastor Bill Eliff, who remembers the Asbury revival of 1970, has been there for the past two days. Here’s his report
The quiet, precious movement of God continues into its seventh day in Wilmore, Kentucky, on the campus of Asbury University.
A few days ago, my wife, Holly, and I decided to make the nine-hour drive from our home to observe and experience what God seems to be doing. I’m so grateful we did.
This is not the first time an extended movement has occurred here. Similar movements happened in the 1930s, when a prayer meeting led by E Stanley Jones lasted for many days. In the 1950s, two other activities occurred and, in 1970, a chapel service extended for seven days and nights. God used it as a catalyst to the nationwide revival called the Jesus Movement.
The Jesus Movement was already beginning, but the Asbury Revival accelerated it dramatically. Eventually, teams of students left Asbury and went across the country, telling the story. Everywhere they went, revival and awakening broke out.
When the microphones were opened for testimonies, there were long lines of grateful people telling what God has done
I’ve had the privilege of sitting in Hughes Auditorium, where this is happening, for the last two days, watching and experiencing this extraordinary movement.
Only for the purposes of explanation, I would mention that I have been a Baptist pastor for 54 years. Revival touched down on our small Arkansas school in 1970 (Ouachita Baptist University). My wife and I witnessed first-hand the manifest presence of God as a noonday chapel went throughout the day, cancelling classes and changing lives. We have longed for and sought revival ever since.
What is God doing?
I talked to one of the leaders who was there on that first day. His observation was that these last days have been days of consecration, but we are yet to see what could happen in the days ahead.
I hesitate to even write of this because I’ve only been here a few days. I have no idea of the magnitude of what God has done, or will yet do.
Many are asking me what I’m observing, though, so I would give these first thoughts. Heaven records the full reality.
This is real. God is very present.
Several hundred gathered in the morning hours, but the crowd filled every seat in the 1500-seat auditorium by the afternoon.
Since Wilmore is almost exclusively a college town with very little else, the crowd is primarily students, although many, like myself, are coming in to see what God is doing.
Students from many other colleges are here, having travelled from across the country. The leaders at Asbury are very aware of this, even commissioning them to go back and cry out for revival on their campus.
Worship is glorious, unified and simple. A piano and guitar, led by various student teams who understand that worship is not performance.
The altar is almost always full. Wonderful prayer counsellors from Asbury are helping them.
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There are wise leaders from the university who are helping shepherd the moment. I’m sure they have learned from the past movements how to steward this best.
It is not weird. Everything is extremely orderly but vibrant, spontaneous and powerful.
In some ways, it is a worship-based, Spirit-led, scripture-fed prayer gathering (to copy Daniel Henderson’s term). It is just what we should be doing all the time: waiting before God, worshiping him, praying to him, listening to him, responding to him and being shepherded by wise leaders who see themselves merely as facilitators of God’s activity. (The Holy Spirit is a very good leader, by the way. Far better than mere men.)
When the microphones were opened for testimonies, there were long lines of grateful people telling what God has done. Healing - emotional, spiritual, and physical - has happened in glorious ways. Very real and profound things are occurring in hundreds of lives.
Within the first hour of being there, I had moved from a spectator to a humble participant.
Seek revival personally and fervently. Ask God to search your heart and remove anything that is quenching the flow of his Spirit
The unity and worship are heavenly. No pretense, pride or show. No manipulation. You don’t want to leave.
Scripture was read this afternoon for a long time by multiple people, washing over the congregation. After each scripture, the response was: “The Word of God, and we believe it!”
People seem to be moved by Christ deeply, not merely by emotion, although emotions are present. (How could we not be emotional if God is in the room in power and lives are being transformed?)
Samuel Davies, the president of Princeton who was in the First Great Awakening, said that during that time: “the gospel became almighty and carried everything before it.” In that nationwide movement, 15 per cent of the population of America came to faith in Christ. Whole towns reported that there were no adults left who were unconverted.
Asbury is not that yet, but it is a beautiful mercy drop. In these days of social media and rapid communication, the flame could spread quickly. Millions of desperate believers are crying out for the next spiritual awakening. Small outbreaks are happening everywhere.
Asbury has a history of such movements, even before 1970. Their expectant faith has provided fertile ground for the Lord’s visitation. (Faith is undoubtedly an ingredient in why this is happening. There were some places where Jesus could do nothing because of their unbelief).
Praying for more
Pray for Asbury. And pray for your church and the churches and people of your city. Cry out as never before, pleading with our reviving God to be merciful to us. Seek revival personally and fervently. Ask God to search your heart and remove anything that is quenching the flow of his Spirit. Ask God to break through in your church this Sunday with a wind that will not stop.
Millions of desperate believers are crying out for the next spiritual awakening
Pray that God would send revival to his Church and then a mighty awakening to the lost. Ask him to manifest himself in power so that millions can be brought to Christ and the Church can rise again into its missionary calling. Pray for the acceleration and rapid expansion of the gospel, for his kingdom to come.
As I spoke to the hotel receptionist this morning, she told me they were sold out of rooms. “We were not prepared for revival,” she said.
May it not be true of us.
This content was first published on Bill Eliff’s own website and is re-used with permission. Read more on the Asbury awakening at billelliff.org