By Theresa Wilson
Asbury University has a history of revivals, from 1905 to 2006. In February 1970, Asbury canceled classes for a week and worship continued for 144 hours. About 2,000 witness teams spread from Asbury across the nation, and this revival became a significant part of the Jesus movement (see bit.ly/asburyrevivals).
That history does not diminish the spontaneity of this new movement of the Holy Spirit. Olivia Reingold of the New York Post reported that this year’s revival began with a simple sermon by Zach Meerkreebs, a volunteer soccer coach, who preached: “If you need to hear the voice of God — the Father in Heaven … who is perfect in love, gentle and kind — you come up here and experience his love. Don’t waste this opportunity.
“I pray that this sits on you guys like an itchy sweater, and you gotta itch, you gotta take care of it.” A small group of 18 students lingered after the chapel service, and the momentum began to build.
On February 16, I made an 80-mile journey southeast from Louisville to Wilmore, the town of 6,000 people where Asbury is based. I arrived just before noon and stood in line with about 2,000 other people, filing slowly into Hughes Memorial Chapel, which seats just under 1,500 people.
As we sat, a campus leader invited us to join a time of silent confession and then to stand and worship God as we were ready. A few students led the worship, using only a guitar and a piano.
There was no hype, no attempt to drum up emotions — only the sweet sound of voices crying out to God together. We were united as brothers and sisters in Christ, from all different races, denominations, and backgrounds, worshiping before the throne of God.
As I write, this outpouring of rebirth, renewal, and reconciliation at Asbury has lasted more than two weeks. The numbers of people coming to Wilmore have been so dramatic that the university and city have turned some traffic away.
University leaders are seeking an alternative location in central Kentucky for worship, and similar movements have begun in more than 20 other locations across the nation. May the Church be one as the Father and the Son are one (John 17:21).
Theresa Wilson is director of the Louisville Fellows program.