Chris Lange, FISM News
Worshippers have been packing the Hughes Auditorium at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky since Wednesday in a spontaneous, student-led movement that has drawn comparisons to the 1970 Christian revival that began in its halls.
Students attending a mandatory chapel service last week said they felt led afterward to continue to pray and worship. More than 100 hours later, the impromptu extended service has continued as news of the phenomenon spreads on social media. Busloads of church groups and students from other campuses crammed into the chapel over the weekend to participate as viewers from around the country tuned in to live feeds of the service that has included confession, repentance, student testimonies, and songs of praise.
Lloyd Ninaber drove seven hours from his North Carolina home to witness the revival himself, according to a KSLA news report.
“With what’s going on in the world and all of the darkness, this was like light and light coming through. So I wanted to see what was going on, and see God moving,” he said.
“We are unique because three times a week we stop everything that we’re doing and gather for a chapel service together,” Asbury University President Kevin Brown said. “This is just a service that hasn’t ended.”
Student Body President Alison Perfater, described the impromptu movement as “deeply gentle and deeply loving,” adding: “It’s just a glimpse of what I think heaven will look like.”
This wouldn’t be the first revival to come out of Asbury. In 1970, a chapel service lasted for two weeks in another spontaneous, student-led initiative that was part of the sweeping “Jesus Movement” of the era. Like today, the nation at that time was in the midst of a period of social and political unrest.
SOME URGE DISCERNMENT, DOUBT
It remains to be seen, however, if today’s movement will spark another ’70s-style revival as some skeptics have cast doubts on its authenticity, and are urging caution and discernment.
Dissenter, a Conservative Christian blog rooted in apologetics, noted that Todd Bentley recently announced that he had been “booked” to speak at the event.
Bentley drew widespread controversy as a minister amid allegations of his involvement in multiple sex scandals, according to the outlet, which also noted that Bentley previously claimed that he raised a man from the dead and healed seven deaf people in one night.
The article goes on to point out that Asbury seminary is associated with the Wesleyan Holiness movement and teaches Revoice “Side B gay Christianity” theology and Christian feminism.
Reformed Baptist Pastor Charles Johnson recently tweeted: “Unless what’s happening at Asbury leads them to repent of promoting and supporting Feminist Marxism, it’s not truly biblical revival which leads to a reformation of the affections along with a return to biblical doctrine for the church.”
TAKE ENCOURAGEMENT AND PRAY
Tim Beougher, pastor at West Broadway Baptist Church and a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, acknowledged that the phenomenon at Asbury has led to skepticism but said that he has been encouraged by what he has seen so far.
“Time brings all this to light but certainly it is an encouragement,” Beougher told Kentucky Today. He also urged believers across the country to pray not only for the movement, but also for those who are participating.
“We need to pray for the Lord’s protection on them. When God said let us arise and build, Satan says let us arise and destroy,” Beougher said.
Students participating in the extended worship said that they could feel the presence of the Lord as soon as they entered the building.
“The Holy Spirit was tangible in the room,” Anneli White, a student at the University of Kentucky said. “Chains were broken, confession happened, and God was praised as ‘holy, holy, holy.’”
Sophomore Elena Overman said that she has been amazed with what has been happening.
Throughout the past three days, the Lord has revealed himself and his unfailing love and faithfulness to everyone who has stepped through the doors of Hughes Auditorium. He is radically transforming lives. The Holy Spirit is at work in this place and all around the world through our prayers, and He’s not stopping anytime soon. All glory to God.
Comments like these, however, have only served to fuel suspicion that the movement is emotional rather than spiritual.
“I like the old dictum ‘How do you tell if it is really a work of God? It’s not how high you jump, it’s how straight you walk when you land,” Beougher said. “It’s the fruit that comes from it. Some people are critical and may say it’s just emotionalism. Certainly, emotion is involved but it is also genuine life change, repentance, and confession of sin.”