In February of 2023, on the campus of Asbury College, a regular chapel service seemed to catch the imagination of the entire world. The service started and then ended as usual except that students didn’t leave, instead they just desired to remain and worship.
This worship turned into hours, then weeks, and grew as folks were drawn to just stay and be in the presence of God. Students reported a peace and presence that they just wanted to remain in. Soon as students started sharing, social media started to take notice and before long, thousands were headed to Kentucky to experience the move of the Holy Spirit for themselves. The increase caused the college to open 4 different chapels to accommodate all the people, but still, folks often had to wait hours to get in.
A few things differentiated this revival from what is often seen today. First, it was organic, there were no plans, no structure, and no leaders. It just simply happened. One young man, Carew Ellington, whom I follow on Tiktok stated that he felt that God told him to drop everything and go. He did just that and found the Holy Spirit meeting him in ways that he didn’t know were possible previously. As he returned to his home to a previously scheduled mission trip, he left to serve with a new understanding of God’s love.
Others stated reporting about the many who were coming to Christ as a result of being there, healings that happened, and even demonic afflictions being set free.
By this time, national media including NBC news started reporting on the happenings in Wilbur, Kentucky. Tucker Carlson of Fox News included it in his reporting. Reports of a spiritual awakening were the most common reports and references to previous revivals including a couple of others that happened at Asbury.
But as often happens, the nay-sayers started appearing, warning folks that this was a move of satan if they were Christians themselves or if they were outside of the church, folks writing it off as emotionalism.
I have been a Christ follower for over 45 years now, starting out in a Baptist church and growing in Christ and understanding as a missionary and student of the Bible to where I am now, an author, and lay leader, and have come to understand much about God’s grace.
Over the years, I have seen well-meaning pastors and lay folks try to warn believers about false teachers and provide warnings to folks to keep them from going down the wrong path. The problem is that most of these folks are judging from their own experiences, not God’s viewpoint. I recently saw a pastor share about Bethel Church in California and he showed two clips to prove his point. Each were about young people who were about to be baptized and they were excited about it. His point was that they were emotional and therefore could not understand what they were doing. No theology, no background about what brought the folks to this point, just judgment based on them being emotional in their expression towards Jesus.
This brings me back to Asbury. Scripture tells us that God brings a Peace that is beyond understanding. This peace was the most common experience reported by the folks at Asbury. I would venture to say that many in today’s world long for this peace, so when folks experience it, it can be overwhelming, bringing tears and emotions. So do these tears disqualify this as a move of God because the folks experiencing it doesn’t have a full understanding of theology?
We are also told in scripture not to judge others, lest we be judged. In fact, we are told to take the plank out of our own eye so we can judge properly. Christians judging other Christians is just wrong. We do not know the condition of the other person’s heart and regardless of their journey, at some point, they decided that God was worth living for, so why are we now tearing them down because we took a different path and came to a different conclusion about how to live out life.
I personally think that each believer should be hearing God for themselves as Mark Virkler lays out in our article on hearing God. Being able to go directly to God and hear His voice about things will save us the need to have experts telling us what is a move of God or what is not. As theis particular move of God has spread to Lee University and beyond, I would say I want to see more.
Asbury is just the beginning folks. God is going to break into our worlds more and more and will challenge what we believe. This is good. Check out what He is doing, does it fit with His nature? Loving, encouraging, non-compromising or is it critical and demeaning? Does it agree with scripture, especially in the context of post-cross Christianity? In other words, does it align with the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought to earth with His forgiveness and grace or is it tied up with legalism and the law? While the entire Bible is valid and good, we still need to be careful about understanding where we fit in and how who the verse applies (i.e., was Jesus talking to Pharisees or his disciples?)
Lets praise God for Asbury and the spread of His presence. Let’s keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to what He is doing next. Let us us keep pressing into hearing what God is telling us so we can be in step with His purposes.