Hughes Auditorium, Asbury University (Photo: Andrew Kerhoulas)
Editor’s note: The folllowing commentary was adapted from a Facebook post from Andrew Kerhoulas, an Asbury University alumnus (’09) and a pastor with the Presbyterian Church in America. Reprinted with permission.
By Rev. Andrew Kerhoulas
On Wednesday, February 15, I had the distinct privilege of attending the Asbury University revival. A video I took doesn’t capture the hunger and joy that was palpable in the room of mostly students. There are many articles/videos with more than I will relay here, but I wanted to share some stray observations followed by a few personal takeaways.
God is front and center: The focus and emphasis were overwhelmingly vertical on the Triune God—Father, Son and Spirit. Prayer and praise were pervasive. Although that’s not to say there weren’t horizontal ramifications. There were ample times of self-reflection (ie. repentance of sin, inner-healing, and testimony of physical healing) and a renewed vigor for Christian ethics (ie. forgiveness, reconciliation, evangelism, justice, etc.), which were both regularly interspersed between corporate worship times.
Spiritual hunger is paramount: A key word you hear and feel is “hunger.” It wasn’t merely viral videos that led people from all over to a chapel in a small town in Kentucky. The singing and prayers and testimonies were marked with genuine zeal and passion for God. People are tired of the spiritual status quo.
Refreshingly ordinary: It was a crowd full of ordinary people hungry for an extraordinary God; it wasn’t cool or flashy in the slightest. It wasn’t merely the lack of celebrities that made it so odd. It was a void of elitism. Granted, Asbury isn’t an elite school. But it was all so wonderfully unpretentious that it pushed against the prevailing elitism in many evangelical circles, including the reformed ones I’m often in.
Beautifully ecumenical: while it was primarily Wesleyan/Arminian with so many students in attendance, I met folks from various denominations eager to experience God. I heard a shofar during one song (interestingly it was in same key as the song being sung so it was lovely and undistracting). I also heard tongues/glossolalia somewhere in the audience, but it was very faint and they didn’t draw attention to themselves. It was primarily singing familiar contemporary songs with little musical accompaniment (no hymns were sung), simple prayer, and testimony well into the night that I think folks from most traditions could easily relate to.
Far(ther)-reaching: this was different from and yet similar to the ’06 revival at Asbury, which I experienced my freshman year. Whereas the one in ’06 was mostly Asbury students/faculty, this drew so many from outside Wilmore. One person I met had driven 13 hours from Miami. Others had flown in from all over the US and even other countries. Even with these dynamics, much of the prayer and testimony was for or from 25 and under.
God is always present: Time in God’s presence in Hughes auditorium seemed to pass much more quickly—hours seemed like minutes. It was the strangest thing. But amazingly, his presence is not limited to a chapel in Kentucky. The overwhelming impression is to seek the tangible presence of God wherever I am. To practice his presence always, as Brother Lawrence says.
Stay hungry: Oh to ache for God like the students in that room! Someone there said that if you’re physically hungry you can eat a meal and be satisfied, at least for a while. But in God’s presence you are satisfied like nothing else in the world, but hunger for more and more of him. I want to be hungry and to point others to that which satisfies emaciated souls.
Prayer and worship are more powerful than I realize: the scriptures and church history say as much, but it really applies to what’s happening at Asbury. It’s not education or gifting that people need. It’s God alone who makes people new and brings dead things to life. Prayer and worship serve to remind me of this.
I want this to bloom where I/we live: time will tell if this is the spark of revival or just a flash in the pan. We’ll know it’s revival years from now if spiritual renewal goes viral, as Mark Sayers says. And if he brings the goodness of Jesus to bear in more and more people, places, things, and ideas.
Start with me, Lord.