Asbury Revival - A Student Testimony

After over seven years as a student pastor I have past students at schools of higher education all over the country and many of them are at Christian universities and colleges. It just so happens that a graduate from our church and student ministry is a senior at Asbury University, in Wilmore, Kentucky just south of Lexington. With all the news of revival coming out of Asbury recently, I wanted to hear a first-person account from someone I knew and trusted. Here is a synopsis of the 30 minute conversation I had with Carolina. 

Wednesday Evening, February 8th, 2023 

"There’s a spiritual revival going on at Asbury! People have been singing and praying together in Hughes ever since chapel ended at 11am today! It’s so incredible. So many students and families are there from all over Lexington and Wilmore accepting Christ, re-dedicating their lives and finding healing. I can’t believe I got to be a part of that. It’s still going on too! I think people will be there overnight."

Tuesday, February 14th, 2023 (Phone Conversation with Carolina)

How it All Started

From Carolina's perspective it was just a normal chapel. The speaker was challenging students from Romans 12-14 to let their love be action. He was talking about the source of their love being Jesus and how this should flow out into our community, service, and love with one another. There was nothing especially moving about his presentation, it was not like he embodied a revivalist style or was especially emotional. He even confessed at one point, "sorry, I am going a little over time." Chapel closed in a typical way, though a couple dozen students remained praying over one another. The worship team stayed with them and continued to play music. Carolina left for class along with most of the student body. 

After lunch and her next class there was a buzz about chapel still going. Carolina stopped by the Hughes Auditorium and could see that the group had grown larger. One of her good friends had been there since the start. There was a simple mixture of worship and prayer and an overwhelming sense of peace and joy. Carolina is very disciplined and mindful of her schedule and with a full plate of homework and her daily workout regime she went back to work. 

A couple hours later the gathering was still growing. She received a text while on the treadmill, “You need to come back to Hughes.” She resisted... she had work to was the middle of the week...But felt so compelled, “Okay, I will go.” 

Upon re-entering Hughes, Carolina shared, “There was so much peace. It felt so different.” The group had continued to grow and swelled to half the student body by the end of the first evening. Students were weeping, confessing sin, praying over each other, opening up about hurt and trauma, repenting of sexual sin, and worshipping the Lord with all their hearts. 

Carolina spoke about the power of unity in Christ. One person testified about the importance of being at peace with one another, reconciling with anyone with whom they were in conflict or bitter towards. Students immediately responded. They were walking up to each other and confessing and reconciling. Others called home to make things right or share what God was doing in their heart. So much peace.   

Carolina shared a sense with many students that "they couldn't leave." No one wanted to leave this sacred ground. If a student left to eat, do homework, or go to class they felt an overwhelming draw to return. God wasn't finished with them yet. That first night many students stayed the night. Carolina eventually returned to her dorm and slept through the night. 

The next morning (Thursday), she went to class. There were some assignments that she had to turn in but afterwards she went immediately back to the auditorium. It was 11am, she would not leave for 24 hours. This is where it really became personal for Carolina. Some statements she shared about this time,

"Radical humility was one of the main themes."
"The time was filled with worship, just joyfully being together and talking about what God was teaching us, and praying for each other whenever it was needed."

"My life has never been solely for God. My school and my running were all at least in part about me. I decided that I was going to give this time to God alone." 

"I read my Bible for two and a half hours. I've never read the Bible that long before."  

At one point of brokenness, Carolina went forward to the altar to give everything to God. She shared about giving up control and fear of her future, laying it all right there on the altar before her Lord and Savior. Immediately to her side, came four of her friends to lay hands on her and pray over her. It was one of the most meaningful and freeing moments of her life. 

“I’ve never felt that light before.” 

This powerful moment was captured by someone in the picture above. 

She spent the night worshipping, reading her Bible, writing letters to family members, journaling, and documenting what she was witnessing in the lives of her friends for The Asbury Collegian, the school newspaper where she is a writer/contributor.  Before she knew it, she was watching the sunrise through the windows of the chapel.

By Saturday, the whole student body felt so connected! Every seat in the auditorium was full. Almost the whole student body was participating by this point and at this point it was still very much the Asbury student body, faculty and staff, and some from the surrounding community. Carolina described it as "hours and days of singing, hearing testimonies, praying in groups, praying for churches, praying for missionaries, and praying for freedom from sin and sexual addiction."

"We just never got tired of praying." 

Fire Spreading

Off-campus at Carolina's church on Sunday, The First Alliance Church in Lexington, the worship service consisted of students from Asbury giving testimony of what God had done! Fire was starting to spread. 

Students were returning home to their churches to share what God was doing in their lives and at Asbury. Pastors from across the country were paying to fly students back to their home churches to give testimony! 

God was answering prayer. Carolina shared that prayers that were prayed on Wednesday and Thursday were being answered by Saturday! They were all in awe of the goodness and the power of God. By Sunday night and into the early days of the following week, hundreds and hundreds of guests to campus were arriving to witness and participate in this movement of God. 

Where From Here?

Carolina shared that she, and many of her fellow students, don’t want this to just be another spiritual high. Many are beginning to feel like they are "full." They are now ready to respond in obedience. They are ready for what is next, taking this new love for God and one another beyond the Hughes Auditorium and into their community and to the world. 

She asked that we pray for boldness for the student body. That what God has started here would spread through their lives back to their families, churches, communities, and to the world. 

I was moved to tears of joy in my conversation with her. And I don't know about you, but I am praying. 

God, you are so good. Light a fire in my heart again! 

With Grace,
Phil Leineweber

A video from Carolina. 


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