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Something remarkable is happening

Fifty-three years ago this month something remarkable happened.

Type the words “Asbury Revival” into any search engine and you will find videos, news reports, book listings, articles, personal stories, and photographs from the last week.

But you will also get plenty of search results from February 1970. Even more remarkable is that those stories from 53 years ago read almost identically to those from this very week.

Asbury College, now known as Asbury University, is a small private Christian University with a long history and a stately campus located in Wilmore, Kentucky. Founded in 1890, Asbury offers over 150 areas of study, including Masters level degrees, to its several thousand students. It is a quality campus offering a quality education.

But aside from traditional education, Asbury is a legend for what occurred in 1970 when staff and students went to a normal chapel gathering on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd, 1970, and didn’t leave for 185 hours nonstop. For over seven days students and faculty, then townspeople, and then folks from all over the nation, flocked to Asbury’s Hughes Auditorium.

Word of mouth was key, but then newspapers began to report on it. TV cameras set up on site. The impact spilled over.

Some arrived skeptical and went away knowing that they had been in the midst of something not of this world. Every bit of it was spontaneous.

By the summer of 1970, 130 other campuses and scores of churches were impacted as the extraordinary events at Asbury caught hold and spread. One church in Anderson, Indiana, had several students come and tell their stories, and wound up having spontaneous services every night for the next 50 days.

To this day, this event is called the Asbury Revival and is said to have had lasting effects in all corners of the globe. There is no way to put true empirical evidence to work here. It was a movement, and as such it is documented in the anecdotal recounting of those who experienced it.

Remarkably, the occurrences of 1970 are springing up again today. Students, faculty, and travelers from far flung locations are in the middle of another completely spontaneous week-plus, non-stop time of prayer and worship. No one saw it coming.

The college has canceled classes. The events have spilled out into overflow buildings and live TVs in the parking lots. Reports indicate that other campuses are experiencing similar events now. Thousands are once again experiencing what many are already calling the next great Asbury Revival. It is already epic.

I’m for it. I believe that we need it. We needed it in the painful exit from the turbulent ’60s and we need it now. We need what only an experience with the one true God can bring.

We live in a time no less turbulent than the ’60s, and in my estimation, perhaps more so. At every turn it feels as if evil is not just creeping in, but actually scratching, clawing, and devouring.

But there is a God who will not be mocked. He is a God that loves us in spite of ourselves. He is a God that not only cares with the most tender care, but He also gives us the ability to stand, and when necessary, to fight, and have the unexpected ability to operate NOT with fear, but with power and love and self-discipline.

There are some who are already trying to downplay the events at Asbury. It’s already dismissed as merely something with social impact. An emotional event. That it is just folks looking for hope in the midst of chaos. I believe that all those things are true, and they should be!

We need something good and godly to have social impact bigger than any one participant. Revival doesn’t start “out there.” Revival starts “right here,” in the lives of individuals, galvanizing others by what we say and do, reaching others, and then others, and then others. Revival is the ripples in a pond that start in one place and branch out.

As for emotions, we are not one-dimensional creatures. We are separated from all other created beings in that we not only think and reason, but we actually feel. If the events at Asbury were not accompanied by relief, joy, excitement, and a shared sense of being in the midst of something important, then I would question it.

As for hope, there is the old saying that “hope is not a plan,” and that remains true. But hope is, in fact, the catalyst that launches the greatest of plans. Hope is what changes society and redeems lives. Hope is what brings about revival in a society that is otherwise fractured and flailing.

So what is happening in Hughes Auditorium on the campus of Asbury University is new, but not new. It is emotional and yet reasonable. It is undoubtedly already causing ripples in society. And it is hope … real hope … the kind that only comes from finding solutions that are bigger than the problems of the world. Because yes, in this world we will have problems, but we are seeing those individuals at Asbury and beyond realizing that HE has overcome the world.

What is happening today at Asbury University is truly remarkable, and my sincere hope is that it breaks out and runs a course through every corner of this great nation.

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