Thank God for Holy Spirit revival

You’ve probably seen the news of what’s going on at Asbury University, a private Christian college in Kentucky. It started during a regular chapel service on February 8 – but didn’t stop.

“After the benediction, the gospel choir began to sing a final chorus—and then something began to happen that defies easy description. Students did not leave. They were struck by what seemed to be a quiet but powerful sense of transcendence, and they did not want to go. They stayed and continued to worship,” Asbury professor Tom McCall described to Christianity Today.

Word got out quickly and students from dozens of other colleges and curious believers started showing up at all hours. It’s been going 24 hours ever since, unscripted. No one appears to be in charge. No worship team – new musicians just show up. People just take to the platform to witness. There’s constant prayer – alone, in pairs and in circles. Some lay prostrate, face down. Arms raised. Tears flow.

Alexander Presta, editor of the student-run website The Asbury Collegian, told Christian Broadcasting Network the scene is a  “posture of radical humility.”

As of writing it’s been more than 11 days, and it’s still going strong. It’s expanded to overflow chapels at Asbury and spread to other colleges. As expected, it’s attracted many thousands of curious and faithful and the quiet campus has become an international tourist attraction. (The college is now taking steps to reign it in to restore some normalcy leading up to midterms.)

None of this was planned, school officials and students say. “It was the Holy Spirit choosing that day, falling down and touching our hearts. You knew it was different. ‘Was this scheduled?’ people have asked us. No, this was purely God … no one wants to leave,” said Presta.

This is an age of shorter attention spans where typical worship is no longer than one hour. Some pastors, like yours truly, are trending down to 45 minutes. How does one make sense of this non-stop revival?

“Many people say that in the chapel they hardly even realize how much time has elapsed. It is almost as though time and eternity blur together as heaven and earth meet. Anyone who has witnessed it can agree that something unusual and unscripted is happening,” Prof. McCall reported.

“The holy love of the triune God is apparent, and there is an inexpressible sweetness and innate attractiveness to it. It is immediately obvious why no one wants to leave and why those who must leave want to come back as soon as they can.”

His words send genuine Holy Spirit chills down one side of my body. I’m reminded that in heaven, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.

We’re all looking for hope these days. We need it. Some are desperate for it.

Critics might say this is just an Asbury thing, nothing new. Two weeks in 1908, three days in 1921, 118 hours in 1950, 144 hours in 1970, 127 hours in 1992, seven days in 2006 and now this. It may grow a bit but eventually peter out. Life will go on.

But what if?

What if it’s the beginning of something greater? There is a widespread expectation within charismatic circles that we are on the verge of the Next Great Awakening and that the Lord has been preparing His church for a few decades.

Awakening or not, let us just lift up holy hands in concert with our kindred Gen ‘Z’ souls on campus and give thanks and praise for the Holy Spirit’s presence, for the faithful ones whose hearts and minds are open to the Spirit’s movement and are willing and able to respond.

May similar revival happen in the remnant faithful congregations of The Presbyterian Church in Canada. That prayer is at the core of The Renewal Fellowship.


I knew the situation would change. In human terms, the Asbury Revival has ended. On Feb. 19 the university announced that services would be moved off campus starting Feb. 23. The reason was practical – the campus and the entire town were being overrun by people traveling from around the world. It was overwhelming. What was begun by The Holy Spirit and sustained by the same Spirit around the clock for two weeks had become a tourist attraction. Whether the university did the right thing, I don’t know.

What I do know is that we cannot shut down the Holy Spirit. We can try, but good luck with that. I’m not casting judgment on the university administration for stepping in. After all, order within worship is a command, especially when charisma is involved.

So what now? There is a tendency for believers who hunger and thirst for revival and awakening to overthink. It’s a human tendency. We can spend countless hours theorizing. Countless blogs and columns have been written in the wake of the revival. Everyone, it seems, has to have an opinion. On that matter, it’s OK to talk and share. But I’m cautioned not to draw any conclusions. Especially if we think we have an inside track on the mind of Christ.

Like many in church circles, I first heard about the revival a few days after it broke out and I’ve been keeping track of it ever since. The divine message I’ve heard all along since this revival began – and by divine I mean the Holy Spirit’s personal nudges – was that a revival cannot be manufactured by human hands. The Holy Spirit will convict people, will guide, anoint, equip, will move. We are invited to be still and allow it to happen.

Robert Coleman, who is 94 years old, is a professor of evangelism at Asbury Seminary at Asbury and witnessed previous revivals in 1950 and in 1970. He quotes the Lord, who said, “ ‘Follow me.’ You just follow Jesus.” Follow His command to go, baptize and teach, knowing that He is with us to the end of the age. Don’t look for a crowd. Just look to the person next to you. “Make a friend and continue to develop that friendship; that’s how we make disciples, by being together. Put your arm around them, love them, show them that you care for their soul.” (Source, Religion News Service, as published by The Washington Post, March 1, 2023)

One notable thing the Asbury revival has provided is a renewed sense of hope. The Holy Spirit of Christ is working. And the timing is perfect. Previous revivals at Asbury all broke out during the coldest months of the year. Of the nine major revivals at Asbury since 1905, seven began in February and two started in March. That’s a powerful sign that God shows up in the darkest places, when cold wintery days have taken their toll. In poetic terms, we’re being primed for spring. New life and new growth.

2 thoughts on “Thank God for Holy Spirit revival

  1. Sounds exciting, Spirit-inspired! We need renewal/revival and there are plenty of people who have prayed for this. Could what is happening at Asbury be the tip of the revival ice-berg?
    Lord, let your Spirit flow!

  2. Praying that this move of Spirit of God spreads beyond one campus and beyond national borders. What’s happening in Ethopia? Africa needs awakening too.
    May THE BLESSING which has gone global through out the pandemic years bear the fruit prayed for…may the Lord lift up His countenance upon us and bring His needed peace SHALOM wholeness to gen Z and beyond..
    2 Chronicles 7: 14

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