Jason Williams, publisher of the Oregon Faith Report, traveled 2,482 miles to see for himself what was taking place at Asbury University in February. “I wanted to see if this was the real thing. It was.”
Williams shares, “Pulling up to the very small town and seeing just lines of people – sometimes a half-mile long – waiting to get into a chapel to celebrate God was just fascinating.” But his impression was not simply based on the number of people. “Everyone was just singing at the top of their voice and with everything that they had. They were praying with everything that they had. It was a very moving experience. It was very sober, and it was very real!”
No fog machines, no dazzling lights, no Christian celebrities
“You have to admire the fact that this was as basic as it could be. I mean, they probably had no more than two or three instruments for all the singing. No keyboard. Just a piano and a guitar, maybe – and a lot of the songs they were singing were the most common Christian songs. A lot of them were hundred-year-old hymns. The preaching that was done was less than five minutes at a time, which is a miracle in itself some would say,” Williams chuckled. “The fact that everyone was so engaged you really felt God’s presence.”
Many stresses and strongholds seemed to melt away
Being a reporter, “I could tell from the testimony of the people who were speaking that a lot of people were overcoming anxiety and fear and extreme isolation.” It was then that Williams fully comprehended how the fallout from the COVID-19 Pandemic “really damaged the younger generation more than I ever possibly imagined.” Citing an example, “One guy was saying that he lived in such extreme loneliness that he ‘built a brick wall to the sky full of alcohol and drugs,’ but the moment he walked into that revival meeting with other students, that wall crashed, and he felt connection.” Another example of the Holy Spirit at work, “The editor of the school newspaper said within days, the entire atmosphere of the college changed. It used to be ‘very cliquish.’ People kept to themselves. And then suddenly everyone was talking with each other and celebrating with each other on campus.
By the time the Asbury revival appeared to end, as many as 40,000 to 70,000 people had traveled to Wilmore, Kentucky, with 200 academic institutions represented. The awakening, an unplanned event that many say resulted from sincere prayer and repentance, began February 8th and tapered off February 24th, with sparks from the revival occurring at other university settings.
A coincidence? Maybe not
As if by Divine timing, on February 24th the long-anticipated Jesus Revolution movie was released in theaters nationwide. The film, distributed by Lionsgate, told the story of a countercultural movement that turned into a huge spiritual awakening in the 1970s. The movie, based on the book with the same name by Pastor Greg Laurie, was much more successful than anyone anticipated, grossing $35,000,000 at last report. That’s $20,000,000 over the cost of producing the movie. Perhaps another touch from God.
In our complete podcast just below, which we believe you’ll find very encouraging, Williams shares what particular moment seemed to launch the revival. He also marvels at older Christians letting younger believers ‘run the show.’ And he witnessed what seemed to cause a noticeable spiritual drag on the revival when “spectators” started arriving to witness the widely publicized happenings.