What I saw at Asbury
CEO NOTES | Young people are leading a Spirit-directed movement
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I recently ran into some friends at a school event. They wanted to know: “Have you heard about what’s happening at Asbury?”
That couple described what they saw when they took a daughter for what they thought was a typical prospective-student campus visit. That visit—far from typical—came two days after the Wednesday chapel service that started what Asbury officials are calling “a time of spiritual renewal.”
After that conversation, of course, I kept hearing about “what’s happening at Asbury.” I decided I needed to see it for myself. I visited on Feb. 15, and here’s what I observed:
Outside the Hughes Auditorium, crowds of people. Some were taking pictures, and most were simply waiting to enter when the doors opened to the public at 11:30 a.m. A week into the event, the university had added staff and security to manage the influx of visitors, some arriving on church buses, and many in family groups.
Inside the building: classrooms filled with people praying. A huddle of young men praying. Prayer groups in the hallways and stairwells. Any quiet space, it seemed, was suitable for two or three to gather.
In the auditorium itself: singing, prayer, Scripture reading, worship. On the main floor, I saw dozens of students kneeling in prayer near the front, sometimes alone, sometimes in small groups. I estimated that hundreds were raising their hands as they sang songs of worship to Jesus.
I’m pretty sure I have seen young people offer this kind of response to God’s goodness before, at retreats and conferences. I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen it at a midweek college chapel service in February. And I’m positively certain I haven’t seen it a full week into an extended time of essentially 24/7 worship and prayer.
Another thing I haven’t seen before: hundreds of parents, siblings, pastors, and friends of those same young people, traveling from pretty much everywhere to worship alongside the students. I saw mothers and fathers praying and worshipping with their kids, with no apparent awkwardness.
I went to Asbury wondering if I would witness a miracle. I believe I did. Hundreds of college students—the same kids who are worn down by the world, who we worry are being “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes”—these same students are experiencing, and leading, a Spirit-directed movement in their community. May this “time of spiritual renewal” capture college students, and their families, across the world.
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