Ninth Asbury revival continues

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

BY GILLIAN STAWISZYNSKI

gillian.stawiszynski@jessaminejournal.com

WILMORE -— Students, staff, faculty, community members and other visitors filled nearly every one of the 1,489 seats in Hughes Auditorium at Asbury University on Monday morning for the 10 a.m. chapel, but this was no typical service.

Many attendees were sitting on auditorium floors and against the walls. Even halfway through the service, people continued flooding into the auditorium. It had been more than 120 hours since chapel service started on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 10 a.m., and the auditorium has not been empty since then.

This ongoing spiritual celebration is known at Asbury and many Protestant denominations as a revival. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a revival “revitalizes the spiritual ardor of their members and to win new adherents (or members).”

People came from Cincinnati, Louisville, and many other cities to visit Asbury. According to Asbury President Kevin Brown, there have even been people traveling from outside of the United States to be a part of Asbury’s ninth revival.

Norma Thomas came to Asbury from Sadieville with her daughter. Thomas is 94 years old and attended a similar revival in 1950.

Her husband was going to school at Asbury at the time, and they had a two-year-old baby with them. Each morning at 10 a.m., Thomas and her husband packed the diaper bag. They stayed in the auditorium until about 10 p.m. each night. She said they only left the auditorium to eat or to refill the diaper bag.

Monday was her first day back for an Asbury revival since her first in 1950.

“It was very strong back in ’50. Because it’s when I felt closest to God back then, and I just wanted to experience it again,” Thomas said.”To me, there’s no other place than Asbury to feel God’s presence.

Some attendees were experiencing a revival for the first time at Asbury.

Roommates Mark Duwo and Josh Oweng are students at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. They drove from Louisville Monday morning to “worship the Lord with everybody,” Oweng said.

Duwo is originally from Northeast India, but he said he feels at home here.

“I heard about the revival breaking out last Wednesday, and my friends were suggesting I should go here and witness it,” Duwo said.

He moved to Kentucky one month ago for seminary, but he says at Asbury, he feels at home.

Obeng is from Carey, North Carolina, and It’s his second semester at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He said he just wanted to “take some time to come and pray and worship the Lord. It’s really awesome to see what the Lord is doing here.”

Even on the fifth day, the energy is high in Hughes Auditorium, with tears, “Amens,” “Yeahs,” and the sound of hundreds of voices singing along to live musicians taking over the room.

This is President Brown’s first time experiencing a revival, at Asbury or otherwise. Among the good that he mentioned, there has been skepticism, too.

“There are men and women who have experienced malformed expressions of Christianity and have been hurt by that, there have been people who have experienced a kind of emotional and spiritual manipulation, and so they’re naturally skeptical when they hear about a service that has been going on for 120-plus hours, so I understand that, and I want to recognize and name that where it’s possible,” Brown said “There’s been a radical humility. There’s been a lot of honesty, a lot of confession that has occurred, and then a lot of commitment. The important thing is that whatever happens in an experience here flows out into our communities, into our schools, into our churches, into our workplaces, into these dark and difficult places to go and serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus to other people.”