In a blog post on Feb. 14, Asbury Theological Seminary President Timothy Tennent publicly commented for the first time on what some are calling “The Asbury Revival.”
Although the extended chapel services of repentance, worship, and prayer are being labeled as a revival in the media and on social media, Tennent expressed caution on using that term preferring instead, “The Asbury Awakening.”
“Something special happened last Wednesday (Feb. 8) in the chapel of Asbury University chapel. The Lord began to move in the lives of a group of students. These embers have now been fanned into flame and there is clearly a definite move of God in our midst.”
Tennent said “we should not spend too much time looking for human causality, though there have been many praying earnestly for years for this.”
“It is first, last and foremost a tribute to the grace of God to reveal himself and to call a new generation to faithfulness at a time when we most needed it. There comes a point when the people of God become tired of causal prayers and move to that point of desperation which opens us up in fresh ways to God’s surprising work. That is what I have experienced most over the past week in my own life.”
Tennent used the term spiritual river in describing the experience of sepping into the chapel and in overflow sites.
“You sense the presence and power of God working in people’s lives,” he wrote.
More needs to happen before it’s a “revival”
According to Tennent, much more will need to happen before it could be labeled as a revival.
“I think it is wise to see this, at the current phase, as an awakening. Only if we see lasting transformation which shakes the comfortable foundations of the church and truly brings us all to a new and deeper place can we look back, in hindsight and say ‘yes, this has been a revival.’ An awakening is where God begins to stir and awaken people up from their spiritual slumber. This is definitely happening not only in Wilmore, but as this move of God spreads to other schools and communities across the nation and even the world. There are many reports that this is what is happening. But, we must keep our hearts and eyes fixed on Jesus and ask for him to complete the work he has begun so that, over time, there is a lasting transformation in the lives of those who are being touched by God.”
It’s happened before
Similar events have occurred regularly at the college, including as most recently in 2006. The school’s website lists eight other instances of what they described as revival or continuous worship:
- “In February 1905, during a blizzard, a prayer meeting in the men’s dormitory spilled out to the rest of campus and the town of Wilmore.
- “In February 1908, revival broke out while someone prayed in chapel; the revival lasted two weeks and was signified by prevailing prayer and intercession.
- “In February 1921 the last service of a planned revival lasted until 6 a.m., and services were extended for three days.
- “In February 1950 a student testimony led to confessions, victories and more testimonies. This went on uninterrupted for 118 hours and became the second leading news story nationwide; it is estimated that 50,000 people found a new experience in Christ as a result of this revival and witness teams that went out from it.
- “In March 1958 revival began in a student fasting prayer meeting that spilled over into chapel and lasted for 63 hours.
- “On February 3, 1970, Dean Custer B. Reynolds, scheduled to speak in chapel, felt led to invite persons to give personal testimony instead. Many on campus had been praying for spiritual renewal and were now in an expectant mood. Soon there was a large group waiting in line to speak. A spirit of powerful revival came upon the congregation. The chapel was filled with rejoicing people. Classes were cancelled for a week during the 144 hours of unbroken revival, but even after classes resumed on February 10, Hughes Auditorium was left open for prayer and testimony. These sessions were presided over by Reynolds, Clarence Hunter and other faculty. Some 2,000 witness teams went out from Wilmore to churches and at least 130 college campuses around the nation.”
- “In March 1992 a student confession during the closing chapel of the annual Holiness Conference turned into 127 consecutive hours of prayer and praise.
- “In February 2006 a student chapel led to four days of continuous worship, prayer and praise.
–Metro Voice and Tri-Stae Voice