by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.
The massive Christian revival taking place at Kentucky’s Asbury University has spilled over into many Christian denominations, drawing faithful from mainline Protestant churches, bible-based groups, and Catholics.
When an ordinary prayer service was held at this small Christian college on February 8, no one dreamed it would balloon into the immense ecumenical phenomenon it has now become.
The “Asbury Revival,” as it has been dubbed, developed into a viral phenomenon on social media, spurring Christians from far and wide to make the trek and join in the worship.
Students have streamed into town from Purdue University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Ohio Christian University, Transylvania University, Lee University, Georgetown College, and countless others, but visitors have also come from farther still, places like Hawaii, Mexico, New Zealand, and Indonesia.
The magnetic draw has not only transcended geographical boundaries, however, but traditional confessional limits as well.
Father Norman Fischer, chaplain at local Lexington Catholic High School called the ongoing awakening a “wellspring.”
“You just know right away that God is there,” Father Fischer said.
Father Fischer said he traveled to Asbury on February 12 and saw a number of current and former Lexington Catholic High School students among the worshipers.
“Hands were raised, people were singing, and all were in one accord,” Father Fischer said, citing Psalm 133, “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together as one.”
Father Fischer said he found himself “filled with love” during the experience and “got into praise mode.”
The Asbury phenomenon is “pure” and “definitely of God, definitely of the Holy Spirit,” the priest said.
“Since the first day, there have been countless expressions and demonstrations of radical humility, compassion, confession, consecration, and surrender unto the Lord,” said Asbury University president Kevin J. Brown in a statement posted on the school’s website.
“We are witnessing the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” Brown added.
Another Catholic, Katie Reynolds of Pax Christi Catholic Church in Lexington, has already been to the Asbury gathering three times, together with her four children, who range in age from 6 to 18 years.
“Every seat was full, and it was standing-room only,” Reynolds said of her impression during the first visit. “You could feel the Holy Spirit in the building.”
Reynolds’ 13-year-old son, Dylan, said he thought it was really powerful and “so cool” to see everyone praising God, adding that he loved seeing “how Jesus and God came into their lives to help them.”
Dylan’s 6-year-old sister, Lucy, said the singing made her feel as if “Jesus was right next to me.”
Asbury is holding its final public worship service on Monday, bringing an end to two weeks of nonstop praise and fellowship. As of February 21, the college will offer nighttime services only to college and high school students, which will run through Thursday, after which services will move to locations off the the university campus.
“Our town’s institutions here and our town’s infrastructure, I just want to be clear, is just not in a place to absorb at this moment, the influx of the blessed guests that we have had come to Wilmore,” Brown explained. “We just do not have the infrastructure to support the guests that we’re having come to Wilmore.”