We were able to speak with some of the students and teachers who were there when it started and heard their testimonies of what is happening in Asbury. Pete Greig led the Zoom call, which you can watch back here:
The chapel service – a compulsory, hour-long event that happens three times every week – at first seemed to be business as usual. But instead of finishing up their final song, the gospel choir just kept singing. Some students went off to 11am classes, but others stayed – and spontaneously broke into groups and began to pray for one another.
One student had an 11am class to get to, but she looked back on the moment she decided to stay in the chapel and said, ‘My heart was just hurting, I was like: God, I just need to stay and repent… it’s the first time I’ve ever skipped a class in my life.’
Something seemed to shift. A student shared that in the moment, she thought: ‘How can I stand in Your presence? Because You are here right now — this is the most physical I’ve ever felt the presence of God.’
People started coming back into the chapel, eager to get right with God. The gospel choir sang until they broke for lunch, but when they came back into the chapel, people were still worshipping and praying. In one student’s words – ‘The piano hasn’t been quiet since!’
We also heard stories of God interrupting and encouraging other people outside of the initial meeting.
One of these stories was about an Asbury graduate who lived in the area. She felt God interrupt her morning routine on that Wednesday. At about 9am – before the initial chapel meeting started – she felt him prompting her: Prepare your guest room.
‘Why, Lord?’ she wondered, but didn’t hear anything else. She prepared her guest room and went on with her day.
By noon, she’d heard about what was happening in the chapel. Prayer and worship weren’t stopping, the Presence of God was being felt in a fresh way. And sure enough, fellow alumni from out of town wanted in on what God was doing, and they asked if they could stay over.
Soon it wasn’t just alumni. Students from other universities wanted to join in. We talked with a group of students who’d driven six hours from Wheaton College to see what was happening at Asbury.
‘The first shock was the intergenerational aspect of it,’ one of the visiting students said when describing his first time in the chapel. ‘I thought it was just going to be people in their 20s, but I saw people in their 80s and also babies. Babies are screaming and it’s all okay.’
The next thing he noticed? ‘The people here are so – normal. Jesus is the only celebrity here. There’s no production, no screens, no famous leaders.’
It echoes what J.D. Walt, former Dean of the Chapel at Asbury University, says of the outpouring of the Spirit the community is experiencing. ‘This is the kind of thing you can’t make happen. If you go out into campus with a megaphone and say “Let’s get back to chapel, everybody!” you won’t be able to do it.’ He went on to say, ‘That’s the thing about this kind of outpouring, it’s not generated by us or by anything here. It’s generated by the Godhead.’
‘What’s happening in Asbury is not everything, but it is something,’ Pete Greig reflects. ‘Right now, we need something to shock the system so that this generation can experience for themselves the life-changing power of God. We need repentance and holiness. We need the kind of outpouring of the Spirit on campuses that can incubate and detonate a new generation to preach the gospel with greater confidence, fight injustice with greater defiance, and transform society with greater intelligence.’
This is exactly what we’re praying for God to do all over the world – igniting a fire of love in students in every campus, in every nation. We’re praying for this outpouring to spread the Kingdom of God.
For a bird’s-eye look at how the outpouring at Asbury fits into a wider movement of young people hungry for God across the nations, check out this article by 24-7 Prayer GB’s Youth Director, Josh Green. And you can watch the livestream with students from Asbury to hear the stories and prayers for yourself.