“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6)
Recent reports of the outpouring of God’s Spirit at Asbury thrill our hearts because it is what we have been praying for!
A couple of years ago, I presented a lecture on historic revival movements in my Church Revitalization and Multiplication class at Southern Wesleyan University (SWU). Stirred after hearing about the mighty works of God in the past — including the 1970 Asbury Revival — Hannah raised her hand. With tears in her eyes, she asked, “Professor, can we stop talking about this right now and start praying for it?” The whole class went to our knees, beseeching God for a fresh outpouring of his presence. Winds of renewal were blowing then and today; they are seeing their prayer answered in remarkable ways!
When the 2023 outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Asbury began, I happened to be preaching at Avon Park Holiness Camp, consisting of several hundred retirees, which was founded by Asbury College in 1939 for the purpose of holiness and revival. My sermon theme on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, was spiritual renewal. At the end of the message, I told about what happened in our class and pointed back to the beautiful revival that began with Asbury students in 1970. The service ended with the elderly saints calling out to God for a fresh outpouring upon this generation. Afterwards, some attendees informed me they were Asbury students when God worked in such marvelous ways! Alumni from other universities also shared divine encounter stories. I noticed they all spoke through joyful tears: holy water!
The next day, we were astounded to hear breaking news of another outpouring at Asbury. The saints of Avon Park raised the roof praising Jesus! Southern Wesleyan University arranged for a vanload of students to travel to Wilmore, Kentucky, so they could experience it for themselves. At Asbury, they encountered God in deeply transformative ways. They returned rejoicing in the Lord and our campus is still feeling the ripple effects.
My current Church Revitalization and Multiplication class happened to be researching and preparing reports of historic revival movements. On the way home from Asbury, one student texted, asking if the group could bring a “fresh off the shelf” report of a historic outpouring that is happening now! I rearranged the program so they could tell what Jesus is doing — rather than just dusting off yesteryear’s accounts. Word leaked that the “pilgrims” would be sharing, and we moved the class to a larger venue to accommodate several guests.
Our students shared the beautiful things Christ had done for them:
One proclaimed, “I’ve experienced as much heaven as a man can get and still live!”
A young woman who had struggled with feelings of insecurity and inferiority was totally transformed, testifying with holy boldness, exuding joy and even leading us in singing.
An athlete repented of making sports her idol and devoted herself entirely to Jesus.
Another student admitted, “Revival involves repentance. I needed to allow him back on the throne of my heart.”
I thought the class session was ending when I invited Pastor Fred Andrews, who was present at the 1970 revival, to pray over my students then opened it up for my students to pray with others. Instead, it turned into a season of spontaneous singing and prayers that lasted more than an hour and a half beyond the allotted class time.
It is noteworthy that the movement of God among SWU students began long before the February visit to Asbury. For two years, students have been breaking fallow ground, regularly meeting together and praying for spiritual renewal on our campus. For over a year, they have gathered each Sunday evening for student-led prayer, worship and biblical preaching. In the weeks preceding the Asbury outpouring, these students organized special prayer meetings, and earnestly sought God’s face. What happened at Asbury was just confirmation for them.
Students are faithfully sharing what Jesus is doing as they have opportunity. A group of retired pastors came to SWU to pray for our students and were blessed in return by the spiritual reports. Students are sharing testimonies at local churches and other venues. A recent campus tour turned into a spontaneous prayer and praise session with tears as the tour guide expressed the wonderful things Christ has been doing in her heart!
Hannah, the student who requested prayer for revival two years ago and now works for a missionary agency, recently texted: “We saw trees swaying like they do before a storm. The storm has begun, and we get to dance in it!”
Mark O. Wilson is an associate professor of Christian Ministry and the Religion Department coordinator at Southern Wesleyan University in Central, South Carolina, author and serves as the evangelism catalyst for The Wesleyan Church and as the South Carolina district ambassador.
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