The Asbury Revival is Over. What Happens Now?
LEXINGTON, Ky. (RNS) — After more than two weeks and worldwide headlines, revival services at Asbury University in central Kentucky came to an end recently.
But the revival goes on off-campus.
On Sunday (Feb. 26), Minneapolis-based evangelist Nick Hall brought an Asbury-inspired revival event to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, about half an hour from the Christian school’s campus.
Hall is the leader of Pulse, a ministry that aims to bring “Jesus to the next generation” by hosting big events. He attended the Asbury revival in its first week and said he was overwhelmed by what God was doing.
After the Asbury revival started spontaneously on Feb. 8, the university officially ended revival services on Feb. 23, which was National Collegiate Day of Prayer. During that final service, people prayed over college campuses, asking God to bring revival to the world.
Similar prayer services have been held at other colleges, including Samford University in Alabama, Lee University in Tennessee and Baylor University in Texas.
Asbury President Kevin Brown announced on Feb. 19 that “outpouring” services would move off campus. The school later decided to no longer have a role in those services.
The school decided to end the on-campus services after tens of thousands of visitors flooded the campus and the small town of Wilmore, Kentucky, overwhelming locals and blocking traffic for miles.
“The Asbury team was just fried, and there was decision fatigue, and just burnout,” Hall told Religion News Service. He said Brown told him the school’s leaders felt like Asbury’s role was complete. The school said its hope is that revival continues in other spaces.
On Thursday, Hall still felt God was telling him to continue revival for those who might’ve missed the opportunity at Asbury. So at the last minute, Pulse put together the Rupp Arena event in two days’ time.
“I just met so many people who didn’t get to Asbury who wanted to get there, people who were filled with so much regret because ‘God did something and I missed it,’” Hall said.
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The event at Rupp Arena was similar to what happened at Asbury, in that there were no structured sermons. Rather it was a time of worship with simple songs, prayer and repentance. The event went for nine hours. Students from Lee University also shared how God moved in their lives.
At several points, people went up on stage to share testimonies. One Iranian man, who goes by the name of Que, came on stage to share that he was healed at the event. He had come to Rupp Arena in a wheelchair and said he has had problems with his legs since 1998.
“Lately it got really worse and I don’t know what was the reason; I couldn’t walk without the help of my friends,” Que said.
He said a man at the event asked him what he could pray for, and Que told the man he wanted to run again.
“He started praying for me and every time he did, I could feel the Holy Spirit going through me,” he said.
Que then walked across the stage and down the steps with no assistance.
Forrest Limon, a Pulse staff member and young evangelist, said he was inspired by the revival services.
“There’s a hunger from the younger generations to seek after the Lord,” Limon said. “It was the ministry that was happening in seats, just young people crowding around each other, and grandparents, just all praying for the younger generations. There was this multigenerational unity tonight.”
In putting on this event, Hall said he also wanted to help teach people what they should do after revival. After many people came to Christ or rededicated their lives, people were looking for guidance.
Robert Coleman, who was a professor of evangelism at Asbury Seminary for 27 years, spoke in Rupp Arena about what Christians can do next after a revival.
Now 94 years old, Coleman was at Asbury in 1950 when a revival broke out at the school and he was also at another famed Asbury revival in 1970.
“’Follow me,’ Jesus said; isn’t that simple? ” he said. “We can all understand it. You don’t have to go to a big university to know how to make disciples. You just follow Jesus.”
Coleman explained that the best way people can bring lasting revival to their communities is to make disciples, as that was the last command Jesus gave his church.
“Don’t look around for a crowd; begin with the person next to you, who’s next door, or who you work beside,” he said. “Make a friend and continue to develop that friendship; that’s how we make disciples, by being together. Put your arm around them, love them, show them that you care for their soul.”
Asbury student Lexie Presta, who is editor of the school’s student newspaper, said Asbury students have been sharing their experiences of revival in local spaces. Unlike past revivals at Abury, students are not being officially sent out by Asbury to share their stories.
“Asbury students have been encouraged to follow the Great Commission and to take next steps,” Presta said. “For some, this means staying on campus and processing with friends and family. For others, it means traveling to churches and groups outside of Wilmore for worship, testimony time and Scripture.”
Many churches and other spaces in Kentucky have been hosting revival events. However, Presta said that people should always proceed with caution for revivals popping up, and make sure they are authentic.
For example, revival events may be advertised online as being connected to the Asbury revival, but the school has said it’s not connected to other revival events at this time.
Hall said he recognizes that people should use discernment, as some churches and leaders teach false Christianity, and others look to capitalize on the hype. But he also said Christians can overthink in their discernment, as some still question and argue whether or not what happened at Asbury was a “revival.”
“Every expression is going to be different,” Hall said. “We can’t help but compare, but God is going to move in different ways in different spaces.”
Main photo: People attend a revival event led by evangelist Nick Hall at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, Feb. 26, 2023 / Photo by Fiona Morgan