A faith revival recently occurred in the small college town of Asbury, Kentucky.
The story is told of what started as a less-than-great sermon, igniting an environment of worship for 15 days. Those of us locally and the rest of the country were made aware of this awakening from personal texts and social media posts that organically gained momentum, attracting the attention of media groups and celebrities. It was spontaneous and miraculous!
I don’t think I understood what was happening at Asbury University those first few days, at least not until a school van of high schoolers and a teacher (all of which I knew personally) took a road trip.
Yet it spurred me to a personal revival.
I’ve been reading the New Testament over the past year and loving my early morning start in scripture before looking at my phone. Asbury prompted me to continue this routine by backing up and reading the Old Testament in its entirety.
The stories are jumping off the pages as I better understand the Israelites and the sinful nature all humans have. I’m no longer snacking on scripture but looking up commentary to better understand what I’m reading. I am nudging in conversation with others, asking questions, and sharing my excitement about what I am learning.
Not surprisingly, my revival is unearthing patterns of sin in my life, and I am now equipped to repent and seek forgiveness. It is drawing me closer to Jesus and freeing me of the burden of worldly ways. But I may be getting ahead of myself.
Which may have you wondering, what exactly is a Christian revival, and why was I so drawn to it?
What is Christian Revival?
I believe a Christian revival is the soulful desire to follow God more closely than you are currently - followed by the desire to transform your attitudes, behaviors, and actions so that you will live differently, with God residing as your core. Your true north.
An example is observing people who grew up with faith, maybe in a church family or student ministry but have lost sight of God, suddenly seeking him and desiring to return to the faith. It’s even more amazing, even radical, when the real-life example is college students (like in Asbury) repenting and receiving Jesus as their savior for eternal life!
Revival hits us at the core of who we are. God created us (Genesis 2) to be in a relationship with him. We seek and desire intimacy with God because it’s part of our innermost fibers, our DNA. It provides us with hope and purpose. Plus, the long-term effects, which the Bible calls “the fruit” of a changed life. This transformed perspective turns us away from sin, selfishness, evil, and violence … to name a few.
I didn’t travel to Asbury University this past spring. However, I did have the privilege of attending their worship band performing at a local school chapel. The student-led music and testimonies were incredible. You could feel the expectation and desire for God’s revival to continue 120 miles north.
Did God provide the Asbury revival to fan the flames in each of us to desire revival too? If so, how do we capture and hang onto this intimacy with God?
My heart yearns for others to taste revival too. There are days I feel alone in my faith. Don’t get me wrong; I have many friends who love Jesus as much as I do. But there are days when I am processing a heavy situation, and they aren’t always around. And I often get the feeling people think I’m crazy to be so excited about a discovery, or they humor me and change the subject.
My heart desperately wants all my loved ones and the strangers I meet to know and love God as much as I do, as much as my friends in faith do, and as much as the disciples, apostles, and followers before us do. Speaking of which…
Christian Revival in The Bible
There are many Biblical examples of revival in the Old and New Testaments. During Ezra and Nehemiah’s time, we read how the Israelites had stopped following God, but through publicly reading scripture, fasting, confessing their sins out loud, and worshiping the Lord, they returned to God (Nehemiah, chapters 8-10).
In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of it (Mark 1:15), as do the apostles Peter and Paul to the early church. I especially love reading about the spark of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the baptism of Gentiles. (the entire Book of Acts – especially Acts 2:38-41).
What I saw happen uniquely at Asbury University seems to fit the spirit of what I see in the Bible. Students chose to stay at a church service. They told friends to come join them. They didn’t pop earbuds in and check out. They desired community, and the Holy Spirit embraced them.
This can happen to us too.
Fanning the Flame of Revival in You
I believe if we pick up God’s scripture, we can first discover areas we are separated from him.
By knowing God’s word, we learn his character and unchanging persona (Psalm 55:19, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17). Am I seeking him? Or am I following the path of least resistance? The world teaches us to pursue happiness. Yet without God, we can only pursue false hope, false security, and false love. We accept counterfeits because we’ve lost our sharp eyesight to recognize a fake. We’ve become easily deceived by the same tempter who asked Eve, “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1)
When we feel lonely and depleted, we must seek the difference between the empty promises, the circumstances, and the momentary feelings of happiness, compared to experiencing JOY that comes from knowing and spending time with the Lord.
I believe we will see a resurgence of revivals across the country and the world. Asbury was not a fluke. When you read the statistics, the number of Jesus-followers in the United States is dropping with each generation’s passing. But I think God wants to reverse that trend, as he is already doing in other parts of the world.
Starting with the Man/Woman in the Mirror
Doesn’t it sound like God’s ‘master plan’ to prompt revivals at universities? To spark a generation that desires purpose, meaning, and extra vacation days for spending time in creation? Wouldn’t he desire this change for future marriages and future parents to spend time with the Creator? I believe so. My heart would leap with joy to watch more high school-aged children and their friends race after a personal relationship with the Lord.
And the best part, the Asbury revival shows us we don’t need to orchestrate it. We just need to listen and obey God’s plan, which he intrinsically wove inside of us as a desire for something better in our life. We need to take time for self-reflection to examine the areas we are called to repent. Time to see the sin in our lives, not as a weakness or slip-up but the way God sees it.
When we finally hand over the areas of life we are trying to do on our own, we will experience heartfelt change. Yes, we need churches to gather and preachers to guide us in scripture around repentance and prayer, but along with God - it is YOU AND I who are needed for revival!
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38).
We can be God’s worker who ignites the spark that brings revival. We can reap the fruit of a transformed life today. We can encourage others with our faith (Romans 1:12-13). The students at Asbury remained praying and worshipping for 15 days because they felt the electricity of being connected.
Once we experience God’s love, everything else pales in comparison. Once we taste the goodness of a life with Jesus, everything else tastes artificial. Once we see the abundant love that flows from a personal relationship with Christ, we want to share it with everyone we know!
That’s how the flames of revival take over everything in its path. And through God, it can start with us.
Disclaimer: This article is 100% human-generated.