First-hand account from Asbury University

From Ron Kelley:

We left last week’s message with a promise to give you a brief report on our experience at Asbury University, the site of a two weeklong gathering to worship and praise God. My wife Rhonda and I left late morning on Tuesday, February 21, arriving around 1pm. Many of our friends, having gone days before, spoke of the crowds and the difficulty in finding parking. Not so for us because the school decided late on the weekend to limit attendance Tuesday through Thursday to High School and college students. The reasons given were that the burden on the small town of Wilmore and the need for the school to reopen to classes and mid-term exams, dictated a change. It’s estimated 50,000 visitors have turned up to services over the past two weeks, many from other states and quite a few from overseas.

During the height of gatherings, lines of traffic were often backed up for at least 3 miles. Asbury University President Kevin J. Brown said: “We had authorities that had to redirect traffic away from Wilmore. Our town’s institutions and our town’s infrastructure is just not in a place to absorb the influx of the blessed guests that we have had.” Communications Director Abby Laub was quoted as saying, “The university needs to balance the needs of students with the overwhelming turnout at the event.” “They (who’ve come) know this is a gift, they have received it as a gift, so we are going to charge them with now you take this to your job, your family, your church.”Some colleges have done just that, Lee in Tennessee, Cedarville in Ohio and Samford in Alabama, to name a few. And now moving just north of Asbury to the University of Kentucky.

What was this time like for Rhonda and me, as we arrived to volunteer? Our first reaction was a sense of calm from the moment we got there. We sort of expected frazzled staff and lots of bustle about the buildings and grounds. We noticed the ratio of young people to adults was high. Some in groups praying, some sitting on the grass or benches and appeared to be reflecting quietly. In the background we could hear worship music being sung and an occasional hallelujah. At this point we were just observers.Then something different happened. Rhonda and I had been assigned to clean up the areas around Hughes Hall and the grounds immediately in front of the main entrance. As we began, we became separated from one another, mostly because there wasn’t much trash to pick up, so we needed to go hunting for it. It was then that two women approached me and one of them said, “I believe God wants us to speak to you”. I was caught a little off guard but said OK. They began telling me that they had been students at Asbury in the 1980’s and felt God calling them back to experience the worship and to tell others to not let this movement die out. I prayed with them and asked that God’s will be done at Asbury and beyond the confines of the campus as people leave and go back to their homes. I don’t believe they were prophets with any special instructions for me or you, but I do believe the message they delivered is right on. Why are we not praying for revival every day where God has planted us? I believe revival begins with a repentant heart and that can be carried wherever we go. Repentance demands an acknowledgement that the problem is within me. When we repent (not once, but daily) that frees us to live our lives in humble dependence on God. Then the world will see Him in us.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8)

The second person I spoke with was a man from Austria. He was with a friend of his from Colorado and both had been there for several days, including the times of the large crowds. He asked me if he could throw some trash in my bag and from that a conversation started. He had sent his daughter to a Christian school in California because there was nothing for her in Europe. When his Colorado friend told him about what was happening at Asbury, he said he just had to come and see. Isn’t that the invitation of Jesus when He called his disciples?

In (John 1:39) He says, “Come and see…”.

When I asked them if they heard anyone arguing over theological differences or forms of worship, they spoke of the unity they felt with other believers while simply singing and praying together to Jesus as King. Without a doubt, there were people there from many denominations who do have deep theological differences, but these two men (and other friends I respect) gave the same message that all wanted to glorify God and not argue or contend with one another.I’ll end with this last observation. I asked some others I encountered a simple question, and received a very similar answer. Why did you come to Asbury? The essence of their answers was that they wanted to draw closer to God. None said they were merely curious or just looking for a place to hang out. And from what I have seen and heard – God showed up.Is it a revival that will last? Only time will tell. This I do know from what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount,

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

May be an image of 1 person, standing and indoor

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