The Asbury Revival

asbury holiness revival Feb 28, 2023

Longing to Experience Revival


The Asbury revival caught the nation’s attention,

so I wanted to share our experience there with you. 

We just happened to be traveling from Pennsylvania where we had been visiting family to head back to the Love & Purity Ministry Campus in Patterson, Missouri where we are snowbirding out of Alaska for the winter. So, I put the destination address into my phone maps, and the shortest route went right through Lexington, Kentucky. I excitedly said to my husband, Jimmy, “Let’s go this route and if we detour 20 minutes south of Lexington to Wilmore, I can show you Asbury!”  I had been an audit student at the seminary way back in the ’80s and have fond memories of my time there. That’s when Jimmy said, “There is also a revival going on at the college.” Wow! The 1970 revival was still being talked about when I arrived there in 1984, so now I was even more excited for a return visit!

We, Jimmy, Abigail our 23-year-old, and I, got on the road early Thursday the 16th for the eight-hour drive.  We encountered so much rain that there were flood warnings and several accidents along the way. As we drove south from Lexington and got closer to Wilmore, the road narrows to two lanes. A line of cars were in front of us and behind us, and I told my husband, “They are all going to Asbury.” He had never been to Wilmore and didn’t realize that Asbury University and Seminary make up the tiny town and this road led right to it.

It was raining gently when we arrived. We found a place to park close by (a miracle:) and walked to stand in line to get into Hughes Chapel. Several 10’x10’ canopies had been erected along the walkway - it was like large umbrellas for groups:) As we were waiting in line, I noticed that there was a peacefulness in this line - unlike any other line I have waited in for sports events or concerts. Here no one was yelling, no car noises, no babies crying, not even loud laughing. People were talking quietly; there was a questioning expectancy of what we might experience once we got inside. In my husband’s words, “it was reverent.”

A large screen TV and speakers were set up outside next to the walkway where we waited in line, so we could see and hear what was happening inside the chapel - making us more eager to get inside. Hughes only seats 1500, so as people exited, the same number were escorted into the vacated seats. Students were sent to the front of the line since this was the chapel for the college students.

A man stopped under our canopy and told us that Estes Chapel across the street at the seminary was open with plenty of room and the revival was live streaming there. He said with a smile, “The same Holy Spirit is there, too.” So we got out of line and walked across the street and found seats upstairs in the balcony. This was the chapel that I had spent a lot of time in so it brought back fond memories.

It was very peaceful; people were at the altar, others were praying on their knees and in the pews, but no one was standing and singing along with the live stream.

Since watching the live stream was not experiencing what was happening inside the college chapel, we went back outside to stand in an even longer line. Along the way, as we got closer to the chapel, there was a table set up, and hot soup was offered to anyone who was hungry. Trailers with port-a- pottys had been brought in. Each chapel had tables of snacks and bottled water free to anyone who needed something to eat or drink, but people were not interested in that kind of nourishment. The many volunteers were so kind as they worked around the clock to accommodate the hundreds of spontaneous guests that had suddenly filled their town. (My event planner mind wondered if there was money in the budget for all of this provision for so many people. This questioning was before thousands more arrived.) 

At the bottom of the chapel steps, a policeman directed us to a table for checking large bags and to leave things like pocket knives outside. This safety precaution had not even crossed my mind, but I really appreciated the foresight. We are now waiting on the steps! There were more people exiting since it was getting close to supper time, so we only waited a few minutes until we were escorted to seats. We wouldn’t have found them without help since so many people were standing.

It is hard to describe the feelings  - physical, spiritual, and emotional. We were surrounded by sweet singing, all singing in one accord. There were people from diverse nationalities and backgrounds - all under one roof, together praising G-d. It was a glimpse into what it might be like when Messiah comes, and we are all gathered together for one purpose - to praise G-d! This may sound odd, but I felt that in this place, surrounded by these “strangers,” I could safely bare my soul.

Jimmy leaned over and said, “I feel like I know everyone here - they are so familiar.” I said, “that’s because we all share the same Spirit - that is what makes us familiar - we are family!” In the row, in front of us, a very tall man was from Atlanta, and the family of three was from Michigan.

People coming from all over the nation because G-d’s presence was being manifested in this place reminded me of the Amidah prayer that blesses HaShem for gathering together His dispersed people from the four corners of the earth.

There were people at the altar, some kneeling at their seats, people leaving and more coming in. For whatever reason each person came to be there, all we saw was soulful worship and heartfelt prayer. Several times while we were there, cheers would erupt from the altar area and spontaneously spread to the rest of us - someone had become a believer!

The singing was so sweet! It was as if we were all one voice. There was no hyping up the crowd to get an emotional response and those on stage “leading” with just guitar and piano were being led by the L-rd and were not “performing”- they were worshiping. Each and every one of the songs and hymns was either praise to G-d or to humble ourselves.  Make me a vessel - worthy to be filled with you - nothing else will do - You are the air I breathe - my All in All - I just want You!

Abigail had not experienced a worship gathering this large and was so thankful that she had the opportunity to be there!  She said, “I am amazed that so many people from different denominations could come together in worship and sing as one.” Abigail leads worship at Love & Purity on Monday evenings with her guitar singing some of the same songs and in the same way - not drawing attention to herself, simply inviting others to join her in worship. This experience was also an encouragement for her to see so many others her age worshiping the L-rd. 

We stayed about an hour and a half. We didn’t want to leave, but it felt selfish to stay since there was a long line of people who also wanted to experience this movement of His presence.  When we finally, reluctantly went out the front door, allowing three others our seats, we saw that the line was now four times longer.  Darkness had fallen, and the rain had stopped, and we saw a steady stream of car headlights coming into town. It reminded me of the line of cars in the movie Field of Dreams.

A friend of ours made the six-hour drive on Friday, and by then the line was wrapped around a couple of buildings with a five-hour wait to get a seat inside Hughes Chapel. A separate line was for college-age students. There were also thousands on the lawn in front of the chapel praying and worshiping.

There have been so many views and opinions expressed on every social media platform about this revival at Asbury. Those with objections to the use of the word “revival.” Those concerned about whether there is “true and lasting change” in those making decisions to follow G-d and “who will disciple them?” Those wondering if this is really G-d at work or students wanting to get out of class or make history. There will always be pragmatic naysayers. There were probably a few naysayers on the boat when Peter got out of it to walk on water to get to Yeshua! But we tread on unholy ground when we start declaring how G-d works or doesn’t work because it doesn’t fit our theological parameters or we aren’t there to make a judgment ourselves.

In the lower level of Hughes Chapel under the sanctuary, there is a plaque that says:







Asbury College was founded upon the vision to have a school where the Bible would be foundational. I read pages and pages of history on Asbury’s website and discovered that there have now been ten revivals. The number ten is very significant in Hebrew thought. It represents the leap from individual to communal and the spiritual realm which it represents is permeated with holiness. The number ten also represents a completed set and makes me wonder if this is the last Asbury revival before Messiah comes…? 

The first revival was in-

February 1904. “After prevailing prayer among the students, an unplanned revival broke out “like a thunderbolt” on campus.”

In 1905:February 18 during a blizzard, a prayer meeting in the men’s dormitory spilled out to the rest of the campus and the town of Wilmore.”  “A new spirit of revival came over many people on campus. A student…was deeply moved and felt himself transformed by the Holy Spirit.”

In February 1908, revival broke out while someone prayed in chapel; the revival lasted two weeks and was signified by prevailing prayer and intercession.”

 In 1921: “The mid-winter Revival in February was a “dynamo that shocked them out of earth into glory.” “The last service of a planned revival lasted until 6 a.m., and services were extended for three days.”

In 1950: “On February 23, a spontaneous revival began in Hughes Auditorium. This, too, was preceded by days of special prayer. Even before the speaker could begin a student popped out of his seat to praise G-d for all that He had done during an all-night prayer meeting the night before. The service lasted three days without a break…” “A student testimony led to confessions, victories, and more testimonies. This went on uninterrupted for 118 hours and became the second leading news story nationwide; it is estimated that 50,000 people found a new experience in Christ as a result of this revival and witness teams that went out from it.”

In 1958: “A powerful revival began in chapel on March 1 (Saturday), during a regular message by Professor Leon Fisher. Students soon lined up to confess and testify. The meeting lasted until late Monday night.” “Revival began in a student fasting prayer meeting that spilled over into chapel and lasted for 63 hours.”

In 1970: “On February 3 Dean Custer B. Reynolds, scheduled to speak in chapel, felt led to invite persons to give personal testimony instead. Many on campus had been praying for spiritual renewal and were now in an expectant mood. Soon there was a large group waiting in line to speak. A spirit of powerful revival came upon the congregation. The chapel was filled with rejoicing people. Classes were canceled for a week during the 144 hours of unbroken revival, but even after classes resumed on February 10 Hughes Auditorium was left open for prayer and testimony… Some 2000 witness teams went out from Wilmore to churches and at least 130 college campuses around the nation.”

March 1992 “A student confession during the close of chapel of the annual Holiness Conference turned into 127 consecutive hours of prayer and praise.”

In February 2006 a student chapel led to four days of continuous worship, prayer, and praise.”

 February 8, 2023, the current revival began after a message was given from Romans chapter 12. (can be viewed here at

Why have the students at Asbury had so many revivals? Maybe these students past and present, chose this school because of its foundation and history. The founder of Asbury, John Wesley Hughes, was a man who sought after G-d. In his autobiography, he says, “…my call to holiness and full salvation was earnestly sought and joyfully accepted, for my heart had hungered long and earnestly for something, I did not know what, but when I did obtain it, my soul was thoroughly satisfied. My call to college work was clear but bewildering as I considered what seemed my utter inability and unfitness.” “God not only gave me a vision of a real salvation school but called me to the work.”

He also wrote in The Origin of Asbury College, “The news soon got out that I was about to start a college known as a holiness school…the Bible would be emphasized…the work of the day would be opened with an earnest religious chapel service - in reading and expounding the Scriptures, singing, praying, and testifying as the Lord would lead. Each teacher would be required to open class with a short invocation by teacher or pupil.” He also stated the school motto ”Free salvation for all men and full salvation from all sin.”

Hebrews 12:14, Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the L-rd” is on one of the cornerstones of Hughes Auditorium/Chapel. Later, after the school was already started, Hughes began construction of a new brick building and in August 1900, when the cornerstone was laid, he “reverently placed within it a piece of stone from the nearby ruins of the original Bethel Academy opened by Francis Asbury a century before.” Asbury is built on a firm foundation.

There are also five Biblical concepts that guide the mission of Asbury University:

  1. The Nature of the Truth;
  2. The Authority of Scripture;
  3. The Nature of Humanity;
  4. The Importance of Purity, and
  5. The Call to Service.

Asbury’s Cornerstone Project includes the four cornerstones:

  1. Holiness
  2. Scripture
  3. Stewardship
  4. Mission. 

Every student at Asbury is immersed in this spiritual pool; they can’t help but get wet! 

In reading about these revivals, I noticed that most of them were in February, so I did a little more digging and discovered that “Holiness Emphasis Week has been a pillar in the spiritual life of Asbury since its founding” and is always mid-winter during the spring semester. “The teaching and preaching during this week equip the students to make every effort to be holy.” “The prayerful outcomes of Holiness Emphasis Week are this simple: make every effort to be holy, seek purity of heart, and freedom from the power of sin.” These revivals were a result of a lot of prayer, fasting, confession, testimony, and a spirit of expectation. Most importantly, there was a gathering together as one.  

Christianity today seems more like a religion of the individual and for the individual rather than a large body of believers coming together to worship as one. For many, dipping a toe in the pool is enough; a separation of church and life. We are often more concerned with how we appear to others; presenting a “perfect vessel” to those around us. We are effectually insulating ourselves from others and from G-d. G-d cannot be contained in whole, individual, perfect vessels - He is too big! Broken, humbled vessels He fills and shines through!

Revival literally means “come back to life.”

Revival can only happen when we die to self; letting the cracks of our vessel break open and our lives be transparent. Then we become real - a true humbling of self without calculating the cost of who we present ourselves to be.

Revival is rare because we are afraid to show who we really are to those around us. We need to be honest - not living a lie. G-d knows us as we truly are and He still loves us. And when we finally let down our masks, we feel His love even more as He heals all the broken places in us.

There is a saying in Judaism - A glass that is already full has no room for anything else.

We must empty ourselves, our vessel, in order to have room for G-d to fill us with Himself.

Revival is also rare because we don’t long for it enough to take the time to invest hours of heartfelt prayer seeking G-d’s presence.  Other Jewish concepts are “measure for measure” and “we reap what we sow.”  Asbury reaped revivals because the students and faculty sowed many hours of prayer. The more the students emptied themselves through heartfelt confession and repentance, the more G-d filled them; measure for measure.

Practically we can’t all enroll at Asbury and be immersed in the spiritual environment there on campus, but we can apply those same foundational concepts to our lives and create a 24/7 environment infused with prayer, fasting, and confession wherever we live.

Immerse yourself in G-d’s Word. Gather together with others who also want to be revived and want to be holy as He is holy.  Spend a week every year with teaching and preaching that emphasizes holiness. Have “be holy as He is holy” as your goal with purity of heart in everything you do. Seek Him with every part of your broken vessel, and you will be revived! 


Do you long to experience revival?

First, die to self.


  1. Becraft Ward ©2/21/2023


Sources: Jewish Wisdom in the Numbers; Archives: History of Asbury; Revivals;; The Origin of Asbury College - a good read - especially the part about his wife!

Use COUPON CODE: "2023" AND GET 50% OFF YOUR FIRST MONTH! Then $19.99/month. Cancel Anytime


Stay connected with teachings, news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.