In the wake of “revival,” America is at a spiritual crossroads

By February 28, 2023

USA (MNN) — A Barna study released on February 1st reveals 77% of Generation Z teens are motivated to learn about Jesus Christ in their lifetime.

One week after this report came out, spiritual revival broke out at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky.

The revival was characterized by young college students who stayed after a chapel for continued prayer and worship. It persisted in a spontaneous outbreak of confession, worship, and prayer that lasted for several weeks and drew in people from around the world.

Revival at Asbury University (Photo courtesy of OneWay Ministries)

Regular chapel schedules resumed at Asbury yesterday. However, other universities and churches across America are opening their doors as more people — particularly youth — seek the Lord through prayer, confession, and worship. There are even stories and online videos surfacing of worship gatherings in other countries inspired by the movement at Asbury.

Stan Key, Minister at Large for OneWay Ministries, describes America at a spiritual crossroads.

“Oh, my goodness, the world we live in. I think I’ve despaired for our nation. The nation that you’re going to grow up in, your generation, and particularly your children, it’s not going to be a pleasant place to be. So this gives me hope,” Key says. “Lord, can you revive our nation? Can you revive the Church?”

Many Christians have been greatly encouraged by testimonies of repentance and humility out of Asbury University and other related worship gatherings. But other believers are cautious to get excited about the so-called revival. Responses range from curious and questioning to skeptical and even outright critical.

Biblical discernment is important in all things, and especially in any movement that would claim the name of Jesus.

Key says this desire for biblical wisdom in the wake of the Asbury revival is important!

“In terms of discerning what is going on,…I don’t think we should just criticize all those who want to be cautious. I’m a skeptic at heart myself. I need some proof.”

(Photo courtesy of OneWay Ministries)

Was this emotional sensationalism? A bandwagon effect? Did lack of one centralized leader mean it was a spiritually-hyped free-for-all?

Many of the critics simply are curious to see what kind of lasting spiritual effect this revival could have on individual lives and American culture. “I think there’s two kinds of critiques of a move of the Spirit like this,” Key says. “One is the legitimate sort. ‘What is going on? And how should I respond?’…. Most of the critique is quite respectful. It’s like, ‘Well, we’ll see.’ Okay, that’s fair.”

However, Key cautions, “There is a critique in which I sense arrogance and condescension.’”

So what is the spiritual fruit that has come out of Asbury?

Key’s father-in-law, Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, was the president of Asbury College (now Asbury University) during the 1970 revival on campus.

As someone who is familiar with conversations surrounding faithful Christian revivals, Key says, “The word that, to me, always marks the authentic presence of the sanctifying Spirit is the word humility. Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount by saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they get the Kingdom.’”

Another litmus test is the five characteristics of a work of the Holy Spirit, as outlined by Jonathan Edwards in the First Great Awakening.

Key explains, “If it’s those marks that Jonathan Edwards said — if Jesus is exalted, sin is exposed, the Bible is lifted up, sound doctrine is preached, and it’s about love — where’s my can of gasoline? That’s about as good as it gets.

“If this is of God,…all I want to do is bring my can of gasoline and pour gas on what God is doing.”

(Photo courtesy of Jon Tyson via Unsplash)

More and more stories have come out of Asbury about students and young people repenting of sin, coming to the altar broken and crying out for Jesus, praying for one another and restoring relationships with one another.

Far from sensationalist reports, those who were there speak of peaceful worship and biblical conviction.

“I did hear the president of Asbury and his team in a prayer meeting with about 500 alumni last weekend,” Key says. “They were responding to questions. But he said something to the effect of they’ve had quite a number of Christian celebrities show up and…a number of them said, ‘If you like, I’ll address the crowd or I’ll be a part of this in some way.’ To a number of them, they’ve said no.”

Students and young people, travelers and townies were not there to see celebrities and political pundits.

This generation is open to — and even hungry for — spiritual truth. Truth that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

The Asbury revival may be over, at the official campus capacity level. But if the Holy Spirit has kindled a fire for the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of young people in America, may our prayers fan the flames.

May this be a generation that seeks the face of the Lord.







Header photo courtesy of Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash.

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