One year after a revival swept the Asbury University campus and grabbed national headlines, students and leaders on campus say its impact is still being felt.
The revival, or “outpouring” as it’s sometimes called, started at the Wilmore, Ky., campus during a regularly scheduled chapel service in February 2023 and continued 24 hours a day for the next 16 days. It spread elsewhere, including to other college campuses such as Lee University, Samford University, and Cedarville University. It was the largest revival/outpouring at Asbury since the early 1970s and drew people from other states and even from other countries.
Zach Meerkreebs, Asbury University’s pastor in residence, was preaching in the chapel that day when revival sparked. CBN recently spoke to him and others on campus.
“I knew we were encountering something, but it was halfway through the weekend when I was like, this is really special,” Meerkreebs told CBN.
The outpouring had a long-term impact, he said.
“The temperature on campus is unbelievable, but what's exciting is they're longing for authentic long-term steps, not just 16 days of power and encounter,” he said. “They're wanting to pursue holiness. They want to be done with porn. They want to be done with addiction to their phones. They want to be done with those kinds of things. They want to really have an authentic walk with the Lord and what's amazing is that's happening here.”
Kevin Brown, Asbury’s president, told CBN he, too, has seen a lasting effect.
“Our students continue to be hungry. They continue to lead. They've gone and they've shared, we've had over 50 groups go to different ministries and churches, both in the United States and overseas,” he said.
Enrollment is up about 25 percent from the previous year -- no doubt a tangible impact from the university’s time in the spotlight.
Students say God’s presence was evident during the 16 days.
“God turned my world technicolor, and I don't know how else to describe it, but prayer came alive,” sophomore Riley McChord told CBN. “I mean, I saw physical healing, cancer be removed, I saw physically cancer off somebody's neck be removed. I saw emotional healing, relational healing, and there were two other girls and now my boyfriend and we spent literally every waking moment there. We did not sleep, and we stayed there for two weeks.”
She added, “What happened on Feb. 8  was only the catalyst for what's truly happening and what's going to happen and that was only the beginning,”
“It was an overwhelming glimpse of just God, His goodness, His mercy, His grace, His firmness,” said student Caleb Rushing. “It was a glimpse of what heaven's going to be like when we get to just reign and dwell with God forever.”
Brown, the university president, said the younger generation led the movement.
“During those 16 days, there was always Gen Z represented at the altar,” Brown told CBN. “And the very last day that we had a formal service together, I'll never forget, someone stood in front of all these students, 1,500 Gen Zers in the room, and said, ‘You will not be the generation defined by depression, anxiety, addiction and suicidal ideation.’ And to hear a cry come up from that group, someone said, if we had the spiritual eyes to see it, we would've seen an altar filled with loosened chains. That's my heart. That is the heart of the people around me, that this is a burdened generation, but God wants to use them, and we need to invest in them.”
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Kativ
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.