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Past Revivals: 1970’s Asbury College Revival

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When we look back at past revivals, they seem as they are incredibly separate and distant from our present time.

 

Unfortunately, the news of revival is not spread as it should be as we are coming to learn. Recently there has come word that many revivals are popping up like wild fire all over the world. We would like to start touching on these and on the lesser known revivals of the past. Our eyes seem set appropriately on larger revivals but what we over look is the fact that all revivals start out small and with the smallest and seemingly insignificant groups of individuals dedicating themselves to prayer.

One cannot put their finger on the age, denomination, or occupation of those who have been a part of starting the spark of revivals, for our God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and in this the glory goes to Him and Him alone.

 

A verse that confirms these findings and also has often been comfort to many of us, can be found in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29,

 

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

 

What a hope that is to us who feel we are small and insignificant! Often, we feel in our hearts that either we are too young, too old, or too plain, too uneducated but take heart for when we are weak then He is strong!

 

As we look at the breathtaking Asbury College Revival, we will find that as with many, if not all of the revivals, this fact is held true. This revival like all others once again started with the humble few, containing a fire in their souls who were willing to sacrifice their busy lives and limited time over to the purpose of prayer. This group was a mere small handful of college students, this small group committed themselves daily to 30 minute morning devotionals and prayer, writing down and sharing with others about what God was showing them during their devotional times, meeting once a week in a small group, as well as holding “all-night” prayer meetings.

 

The college itself had a once a week church service and on the Tuesday morning of February 3, 1970, at 10 a.m., with one thousand students present, the chapel service started. Those small group of students that had made a high commitment to prayer were in attendance with great expectation that something was going to happen. They even mentioned to one another that they could sense the presence of God. Some of the students had even started stating prophetically the night before that they felt revival was imminent. The Academic dean was scheduled to share that morning, but when he approached the microphone he indicated that he felt he was not to speak but for the students to come share what God was doing in their lives and speaking personally to them.

 

Student after student opened their mouths sharing their personal testimonies, and started to confess their sins and repenting. We find in an article the following recap of that day and the days ahead...

 

“Dr. Clarence Hunter then opened the altar for anyone who wanted to come and pray. Immediately hundreds of students rushed to the front, kneeling at the altar four to five deep. Spontaneous singing broke out. The presence of the Lord was so real that all other interests seemed unimportant.

 

Throughout the auditorium, students knelt, not only at the altar, but at their seats, in the aisles, and anywhere they could, to confess their sins and get their hearts right with God. Several hundred students gave their lives to Christ that day. At the time the chapel service was to end, the bell sounded for students to go to their classes, but everyone ignored it. Academic Dean Custer Reynolds then approached the microphone and said that classes were cancelled. Many students were lined up, intending to testify of how God was working in their lives. Many were overcome by their emotions, and with tear-filled confessions, they acknowledged sins they had committed against others that were present, and they publicly asked for forgiveness. Reconciliation began to take place between those who previously had been at odds.

 

Students continued to publicly pray, sing, and give testimonies, with some students even singing their testimony. Often students would miss meals and go without sleep because they were more interested in being in the presence of God than they were in anything else.

 

Referring to the presence of God, students and faculty described it with these words:

“The power of God was so present and so real, that time itself seemed to collapse. It was almost as if reality…, we were in a suspended state of reality, and people could sit, hour upon hour and it seemed like only minutes or seconds.”

 

The presence of God was “thick,” it was “heavy”.

 

“… a kind of an aura, kind of a glow about the chapel.”

 

It was like a “warmth around the heart.”

 

“There was a sense of the Divine presence that one doesn’t have often in this life, and when you do have it, you never quite get over it.”

 

Just coming onto the campus, some people indicated they were overcome with conviction power.

 

There were bold displays of restitution coupled with a bold desire to tell others of what God had done in their lives. Emotions ranged from heart-wrenching contrition to otherworldly calm.”

asbury revival2

In consequence, across the street at the Asbury Seminary, the 450 students learned about what was taking place at the college, and desiring the same for themselves, conducted an all-night prayer meeting. On Thursday morning, during their regular chapel service, the exact same thing happened to them as what took place in Hughes Auditorium with the Asbury College students—conviction of sin followed by public repentance, spontaneous singing, testimonies, and prayer. Over the weekend the seminary phase of the revival merged with the college. One noted that “Many emphasized that there wasn’t a single person who was directly providing leadership to the flow of what was transpiring. Some also pointed out that even though there was no schedule of events and no one officially in charge, there was no disorder. By evening, those off-campus came to see, with some reporting they were overcome with conviction of sin as they came on campus. During the daytime participation at the auditorium swelled to capacity. During the late night and early morning, the numbers shrank to about 200. Major American newspapers and television crews, in addition to Christian news media, arrived to report on the revival. People from across America and other parts of the world were aware that revival had come to Asbury.

 

The people of Wilmore, Kentucky, especially the teenagers, also took part in the revival. At times every seat in Hughes Auditorium was filled (1,550 seats), with others standing around the sides. On Sunday night, February 8, several churches in Wilmore, Kentucky, moved their services to Hughes Auditorium and united with the students in the revival. With 1,600 people packed into the auditorium that night, one local pastor and his wife (David and Helen Seamands) made public confessions, which led to more than 100 people coming forward to kneel at the altar, confessing their sins to God and reconciling with anyone they had bitterness or hard feelings toward. Public apologies were made and healing took place.

During this time some received the call to go into missions.

asbury revival 1

Always there was a long line of students waiting to confess that they were just born-again or to give a testimony of new meaning Christ had in their life. The faculty of the college was not exempt from the overwhelming conviction power that was manifested. One faculty member testified of being a hypocrite. Though he was teaching in the college, he acknowledged that his heart had grown cold and for many years he had lived far from God. He then shared that the revival opened his hardened heart and a new relationship with Christ had begun.”

 

In conclusion we find the lasting impact that was made and is continued to be made, “A remarkable revival broke out at the Anderson, Indiana, South Meridian Church of God following a visit from a team of students from Asbury. That revival was conducted every night for 50 consecutive days (Feb. 22-April 12, 1970). The church was not able to hold the 2,500 people that gathered each night, so the services were moved to a local high school. By the end of May 1970, approximately 2,000 witnessing teams of students had gone out from Asbury College and Seminary. One half of the 1,000-member student body was a part of these witnessing teams. Thousands of conversions were experienced as a result of these team’s witness. By the summer of 1970, there were 130 colleges, seminaries, and Bible schools that had been impacted by the Asbury students with their “revival outreach” trips. Decades later, many students who were attending college during 1970 and experienced that revival report that the revival made a lasting impact on them and set a positive direction for the rest of their lives.”

 

We pray that this short summation of that incredible revival, started by a seemingly insignificant group of a simple people in an unknown town, can encourage us that the Lord wants to use us. He will use those of us who have faith that prayer makes a difference, even when we do not understand. That His ears are inclined to the humble, repenting, and contrite heart that cries out on behalf of the lost and the suffering. That revival can and will happen when His people are found on their knees and that God loves to do the BIGGEST of things through the SMALLEST of people!

 

 

Revival facts and pictures found in the following lovely article:

https://romans1015.com/1970-asbury-revival/

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