It was on 12 February, concerning an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Asbury University, Kentucky, USA, someone sent me this article, Days-long revival sweeping Asbury University in Kentucky. That was my first awareness of the beginning of a phenomena, which has become global news.

The events of the last month were sparked by students spontaneously staying on following a regularly scheduled chapel service on February 8th 2023. Last week, literally one month on from that day, I googled ‘Asbury Revival 2023’ and received over 5.5 million results! Whatever you make of it, it’s worldwide news.

I understand following the February 8th gathering, Asbury President Kevin Brown sent out a brief two-sentence email: “There’s worship happening in Hughes. You’re welcome to join.” Subsequently well over 100,000 people have made the journey to Wilmore, Kentucky to witness what’s going on for themselves.

‘Is this a genuine revival?’ ‘What do you make of it?’ Like many of you, I’ve been asked the inevitable questions.

My gut instinct tends to be ‘let’s wait and see’. God certainly doesn’t need my validation and as with growing my vegetables, it’s not possible for me to evaluate the fruit ahead of time – it’s the same with what’s taking place at Asbury at present. Carey Nieuwhof offers a summary of some wise advice with his 5 thoughts on the Asbury Revival for Pastors :

  1. Be More Curious and Open Than You Are Closed or Critical
  2. Don’t Worry About Taking a Position
  3. Resist the Temptation to Imitate What’s Going On
  4. Don’t Feel Generationally Threatened
  5. So…Maybe Watch and Give Thanks?

There’s no shortage of accounts and reflections you can easily find with a search on the internet. Wikipedia, of course, has a page ‘2023 Asbury revival’. Wading amidst the millions, I appreciated the reflection, The Asbury Revival and our hunger for God.

‘It’s better to be gullible than cynical’ said Pete Greig following his visit. I agree. Following my visit to Lewis last year, I’ve seen the stirrings of hope across our own nation, but I question the extent to which we want a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God. When in Lewis I asked Willie McCloud, converted during the awakening in the Outer Hebrides back then and now in his nineties, ‘what can we do’? His reply was ‘there is nothing we can do, but we can prepare’. One conclusion, as I look closer at revivals across the centuries, is God comes to those who want him. 

Nigel Coles

Nigel is Regional Team Leader of the West of England Baptist Network. He facilitates the life of the webnet team and oversees the missional strategy for the region. He also works to develop missional strategy over a wider geographical area with our partner Associations and Baptists Together. Nigel believes that when Jesus sent out seventy-two others, he meant everyone who was there, and this passion to help everyone find their way in the mission of God is what inspired the development of Seventy-two.