FRANKLIN — Tennessee ministers John Green and Noah Leighton each decided they didn’t want to just rejoice from afar about what was happening at Asbury University.
They wanted to be in on it.
Almost immediately after learning about the perpetual revival service that is taking place on the Asbury campus, Green, pastor of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church in Knoxville, and Leighton, student pastor at First Baptist Church, Goodlettsville, began making plans to travel to Wilmore, Ky., to see for themselves.
The revival at Asbury started as a “typical” Wednesday night chapel service (on the night of Feb. 8), then evolved into a continuous movement of prayer, worship, emotion and fellowship. As of Feb. 20, the revival was still ongoing — uninterrupted — on the campus.
“As soon as I started reading about it on Sunday morning (Feb. 12), I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to go,’” Green told the Baptist and Reflector. “I wanted to be there.”
After the Sunday services had finished at Wallace Memorial, Green made the trip to Wilmore with his friend Jared Ferguson. Once they arrived, they were amazed at what they saw.
“When we got there, they had just opened the second auditorium after the first one became too full,” said Green. “So, it was really starting to catch fire. It was awesome.”
Meanwhile, in Goodlettsville, Leighton was likewise feeling compelled to make a journey to Asbury.
Although car trouble prevented him from making the trip on his first attempt, he immediately began making new plans to go to Kentucky as soon as possible.
“Like many of us, I grew up hearing about revivals and great awakenings,” said Leighton. “So, to think that something of that nature was happening just a few hours up the road was exciting.”
The revival at Asbury has gained national news coverage, and students from other schools and universities are traveling to Asbury in large numbers. Several universities around the country are now hosting revival services on their campuses, too.
When Green returned from his trip to Kentucky, he posted on his Facebook page that being on the Asbury campus, “felt like being in God’s presence. It is a feeling I’ve felt before at my church and other places as well. It is simply an overwhelming sense of being near to God.”
A similar revival happened at Asbury in 1970, and helped propel the East Coast branch of the “Jesus Movement” — which had primarily been a West Coast movement up until that point.
Interestingly, a movie about the Jesus Movement, called “The Jesus Revolution,” is scheduled to debut in theaters in the coming weeks.
Green said his prayer is that the current revival at Asbury will spark a similar nationwide stirring that resembles the Jesus Movement of the 1970s — but he hopes the ultimate outcome is different.
“My prayer is that we, the Church, will respond,” he said. “Last time, we missed it.”
Green was referring to the fact that the Jesus Movement of the 1970s likely could have exploded even more if churches across the nation would have supported it. Instead, many churches basically squashed it, according to most accounts, because of the “hippie” ties to the movement.
Leighton said he, too, hopes this time can be different. And he thinks it can be.
He believes students from around the nation can indeed spark a movement that can change the course of history.
“Many ecclesiologists have been saying for years that Gen Z could be the next generation to spark the next great awakening — and I agree with them,” said Leighton. “Those who know me best have been hearing me say it for years: Gen Z is a generation that wants to own their faith and act on it. And it’s happening right now in front of us.” B&R