Asbury, Kentucky
February 2023


When in Europe I heard the first rumors about the outbreak of a new revival in Kentucky – it was just a few days before visiting the US myself. The interest of me and my two comrades  travelling with me was raised. Let´s go and see. Between our conference program in Augusta, Georgia, we had one Sunday free. We decided to make the 9-hour-trip forth and back from Georgia to Kentucky to see this intervention of the Holy Spirit with our own eyes.

Asbury University we found in the highlands of Kentucky in the middle of nowhere. Cows, some horses and once in a while a farmhouse. The largest city nearby – Lexington. The university, a little town in itself, with their own healthcare-service, a few shops, one restaurant and a post-office. This Methodist Theological Faculty affiliated with the Wesleyan-Holiness movement had been an educational center for missionaries for decades, known for its strong evangelical witness. Asbury – also a place with connections to the Awakenings in North-America and its own history of revivals (1905, 1908, 1921, 1950, 1958, 1970, 1992, and 2006). The largest revival dated back 50 years ago – with great applications for the so called “Jesus-People-movement” – a co-runner with the Charismatic Renewal in many Christian denominations, including the Catholic Church. Many prayed that another revival will take place again at this spot.

Everything started on February 8th out of the normal worship meeting in one of the main chapels the students are required to go to. After the liturgical finish they continued praying and singing and didn´t stop. It went through the night, over into the next day. Others joined. The atmosphere became quite intensive. More and more people came also from outside streaming in from all parts of the Southern US and the Midwest. The faculty stopped the normal teaching program and cared for some order of the day. The “Salvation Army” sent a number of trucks with water and crackers. Support-teams volunteered for cleaning. A team of  facilitators made everything run peacefully.

When we arrived on the 12th day – we were drawn into an atmosphere of adoration and submission. 15.000 that day wanted to experience some of the spirit of the beginning. Rows of young people wanted to get into the main-hall. Some had even camped overnight at the main yard – to be able to come into hall the next day. But coming into the hall was not even necessary as the same happened outside on the grass or even more intense in the many other chapels around the campus. People brought their camping-stools, the most were standing, some even lying on the floor for hours, deeply touched by their encounter with God.

There was no organization, no masters of ceremony. There was no concept behind anything. All what happened was a spontaneous answer to the move of the Holy Spirit. All participants were constantly reminded to follow the personal promptings of the Holy Spirit. I-phones should be put off. No filming. The important things did happen without microphone and electronic help. For the first time I saw how the traditional awakenings may have worked before the time of modern technology support. People prayed alone or in small spontaneous groups. Obviously the most developed between the Holy Spirit and individuals. A peaceful atmosphere, no screaming, no strange manifestations, no self-appointed preachers.

The name of Jesus and the Word of God in the Bible was in the center of this obvious revival. Once in a while – people were invited to recite Bible passages they have received in prayer. After each passage the guiding coordinator reminded the crowed: “This is the word of God”. And almost liturgical the 1000s of participants answered: “We believe it”. Once in a while – people were invited to give testimonies: personal experience, short, inspiring, concrete and no preaching.

The meetings were highly ecumenical sensitive in regard of the many different denominations present. On Sundays they only started at 1:00 PM to give room for to join the confessional services. Spiritually there was no divide between evangelicals and charismatics. The Holy Spirit was seen as the one orchestrating this event, and the answer to it was what I would call “Charismatic Light”. Elements like charismatic music by spontaneous worship teams, prophecy (not from microphone) and healing prayers were exercised, along with unparalleled hospitality by locals and students. No manifestations like in Toronto. I even saw an Amish couple in their traditional clothing – where the wife was stained in Holy Sleep. This was interesting as I knew how critical the Amish normally are towards charismatic expressions. Catholics were definitely welcomed warmly. We saw at least some religious sisters…

Most of the classic elements of revival were represented: deep repentance; people confessing their sins and weeping over them; a supernatural desire for revival entered the crowd; a readiness for renewal and reformation. The potential was evident for launching a moral, social and even economic change beyond this pious experience – with the power to challenge society and the nation.

Everything was oriented on the students – the coming generation called into ministry according to the signs of their times. All were welcomed – but the young were particularly encouraged and served. Because of this “Generation Z” the faculty finally decided to close down the revival sessions at Asbury Campus – on the 12th day at midnight. One reason: the university had come to the borders of its capacity. The main reason: the revival may spread out into other campuses. Asbury should not become a sanctuary for pilgrimages.

Students from abroad should seek the presence of the Holy Spirit in their environment, believing that Asbury is just the start for a new season. God is again visiting America – and all other continents. He wants to strengthen a young army of believers who are rising to claim Christianity, the faith, as their own. As a young generation and as a free generation they need to get ready to face with God´s help what their future will bring.


Deacon Johannes Fichtenbauer

Member of CHARIS International Service of Communion

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