(NewsNation) — Kentucky’s Asbury University ended a two-week marathon worship session after thousands flocked from around the world to be part of the historic “revival” service.
“We live in a digital age and things tend to go viral. This was trending on Instagram and TikTok,” said Andrew Chew, who traveled to Kentucky from Australia.
The term “revival,” as understood by many denominations of the Christian church, refers to worship meetings in which participants experience a “revival” of spiritual energy. The two main purposes of a revival meeting are to revitalize the spiritual life of the church’s members and to gain new followers.
What started Feb. 8 as an impromptu prayer session at the university chapel after morning prayers quickly swelled into a multiday, nonstop revival drawing thousands of people.
“After church, spur of the moment. We had like an hour to get this put together, get in the car and get on the road. Why? For Jesus! Just to be a part of it,” said a member of a group of five women from Pike County, Illinois.
The gathering is far bigger than the 1970 Asbury revival, when social media didn’t exist.
The extraordinary event has disrupted campus life at the Christian university and while leaders have been working to stem the flow of people, hundreds are still coming to be part of the service.
“When I look at what has happened over the last couple of weeks, whether or not this is a revival, a renewal, an outpouring, an awakening, I do not know,” said Asbury University president Dr. Kevin Brown.
The Asbury revival has sparked similar movements at other colleges, including Alabama’s Samford University, where a marathon worship service began spontaneously.
“It was just pure, like authenticity and people just raising their hands and in effect, like being redeemed,” said Samford University student Noah Martin.
At Samford, communications director Abby Laub believes the movement has come at the perfect time.
“If you look at what’s going on in the world, especially with Gen Z, you know, rates of mental health, and issues and depression and suicides, they’re never higher than they’ve been. And that’s tragic,” Laub said.
At Asbury, four alternate chapels and locations are handling spillover worshippers. Though the marathon worship service ended Sunday, limited public services will be offered through Wednesday.
Joanna Isaac, a worshipper who traveled from Pittsburgh, says, “It’s given us so much hope. And we want to come and witness that hope and see the answer to our prayers in person.”