There are moments in my life I will always remember. One was in 2010, when a normal medical appointment spiraled into a type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Another was when I decided to attend Asbury University, a small private Christian institution in Wilmore, Kentucky.
I am the daughter of a children’s minister and the director of admissions for various Christian colleges, but I didn’t commit to following Jesus until I was rebaptized in 2015. My faith guided me as I chose my college. I also felt that attending a smaller college would allow me to be more than a name on an attendance sheet. I would be seen not just for who I was at the time but also for who I wanted to become. Asbury was the perfect fit for me.
During my freshman year after I wrote an editorial about insulin prices for Asbury’s student newspaper, the university’s administration hired me to write two articles about the fiftieth anniversary of the 1970 Asbury revival. A revival is a gathering of Christians for an urgent reawakening of spiritual commitment to Jesus Christ. For 140 hours beginning on February 3, 1970, Asbury’s Hughes Auditorium was filled with the Holy Spirit as people prayed, sang, and read psalms—the event transformed hearts and lives forever.
As I recorded the testimonies of alumni who had participated in the 1970 revival, I never imagined that I would get to be part of a similar experience. Then February 8, 2023, happened. A normal chapel service, something we have three times a week, spontaneously turned into a spiritual revival as people began praying together around the clock. I experienced deep awe and joy throughout the revival—or the Outpouring, as we call it. As word spread of our revival, thousands of people flooded into our two-stoplight town. For sixteen days, lines wrapped around campus, and people filled the area around Hughes Auditorium.
At the time, I was the executive editor of the student newspaper. The sudden influx of readers during the Outpouring made our website repeatedly crash. Messages from local and national reporters bombarded my email. Everyone wanted to know what exactly God was doing at Asbury. Even now, I still don’t know how to answer such a question. I don’t know why God chose Asbury that day to move in the way He did.
I was not in the best frame of mind when the Outpouring began. I felt overwhelmed by anxieties about life after graduation. From the pandemic hitting during my freshman year to the severe academic burnout I experienced junior year, I had challenging experiences during college. Attending a Christian university didn’t mean I was immune to life’s hardships. But the Outpouring transformed my life and the life of Asbury University. Before February, there were many divisions on our campus. God used the Outpouring to bring us back together. Personally, I believe God created these experiences to prepare me for life as an adult. The Outpouring taught me about the voice God gave me and how He wants me to use it. Now, I can step into the postgraduate season unafraid, no matter what other moments the future may bring.
Photograph: Asbury University students and others gather in prayer during the February 2023 revival. (Alexandra Presta)