Young people take part in National Collegiate Day of Prayer

February 24, 2023
By Alan Wild
WILMORE, Ky. – Kentucky United Methodist college students were among those who took part in the National Collegiate Day of Prayer on Thursday evening, Feb. 23 – including a sizable number at Asbury University as a 16-day spiritual revival dubbed by many the “outpouring” began to wind down.
The university opened Hughes Memorial Auditorium for ages 16-25 to take part in the previously scheduled national prayer event. The school has announced that the daily “outpouring” services that began spontaneously Feb. 8 after chapel and have taken place in Hughes will no longer be held, though regularly scheduled chapel services will continue to be livestreamed by the university on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“Regardless of how we choose to describe what we have seen and experienced over the last several weeks (revival, renewal, awakening, outpouring) – this movement is not finished,” university President Dr. Kevin Brown said on Asbury’s website. “Other colleges and churches are experiencing similar services. Rather, we are encouraging the continued movement of God through other people places, and ministries.”
The campus scene Thursday evening was quiet compared to the scene just over a week ago and for most of the previous two-plus weeks. As the 8 p.m. EST start time for the service drew near, about 50 people were lined up outside Hughes hoping to get inside the already-filled auditorium. A few other people were standing out front. Just to be safe, security personnel were checking people before they were allowed inside.
Asbury graduate Anna Lauren Jacobs, a member of Nicholasville UMC and first-year law student at the University of Kentucky, has helped out at the revival every day. She posted a five-minute video testimonial of her experience.
“The peace in that room was something no one could even dream of manufacturing,” she said in the video. “That just led to all of these beautiful moments. I’ve been blessed to come and volunteer and kind of step back into some of my old roles from when I was in school at Asbury. It’s been such a gift to reconnect with this community, to hold so many stories of providence that can only be explained by the work of God.”
She said in an interview before Thursday’s prayer service that the past two-plus weeks have been a sleep-deprived but blessed blur. She has been attending classes in Lexington during the day, then traveling to Wilmore for the revival and has spent several nights worshiping during the 24/7 revival. She has studied and catnapped during spare moments.
She happened to be in Wilmore having coffee with a friend on Feb. 8 when the revival broke out. She immediately joined as a participant and volunteer and has been amazed at the cases of water and boxes of pizza that have seemingly showed up from nowhere.
“It’s been beautiful,” she said. “I know I’ll be talking about this for the rest of my life.”
She said the next step for the thousands of people from around the world who have converged on Wilmore will be to follow the lesson from Acts 1 to witness to the world and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide them.
A group from Kentucky State University’s Wesley Foundation traveled from Frankfort to Wilmore for Thursday evening’s prayer service. For many, it was their second time in Wilmore since the revival began; they were blessed to help lead worship services Friday evening, Feb. 17 – including singing with Asbury’s gospel choir.
Arielle Edwards, a junior from Cincinnati, likened the atmosphere to an amusement park with Christ present. She said she knew that people could sense Jesus’ presence.
“I want to praise God tonight,” she said. “He’s been good to me.” She is a Christian from a very early age but was baptized this year and is in the process of reading through the Bible. She credits her late father for helping to foster her faith and said that since he passed, “God has filled that void in my life.”
Kaleb Cunningham, a sophomore from Louisville, said that the prayer service and the wider experience at Asbury can be used to help people who are struggling. He and Edwards cited familiar concerns with young people today – anxiety, depression, loneliness, to name a few – and they said that they can use some of the practices they have learned at the outpouring to help spread the Good News at their school.
Rev. Casey Neely, whose wife, Jessica, is the Kentucky State Wesley Foundation director, said KSU got a jump on the spirit of the revival during “Jesus Week” held recently on the predominantly African-American campus. United Methodists, Baptists and Pentecostals came together to worship. The Holy Spirit was at work.
The Asbury experience has helped to amplify that presence – as Cunningham said, to “be the light” to shine forth from the Kentucky State hill.
Other campus events
Wesley Foundations and college ministries at several Kentucky universities also marked the National Collegiate Day of Prayer on their respective campuses. Among them:
  • At Eastern Kentucky University, several campus ministries have been hosting events this week, said Rev. Brandon McGinnis, who directs the EKU Wesley Foundation. A campuswide worship service was held Monday evening, and Thursday evening’s prayer service was broadcast at one of the campus auditoriums, he said.
  • At Morehead State University, the Methodist Student Center planned a time of extended prayer and worship following the group’s normal Thursday night Bible study, said Rev. Drew McNeill, the Wesley Foundation campus minister.
  • Lindsey Wilson College scheduled a full day of prayer and worship in the university chapel. Students, faculty, staff and community churches participated said Rev. Dr. Ben Martin, campus chaplain.
  • At Georgetown College, multiple ministries partnered around the national prayer event, said Rev. Bryan Langlands, campus minister. The school livestreamed the event from Asbury for much of the two hours and also had a time of in-person prayer during the event.
  • Kentucky Wesleyan College scheduled an hour-by-hour prayer outline, said Rev. Shawn Tomes, vice president of mission and culture. Faculty, staff and students were given the opportunity to pray in unity at locations across the campus, he said.

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