God’s Visit to a Two-Stoplight Town in Kentucky


Before It's News

Students gather for a revival at Asbury University.

“If you need to hear the voice of God — the Father in Heaven who will never love you that way, that is perfect in love, gentle and kind — you come up here and experience his love. Don’t waste this opportunity.” 

– Zach Meerkrebs

How many of us have wished after a long, tiring, hard day, that someone would comfort us in our worn-out state? Whether or not you believe in God, everyone needs someone to lean on. In some cases, that someone is God, and in others it is your family or friends. At Asbury University, people have found love not only in each other, but in God’s presence. 

In a generation marked by its lack of faith, students at Asbury University, a small Christian college in Wilmore, Kentucky, had been praying for a resurgence of faith in their age group. Meaning: a revival of faith that spreads through a community to unite everyone and bring peace. And boy, did these Asbury students get one. It all started on February 8, when Zach Meerkrebs stood up and gave an impromptu sermon about love. “Some of you guys have experienced radically poor love,” the volunteer soccer coach began as he went on to invite others to stand with him and share their stories; about love, about loss, and about struggle: whatever they needed to get off of their chests. Though he initially thought his speech was a “total [whiff],” his students were moved and lingered in the church. 

At first, there were only 18 students who stayed behind to pray. But soon, student after student began texting each other: “you need to come back to the chapel, something is happening.” And the next day, more and more students returned, to the point where the chapel was never empty. Everyone was praying around the clock, 24/7, and thus the “Asbury Revival” was born. But the idea of a revival was not new to Asbury. The last one happened at the college in 1970 and lasted for six days. According to Christianity.com, a revival is: “the product of all Christians praying and seeking the Holy Spirit’s presence. The product of a revival is the rejoicing for the one that was slipping away and now has been brought back to life.” A reconnection with the divine, a rejuvenation of the soul.

And as word spread locally and online about this unlikely event in Kentucky, similar around-the-clock prayer sessions began popping-up at other colleges all around the country including Lee University in Tennessee, Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH, and Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Many Asbury students have said that they have been hoping and praying for a resurgence of faith to awaken in their generation, and it looks like their dreams are coming true. Compared to previous generations, Gen Z is the generation where the largest group of people say that they are not religious, the least likely to attend church, and do not believe in God. All the while, rates of anxiety, severe depression and loneliness have never been higher.

A freshman at Asbury, Ava Miller, shared her thoughts on Gen Z and this remarkable event at her school, saying: “I can see and feel the heaviness of the people around me…You just feel that heaviness. As a believer, I’ve gotten to experience the freedom of getting to live in that hope, and I think hope is something that extinguishes that fire of darkness.” 

After the effects of Covid-19, people still continue to feel that isolation they felt during quarantine. Twenty-three year old Carter Hammond, another student at Asbury, remarked on the disease’s effects: “There’s just a lack of hope that seems to have been struck up with the younger generations. It just creates this environment that seems kind of desolate.”

Over the course of two weeks, 50,000 people (primarily between the ages of 18 and 35) traveled from as far away as Singapore to visit Asbury chapel just to stand next to strangers, hold hands, sing and pray together. But it’s not the type of praying we experience at our everyday chapel service. The sounds coming from inside Asbury chapel were similar to a concert as voices sang in unison to soft guitar and piano music. In between songs and prepared sermons, pastors handed the mics to teenagers and young adults who shared their stories of love, grief, and anxiety. And after every story, the crowd clapped and the community continued to grow. 

The school announced that, due to the overwhelming influx of people, which had flooded local restaurants, hotels and transportation services, they had to end the service after 13 continuous days. They encouraged worshippers to take their prayers with them and spread the message everywhere as travelers headed back to their homes. Garrett English, a witness from South Carolina, was moved by the immense faith he saw at Asbury, saying: “This right here, this is amazing. We are seeing college-age students fighting for other college students’ faith.”  And in the words of Craig Keener, a professor of biblical studies at nearby Asbury Theological Seminary: “Many of us were praying for revival for our university and seminary…we didn’t realize how many others were thirsty…”


By Sarah Lange ‘25, Staff Writer