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  • Writer's pictureStacy

What I Experienced at Asbury

Waves of faith


I had to go to Asbury. Something out of the ordinary was happening there.


I experience the presence, voice, and movement of God in ways that I am familiar with. I believe this comes from spending a lot of time with Him daily, which has become something I long for so deeply that I feel I can no longer live without it. I recognize His movement, prodding, voice, and nature in ways I never knew before. As I approached the year 2023, I searched for my “word”, theme, focus, or whatever you want to call it for the upcoming year. In this search it became increasingly clear that my focus in 2023 would be the deepening of my intimacy with God into places unfamiliar to me and possibly uncomfortable to the world. I don’t care what it looks like to others. He is God. He is all that matters. He is a gold medal and everything else is the equivalent of a bubble gum machine sticker.


So I watched what was unfolding at Asbury. I investigated, questioned, doubted, hoped, and eventually experienced the Holy Spirit moving in me through what I was watching on a screen from 461 miles away. Then I checked how long it would take to get there. As I continued to watch from afar, my faith began to swell. I guess the same was happening in others, because it got too big for the small town of Wilmore, Kentucky to handle. When I saw the thousands and heard of shut downs and 4 hour lines, I backed off. I’d never get in. They’ll shut it down. The lines are too long. It’s too far away. Where would I stay? Then around 10:15 on Saturday night, I knew I just had to try. If God was manifesting His presence in a way I haven’t personally experienced before, in a location that was within driving distance, I knew I would live in deep regret if I didn’t at least try to get there. I believe this Asbury revival will be remembered as one of the most powerful and significant spiritual events in history, and I knew I had to get there. Yes, I fully understand that we can experience God anywhere. I encounter Him often. But something out of the ordinary was clearly happening at Asbury. Zacchaeus could have prayed to God in his home, but he knew that something special was happening that day on that Jericho road, and he had to do whatever it took to experience it, even if he had to look foolish doing it. I told my wife how I felt. And as she always does, she assured me that everything was taken care of at home. She has never added obstacles when I’ve felt conviction to do something that might not make complete sense on paper. She eased whatever logistical concerns I had, and effectively paved the road before me. I thought of this often over the next 31 hours. Still do.


I left just before 6 am and arrived at 1:20 pm local time on Sunday, February 19. I knew that this would be the last day that evening services would be open to the public. The drive was spent in contemplation and prayer. The last hour was worship music. I was directed to a field about half a mile away for parking. My truck was one of hundreds of vehicles in this newly opened field. My objective was to get to the back of the general public line as quickly as possible, and get into the building, no matter how long it took. Most people said it would be around a 4-5 hour wait in line. One of the volunteers came around encouraging people to go to one of the alternate sites or chapels that was livestreaming the event. She said it would likely be six hours to get in from where we were. She was wrong. It was seven. I got in line at 1:30 pm and entered the building just after 8:30 pm. But in that time I witnessed an amazing outpouring of love, testimony, intercessory prayer, kindness, community, praise, and joy. Everyone spoke to each other. Everyone shared with each other. Police officers gently guided traffic, directed visitors, and intercepted passes in spontaneous 8 year old football games. Volunteers walked the lines freely giving water, whole pizzas, sandwiches, snacks, encouragement, and prayer. There were trucks with coffee, water, snacks, hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches, and tacos. All free. Buildings were available for restroom use and there were multiple locations with porta potties. The people of the university, the town, and the support volunteers simply gave and loved. The guy handing out free tacos at the taco truck for hours on end looked at me and spoke to me with some of the most holy love I’ve ever known, as if I was the only person on the campus and his only job was to make me feel loved. The tacos were amazing as well. Other than the fatigue that comes from staying on your feet for so long in line, there was no need that these people didn’t fill. I experienced the presence and love of God in ways I will never forget in the 7-hour wait to enter Hughes Auditorium. And I met Nikki, Deborah, and Brayden. Nikki works in a recovery facility. She was an addict delivered not only from her multi-decade addiction six years ago, but from demons who had also physically crippled her. Her sin was great. Her healing and salvation were greater. On Sunday, she stood up straight all day with light beaming from her smile, praise for God, encouragement for others, and a story that will shake your boots. I met Chris. He was a badged prayer leader walking the grounds. Chris was once a movie producer for some of the most well-known films of the day. He now does kingdom work, has a prophetic gift, prays healing, and came to Asbury just to volunteer and pray with people. I met a couple from Louisiana, another from West Virginia, another from Ohio. I met people who I didn’t catch their names or where they were from, but they were filled with light and stories of God’s love. I saw every age, ethnic background, and faith background. I saw the lost and I saw the found. I saw pockets of spontaneous faith, prayer, and compassion. I even saw the enemy of God a couple of times. He knew he had no power there and his presence was immediately rendered ineffective. You could see his discomfort.


I had people pray over me four different times that day. The first one was in the afternoon with Chris, the producer/healer. The second was in the evening with a gentleman from Billy Graham Ministries who had come by to visit with us like they had done with everyone else in line. About half an hour after speaking with him, he came back and tapped me on the shoulder asking if he could pray for me. God had convicted him, he sought me out, and it was powerful for me. The third was at the altar inside Hughes Auditorium, in the very center, while the entire place was in loud and powerful worship. We’ll get to that. The fourth was as I was about to leave Hughes Auditorium.


I was the only one in my “line family” that was there alone. When you spend 7 hours together, you become a little family. As we got close, the folks at the top of the stairs pulled me forward because single seats were easier to find. I hugged my group and walked in. They sent me to the balcony to find my seat. When I walked into the balcony, the people in the auditorium were nearing the end of a worship song (it was beautiful) that eventually transitioned into the whole auditorium chanting “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” in a way that rivaled the arena chanting “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky!” in Rocky 1. This was all taking place at 8:40 pm in a service that began at 2 pm that day, but that was on its 11th straight day. The energy in the auditorium was unreal.


I spent 2½ hours in Hughes Auditorium in prayer and worship. The worship music was led by students who filled the stage. There were probably 60-70 Asbury students on stage who led worship. We heard three speakers while I was inside, each were faculty members. I had tried to temper my expectations on the drive, but I absolutely explored about 7,000 possibilities of what I would experience at Asbury, most of it was a different version of nothing. It’s a “gift” I wish I didn’t have.


God spoke to me at Asbury, but not in a supernatural experience in Hughes Auditorium during the service. The presence of God was not something I encountered upon entering the building or saw physically manifest itself. What I encountered was people gathered in faith, committed to praising God and praying in an atmosphere thick with prayer and praise. For me, the presence of God was not something that could be instantly felt physiologically or photographed or supernaturally experienced while I was participating in the service. I sought God and His direction during the service. What I did see and feel during the service was spontaneous pockets of faith building in various sections of the crowd that would spread through the room. As someone who prides themselves on having a frequent posture of critical thinking in emotional situations, but also being a person of faith, this wasn’t emotionalism. It was real. It was a welling up of faith in the room. It happened outside too, but not to this degree. It was God sparking something in a person that would then spread to their neighbors, then to most of, if not the entire room. I say this because there were several instances of what appeared to be people trying to manufacture the same response in the crowd that went nowhere. These were waves of faith. It’s the best way I can describe it. And there were times when the students would be playing a worship song, then the crowd would somehow take the song over such that the student musicians would just try to follow along. I’ve never seen that before. The words would get changed and before you knew it everyone would be singing something no one was leading. And it was loud. And it was powerful. And you could feel The Presence. It was a wave of faith.


After the third speaker during the time I was there, I knew I had to go get prayer at the altar. I had experienced waves of faith, but no supernatural physical manifestation of the presence of God. Still, I knew I had to go to the altar. I located an exit in the balcony that looked like it would spit me out near the front of the main level. Once you’re in the building, you can move around freely, go to the restrooms, etc. It’s just getting in that’s the challenge. Anyway, sure enough the stairs led me past a security guy near a side door, then to a door that went right onto the floor by the stage. I went through and was back in the room during powerful musical worship. The floor environment was alive in a different way. I wished I had been there the whole time. I grabbed a couple of photos to document it, then looked for an open prayer leader at the altar. One was available and I was next. He was a little older than me and happened to be seated in the very center. We shared with each other for a few minutes like we would if we were having coffee. He had a powerful backstory and a deliverance of his own. His eyes looked at me in wonder and amazement (and maybe a little bit of bafflement) when he spoke of what was happening in this place. I knew what God was telling me and I shared it with him at that time. And as the dozens of students on stage directly in front of me, and the 1,500 worshipers behind me were singing in a heightened, united, loud, and powerful wave of faith and praise, he and I prayed. And I physically shook. It was more like a tremble you would have if you had been cold for a long time, but I wasn’t cold. I had been inside with my jacket on for over 2 hours. I was in the absolute center of a wave of faith, and I knew the prayer was heard. The prayer was a couple of minutes long, and I hugged him before I left. The Holy Spirit was there and it was unmistakable. I made my way to the back of the main level of the auditorium. I looked back a couple of times to see if there was an open seat, but I knew it was late and I probably needed to figure out how and when I’d get home. When I got to the back, I stopped. There was a guy standing by the door as a volunteer. I expected him to ask me to keep the door clear but he didn’t. I thanked him for what he was doing. He just smiled at me, put his hand on my back and began praying for me. He didn’t know anything about me, nor did he realize it, but he prayed the same very specific prayer that Chris, the Billy Graham volunteer, and the guy at the altar had also prayed over me. It wasn’t generic. It was for me. And it was God. And God spoke to me through all of it. I stuck around for a minute to get a last photo or two, and thought seriously about jumping back into a seat on the floor, but it was after 11 pm, I had no place to stay nor did I have a plan, and there was still a long line of people waiting outside to get in that could use the spot.


I grabbed a few free snacks for the road they had available right in the lobby (I hadn’t had any dinner and they seemed to think of everything). It was after 11 pm on day eleven and the student volunteers giving out food were still smiling, and were just as generous and kind as if it had just started. I made my way in the dark to the field where I left my truck with hundreds of others some ten hours before. When I found it, she was all alone. Though there were still hundreds trying to get into Hughes, I was the last to leave that field. It’s likely that the folks that were still there had to park even further away. I got in and called Allison. I was exhausted but had been filled with God’s word to me. I told her I might be able to make it home, but it would be about 5 am. She told me she wanted to hear all about it, but that she was booking me a hotel room first so that I could sleep and make the drive refreshed the next day. She didn’t care about the money or my protests, just me. She called back after I was taken care of. I told her everything, thanked her for loving me, and let her get to sleep. I processed a bit of what had happened while I was driving, then spent the night in Bowling Green, Kentucky where she had called ahead to make sure they knew I was coming. None of this happens without her goodness and my gratitude for her only increased. The next day I finished the drive, not in contemplative silence, but in deep prayer, then in worship with very loud music and praise. The experience was complete.


I didn’t experience God the way I thought I might. I had also feared I would have no Holy Spirit experience. As usual, God’s ways are not our ways. God spoke to me that day, but it wasn’t in a single moment. It was in the whole experience that culminated in the last moments in Hughes. God’s words to me are highly personal and risky. They’ve been shaping up for several weeks now, but I needed Asbury for them to become clearer. I am changed by my Asbury experience in ways that I didn't see happening while I was there, even while sitting in Hughes. God is walking me into depths with Him that are aligned with my prayers, and the focus I believe He gave me heading into 2023. Asbury was essential for me, and I am thankful for the gift of being there.


I’ll share photos I took in a later post. They’ll sync up with the story. If you have questions about any of this, please know that I’m happy to listen and share what I know and have experienced. I won’t try to talk you into or out of anything. I’ll just listen and help where I can. Send me a direct message and we’ll take it from there. No strings attached. And if this awakening/revival continues, whether at Asbury or elsewhere, and you feel a tug to check it out, just go. If God is moving you, your only regrets will come if you don’t try.


God Bless,


Stacy


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