WILMORE, Ky. — A gathering of people at a small, central-Kentucky university has taken the nation and social media by storm.
Thousands of people from near and far have flocked to Asbury University in Wilmore to take part in what many have called a revival.
What started as a routine chapel session for Asbury University students has turned into a days long worship session of students, faculty and out-of-towners.
“It was a normal chapel service. There’s no other way to describe it,” said Asbury senior Alexandra Presta.
Presta attended her regularly scheduled chapel service last Wednesday. She said instead of leaving at their dismissal time, a group of students kept singing.
Now, this Thursday, Presta did not expect to see thousands of strangers braving the rain to pray and sing inside Hughes Auditorium.
“It’s been really powerful for us to not let these human divisions keep us apart and for us to continue coming together,” Presta said.
The continuous hours of prayer and reconciliation have attracted people of all ages from as near as Lexington and as far as Brazil, according to Asbury staff.
Bryce Balico is a college student in Philadelphia and drove 660 miles or nearly 10 and a half hours overnight to attend Thursday’s worship session.
“I saw it on social media the same day my friend David texted me,” Balico said.
Balico reunited with his high school friend, David who now attends Asbury University.
“We went to high school together in Pennsylvania, but my dad got a job here at the university,” David said.
The event was started by Gen Zers and has grown through the popular social media app for Gen Zers, TikTok and Instagram. Balico said he expected it to be a powerful gathering.
“We’ve been praying for revival in our city. That’s the goal of our campus ministry. When we see something like this happening here, the goal is to learn, to experience, receive from God hopefully and to see if there is anything we can take back to keep the fire going with us,” Balico said.
While Wilmore is not exactly a destination city, this isn’t the first time believers have flocked to Asbury to gather.
“In 1970 I graduated and the revival 53 years ago took place in the chapel here,” said retired preacher and Asbury alum, Bill Hart. “A guy I didn’t really know grabbed my arm and said you need to go to the chapel this morning. Something is going to happen, so there was that expectancy that was in the air.”
Hart drove nearly six and a half hours from Memphis and said his first experience was so powerful that he even gets emotional talking about it.
“When you’ve experienced it once, you want a taste again, and it’s something you can’t describe to anyone and we’re just grateful that God is doing it again and we know how needed this Nation is,” Hart said.
Asbury University staff said they have not been marketing or publicizing the event, but have a small webpage about it on their website.
While social media has fueled the event’s popularity, Presta said it’s deeper than that.
“It’s not about us, it’s not about Asbury, it’s about God and how he wants to move and he just chose this specific place with these people,” Presta said.
At the start, Hughes Auditorium was open 24/7, but it now closes at 1 a.m. and reopens the next day.
It is unknown how long people still plan on coming to Asbury University.
Wilmore is about a half hour south of Lexington.