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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

He is doing it again

"Revive us, and we will call upon Your name. Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!"

Psalms 80:18-19

In 1940 James Edwin Orr, professor at Wheaton College, took some of his students on a short trip to England. There they visited the former Epworth Rectory, home of the family of John Wesley, the well-known preacher. Next to John Wesley's bed they found two small circles on the very worn carpet, a sign that his knees had been bent and they had prayed so much for the spiritual renewal of England. Before boarding the bus home, the professor noticed that a student was missing. He returned to the rectory, upstairs, inspected all the rooms until he found the young man kneeling in the bedroom on the signs, praying, "Do it again, Lord! Do it again!" The teacher laid his hand on the boy's shoulder and said, "Come on, Billy, we have to go". The student was Billy Graham, he was 22 years old.

These days videos are making the rounds of what is happening on the campus of Asbury University, a Christian school in Wilmore, Kentucky, that arose in the wake of Holiness Methodism. On Wednesday evening, Feb. 8, a prayer meeting was scheduled, during which about 100 people fell to their knees before the altar. Since then, the meeting has continued without interruption to this day-an outpouring of the Spirit that shows no sign of stopping and is attracting thousands of people from all over the United States. Asbury University is no stranger to events like this, as in 1970 a similar prayer and worship event took place across campus. Since everyone cannot get into the central venue, people are gathering in two other venues on campus, even making several hours of waiting before they can gain access. Some students who have been to Asbury have returned to their own schools starting worship and prayer gatherings in Tennessee, Indiana, and Ohio, and which are spreading like wildfire as the days go by.

The Spirit, blessed be the Lord, has continued to move through the centuries at His pleasure, for there has always been someone who, languishing from the sad condition of his age, has called for divine intervention, just like Asaph, the psalm singer. Thus was born the Pentecostal movement at the beginning of the last century. As a scholar, but also as a believer, I am following what is happening with keen interest. Beyond whether or not to call it a "revival," I notice something extraordinary and supernatural. It will, as always, be time that will manifest the fruits and posterity that will most appropriately define it all. For now, the testimonies and reports in the various news outlets are impressing me positively and, in a sense, confirming some of the things I have been pondering recently. First of all, I am among those who want to stay away from even the slightest temptation to glamorize what belongs to the Spirit, in the grip of the rampant delusion of inflaming communities with "weird" fire strategies to attract crowds interested only in the novelty or the "show" to beat the cash. In Asbury there is nothing striking, outside the lines, except a hunger for God. At least for now. This is what I perceive from a distance.

One note deserves the very "Gen Z" denigrated by so many, those same young people thought to be mommies or Social Addicts are the ones the Spirit is choosing and touching. The videos show students taking turns at the piano and guitar elevating songs that accompany a collective worship. No one is looking for performance, but letting themselves be led. Thus prayers, songs, testimonies, and Bible readings follow one another in spontaneity and simplicity, according to the order given by Paul to the Corinthians. No high-tech projection screens, just wooden pews filled with people in a fairly spartan venue. There are no dim lights or smoke devices. The Spirit has no need for spectacular effects. He is interested in hearts that worship in spirit and truth. Many of the participants say they were drawn to a spiritual presence they felt was present at the event, once there weeping, repentance, deliverance, joy, peace.

Certainly the more experienced are cautious, for history reminds us that manipulation and abuse are around every corner. Understandable and dutiful. Presumably, after the usual initial chatter of the allologists and defect seekers, the greatest danger will be the planetary triggering of a series of similar encounters, arising not so much out of a prompting of the Spirit as out of a desire for emulation. In our day, news travels very fast. Another danger I point out is the possibility of Asbury becoming a pilgrimage destination, as has happened in the past for other sites of spiritual revival events that later became "shrines" of memory. Let us not fall into the deception of the Samaritans, for "the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers willworship the Father inspiritand truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (John 4:23). And this was said by Someone we can trust.

Let us remember that the Spirit is sovereign and we should let Him act as He wills, for any forcing might drive Him away rather than bring Him closer. At the moment I allow myself to rejoice and be glad to see thousands of young people bowing before God, young people turning their backs on the fun, or pseudo fun, proposed to them by global society. I too have experienced, thanks be to God, wonderfully blessed moments in His presence, where everything else had no value or reason to exist, with no shame or compunction to worship Him. Whether awakened or not, what matters is that there are souls in need of Him who seek Him and find Him, for He is still doing it. Let us stand by and, above all, let us seek Him on our own, in family, in groups, in church, because "The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you" (2 Chronicles 15:2).


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan #09

February 20, Leviticus 26-27; Mark 2 February 21, Numbers 1-2; Mark 3:1-19 February 22, Numbers 3-4; Mark 3:20-35 February 23, Numbers 5-6; Mark 4:1-20 February 24, Numbers 7-8; Mark 4:21-41 February 25, Numbers 9-11; Mark 5:1-20 February 26, Numbers 12-14; Mark 5:21-43

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