Sunny Side of The Stream: I Traveled to Baylor University to Taste What God is Doing There
Thursday night Asbury University was the host site for the Collegiate Day of Prayer, a role they planned to take long before the start of the move of God that started there in early February.
I wanted to watch the livestream from one of the many college campuses that would be livestreaming the event. This night marked Asbury University’s last “official revival service” on campus in their Hughes auditorium. A momentous transition following a momentous two weeks. These two weeks have brought many people from around the nation and the world to Asbury and sparked worship in other places. What will happen next?
I wanted to see how the movement is spreading. Students had gathered to pray at Baylor on Sunday, Feb. 19:
— Paul Worcester (@PaulWorcester) February 20, 2023
I learned from Kara O’Connell, the Baptist Student Ministries coordinator at Baylor, that Baylor students have met in a chapel on campus to pray nightly all week since then. A Baylor University staff member had her call me and she let me know where on campus I could find the livestream. So I made the trip to Waco.
In Baylor’s Bobo Spiritual Life Center I found of group of close to 40 or more students gathered. While there I was often engaged in conversation or group prayer, but re-watching the broadcast on YouTube, I see Asbury University President Kevin Brown gave a speech to provide context of what God has recently done. He said students from over 200 colleges and universities came to Asbury. “And I just want to say: This was not planned,” Brown said, to laughter. He added: “It has been a nameless, title-less movement.” He said this meeting would continue that way. And it did. He wasn’t introduced, and he didn’t introduced himself.
Also, unintroduced, Thai Lam, executive director of Luke18 Project, a ministry that encourages prayer on college campuses for the sake of revival, explained that this was the 200th anniversary of the Collegiate Day of Prayer. He said it started in 1823 during the Second Great Awakening. Lam explained that during that awakening, students going to college in New England would come into campus not knowing God very well, and leave with whole-hearted pursuit of God, launching into ministry and missions. The Collegiate Day of Prayer was a united effort to ask God to do that again for the next generation. “Today, we’re standing in the wake of 200-year-old prayers,” Lam said. He added, “I believe that there’s a divine invitation for us to pray the same prayer: ‘Father, do it again.'”
“This is the Beginning”
Also unintroduced, Asbury’s student body president Alison Perfater said “hundreds have come to know Christ for the first time, and thousands have come to recommit their lives and their hearts to the Christian faith.” She said this wasn’t the result of Asbury itself being remarkably spiritual, “but the Spirit has descended upon us because He wanted to.”
“Some of you might be thinking this is like the grand finale or … the last night of revival, but I just want to encourage you to think again, because … this is the beginning,” Perfater said. She added:
While this revival has been a ridiculously unique experience, I just also want to say that … this is the reality of our lives as believers and … this is Christians being Christians. And so, I welcome you to this collegiate night of prayer. I welcome you to the last official service of this revival, but I welcome you to the rest of our lives abiding in Christ.
Servers Crash After People are Invited to Sign Up Online to Adopt a Campus to Pray For
Lam later spoke again and encouraged people to go to collegiatedayofprayer.org to “adopt” a campus to pray for. Before the event started, all 4,196 American college campuses listed on the site had been adopted. But he nonetheless encourages students and anyone watching to adopt a campus close to them and commit to pray for it for the next year. I thought of the college near me. What would happen if, inspired by what God has begun to do at Asbury and other campuses already, many more believers began interceding for campuses near them?
Later, Lam announced that the websites’ servers had crashed. Praise God. I hope it was not just because of all the people watching the livestream but also because of all the people signing up to commit to pray for God to move on college campuses near them.
During the meeting there were times of individual and group prayer: Thanking God. Getting on our knees to either turn away from sin, pray for others to come to God, or to personally repent and believe in Jesus. Praying in groups for God to move on our campuses. Laying hands on each other and commissioning each other to share the Gospel with others.
Joining Students in Discussing the Gospel
After the livestream, I saw two students discussing how to share the Gospel. I joined in. We looked at scripture, like Acts 2, where Peter shares the Gospel, and I think we each came away blessed. I have never had such an engaging conversation with strangers about scripture and how to share the Gospel.
We talked about baptism as well, as part of the response to the Gospel. In reading scripture together, I discovered that Peter in his two epistles talks about Noah’s flood both as an image of baptism, (the old, disobedient self dies and we become new creations) and an image of the Day of the Lord (God judges the antichrist, the wickedness of the earth and those who oppose God; many die; Death and Hell are cast into the Lake of Fire; God cleanses the earth of evil and renews Heaven and earth and makes the world as it should be, where there is no more death nor pain nor sorrow and all things are new, including our bodies, which will be glorified; and those people who belong to Jesus will reign on earth with Jesus and know Him face-to-face). Why hasn’t God made the world free from evil, as it should be, yet? He’s patient, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance, Peter says.
If God made all things right, right now, many would be swept away and not make it to the new creation. In the midst of the evil of this world, God is giving people a chance to turn to Him, to become new creations themselves so we can inherit the new creation — when a literal Kingdom from Heaven comes to earth and Jesus reigns from Jerusalem. I believe these two applications of Noah’s Flood that Peter gives us in 1 Peter 3:18-23 and 2 Peter 3:3-9 paint a clear image of what the Gospel looks like, both personally and globally. There’s death and there’s new creation in both cases. The time is now to make ourselves ready for that Day and live wholeheartedly for God as new creations in Christ.
Worship in the Chapel and Unity Through the Holy Spirit
Later that night I found well over a dozen students gathered in the beautiful Elliston Chapel: one played piano and others sang. I spoke there with one young woman, a senior nursing student. She told me she’d been to Asbury to experience what God was doing there. She told me that this night, as we were gathered, she sensed a particularly sweet presence of God in the chapel. We prayed together.
Worship Thursday night in Elliston Chapel @Baylor. This was taken at 11:28 p.m. I left close to midnight and it was still going. I was told worship in the chapel had been going late into the night for the past week: I heard 3 and 4 a.m. mentioned. pic.twitter.com/WM6FBQnEOT
— Aliya Kuykendall (@AliyaKuykendall) February 25, 2023
I found that the ladies I prayed with that evening, and I myself, we were all very vulnerable with each other, even as strangers. We all wanted more of God, to be genuine, to love Him. The unity and concern for one another brought near-instant trust and intimacy. The mutual trust was tangible beyond our vulnerable prayer requests and confessions: Though we had only just met, that night I slept at Klara’s house. She said she knew we were strangers, but she trusted me. I trusted her too.
Unity, hospitality, confession of sin, worship, prayer, intercession, Bible study, discussion of the Gospel, hunger for God: this is what I saw and experienced on my trip to Baylor. I hope and pray that what we saw at Asbury was in fact the beginning. As prayers continue to arise for a move of God to save the next generation, our nation and the world, I believe God will continue to answer our corporate cries.