Sometimes the President of an institution is the last to know things. I may have been the last to realize that something was stirring in our student body in the last few months. Prayer meetings were breaking out. Sins were being confessed. Reconciliation was taking place. The renewing winds of the Holy Spirit are definitely blowing through the campus of Asbury Theological Seminary. I began to sense it in my own life. On March 30 I took a step and drove to Stanford, KY and spent that day and half of the next day in prayer with a few other believers. It was a renewing time. When I returned from Stanford I began to notice even more signs of God’s renewal and presence on our campus. Then a few weeks later, those of us in leadership began to sense the need for a more dramatic acknowledgement of God’s work in our midst.
We eventually decided that we needed to shut the entire seminary down for a day of prayer and fasting. That happened this past Monday, April 25th. It was disruptive for all of us to clear our schedules. We all had meetings; students had classes; there was much work to be done. The Board of Trustee meetings were just days away. But a deeper voice told us all that there was another work to be done, the work of prayer. It was wonderful to see how a disruptive thing like “cancel all your meetings and classes” turned into disruptive grace! It inserted space for something else which we needed even more. We needed Jesus. We needed His Presence.
It was a beautiful day in every way. The sky was blue and much of the day of prayer happened outside. We had an opening session in Estes Chapel (the day of Prayer was also extended to the Florida-Dunnam campus and to our Memphis campus) and various break-out sessions. We had a public praying and private travailing. We ended the day in the main quad with an amazing time of worship, prayer and Eucharist. Then, we all went into the dining hall and broke fast together. It was truly an amazing day. The sense of God’s presence continues and we believe that God is preparing us spiritually for the challenges which the church faces.
I have many memories of the day, but let me share just one. At one point I looked up and there in front of me was a student, a trustee, a staff member, a faculty member and an administrator all on their knees before God. They were not even aware of one another. It symbolized the day for me. On Monday, April 25th we were not students and faculty. We were not administrators and trustees. We were not full time staff and student workers. We were all sinners in the presence of the God of grace and glory who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God!