After reading below, be sure to catch the updates at this post.
There’s a pretty rich history of rather spontaneous revival activity breaking out at Christian colleges. Asbury College has a history of several revivals, and I actually took a road trip to see the aftermath of one during the spring of 2006. Sixteen years ago, one particularly influential revival broke out at Howard Payne University in West Texas, spreading to places like Wheaton College, Southwestern Seminary, and Gordon College.
This past week, an exciting similar revival has been reported at Bethel College, a 2000-student Evangelical college in the Missionary Church denomination. The school is located in Mishawaka, IN, not far from South Bend (the home of Notre Dame) and some 100 miles from Chicago.
The Senior VP of Bethel, Dennis Engbrecht, sent the following email out to Missionary Churches on Wednesday (with links added where applicable):
You have probably already caught wind of what is taking place on Bethel’s campus via Twitter [official Twitter feed, mentions of Bethel on Twitter], Facebook, and the internet. Today the Lord showed up at chapel and it lasted 7.5 hours. Forgive me for not going into all of the details but we resume meeting at 9 PM tonight so I have but a few minutes to share what is transpiring.
Jeff Kling, a former Bethel student in the 1980’s, a young man who never came to Christ during his two years at Bethel, shared how God miraculously healed him of stage 4 cancer. His story has been widely covered by the media and has made the front page of at least three local newspapers in the past 12 months. Over the past year Jeff has been sharing openly his own conversion as a result of this miraculous healing. His testimony is powerful. Catch it on our website via the chapel archives.
However, how the Lord used Jeff’s testimony today is even more powerful.
I received a call three weeks ago from a former Bethel professor indicating that God was going to use Jeff Kling to bring revival to Bethel. Last night a small group of us met for prayer in the trustees board room. Today God did above and beyond what any of us could have expected…even though it was what we had and others have prayed for.
Bethel is in the midst of a revival.
Today for 7.5 hours we worshipped God in a way I have not witnessed at Bethel for 20 years. Students shared Scripture, confessed sin, repented, were filled with the Holy Spirit, testified to incredible transformations of lives, and texted friends, families, and home churches what God was doing. Unknown to us, the chapel was being viewed all across the United States…live. One person reported his father was listening to the service in Puerto Rico for hours. People from the community started coming into chapel in the afternoon. Faculty and staff listening from their offices joined in and some became a part of the confession, repentance, and admonitions from the Lord. A former student from 1980 who had walked in darkness for 20 years after she graduated saw from her insurance agency office on Face book that “Revival is at Bethel!” and drove over to share her testimony. A young man came to the stage about the 4th hour and said he had been at Bethel for 4 years and knew all about Jesus but still did not know Jesus. He prayed right there in front of the student body to receive Jesus into his life. The place erupted in euphoria. John Brummel, my intercessory prayer friend, came down to campus last night from north of Grand Rapids and prayed through the night for this service. I just had supper with him and we rejoiced at being able to witness the fruit of prayer and intercession.
There is so much more to share, so much more to come. This is just the beginning. God is raising up a generation of world changers for His Kingdom.
Please be in prayer. The enemy is not happy. Pray for wisdom, discernment, and follow through on the part of those who have been transformed. Pray that the revival would spread from the campus into the community, to the church, across the nation, overseas, and to the lost.
An update was sent out on Thursday:
Today we learned some interesting details. Normally there are 25-35 “hits” on our chapel services web site. Yesterday there were nearly 3000 hits. These came from nearly every state and 17 nations. Here are a few more interesting developments
- Last night a student who made a public confession in the 7 ½ hour chapel service shared with his youth group later that evening. As a result a number of young people came to a saving relationship with Christ.
- A Bethel coach indicated that his student athletes began meeting with him at 1:30 yesterday and this continued until 7:30 last evening, cancelling practice. When he got home there was a group of more student-athletes waiting for him wanting to talk about what had transpired yesterday in chapel.
- The repentance and confession that started in chapel yesterday continued late last night in residence halls across campus into the early hours of the morning.
- A pastor from Peoria, IL called Dr. Weakland to let her know that his church had been praying for revival at Bethel…at the exact time that chapel was going on.
- Another athletic team spontaneously met this morning at 7:30 AM for prayer and individual reconciliation.
- There is a student movement to pray through the week-end for the Lord to continue what began yesterday in chapel.
- There are preliminary plans developing to share individually as well as collectively in various locations over Spring Break in just over a week.
God is good.
One last note: I found one other note on the Bethel site that I really appreciated seeing. In the midst of all this, they seem to be recognizing the deep need to follow this exciting event with a process. They posted, “[W]e will be forming discipleship groups across campus as a way to follow up with students. Please pray for the faculty and staff who will step forward to lead these groups, and that the groups would help facilitate the healing work God wants to do on our campus.”