NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 14:29
For the past ten days, prayers, singing and preaching have been going on 24 hours a day at a university church in the US state of Kentucky. After some students lingered after a morning service at Asbury University church on February 8, a spontaneous prayer marathon ensued. Thousands of people are now participating.
The campaign is also very popular on social media such as Twitter and TikTok. There, the hashtag #asburyrevival has already been viewed fifty million times. The term revival refers to a revival of Christianity. Many American Christians hope that this action could be the beginning of such a religious blossoming among young people.
The church has now been open every hour of the day for ten days and attracts worshipers from all over the country. To be able to offer everyone a place, other churches and chapels around the university have now also opened their doors.
Christian influencers also say they hope for a religious revival, such as conservative podcaster Graham Allen on Twitter. “There’s a revival going on. GOD IS NOT DEAD!” In addition, he posted a video of the long queues that have formed in front of the church:
These types of spontaneous faith events are not unique in a predominantly white and conservative state like Kentucky, but the size and duration of the current service is.
For many in attendance at the university, these actions feel like a last straw as Christianity continues to lose ground in American society. According to a report by the authoritative Pew Research Center from September last year, the percentage of Christians in the US has fallen sharply. While thirty years ago ninety percent of the population was Christian, in 2020 that was only sixty percent.
The researchers also make a number of predictions. In none of their scenarios is the number of Christians growing. However, the report does have a striking caveat, because according to the institute, catastrophic events such as wars, natural disasters and economic crises can still potentially turn the tide.
That turnaround is exactly what marathon service participants are now hoping for. Student council president Alison Perfater told Fox News that “this young generation is being touched by so much that the Holy Spirit has decided to step in.” She also referred to the many shootings at American universities, such as earlier this week in the state of Michigan, where three people were killed.
Encouraging for these believers is that the number of American students in Christian schools has increased by 12 percent during the corona pandemic. This was preceded by a years-long decline. During the pandemic, online education made it much easier for parents to see what their child was learning at school. Public school lessons about diversity displeased a conservative section of them. They now divert to Christian schools, which often avoid these themes.
In the 1960s and 1970s there was also much to be said about growing Christian education. At the time, many young people switched schools because their parents did not agree with the admission of black children to traditionally white schools. During that period, the popularity of revival campaigns grew, even then with Asbury University as the epicenter. In 1970, the same spontaneous prayer marathon also gripped the university.
The hopes of a religious revival then seem to have been in vain, if you look at the figures of the Pew Research Center. Whether that will be different, the future will show, but the current students can be satisfied with one thing: where their predecessors lasted 185 hours non-stop, they are already at 237 hours at the time of writing. And there is no end in sight for now.
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