WILMORE, Ky. – The Asbury University Christian revival may be winding down. Still, students continue to express their love of God, praying, worshiping and telling stories about how the outpouring forever changed the lives of many on the small Kentucky campus.
One such story was told on Thursday, during the university’s Collegiate Day of Prayer, an evening service mainly composed of those 25 and younger. The event served as a fitting bookend to two weeks of travelers coming from across the world to participate in the prayer services occurring within Hughes Auditorium in Wilmore.
One senior, Gracie Turner, admitted that she did not initially partake in prayer services like other students. In fact, Turner had not been a practicing Christian for years.
Growing up, she recalled attending church with her family in the countryside. She liked going to church, and she was passionate about it. Sometimes she would get up and share testimonies or scripture with the room.
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Gracie Turner at Asbury University, February 23, 2023. (Nikolas Lanum/Fox News Digital)
But then her faith was rocked when her beloved great-grandmother died of cancer in 2019. Something had broken in the family unit, and fighting and turmoil ensued with her death.
“I had to witness my great grandma, who I love dearly, I witnessed just her being taken away from us,” Turner said.
That happened one month before Turner came to Asbury.
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Inside of Hughes Auditorium at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. (Nikolas Lanum/Fox News)
“I was always so excited to come, but everything here dealt with religion. And at that time, the only person I could think of who to blame for my anxiety, depression, sadness, was God,” she said solemnly. “I really resented Him.”
She cried every day and was homesick. Asbury would frequently throw around the word “community,” but Turner truly believed she was never going to find a community of her own.
“I came to Asbury and the only time I would pray to Him, I would just say, ‘God, it would be really nice if you just didn’t wake me up in the morning,'” Turner said.
For three years she wanted nothing to do with religion. When others prayed during Chapel, she simply sat with her head up. There was no singing from Turner, no worship or really sound at all.
On the first day of the revival this month, Turner recalled the Chapel felt different, but it also felt kind of like the mandatory Chapel students do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She noticed some people staying after and considered staying herself, but she had classes and physical therapy.
At the therapy, Turner began to cry and told her trainer about her worsening mental health. She had recently sustained an injury and felt she was at her breaking point. At that moment, she received a text from her friend.
“Come to Hughes…something is happening,” it read.
She thought nothing of it but walked into the auditorium to see people crying, laying across one another, worshiping and praying en masse.
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Students and young adults sing and pray at Asbury University on the Collegiate Day of Prayer. (Nikolas Lanum/Fox News)
Sitting in the back, Turner found something that day. It began with tears and, eventually, a prayer. Turner cried and started to pray. For the first time in years, she spoke to God and God spoke to her.
“It felt like God was telling me this is what you’ve been missing,” she said.
Turner slumped down in her seat and finally felt she could relax. Turner felt peace. More than that, Turner had found what she never thought she would: Community.
Several days later, she awoke with revival on her mind. Again, she cried, worshiped and prayed inside the glow of the auditorium. Time passed quickly and after a while, Turner realized she had been there for five hours.
At one point, those on stage asked if people wanted to share their testimonies.
“I am not the biggest public speaker. I hate being on camera,” Turner admitted. “I hate talking in front of people. Even if it’s just one person. But I felt like God was telling me you need to get up.”
Slowly, she walked up to the front of the room to the podium as 1,000 faces unrecognizable to her watched.
“For the longest time, I had resented God. I wasn’t a believer. And I just kept thinking all these people are going to hate me. Because they’re all here for God and I’m getting up here telling my story,” she said.
But as soon as Turner finished her testimony, the crowd began praying over her, hugging and crying. People reached out to grab her arms as she walked back to her seat.
“People were telling me you don’t know how many people you saved with that testimony,” Turner added.
The event caused Turner to think differently. It made her realize that you can be vulnerable amid the loneliness, isolation and sadness. For Turner, telling people how she had been feeling the past three years felt good.
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The front of Hughes Auditorium at Asbury University during the final day of the Christian revival. (Nikolas Lanum/Fox News)
On Friday the following week, her cousin drove up from Tennessee for the revival. He didn’t recall that she had gone to the school, but perhaps that was part of God’s plan. She told him she didn’t know if she was going in but eventually found herself walking into the auditorium and sitting right by the stage.
Rev. Zach Meerkreebs began asking, “If anyone wants to repent and come back to God, now is the time to do so.”
Turner stood up immediately as she felt something or someone pulling her up without actually touching her. She realized she had been the first person to stand. People began clapping and several others stood up as well.
Her cousin walked up and grabbed her hand. They began walking to the altar. She repented. Throughout the revival, Turner was also baptized.
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“I feel so much better. I feel like I’m at peace now. I feel like my anxiety and depression is so much better because now I can talk to God and give it all to him,” Turner said. “I realized that I’m not alone and for the past three years, I felt like I was alone. And I just know that he’s behind me.”
But, like many of her peers, Turner cautioned against the idea of tying the power of faith to the glass-pained windows of Hughes Auditorium or cobblestoned walkways of Asbury University. For seniors like her, it is time to take up jobs and careers and hope that the small town’s story inspires revivals in other college campuses and parts of the world.
“This isn’t about Asbury,” Turner said. “This isn’t about Hughes. This is about God working and transforming lives. I mean, he transformed mine.”
Nikolas Lanum is an associate editor for Fox News Digital.