April 21, 2023
On February 8, 2023, Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, experienced a unique outpouring of the Spirit of God
by Hannah Castro
I recently sat down with Zach Meerkreebs, formerly with Envision, to talk about his experience at the Asbury Outpouring.
Can you give us a brief overview of how the outpouring began?
I was guest chapel speaker at Asbury University on February 8, 2023, and I preached on Romans 12:9–21. At the end of my time, I challenged the students to stay if they wanted to experience God’s love and be filled with the Spirit. I prayed a simple prayer, that wasn’t planned, that God would renew us by His love.
There were 19 students that stayed and contended, and then an hour or two later, people were coming back into the chapel. By that night, the chapel was filled with worshiping, primarily with Asbury University students and Asbury Seminary students. Then, over the following 16 days, there was an estimated 160,000 people that came through—at one point, we had 21,000 people in Wilmore [Kentucky] to the point that they had to shut down the city.
We saw tons of salvations, reconciliation, freedom, physical healings, mental health healings, spontaneous radical generosity. For 16 days we experienced an accelerated, intensified outpouring of God.
Speak into the involvement of people from around the world.
During that time, we saw 37 other colleges come on campus and heard of 17 other campuses that had some sort of prolonged awakening outpouring moment that then sent missionaries to other campuses. Cedarville was an example that sent missionaries to three campuses that experienced similar outpouring. Pete Greig, who leads 24/7 Prayer International, uses this language of it was like a popcorn effect—that the first pop was at Asbury, and it was like this flashpoint, but now it’s popping up in different places.
London has seen a prolonged move or outpouring of God. Uganda is still worshiping in a stadium. Nepal went for three weeks and sent missionaries to as many villages in the Himalayas. Southeast Asia, Berlin, and other places around the nation have seen a renewed desire to linger and have had conviction around leadership.
A podcast I was recently listening to said that the Asbury Outpouring was so clearly led and contended for by the Gen Z generation, and it was really cool because they said it was analog. It was analog and unproduced for a generation that’s distracted by electronic screens. It was led by faceless, nameless, humble leaders for a generation who’s sick of celebrity, narcissistic leaders. It was crazy communal and full of love for a generation that’s riddled with loneliness. The common word that people felt when they walked into the room was peace—for a generation that’s riddled by anxiety and depression, it was like so many things were so clearly ministering to the needs of the people.
At the end of 16 days, we kind of crescendoed with the College Day of Prayer—that was already prepared to be on February 23—and it’s just kind of burst around the world. My wife and I felt led, for such time as this and for however long we needed to, to reposition our lives to be a pastor and steward to people who had experienced this or are longing to experience it.
When something so unexpected like this happens, how do we best posture ourselves to experience the Spirit’s leading?
There was a core team that was established that I had the joy of being a part of. And within that core team of leadership, there were three of us that carried preaching, and two of the three of us are Alliance people. We were meeting every three hours as a leadership team.
I think a lot of it was a commitment to one another and a real commitment that we would be unoffendable but that we would also be courageous. So, there were regular times, if we sensed something that was at the core, we would tell each other, “Hey, you’re done for the afternoon.” And it was really interesting because it sophisticated pretty quickly. We had people that were like, “What’s going on on stage?” And then that led to, “What’s going on in worship?” and “What’s going on in teaching?” Then that even sophisticated to, “Who’s teaching mid-afternoon?” and “Who’s exhorting in the evening?”
It was just like these systems, and then worship, sophisticated to this consecration process—being named and then going to the Consecration Room and then coming to stage. And that was like earth shattering and unbelievable.
Let’s talk about that for a second—the process of stewarding worship was really humble and Spirit-led. What did that look like?
Yeah. So, worship was really unique because it was led by this like heroic couple who literally, when they needed a drummer, they would just pray for the Holy Spirit to highlight someone who could drum in the room, and they would literally walk up to them and say, “Do you know how to drum?”
Sometimes they didn’t know how, but a lot of times, it was like, “Yeah, actually I do drum at my church” or something. So, they would build teams side-stage and then take them upstairs to this room called the Consecration Room, a room with people ready to pray over the band and for the band to pray. And the worship leaders would be in that room for up to 30 minutes at least. It was a room filled with confession, prophetic ministry, prayer, and silence. There were stories of us going without worship for an hour or two hours because the band just wasn’t done in the Consecration Room.
There were times when people would come up for worship and then someone would sense something about their heart posture was off and say like, “Hey, I feel like something’s off. Come off stage.” They had come and maybe led a couple songs and then literally would just put their guitar down or step away from the piano because they needed to go back up to the Consecration Room. It was just unbelievable.
How do we steward this same sort of authentic humility?
Something that we’ve prayed a lot is like, there’s not a prescription for revival. So as soon as we start talking about and prescribe something like, “You’ve got to do a consecration room for 30 minutes, etc.,” our job isn’t to do that. But what we can do is describe and provoke. We’re here to describe and provoke—and not provoke to be like provocative and cool—but we experienced some really, really crazy stuff that is provocative. The fact that there were Grammy award winners that weren’t allowed to go on stage because they would be a distraction, that Asbury cancelled speaking engagements with some of the most well-known pastors because they would be distracting. Some of the most well-known pastors in the world were in the back row of the balcony.
There was one pastor that we asked to speak; he spoke, and as soon as he got off stage, he apologized to us. He was just like, “You know, I really shouldn’t have even said ‘yes’ to come in here.” And then he and his wife stayed for two days just to be ministered to—like that is provocative.
The prize is not revival. The prize wasn’t the outpouring. The prize is Jesus in His fullness. So, I think of being descriptive and provocative, and then I think it’s just our example.
How has it changed your intimacy with Jesus?
Wild—like desperation. I’m very sober-minded, humbled, honored. It’s also in some ways given me confidence—consecrated confidence. I remember like halfway through the outpouring, I was like, “I’m done. I can’t do this. I can’t steward this.” I felt like the Lord told me, “You will not be crushed by this. Your family will not be crushed by this. Your character won’t be crushed by this because I’ve already crushed you.”
And I think because of that, it just like drives me to Jesus. And I don’t feel far from Jesus, I just feel like I need to get on my face more.
What would you say, then, to our Alliance family?
Meet with the Holy Spirit genuinely. I pray that we would grow in hope but also have a deeper dependence, crying out in contention, in prayer, for an intensified, accelerated outpouring of God’s Spirit.
I would pray that The Alliance would lean into a new dependence and hunger for an accelerated, intensified outpouring of the Spirit among the nations and our churches.
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Feature photo from Asbury University’s Facebook page