'I have never seen or experienced anything like this': a religious revival at Texas A&M
Students have gathered nightly to engage in prayer, confession, and even baptism at the Texas A&M revival, part of the religious fervor that started at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky.
When the revival began, eight students were baptized in a pond on campus, and an estimated 1,000 people were in attendance on the first night.
On Feb. 20, a revival began on the campus of Texas A&M University (TAMU). Since then, students have gathered nightly to engage in prayer, confession, and even baptism–an experience that one participant said “the Holy Spirit is leading.”
“I think everyone's … obviously watching Asbury,” Joel Bratcher, the director of the local Baptist Student Ministry, said.
A wave of religious fervor started at Asbury University when a Feb. 8 daily chapel service never ended. In a two-week period, nearly 50,000 visitors flocked to Wilmore, Kentucky, sometimes waiting in a half-mile long line to join the worship session.
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The TAMU revival similarly began as a spontaneous, student-led effort. Participants describe their activities as a mix of prayer, baptisms, and singing.
Graduate student Grant Bynum said that worship lasted seven hours on the first night. “I have never seen or experienced anything like this,” he continued.
Bratcher estimates that some nights draw as many as 1,000 people. On one night, participants broke out into groups of two and three to confess their sins and pray for forgiveness and healing, according to Bynum.
An anonymous participant told Campus Reform, “There's no church, ministry, [or] organization that is running this thing.”
“It's just students [who] are in love with Jesus [and] want to see him transform our campus.”
He asked to remain anonymous because those helping facilitate these activities “desire to be nameless and faceless.”
Aggie Park–part of a recent landscaping project near the university’s 102,733-seat football stadium–is the gathering place for TAMU’s revival. Bratcher said that, when the revival began, eight students were baptized in the Aggie Park pond.
Courtney Burleson, a participant and resident of College Station, Texas, told Campus Reform that revivals at TAMU and other campuses are “just the beginning.”
What began at Asbury spread to colleges from Tennessee to Texas. The revivals hearken back to the Great Awakening, a response to rising secularism in the United States during the eighteenth century.
Today’s youth confront a similar crisis of faith. Most college students belong to Generation Z, the generation least likely to believe in God or go to church, according to a report from The Free Press.
TAMU, however, already had a religious culture.
Student Grace Howat told Campus Reform that “TAMU has a very strong Christian population,” but faith is “getting more attention.”
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“[I]n an age where superficialness is rampant, my generation is looking for something of substance to fulfill them,” she continued. “God does that for them.”
Bratcher pointed to mental health as one reason why college students are “drawn to the Lord.” Students are “carry[ing] a lot of anxiety,” which he called “typical” for their generation.
“I think there's a real strong sense of anticipation for what God is doing but also what he could potentially do,” Bratcher told Campus Reform.
“God’s good, you know.”
Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.