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Is Asbury University the beginning of the next 'Jesus Revolution?'

Soft focus of Christians raising their hands up to worship together in church revival meeting with an image of wooden cross over cloudy sky.
Soft focus of Christians raising their hands up to worship together in church revival meeting with an image of wooden cross over cloudy sky. | iStock/Getty Images/freedom007

The CDC released the results of a survey revealing that most teen girls (57%) felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, which is double the rate for teen boys. Even more alarming, nearly 1 in 3 teen girls seriously considered attempting suicide.

You may have read the tragic story of a young New Jersey teen named Adriana Kuch, who was assaulted at her school, and the video of the incident was posted on social media. Adriana was so despondent that she saw no escape but to take her own life. My heart broke looking at the photo of this beautiful young girl with her whole life ahead of her.

No doubt, social media has contributed to this crisis among our youth, as gas fuels a fire. Despite the devastation and loss, I see more than a glimmer of hope for this young generation.

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Spiritual awakening at Asbury University

What some are describing as a “revival-fire” has broken out at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. It is the chapel service that did not end. Hundreds of students, professors and staff have been praying, worshiping and turning from their sins.

People have traveled from around the world to see for themselves, and they’re finding God clearly at work. Recent reports share that revival is even spreading to another nearby campus. In an interview with Tucker Carlson, Asbury Student Body President Alison Perfather said, “There is a young army of believers who are rising to claim Christianity as their own, as a young generation, as a free generation, and that’s why people can’t get enough.”

The last great spiritual awakening happened with young people back in 1970. It was called the “Jesus Movement.” In a time not unlike our own, God worked a miracle in American history.

There were riots in the streets, racial tension, the fear of nuclear war in the air and what appeared to be the unraveling of our nation. There was talk of “revolution,” and one actually took place. But it was not a political revolution or a moral revolution. It was what TIME Magazine called a “Jesus Revolution.”

It changed the nation and the world.

A new movie telling the story of that last great spiritual awakening in America opens nationwide in over 2,000 theaters on Feb 24. This film follows two unlikely people coming together — a staid pastor, Chuck Smith and a young hippy evangelist, Lonnie Frisbee.

It was like nitro met glycerin, and the result was explosive. Thousands of young people, most of whom had no Church background, came to faith all at once.

On a more granular level, “Jesus Revolution” tells the story of a young couple searching for meaning. The film shows Greg and Cathe navigating a profound emptiness and their quest to fill it with drugs and other unsatisfactory means. Eventually, we see their lives transformed by an encounter with Jesus Christ.

That young man was me. And Cathe is my wife. Our prayer is that God will be glorified in the telling of our story, and that others will find the fulfillment and meaning we so desperately searched for during the Jesus Revolution. I pray it happens again.

As people see this film about the most profound spiritual awakening of our day, we hope and pray for God to do it again. The Psalmist wrote, “Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6).

In light of current events, the timing of this film seems providential. Our young people need it so desperately, and so do we older folks.

Greg Laurie is the pastor and founder of the Harvest churches in California and Hawaii and Harvest Crusades. He is an evangelist, best-selling author and movie producer. “Jesus Revolution,” a feature film about Laurie’s life from Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, releases in theaters February 24, 2023.

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