The Jesus Revolution of 2023: From Asbury to Gen Z, Revisiting a Year of Revival

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CBN News

This year we witnessed a powerful move of the Holy Spirit across college campuses, beaches, prisons and churches—so much so that 2023 could be dubbed a “Year of Revival.” It could even point to the beginning of what many have called a spiritual awakening in America.

Faith leaders have testified that “revival is happening” in pockets across the U.S. spanning different age groups, denominations and backgrounds.

The Asbury Awakening

Many would say that the biggest “firestarter” of them all was a simple worship service at Asbury University in Kentucky where 100 people fell to their knees and bowed at the altar in Hughes Auditorium, just to worship God.

“On Wednesday, Feb. 8, a very small but very faithful group of Asbury students listened to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and stayed in Chapel a little longer, and then a little longer, and then way longer,” shared a student speaker. “And we had no idea that the world was about to know God better.”

That small act eventually inspired thousands to flock to the college campus where they sought God’s presence for more than two weeks, leading to repentance, healing, and salvation.

Lee University: Awakening the Deep Wells of Revival

Lee University, a private Christian college in Cleveland, Tennessee, is 250 miles away from Asbury University, but students from this small school felt compelled to take part in what was taking place and it began a movement of revival on their campus.

Lee University Campus Pastor Rob Fultz noted on X, “What’s happening at Asbury is not and will not remain confined. It will, and already is awakening the deep wells of revival on campuses across the nation. They have been churning, pressing against the seals that have kept them hidden, and they are about to burst with new life.”

Cedarville University

Cedarville University President Thomas White shared five short video clips of the revival at his school – just 10 days after the start of the Asbury revival.

“Tonight a large number of students gathered again to pray, read Scripture, testimonies, and to worship Jesus for about two hours! We had 2 more students saved tonight. Tomorrow night we are sending our students out to other Universities to share the Gospel,” he wrote. “Keep praying for wisdom and a genuine movement of the Lord! The last video is from students who stayed around to keep worshipping. They were still there when I left about 11 pm!”

Texas A&M Corpus Christi

Some of the evidence that God was moving on college campuses did not involve massive worship services in an auditorium, but rather, outdoor prayer gatherings and spontaneous baptisms wherever there was water.

Auburn University

An impromptu baptism at Auburn University in Alabama started with one student wanting to be baptized but grew to roughly 200 people who decided to give their lives to Christ.

In September, Hundreds of students made a public declaration of their new life in Christ by dipping in a lake near Red Barn as spectators watched in awe.

“I’ve seen Auburn basketball beat Kentucky. I’ve seen Auburn football beat Alabama, but I have never seen something like I did Tuesday night,” Auburn University senior Michael Floyd told WFSA12 News.

A Move of God at HBCUs

One organization reported in March that God was also moving powerfully among the country’s historically black colleges and universities, also known as HBCUs.

The Black Voices Movement, a ministry of Circuit Riders, is on a mission to reach the next generation with the Good News of Jesus Christ by empowering young black men and women across America to be evangelists and preachers of the gospel.

It is an important work because statistics show only 1% of American missionaries are black.

‘Radically Transformed’ College Students

Healings on college campuses were also reported this year. One report from Texas A&M in College Station revealed that an A&M student who couldn’t previously walk unaided, walked 20 steps after Aggies students prayed over him. One young man shared what he saw in a video posted to Facebook.

Tarik Whitmore, the young adult pastor at New Life Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, told CBN News he is seeing a movement among college students who are getting saved and then boldly proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ with the student body.

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This spiritual awakening was not just limited to college campuses but spread throughout towns in America.

As CBN News reported, in a small community in southeastern Kentucky, hundreds of people were changed by a move of God’s Spirit.

Pastor Scott Phipps told CBN News that for 77 nights God moved “in a mighty way” as people were delivered, healed and set free from addiction.

“People are really pouring their hearts out to the Lord and the altars are full,” Phipps said in January. “There’s no room at the altars and people are just pouring in.”


In Hammond, Louisiana, a four-day church worship service turned into an eight-month-long revival at an old Baptist church.

Old Zion Baptist Church held its first service on Oct.16, 2022. By June 2023, thousands had decided to put their faith in Jesus. People from 17 states and two countries traveled to the church to see what God was doing.

“The Awakening in Louisiana has truly been life-changing. When God sent me there on Oct. 17, I never would have dreamed we would still be there! It has been the most supernatural event I’ve ever seen,” Evangelist David R. Harrison of Voice of Hope Ministries told CBN News in June.

Massive Beach Baptisms

One beach in California, once the site of spiritual outpouring among young people during the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, became a historic location where thousands gathered to be baptized.

Inspired by the movie “Jesus Revolution”, thousands of people came from all across America and the world to take part in the “Jesus Revolution Baptism” in July at the now-famous Pirates Cove in Newport Beach, California.

Harvest Christian Fellowship Sr. Pastor Greg Laurie held the massive baptism event where 32,500 people gathered and 6,794 made decisions to dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ.

Laurie, whose salvation story is featured in the “Jesus Revolution” film and who was also baptized at this location 50 years ago, couldn’t believe the size of the crowd.

“We have around 4,000 people signed up to be baptized today, can you believe that!” Pastor Laurie exclaimed. But then the number grew even larger.

God Behind Bars

God Behind Bars, a national prison ministry, has baptized 599 prison inmates and seen 126,000 salvations this year.

The organization strategically works to reach the more than 2.3 million people in the prison system and bring the hope found in the gospel.

The ministry’s goal to win souls for the kingdom of God is exploding into an outreach that is providing hope to thousands in a dark place.

“In prison, it’s very easy to be a bitter, cold person,” one inmate recently shared. “But because of my relationship with Jesus Christ and because of who I’ve become while being in prison, I’ve learned (to be) a joyful person. Having a life sentence plus 30 (years), and people not understanding where this joy is coming from or not understanding how you can maintain a smile while going through adverse moments…and I know that it only came from God.”

Spontaneous Baptisms at Churches

Many churches across the country have experienced record-breaking water baptisms, some spontaneous.

More than 2,000 baptisms took place across Life.Church’s 40-plus campuses in August.

The Oklahoma megachurch celebrated as people took that step of faith at a large facility pool used by the church, while others got baptized at satellite campuses. Some even got baptized in their bathtubs, previously recorded video showed.

“We’re not praying for revival. We’re in the middle of one. I thank God for what he’s doing,” Life.Church founder and pastor Craig Groeschel said. “God is doing a big thing.”

Gen Z

As revival and mass baptisms have hit every generation this year, in many ways Gen Z has been leading the way. This year served as a spotlight on the increasing hunger among young people for God.

A recent Pew Research study claims that Gen Z is losing their religion, but in reality, there is a spiritual awakening that is happening among that generation.

Thousands are hearing the gospel message, making professions of faith in Jesus Christ, and answering the call to ministry.

To read the rest of this story, visit our content partners at CBN News.

Reprinted with permission from Copyright © 2023 The Christian Broadcasting Network Inc. All rights reserved.

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