Dr. Thomas McCall shared his perspective for the Asbury Theological Seminary series Reflections on the Outpouring. The following excerpt has been transcribed from his testimony. The Outpouring began in Hughes Auditorium on February 8, 2023, and flowed into event spaces at Asbury Seminary. The Outpouring concluded over two weeks later on February 23.
“On Wednesday morning I heard about something unusual that was happening at Asbury University. I’ve been through a lot of revival meetings and camp meetings, and I’m a bit skeptical of hype and quite allergic to manipulation, but also happy to see the Lord move.
I walked into chapel, just wondering what I would see, and within a couple of minutes I was speechless. People who teach theology for a living are usually not speechless, but it rendered me speechless. The chaplain there, Greg Hasselhoff, greeted me on the side of the platform. I couldn’t even talk to him.
I saw students, several hundred students singing softly, many of them with their arms raised in worship. I saw students praying together in small groups. I saw students kneeling at the altar. I saw other students talking together in small groups, joy so evident on their faces.
I didn’t want to leave. I stayed there as long as I could on Wednesday afternoon. I came back Wednesday night. I came back Thursday morning, and I found that a small group of students had stayed and prayed through the night.
I came back Thursday afternoon. I came back Friday afternoon. Each time I saw these students, so hungry for God, so alive in God’s presence.
I understood immediately why people couldn’t wait to get there and didn’t want to leave. Students were running to chapel.
I’ve been around church all my life. My dad was a wonderful pastor. I’ve been in many, many wonderful environments of worship. I have never seen anything like this. It was a sense of calm serenity, of almost inexpressible joy and hope.
Many of these kids have known the Lord half their lives in political turmoil and fear of disease. Deep, deep anxiety everywhere; hostility and frustration; sometimes outright hatred and venom. And here they walk in this room, and they’re surrounded by this deep sense of holy love. They’re surrounded by this sense of wholeness and belonging. Of course, they wouldn’t want to leave that. This continued through Saturday evening and into Sunday morning.
What God is doing is undeniable. I talked to students both in and outside of Hughes, students who are already experiencing radical shifts of affection, what they’re caring about, what they want to do with their lives, how they want to serve. They are being dramatically transformed.
It’s just obvious to me God is at work, and there are of course what John Wesley called ordinary means and extraordinary means of grace. This is clearly an extraordinary moment. It doesn’t do away with the need for the ordinary. It doesn’t do away with the need for word and sacrament.
In no way does it replace the long road of obedience, the long road of discipleship. In no way does it discount or displace the importance of disciplined Christian living and joyful service of others. Most of our growth in the Christian faith is in these everyday moments, and it would be a mistake to look to one of these extraordinary moments to replace the ordinary ways that God works.
But wow, should we ever be grateful for the extraordinary!? We just need to recognize it, to celebrate it, to embrace it, to thank God for it.”