By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON (Worthy News) – U.S. Churches, universities, and the army say Christian “revival fires” have broken out across the United States, with many turning to faith in Christ Jesus and impromptu massive baptism services.
In one of the latest recorded Christian revival events in the nation, nearly 300 people were baptized Sunday at morning worship services and an outdoor event hosted by one Arden, North Carolina state church.
The Biltmore Church, a Baptist megachurch with seven campuses across North Carolina, hosted an outdoor lake baptism event that had hundreds of people responding to the Gospel call, Christians said.
The church told the U.S-based Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in an email shared with Worthy News that there were “three people baptized” during the church’s Sunday morning and 279 at the Outdoor Baptism event for a total of 282 baptisms.
“Outdoor Baptism is something we do annually, and we have been announcing it for about six weeks to our congregation.” However, “we were amazed by the number of those who were baptized. We know that God has the power to do incredible things,” the church added.
Lead Pastor Bruce Frank said on social media that it was an “Awesome day as we saw 282 people profess faith in Christ through baptism.”
He said in separate remarks, “Seeing 279 people profess Jesus as Lord through our annual Outdoor Baptism was incredible! I’m always amazed as I hear all of the stories of God at work in each person’s life.”
He added, “Baptism is a great step for a Christ-follower, and our staff is excited to continue to guide each person as they continue their discipleship journey.”
The massive baptisms came shortly after Worthy News reported that a Christian “revival” had broken out last week at a university in the U.S. state of Alabama, with hundreds of students participating in spontaneous baptisms following a prayer and worship rally attended by thousands.
Auburn University’s Neville Arena hosted a massive crowd late Tuesday night, September 12, for the “Unite Auburn” Christian event featuring several speakers and a worship band performance.
However, Jennie Allen, one of the event’s leading speakers, asked if students wanted to be baptized, including many new believers.
What started with one student wanting to be baptized grew to hundreds who decided to express their faith in Christ through baptism, according to witness accounts.
“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 the WFSA-TV network.
More than 5,000 people showed up to Unite Auburn’s “Night of Worship,” according to CBN estimates.
The “campus ministry’s outreach” was created “to bring the Alabama school’s Christian community together for a night of worship,” Christians said. It featured guest speakers, New York Times Best Selling Author Jennie Allen and Pastor Jonathan Pokluda, and worship was led by Passion Music.
Allen said on social media that toward the end of the night, she felt “led to ask students if they wanted to be baptized, and dozens raised their hands.”
There wasn’t a tub available to baptize the students, so thousands of people headed over to a ‘lake’ at Auburn’s Red Barn, she recalled on the social media platform Instagram.
“They circled the lake, and 6-10 of us were in the water baptizing hundreds,” Allen added. Even Auburn’s head football coach, Hugh Freeze, reportedly got in the water to help.
Soon after, students posted videos of many people baptized in Auburn’s Red Bard. Witnesses said more than 200 students were baptized within two hours of each other on the property’s water.
Others put the figure at more than 100.
However, a huge crowd watched the impromptu baptisms, with many cheering as people came in and out of the water to express their faith in Christ, Worthy News monitored.
“People surrounded the lake ’til almost midnight, hearing the stories of life change and shouting and cheering and praying together. God is moving, and He isn’t stopping,” Allen said.
Jeremy Napier, the chaplain for the Auburn men’s basketball team, recalled that “It was not planned at all. I think this was a spontaneous decision at the very end where we just said, ‘Let’s go for it.’”
Auburn student and journalist Kristen Carr witnessed something she had never seen before. “Never in my life,” she expressed. “I was even talking to adults who were there, and they said they had never witnessed anything like that.”
“God is doing something on Auburn’s campus,” Allen told the media. “This was a part of a bigger story that’s happening here.”
The reported “revival” at the university in the city of Auburn came just months after a Christian revival at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, was sparked by students spontaneously staying in Hughes Auditorium following a regularly scheduled chapel service on February 8, 2023.
As news spread online, the gathering was attended by some 15,000 people each day, sources said. By its end, the revival brought tens of thousands of visitors to Wilmore, representing more than 200 academic institutions and multiple countries. The revival has been compared to similar revivals at Asbury, notably one in 1970, which experts said had a far-reaching impact on the United States.
Other universities have reported similar “revival fires,” including among college students at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and a young adult pastor says it shows “no sign of slowing” down.
Tarik Whitmore, the young adult pastor at New Life Church in the Texas state city of Corpus Christi, claimed that a spiritual movement was underway among the students, with hundreds making professions of faith and getting baptized almost daily.
“In the spring of 1922, we started to see people preaching in their small groups – people invite their friends who don’t know the Lord to their small groups,” he told CBN News. “And instead of the small group being a Bible study, they would have someone get up and preach, and every time it would happen, one or two kids would give their lives to the Lord,” he added.
Whitmore said that during the entire spring semester, he would open the church late at night to baptize students. “I didn’t do anything or minister in any way. I’m just the guy with the keys at that point,” he explained.
Whitmore noted that many students have been “radically changed” after professing faith in Christ. “We are seeing these people repent from compromise and make a decision to make a public declaration of, ‘No, I want to give my whole life to Jesus starting today.’ And then we see them radically transformed before our eyes where their lifestyle is radically different [and] [they have] boldness to preach the Gospel to their friends like never before,” Whitmore stressed.
“The culture of holiness has really been remarkable among these young people. They are living in purity and righteousness even at this secular university,” the youth pastor claimed.
In August, New Life Church held its annual outreach gathering. One thousand students attended, and 124 made professions of faith and were baptized, he said. “Literally, we preached the message, and then for the next hour and a half, we just had the worship team play because we spent the whole time baptizing people,” Whitmore recalled.
Students have also been going to college dorms, apartments, and homes to share the Gospel, he said.
“We’ve had about 21 small group gatherings [and] young adult life groups. And I think the smallest one is 20 people and the largest one is 90 people. So over 400 [people] in these small group gatherings since Labor Day,” he told CBN News. “People are inviting their friends and saying, ‘Something is happening. You need to come and see.’”
Since Labor Day, 21 baptisms have taken place. An additional five students were baptized last Thursday, the Christian Headlines website reported. “It just keeps happening,” Whitmore noted.
However, a Tennessee state megachurch had to put one of its services on hold last month because many people spontaneously came forward to get baptized.
“What happened yesterday was another genuine move of God. We baptized 136 on Sunday,” Senior Pastor Robbie Gallaty recalled about the August 13 baptisms.
The Hendersonville, Tennessee church said they celebrated people publicly, declaring they were living a new life in Jesus Christ. “We’re seeing God do something miraculous. This isn’t business as usual,” Gallaty said during service. “We had one person scheduled to be baptized, and at this point, we’ve seen 88 people spontaneously come forward for baptism today. It’s unbelievable. Only God.”
One man drove more than 300 miles (480 kilometers) to attend Sunday’s service and spontaneously decided to participate in the baptism. Gallaty said more people are signed up to be baptized.
And the “revival fires” are spreading to the U.S. Army, too, according to Christians involved in the events. A U.S. Army chaplain said he recently baptized more than 150 soldiers during summer basic training in the U.S. state of Missouri, saying it was a “joy to see” God move among new trainees.
Chaplain Logan Lair said he had been serving at basic training camps since 2019 but saw recently “a move of God’s Spirit” among trainees at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, that brought him to tears – almost daily.
“[A trainee] graduates high school, maybe a day or two later gets on a bus to go an Army base. As soon as they get off the bus, they immediately encounter drill sergeants, Army structure, and discipline, and it doesn’t stop for a couple of weeks. That’s inevitably a stressful situation for them,” he told the Baptist Press news agency.
“The chaplain plays a great role in all of that because we create a safe place for a trainee to process and vent. As a chaplain, I get a lot of tears. I carry tissues on my uniform and usually go through about a pack a day. Many times, those conversations are spiritual, and we’re able to talk about that spirituality piece,” Lair added.
The North American Mission Board-endorsed chaplain told the outlet the high-pressure environment often prompts young recruits to seek out counsel. That allows Lair to share the Gospel. “Trainees, typically from my perspective, have been pretty hungry to learn about spirituality and their spiritual strength,” he explained. He said this “hunger” leads trainees to chapel services and Bible studies, which are held weekly.
Nearly 2,000 trainees attend both the weekly services and baptism services held on the third Sunday in July and August, Baptist Press reports.
The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate said he has led 84 new trainees to be baptized in July and 73 in August. “That baptism service is one of many testimonies of the good work Army chaplains are doing all around the world in our nation’s military,” he said. “My counterparts, other chaplains, are doing amazing things on other posts (basic training locations) that have similar stories. It’s an absolute blessing to each and every one of us. It’s a team effort.”
Lair said he encouraged believers to pray for U.S. soldiers and especially for chaplains as they face revival through “challenging days and their joyful days.”
Researchers say these are just a few examples of a broader trend among evangelicals in the country. More than 3.8 million individuals attended a Southern Baptist congregation on an average weekend in 2022, a 5 percent increase over the 3.6 million who did so in 2021, researchers said. As more people gathered in person, they witnessed more baptisms. In 2022, Southern Baptist congregations reportedly baptized 180,177 people, a 16 percent increase over 2021.
Back at New Life Church in Corpus Christi, Whitmore, the young adult pastor, said: “I’m very hesitant to use the word revival, but I’m to the point where I don’t know what else to call it, especially in light of what is happening around our nation at multiple other college campuses. It really does seem like a nationwide move of God is taking place, and we just get to be part of it.”
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