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What happens to people after they experience a life-changing event like the Asbury Revival? Has it actually impacted people’s lives, or was it just a flashy moment in their story? Stories from students and staff who were there from the beginning, and how the Revival shaped lives off campus.



#82: The Asbury Revival – One Year Later

Note: The Love Thy Neighborhood podcast is made for the ear, and not the eye. We would encourage you to listen to the audio for the full emotional emphasis of this episode. The following transcription may contain errors. Please refer to the audio before quoting any content from this episode. 

AUDIO CLIPS: Love Thy Neighborhood… Discipleship and missions for modern times.


AUDIO CLIPS: Wendy Griffith brings us this story from Wilmore, Kentucky… Hundreds of people have come from near and far… A revival of sorts. Tell us a little bit about what’s happening… Then videos of the service popped up on social media, and it quickly went viral… People just keep showing up from around the world…

ANNA TRAN: Okay, Jesse, you remember The Asbury Revival, right? 

JESSE EUBANKS: Of course, yeah. Uh, happened last year, 2023. Uh, we actually did an episode on it. 

ANNA TRAN: Right. Listeners, if you wanna go back and hear that, that’s episode number 70 – “The Origin and Outpouring of The Asbury Revival.” Anyways, it’s been wild that a whole year has passed, and since reporting on that, a lot probably has happened.

JESSE EUBANKS: I don’t know. Has a lot happened? I’m not sure. I have no idea what’s happened since then. 

ANNA TRAN: Okay, well, we’ll get to that in a minute, but if listeners haven’t heard the original episode, what’s the short version of it? 

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay. Here’s the synopsis.

Okay, so the revival, it happened in a small town in Wilmore, Kentucky, on February 8th, 2023, after a regular chapel service finished at Asbury University. So 15, 20 students stayed behind at the chapel to pray, to worship, to share confession of sins. They thought that maybe this would just extend the worship service just a little bit longer. They thought maybe it’d last an hour. Well, one hour turned into three hours, which actually ended up turning into the whole night. Students and faculty all ended up hearing about what was happening at the chapel, so they started coming as well to be a part of this time of prayer and worship and sharing testimonies of what God has done. And all of this just kept going around the clock, 24/7, for several days. Eventually, students from other universities started to come. And then, long story short, it gets out on social media, news outlets are covering it – which led to over 50,000 visitors descending on Asbury University just to get a taste of what God was doing there.

ANNA TRAN: So, if you’re listening to this and you’re wondering what happens after the media shuts down, the social media hashtags disappear, the visitors go home – what happens to people after they experience a life-changing event like The Asbury Revival?


JESSE EUBANKS: You’re listening to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks. 

ANNA TRAN: And I’m Anna Tran. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Today’s episode – “The Asbury Revival – One Year Later.” We’ll be exploring the question that Anna just said – what happens to people after they experience a life-changing event like The Asbury Revival? What is the ripple effect of experiencing something like that? Does it actually impact people’s lives afterwards? Or is it just a flashy moment in their story? 

ANNA TRAN: Just a quick note, for the sake of this episode, the words “revival” and “outpouring” are used interchangeably. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Welcome to our corner of the urban universe.


JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so there is no question – when The Asbury Revival went viral on social media, it was all over news outlets, the topic of revival itself also started getting talked about in a lot of different church communities. 

ANNA TRAN: For sure. Yeah, I heard people talking about a lot of different things. For example, discussing formal definitions or sharing personal experiences. Some people consider revival to be an event. Stereotypically, they would list, you know, characteristics like a worship service with really expressive singing. There’s miraculous healing. People are “slain in the spirit.” And it goes on for hours and hours. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yes, but on the other hand, actually some think of it more like an evangelism event where somebody preaches to a big group of people, uh, a lot of folks are converted to Christianity, they come to know Jesus for the first time, like a Billy Graham crusade. All that to say is – there’s not really like a single consensus on what a revival even is. 

ANNA TRAN: And also, what’s interesting is that theologians point out that the word “revival” is actually more of a Christian history term. It’s not explicitly used in the Bible at all. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Which, of course, begs the question, you know – how are we gonna define revival? 

ANNA TRAN: That’s the perfect question because I have the definition right here. So, this is a definition from a professor at Biola University. He says, “Christian revival is a moment in history when, one, the hearts of many of God’s people are awakened to greater love and commitment to Christ. Two, many who consider themselves Christians but are not get converted. And then lastly, three, many people who have never known Christ are drawn to faith in Christ through what God is doing in his people.” 

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so that’s going to be our working definition of revival. We’ve also established the fact, though, that revival is not explicitly used in the Scriptures in that sense, but we do find examples of God redirecting and reviving his people.

So, for example, in Second Chronicles, we see that God’s people had gone astray. In chapter 28, we see examples of fear, of idolatry. The doors to the house of the Lord were actually closed, and altars to other gods were being put up everywhere. 

ANNA TRAN: Oh, that’s, that’s pretty bad. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, but here’s the deal – then God actually sends Hezekiah onto the scene. Under Hezekiah’s leadership, God’s people end up being reminded of who he is. The temple was reopened. The temple was cleansed. Passover is celebrated. Chapter 30 actually goes on to say that there was more joy in Jerusalem than there had been since King David. And then we even read that it’s such a big deal that outsiders and sojourners were joining in on the celebration.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, I think that’s a really good reminder that when revival happens people notice.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, I mean, by the end of Hezekiah’s reign, God’s blessing and protection of Israel was actually being celebrated and noticed by all these surrounding nations. So God delivered Israel in a really big way, and that was clear both to his people and to everybody else who was watching. And there’s a ton more stories like this all throughout the Bible, where we see God faithfully bringing his people to experience renewed love, renewed obedience, and a lot more depth in their relationship with him. 

ANNA TRAN: Okay, so we’ve established that revivals happen. So, we still have this question – what happens after that? To answer that question, I decided to revisit some familiar voices, starting with this woman. 

SARAH BALDWIN: Sarah Baldwin, Vice President of Student Life.

JESSE EUBANKS: Oh yeah, okay. She was one of the staff members in the chapel who helped organize and oversee all the students and visitors. 

ANNA TRAN: Exactly. Okay, so where we left off in the original episode, public services for the revival had come to an end. So of course, that means things were winding down, visitors had to leave campus, and then of course, students, they go back to the dorms and they actually have to start normal life again. But Sarah told me that amongst the students there were actually a lot of mixed feelings about what happened.

SARAH BALDWIN: Everything from “This was the most incredible spiritual experience I’ve ever had” to “I felt really nervous for my safety with all of these strangers being right outside my residence hall door” to some students feeling as though the crowds changed it a lot and kind of took it away from what was first our students.

ANNA TRAN: Sarah said that the staff worked together to create outlets for students to express and process their experiences. Some had questions like –

SARAH BALDWIN: “How did God move then? Is God still moving? What if I don’t feel the presence of God now like I did during those days? What does that mean?” 

ANNA TRAN: And all of these questions were being asked while students were jumping back into their regular class rhythms.

JEANNIE BANTER: It was kind of whiplash to go from 16 days of nonstop to, “Okay, what does it look like to have a routine again, and, and what are my daily rhythms now?”

ANNA TRAN: This is Jeannie Banter, another Asbury University staff member. Jeannie said that it wasn’t just students feeling whiplash during this transition – the staff also felt intensely jarred trying to get back to normal life.

JEANNIE BANTER: It was hard to go from worshiping and praising and being in that kind of environment to, “Okay, now I need to do my credit card report and, um, teach a class.” 

ANNA TRAN: Here’s Sarah again. 

SARAH BALDWIN: I would say the tenor of our last two months of that semester was not euphoric – it was subdued. We were pretty tired – just physical and emotional exhaustion really across our campus.

JESSE EUBANKS: I mean, that makes sense, you know, all the stuff that that campus had experienced. I mean, it was big, and to suddenly try to go back to, like, what feels like a mundane life – that, that would be challenging. 

ANNA TRAN: Exactly. People were just really worn out and tired. But here’s the thing – just because they were tired and worn out and trying to process, people from outside the campus were still trying to get an idea of what had happened.

BRIDGETTE CAMPBELL: In the first couple of weeks during and after the outpouring, they had about a hundred requests come in. 

ANNA TRAN: Alright, so this is Bridgette. 

BRIDGETTE CAMPBELL: Bridgette Campbell. My position at Asbury is called the Coordinator of Outreach Ministries Teams. 

ANNA TRAN: So Bridgette’s role on campus was something that was actually created at the end of the spring semester.

BRIDGETTE CAMPBELL: It is specifically created for groups of students to go out on witness teams, um, is what we call them. They go to churches or organizations or conferences, people who want to hear how the students experienced the outpouring and how their lives have been changed since. 

ANNA TRAN: So the university is just getting request after request for students to share their testimonies. So in an effort to steward those stories, the university invited students who were interested to be what they call an outpouring witness. Bridgette said that they would go out in small groups to share at churches, youth groups. 

BRIDGETTE CAMPBELL: They’ve gone to five colleges and universities. They’ve spoken at quite a few different conferences. The more unique ones was a maximum security prison, a recovery center, senior citizen home. They’ve done a lot of podcasts, a radio show, a TV show, and they’ve gone to a lot of different states in the U.S., but also they’ve gone to seven different international countries.

ANNA TRAN: And one of those outpouring witnesses was Lena Marlowe. 

LENA MARLOWE: Calling from North Carolina. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Oh, yeah, I remember Lena. She was a senior. She was in the gospel choir, and she was one of the ones that stayed after and just started singing. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. Exactly. She was there from the beginning. So, as the 2023 semester wound down, Lena was still eager to share about her experiences from the revival. So, as she finished her last exams, wrapped up classes in April – 

LENA MARLOWE: The day of graduation, I, like, graduate, say goodbye to friends and family, and I go to London with campus pastor and a couple of other students. 

ANNA TRAN: They flew over to London, they connected with the church there, they shared their testimonies. And then after they shared their testimonies, Lena said that people were still really eager to know more. They asked her questions like –

LENA MARLOWE: “Did you see anybody get miraculously healed? Were there any controversial things that may have happened? Were there any things that, like, you may have felt uneasy about?”

JESSE EUBANKS: Oh, those are good questions. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, she was pointing out that it seemed like people were really interested in hearing directly from her, someone who was there firsthand. She was guessing that since they heard so much through social media clips and news articles –

LENA MARLOWE: When they finally encountered someone who, like, was there from the start, they were like, “Oh, you can tell me everything.” And I was just like, “Well, I’m only one person. Like, there’s a million different perspectives.”

ANNA TRAN: And London wasn’t the only place Lena went. She traveled to Canada and also –

LENA MARLOWE: Went to upstate New York. We just talked to teenagers. It was more testimonial, like we shared about our experience, what God was doing within us and what he’s doing through us, like, literally a couple months after the outpouring.

ANNA TRAN: And as this is going on, Bridgette, who’s coordinating details with the students, when she would ask them how she could be praying for them –

BRIDGETTE CAMPBELL: And at first I thought that they would ask that “I won’t be nervous,” that “I’ll get caught up on schoolwork” – which are all legitimate things – but over and over again, they just asked that it would be God’s words and not theirs, that they would just be a vessel that the Holy Spirit would work through, and that the audience would hear exactly which part of their story they needed to hear.

JESSE EUBANKS: Here’s one of the things that I love about this – is, like, if you look in the Gospels, so often, you know, Jesus would do something miraculous, but he would have to tell them, like, “don’t tell anybody” because at that time he didn’t wanna, like, speed up, you know, his ministry timeline, but inevitably everybody’s like, “I have to go tell people. Like God did this incredible thing in my life, I have to go out and tell people about this.” And this is what we’re seeing with the students. The students are taking really deep, personal ownership of “God did something amazing in my life, and I wanna go tell that story.” 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, and I like what Bridgette was saying, is that they are really sensitive about giving God the glory. They don’t want their own words to just be their own words. They want it to be God’s word through them.

Okay, so all of this amazing stuff is happening. But, I wanna go back a few months. Even though there were tons of students eager to go out and share their testimony, some students were having a very different experience. 

LEXIE PRESTA: I thought when the outpouring happened that that would automatically kind of fix it. I thought that the timing of the outpouring was like my answer. 

ANNA TRAN: When we come back – what happens when a movement of God doesn’t fix everything? Stay with us.


JESSE EUBANKS: Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. Jesse Eubanks. 

ANNA TRAN: Anna Tran. Today’s episode – “The Asbury Revival – One Year Later.”

JESSE EUBANKS: So, it’s been one year since the 2023 Asbury Revival, and before the break, we were actually hearing from students and staff at Asbury University about what happened in the months after public worship services ended. We heard about the exhaustion that people felt after the revival and how the campus sent out students to continue sharing personal testimonies. 

ANNA TRAN: But now, we want to look at this question – what happens when a movement of God doesn’t fix everything?

ASHER BRAUGHTON: I wasn’t exactly the most thrilled to hear that they were ending the services. My name is Asher Braughton, junior here at Asbury University. 

ANNA TRAN: Okay, so last year, Asher was a sophomore. During the revival, he actually experienced profound healing from shame and guilt from his past dependence on drugs and alcohol. And during those 16 days of the revival, Asher – he was all in from day one. He was at the chapel day and night. So when the university president made an announcement – 

AUDIO CLIP: And while it is true that after Thursday of this week we will conclude our last service in Hughes Auditorium here and on the campus of Asbury… 

ANNA TRAN: It left Asher disappointed and really wanting more. 

ASHER BRAUGHTON: Wanting to continue having the services and the worship, just everything that was going on in the chapel building, and I just wanted to keep having that. I loved it, like that was such an intimate time to experience the Lord. 

ANNA TRAN: But, some of his friends and peers, they had different thoughts. 

ASHER BRAUGHTON: They were thinking, “Hey, like, I’m thankful that the services are stopping. They’ve been incredible, but I don’t like waking up and opening my window and seeing 5,000 people right outside of my dorm room.” And we still had classes, we still had assignments, people were still graduating in the spring. 

ANNA TRAN: So, although Asher could really understand where they were coming from, returning back to the daily grind just felt really weird. It was such a different experience than those 16 days of revival. But Asher – he just had to yield.

ASHER BRAUGHTON: We went back to eating in the cafeteria. We went back to hanging out. We just went back to kind of a normal life. 

ANNA TRAN: With graduation around the corner, you know, students, especially seniors – they needed to be sure that exams were taken, their credit requirements met, a lot of them had summer internships they were planning to go on, including Lexie Presta.

LEXIE PRESTA: Oh yeah, it’s been a wild year. (laughs) It felt like the rest of the semester flew by so quickly because, you know, I still had my classes, I still had graduation and all these different ceremonies that I had to attend. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, Lexie was the president of Asbury’s newspaper, and she was the one that when she entered the chapel she had asked for prayer about a conflict that she was having with a friend.

ANNA TRAN: Right. At the time of the revival, it really seemed like that conflict she was having was pretty much resolved. 

LEXIE PRESTA: We actually, like, verbalized forgiveness to each other, but now looking back, I think we just did it for the sake of the outpouring because we’re like, “Oh, this is such a big, beautiful thing. Like, we don’t want our little issue to get in the way.” But then our hearts weren’t ready to actually, like, receive those apologies. 

ANNA TRAN: And here she is a few months after the revival has ended, and that friendship is not better. It’s actually still in the same place that it was. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Which was like not a great place. 

ANNA TRAN: No, just like stuck in limbo, there was no progress towards reconciliation.

LEXIE PRESTA: I thought when the outpouring happened that that would automatically kind of fix it. I thought that the timing of the outpouring was like my answer.

ANNA TRAN: And so Lexie keeps trucking along, finishing out the semester, and it was during this time that she sensed God telling her that the revival wasn’t actually the right timing for this friendship to be restored.

LEXIE PRESTA: And I was so frustrated by that and I was angry, but then I was mad that I was getting frustrated because I was like, “But you just showed up in a powerful way. Like, what do you mean, like, this isn’t your timing for this situation?”

JESSE EUBANKS: I mean, yeah, it makes sense. Like, if Lexie’s life were a movie, you know, that moment would have happened in conjunction with all the other big stuff. 

ANNA TRAN: Right. Yeah, so she’s angry, and for the rest of the semester, Lexie does not get an answer from God. And in fact, life moves on. She graduates, and she actually leaves the country. She goes to Northern Ireland for a missions trip. She comes back, started her summer internship, and also decides to pursue seminary. And so her life is going in a really great direction. But at the same time –

LEXIE PRESTA: I had lost a family member, and then, um, those friendship complications from before the outpouring were still present.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, I mean, Asher and Lexie had been to the mountaintop, you know, this incredible experience encountering God, him like rearranging so many things in their soul, but then they’re going back into this ho hum, just daily life. And that is so hard. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. I think they’re just wrestling with the question that a lot of us wrestle with – you know, how do I experience God in my mundane life?

Okay, so now it’s fall 2023. Lexie started her master’s degree at Asbury Seminary. She jumped into different classes, she was adjusting to a new school year, just living a very normal life and a very normal routine. But then, in September, Lexie went to a conference as part of one of those outpouring witness teams. And at some point during the conference, as they were all in a time of prayer, Lexie said she had this moment. She realized she needed to express to Jesus how angry she was about this conflict she was having with her friend, and she realized she could not carry this resentment anymore. 

LEXIE PRESTA: I told Jesus, I was like, “I forgive them.” I was like, “I don’t wanna carry this anymore.” And I was like, “I think I’m ready to forgive them for everything. I wanna view them as your child. Like, I don’t wanna carry this weight anymore.” 

ANNA TRAN: She said that this moment happened pretty suddenly. As she was praying, she was asking Jesus –

LEXIE PRESTA: “Would you just help me be reminded of who they are in you and help me love them truly well?” And then, I kid you not, like maybe 10 minutes later, me and the friend actually, like, talked and expressed forgiveness. And it was such a God thing, like there’s no other way to explain it. 

ANNA TRAN: And this time, the forgiveness was genuine. And she and her friend – they continued to work on their friendship months after this. Lexie said she finally experienced a felt restoration in their friendship.

Okay, so jumping back to Asher. He was not thrilled to go back into regular life. And so, as the weeks go on, he realized he just has to make this transition. 

ASHER BRAUGHTON: I think the big thing that really helped me have that transition was just looking at the examples in Scripture that we’ve seen before. One of my friends said this so beautifully, and it’s that whenever someone has an encounter with the Lord, when they have an encounter with Jesus, their first natural response is to go and tell people, to go and share about it.

ANNA TRAN: So, reading the Bible and having a realization is pretty cliche, right? But the truth is that this small thing really shifted Asher’s mindset big time. And one of the things that he realized was that the revival wasn’t just for him. 

ASHER BRAUGHTON: I’m not meant to sit here forever in my chapel seat, listening and experiencing and, like, soaking in this. Like, I’m meant to go be the hands and feet of the gospel, to go and be the hands and feet of what the Lord has for this outpouring and to go and share about it and go and talk about it.

ANNA TRAN: And so, this shift in perspective – it made Asher think about God’s movement in other people’s lives and how he himself could be a part of that. 

ASHER BRAUGHTON: How can I go about doing my normal life and doing the things that the Lord has given me to do – whether that’s study, whether that’s be a part of teams and clubs, whether that’s be a friend – how can I do that fully with the intention of giving all the glory and all the honor to him and not onto myself?

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, here’s the thing – like, you know, you hear stories like this, and there’s a sense in which you’re just kind of like, “Oh, that’s not very dramatic. That’s not very huge and exciting.” But, like, the reality is, is that a lot of us are just living very normal, routine lives. But that does not mean that God is not extraordinarily present and at work amidst all of that.

ANNA TRAN: Right. I just think about Asher’s story, and it’s nothing special that he read the Bible and a revelation came to him. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, it’s a very normal story to hear that somebody opened the Bible and that, “Oh my gosh, I had this huge revelation, and it changed my life.” But like, when you’re the one who actually experiences that change, that transformation, it is a big deal. So for Asher to go from somebody that is somewhat self-referential – “How’s this affect me? What’s good for me?” – and suddenly he’s in a place where he’s like, “Look at all that God’s doing in the world outside of me and in other people’s lives, and how can I be a part of that?” That’s a big transformation.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, and I think about Lexie’s story. Experiencing God isn’t just one magical moment. He continues to live our lives with us, meeting our needs in real time.

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so we have heard from students and from staff from Asbury University itself. So here’s my final question – how did The Asbury Revival shape lives off campus, and is that impact still relevant now?


JESSE EUBANKS: Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. Jesse. 


JESSE EUBANKS: We have been hearing from students and staff at Asbury University about their experiences in the year that has followed The Asbury Revival. There was exhaustion, there was unanswered questions, but there was also the sharing of testimonies and revelation about God’s work in the day to day rhythms of life.

ANNA TRAN: Right. So we’ve seen how it’s impacted students and faculty, but, Jesse, you were asking the question – how has it affected people on the outside? 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Okay, so I wanna tell you the story of somebody who was really impacted by The Asbury Revival. But before we get to that, we need to go on quite a bit of a journey.

ZHONG YANG: My name’s Zhong Yang. My English name is John. I’m from China, and, uh, I’m, uh, 34 years old. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so this is John, and even before I share much of this with you, Anna, I just wanna note, like, John’s accent is pretty thick. And as a result of that, I’m just gonna share, like, smaller clips from him, but I’ll fill you in. So if you’re listening and you’re like, “I don’t know exactly what he said,” I’ll fill you in. 

ANNA TRAN: Great. Sounds good. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so here’s what you need to know. John is an only child. He grew up in an atheist home. He has always been a really curious person. And that curiosity served him well. He actually got his undergrad degree in China. But then as he got to the end of his degree, that curiosity could not be satisfied in China. He had this desire to go and to ask questions and explore the world. But he also had this other thing. He really wanted more freedom in life. So that combination of curiosity and freedom – they came together in a little place called America.

ZHONG YANG: America at that time gave me really good positive thought and freedom, you know, American dream, those things, you know. So that’s making me why I wanted to decide to study abroad. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So his parents actually sold their apartment to pay for his tuition to come to America. So in 2013, he hopped on a plane, and he heads to Arizona to study computer engineering. So once John is in Arizona, he begins to experience all kinds of things. And one of the things that he begins to experience is the different sort of subcultures in America. So he makes friends with sort of this crowd that loves like hookup culture, party culture, but he also becomes friends with this whole group of Mormons that are talking to him about their faith. And so John is just acclimating to all that is life in America. After three years, he actually ends up graduating with his master’s degree in computer engineering. And so for John, he feels like, “This is awesome.”

ANNA TRAN: Okay, yeah. It sounds like his dreams are coming true. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, absolutely. And so for John, he’s like, “Okay, the American dream is awesome. Like, I think I wanna stay here.”

ZHONG YANG: I really like this country, and I still have American dream. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So asking himself what’s next, John actually ends up moving to our city, Louisville, Kentucky. He wants to complete a PhD at the University of Louisville, and in one of his classes he actually ends up befriending this guy named Levi.

ZHONG YANG: I know him from a class and he introduced me to his church and he also bring me to the Cru and the BCM in the campus. 

JESSE EUBANKS: John, just as he was curious in Arizona about different kinds of folks, he’s like, “Yeah, I’d love to learn about your religious ideas.” So he ends up going to Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. He ends up going to the Baptist Campus Ministry. He ends up going to Levi’s church. Like, he just was curious. He just wants to explore all this stuff. But this is not the only corner of American culture in Louisville that he is exploring because he also has this roommate and they love to go out together and they would go out and they would hook up with girls. So John was this curious guy wanting to try new things, and he’s got this roommate.

ZHONG YANG: We did a lot of crazy things, like, uh, we went to strip club. I tried those things. I tried the drugs. It’s also partially, it’s a curiosity, you know.

JESSE EUBANKS: So John is, like, just sort of doing the buffet of life here in America. You know, some days he’s with his roommate at a strip club. Other days he is with Levi at a campus ministry. But then there’s this moment that something begins to creep in beyond curiosity. So John actually remembers this one time at this campus ministry meeting.

ZHONG YANG: They played a video about how Jesus Christ died. I started to cry a little bit. I don’t know why. 

JESSE EUBANKS: John had been going to these campus ministry things, you know, for months now, but all of a sudden he’s having this big emotional response, and he’s like, “What is going on?” Well, the whole time over these months, Levi’s been talking to him about his faith. So Levi’s like, “Hey, I think this is Jesus coming into your life. Do you think you wanna be baptized?” And so Levi puts this idea in front of him, and John thinks to himself –

ZHONG YANG: To be honest, I’m not really that believer, but I’m just not resisting anymore, right? 

ANNA TRAN: Okay, so when he says that he’s not resisting anymore, does that mean he’s, like, willing to give Christianity a try?

JESSE EUBANKS: Uh, I would not say it that way. I would say that it means intellectually he is willing to entertain the idea that Christianity could be true. It’s plausible.

ZHONG YANG: From logical thinking is I just assume that God exists as a hypothesis. I just accept Christianity really by the logical way. 

JESSE EUBANKS: You know, logic and science – it is really important to John. This is a guy who has degrees in electrical engineering, computer engineering, and is doing a PhD in robotics. So, like, science is full of theories and hypotheses. So John poses a question to himself, asking this – What if God actually does exist? 

ZHONG YANG: So, I’m just thinking, it’s maybe possible. 

ANNA TRAN: Okay, so it’s like his God hypothesis.

JESSE EUBANKS: Absolutely. And of course, if you’ve got a hypothesis, what is it you need to do? 

ANNA TRAN: You’ve gotta test it out, right? 

JESSE EUBANKS: You’ve gotta test it. And so, in his logic, he’s thinking, “Okay, what do people do when they believe God is real?”

ANNA TRAN: Well, I guess sometimes, you know, they get baptized. 

JESSE EUBANKS: They get baptized. So John goes and gets baptized. And he doesn’t just get baptized. He actually spends the next two years going to different campus ministries, getting involved at a church, hanging out with more Christians. But then, in 2019, life changes for him. Life just gets busier and busier. His PhD work is getting more and more demanding. He’s actually doing these research experiments on a regular basis that are failing. So, he’s really stressed out. He’s lost a lot of confidence. He’s depressed. He actually ends up going to the school psychiatrist. And he tells them –

ZHONG YANG: Because I feel unhappy every day. At night, I cannot fall asleep. Even wake up, it’s still hard to focus.

JESSE EUBANKS: So at this point, you know, John has kind of gone into a hole. He’s, he’s actually really distanced himself from Levi. He stopped going to church. And so he’s lonely. You know, the psychiatrist tells him, “Hey, you need to find some other people to hang out with. It is not good for you to be by yourself.” And then, almost immediately after that meeting –

ZHONG YANG: And then the Mormons called me again.

ANNA TRAN: Oh yeah, back in Arizona, he had this group of friends who were Mormons, right?

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. They had actually passed his name on to a Mormon church here in Louisville, and so they were reaching out to him. And since the psychiatrist was telling him that he needed to be around people and the Mormon church called him, he thought, “Sounds great. Like, I’ll go to your church. It’s easy to get to.” 

ZHONG YANG: Really close. I don’t need to driving that so far. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And here’s the thing – like, his mental health does actually improve. You know, John gets connected to people there. He goes to parties, but I guess they’re like Mormon parties. 

ANNA TRAN: Okay, right. Different than, you know, the strip club parties, for sure. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, I don’t know what a Mormon party looks like, but yeah. Uh, he ends up going to dance nights. And so he’s just generally just feeling happier and more fulfilled. And so there’s this moment where he’s like, “The American dream, it has returned to me. It’s come back. It’s alive again.” 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. It sounds like he’s just not depressed anymore. Like there’s actually hope in his life now.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Yeah. But then it gets horribly interrupted by a little thing called 2020. 

ANNA TRAN: Ah, of course, the pandemic. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. The pandemic. Okay, so it’s 2020, and John, like the rest of us, is not able to hang out with anyone. 

ZHONG YANG: I cannot go into the church, at that time Mormon church, so I’m back to depressed.

JESSE EUBANKS: His lab studies were all off course now because he couldn’t do his work regularly.

ZHONG YANG: So the pandemic has slowed down my research. 

JESSE EUBANKS: In fact, his research had slowed so much that he actually had to postpone his graduation. And here’s why that was really a problem. He was supposed to graduate in 2020. He was here on a visa. That visa was only good up through his graduation. So here he is. It’s 2021. He has some car problems. He goes to get those car problems taken care of. And when he begins to look through his legal paperwork, he realizes, “I only have three days left on my visa.”

ANNA TRAN: Oh, shoot.

JESSE EUBANKS: This is a huge problem.

ANNA TRAN: So, what does he do about it?

JESSE EUBANKS: Uh, he immediately starts looking for a plane ticket to get out of the U.S. 

ZHONG YANG: I directly buy the ticket and directly fly to Mexico. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So, he’s like, “What’s the nearest country to the U.S. that I can get to easily?” So, he goes to Mexico, ends up staying at a bunch of different hostels while he’s there. Like he does everywhere else, he makes a bunch of new friends from all over the world. 

ZHONG YANG: I feel I’m a traveler. Kind of like a vacation. 

JESSE EUBANKS: But, what was supposed to be two weeks then turns into four weeks then turns into six weeks, and he is not hearing anything back from the U.S. about his visa status. 

ZHONG YANG: I’m already waited two months. I still not have heard any news.

JESSE EUBANKS: So then he’s like doing a bunch of things to try to figure this out – “What am I gonna do?” So he ends up figuring out like he can actually continue to do some of his research while in Mexico so that he can at least keep his graduation moving forward. So he’s like, “Okay, vacation mode is over. It is time to get back to research.”

ZHONG YANG: Uh, I start doing remote research, doing some data analysis of programming. 

JESSE EUBANKS: He gets a place to stay in Mexico City. 

ZHONG YANG: That’s Airbnb. It’s a really bad living condition. Only 8 dollar a day. 

JESSE EUBANKS: He’s starting to have money problems. 

ZHONG YANG: I don’t have an income source anymore. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And the longer that he’s in Mexico in this really stressful situation, his mental health just starts going down.

ZHONG YANG: Really lonely and stressful and depressing time for me. 

JESSE EUBANKS: In fact, at a really low point, he was so desperate for company and comfort. 

ZHONG YANG: I was really lonely, you know. You go to Mexico City, and there’s a lot of hookers. They’re just on the street. To be honest, I found a hooker at that time.

ANNA TRAN: Gosh, that’s a really rough and dark place to be in. You know, he’s pretty far away from his original dream when he came to the U.S. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, and of course to make it worse, salt in the wound, you know, online, like a lot of us see, people are going on and they’re living these great lives. He’s watching all of his friends – they’re graduating, they’re getting new jobs, they’re going further and further into the American dream while he feels stranded.

ZHONG YANG: A lot of my friends going to big company, very good salary. Now I feel I’m a screw up. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So John’s stuck in Mexico, he’s watching other people live the dream that he’s always wanted. 

ZHONG YANG: I would cry a lot at that time. You know, I, I, I, I feel no hope.

JESSE EUBANKS: And so John’s like, “Okay, I’m just gonna really dig into my research, into my robotics work.” But, eventually he’s like, “I gotta do something more than just work all the time.” And so, he’s like, “Well, you know, I’ve hung out with these Christians. I’ve hung out with these Mormons. They’re always talking about the Bible. They’re always talking about prayer. Let me give those things a try.” And, to John’s surprise, every single time he read the Scriptures, every single time that he prayed, he would have this peace that would come over him, and it was better than all the endless anxiety and despondency that he was dealing with all the time. And so, in Mexico, he’s going into month seven, month eight, month nine, but he continues the whole time just to pray and to read his Bible. And eventually he finds that peace was more common than anxiety. 

ZHONG YANG: But at that point, I just finally figure out a lot of things in your life you just really cannot control it. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So John actually found himself accepting the lack of certainty in his life. He was willing to accept that a lot of things were just outside of his hands.

ZHONG YANG: It’s all in the hands of God. I just accept it.

JESSE EUBANKS: So, after all these months in Mexico, he finally gets the word that his student visa is cleared and he can return to the U.S.

ANNA TRAN: Okay. That’s awesome. That’s great news. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So, he gets back to Louisville. He gets back in the robotics lab. He starts his fall semester. He actually ends up reconnecting with his friend Levi and starts going to church with him.

ANNA TRAN: Oh yeah, yeah. I remember him. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Well, here’s the thing. One day, after church, Levi comes to him and says, “Hey, I’m going to this place called Asbury University. You should come with me. Something miraculous is going on there.” And being the curious guy that he is, John is like, “I need to go see this thing for myself.” So they get in a car. They drive an hour and a half to Wilmore, Kentucky. They walk onto Asbury’s campus. They make a beeline for the chapel. And from John’s perspective, it was actually pretty underwhelming. 

ZHONG YANG: You don’t need a waiting line. You’re just directly walking in, you know. I just feel no different than like a church service.

ANNA TRAN: Okay, so there was like no lines, there was like no crowds? 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, at this point, you know, the crowds really hadn’t shown up at all. You know, for John, it didn’t feel any different than the church service that they just got out of. So, after a few hours in the chapel, John and Levi leave campus, get back in their car, and come back to Louisville, and John doesn’t see why that was valuable to him at all. So, a few days later, John, uh, was going about his day when something online caught his eye. 

ZHONG YANG: Then I see some news was saying Asbury Revival is become the phenomenon.

JESSE EUBANKS: Like this is baffling to John because he’s like, “Thousands and thousands of people are talking about this thing that I just went and saw that was definitely not anything special,” but –

ZHONG YANG: The curiosity would draw me again. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So he calls Levi. He says, “Hey, Levi, let’s go back another time.” But Levi couldn’t. So John does this quirky thing. He’s like, “You know what? I’m gonna make a bet with myself.”

ANNA TRAN: Nice. Nice. I love a good bet. 

JESSE EUBANKS: He says, “Tomorrow I’m not gonna set an alarm. If I wake up by 5 a.m., I will drive to Asbury by myself. But if I don’t, then I’m just gonna go to a regular church service.” So, John goes to sleep Saturday night –

ZHONG YANG: And then –

JESSE EUBANKS: At 5 a.m. on Sunday –

ZHONG YANG: I wake up. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So, John jumps in his car. He drives to Asbury. And even at 6:30 a.m. in the morning, as he approaches the campus, he notices, “Gosh, this place is really congested with cars now.” Lines and lines of people snaking their way around buildings. So eventually he finds a parking spot. He jumps into one of these lines. 

ZHONG YANG: And I wait, like, six hours to finally get into the building. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So John walks into the chapel, and immediately he realizes this feels very different than the first time. You know, every single seat is filled, all the standing areas are filled, and as John is looking at all of this, he just finds something welling up inside of him, and he’s really overcome.

ZHONG YANG: I cried, I cried a lot, and, uh, I just cannot stop in crying.

JESSE EUBANKS: John was just really overtaken with all these emotions that he had never experienced before. And one of the things that rose up inside of him was this desire.

ZHONG YANG: I wanna change. I don’t wanna live in this way anymore. I feel really sincerely I want to repent.

JESSE EUBANKS: John looks down towards the front of the chapel, and he notices that there are a lot of people that are kneeling at this altar and that other people are praying over them. And so, John walks forward, he kneels down, and he starts praying.

ZHONG YANG: I just tell God I did a lot of, uh, sexual impurity things. 

JESSE EUBANKS: John said that he felt compelled to repent of going to the strip clubs, to the prostitution in Mexico, his addiction to pornography, he repented of his drug use. You know, John had cried a lot. He cried a lot of tears in Mexico, but those were tears of hopelessness. And he said this time they were tears of repentance and tears of hope. And so he tells God –

ZHONG YANG: I feel your grace. I feel your love. I wanna repent, and, uh, I wanna be reborn. Before I know the Christianity, it’s kind of like a knowledge to me. I don’t feel much the connection me with God. 

JESSE EUBANKS: John said that, you know, logic and reasoning – they, they did play a really big role in moving him closer to God, but the reality is that a really big piece was missing. 

ZHONG YANG: The last one is emotionally. That’s my long time struggle to finally believe in God. 

JESSE EUBANKS: John ended up staying all day at Asbury, all the way until midnight, and then he drove back to Louisville. And John says that his heart was completely changed forever.

ZHONG YANG: I feel the, the love of God. I have no shame to, to be a Christian and to share the Scripture to, to the people. 

JESSE EUBANKS: You know, for years, all John wanted was the American dream, and now, all of a sudden, John’s got all these new dreams. He’s got this dream of starting a small tech company and being able to use it for the kingdom of God, putting it in front of the Lord and just saying, “God, what do you want to do with this? I wanna be open-handed.”

So what do we do with all this? For many of us as Christians, whether it’s a revival, whether it is a church camp, whether it is a worship service, we have these special moments where God pierces through the veil in ways that are extraordinary, in ways that touch us and move us and shape us, in ways that we will forever remember. They become like wind in our sails. But, just like everybody in this story, those moments come and go, and we can’t just live off of those moments. We have to know that faithfully walking with God day after day, year after year, trusting that he is still present even in the moments where we don’t feel him or see him in the ways that we wish that we could, that it’s still valuable and it still matters. He’s still bringing revival to us every single day, taking us from a place of hopelessness to hope, taking us from death to life. Habakkuk 3:2 says, “I have heard all about you, Lord. I’m filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again, as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy.” So we continue to pray for the rising generation, that they will see the Lord in their deep time of need and ask him to come and meet them again. 

ASHER BRAUGHTON: This Gen Z generation, these college students, they are serious about Jesus. The reverence and the respect that people have for the Lord, like it has not been lost on this generation that has been raised up. We love the Lord. We are serious about him. We don’t want anything else but the true, authentic version of Jesus. I’m reminded of John 3:30, and it’s, it just says that like, “I must decrease, we as humans must decrease, you must increase Lord. That we would decrease and that you, Jesus, would increase.” And I’ve just seen that heart posture be so captured by the students in this Gen Z generation, of wanting to just become so little, to be so humble before the Lord, to have our names be forgotten, but the name of the Lord Jesus be remembered.


JESSE EUBANKS: Special thanks to our interviewees – Sarah Baldwin, Jeannie Banter, Lena Marlowe, Asher Braughton, Lexie Presta, and Zhong Yang. 

ANNA TRAN: Senior producer and host is Jesse Eubanks. Co-host is me, Anna Tran. 

JESSE EUBANKS: This episode was written by Anna Tran and Jesse Eubanks. Anna Tran is our producer and audio editor, who called her cell phone company the other day because her bill had climbed so much she was informed her plan no longer existed.

ASHER BRAUGHTON: I wasn’t exactly the most thrilled to hear that they were ending the services. 

ANNA TRAN: Music is from Lee Rosevere, Poddington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions, and Murphy DX.

JESSE EUBANKS: This show is brought to you by Love Thy Neighborhood. If you want a hands-on experience of missions in our modern times, come serve with Love Thy Neighborhood. Love Thy Neighborhood offers summer and year long missions internships for young adults ages 18 to 30. Bring social change with the gospel by working with an innovative nonprofit and serving your urban neighbors. 

ANNA TRAN: Experience community like never before as you live and do ministry with other Christian young adults. Grow in your faith by walking in the life and lifestyle of Jesus and being a part of a vibrant, healthy church. Get more info by visiting

JESSE EUBANKS: Which of these was a neighbor to the man in need? The one who showed mercy. Jesus tells us, “Go, and do likewise.”


This podcast is only made possible by generous donors like you!


Special thanks to our interviewees Sarah Baldwin, Jeannie Banter, Asher Braughton, Lexie Presta, Lena Marlowe and Zhong Yang.
Senior producer and host is Jesse Eubanks. Co-host is Anna Tran.
This episode was written by Anna Tran and Jesse Eubanks.
Anna Tran is our producer and audio editor.
Music for this episode comes from Podington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions & Murphy D.X.