He continued, “I think at the end of the day, that is what attracts most people to movements of God: they have pain and a certain fracturing that needs to be dealt with. I know for me, the second night I was at Hughes, I realized I had some subliminal anger that I needed to give to the cross. That’s probably what it is for most people—some inner longing that perhaps they don’t even recognize to have something healed.”
Hardman expressed that he doesn’t think it is wrong for people to approach what his happening at the university with caution, saying, “I think there are a lot of people in the Christian world that have seen a lot of religious manufacturing, marketing, and manipulation. The concept ‘spiritual abuse’ or ‘religious abuse’ is frequently an experience lying behind many of those in the Gen Y, Millennial, and Gen Z experiences.”
“I don’t think we should find fault with those who raise an eyebrow at this initially,” Hardman explained. “But I think it’s also true that ‘the proof is in the pudding.’ I’ve been encouraged by how Asbury University, Asbury Theological Seminary, and the local churches have fostered this.”
Hardman shared that he is aware that some famous names have tried to “take center stage,” but that the administration has kept what is happening “student-centered.”
For the administration to “simply provide the checks and balances of safety, ensuring day-to-day goes on as usual—as a friend told me, nobody is thinking about the fact that somebody is keeping toilet paper on the rollers, et cetera—it provides a great testimony to its authenticity.”
“As one who has seen religious experiences manufactured and who generally has had a distaste for ‘revival’ based on how that has been used in the past, the university has given me a great deal of confidence that this really is a movement of God,” Hardman said. “That is not a sentiment I carry alone.”
Executive director of The Gathering of the Miami Valley in Springfield, Ohio, and host of the The Pinkleton Pull-Aside Podcast, Jeff Pinkleton, also shared his thoughts after attending Asbury’s chapel service on Wednesday.
“What is God doing here? Don’t want to say too much—I’m not an expert and don’t truly know—or put a label on it,” Pinkleton said. “I clearly hope it lasts as long as Holy Spirit wants to keep it, and that this move of God spreads! I do know his work here has peace, gentleness, kindness, purity of heart, peace, goodness, beauty, and redemption!”
As the worship service continues, university officials shared that beginning Monday (Feb. 20), a more structured schedule will be put in place in order to accommodate those in high school and young adults ages 25 and under.