What’s not to like about a golden anniversary?

What’s not to like about a golden anniversary? Fifty years ago Emmanuel Missionary College became Andrews University, and this campus has never been the same! But what about a ruby anniversary? Did you know that forty years ago next week (which makes it a “ruby” commemoration, for those who keep track) there was a spiritual event on campus (it actually began off campus) that has left this university not quite the same ever since? Two weeks ago in my blog I reported on Beatrice Neall’s recital (“When God Came Down”) of what took place in the now hallowed fall of 1970 here at Andrews. An off-campus spiritual retreat attended by a hundred students, the igniting there of a collective fiery passion to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus, their return to campus after the weekend on fire for change, the Tuesday chapel that turned into an hours-long testimony service, the conversion of students and faculty, the spirit of grace and repentance and a fervor to witness for Christ that spread through the dormitories and cafeteria and classrooms, the subsequent contagion of Andrew’s revival at AUC and CUC and Oakwood and SMC—all of it began forty years ago October 8.

Was it genuine, for real? A few Wednesday evenings ago I was reading to our House of Prayer worshipers portions of Bea Neall’s history of that revival, and during our testimony time two hands shot up. Turns out that both of them were students at Andrews that fall, and both of them participated in that memorable Tuesday chapel spiritual outbreak. Yes it was genuine, and truly for real—as no doubt some of our alumni here for Homecoming this weekend could attest—the unforgettable 1970 Autumn at Andrews.

But quite frankly, I’m not one for spending a whole lot of time looking back, gratifying as the memories might be. Truth is we’re a new generation living in essentially a new era marked by socio-political-economic forces vaguely similar but radically different. Which is why we need for God to do “a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19) in our midst—a new revolution, a new revival and reformation. Is it too idealistic, too naïve to ask for such from God? Hardly!

A century ago the one who picked out this farmland to be Battle Creek College’s new site beside the St. Joseph River penned: “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. . . . A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer” (1SM 121, emphasis supplied).

Only in answer to prayer? Then wouldn’t it be right to invite alumni and students to band together in this shared “urgent” prayer? Of course, strategic plans and capital/faculty development and student recruitment are essential to a growing, thriving university community. But living on the edge as we are, it surely has occurred to more than a few of us that without fervent prayer for the unleashing of the Spirit of Christ deep within our collective heart and soul we are destined to live with the bar “raised low,” at a time when all of Heaven pleads for the bar to be raised higher and higher and higher still. “I have heard all about you, LORD, and I am filled with awe by the amazing things you have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as you did in years gone by. Show us your power to save us” (Habakkuk 3:2 NLT).