Fading Spiritual Momentum

Spiritually speaking, Fall semesters at Cornell University start out with a bang. The weather is warm, exams and papers are weeks away, and campus fellowships and ministry leaders work overtime during the freshmen “gathering process.”  

But the spiritual momentum often fades quickly after just a few weeks. The heavy academic workload triggers anxiety and stress, while temperatures fall, daylight wanes, and enthusiasm gives way to widespread spiritual apathy. By the time snow blankets the campus, it truly symbolizes the spiritual climate. Many Christian students and campus ministers breathe a sigh of relief when the Fall semester ends.

Sparking United Prayer

But Cornell was very different this Fall. In late August, just days before the semester started, a dozen students gathered for ministry time with Song-hee Bae, and her husband, Josh Cha.  Song is a Korean pastor and Yale Divinity School student who has a vision for revival on the East Coast. They called this meeting “Spark, and the ministry time proved catalytic.  Several students were deeply impacted and committed to gather daily at 7:30 am to pray and seek the Lord together at the Cornell House of Prayer (CHOP).  

The students called the gathering Kindle and, as the days went by, it emerged into a student-led time of intercession, worship, reading of Scripture, personal ministry, and listening to the Lord. Five to 20 students could be found at the CHOP on any given morning, and students from several Christian fellowships participated. When the semester finally came to a close, Kindle had gathered to pray for 120 days! They even met during Finals week!

A Spiritual Tide

Students praying together daily is a great testimony, in and of itself, but there is more to this story. In the midst of this intercession, at least 31 people received Jesus Christ as their Lord! Several long-time campus ministers who have been here for 20, 30 and even 40 years do not recall a semester where so many students have met the Lord.  

Significantly, the salvations were not reported by one particular fellowship or church, and were the result of many different forms of evangelism. Some met the Lord through one-on-one relational evangelism, while others met Him during an evangelistic outreach. Some decided to follow Jesus after hanging out in small groups to check out Christianity, while others met Him through cold-contact power evangelism. The united prayer seemed to create a spiritual tide that lifted the boats of every form of ministry!

Christ Binds Wounds

In addition to students meeting Jesus, several students received inner healing from deep emotional pain and trauma, and some received physical healing, and new encounters with the Holy Spirit.  So much more happened that is tangible, but harder to quantify.  For instance, there was a marked increase in love between students, a significant jump in the distribution and potency of spiritual gifts, a burst in the amount of organic worship, more random evangelism, and some spontaneous efforts to build greater unity to the Body of Christ.

The Lord of the Harvest is moving at Cornell, and He is responding to the consistent and persistent prayers of students.

This article was originally written in the Fall of 2015