Cedarville students sense a spiritual awakening

Story by Alan Brads and Maggie Fipps
Photos by Logan Howard

At 8 p.m. sharp Monday, President Dr. Thomas White takes the stage in front of over 1,000 students curious to see how the night would take shape.

“We have no idea what we’re doing tonight,” White said. “That’s a good thing because otherwise nothing would happen. It’s up to the Lord tonight.”

Ten hours before this moment, White took the same stage to open Cedarville University’s Monday morning chapel, a typical student body meeting, and the only one scheduled for the day. The DMC chapel was fraught with nervous energy, as students with protest signs sat near the front. Due to recent campus events, the Cedarville Interpreter – an Instagram page critical of the university – had organized a walkout to support sexual assault victims. Fifteen to 20 students wearing teal sat near the front, preparing to protest as soon as Dr. White ascended the steps. Only a few left.

White addressed the events of the past two weeks head on, encouraging students not to spread rumors in the absence of facts. Back from his travels to Fiji, it felt like a year’s worth of events had happened in his two-week absence.

Preaching quickly morphed into praying. The open altar was first approached by Dr. Andrew Harris and several students formed a prayer chain, shoulder to shoulder, around him. Soon a sea of students occupied the front of the stage, prayer and singing overtook the planned message of the morning and White suggested students stay or leave as they felt led. White also announced the second prayer meeting at 8 p.m. and invited any students who wanted to remain after chapel and worship to do so.

Chapel leaked past its end time of 10:50. The DMC clock tower struck 11 a.m., and around 200 students remained, worshiping and praying fervently. 

Although outward posture varied as students sat, hugged and stood, the gathering felt like a collective kneeling before the Lord. The bell tower struck noon. Then 1. Still, students remained.

One tangible sign of the Lord’s work was the two male students who were saved. 

As the gathering officially closed around 1 p.m., small groups of students stuck around, not willing to leave where the Lord was working. 

By 4 p.m. a group of about 25 students still hovered around the grand piano, singing and praying. The band left hours ago, but hymnals and volunteer piano players picked up where the band left off.

Lalitha Gadde, a student and one such volunteer piano player, spent over 11 hours in the chapel, singing, praying and reading scripture, and spent more than three consecutive hours on the piano.

“My family likes to use the term ‘heaven rehearsal’ when thinking about worship events like this,” Gadde said. “So today felt like a heaven rehearsal. That’s how I’d describe it.”

Gadde emphasized her belief that this spiritual rejuvenation should bring practical change.

“We sang song after song after song about God’s holiness,” Gadde said. “We see things like gossip and slander, all these relational sins. I think the only thing that can solve all these things isn’t merely a moral change, but a recognition of who God is and who we are in relation to him.”

At no point did the chapel completely empty out before the evening brought a resurgence of students.

As the newly scheduled evening meeting approached, students trickled back into the chapel accompanied by scattered faculty, alumni, parents and campus safety officers. Students filed into the front rows, abandoning their habitual chapel seats. 

White took the stage alongside Heartsong musicians, led by their assistant director, Ashlynn Robinette.

“We have no idea what we’re doing tonight,” White said. “We have 10 minutes of stuff planned. Then I don’t know what’s gonna happen.”

White decided the first course of action should be prayer in small groups. Students pulled in group-less strangers to pray with them and poured out prayer requests to each other.

White turned the stage over to Robinette’s team. Thundering instruments and booming voices shook the chapel. Voices from every corner of the room shouted praise, often abandoning pitch for passion. 

At 9 p.m., the scheduled end time, White asked if everyone was ready to leave and was met with a unanimous “No!” from the crowd. 

Rather than tiring as the night wore on, students’ energy increased. The back rows emptied as students filed into the gap between the first row and the stage. Many jumped, shouted and lifted their hands. Others cried out on their hands and knees.

“God’s obviously working,” said Katrina Sidlo, a student in attendance that night. “I don’t know what he’s doing, and I don’t think anyone expected this, but honestly, I saw a glimpse of heaven, and that’s what brought people together.”

The night culminated with jubilation as the band played “Glorious Day” and “Great Things” as a response to crowd requests. 

White closed the night down just after 10 p.m., but he again invited any students who wished to gather around the grand piano and continue singing to do so. 

Music rang out through the chapel until the midnight curfew.

“I saw over 1,000 students who, from my perspective, were sincerely seeking to praise the Lord and worship him,” White said after the event. “And on a Monday night, when they don’t have to be here, that’s special.

“This was very unique. This is an unscheduled event that just kind of happened. I have never in my life seen chapel go to 1:15 in the afternoon. This is a special, unique time where God is doing something cool, I just don’t want to mess it up.”

When asked about her point of view from the stage, Robinette became overwhelmed.

“I saw repentance,” she said.  “I saw people crying out to the Lord, I saw rejoicing, I saw joy, I saw peace, I saw people praying for each other, I saw the body of Christ at work.”

Robinette came to Cedarville around the same time as White and found the events just as shocking and unique as he did.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said as students crowding the piano began their own rendition of “How He Loves.”

Some say it’s a reawakening, some have called it revival, and others say it was just a special night of worship. Whatever it was, students are excited to make changes as an outpouring of their renewed love for God.

Alan Brads is a sophomore journalism student and frequent contributor for Cedars. He enjoys playing the drums and speaking Spanish, and watches Buckeye football like his life depends on it.

Maggie Fipps is a sophomore journalism student and the sports editor of Cedars. She enjoys playing the piano and thrifting, and you may spot her around campus sporting Packers gear head to toe.

18 Replies to "Cedarville students sense a spiritual awakening"

  • comment-avatar
    Jacob Tipton February 15, 2023 (4:08 pm)

    Fantastic to observe and experience from so far away. What a blessing. Look forward to what will follow. Praising the Lord

  • comment-avatar
    Dean Seigneur February 15, 2023 (10:04 pm)

    The Holy Spirit is bringing revival to America. He began moving at Asbury University and Seminary last week. All the across the world people are traveling hours to see how He is moving. May He move at at Cedarville for His Glory and the school’s Good.

  • comment-avatar
    Jim February 16, 2023 (12:01 am)

    This movement is going great!!! I’d love to see the midnight curfew lifted so there can be joy unto the lord at all hours

    • comment-avatar
      Terence February 16, 2023 (5:06 pm)

      Hello, Is the awakening/revival/Holy Spirit still going strong?? Thanks, God is good!!!

      • comment-avatar
        Weiny February 17, 2023 (6:05 pm)

        It’s such wonderful to see so many young people’s are starting to follow God. I think it is the beginning of Revival is showing every where. God is good..

    • comment-avatar
      Tammy February 17, 2023 (3:29 pm)

      My little church in Texas used to do this frequently. Our pastor would prepare a sermon, but often said that the Holy Spirit has other things in mind, so we would just love, and be loved, by our sweet Savior for hours on end. The clock never dictated the end of services because “the Holy Spirit has work to do”, according to our pastor. I’ve never seen such unbridled passion for Christ in any other church, from any other pastor. I’m sure they are out there, and I pray that more will choose to be led by the Spirit like this. God blesses all churches and disciples that chuck their clocks to let Him move. Glory be to God!

  • comment-avatar
    Judy Carey February 16, 2023 (4:06 pm)

    Yes – I agree with lifting curfew – if God is moving it shouldn’t be stopped; Lord I pray for You to strengthen leadership and bring more leaders in if necessary to keep this flame going continuously before You❤️‍

  • comment-avatar
    Ruth Pavani February 17, 2023 (10:04 am)

    Really it’s God’s amazing work. The youngsters enjoyed God’s presence. May God bless these students and bring revival in the nations.

  • comment-avatar
    Nate S February 17, 2023 (12:49 pm)

    The Lord is moving on this campus and on campuses across the country!! He is so powerful!! Thank you for this encouraging article!

  • comment-avatar
    Dawn Baxley February 17, 2023 (1:40 pm)

    Gen Z is on the move through the great Holy Spirit and Revival is in the air just as the film Jesus Revolution is being released in theaters Friday across America. That season in time was my Generation. He’s done it before … He’s doing it.. and will continue to do it again. Come Holy Spirit .

  • comment-avatar
    Roger February 18, 2023 (6:40 am)

    May our local churches get on fire. Lord, move in our church here in Jamestwn, NY.

  • comment-avatar
    Ted February 19, 2023 (12:29 pm)

    Great to see people choosing God

  • comment-avatar
    Jay February 20, 2023 (12:20 am)

    I am vey interested in attending your revival. I am very new to this & just knowing this is going on & wanting to come, something inside me has happened. Please give me info on how to come. Is there a link that I can watch ?

  • comment-avatar
    John February 20, 2023 (10:50 pm)

    Is revival still going on?

  • comment-avatar
    Troy Hughes February 21, 2023 (11:30 am)

    I am vey interested in attending your revival. I am very new to this & just knowing this is going on & wanting to come, something inside me has happened. Please give me info on how to come. Is there a link that I can

  • comment-avatar
    Richard February 24, 2023 (6:13 am)

    My wife and I want to experience what is happening on your campus. We want to head you way(FROM FLORIDA), but won’t be able to come til NEXT Saturday the 4th. Is there any information on times the revival is open to come into? Don’t want to drive there if there isn’t access, but definitely want to experience God in a fresh way. Thank you and God bless you

    • comment-avatar
      Chloe Smith February 27, 2023 (12:40 pm)

      Hello! Our spring break begins on the 4th so the campus will be fairly empty if you were to come during that week.

  • comment-avatar
    Ga’alyah W April 2, 2023 (7:12 am)

    Is CedarVille Revival still going on?

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