Revival sparks at Calvin

Photo by Joe Mohan.
Photo by Joe Mohan.

A revival movement has started at Calvin College. Members of the revival have hosted Bible studies, discussions and community outreach events in partnership with Dégagé, a downtown homeless ministry.

The members of the revival meet in junior Stephen Tubergen’s apartment on Sunday evenings.

“It is like a Bible study about how we apply the word and a big sharing of testimonies,” Tubergen said.

The Sunday night meetings are not the only events connected with this movement. There was an outdoor on-campus worship event in early October and an event in early November called “The Send” in the CFAC auditorium.

The group is not restricted to Calvin students, junior Jeremy Smith said. It also includes members of the Grand Rapids community.

Our goal is not very showy, Smith said. He said it is best described by a Greek phrase.

“Our motto is Pleroo Ekballo,” Smith said, “which means to fill up and to lead out with an irresistible force.”

“We see that [filling up and pouring out] through physical healing, sharing experience[s], through random personal prayers, through everyday conversation,” Smith said.

“We have some of our brothers and sisters going out into Grand Rapids,” Smith said, “[to] love on the people in the community … [who] don’t have a home to go to.”

Freshman Anneri Vermeulen, acting on the group’s purpose, serves at Dégagé Ministries, a community organization on Division Street designed to help the poor by providing a place where they can work to get food and other services.

The movement for revival is not just isolated at Calvin, Vermeulen said. There are small revival groups all over West Michigan.

“It’s interesting that so many pockets of people are praying for a revival,” Tubergen said.

What makes the difference now is that all the groups have begun unifying for a revival and then going out and serving together, Vermeulen said.

This is also true at Calvin, and the group’s goal is to unify them, Smith said.

One of the other groups at Calvin is led by freshman Randall Foreman. At LOFT on Nov. 25, during a time of testimony, Foreman shared the story of how his Bible study group got started.

“I felt God called me to start a group where we just sat and talked about Jesus,” Foreman said.

The group is held in the Noordewier basement meditation chapel. When he started it there were only a few people, but it has since grown to 40 people.

But some may wonder why Calvin College needs a revival. Smith sees the revival as an extension of students’ Christian calling.

“Why wouldn’t we want to see God to continue to grow and mature his saints,” Smith said, “To encourage the good news and spread it?”

For those in the group, such as Tubergen, Smith and Vermeulen, this has been an experience of growth for them as well.

“In doing a lot of this,” Tubergen said, “it has put the Gospel to the forefront of my life and I feel like I have gained a lot of boldness to share it.”

“I’ve always thought that Jesus was number one in my life,” Vermeulen said, “but I realized that he wasn’t. Through this I have learned how to put him back up there.”

The idea of the group is not aiming to create a one-time experience with the Spirit, Smith said.

“We all deal with struggles we don’t want to talk about,” Smith said. “Temptations are all around us. We need to continue to be filled.”

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