Revival Speaker Inspires, Challenges with God's Love
WILMORE, KY. — In the early 1980s, Jorge Acevedo came to Asbury just rescued from an alcohol and drug-filled life. This week, Acevedo ’84 has addressed Asbury’s student body from the Hughes Auditorium pulpit to share his message of “The Outrageous Love of God” during Fall Revival 2012.
His topics — God’s love invites, accepts, forgives, heals, equips, never fails and sends us — stem from a desire to reach students who might have grown up in a Christian home, as well as those who have just started their spiritual journeys like he did at Asbury.
Dedicating his life to Christ at age 17, Acevedo said he was the only Christian in his family. His dad wanted him to join the Air Force, but he came to Asbury to study Bible.
“When I came here, I was hungry,” he said. “Christianity was all brand new for me. It was an adventure. No one had made me go to Vacation Bible School. When I came to Asbury, it was the first time I was hearing biblical stories. I was sopping it up like biscuits and gravy. So I wanted to speak on something this year that would be inspiring and challenging at the same time.”
His mission to inspire and challenge fits into Asbury’s most renowned spiritual emphases during Chapel: Fall Revival. Started more than 100 years ago, this emphasis week focuses on the first part of John Wesley Hughes’ initial vision for Asbury. He wanted to found a school that clearly spoke to "free salvation for all men, and full salvation from all sin," showing all people they can know Jesus.
“Jorge’s theme is a perfect example of a Fall Revival theme,” said Rev. Greg Haseloff, associate dean of campus ministries and campus chaplain. “It’s an introductory. It speaks about salvation and re-grabs people who have already been in the Christian faith.”
Falling in the first full month of school, Fall Revival serves as one of the first spiritual markers for the campus each school year. With seven services in one week, Fall Revival echoes its camp meeting-like past, and Acevedo is able to build upon his sermons while acquainting himself with the rest of campus.
“Because we have one speaker for a week and seven services, you have to be intentional about being there,” said junior Caleb Wheat, vice president of spiritual life. “It makes you want to focus on God. Usually in a revival, you don’t hear an invitation from the speaker till the end of the week, but Jorge’s approached it right off the bat.”
Acevedo pastors Grace Church in Southwest Florida. Grace Church’s attendance has grown from 400 to more than 2,600 in the past 16 years. He was named the 2009 Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church and has also served as a delegate several times for the Jurisdiction Conference and the General Conference.
Jorge spoke at Asbury’s baccalaureate last spring, and that’s when he was asked to speak in Chapel this semester.
“At Baccalaureate, he left such an impact that we wanted the rest of campus to hear him,” Haseloff said. “He’s been an active alumni, and his ministry has had such a great impact on the church. We wanted him on campus and students to be under his preaching and teaching.”
Despite his influential position in church leadership, Acevedo remains accessible to students and grounded in the realities of every-day student life that can make it difficult to set aside time for another speaker or lecture.
“Fall Revival is all about an opportunity to meet with God and with fellow students,” Acevedo said. “It’s not, ‘Oh, he’s one of those speakers I like.’ And I’m not one of those guys who wants to guilt people into going. But who knows what you might miss? You should show up and see what God might do.”
--by Will Houp '12