Warner University Bonfires Spark Worship, Community among Students
By Julie Campbell
Every Tuesday night during the school year, the courtyard at Warner University lights up with the glow of a bonfire and the warmth of worship.
Danielle Bean, interim director of student activities, describes the time as “a student-led, staff-supported time of gathering on campus at the clock tower that allows students to hear from each other by sharing testimony, Bible verses, and an encouraging word from God.”
The tone of the event is lighthearted and includes worship music, refreshments (s’mores included, of course), games, and a speaker. Attendance varies between 50 to 150 students, depending on which other events might be scheduled for the evening.
“We offer corn hole, spikeball, and in our student center have ping-pong going on prior to bonfire and after for hanging out,” says Bean. “These are loosely structured but have foundational aspects, such as offering music, inviting the guest, sharing Scripture, praying together, hearing the Word explained, and then concluding with games and refreshments.”
Building community is an important part of the bonfires, Bean explains.
“They are a vital time of fellowship and building community with peers that they might not otherwise have interactions with.”
Anna Hill, a sophomore elementary education major from Perry, Florida, took over as the student lead for the bonfire night in the spring of 2022.
“I just love doing bonfires. I think that Tuesday night bonfires are very important because it’s convenient for the students to come,” she explains. “They can get their spiritual growth credit, as well as learning more and more about Jesus from either students or faculty.”
Since the Asbury Revival began at Asbury College in Kentucky, Bean has noticed a shift in the bonfire nights.
“The numbers (of students attending) have not changed, but the environment and atmosphere has been shifted to more mature and serious regarding the Word,” Bean says. “I am aware of students experiencing some major shifts in perspective during a bonfire due to the Scripture shared, things that would help them find their worth in God, and re-focusing on him.”
A post on the university’s Facebook page confirmed the same about a recent chapel service, “The Spirit of God is being felt at college campuses all around the world and Warner University is no different. The WU family experienced an amazing three hours of worship and prayer yesterday.”
According to Hill, more students are requesting to speak at the bonfire. She’s also planning “to make one bonfire at the end of March a full-blown worship night. God has been so great on our campus, and I want it to spread through the bonfires, as well.”
Julie Campbell is an editor at Warner Christian Resources (formerly Warner Press) and a freelance journalist. A former city girl from Chicago, she enjoys country life with her husband, Russ, on a five-acre apple orchard in Madison County, Indiana. She is a blessed mom of three wonderful young adult children and one very spoiled red Doberman puppy.