A Harvard contingent of 50 joined 3,000 Christians in South Korea to top off their week-long vigil of prayer and fasting aimed at turning Harvard back from “secularism and humanism” and returning it to its Christian roots.
The Joshua Project, a local Christian group that encourages religious revivals on Massachusetts campuses, organized the vigil with the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship (HRCF) and the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian-American Christian Fellowship (HRAACF).
The vigil’s purpose was “intercession, or petitionary prayer, in which people are asking God to bless Harvard with spiritual renewal,” said Jimmy Quach, chaplain for the United Ministry and a representative for HRCF and HRAACF.
Harvard was singled out because of its influence around the world, said Edson Porto, who leads the Joshua Project. Since Harvard trains so many world leaders and international students, a spiritual revival at the University could have an enormous global influence.
The participants said they hope to fight a “spiritual contamination” in higher education, marked by the rise of secularism and humanism, which has trickled down through society, Porto said.
Both Porto and Quach said they want to see Harvard return to its origins as a spiritual institution. Porto also pointed to a missed opportunity concerning Harvard’s many international students.
“They leave influences here but sometimes they don’t take good influences back with them—the Gospel—because no one preaches it to them,” he said.
Porto brought the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea on board by contacting a teacher he knew at a seminary in South Korea.
The Yoido Church has the world’s largest congregation, with about 850,000 members, according to Quach.
With her help, Porto was able to arrange for between 2,000 and 3,000 members of the congregation to fast and pray for Harvard from Saturday to Saturday.
On campus, about 50 people joined the vigil on its last day, some of them students and others, the organizers said, “from the entire New England region who have a heart to pray for Harvard.”
The final day lasted from Friday at 6 p.m. to Saturday at 6 p.m.
Participants drifted in and out during the vigil’s three eight-hour blocks, which were held at Phillip Brooks House, Appleton Chapel and Harvard Hall.
Participants voiced a variety of goals for the vigil.
“If we could bring the real God back to Harvard, we could convert the entire world, even the Muslims,” said Alemnesh Bulti, a member of the Joshua Project.
She also cited “feminism and Buddhism” as further signs of the contamination.
But not everyone had such a missionary zeal.
“We’re not trying to convert people, just that God will heal our land, heal our people,” said another participant who is not a member of the Joshua Project.