55,000 answer 'The Call'
Rally calls America to pray & fast
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The sins of a nation drew an estimated 55,000 believers to Nashville July 7 to convene a "solemn assembly" and pray for spiritual awakening among America's young people.
Christians from all 50 states and countries as far away as Nepal and Mongolia gathered in Nashville's riverfront LP Field for The Call -– 12 hours of worship and prayer they hoped would spark a renewal movement that would sweep the country.
The nondenominational event marked 40 years since the "Summer of Love" in San Francisco unleashed a wave of sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, abortion on demand and pornography in the country and separated a generation of Americans from God, organizers said.
Public confession and repentance was a hallmark of the day, as a series of individuals testified about the havoc those sins had wreaked in their lives and publicly prayed for forgiveness –- both individually and on behalf of the nation.
Sam Brownback, a Republican senator from Kansas and GOP presidential contender, greeted the crowd when the meeting opened at 10 a.m., affirming that he shared their convictions about the sanctity of life and the need for spiritual renewal in America. Popular musicians like Ricky Skaggs, Michael W. Smith and Jeff Deo echoed Brownback's concerns and performed for the assembly.
The Nashville event also commemorated 40 years since the youth revival called the Jesus Movement swept America -– and organizers hoped it would spark a similar movement for another generation.
"America is a sleeping nation. We have casually and nonchalantly let things slide and get worse," said Morgan Blount, a staff member of The Call from Dallas. "We are calling for young people in this country to wake up and take a stand, to pray about our world instead of just complaining about what's wrong with it. We are calling them to take action and believe that the Lord can change things."
Prayer is the key to spiritual awakening, said Adam Thomas, a staff member of The Call from Louisville, Ky.
"This weekend was about prayer, whether you are Baptist or Catholic or Church of Christ. We believe that prayer changes things," Thomas said. "Our desire is to see God come back on the scene like He did in the 1800s, when there was a great awakening that shut down entire towns with the power of God.
"I believe that a movement of prayer is going to unlock these things for America. We believe history belongs to the intercessors. Ezekiel 22:30 tells us God is looking for a company of people who will stand in the gap in prayer so the country will not have to be destroyed. We want to be like the widow in Luke 17 who kept pressing the judge until he gave her what she wanted."
As midday temperatures soared near 100 degrees, worshipers lifted their hands in prayer. The stadium floor was sectioned off for those who wanted the freedom to prostrate themselves or kneel in prayer.
Many of those in attendance had fasted for up to 40 days in preparation. Prayerwalkers left Nashville's Centennial Park at 7 a.m. and made their way in silence through downtown to the stadium.
To symbolize their desire for America to return to a covenant relationship with God, three couples simultaneously exchanged marriage vows late in the afternoon.
Organizer Lou Engle, who initiated The Call in Washington, D.C., in 2000, chose the date -– 7/7/07 -– because seven is the biblical number of covenant.
"In the Old Testament, the cult of Baal was identified with violence and death, sexual promiscuity, pornography and promiscuity," said Dutch Sheets, senior pastor of Springs Harvest Fellowship in Colorado Springs, Colo. "We are here today to confess our nation's sin and ask God to renew His covenant with us. This stadium is a courtroom today. We have filed for divorce as a nation from the spirit of Baal, and we are petitioning God for custody of our children."
The event was broadcast live over the Internet at thecall.com and Christian television networks like God TV, TBN, DayStar and Inspiration Network also carried part of the proceedings to as many as 200 countries.
The evening closed with 300 men -– the number of Gideon's biblical army -– blowing the shofar while those in the stands shouted.
"That was the highlight for me," said Julia Richardson, spokeswoman for the event. "You could feel the presence of the Lord. In the sound of the shofar, we pray our destinies are released and that the city of Nashville would see a new wave of the Lord."
Future gatherings are planned later this year for Las Vegas, Kansas City, Atlanta, Orlando, Detroit and Berkeley, Calif. An assembly is scheduled for Washington, D.C., in August 2008.