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Neither rain, snow, sleet, wind, nor sun could keep them from praying for America. The unusual spring weather was freezing but the prayer was passionate and the emotion genuine at United Cry DC16. April 9 marked a historic day as pastors, Christian leaders, churches and believers prayed for the sins of the nation and healing from pride, racial division, abortion and denominational differences. For almost eight hours, thousands gathered at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, braving strong gusting winds and well-below freezing chill factors to participate in this landmark Solemn Assembly. United Cry DC16 was a day of tearing down the walls of division, embracing brotherhood, and building bridges that transcend rivers of prejudice and extend the kingdom of God into communities.
"We believe that God has a dream for America that we are not living," states Lewis Hogan, co-founder of United Cry, "America is in crisis, and God is the answer. There is hope for America, and we are contending for it."
The date of April 9 has historical significance, which impacted the rally. Rachel Hogan, co-founder of United Cry DC16, shared, "We had no idea how important this date was when we set the calendar. April 9 is the anniversary of the ending of the Civil War, beginning of the Azusa Street Revival and date of Detrick Bonhoeffer's execution. We know that God chose the date for United Cry DC16 and called pastors to pray for America with focus on repentance, revival and to engage the culture."
2016 Lincoln Prayer Proclamation
There were many firsts for the United Cry DC16 event. Lewis Hogan reminded them that President Abraham Lincoln called for a day of national prayer to heal the nation from the civil war. In the same spirit as Lincoln, United Cry DC16 has launched a 2016 Prayer Proclamation and asks people to sign it and affirm our need for national prayer.
In the driving snow showers that immediately followed, Anne Graham Lotz opened with a challenge for believers to pray like Daniel who touched heaven on behalf of his nation. She exhorted the group to not pray anemic prayers, but to use Scripture to add power. In classic "Graham family style," Lotz led the crowd through a list of national and personal sins, to which the entire group responded, "We repent." Quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14, Lotz reminded the assembly that God promises, "If My people who are called by my name will humble themselves, repent, and turn from their wicked ways," then God will hear from heaven and heal their land.
Bridging Racial Reconciliation Through Prayer and Demonstration
United Cry DC16 occurred in the same historic location where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the epic "I Have a Dream" speech. Another historical focus of the gathering was racial reconciliation and honoring of leaders who have been bridges of love. Members of the families of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., historic author Alex Haley and Dred Scott participated in the "repentance, sanctification and racial reconciliation" segment and a special "foot washing and mantle passing ceremony." Led by the daughter and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Drs. Bernice and Alveda King, a prayer of repentance and forgiveness was issued.
Remember the True Dream
The Reconciled Church Initiative with Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. hosted the Defenders of the Dream awards in honor of those who are outstanding examples of racial reconciliation. "It is important to remember and honor the true dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which was a vision from God," says Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, and founding member of The Reconciled Church Initiative. Jackson reminded the crowd that April 9, 1968, was also the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral. "These honorees are leaders that stand on the true rock of brotherhood and will teach and inspire the next generation to be bridges of peace," Jackson asserted.
Dr. Alveda King stated, "United Cry DC16 on April 9, 2016, reveals a season (when) grace meets judgment. This is indeed a "mega-jubilee" year. On Saturday, God's standard for a season of Servant Leaders was revealed by the examples of those commissioned."
Bridging Denominational Divisions
The Azusa Street revival, which launched the Pentecostal movement, was led by William J. Seymour, an African-American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, and was remarkable because "the color lines were erased by the move of the Holy Spirit." Multiple denominations grew from this move of God. However, several denominations including the Assemblies of God and Church of God in Christ evolved along racial lines. At United Cry, leaders from both denominations came together, repented for these divisions and reached out declaring that "We need each other and are moving forward together."
Bridges of Prayer Across America and to Israel
On April 9, another national prayer event, Azusa Now, was held in Los Angeles. Sharing the same goals of love, brotherhood and healing, a "Bridge of Prayer" simulcast was extended from coast to coast. It is believed that this historic bridge of prayer over the United States will help break the canopies of curses that block revival and release God's blessings over America. An international "Prayer Bridge" also extended to Israel with United Cry praying with pastors in Jerusalem led by Kevin Jessup.
No Excuse for Believers
The final hours of United Cry DC16 were packed with leaders challenging pastors and believers to be bold in engaging the culture. They were exhorted to be leaders in prayer, brotherhood, unity and community transformation. Dr. Ronnie Floyd, President of Southern Baptist Convention stated, "In today's world, believers have no excuse for staying on the sidelines. They must be engaged and stand for the gospel."
Mark Gonzales, president of the Hispanic Prayer Network agreed, "It's not just the component of prayer that's important. Prayer and civic action must unite so that we make an impact in our local community."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, urged Christians to not be afraid of taking a public stand for Jesus. "What American needs today is not a fear of man, but a fear of god. ... You and I in America today are not being asked to die for Jesus; we're simply being asked to live for Him."
We Must Remember God
Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn concluded the event and reminded Americans of the many blessings given them by God. But he noted that God is now withdrawing His hand "because we are failing to keep God first." "But," he said, "as long as God lives, there is hope, the light will overcome the darkness."
When asked, "What Next?" Lewis Hogan says, "We have only just begun! United Cry will continue on assembling 30,000 pastors and Christian leaders, a Gideon's army. We left Washington, D.C., on Saturday with this charge to the pastors: Like Nehemiah, go from the place of repentance and prayer and get busy, rebuild the walls around our cities and communities of righteousness and our Godly Judeo-Christian roots as a nation. It is time to get to work."
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