Protesters in Seattle have taken over a few blocks of the city after they were vacated by police, designating the area the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (or CHOP). The area—previous known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ)—is marked by repurposed police barricades at each end, but people are free to walk through. Marches and protests in Seattle often originate and end in this "cop-free zone," and protesters have reportedly made themselves at home, planting community gardens, setting up food and aid booths, and creating street art.
Pastor Brian Gibson—who leads His Church, a multisite church with campuses in Kentucky and Texas—says he has felt the Holy Spirit leading him to minister in CHOP. He tells Charisma News that last night, he visited the area and prayed for local protesters. And next week, he intends to hold three days of prayer marches through CHOP to reach those inside with the hope of Jesus—and he's inviting Christians from around the U.S. to join him.
"We just see that the city needs a covering of prayer and a gospel witness," Gibson says. "If we can get people praying, we can change the atmosphere. So I feel like we're going to have a big turnout. I feel like it's going to make a big spiritual impact. ... [In CHOP,] what I do is I ask people. I listen to people—everybody wants their story told, and everybody wants to be heard. And then I'll offer to pray for them: 'I'm a Christian minister. Can I pray for you in the name of Jesus?' And I prayed for tons of people last night."
Gibson's prayer march at CHOP will take place in the evening from June 23-25. Gibson says he has partnered with several Seattle-area pastors and churches for the march, and they're extending the invitation to leaders and laymen alike to come join them.
"We're going to be bringing pastors from all over the nation," Gibson says. "[I've been] here for two or three days, just me and a few friends. We walked in last night and ministered in CHOP. But I'm bringing pastors from all over the nation. They'll be flying in, and we're going to start ministering this coming Tuesday."
Gibson says that he is glad to see so many brothers and sisters in Christ standing against racism and says he approves of all peaceful protesters—"It smells like liberty [even] when they disagree with me." But he says he was specifically drawn to minister in CHOP because he is concerned by the lawlessness and violence in that area.
"Seattle's one of the most beautiful cities in America, and I hate to see it be destroyed from the inside out. You see right now all the businesses boarded up. I'm down here where the action is in Seattle, and it looks like they're prepared for war. ... Seattle right now is falling into lawlessness and falling into a godless culture on that hill."
Gibson says he believes prayer will be more effective than any political action from the right or left—and he believes our nation needs a turning point within the next "six weeks to two months."
"I think we need a spiritual awakening in America," Gibson says. "That's the only thing that's going to end racism. That's the only thing that's going to end fear. And quite frankly, I think hatred is at a higher level right now than it's been in years in America. So I think that's what we need: the heart of humanity touched. ... When we get the heart of humanity touched, fear, hatred and racism will bow their knees to the name of Jesus."
In that vein, Gibson says the point of the prayer march is simple: "I believe it's a time to pray. It's a time to witness. It's a time to love people and drive hatred back."
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