Thanks to one woman who stood alone in Illinois, all 50 states were represented in a global prayer meeting on Martin Luther King boulevards and monuments on Aug. 8.
Pray on MLK, which included 10 nations, transformed public streets and memorials into altars of repentance and worship for two hours beginning at 6:01 p.m., the time a shot was fired at Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963.
Rather than a one-time gathering, leaders of the historic Pray on MLK are preparing a movement. And they're buoyed by the action of the woman who personally invested almost $600 to promote Pray on MLK in Illinois.
She is the one person the Lord chose to pray for justice, righteousness and racial reconciliation there, according to Pray on MLK leaders, who applauded her vigilance and passion standing alone.
"If you look at Ezekiel 22, which is really the basis for the structure that we did with the prayer moment, it says in verse 30 that the Lord searched for a man to repair the wall and stand in the gap for him on behalf of the land. But he found no one," said Jonathan Tremaine Thomas, a pastor who participated in Pray on MLK in St. Louis, Missouri, where many witnessed a heavenly sign.
In Illinois, the Lord found a woman named Colleen Feehan who jumped on board Pray on MLK the minute she heard about it, paying for radio and newspaper advertising and utilizing social media as well.
"Not one single person showed up," Feehan said. "I was devastated at first. I made up my mind that I would stay there for the whole two hours, regardless.
"I did actually meet one elderly African American woman the last five minutes of my two hours there. She was a sweetheart," Feehan said, eliciting applause from Pray on MLK leaders around the nation and her regional director in Illinois.
"I really felt called to do this—not for applause—in a super-committed way."
In an email to Feehan, MLK regional director Jericho Jones wrote, "You didn't just meet an elderly lady the last few minutes; you met Christ."
From Pray on MLK gatherings like Feehan's to gatherings of 500, all were victories because success is measured by faithfulness in showing up, said Thomas. In addition to being a pastor, Thomas is director of Civil Righteousness, which linked arms with Pray on MLK and its leaders.
"The Bible says where two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus, He is there," said Thomas, the founder of Civil Righteousness. The organization exists to equip culture to become manufacturers of peace and instruments of righteousness through spiritual wholeness and moral excellence.
Thomas said he, like Feehan, wondered about the success of Pray on MLK the next morning, asking if the event fulfilled God's vision and heart.
"I got a text message from my mother-in-law in North Carolina about an earthquake that that morning," said Thomas who, as Pray on MLK St. Louis began the night before, commented to his wife and leaders that the ground and atmosphere was about to shift.
It began to rain for a moment, then stopped, with a triple rainbow appearing in the sky, seemingly a sign like weather including earthquakes, hurricanes, wind and rain, and discerning the times spoken by the Lord in Luke 12.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, also a Pray on MLK site, a leader was awakened by the earthquake.
"When I kind of got my bearings, I said, 'Wait a minute, we're having an earthquake,' and that's not normal in North Carolina. I just started yelling, "Thank You, Jesus!' because I knew it was confirmation, that a shift had happened in the spiritual realm manifesting in the natural," said Candace Salamone.
When Salmone posted pictures of Pray on MLK Charlotte to social media, she realized the earth literally shook—not because of a prayer event in North Carolina, but because of unity across the nation, making declarations in agreement with the Lord, obeying Him. "It bent the ear of heaven," she said.
Hours before an online meeting with Pray on MLK leaders, Thomas heard about Israel and the United Arab Emirates reaching a historic peace deal.
"Now we'll see how well that holds up and for how long it lasts, but there's something about this tension between Gentile nations, between Black and white," Thomas said. ""All the division and 'isms' between Black and white that is ultimately kind of a micro picture of a higher micro reality, which is that division between Jew and Gentile that Jesus came to destroy on the cross—through the cross—breaking the dividing wall of hostility.
"So the fact that this week that we would see an announcement with Israel and the Arab community—this is highly significant. It's above my pay grade but I'm a student right now, and I'm willing to be taught by the Lord," Thomas said.
Beyond Pray on MLK, Civil Righteousness hopes to become a movement with frequent events and training that help shift people from the accusation that the movement represents an "All Lives Matter" response to Black Lives Matter.
"One of the challenges that we're dealing with in our nation right now is the spirit of accusation which, if you look in Zechariah or in Joshua, you see Joshua standing in for the Lord as a priest, being accused by Satan, the accuser of the brethren," Thomas said.
"One of the things that's prominent in American culture is a spirit of attack and accusation where people are so offended with anybody who does anything," Thomas said.
Pray on MLK is a beginning.
"In my mind, this was not an event," Thomas said. "It was part of a movement, a grass-roots effort to begin to stir a grass-roots movement in the body of Christ like we've not seen since the days of Dr. King."
He said the goal is to get people to engage at a heart level, where biblical hope found Jesus is the foundation. "How do we begin to stir in activism? How do we begin to move in the Spirit of prayer but, also in the natural, through the pursuit of the dream of God of justice with righteousness?
"With righteousness, moral excellence, the standards of heaven, not forsaking loving our neighbor, not speaking up and advocating for those who've been voiceless and have no voice," Thomas said.
"We want to create tables of communion, the table of brotherhood, tables of mediation, where we're doing the ministry of reconciliation, bringing sides together. We want to create tables of negotiation where we're leading the charge in our cities and regions to see public policy change, if that's what needs to be negotiated," he added.
Criminal justice, education, police reform, starting with the reformation of the church first, dealing with the root of racism and division in our regions within the body of Christ are also keys, Thomas said.
Innovation is important as well. "We want to see new systems, structures innovated that proceed from a place of intimacy with God. These are the types of things we see moving forward.
"Really what Dr. King built, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference [SCLC], a conglomerate of churches pursuing justice through non-violence.
"So we feel in a similar way this is a blueprint to the SCLC we can potentially build. And again there are other organizations out there. We know of a couple. We'll partner because we're not trying to be the only people on the block. We want to see Jesus glorified," Thomas said.
Steve Rees is a former general assignment reporter who, with one other journalist, first wrote about the national men's movement Promise Keepers from his home in Colorado. Rees and Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney attended the Boulder Vineyard. Today Rees writes in his free time.
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