Leaders, churches and ministries are calling for a five day solemn assembly in Oklahoma from May 28 through June 1 as one of its cities marks the 100-year anniversary of what's called the Tulsa Race Massacre.
Pastors and prayer leaders William L. Ford III, Jonathan Tremaine Thomas and Billy Humphrey are bringing ministry teams and intercessors to Oklahoma for the assembly, hosted by churches and the Tulsa House of Prayer.
A prayer tour of downtown Tulsa is slated for May 31 when, 100 years ago to the day, a white mob killed 300, injured hundreds and displaced 8,000 over 18 hours on June 1, 1921 in the Greenwood District.
"The dates that memorialize the massacre would be May 31 and June 1," said Stu Bents, a local organizer with Civil Righteousness, which has hosted an event called Pray on MLK after civil rights leader and pastor Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pray on MLK began last year at locations across the nation and around the world.
After hosting a wall of remembrance on May 31, teams will pray and walk to seven locations in the Greenwood District which, in 1921, was the black Wall Street and home to successful African-American businesses.
"We'll stop at every location, pray, read through some Scriptures and share a little of the history as we go through there. And then we'll circle back to the starting location at the intersection of MLK Boulevard and Reconciliation Way," Bents said.
"We obviously want to do some deeper repentance and remembrance and pray through Scripture. Isaiah 61 is a big one. Nehemiah one is another Scripture we want to pray over that area," he continued.
"We've been praying over it from time to time for a number of years, as has a number of others for several years," said Bents who, at a location called Stand Pipe Hill, encountered a Satan worshiper in 2013 during another prayer event.
Bents, along with other leaders, note the event was covered up in the years following and, only since the turn of the century, has the extent of the massacre come to light.
"There was something that happened to stir up controversy in the town between a young man and a woman, a Black and a white, which I think were actually dating. But there was a lot of misinformation, things happening, and people got stirred up.
"That started a series of events—a riot and a massacre that went on through that night into the next day. And, by the time it was over, the whole business district was completely destroyed and burned to the ground.
"It was kind of brushed under the rug. Reparations were not really made. Even in history books it wasn't covered at all at first. Now you can find a whole lot more information on it. People come into town and do documentaries on it," said Bents, who as a Lyft Driver, recently transported two camera crews covering the story.
He's driven a Wall Street Journal reporter, NBA player LeBron James, a National Geographic representative and a CNN crew.
"It's coming to light more and more. I think that's necessary so that the depth of what happened can be dealt with. So the people of God can weep with the Lord like He did with the family of Lazarus before He brought him back to life. He wanted to engage them in a deeper way. So I believe that's part of what's happening," Bents said.
He asked that people pray for God's provision to accomplish what we're trying to do, and the message to go across the way God wants it to be presented in public and at two Tulsa churches—Spirit Life and Believers—with all-day prayer on June 1.
Jonathan Tremaine Thomas, an African-American pastor from the Ferguson, Missouri, area and founder of Civil Righteousness, believes fasting and prayer in Tulsa are keys to "breakthrough and breaking in there— a whole city that's an altar of pain that's been lost in history."
"I consider myself pretty locked in on American history, but particularly African-American history," said Thomas. "And yet this is a relatively new historical event for me. I'm reading a book right now about it. It's profound to see. It wasn't just riots. They actually had planes dropping bombs on homes and businesses, like a military assault on the Black community," Thomas continued, also an activist, artist, missionary and evangelist.
Pray on MLK, one initiative of Civil Righteousness, is like the solemn assembly in Tulsa.
"The spirit of the sacred assembly is not a new thing, but it's an ancient biblical reality that we see in the Bible in times of crisis. Even in the book of Joel you read that when the nation is in crisis, we're to sound the alarm and gather everyone, all the priests and all the clergy officials, and to weep. It says to gather the old and the young. And to weep between the porch and the altar. Weep in that place, go into the gap between the place of brokenness and the place of healing," Thomas said.
Atlanta House of Prayer and Gate City Church Leader Bill Humphrey agreed.
"The church is supposed to be in the gap of the crisis," said Humphrey. "We're supposed to be in the gap of the pain. We're supposed to be in the gap of the bias, of the prejudice. We're supposed to get in the gap. And if my brothers and sisters are hurting, then I'm hurting. If my brothers are in the gap and they're rejoicing, then I'm rejoicing. But I'm going to be with my brothers and sisters from every culture in the gap, between the two, crying out for mercy in the gap. That's what we're called to be," Humphrey said.
Dallas-area prayer leader and author Will Ford III, a descendant of slaves, hopes for tears in Tulsa.
"We want to weep with the situation. [God], give us Your heart for the division in our nation. Break our hearts with the things that break Your heart, until we love what You love and hate what you hate. Use a united church to heal a divided nation, God," Ford prayed leading to the Solemn Assembly.
"If weepers become the reapers, give us tears to sow a harvest of souls like this nation has never seen before God. Tip the bowls God, release thunder, fire, lightning, earthquakes in the name of Jesus," Ford prayed.
The Tulsa House of Prayer is partnering with other ministries for the solemn assembly. Its website reads: "Even over the last year, we have witnessed the violence, division and heartache echoing across our nation. We need an answer, and it can only come from King Jesus.
"We are calling a solemn assembly.
"With the same heart cry of the prophet Joel, we are setting a call before the body of Christ to return to Jesus with all our heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning. We are pleading Isaiah 61 and John 17 over the city of Tulsa and our nation as we intercede to see biblical justice and Christ-centered unity manifest. As we unify under the banner of our heavenly Father, we long to see the Holy Spirit poured out on all flesh."
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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