SALEMBURG — In front of an altar, many believers got on their knees and bowed their heads. And with their eyes closed, they sent prayers and cried out to the Lord.
Justin Wilson, a local pastor, was the last kneeling. After a few church leaders gathered around him, he stood up and expressed how he felt about the responsibility that churches have for the community. He also conveyed the power of prayer in the gymnasium of Lakewood High School.
“We need to pray,” Justin said emotionally. “We need to pray harder than what we prayed tonight, over this nation. Our prayer is a reflection of how much we care about what’s going on.”
Community members and local churches came together Wednesday evening for “A Call to Solemn Assembly for The Lakewood District.” The purpose was to pray for social ills in the areas and throughout the world.
“I didn’t have no attention on offending everybody, but we needed to pray,” Wilson said afterwards. “That was my feeling and what was in my heart.”
The event was based on the Bible’s Joel 1:14 which says “Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord.”
Pastor Gilbert Owens delivered a message, “Have You Not Read: You Are To Identify With Christ.” Owens said his words were not just for the Lakewood community, but for the world.
“God does not have anything new to say,” Owens said after beginning his sermon. “But that does not mean, he doesn’t have something to say.”
Owens continued to express his feelings about the importance of following the words of God and following Jesus Christ.
“Have we not read and understood that in order for any of us to turn from our wicked ways, we must identify with Jesus Christ?,” Owens questioned.
He talked about his personal problems with sin and overcoming them through his faith in God and identifying with Christ.
“Tonight God is saying to all of us in this solemn assembly, stop identifying with the wrong things and the wrong people,” Owens preached. “Stop identifying yourselves, with your education, your careers and your material possessions. Stop!”
While preaching to a crowd which included people from different backgrounds, Owens told them to cease identifying with a particular denomination or church leader.
“God simply says, identify yourself with Jesus Christ and your sin problem will be solved,” he said.
To come closer, Owens said the answer was written in the Old and New Testaments.
During the event, local pastors led scriptures from Joel and prayers which included the audience participating in unison. Some of solemn request included families, more involvement in the churches, government leaders and others who influence others.
“We gather together to pray for our nation,” Judy Johnson-Truitt said during a renewal hymn. “We start with our neighbor who stands by our side. Dear Lord, in your mercy, we pray, we pray for your forgiveness – for sins that separate us and keep us apart.”
She continued with the revival hymn by saying “We stand to repent, for every act of discord that we silently ignored and chose to avoid. Please forgive us loving Savior; heal our land – Lord, amen. Hear our cry, Lord, draw nigh to us. Restore us again.”
Pastor John Melvin led “A Covenant of Prayer for a Spiritual Awakening,” with prayers for the land and those with leadership.
“Heavenly Father, we humbly ask for a mighty move of conviction and salvation in government leaders and others who influence culture,” the audience said together. “We ask You to pour out convicting, saving power upon Washington, D.C., colleges, universities, media networks and the Hollywood movie industry. We ask that you so move that millions will be converted to Christ in these strategic communities of cultural influences.”
Pastor Harry Hines steered the audience through a sinner’s prayer and its spiritual benefits. He also said salvation is not about feeling, but faith and trusting the word of God.
“If you did that, the angles in heaven are rejoicing right now,” Hines said. “If you made that choice tonight, that is only the beginning. You now have to begin the process of growth that leads to spiritual maturity.”
Hines stressed it’s important to join like-minded individuals and get a spiritual mentor.
Pastor Ernie King led a guided response for the confessions of sins.
“Gracious God, you reached out to the founders of our nation,” Hines said. “You led them to this land. And from a wilderness, they fashioned a powerful and influential nation. Simple people, you inspired them to dream the impossible dream – that you would forge a handful of colonies into a nation that miraculously secured its freedom. Overflowing with promise and hope, through faith in you, they created these United States.”
Churches from Roseboro, Salemburg and surrounding areas organized the event held at Lakewood High School. Tarheel ChalleNGe assisted by handling traffic. The event also included music from a community choir consisting of members from local churches. Some of the other church leaders included Chris Pittman, Hampton Faircloth, Christi Christianson, Andrea Bell and Andy Wood.
Pastor John Adams guided the closing response to God.
“Breathe on your Church, Lord God, refresh our hearts and minds, move us to action,” Adams said. “Give us the courage we need, Lord, to follow Jesus wherever he takes us.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.