September 3, 2000
Fervent Calls For a New Society
Christian youths gathered on the Mall yesterday
By Bill Broadway
WASHINGTON MALL - Tens of thousands
of Christian youths gathered on the Mall yesterday in a dawn-to-dusk
prayer rally that called for reconciliation between children and parents,
an end to abortion and sexual immorality, and the return of school-sponsored
The rally, spearheaded by Che Ahn, 44, pastor of Harvest
Rock Church in Pasadena, Calif., presented a nonstop procession of speakers, preachers,
singers and dancers. Among the speakers was Bill McCartney, president of Promise
Keepers. In 1997, the Christian men's movement drew more than 600,000 men to the
Mall, where they pledged to be better fathers and husbands.
TheCallDC, drew teenagers, youths, adult leaders and
parents from as far away as Australia. Organizers envisioned the event as the
beginning of a "new spiritual revolution," and participants responded with the
energy and explosive outbursts associated with such a revival--crying, dancing,
singing and shouts of joy.
That event, Stand in the Gap, helped inspire yesterday's
gathering. But although family reconciliation was a major part of TheCallDC's
agenda, more prevalent were the pleas for renewal of American society, with a
new generation of Christians fighting for what it perceives as the religious values
and intent of the Founding Fathers. "A demonic decree has been released on your
generation and mine!" shouted Lou Engle, an associate pastor at Harvest Rock Church.
"You're a hated people by the power of darkness." Engle and others also prayed
for President Clinton and other government leaders, decried the influence of "mystery
religions" and demanded that Christians be allowed to exercise their faith more
freely. "We need to stand up for our nation. As Christians, we have rights, too,"
said Evelyn Ramos, 27, one of 800 students who rode buses to the rally from Brownsville
Revival School of Ministry in Florida.
The Brownsville Assembly of God is the home of the Pensacola
"outpouring," an ongoing revival that began five years ago. "I'm tired of pornography,
gay rights, adultery, fornication . . . and adult stores," said Ramos, who wore
a small gold-and-diamond ring signifying her promise to stay pure until she marries.
"I should have a right to share the Gospel. I'm never ashamed of the Gospel."
Andrew Gray, 25, a youth leader from Australia, led a 10-piece praise-and-worship
band in a rock song with these lyrics: "Prophesy! Prophesy! Prophesy! Prophesy!
Prophesy! To the dead bones!" And the youthful crowd rocked, jumped and screamed
along. In an interview, Gray said he and 80 fellow Aussies had come to Washington
at the request of Engle, who had spoken at a revival in Australia.
All wore slouch hats, copies of the headgear worn by the Australian Lighthorse
Brigade, an 800-member unit that fought for the liberation of Jerusalem in World
War I. "Australians have always gone to fight for others," so they have joined
the battle for spiritual rebirth, said Gray, youth pastor at Christian Life Centre
in Mount Annan, near Sidney. Each person raised the money to make the trip. Since
Monday, they have been staying in the gymnasium at Trinity Assembly of God Church
Two of the most emotional moments invoked last year's
tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.
Contemporary gospel singer Michael W. Smith sang a tribute
to Cassie Bernall, the student who was slain after she reportedly answered "yes"
when a gunman asked her if she loved God. "That was one of the very few days that
changed my life," Smith said, tears in his eyes.
Later, students from Columbine lit a torch and carried
it to the stage. They gave it to Darrell Scott, father of victim Rachel Scott,
who then passed the torch to his teenage son, Craig, who gave it to others to
pass partway through the audience. The crowd was mostly white but included an
array of ethnic backgrounds, including African American, Asian American and Native
American. Many participants, like evangelist Ahn, were Korean. Chae-Wha Park,
15, said 13 people had come from her church, Vineyard Korean Church in Annandale.
But they soon would be joined by two busloads of youths
from New York. Various groups had met at a youth retreat in August and planned
to come together for TheCall, she said. Registration was not required, and organizers
offered no attendance estimate. But the Mall sections and wings from Fourth to
Sixth streets were packed, and a third section was nearly filled. "It's not about
numbers," said Scott McClaine, 43, of Portsmouth, who moments before had sat on
the ground with his 13-year-old daughter, Kathryn, and washed her feet in a symbolic
gesture of humility and seeking forgiveness.
He was following the urging of McCartney, who washed
his son Marc's feet on stage. A member of the Coast Guard and a worshiper at Kempsville
Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach, McClaine and 63 other Kempsville members
had boarded a bus at 2 a.m. yesterday and planned to return last night. He voiced
the sentiment of many participants who care more about recognizing "one church"
among Christians rather than focusing on denominations.
The church he envisions would continue through Kathryn
and others as they reach out to their peers. "I'm here," he said, "to commission
my daughter to carry the Gospel to her generation.
Washington Post. All rights reserved.