When we were first approached by a young Christian mom with a vision in early April with the possibility of bringing the national prayer movement - God Belongs in My City (GBIMC), we were rightly inspired and gung-ho about the opportunity to participate in a growing national/worldwide movement which had its roots in a New York City subway! GBIMC sprung from the hearts of a youth group who happened to see a poster in the NYC subway system from
American Atheists which said “A Million New Yorkers Are Good without God. Are You?" They went back and reported this to their senior church leadership and were so moved that an idea was birthed. This was in October 2009. One month later, youth from all five NYC boroughs began what is now the God Belongs in My City prayer walk through Manhattan. It has since spread like wildfire to Canada, Switzerland, Africa, Puerto Rico and last year over 30 cities in America alone!
|Sarah, Sam, Vicki Lutchman
Last Saturday August 24, GBIMC came to the capitol city of Illinois - Springfield and had a solid impact on the Spiritual life of this wheeling-dealing political and business oriented city of 115,000! It was not easy getting this through a closed and tightly religious system where every major church and denomination holds on firmly to its territory...all except one - Calvary Temple Christian Center. Senior Pastor there Mark Johnson caught the vision and empowered his outreach pastorStacy Barnett and contacted me and together with Ezella Millswho brought the idea in from New York, we set forth on a course which really made this take off.
|Jessica McGee and Gigi
This was solidified after the National Day of Prayer in May, which I hosted for the eighth year in a row and we were joined by former Channel 20 Morning TV host Jessica McGee who now works as the Marketing Director for the wonderful Staab Family. She represented them magnificently and our final planning meetings were attended by PJ Staab himself, without whom we would not have had the major business involvement necessary to underwrite the upfront costs and police permits and street closure permits necessary to make this happen in the natural. PJ is a super joy to work with. He is well loved by the regions military veterans for his involvement in a huge memorial outside the city of New Berlin as well as his sense of humor.
|Calvary Temple Pastor Mark Johnson
Through all of this, we were covered in some major prayer, as there was one obstacle after another or one spiritual attack after another. We had tireless and faithful leadership from Stacy Barnett and her church support - not just from the pastoral offices and administration, but from the core of Calvary Temple. They believed in this. We have many people to thank and they will be mentioned in no particular order at the end of this post.
The Day of the Prayer Walk, which we called GOD BELONGS IN SPRINGFIELD and had hundreds and hundreds of t-shirts made up at cost by Edgar Williams of Ambitious Designs. We met at the Comer Cox Park at the corner of 18th Street and Capitol for the 1 1/2 mile walk down Capitol Avenue to the State Capitol Steps. The love and camaderie and Christian fellowship across deep racial lines was a beautiful thing to behold. Even though almost every church officially turned down this movement to re-establish Jesus as the LORD of this City, many of their members turned out anyway!
|Senator Sam McCann
One thing I will not forget is our tireless leader Stacy working so hard to get 1500 bottles of water iced down and ready for the anticipated crowd at the end of the walk; the volunteers there; the worship band already praying on the ground of the End of Walk service. My fond memories is the excitement of all different Christians in the same event T shirt all ready to work for Jesus. Stacy and I edited some ten or so prayer points which I read out all over the part to different groups of people with my bullhorn. The awesome sight of the Christian Motorcyclists Association led by brother Nick Courtney and the three Crosses behind them as almost 1000 people of all ages and backgrounds took off in a brisk walk down Capitol, was a sight to behold.
|BMIC President Bernie Lutchman
The subsequent hour long service on the Capitol Steps by the Lincoln Statue was so powerfully moving that worship, constant worship was breaking out all over the place!! PastorJerry Doss of Abundant Faith Christian Center, assisted by his magnificent choir set the mood for Prayer and the Word as they led off they service. I was next with the spirit-led Praise-Repent-Yield call to the Assembly. We went through 7 minutes of that and they pressed in!!! We were followed by the Bishop of Springfield - Thomas Paprockion Religious Liberty after he was introduced by PJ and then some powerful praying by our State Senator Sam McCann. The powerful and timely message by Pastor Mark Johnson topped off an amazing and life altering (for this city) day. The clarion call Pastor Mark proclaimed was to stand together, united, under the Banner of Jesus, or fall. This is the underlying theme of GBIMC - not unity at any cost where we toss aside the Basics of the Christian Faith, but unity in the Essentials to get right with God, through Repentance and then lead others to Jesus. This is the only way we can make any kind of difference and thus, show the world that God really DOES belong in our city!
Thank you to Springfield First Baptist led by Pastor Mike Henderson, for being the only other church, apart from Calvary Temple and Abundant Faith, to step up and support us from early. Over 30% of their church walked with us. Thank you to Todd Green and the Green Family Stores for underwriting the costs from the City of Springfield. Thank you to PJP Autos, The Staab Family and so many more who gave selflessly to this cause. Finally thank you - and in no small measure, to our wonderful MC - Calvary Temple Outreach Pastor Stacy Barnett! We are already planning next year's event and learned several things we can improve from this our first endeavor. Our primary purpose, my friends - to Lift up the Name of Jesus and proclaim Him as King over Springfield! Mission? ACCOMPLISHED!