'It Ain't Over!' Christians Appeal to Heaven
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- 2015 has been a challenging year for the Church. The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and Christians faced jail time, fines and lawsuits simply for standing up for their faith.
These events have led some to believe America's best days are over and that evil has won. But a number of leaders say "Not so fast!"
Oasis Church in Ohio hosted a nationwide prayer tour called "An Appeal to Heaven," which is bringing hope to believers that with prayer, America will turn back to God.
Flag from the Past
A white flag with a large evergreen and the words, "An Appeal to Heaven," flies over hundreds gathered in Middletown, Ohio, not for surrender but for America's future.
"He's taking me back to our roots as a nation," event organizer Dutch Sheets said. "A lot of people don't know that we were born under a prayer movement with a flag that read, 'Appeal to Heaven,' but we were."
Sheets, who has led many national calls to prayer, said the "Appeal to Heaven" flag is the same design used by George Washington's ragtag army during the Revolution -- a war in which there seemed to be no hope or path to victory.
Sheets described what it was like for the American militia. "We can't defeat the British; we can't get our independence; we have no army; we have no money; we don't have the weapons; they have all of it! They have the greatest empire maybe ever, but if God is in this, if this is God's idea, if He really is raising up a city on a hill to be a light to the nations, He'll help us. And they put that on the flag -- 'An Appeal to Heaven' and that's what it means and God answered their prayer."
Bishop Harry Jackson said Americans need to remember the original mission of our forefathers.
"God's original intent was to have a land that would preach the Gospel, share the Good News around the world. Our prosperity is tied to the purpose of God," he said.
Jackson said it's also a time for this nation to pray for unity and forgive others.
"The Church is going to have to own the fact that we have been divided," Jackson said. "And the only group that has the capacity to rise above these ethnic differences is the Church of Jesus Christ. We need to learn how to forgive others. If we will forgive and extend grace and cry out to God, I believe God of justice will release to us a divine set of actions that will bring realignment to heal us."
A Coming Wave
Sheets says "An Appeal to Heaven" is more than a series of prayer meetings, but a movement designed to wake up the Body of Christ and let them know when it comes to America -- "It ain't over!"
"And I don't care what they [the courts] say about the unborn. I don't care what they say about marriage. It ain't over 'til God says it's over," Sheets said. "It's not settled law until God says it's settled law and we're going to change these things. There's got to be a hope that comes -- if we appeal to heaven, He can turn this thing around."
Lou Engle, whose prayer movement, "The Call," has brought millions together on behalf of this nation, predicts a wave of God's out-pouring that will be bigger than anything we've seen before.
"And it won't be just fasting and prayer, but it will be a proclamation of my Gospel. Signs and wonders and stadiums will be filled," Engle exclaimed. "It's time for the Jesus movement. I feel we're in that shift. It's happening again.
Christians sharing a passion to see America turn back to God came here from across the country to be a part of this prayer movement.
"I'm an intercessor and a prayer warrior and I'm constantly praying for this nation, praying for this generation and I really just felt like God wanted me to be here," Brandon, a 20-something African-American man from New Jersey said.
"And we can believe that God will hear our cry and He'll shift things. So whatever that looks like, whatever the shift is, we can believe that He's for us, He's good and He's hearing our cry," Becky, a 40-something white woman from Kansas City said.
"I'm walking away with hope and I'm walking away with faith because I know God is moving," Ginger, a grandmother from Michigan, said.
'Give Him 15' App
Sheets also unveiled a free iPhone app that will spread this movement to the digital and social media universe. It's called "Give Him 15."
"For the first time, technology allows us to get everybody on board. We don't have to go to the same church. We don't have to be part of the same movement; all they have to do is pull their iPhone out and say, 'Okay, I'll do this, Lord I pray for...' and know that all over this nation millions of people are going to be praying that same prayer!" Sheets said.
"We'll be praying for the election, praying for the ending of abortion, praying for the healing of our nation racially. and the prayers will come from all over and many different groups and denominations. Talk about the power of agreement and the synergy that can take place," he added.
As these events move into next year, many hope God will do for this generation what he did for George Washington's. Even when it looked like all hope was lost, God intervened because His people appealed to heaven.
"There's got to be a hope that comes, if we appeal to heaven, He can turn this thing around," Sheets said.
"Let it be said of our generation that when a nation teetered on the edge of destruction, having lost the ancient path of truth and righteousness, we answered the divine call to war for its restoration."