WASHINGTON (BP)–The Washington Monument, surrounded by American flags and the picture-perfect October blue sky, was the backdrop for a gathering of an estimated 20,000 men of all ages, races and ethnicities to “stand in the gap” to repair the broken walls of America’s Christian culture.
Held Saturday, Oct. 6, near the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., Stand in the Gap 2007 marked the 10th anniversary of the first Stand in the Gap, which brought a million men to the National Mall in 1997.
The gathering opened with a 200-member trumpet ensemble call to worship. Throughout the day, men moved from standing and raising their hands in unified worship and adoration of Jesus Christ to falling on their knees in corporate prayers of remembrance and repentance.
Inspired by the Old Testament’s Nehemiah’s leadership in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the gathering featured key “acts” of returning to God — remembering His attributes, renewing one’s resolve to live a godly life and the rebuilding of what is broken in men’s lives.
“We are here to rebuild … families, churches, communities and cultural institutions,” event chairman Marty Granger, president/CEO of Faith in the Family International, said at the outset. Granger served as an event manager with Promise Keepers in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1990s and currently is director of national events for the National Coalition of Men’s Ministries, which organized the event with the Washington Area Coalition of Men’s Ministries and Faith in the Family International.
“I [God] look for a man who would build a wall and stand in the gap before me so I would not have to come to the land and destroy it,” Granger quoted from Ezekiel 22:30.
Noting that the passage says God found none who were standing in the gap, Granger asked the crowd of men, “Is that true today?”
A decidedly masculine “No” response echoed throughout the grounds, as tourists to America’s capital city walked by and witnessed the gathering.
Featuring a wide range of speakers from across denominational and cultural lines, the program included pastors, men’s ministry leaders and other prominent Christian leaders. Included in the mix were two Southern Baptist pastors: John Jenkins of First Baptist Church in Glenarden, Md., and Erwin McManus of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles.
Jenkins grew up in the Glenarden church, which has grown from about 500 members in 1989 when he Jenkins became pastor to more than 7,000. Under Jenkins’ leadership, the church provides more than 100 ministries which meet the diverse needs of the congregation and community.
In his message, Jenkins presented a clarion call to salvation, addressing participants who had not yet given their lives to Jesus by declaring, “We must repent. We must recognize that the road that we are traveling down is the wrong road and that we are doing opposite of God’s will for our lives.”
Jenkins told those who recognized they experienced a void, emptiness or destructiveness in their lives that, with faith and repentance, they could have “joy unspeakable and a peace that surpasses all understanding.”
Jenkins followed his remarks with a prayer, urging men to join him in admitting to Jesus that they wanted a relationship with Him.
McManus, author of such books as “Soul Cravings” and “An Unstoppable Force,” urged the men to stop isolating from the world and instead allow Jesus’ power to be exhibited through them.
Calling attention to the days of the prophet Jeremiah, who encouraged God’s people to build houses, plant gardens and otherwise “settle down” in the city of their captivity, McManus said, “We need to seek the ‘peace and prosperity’ of our culture. Instead of vacating our culture, we need to invest in it and influence it.”
Christians who want to have an effective strategy in reaching their cities should allow the life of God to emanate from their lives into their cities, he said.
The Stand in the Gap 2007 theme Bible verse came from Psalm 145:4, which says, “One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.” Accordingly, throughout the day, the intergenerational group of men declared pledges to honor God and each other.
Similarly, a “visual, virtual, perpetual” Wall of Honor was inaugurated, inducting historic, recent and contemporary Christian leaders to an online place of remembrance and recognition. Ten men were inducted at Stand in the Gap 2007: William Wilberforce, Gen. William Booth, D.L. Moody, Edwin Louis Cole, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Martin Luther King Jr., Chuck Colson and Bill McCartney.
The public is invited to visit the Wall of Honor at www.honormen.org and submit a written tribute to a man or men, living or dead, who have impacted their lives in significant ways.
Established as a once-a-decade event (in the seventh year of each decade), organizers of Stand in the Gap 2007 are planning the next gathering for Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.
Shannon Baker is the national correspondent and design editor for BaptistLIFE, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. DVD recordings of Stand in the Gap 2007 as well as updates are available at www.standinthegap2007.org.