- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2000

They hope to change the world one prayer at a time.

Up to 400,000 of them teen-agers and their parents will be praying and fasting for the future of the nation during TheCallDC from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 2.

"It is the calling of a generation of young people to come, pray, stand and fast for God to do something dynamic in their time," says Bart Pierce, senior pastor of Rock City Church in Baltimore and a member of TheCallDC's executive board. "They want to ask God to do something in their generation to affect the nation and the world."

TheCallDC began with a vision four years ago by Lou Engle, associate pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, Calif., and a member of TheCallDC's executive board, who saw thousands of teen-agers fasting and praying.

"We believe in fasting and prayer God responds to it," Mr. Engle says. "We believe for a spiritual atmosphere change in this nation and city, a spiritual awakening."

The event's name comes from the summons in the Old Testament book of Joel 2:15-18 "Declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly … bring together the elders, gather the children."

Mr. Pierce says this event is truly about America's youth and their future.

"We are trying to make sure our views express what kids are saying," he says. "Kids are losing their best friends to drugs, crime and AIDS. We feel it is time that something gets said. This is serious. They want their voices heard."

One of the many youth leaders from around the country, Josiah Akinyele, 28, has been helping to organize the 12-hour event. He says TheCallDC is about generational reconciliation.

"The main purpose of TheCall is to bring two generations together for a day of fasting and prayer; to turn hearts of the fathers to children and the children to the fathers; to turn the heart of a nation back to itself," the District of Columbia resident says.

Mr. Akinyele has been contacting Christian college groups in the area through Web sites and e-mail messages about TheCallDC. This week he will be traveling to colleges to distribute fliers and meet with campus groups.

His roommate, Harrison Wilder, 19, is talking about the event to youth groups and pastors in the District.

"We want to make sure every church has the opportunity to hear about it and participate in any way they can," he says.

Another youth organizer, Bethany Pisani, 17, became involved through her parents, who are pastors at Glory Tabernacle Church in the District.

"I just help out with whatever they need help with," she says.

Mr. Pierce says Christian children do not want people to assume that all teen-agers get drunk, have sex and condone violence, and that they want to show that teen-agers can live clean lives, remain virgins until marriage and make an impact. He also says teens are upset about prayer being taken out of schools.

"I think that as youth in America, we're sick of all the violence in the schools," Bethany says. "We want a revolution. We want God and prayer back in our schools."

Mr. Akinyele says last year's shootings at Columbine High School, the 40 million babies that have been aborted since the Roe vs. Wade decision and the large number of teen-agers who commit suicide each year are indicators that the nation needs a spiritual revolution.

"Something has to change," he says. "We refuse to stand back anymore."

Mr. Wilder says that for him, no specific event has led to the realization that something has to be done. He believes unique experiences in everyone's lives have created an awareness that change is necessary.

The day of worship also will include appearances by many different speakers and bands. Mr. Engle says the event's organizers are not announcing specifically who many of these well-known people will be because they do not want those attending to lose sight of TheCallDC's purpose.

"This is not for entertainment, but for worship," he says. "It's a fast, not a festival."

Announced speakers include Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel was killed in the Columbine shootings; students who were wounded at the Columbine shootings; and Bill McCartney, founder of Promise Keepers, the evangelical men's movement.

Mr. Wilder emphasizes that TheCallDC is being held in the nation's capital not to influence the government, but instead as fasting and prayer for the benefit of the country.

"In no way are we political. In no way are we looking for the recognition of a political agenda. What is happening has little to do with making a statement for the government and more with turning the hearts of a generation towards God," Mr. Wilder says.

Mr. Engle said the event will begin with worship and will include services throughout the day. In addition, the group will focus on personal and national repentance and on generational reconciliation between parents and children. Prayers will be said for the good of the nation, the government and the upcoming elections (but not for particular candidates).

The event is being funded entirely through donations.

Mr. Engle says a verse from Malachi 4:5-6 points to the need for generational reconciliation: "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers."

"Unless kids turn in obedience to their fathers and mothers, we will lose this nation."

He adds that the older generation must play a role in the event for change to take place.

"While the focus is on the youth, the '60s generation is confessing [its] rebellion. [The '60s youths] opened the doors to Eastern religion, to the sexual revolution and to drug abuse. We need to close those doors," Mr. Engle says.

The event's World Wide Web site, www.thecalldc.com, states that statistics about the absence of God in the lives of today's youth are alarming. According to recent surveys, 88 percent of the nation's teen-agers do not attend church, 80 percent of the 12 percent who do attend will stop attending by the time they graduate high school, and 90 percent of those who give their lives to Christ do so before age 30.

Mr. Pierce says TheCallDC is not a one-day event. The participants, who will represent all 50 states and countries such as Indonesia, Australia and England, will be encouraged to make a difference in their communities. Also, a group of teens will travel in a recreational vehicle straight from TheCall to 25 cities throughout the United States to document events around the country that influence their age group.

Mr. Engle says organizers hope the event will cause schools to be penetrated with massive prayer and more Bible clubs as well as a national fast for the nation's schools and a redemption of culture through involvement in communities and care of the poor.

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