August 2, 2016
This sentiment was communicated in various ways throughout the day on July 16 by volunteers, participants, and attendees who were all part of The Response USA, held at the Wolstein Center in downtown Cleveland. Thousands gathered as the church across Ohio crossed racial, denominational, and generational lines for a full day of worship, prayers of repentance, and intercession for our nation.
Doug Stringer coordinated the gathering, along with a core team of volunteers and ministry leaders affiliated with TPMI and Somebody Cares. He reiterated that the day was not about political agendas or preachers coming to pontificate. Instead, the only name lifted up from the stage was the name of Jesus.
“We are a nation at a crossroads,” Doug said. “Now more than ever the Church needs to be a plumb line not only of righteousness and truth, but of healing and hope.”
A Significant Time & Location
This was the first Response that was not called and hosted by a state governor, as happened in Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida. Yet leaders saw God’s hand in opening doors for the event to happen only days before Cleveland hosted the Republican National Convention, and in the days of unrest across the country following shootings of African American men in Louisiana and Minneapolis; terrorist acts in Orlando and throughout Europe; and a sniper taking the lives of five police officers in Dallas. A nervous tension could be felt as law enforcement officers from across the state moved into the city and began blocking streets and securing entire city blocks.
But inside the Wolstein Center, believers from a diverse cross section of the church—“a coat of many colors”—prayed for peace and cried tears of repentance on behalf of our nation’s racial divides. Prayers went up on behalf of innocent blood that has been shed through senseless violence as well as abortion; for families to be healed; for honor and blessing between the generations; and for the church to be a conduit of reformation in all areas of our society.
“The presence of God is already here,” observed Pastor Carlton Smith during the pre-event worship time. He continued: “Cleveland is the most segregated city in the nation. This is a key time for us.”
Pastor Brondon Mathis from Columbus said, “We are in a time of transition from John’s ministry of preparation to Jesus’ ministry of manifestation.”
Interestingly, Ohio is the only state with a Bible scripture for its motto, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
PRAYER & PRESENCE
A volunteer serving backstage told us how he and five other men—some of them from other states—had been praying for The Response every Monday at 5:30am since January. During that time they saw God answer many personal prayers and had great anticipation that He would now hear their corporate prayers.
In the holding room, platform participants prayed and worshipped while they waited, said volunteer Marlene Yeo from Somebody Cares New England. “Peace and joy ruled the day!” she said. “We made sure we participated with what was happening on the platform to stay connected with what was happening. Everyone worshiped and prayed…it was beautiful!”
“This whole event is a prayer answered,” said platform participant Rick Chelko. “The Lord will not listen to our prayers until we are repenting.”
Jody Trautwein drove 11 hours through four states to be part of this catalytic time of prayer. “I have two children, and I’m fearful for the world they will grow up in,” he said. “When they’re older, I don’t want them to look back at the things that are happening in our world today and say, ‘Daddy, what did you do about it?’”
“We are in a heightened state of spiritual warfare,” Dr. C. Jay Matthews, senior pastor of Mt. Sinai Ministries, a multi-generational church in Cleveland. Dr. Matthews is committed to investing in the younger generations, telling them, “The sooner you ‘get it,’ the longer you get to use it.”
BIRTHING A NEW REVIVAL
Dana Gammil and his son helped lead The Response prayer time for generational healing, but he also shared a powerful personal testimony with us while he was
When Dana’s daughter Allison was pregnant, she received a prophetic word that her baby would be born on a day when the Lord would usher in a new revival for the new generation. Her baby was born on April 9, the same day Azusa Now was held in Los Angeles and UnitedCry 2016 was held in Washington D.C. Doug Stringer was among those leading prayer at UnitedCry, and others from The Response Team attended the Azusa celebration.
A few doors down, Allison knew a woman whose baby’s heart had stopped beating three days earlier and would be stillborn. As Allison, her husband, and her parents prayed and interceded, she sensed the Lord saying the baby’s life would be restored as the baby was lying on the mother’s chest. When the baby was born that day at 11:59pm, the medical personnel cleaned the child up and placed the lifeless body on its mother’s chest. Just as Allison had heard, the baby began to breathe and is alive and healthy today.
Dana believes God gave two promises that day: first, through the sign of a new revival with the birth of his granddaughter; then a message that the Church would be revived as we press in to Him. The Response, he believes, is a significant part of what God is doing.
“A church united can heal the soul of a nation divided,” Doug Stringer said in a pre-Response interview.
Reports coming out of Cleveland in the week that followed The Response seemed to confirm this statement, as the violence, arrests, and illegal activities turned out to be incredibly less than anticipated.
Joseph and Renee Horevay pastor a network of house churches in Cleveland. They were helping coordinate Hope is Here–a street outreach bringing in prayer and evangelism teams from all over the U.S. during the week of the Republican National Convention–when they heard about The Response. They incorporated The Response as a kick-off to the week, and sent this report to Doug at the close of the Republican National Convention:
“The police department added 200 beds to the local county jail but only made 25 arrests. It was amazing. Over 2800 police officers came in from 22 states and there were no casualties…Some bars had 4am approval but closed by 1am due to low business. Strip clubs had very low attendance; owners were expecting great surge in their business…Sar Shalom [The Prince of Peace] heard the prayers and praise of the saints.”
As one of The Response worship leaders had observed at the conclusion of the event: “What an amazing day in Cleveland with The Response team from Houston, TX, coming all the way here to help us host SIX hours of fasting, worship and prayer, and seeking the Lord for healing in our land! So much unity, so much breakthrough, and so much more to come in the days ahead! Ohio will never be the same!”