Something is happening in America, and it should sound the alarm for every confessing Christian. Simply put, hostile efforts in many cities now threaten to suppress the First Amendment rights of all people to exercise our faith freely. In unprecedented acts of government-authorized injustice, Christians are being told they cannot gather for worship, they cannot sing songs of praise, and they cannot observe church ordinances.
Just last week, politicians in Seattle installed temporary fencing and security guards around Gas Works Park to prevent us from holding a “Let Us Worship” public outdoor service. Similarly, at Cal Anderson Park, Antifa protesters shouted obscenities, intimidated worshipers, cursed out my wife and four children, and damaged our equipment.
While followers of Jesus are being told we cannot worship in public spaces, violent paid rioters are taking over our streets and being given license to occupy and destroy entire sections of our cities. Churches are being covered in graffiti and even burned while civic leaders call for defunding the police. Never did I dream that this would happen, and never have I been more determined to do something about it.
The Church Is Being Persecuted Here in America
For the past 20 years, I’ve taken my entire family all over the world in support of the persecuted church. These efforts have brought greater exposure for dictatorial regimes and their anti-Christian tyrants in places such as North Korea, Iran, China, and Islamic Africa. In some parts of the world, Christians routinely face prison and even torture for nothing more than simple acts of faith, such as reading their Bibles, praying, and peaceably gathering with other believers to worship.
Now in major cities across America, godless politicians are adopting tactics that more closely resemble those of jihadist ayatollahs than men and women who are sworn to uphold the rule of law. Earlier this year in Kentucky, an elected leader tried to “criminalize” the celebration of Easter and would have gotten away with it if not for a federal judge, appointed by President Donald Trump, who blocked him.
In Virginia, the governor tried to stop Christians from gathering to worship under penalty of arrest and imprisonment. In Minnesota, the attorney general enforced the governor’s executive order that banned churches from worshipping but allowed dog groomers and golf courses to remain open.
In my home state of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom and many large-city mayors have ramped up their fight against the freedom of religion. As I write this, elected officials in Sacramento and Los Angeles are wringing their hands in desperation as they try to figure out how to shut down church leaders such as Grace Community Church’s John MacArthur.
In Portland, one of our brothers was stalked by an armed “protester” and shot at point-blank range while bystanders looked on with their phones, recording the whole thing. The victim, 39-year-old Jay Danielson, had weeks before joined hundreds of Christians who came to Oregon’s largest city for one of our “Let Us Worship” gatherings.
Truly, the actions of militant, anti-Christian forces, who want to shut down our churches, silence our worship, and even shoot our fellow believers in the streets, have stirred the soul of the American church. Where we have stood in solidarity with Christians around the world whose hostile governments threaten their religious freedom, we now stand with each other on our native soil.
I keep telling myself and my fellow Christians from every walk of life that this isn’t what America was founded to be. This isn’t how we are supposed to live. I will not stand idly by and watch it happen.
America Needs Revival
The American experiment, now approaching its 250th year, has proved our ability for more than two centuries to withstand foreign attacks from rogue states that despise and reject the freedoms we hold dear. What we face now is not a new threat; it is just no longer a foreign threat. The present madness has arisen from our own soil, cultivated and encouraged by our own politicians.
All across America, however, Christians are rising up. In recent weeks, thousands upon thousands have gathered and marched to assert their God-given freedoms. I’ve stood before them, armed with only a copy of the Bible and a simple guitar. People have asked me why we are holding these “worship protests” across the country, and the answer is simple: God is moving, and our nation needs it now more than ever in my lifetime.
In Seattle, a self-proclaimed satanist came to protest our worship, met the glory of God, and gave his life to Jesus. He is not alone. Thousands of hurting people have encountered the love of Christ in dozens of America’s most troubled cities through the simple act of gathering together in worship.
The church I believe in ministers to the sick and hurting; it doesn’t hide in the darkness. Jesus touched contagious lepers, and our fellow Americans need His healing touch right now. They need the bold, warm embrace of God’s love.
We are just getting started, with worship gatherings planned in Madison, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Chicago, and many more — culminating in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25. I refuse to seek permission from politicians to adhere to my calling, the church’s calling.
Let me be very clear: Our fists are not held up in defiance; our hands are lifted in praise. Our voices are not raised in shouts of hatred, but our songs of hope and prayers for revival are piercing the darkness around us. God is not finished with America yet.