Worship City Praise: Worship and Beyond

Saturday, June 9 dawned with a slightly overcast sky. Would it rain? That thought crossed my mind as I got ready to go to Worship City Praise. I later found rain was also on the mind of event publicist Michael Lenda as well. After all, a year of planning had gone into the event, and nobody wanted to see the day rained out.

Worship City Praise: Worship Begins

The planning was not thwarted by rain as the day cleared off and the Capitol Hill lawn began to fill with hundreds of worshippers by 1 pm. Some arrived earlier in the day as sound check started at 8:30 a.m. and many tourists found themselves attracted to the sounds of music and brightly-colored group gathering on the Capitol Hill lawn.
In the prayer tent in the early hours, Jim Freedman welcomed pastors and prayer warriors to come and pray over the event. Over 100 people came to the tent to pray before the event started

At 1 p.m. things officially kicked off as Jeff Deyo and the Worship City Praise leaders welcomed the crowd and the sound of the Shofar horn was heard. Speakers from all over the world with a heart for worship came to lead the crowd in worship and praise. Each speaker and worship leader was a highlight, but there are always special moments to each person and mine included Marco Barrientos and his flag corps, and Melody Green (Last Days Ministries) sharing a bit of her heart and then hearing the sweet sounds of Keith Green singing again.
Onnie Kirk (When Men Pray) and Tod Bell (New vision for the Marketplace) both had the worshippers join in prayer; Onnie had the crowd holding hands in unity and Tod Bell encouraged us to pray in groups that the spirit of God would fall everywhere and to pray for laborers for the harvest. Don Finto led a prayer for Jerusalem, then Councilman Jason Alexander, who was instrumental in having the day officially named “Worship City Praise Day” in Nashville, led a prayer for Nashville, and we prayed for the church, for the races, for our country.
Mac Powell led worship in the style that won a Dove award for Third Day, and new artist Jason Upton showcased some of the most powerful vocals to hit Nashville in a while as he wailed out a song about “Freedom” and then challenged us with the question, “How many of you know just how pathetic you are? I mean, we’re all just a bunch of freaks! We are losers! Jesus is the deal.”
I was on hand when Kirk Cameron arrived and was greeted by Jeff Deyo. They tried to find a quiet place to pray together, but cameras (including mine) followed them and caught the moment before Kirk climbed the steps to share his inspiring testimony.
As Kirk began speaking, he compared himself to his popular character from “Growing Pains,” Mike Seaver. “There is not that much that’s that similar between me and Mike Seaver except that we look a lot alike, He was cool and he was popular. I’m not as cool as he is. I’m kind of glad I don’t have a lot to brag about except that I am a sinner saved by grace.”
He mentioned the Left Behind movie (but didn’t give us any hint about the possibility of appearing in
Part 2). Discussing his role as Buck, he said, “There probably would have been a lot of actors who
could have played that part better than I, but there would not have been one more grateful to play the
role than I.” Kirk went on to describe himself growing up in a “normal home” but pointed out he
didn’t believe in God. “I was an atheist,” he said. At fourteen the aspiring actor was trying out for
roles. On one such occasion, he arrived late at an audition and almost missed the tryouts completely.
“I read my lines and they were all laughing. I asked them, ‘Excuse me. Is this supposed to be a
comedy?’ They looked at each other and said, ‘Well, he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer but he’s
Mike,’ and I ended up getting the part.”
Kirk described his next few years as getting everything he ever wanted in life. “I got to meet the
President. I got to ride in my first limousine. I was living the biggest life I could imagine living and I
was pretty happy for a while. I had everything I wanted. But when I was 18, those last few minutes at
night between when I lay down and when I fell asleep, I was lonely and there was a great emptiness
inside me.”

A friend of Kirk’s had a father who shared some wisdom with the searching young actor. “He had a
glow about him. I asked him, ‘What makes you so happy?’ He sad, ‘I know God.’ I asked him, ‘How
can you know God? There is no God.'” The man took Kirk to church and Kirk heard the pastor teach
that “sin is nothing but selfishness and it has nothing to do with God.” The preacher shared that,
“You will fill your life with everything for money and fame, but you will never fill your life
completely unless you fill it with God.”
At this point in his testimony Cameron became emotional. As he wiped a tear away he explained, “You have to excuse me for getting emotional. I
just haven’t gotten over Jesus yet.” He added, “I see a lot of people going
to church and it seems like they have have gotten over God. How is that possible?” Then he
continued with his testimony.
“I put myself on top in my life and I put God on the bottom. I didn’t want to continue living on the
top of the world and go on with God still at the bottom. I just closed my eyes one day and said, ‘God, if you’re real, I really need to know. If You’re there and You love me, would You show me in a way that I can really understand.'”
Kirk said there was no flash of light, but something chnged. “God heard me. He was real. It was just this sense of something more real in my life than I had ever
known before. Nothing compares to knowing Jesus Christ.”
He concluded his thoughts by saying, “There is a person who loves you and died for your sins and you need to know Him.” After his
emotional testimony, Kirk led the assembly in a sinner’s prayer.
Commenting on the day, publicist michael Lenda told me, “In between running around to take photos, coordinate
interviews and apply heavy doses of sunscreen, I found myself pausing to realize exactly what was going on today. It was more than just another event. It is God moving in the midst of our city. To see people come from all over the state with the specific purpose to worship God moved me to tears numerous times throughout the day. That he chose to use me to play a part blows me away. What overwhelms me more is that it’s just the beginning.”

As I walked around and viewed the stage, the crowd on the hill, and listened to the sounds of praise and prayer so near Legislative Plaza, I was reminded a great deal of one of the other highlights of recent years: the March for Jesus assemblies. Surely this day was part of the fruit from the years we Marched for Jesus.
Saturday many songs were lifted up, many prayers were laid before the Lord. The city worshipped and praised. Surely the coming years will show the fruit from this day.

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