Thousands Pray with Hope for Miami
Some might argue that Miami is an improbable place for revival. The city has long been a drug capital with intensifying gang activity. Murders are far too common. Now Miami rivals Los Angeles as a hub for pornographic production and distribution. High rates of unemployment are accompanied by a simultaneous rise in theft and robberies. Gambling, though illegal, is pervasive. Abortion, even among Christian teens, is a major challenge. Corruption is prevalent.
But there is a reason to rejoice. For two consecutive years, thousands of believers have gathered to pray. On a rainy weekend in December 2011, some 20,000 people prayed in unity. They marched. They sang. A hundred choreographed worshippers from dozens of congregations led in praise. Prayerful pleas were offered in English, Spanish, Creole, and Portuguese. Waving American, Christian, and Israeli flags the crowd moved past security carrying “In God we trust!” signs. Others declared, “Viva Christo!” “One Church – Many Congregations!” and “2 Chronicles 7:14.”
Pastors Prepare the Way
Sixteen years ago, pastors began to earnestly pray together, going away annually for three days. Nick Woodbury of Latin American Mission calls these “powerful prayer times, tearful and passionate, resulting in unity and spawning regional pastoral prayer groups.” More than 500 different pastors have attended these summits, conducted prayer missions in Miami, and witnessed seamy establishments closed and adverse zoning issues favorably reversed—all inexplicable interventions of God.
This most recent citywide prayer gathering in December was possible because of the pastors’ leadership. In addition to the pastors, other civil dignitaries participated. The mayor of Miami, Carlos A. Gimenez, commended the role of faith for its motivation “to do right, to love, to serve, to be humble,” and for the hope of “a spiritual revival.” Also in attendance was Ramon Rodriguez, mayor of Medley; Congressman David Rivera; Pastor Alberto Delzabo of the Hispanic Ministerial Association, and Rose Titus, a long-time city leader.
Repentance and Hope
One of the highlights of the prayer time was the moment when Doug Small of Project Pray, called for repentance. “If you are physically able,” he urged, “go to your knees.” Quiet came to the gathering, a stillness, as the mood changed. An estimated 80 percent of the throng knelt. One leader commented of the spontaneous, unplanned moment, “I sensed what was about to happen. We were going to repent. It was powerful and reverent. I dared not lift my head.”
Another observer said, “Everyone was stirred. I cried. Others were wiping tears. It was moving.” As thousands were on their knees before the Lord, collectively they prayed: “We repent—we have sinned. We have failed to be the light we were called to be. We have failed to offer the quality of witness with our own lives so needed by the city and the world . . . . Forgive us, Father.”
Small notes the significance of the gathering. “Miami is a world-class, gateway between two continents. If ‘awakening’ were to come—the nation would notice,” he says. “The ripple effect would rumble throughout South America. Corrupt activities—the drug trade, human trafficking, prostitution and vice—would be interrupted. But none of that will happen or be sustained without repentance and change in the church. In the prayer tent, where 70 counselors prayed for needs, 207 made commitments to follow Christ.”
For Pastor David Vega of Mission Miami, the highlight was thousands of people, different denominations, cultures, diverse languages standing shoulder to shoulder, declaring their love for Jesus, and concern for the city. “It was remarkable,” he says. “We want to see the spiritual transformation of Miami, and if that is going to happen, then Christian people, from diverse backgrounds and cultures, different denominations, must gather for prayer!”
--DOUG SMALL is president of Alive Ministries: Project Pray.