10 years ago, in DC, Lou Engle got 400,000 Christians together to pray for their nation. Now, let’s get the elephant out of the room, and google: Lou Engle. Among the links you may find Christians calling him a heretic or activists calling him a homophobe. He may or may not be those things, but I’ve yet to hear anything he’s said to make me think he is not Christian or that he hates gays. I met Lou a few years ago when I went to check out what JHOP was doing at Harvard. Let’s just say that it was intense without much explanation, but it prepared me for what to expect at The Call in Sacramento. (The Call was far more “normal” than what I remembered of zealous intercessors at Harvard).
The night started 6 pm on Friday, and was much like the Jesus Culture Conference I experienced at Atlanta. A lot of music and energetic Christians. Funny thing though, most of the Christians seemed 21 and under or 40 and over. There seems to be a gap of mid 20’s to late 30’s that are underrepresented. Anyhow, nothing from the first night would spark any controversy. The only thing I heard was Lou asking for marriages to stay together, contending for families. I listened as I wandered through the crowds, eventually making myself front-row center of the stage. There’s just something about IHOP-style music that moves me.
The next day, I got up early to walk around. There was going to be 12 hours of nonstop music, prayer, and prophecy, starting at 9:00 am. What did I have to look forward to? Well, if you haven’t gathered, my mind wasn’t exactly on the same page as that of the event’s. I only went because an Atlanta friend, who I’ll write about later, mentioned it, giving me a good enough reason to go. In fact, I didn’t even know I was going, until the day of. When inquiring about who’d be going, one Christian friend said he’d go to protest the event. Yea, I can agree that The Call is too politically focused for my own comfort.
As far as protesters go, there would definitely be some at this event. The Call is unsurprisingly seen as a hate group by some. Yes, there were some protesters there (to be honest, protesters had a very weak presence, like 10 people). No, The Call isn’t a hate group. The message that The Call represents may motivate uneducated Christians to act out of ignorance, but it is more accurately a love group than a hate group.
I was waiting to hear the first uncomfortably jarring proclamation against homosexuals. I mean, honestly, the only two major issues that would offend anyone would be their stand of proposition 8 and views of abortion. Personally, I have no issue with making aspects of abortion illegal, as long as their protest is sensitive (and gentle, as the Bible puts it) to many who may be emotionally hurting from their experiences. I was expecting and did find that their presentation of their stand against homosexuality to be a bit obnoxious, but only one person, in the late morning, said anything that was boldly attacking homosexuality. Later in the day, there seemed to be a time set a part to pray for homosexuality, but that was done with more respect and gentleness. (Now, I wasn’t paying attention the whole time, which I’ll write about why later, but I had a sufficient sample of sound bytes). Let me explain…
First, The Call was calling Christians to avoid homosexuality. When they speak with such spiritual intensity, they are attacking people who profess Christianity yet give into counter-Christian values. People who believe they should not be lusting or entertaining sexual perversion were being reprimanded for hypocrisy. If you’re asking, “well, why can’t you be mainstream Christian AND homosexual?” It’s basically because mainstream Christians don’t believe it is ok. If you find there to be nothing wrong with homosexuality, then stay away from mainstream Christianity.
Second, why are they so political? That one is harder for me to understand, but aside from whatever statistics they can throw out there about families, they believe that there are ‘unseen’ negative impacts of homosexuality. Ok, now, if you’ve ever asked yourself the question, “why DO Christians care what other people do so much?,” here’s my take on it. First of all, it should be because they love the people around them so much that they want them to also be Christian; however, I find many, if not most of these people, paint love in such broad strokes that they never stop to really think what love means. Secondly, and I don’t know how to say this concisely, but they believe that there is a spiritual war that functions unseen and in the supernatural of which allowing homosexual marriage would allow people to fall into traps of spiritual oppression. There, I said it… For sure, this needs further explanation, but hey, maybe these people do know something that other people don’t understand. As long as they are acting out of love, I’m ok with it.
I’m a noob in my understanding of the supernatural, so I’m not even going to try, but let’s look at the worst case. Here at The Call is a group of people passionately crying for social justice for the hungry, the widowed, and the orphaned. At around noon, they cheered when the Associated Press released that Craigslist was putting an end to adult services, because, as research has shown, great amounts of sex trafficking happen over Craigslist. There is such a sense of justice and liberty being upheld with love and (perhaps extreme) spiritual fervor. I’m touched by the zeal that they petition for young people to overcome apathy in America and just give a crap. Now, if there was some similar group that was out there encouraging people to care in these ways, and the one mark against them was they didn’t want me to be under some institution of marriage, then, it doesn’t change the good that they do. These people, at The Call, are out to save people from starvation, depression, and being sold as sex slaves. I would ask myself, where are the other rallies for justice? If these people care so much to act on good causes, maybe knowing Jesus does give you purpose. Maybe I should get to know more about Jesus, before hating on a group of people that may infringe on one modern liberty, but seek to liberate those who are utterly desolate around the world.
Ok ok, so now that the elephant is somewhat out of the room, let’s get to the other stuff…
- “Down with crappy churches.” Hip hip hooray! (YES! I am so on that page)
- “Down with pornography.” (yes, I’m sure studies show valid evidence for pornography encouraging harmful sexual perversion)
- “Stay married!..” (Uh yea, divorce is bad, sometimes inevitable, but no one goes into marriage looking forward to divorce)
- “Raise up a prophetic generation.” (Cool! I’ve always wanted super powers)
- “Stop worshipping videogames. More and more people are playing videogames now.” (Oh gosh… here we go)….
- “Get off of twitter….” (What?.. No!)
- “Stop commenting on facebook photos.” (Nooo!… things were going so well, why did we have to take it there?)
Ok, there are things that are worth checking out, because there’s a lot of work and research backing it. For instance, Exodus Cry has gone around the world documenting the sex industry. As far as technology goes, these people are taking some pretty blunt and obtuse rhetoric towards social media, videogames, and internet. I don’t want to get into it here, but there is a counter-productive technophobia that gets presented by these movements. It’s first of all clearly coming off not what they mean, because, if you go to http://www.thecall.com, you see links to facebook and twitter at the bottom of the page. Geez, I tell ya… people these days. IHOP in Fremont, Jesus Culture, and The Call all explicitly call out videogames as the enemy. No, Satan is the enemy. Videogames are beautifully constructed interactive experiences done through God’s technology.
As they prayed for these areas of need, I saw myself up there some day saying something along the lines of… “Using videogames to teach and educate people, giving people a canvas for their voice, their expression, sending people to be a light in a dark industry, and spreading truth, creating a technologically novel mission field.” I see myself speaking to the innovators in Silicon Valley or encouraging people to explore the creative advancements in technology. And finally, speaking to the leading experts and professionals in the arena of intellectuals, encouraging those to advance the cutting edge in what we know of God’s creation and being at the forefront of these investigations.