By Mary Faulds, AFA Journal staff writer
July 2008 – Teens in Yuma, Arizona, experience revival at their public school while fasting for 40 days. On the 39th day, they begin preaching to their classmates on benches and cafeteria tables. In the next 11 days, 50 kids give their lives to Christ, and a church is planted.
Lou Engle says this is just one example of the impact of TheCall, a youth movement of prayer and worship to bring revival to this nation.
Today’s teenagers have not known a world without computers and cell phones. They are the entertained generation, but TheCall is not about entertainment, it is about passionate, earnest prayer. Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council and one of many advisors to TheCall, says, “Christian youth have seen all of what the world offers, and to call them back to spiritual sobriety is critical.”
One such sobering fact of concern to TheCall is legalized abortion. Nearly 50 million babies have been killed in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade. Engle believes a day of reckoning is coming for this country, and only true repentance and fervent prayer can stay God’s hand. Perkins agrees, saying this country is at a “cultural crossroads.”
Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in La Mesa, California, another member of TheCall’s advisory board, says, “Young adults always bring social change, whether they are Christian young adults or any young adults.” TheCall is not an event or a concert, but a gathering to create a prayer culture among young people.
And teens and young adults are the target audience of TheCall’s modest marketing. In fact, word-of-mouth is their main marketing vehicle. Engle likens it to John the Baptist as a voice crying in the wilderness.
TheCall began as an idea following a mass gathering of Promise Keepers in 1997. The men congregated on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to pray and urge other men across the nation to live lives of purity and Godliness. Engle was deeply impacted by the event, and after a dream, he envisioned a similar youth movement. However, nothing happened for two years.
Then in 1999, a woman came to Engle and asked him if he had ever considered having a youth event like the Promise Keepers gathering a few years earlier. Astonished, Engle said yes. The woman promptly wrote him a check for $100,000, and TheCall was born.
The first Call
The first Call was held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in September 2000. Engle says, “We told nobody who the speakers were, nobody who the worship teams were. We’ve had enough personality-driven religion. We need God, and His prescription in crisis times is united mass fasting and prayer. That was the sound we trumpeted, and over 400,000 young people gathered.”
Engle calls it a “mobilization miracle” that so many youth participated in the first Call. He says one of TheCall’s main values is that it is to be nameless and faceless. The focus is not to be on the people, but on Jesus Christ and His purposes. He also says worship leaders and speakers for every Call are not paid and come at their own expense.
Engle believes TheCall’s first participants heard a sound “that resonated in their hearts, and the sound was this: Can a nation turn back to God?” That sound followed the teens back to their homes.
During TheCall, the young people were challenged to do a 40-day fast at lunchtime in their schools. Engle says they got a report from one group of students who went back and did the 40-day fast at their public high school. He recalled that nearly 60 students professed faith in Jesus as a result. The D.C. Call also inspired the group from Yuma mentioned above.
Over the next three years, six more Calls were held in places like New York City, Kansas City and Los Angeles. Then, Engle says, the Lord asked him to lay down TheCall for a few years in order to refocus and refresh. He says during this time the issue of abortion became truly pressing on his heart.
“[The Lord], if I can say it, gave me an encounter with His heart, reading a book on William Wilberforce, that man, that parliamentarian that ended the slave trade in England,” Engle says. “And the Lord spoke to me, reading that book, to raise up a prayer movement for the ending of abortion.”
Engle believes TheCall was raised up to target national sins that might bring God’s judgment to the U.S. “You study the Scriptures,” he says, “and you find that whenever a nation begins to shed innocent blood of children, judgments come. But I believe that if we would plead the blood of Jesus, He could show us mercy.” Engle also says that he believes this massive prayer movement could turn the heart of Jesus to bring a contemporary Great Awakening.
With renewed passion and a new focus, Engle resumed TheCall in Nashville July 7, 2007 (07-07-07). Since then six more Calls have been held, and the impact was still powerful.
In April, TheCall went to Alabama. Prayers were given to end abortion and the message seemed to hit home with some people who did not attend. “Right after that Call, black voices were raised,” Engle says, “… that were totally disconnected from TheCall, saying that Planned Parenthood has a racist root targeting the black communities.”
The youth at the Alabama Call also prayed to start an adoption movement as the answer to abortion. Engle says within just a few months 38 adoptions took place due to TheCall’s influence.
The most recent Call did not take place in the United States. In fact, it didn’t even take place in the Western Hemisphere. In May, Engle traveled to Jerusalem. He says it was an extraordinary experience.
God put a burden on his heart a year earlier to pray for Israel and the Jewish people through a Call event. Engle estimates that, with the help of GOD TV and the Global Day of Prayer, over 100 million people gathered for TheCall Jerusalem. They prayed for “worldwide spiritual awakening, and they focused their hearts on the nation [Israel] and for Jerusalem.” Engle says he has every belief history changed that day.
On August 16, 2008, TheCall will return to Washington, D.C., This time, Lou Engle has even higher hopes because he believes our nation is in a “crisis moment” in several different areas of society.
The 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was earlier this year, and Engle believes that this is the time to break down the walls between Christians of different races. He says King’s dream of racial equality and harmony can come true only through the Church.
Another area TheCall DC will focus on is marriage. He sees the recent California court ruling basically legalizing homosexual marriage in that state as a devastating blow to the marriage institution. He believes that without divine intervention, there is no hope for marriage in America.
This year’s elections will be another concentration. In fact, that’s partially where TheCall’s catchphrase comes from. Can a nation be changed in a day? “Just ask if Esther’s fast changed the political scene of Persia in a day!” Engle says. “Haman was removed and Mordecai was raised up to change the whole public policy. We believe that when God’s people pray, the prayers of the saints can overrule in the public realm.”
Most importantly, though, Engle says TheCall DC will be focused on massive national revival: “I believe when there are massive gatherings of fasting and prayer, God can turn things in a moment of time.”
The future of TheCall
Just days before the national election, November 1, youth will gather in Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego for TheCall. They will continue their focus on eradicating abortion and on seeking God’s direction for our nation. There will be another call for a 40-day fast for a new Great Awakening for the nation, particularly California. Engle says with some of the laws being passed in California, God’s judgment is looming, so they will be crying out for His mercy.
There will be two more international Calls in August, one in Canada and one in Indonesia. Beyond that, Engle is seeking God’s face as to where TheCall will go next in the United States.
TheCall gives Perkins hope for the future. “I have more hope in the young people of today to turn our country around than I do in the older generation,” he says. “Today’s young people have experienced the material abundance the world offers, but found that there is emptiness. They are seeking to restore what their parents have neglected, which are matters of the heart and soul.”