Local pastors, fearing the divisiveness throughout the U.S., have decided to do something about it. They’ve scheduled a huge prayer gathering for Oct. 31.

Everyone in Graham and Greenlee counties has been invited to the gathering, as have folks from New Mexico, said Ron Gonzales, the pastor for Church at Safford.

The event, which is scheduled to be four hours long, will take place on Eastern Arizona College’s football field. It’s expected to be the largest event of its type in the Gila Valley.

“We really do feel like this is an urgent thing to do,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said he feels the current climate of the nation is similar to the time in the Old Testament when the Israelis were initially invaded by the armies belonging to Nebuchadnezzar.

The first invasion left some damage. It was a limited attack, but served as a warning to the people to return to righteousness. If the people did not return to a better way of life they were told disaster would ensue. The Israelites did not listen and 19 years later, Nebuchadnezzar’s army returned, enslaved the Israelite people and demolished their city.

“If we look at this spiritually, there was the 2001 attack. After that, 19 years after is 2020. We’re in the 19th year of our ‘if’ season,” Gonzales said.

Although he wasn’t certain what the consequences may be for the American people if they did not return to righteousness, Gonzales said he fears them. He said one of the possibilities could be an economic disaster if the nation did not return to righteousness.

“We believe God still hears and answers our prayers,” Gonzales said. “Before there can be a re-awakening, there must be a rude awakening. We’ve had rioting, shooting, and killings in our nation. We’re in a rude awakening. We really do feel this is an urgent thing for us to do.”

Another pastor organizing the prayer gathering, Phil Tutor, who is the senior pastor for the New Life City Church in Safford, said he is excited for the gathering.

“It’s not an event, it’s an encounter. The greater responsibility is on the believers. We have a solemn responsibility to examine our hearts, address our sins, praise and worship,” Tutor said. “It’s not a political event. It’s a gathering of believers to have God take a real look at us. I’ve been in the valley for 40 years, and apart from Project Luke, I’ve never seen such a spirit of unity, mainly among the spiritual leaders.”

Bill Johnston, pastor for the Desert Springs Community Fellowship Church, said there is a need for a rekindling of attention to church and reawakening in the local Christian community.

“There’s been so many distractions, there’s a falling away. It’s a good time for the gathering because there’s a lot of chaos in the world right now,” Johnston said. “We need him to come in and heal our land. There’s a lot of chaos in the world, a lot of sin. It could be worse, but we need an awakening now.”

There was a similar gathering in 2008, but it only included nine local pastors, Johnston said.

“Worshipping is a walk with God that displayed bringing glory to him through the way you live, loving people and helping people,” Johnston said. “I want to see our children have a future, and a future with God in it.”

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