Local Christians came together in prayer during The Return, the National Day of Prayer event Saturday, Sept. 26. Two prayer vigils coincided with another being held at our nation’s capitol which was hosted by Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jewish pastor, and Franklin Graham, a Protestant evangelist and missionary and the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham. Both local vigils took place in downtown El Campo.

The first gathering on West Monseratte, led by El Campo clergy and local leaders, was organized by Eddie and Bobbie Cude, pastors at El Campo Faith Center.

“God put it on our hearts to do this,” Bobbie said. “When we heard about the event on TV, he (Eddie) said ‘It’d be good if we do something.’”

Then at noon, Apostle Tony Freeman, president of Glory Realm International, led the event at Evans Park.

“The purpose was to come together, as a community, and pray for the leaders of our nation, the leaders of our local community, and to pray for the nation, and the world, as a whole,” Freeman said. “It’s plain to see, just by turning on the news, that our nation is in desperate need of positive change. As a ministry, we truly feel that change starts in the family and the church. The family is influenced by the church, which in turn, affects our communities. If we turn to God, and ask Him for help, we believe our nation can turn around.”

Organizing the first event, volunteers and ministers stepped up to take a role in the day that lifted up families, schools, military, first responders, our government, churches, businesses and country in prayer.

“The focus was on prayer ... for people to gather in prayer no matter what church they belong to,” she said.

Brenda Kosanke, pastor at New Life Assembly of God in El Campo, prayed for families and schools.

“Whatever you’re teaching in your home, whether it be racism, hate ... they are learning it from you,” Kosanke said.

She added fathers should be at the forefront of the home, leading as a positive example.

“Fathers should lead by example for their daughters and sons,” she said.

Leonard Sternadel, a local veteran, talked about his time in Vietnam as he shared a story about his unit as they were about to go into Cambodia.

“There were four chaplains that showed up ... ‘this is not a good sign,’” he remembers thinking.

Each of the soldiers could spend time in prayer with one of the chaplains, depending on their faith or denomination that each chaplain represented.

“Apparently that day there were no atheists. Each joined a religious group,” Sternadel said.

He then read prayers that came from a booklet he received from one of the chaplains that day, even a prayer for the enemy.

Then, Wharton County Precinct 3 Constable Robert Holder followed with a prayer for government officials and Deacon Patrick Kubala offered prayers for churches. George Flores, Josie Garza and James Davis, all ministers at New Life Assembly of God, prayed for businesses, our country and for unity, respectively.

“We need to check our hearts first before we pray,” Garza told the crowd.

She continued to lift up the division and hatred in our country, so that people may come together, because “we are all sisters and brothers in Christ and we must pray for one another.”

The final prayer, one for unity by Davis, came right before the closing featuring the Lord’s Prayer led by Hazel Foltyn and the singing of “Proud to be an American.”

While the second hour of prayer in Evans Park was fewer in numbers, Freeman said he was not disappointed, “because we came together, expecting God to do something, no matter how big or small the numbers were. The Bible says, in Matthew 18:20: ‘For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there I am in the midst of them.’ We believe our prayers broke through that day. In the next coming weeks, we will be doing more meetings. We’re hoping more people will be able to join us.”

Freeman, his wife, Apostle Marissa Freeman; their children, Aiden and Peyson and Apostle Casey Sublett of Houston, shared music and lifted up different groups in prayer.

“We prayed for the President, the First Lady and their family, our own Texas governor, our city mayor, the police force, our fire department and the media,” Freeman said. “We prayed for God to lead and direct them, during this time, and for their safety and protection. We prayed protection over the children and youth of our nation. We prayed for the safety of our families and communities.”

The message for the hour also focused on healing our nation.

“The main point of my sermon was to call upon the name of the Lord, and seek Him for this country, in order for God to heal our land,” Freeman said. “The nation has been turned upside down with the coronavirus, the riots happening across the country, bringing fear and uncertainty on the nation. People in our own community are scared, due to what’s happening, and we need to call upon God to heal our nation. If we turn to God, He will heal our country.”

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