Christians have been taking to the streets since the day of Pentecost, giving glory to God in public places and proclaiming the Holy Spirit energized truths of the Gospel in praise, as well as in preaching. The Church in many places is becoming visible again with a voice that needs to be heard.
The March for Jesus concept is now spreading world wide – large praise marches have taken place in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia. Different groups around the world have been doing similar things for years, but in many cities, March for Jesus 1992 is making way for something completely new.
This May 23, March for Jesus events will take place in more than 120 U.S. cities, as well as in Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. A day of praise and proclamation will take place in the major cities of Europe. In conjunction with this event, churches will be praying for the evangelization of Europe. Every capital city in Europe – from Moscow to Madrid, Budapest to Berlin – will be having praise marches. In Berlin organizers expect more than 100,000 marchers to pass through the site where Hitler once displayed his troops – the Brandenburg Gate.
Next year, organizers around the world will plan marches the United States in which over a million Christians will participate. Believers lifting up the Name of Jesus Christ will march in every country of the world.
In 1994, the first global March for Jesus has been scheduled for June 25. Marches will begin in capital cities around the world at 10 a.m. in every time zone in such a way that for an entire 24 hour period the whole world will be marching for Jesus. Some cities, such as Seoul, South Korea, anticipate 1 million to 2 million marchers on that day.
Graham Kendrick, writer of many praise and worship songs and director of Make Way Music, has spread his vision for “Praise Marches” in the streets of many cities and towns all over the world.
“A praise march is just one means by which the Church has surfaced and become more visible.” says Kendrick. “In many ways, it is an easier method of witnessing than the old-style open-air meetings.”
The vision behind March for Jesus 1992 is to provide the Church with the musical tools for taking praise, prayer and proclamation onto the streets of our cities and towns. A series of shouts, chants, prayers and songs will be used in the by the marchers on the streets, and in rallies held in conjunction with parades. It is one way to bring the Church to the people instead of the people to the Church.
Although these happenings appear to be new, this concept has a legacy which is many centuries old:
- Jan Hus, leader of a revival movement in the fifteenth century, composed folk hymns in his native Czech for his followers to sing in the marketplace, fields and meadows.
- The Catholic and Orthodox churches still continue in the tradition of processions in many places today, particularly those associated with pilgrimage.
- The banners that often hang inside Anglican churches were not intended for that purpose, but for taking out around the parish. In England, Whit Sunday has always been a time for processions, particularly in the Midlands and the North.
- The Salvation Army took their brass bands onto the streets in the late 19th century. They were not always popular. The Worthing Gazette of 1883 described them as “excitable young men and hysterical young women who mistake a quasi-religious revelry for Godliness.”
- When the Spirit was poured out upon Wales in 1904, society could not escape its impact. For a time, the courts had no new cases to try and the taverns emptied. A report read: “The revival of 1904 united denominations as one body, filled the chapels nightly, renewed family ties, changed life in mines and factories, often crowded streets with huge processions, abated social vices and diminished crime.”
And now, this underground stream, which has renewed the Church in growth and vitality, is beginning to burst out once again. Many Christians around the world believe that it is time to take to the streets. It has already happened in Great Britain where over 200,000 at one time have taken to the streets to “March for Jesus.”
The marches in England began with small churches who decided to take what they were experiencing in their churches out into the streets. In May of 1987 several ministries in London, joined together for a Prayer and Praise March though the streets. To their surprise more than 15,000 people turned out, in spite of pouring rain. As they marched through a financial district of the city, they prayed that God would expose the schemes of the enemy and stop the inflation and greed. In the days that followed they saw insider trading and fraud exposed, and the stock market crashed.
Encouraged, the march organizers planned another event for May of 1988. This time 55,000 participants turned out. As they marched, their prayers were focused on the government. That evening following the march, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher publicly spoke of her faith in Christ. This sparked a controversy over religion that allowed the truths of Scripture to be articulated in Parliament and in the national media for several months. In 1989 and 1990, marches occurred all over England and Ireland and both times more than 200,000 people participated.
“It seems to give Christians greater boldness and somehow breaks the spell of silence,” says Graham Kendrick. “And because there is a spiritual warfare element to it, praise marches can be an effective strategy to drive out spiritual darkness.”
“But praise marches are not a short cut,” explains Kendrick. “Some think that by having a praise procession the betting shops, pubs and strip-joints will close down overnight, but I am more and more convinced that the message of Exodus 23:30 is more realistic: ‘Little by little I will drive them out before you until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.’ If we really want to break Satan’s power in a town or city, I think it is going to happen little by little as the Church grows in holiness, purity, love, power and authority.”
March organizers also want to stress what March for Jesus is not:
1. It is not a protest. March for Jesus is not to be confused with protest marches, demonstrations for political causes, or with anything confrontational. It is a positive witness of the Good News, a time to boldly and confidently declare our faith in Jesus.
2. It is not to be used to promote any one particular ministry. Although many churches and ministries are associated with the event, march organizers are careful not to let it become a vehicle for self-promotion. No mailing lists will be compiled, no man-centered ministries will be lifted up, and marchers will not carry banners advertising the name of their church or movement.
3. It is not just another “event.” Many churches plan evangelistic outreaches, community service events, and church social functions throughout the year. But March for Jesus is a time for lifting up the name of Jesus. The sole purpose is to praise His Name publicly. It is a time for Jesus alone.
March for Jesus is celebration. The March calls Christians to unite and take the joy of knowing Jesus beyond the church walls and into the streets with praise and prayer.
March for Jesus is repentance. It is a time for humbling ourselves; for publicly repenting of the sins we have committed as individuals, as the Church, and for our nation. We are asking God to come and forgive our sins and heal our land.
March for Jesus is a witness. We are taking part in Jesus’ command to go into the whole world and preach the gospel, making disciples of every nation. On May 23, every nation in Europe and over 120 cities in America will hold Marches.