By Mark H. Hunter, Regional Reporter
BATON ROUGE – The powerful sound of praise music and fervent prayer filled the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the LSU campus as about 5,000 to 6,000 believers pleaded for revival and God’s mercy on America at The Response on Jan. 24.
The non-partisan, non-denominational event, called by Gov. Bobby Jindal, was also picketed by a few hundred noisy protesters who objected to the apparent association The Response group has with the pro-family and pro-life American Family Association.
The protesters claimed AFA is a “hate” group while their picket signs and chants proclaimed their own hate toward Christians in general and Jindal in particular.
Cordoned off by a phalanx of LSU police and state troopers, the only response the protesters got was prayers offered their way by many inside the cavernous building.
Gov. Jindal, who calls himself an evangelical Catholic, spoke several times, including a testimony of how he found Christ as a teenager. He also fervently prayed for President Barack Obama and his family.
“The single most important moment in my life is the moment I found Jesus Christ,” Jindal, 43, said. “Actually – He found me. I’m the one who was lost.”
Jindal related a series “seeds” planted in his life, that over seven years finally brought him to biblical salvation.
The first seed was his best friend giving him a Bible that he “threw in the back of my closet.” The second seed was a Christian high school girl who told him she wanted to grow up to be a Supreme Court justice to overturn Roe V. Wade. When his grandfather suddenly died he got the Bible out and read it but didn’t understand it, he said.
Then at the age of 16 he attended a youth rally at The Chapel on Campus, where he saw a black and white movie about Jesus.
“God chose that moment to hit me harder than I’d ever been hit before,” Jindal said with passion rising in his voice. “I saw the actor playing Jesus being crucified and in that moment, all my doubts, all my questions melted away.
“It hit me that that was really the Son of God – that he is really up there on that cross dying because of me and my sins – what I have done and what I’ve failed to do,” Jindal says as emotion rises in his voice. “I don’t mean he’s up there for all of humanity, he’s not up there for billions of people – he’s up there for me – Bobby Jindal. How arrogant for me to do anything but get on my knees and worship Him.”
“We can’t predict what will be written in tomorrow’s newspaper but we know what is written on the last page of the Book of Life – Our God wins!” Jindal declared as the crowd roared to life. “He gets down off that cross – there is an empty tomb – We have a risen Lord – we too have the gift of eternal life – keep planting those seeds!”
The day’s format was designed around the themes of Repentance, Reconciliation, Revival, Reformation and Refreshing, with each category broken down into sub-groups such as abortion, healing racial divides, family issues, and politics and government.
More than 100 pastors and representatives from dozens of faith groups, including the LBC, prayed and a half-dozen praise bands performed. At least twice during the day, a band stopped their instruments during “Nothing But the Blood” and “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” The a cappella sound of the crowd singing along brought chills to many in the arena.
Between each category the stage worship paused as the crowd gathered in small groups, total strangers of all colors and denominations holding hands or on their knees, to pray for that particular topic.
LBC Executive Director David Hankins prayed for justice and Jay Johnston of First Baptist of Covington prayed for mercy on the poor and widows. Waylon Bailey, Pastor of First Covingtoon said they brought a busload for this and the earlier March for Life. FBC member Jonathan Bayer, said “I think its encouraging so many people came to pray for our nation.”
Sam Stogner, 12, also of FBC Covington, said backstage that he was there “to bring the state of Louisiana and the country back to God,” then publicly prayed, “Dear God, help us to do good, to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly in you.”
LBC President Steve Horn, pastor of First Lafayette, prayed for Louisiana’s families and encouraged the audience to “be that person” the next generation will look to as an example of Christ.
Mike Johnson from Shreveport who represents Louisiana Right to Life Federation and is active in several court cases prayed, “help us to restore a culture of life and the founders vision of America.”
Jeff Ginn, senior pastor at Istrouma Baptist in Baton Rouge, said, “It was a joy to see all the people who came, to lift up our voice for those who don’t have a voice.”
Regarding the protesters, Ginn said, “My heart really went out to them because they have such a misunderstanding of what we are doing, in reality we actually love them.”
Fred Lowery, retired pastor of First Baptist in Bossier City, fervently declared, “the only hope for America is a spiritual revival. Death defeating, sin killing, earth shaking revival. Only God can turn us around. There is no plan B – it is revival or ruin.”
Bill Smith, a longtime Sunday School teacher at Parkview Baptist in Baton Rouge prayed “for those who call evil good and call good evil.” He was followed by Sarah Farley, associate director at the LSU BCM who prayed for college students and the next generation.
David Lane, who was instrumental in the event, said he was pleased with the turnout and reported they were streaming it online. A group at the South Carolina legislature was watching it, he said.
Rick Lindsay, representing S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, summed it up saying, “they came, the convened, they interceded.”