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The Intersection

[Religion] Jesus was in the building

Turning Thomas & Mack into prayer central, thousands hope to change city

Damon Hodge

Las Vegas and sin don’t have to go together like T&A, says Vegas-by-way-of-Atlanta newcomer Kirk Jacobs. In fact, he says, his new hometown can be a spiritual wellspring, a place overflowing with salvation—Jerusalem with penny slots. So it was that he and thousands of other like-minded Christians congregated inside the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday for an all-day prayerapalooza meant to radicalize the faithful.

Believers danced, sang, shouted, prayed, knelt, jumped, cried, clapped, fasted, tithed, channeled the Holy Spirit and pleaded for a “mighty move of God.” Strangers prayed for each other. A trio of ladies suddenly, deep in spirit, honored “thy father, which art in heaven” near the entrance to a women’s restroom. Spanish-speaking preachers proselytized. In what was probably the world’s most docile mosh pit, kids crowded near the makeshift stage jumped up and down to a rollicking guitar solo from a Christian ensemble. Blurring the line between church and vocation, several Thomas & Mack employees asked God to heal this city.

“It’s more spiritually intense than what I’m used to,” Jacobs said. “More intense than anything I’ve been to.”

Founded in 2000, the inaugural Call in Washington, D.C., drew more than 400,000 people who fasted and prayed for global salvation. The event returned after a four-year hiatus with thousands of believers worshipping in Nashville on July 7. Time not spent encouraging the faithful was dedicated to beating up on Vegas, or as it was called, a “worldwide attraction for sexual immorality, materialism and wickedness.”

Microphone in hand and rocking back and forth, event co-founder Lou Engle handled the bulk of the preaching/emceeing/call-and-response-directing. “Give a shout to God,” he exhorted, eliciting more than a thousand simultaneous hallelujahs. Worshippers clapped when he said to clap, lifted their hands when he said to lift them, tithed when he said to open their wallets. Folks came from the bleachers to fill baskets with money.

“Give God everything you got,” Engle pleaded halfway through the 10-hour revival. “We can raise $200,000. We need radical obedience in Las Vegas. I decree Las Vegas is no longer Sin City. It is now the city of grace.”

John-Michael Howell lives in Los Angeles. He went to the Nashville revival and wasn’t going to miss Vegas’ Call. If any city needs God’s help, it’s this one. “This is a pivotal movement for this city. This type of event will change people, change a city and can help change the world. Martin Luther King Jr. told us to let freedom ring. Well, this is the bell.”

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