Special to the Daily News
“Stand in the Gap” is a growing prayer movement, and is moving in Bell County, Lee County, Va., and across East Tennessee from Kingsport, Tenn., to Scott County, spanning more than 100 miles.
Stand in the Gap has organized five prayer marches for five cities that will involve eight counties and are anticipating over 20,000 people to be involved in the event on at 3 p.m., set for Nov. 4.
The Bell County march will take place at Bell County High School. Participants will march to Bell Central and return to the high school where there will be a speaker and prayer. Each march will take place simultaneously.
The Stand in the Gap movement is the result of Claiborne County’s effort to identify and unify prayer efforts in East Tennessee counties, as well as mount an effort to combat a growing regional drug problem.
The prayer movement has grown out of a revival that took place in Clay County just a few years ago. The catalyst was the epidemic drug problem drawing people together from all backgrounds to pray. The problem was so bad that one in six people in their county had been arrested for drugs, said event organizers.
After months of prayer efforts around their county, they decided to take to the streets as a show of unity asking God’s help for the drug problem. There were 4,000 people, representing 20 percent of their county, showed up to participate that day.
As a result, residents will say, “God Came to Town.” Today just a few years later, the drug problem has been turned around with few cases coming before their courts. In addition to many other benefits, in Manchester, a town of 1,900, there are 1,400 new jobs. This is a big change for Clay County which was the sixth poorest county in America.
The Clay County march caught the attention of a ministry that documents moves of God around the world. This ministry called The Sentinel Group traveled to Eastern Kentucky and produced a documentary about this revival called “Appalachia Dawn.” This documentary has gained international attention and gives hope that God can bring change to drug infested regions of America. A free 17-minute trailer is found on The Sentinel Groups website — www.Glowtorch.org.
In unrelated efforts, drugs have pushed groups across Appalachia East Tennessee to come together, praying for children and grandchildren who have become addicted to either prescription or manufactured drugs. The East Tennessee prayer groups have begun learning about and seeing the documentary which spreads new hope through rural communities that God can do the same thing for them.
Union County, developed a prayer march in August 2011 with 2,000 people marching, Cocke County with 1,500 and Lee County recently with 1,500 people, but the greatest response was 8,000 participants meeting to pray and march to Cumberland Gap in Claiborne County. Participants marched from Kentucky, Virginia and Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., to converge at Cumberland Gap for a prayer meeting.
Claiborne County’s efforts and the documentary Appalachia Dawn have further fueled the fire of expectancy and hope that God can bring light at the end of this dark tunnel of drugs, county by county.
Dr. Edwin Robertson, who organized the Claiborne County March, has been having regional monthly planning meetings to continue the prayer initiative and work together across county lines to end the epidemic of drug abuse in East Tennessee.
In August, a decision was made to promote prayer walks or marches in five cities at one time, all to demonstrate how people “are crossing denominational lines to cry out to God to eliminate illegal drug and alcohol abuse in the Stand in the Gap Region.” The plan was to organize five marches, in five cities involving eight counties, spanning over 100 miles on Nov. 4.
The Jonesville, Va. march was held Sept. 23. Participants were overheard making statements like “We’ve prayed our whole lives to see what is happening around us”. Another marcher said, “We’re making history today. Everywhere these marches go on, significant changes begin taking place in their county.”
Marches will be in Rogersville, Tenn., (Hawkins County), from the First Baptist Church to the City Park, in Huntsville (Scott County), La Follette, Tenn. (Campbell County), New Tazewell, Tenn. (Claiborne County) at Gose Park, and in Pineville.