The faithful: Community gathers to commemorate National Day of Prayer
By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 3, 2013 1:46 PM
Katlyn Parks, 6, holds onto her grandfather, Willie Brock, during the National Day of Prayer at Cornerstone Commons. The National Day of Prayer is a nationwide event during which people all over the country are asked to turn to God in prayer and meditation. The Goldsboro event took place at the Cornerstone Commons and the Paramount Theatre. Hundreds of Wayne County residents gathered for the event.
Corin Craft closes her eyes in prayer while she holds her son, C.J. Craft, 2, during the National Day of Prayer ceremony Thursday.
Eight years ago, Ed Ollie was at a routine church service. He can't recall what the message was, but he does remember getting up and walking to the altar, where he knelt down and began weeping.
He and his wife had just been told they could never have children. Ollie was devastated.
"Here I was sharing the gospel with others, but I had lost faith in God," he said. "I doubted if prayer was real. Does God come through, I thought."
Today, Ollie and his wife are proud parents of three children.
That's the power of prayer, he told those attending the third annual National Day of Prayer Thursday. A service was held at the Paramount Theatre for adults, while youths held their own service outside at Cornerstone Commons.
"When we come together like this tonight, you realize you're really not special," Ollie said. "It's not about you. It's about honoring God."
He said when he was asked to speak at the event, he had great tension in his mind.
"I pray for my family and my church -- and every now and then, for government officials," he said. "Probably most of you here tonight, if honest, could not raise your hand if I asked you do you pray for our nation every day."
Ollie counted himself among that number.
"This is the 62nd National Day of Prayer and millions of people gather to pray today and lift up their local municipalities. We are in a crisis in America, a crisis of identity. We used to ask God for help in policy-making, but that's lost now."
He left those attending with these two questions: "Do you actually believe what you are praying for? Do you believe God can do it?"
Lining the sidewalk in front of the Paramount Theater before the event started and later encircling the youths at their service at Cornerstone Commons were several members of First Pentecostal Holiness Church's Mission M-25. Each member held a big American flag.
"Tonight we're just supporting the National Day of Prayer from a solidarity form of showing patriotism," member John Howard said. "One nation under God is what we're doing."
That's what M-25 has done each year for the Day of Prayer in Wayne County.
"It's the American thing to do to keep "In God We Trust" important and in the forefront of everything we do as a church and as a nation."
He said it was especially appropriate this year with the recent bombings in Boston.
"People get naturally drawn to some kind of corner when something like that happens," Howard said. "And out from that, most of the time you'll see some kind of prayer vigil. You'll see something that's generated into some kind of thing spiritual. You saw it with 9-11. You see it with any kind of crisis."
Howard said the National Day of Prayer is something that happens every single year the first Thursday of May.
"And so we pray tonight that we see a turning for it not to be just a calendared event, but something that's usual in people's lives."
At Cornerstone Commons, several young people gathered to pray and listen to a praise band.
One of those was 23-year-old Bradley Davis. It was his second year of going to the event.
"I'm here to stand and to humbly come before God saying that we need to repent and bow before God to turn to his ways," he said.
"If you look back in the Bible at the city of Nineveh, they were called to public repentance because they were headed to the path of destruction. We need to repent in prayer and follow in the ways of God to be a successful nation."
Davis said not only do people need to pray at an event like this once a year, but every single day of their lives to be a witness to others in the world."
Matthew Nunn, 26, also came for the second year.
"I think it's really important that the body of Christ come together, that we be his hands and feet like Paul said," he said. "And come together and glorify God and praise through worship and prayer and intercede on behalf of this city."