WASHINGTON – It was a hot and blazing day, much like 10 years ago, when thousands of men stood on the National Mall Saturday praising God.
Despite the scorching rays, their faces looked up to the heavens in remembrance of the holy God they serve and to renew their commitments as "mighty warriors for King Jesus," as popular speaker Dr. Rick Rigsby said.
It was a pledge some made 10 years ago at Stand in the Gap, then organized by the flourishing men's ministry Promise Keepers, which had drawn over a million Christian men to the Mall. Ten years later, old and young generations of men gathered not to recreate that historic assembly but to begin a tradition to restore their lives to God, to their families and to society.
"We will not remember being here 10 years ago. We won't remember just some mountaintop experience," Marty Granger, chairman of Stand in the Gap 2007, shouted to thousands from the Sylvan Theater stage. "We will remember the character of God and the holiness of God and the name of God. We're here to renew our commitment ... our priorities.
"We're here to build walls of honor," he continued. "We're here to build walls of protection. We're here to build walls of praise."
The question, Granger said, is "Can we build broken walls at the same pace that our enemy tears them down?"
The entire day went without any breaks, less-than-10-minute messages from invited speakers, moments of silence, and gallons of water to keep the men hydrated.
With masculine roars, the thousands shouted in accord to be mighty husbands, fathers and sons in the midst of brokenness in society, families and churches.
"His love endures forever!" men shouted as tourists and visitors passed by in their walk to the Washington Monument.
But in order to fight like a real man, they had to get on their knees and pray, as 13-year-old Paolo Sosa quoted a bumper sticker he read off a car.
So the men kneeled down on the grass and dirt with heads bowed in prayer. They kneeled in repentance for their own sins and to "stand in the gap" for the sins of men in this country.
"It's very important for men to get together and be humbled," said Mitch Lachin of Church of the Redeemer in Gaithersburg, Md.
A participant of the 1997 Stand in the Gap, Lachin felt an experience like that of 10 years ago is needed even more so today "because the moral fabric of our country is on decline" while the needs of Christian men remain the same – prayer, worship, glorifying God and reaching out to the lost.
"I came here to see if God will use this somehow for revival for this country," he said.
Event chairman Granger believes America's cultural walls are broken down and hopes to see men renew their God-given roles.
"I (God) look for a man who would build a wall and stand in the gap before me so I would not have to come to the land and destroy it," Granger said quoting Scripture.
"God is saying to us today, 'I looked for a man.' Are you that man?"
Ten men were honored that day as the first inductees to a virtual Wall of Honor (honormen.org) honoring men who have honored God. William Wilberforce, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell and Martin Luther King Jr. were some of the men the thousands paid tribute to.
Along with the prominent figures in Christianity, war veterans and elderly men in the crowd were also recognized.
Stand in the Gap 2007 was organized by the National Coalition of Men's Ministries, the Washington Area Coalition of Men's Ministries, and Faith in the Family International. There were no corporate sponsors or grants and the event encouraged donations by attendees. Organizers hope to make Stand in the Gap an every-decade assembly.