A group of Christian worship artists and faith leaders, including Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston, prayed for President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Friday.
The musicians and ministry leaders participated in a worship service and visited the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room, where they prayed for the president and took part in a policy briefing on what the administration is doing to help the faith community and religious freedom.
Attendees included the 65-year-old Houston; Bethel Music founders Brian and Jenn Johnson; Grammy-nominee Kari Jobe; her husband, Cody Carnes; Trump’s faith adviser, Paula White; and Sean Feucht, a Bethel worship leader running for congress in California.
Vice President Mike Pence also attended parts of the briefing.
"Wonderful stopping by a worship leaders briefing today at the @WhiteHouse!" Pence wrote in a tweet. "America is a proud Nation of believers and our Administration will always defend the freedom of religion of every American, of every faith!"
The event comes after questions were raised in September about whether or not the White House refused to invite the Sydney-based megachurch leader, Houston, to a state dinner with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Houston is regarded as Morrison’s faith “mentor.”
Houston was investigated for allegations that he failed to report his father’s sexual abuse of children in his church.
“Here I am at the White House. Never say never,” Houston said in an Instagram video filmed outside of the White House. “It is a great honor to go into the Cabinet Room and even into the Oval Office to pray for the president of the United States of America.”
“To me, it is not about politics. It is about the position,” Houston continued. “[A]nd a significant man like the president of the United States could use all the prayer we could possibly give him.”
Houston was also featured in a video posted to the White House’s Twitter page.
“As an Australian, I really believe that we need a strong America in the world,” Houston said. “With America strong, the world is a better place. What a great opportunity its been to see some of the initiatives that are happening to help freedom of religion and to see the great spirit generally in the White House with people who are optimistic about the future.”
The Nashville-based Jobe and Carnes were also featured in a video on the White House Twitter page.
“We got to listen to a faith briefing of a lot of things that are going on in the White House — religious freedom and things like that,” Jobe said. “But the thing that meant the most was just how everyone is so focused on making sure we are changing people’s lives and not leaving those that are marginalized and those that have been trafficked.”
Jobe explained that she had been in “tears all day.”
“Sometimes for those that don’t work in the White House, it can look really, really big and something that we can’t really end,” the 38-year-old stated. “But they are working to end these things and change these things. I have just been in tears all day. It’s incredible. I am just so thankful to be part of this today and to see what God is doing in our White House.”
Carnes, a 30-year-old singer-songwriter, said that he was “encouraged” because “there are just so many good things happening today out of [the White House] … for the faith community and the world.”
“Things that we all believe in the faith community can change the world are being supported and happening in this house,” he said. “We are just encouraged.”
Feucht posted on Twitter Friday that Trump “expressed the need for prayer over America and wisdom for this administration.”
“When the President of the United States invites you inside the White House to worship and pray, YOU DO IT,” Feucht, the founder of two businesses and three nonprofits, wrote.
Feucht, 36, is running as a Republican for California’s 3rd Congressional district, which is occupied by Democrat John Garamendi, who has served in the House since 2009.
“Many people expend their energy cursing America and tearing down this Administration — it’s bizarre!” Feucht wrote in another tweet. “We came to bring blessings and hope.”
This is not the first time that Christian worship leaders have been invited to the White House, as the Trump administration has held several faith briefings and White House events over the last three years to keep evangelical leaders up to do date on the administration’s efforts.
Last November, Jobe attended a similar White Hosue briefing with Christian musicians that also featured Christian rock artist Tauren Wells.
"I sat there with tears in my eyes because these beautiful people get up daily and go to work in a governmental facility and think about people; you and me," Jobe said in a social media post last year. "They pray and seek God for wisdom for people. It all seemed beyond politics — it was Kingdom. I realized there are some Kingdom-minded people who work in the White House and that was extremely encouraging.”