Some 70 millennial evangelical pastors traveled to Israel this past weekend to take part in the Global Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, an evangelical rally held on the first Sunday in October.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Freidman and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion were in attendance for the 90-minute event held at the Tayelet Haas Promenade and hosted by the New York-based evangelical nonprofit Eagles’ Wings.
According to the organization, around 500-600 people attended the annual event in person while 500,000 churches worldwide watched a livestream broadcast.
“I am so blessed to celebrate with such incredible people, such inspirational and distinguished religious leaders like all of you, to celebrate the State of Israel, to celebrate this holy city of Jerusalem and of course to celebrate the unbreakable relationship between the United States and Israel,” Friedman said during his keynote speech.
Eagles’ Wings considers itself a global movement that promotes peace in Jerusalem and the Middle East. It is led by Executive Director Bishop Robert Stearns, who has allegedly brought more than 10,000 evangelical Christians to Israel over the course of his career.
The organization holds that the Christian Church “owes a debt of gratitude to Israel and the Jewish people” on grounds that Christianity exists because the Jewish people kept themselves faithful to God’s covenant.
“We are here today declaring that there is a new breed of Christianity alive in today’s world — a Christianity which understands that spiritually, we were born in Zion,” Stearns, the visionary behind the day of prayer, said.
“We stand in prayer and action believing in a peace plan not hatched in the halls of the [United Nations] coming from hearts who learn and experience the God of love. God can change hearts and changed hearts can change history.”
Stearns is also president of the Los Angeles-based organization Israel Christian Nexus.
Stearns hosted the 70 evangelical pastors and leaders from the U.S. and Brazil for 10 days in Israel before they departed on Monday. The trip was meant to educate the millennial leaders on the “truth concerning Israel and the Jewish state.”
Friedman, who recently received criticism for sledgehammering open an archeological site in Jerusalem’s City of David lying underneath the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, stressed in his speech that “denial” of the “truth” does not bring peace or tranquility.
“We will continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as we do today, but it will be for peace based upon the truth, the undeniable and now the scientifically corroborated truth, about how the roots of the Jewish people and the roots of Christianity are both centered in this Holy City, a city small in size but so immeasurably large in purpose and in meaning,” Friedman said.
The day of prayer event concluded a three-day worship and prayer gathering called Awake Jerusalem. The event brought together hundreds of Christians from more than 10 different nations.
Sunday’s day of prayer event comes less than two years after President Donald Trump moved to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the U.S. State Department moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The move by the Trump administration pleased the Israeli government but disappointed U.S. allies and countries in the Middle East who feared it would further stoke the Israel-Palestine conflict and disrupt peace efforts.
According to Fox News, Stearns said that over 90 million watched the live broadcast at simulcast events in 175 countries through GOD-TV.
“This is the largest annual prayer gathering in the world of Christians praying in solidarity with Jerusalem, the eternal undivided capital of Israel," Stearns was quoted as saying.
Next week, Jerusalem will be the site of the Feast of the Tabernacles celebration, sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Thousands are reportedly expected to attend from over 100 countries.