By Doug Stringer –
In April I received the news from my doctor that I had stage 4 lymphoma. My aggressive chemotherapy treatments began on June 16, right after I returned from serving as coordinator of The Response South Carolina in Charleston. Surrounded throughout this time by the love and prayers of so many friends, my family and I are so thankful that the adverse side effects have been minimal. During this time, a lot of anxiety can come from going through something so life-altering, that is why having prayer for anxiety, prayer for health, and prayer for strength, is incredibly important to get through a massive change like this.
One thing I have not escaped, however, is the loss of hair. It first became obvious on Friday, July 3, as I was preparing for a prayer and fasting event for our country the next day. By the time Saturday evening came around, I had lost most of the hair on my head. But the Lord has a way of taking these kinds of circumstances and using them as “prophetic dramas,” where we live out in the natural a word He is giving us in the spiritual. Our life experiences then become a life message that is bigger than ourselves, a message beyond the circumstances we’ve been through. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
After realizing the hair loss was a reality that Friday night, I felt the Lord speak to my spirit. “The eagle is balding,” I said to Lisa. I was half joking, trying to make light of things. As Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” Yet I knew the Lord was also placing something in my spirit that He wanted me to share the next day.
Our National Symbol
America’s national bird is the bald eagle, representing strength and courage. They have incredible eyesight, with the ability to spot predator attacks on their nests from miles away. According to the book The Eagle Story, published by Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles: How to Conquer Habits, “The eagle has exceptionally sharp vision because it has two ‘fovea,’ compared to only one in the human eye. The cones in an eagle’s fovea are small and tightly grouped, allowing the eagle to see very small details from extreme distances. For example, an eagle can spot an object as small as a rabbit from a distance of up to two miles!”
The book goes on to explain that the eagle has two sets of eyelids: conventional eyelids as well as a pair of clear eyelids called nictitate membranes, which can be shut for protection while not inhibiting the eagle’s ability to see. While some experts say that no creature can stare at the sun without going blind, others argue that the extra eyelids on the eagle allow it to look into the sun with no damage. Regardless, when feeling weak and weary, with their eyesight dimming from age, eagles will soar toward the sun to rejuvenate themselves. This is what Scripture speaks of when it says, “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
A few days before the Lord began speaking to me about the eagle, one of our intercessor friends and her husband were awakened in the night by the sound of an eagle’s cry coming from the alarm of a cell phone that was not even turned on. She prayed about what God was saying to them, then wrote to me after they heard about what I shared at the July 4 meeting: “The eagle represents America,” she said, adding that it also stands for rational things, instruction in truths, renewal, resurrection, the prophetic, leaders, seeing clearly, and wisdom. “We believe your personal battle parallels the battle for America.”
The Roots of Freedom
How disheartening it has been for so many of us who have prayed and cried out for our nation to see the highest court in the land setting itself up as god in the house of God. These are the people we trust to interpret the law, yet they have totally re-defined the nation’s constitution in a manner so far from what our Founding Fathers intended. They have crossed the line, assuming to dictate to God, the highest of all authorities, what is law and what is not law. Truth is truth, no matter who tries to change it.
Our nation’s first president, George Washington, said in his first inaugural address, “We have God to thank for America’s birthday!” Then he said, “No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.” How things have changed.
President Ronald Reagan said this: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Like our Founding Fathers, Ronald Reagan understood that freedom naturally decays as societies expand unless people of principle defend it. That tendency has been true at every point in human history and always will be. Government has the necessary role of defending our liberty, free speech, the right to property, but virtue can become a vice when it attempts too much. We must be watchful to ensure that the government’s good intentions don’t become the overreach that becomes tyranny.
We’ve recently seen the tyranny of overreach from the highest court of the land, so we now appeal to the greatest courts of heaven, to the most Supreme Being –the Creator of the heavens and the earth, unto whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Jesus Himself is the one we fix our eyes on. Though at times we feel weak, we know that when we wait upon the Lord, He will renew our strength. We know that when we fix our eyes on the brightness of the Son of God Himself that we will not to be blinded, but we will come back and be awakened as a Church to impact the soul of our nation.
United to Save the Nation
Shortly after leaving the July 4th prayer gathering, we received numerous encouraging messages from people who were touched by this word and sensed it was a word in season. One person after leaving the meeting wrote to say that it was an uncanny confirmation when they saw the headline banner on the front page of the Houston Chronicle that read, ‘Long Live The Bald Eagle…Our national symbol Is on the rebound’.” The article accompanying the headline read, “A nation unites to save the bald eagles”. The same thing can happen to our nation; it can experience awakening and revival, but only if the Church unites under Christ. There are many who gather round during times of celebrations in order to come together and unite under his name. Many come from far away using a church bus charter in order to join in church gatherings.
A few days later, I went to a hospital in Clearlake to see and pray for a young man who is also battling cancer. As we arrived and walked down the hallway, they turned and saw Lisa and I through the large waiting room windows. Just as one of them exclaimed, “The Eagle has landed” some of his family in the waiting room suddenly heard the loud shriek of an eagle and looked up to see a program on the television about bald eagles. Some of the family had heard me share at the July 4th prayer gathering about regaining our strength as the soaring eagles. They personally received this as another confirmation and encouragement for them personally.
In 2011, Houston hosted The Response, a day of fasting and prayer for our nation, at the request of the Governor of Texas. As of this writing, we have helped facilitate The Response prayer gatherings on behalf of the Governors of Louisiana, and South Carolina; and are working on gatherings in several more states.
Who would have thought The Response South Carolina on June 13th would gather the Church in South Carolina to pray in unity just four days before the tragedy at Mother Emanuel AME Church? The initial reaction of many who participated in that prayer gathering was disbelief that this would happen after so many came to repent and pray for their state and their nation. Yet, as we began to engage in conversation with the pastors and intercessors there, we were reminded that God’s timing is perfect.
Many leaders of various racial and denominational backgrounds in the Charleston area believe The Response was a providential gathering as we crossed denominational, racial and generational barriers to meet at the Cross of Christ together in Prayer, Worship, and Fasted-ness for our nation. Who would have know what horrific tragedy would take place just four days later at Mother Emanuel AME Church? In fact, we did not initially intend to hold the gathering in Charleston, but it turned out to be God’s providence. Thousands of Christians united after the tragic shooting in Charleston to become a coat of many colors, standing up for their brothers and sisters, unlike other cities where we’ve seen riots break loose. Even when the outside agitators came, the Church in that city became an example for the rest of the nation. From the leadership of the AME denomination to the local congregations, the Church of Charleston sent a message to all of America on forgiveness, healing, and hope.
Of course, we only built on a foundation laid by generations of prayers and intercession that had gone before, but God allowed us to be part of a catalytic moment and to see an answer to the prayers of reconciliation and unity we had prayed just days before. The Church comes in great numbers, linked arm in arm, in authentic love and unity. What the enemy intended for evil, God is turning into opportunities for good, because the Church of Charleston and South Carolina is demonstrating intentional love through unity, forgiveness and healing.
Unity is what God desires for His Church across America, especially now as we see the erosion and unraveling of so many of our moral foundations. I’m not talking about lowest common denominator unity, but unity in Christ. Authentic Unity is not Uniformity, but Unity that comes from our Unique diversity, yet common relationship in Christ and His Word. He desires for His Church to come together and soar above the many distractions that keep us divided.
A New Generation
True intercession is not just hiding in the prayer closet. It’s standing in the gap between the living and the dead, like Moses and Aaron, as they grabbed the censers of incense (symbolic of intercession) and ran to stand in front of those who were perishing, begging for God to stop the plague of sin. They cried out for mercy, for God to move on behalf of their people. Likewise, many of you have prayed, some of you for decades, crying out in intercession, “God, stop the plague of sin! Stop the lies of the enemy over this nation!” God is hearing your cry. He hears the cries of His people, and He is still on the throne. He didn’t bring us to such a time as this to leave us hanging.
There is a cleansing taking place. Many pastors we’ve looked up to and leaders in politics and business are falling and failing. But in the midst of the cleansing, God is raising up a new generation of Samuels, Esthers, and Ruths, a generation of Deborahs, Daniels, and Josephs. They are a new, prophetic generation of righteousness. Just as God exposed the sins of Hophni and Phineas and raised up Samuel as a righteous judge and voice of truth in his generation, so is He now going to expose unrighteous judges and raise up a new generation of judiciary. God is raising up prophetic voices who are not just prophesying for their own self-adulation and their own gain, but because they fear God and seek His Kingdom first.
When the Lion Roars, The Eagles will Soar!
On July 24th, while speaking at the 60 years of ministry celebration banquet for Bishop Roy Kossie, Jr, I shared that when the lions roar, the eagles will soar. I envisioned that when the a lion roars in the jungle, all the animals listen, the birds take flight, and eagles soar. We need the aged lions to roar again, stirring up the church, and provoking even the weary eagles to take flight and regain their strength. The Lion of Judah has released a resounding roar from His Holy Habitation, awakening the eagles of the church, calling them to action (Rev. 25:30-31, Jeremiah 25:30-31). These eagles must soar towards the light and hope of the SON if they are to make an impact and unite to see Awakening in the Church and Revival in the nation. We are a generation that needs strength to come into our destiny. Only the brightness of His presence will reveal the greater reality and greater authority God wields. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can soar above our weakness and renew our strength. Then we can fulfill God’s call and destiny in our lives and nation. God still has plans for America, if we as the Church will unite to His purposes.
We cannot be informed only by what we see and hear on the news. We cannot let the circumstances around us dictate who we are. God has the final word. Who will we believe? I choose to believe the word of the Lord. He never waivers. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
One in a Thousand
There is a spiritual cancer in America. Many leaders are experiencing an attack in the natural realm that mirrors the spiritual state of the nation. But I believe for many the sickness is a lie of the devil to distract them and the Church from the spiritual war that rages right now.
There are those in governmental leadership who still recognize a higher authority. Some bold and courageous men and women are rising up to speak into the very core of what’s happening in our nation-like those even in government who are not afraid to say, “Our nation needs prayer!”
Let us not forget, however, that our nation will only be restored to its God- ordained destiny by the Church uniting in intercession (and action). When Abraham cried out for Sodom, he pleaded with God to spare the city if there were 10 righteous people in it. Various commentaries have different estimates of what the population of Sodom was at the time of Abraham. I know there are still righteous men and women in our land, but even if there are only one in 1,000, the church must still unite for the nation. Church, you and I are the hope of Christ to the multitudes who are shipwrecked in the sea of despair and in a tumultuous world. We are God’s chosen ambassadors, to be the tangible expression of Jesus, to demonstrate truth in love, a love the world does not understand. It is not a love that tramples the sacred blood of Jesus, but a love that shares the truth uncompromisingly in the spirit of grace and mercy. Only then can those who hate and oppose what we stand for see the beauty of His Holiness and the Glory Due His Name.
As I have been writing this article, several of my sons in the faith have messaged me saying God has given them a scripture for me during their times of prayer. That scripture is Malachi 4:2, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.”
The SON of righteousness is rising, and He will bring healing to the nation.
Even as the eagle in its time of weakness regains its strength by soaring toward the Sun, we the Church-and the nation-in our time of need must fix our eyes on the SON and soar together toward the brightness of His presence. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), we can believe for awakening in the Church in America and for revival to spread throughout the land.
As the nation unites to save its national bird, the bald eagle, the question we must ask is this: Will the church unite to save the bald eagle nation? Or, in other words: Will the church have a heart awakening, so we can be conduits of revival that will impact the soul of our nation?