ELIZABETHTOWN — Every now and then, Christians are reminded and given of glimpse of what they believe heaven will surely be like. Sunday was just such a visage.
On the Bladen County Courthouse lawn, people from every socioeconomic status, from numerous denominations and races gathered together for one purpose — to acknowledge God — in the annual Cry Out Bladen event. Initiated in the wake of 9/11 and billed as a “knee party for America,” its purpose is to ask the Lord to rebuild America into a nation of Christian principles.
As part of this year’s ceremony, a new stone was unveiled in the center of the three flagpoles on the courthouse lawn. Facing the intersection is a stone etched with with the Bladen County seal under an “In God We Trust” banner. Atop it sits a marker honoring the fallen. It states, “To all the brave men and women who gave their lives so that others may live in freedom and safety. In valor we find hope and honor them with our perpetual ‘Thank You.’”
County Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson unveiled the marker and stated that in an unusual show of solidarity, the commissioners voted unanimously to etch the words “In God We Tust” into the marker.
“I can only pray that decisions like this will catch on and spread around the country,” said the Rev. Dewayne Lambeth after the service.
The choir from Center Road Baptist Church sang Chris Tomlin’s “At the Cross.” Rousing some guests to their feet and many to sing along, they followed with “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood.
The Rev. Bill Tatum reminded guests of the biblical account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo, Jewish men in an ungodly land who, after refusing to bow down to a statue, were thrown into a fiery furnace and emerged unsinged.
“We in America don’t have to bow down to evil,” said Tatum. “If we stick with the Lord and put our trust in Him, America will come out of this without even the smell of evil on us, because God is in control.”
Pastor Rachael Mitchell encouraged guests from II Chronicles 7:14, which states “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face … I will … heal their land.”
“It doesn’t say if white people pray, if black people pray, if tall people, or rich people pray — it says if my people pray,” preached Mitchell in her strong voice. “If we pray, He will heal our land. We have only to ‘stand still and see the Lord’s deliverance.’”
Continuing the service was the Rev. Larry Hayes, who reminded attendees that God placed Adam in the garden and gave him charge over it, but Adam ultimately lost his position as caretaker.
“We’re preparing Bladen County for the generations coming along,” said Hayes. “We can either dress it correctly and keep it, or we can lose it. I’m glad that God has blessed us with a community that’s not ashamed to say, “In God we trust.’”
At the end of the service, guests gathered around the flagpoles and new memorial and prayed for God’s protection for our nation, state, and county.
“It’s important to have things like this so that we can come together in unity and pray for our nation,” said Katie Everitte, who attended with her husband and daughter. “I think prayer is the answer.”
“God hears our prayers,” agreed Sadie Perry. “This was wonderful.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.