By Tom Campisi
Carter Conlon, chairman of the board and general overseer of Times Square Church, recently compared the United States to a shipwrecked vessel—with more storms on the near horizon. The coming darkness and desperation, however, could usher in a great opportunity for the Church to be a voice of hope and salvation, he said.
Conlon shared this timely word of exhortation at Pillar College’s Ninth Annual National Day of Prayer event, which was held online for the second consecutive year.
“This is a very critical hour for the people of God,” he said.
In his message, Conlon spoke from Acts 28, paralleling America’s recent tribulations with the doomed ship on Paul’s journey to Rome. Despite the dire warning from Paul, that there would be suffering and loss, the captain set sail anyway.
Likewise, the United States, with its current incivility in society and drifting moral compass, has been reckless and rebellious, Conlon said.
“In the last two decades, there has been no shortage of voices warning our culture not to take the journey we are taking – and abandon the ways of God.”
“Our society is turning to darkness, where evil becomes good, and good is vilified as evil. We can get to a point where culture thinks it is good to depart from the ways of God – to take a journey that God says we should not undertake. We are throwing overboard a basic understanding of humanity, human sexuality, of life itself. We are redefining society apart from the Word of God.”
As America continues its current course, Conlon said cities would explode with violence and the economy would collapse—the country we have known for four-hundred years is going to look radically different in the not-so-distant future.
“I believe in my heart, we are headed to that place, where one day soon – all hope that we are going to be saved as a nation is going to be given up. People’s hearts are going to fail them and they will lose hope. The love of many will grow cold.”
Christians have to realize, Conlon said, that like the Apostle Paul on his journey, we are here so that God can grant mercy to those who are perishing. Just as Paul emerged as a voice of hope, resulting in the two-hundred and seventy-five people being saved from death, the church must also be ready to speak a word in season.
Despite the current hostility towards the Word and ways of God, we are going to be “needed shortly.”
“It’s important that when we are called for that we have a word from God. For our family. For our friends. For everyone around us,” Conlon said. “Paul prayed. God met him and spoke to him. This is what we need to do. All hope had been given up. Paul stood in the midst of them.”
“We must pray, ‘God give me a word for these people. Because you love them, you have allowed me to be on this journey with them.’ The voice of God will be called for in the not too distant future.”
The Church must be ready when that time comes. Christians need to find their strength in God and in the presence of his Holy Spirit: “We must have a clear word – and speak on behalf of God. We need to exhort people to get back to the Word of God.”
Conlon exhorted the online audience to “let God speak through you for the sake of the people” and to pray, “God, give me the grace to take up my cross and be yielded to you for the sake of others.”
Just as many came to Christ through Paul on the Island of Malta, many can come to the Lord or return to him through the witness of the people of God in these dark times.
“(On the island), they were, at least, given an opportunity to turn back to God,” Conlon said. “This is my prayer for America. As we stand firm as the Church of Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, may others be given the opportunity to consider their ways and turn their hearts back to God.”
PILLAR COLLEGE AND THE NDOP
Following Conlon’s message, Dr. David Schroeder, president of Pillar College, noted “a deep sense of reverence towards God and repentance.”
“The wide gate leads to destruction. The narrow road leads to life,” he said. “We need to be steadfast in prayer and lead others to eternal life.”
Pillar College, with campuses in Newark, Somerset, and Paterson, has hosted a NDOP event for the last nine years, with the last two being held online due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We believe that the Holy Spirit is with us individually and collectively as we share in this National Day of Prayer Service,” said Dr. Wayne Dyer, Pillar’s Vice President of Strategic Alliances and the host of the event. “America and our churches need us to unite in prayer.”
Several local pastors and community officials led prayer segments for the NDOP event, including: Rev. Cynthia D. Jackson, a judge in the Jersey City Municipal Court and pastor of the Allen AME Church in Newark; Rev. Kang James, senior pastor of First Baptist Peddie Memorial Church in Newark, and a trustee of Pillar College; Dr. Marcia Wilson Brown, vice chancellor for external relations and governmental affairs, Rutgers Newark; Rev. Jamillah Mantilla, Global Favor Prayer Embassy; Dr. Mark J. Wade, director, Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness; Rev. Ingrid Ortiz, Career Services Coordinator with the Student Engagement Team at Pillar College; Major A. Edward Major, III, a soldier, businessman, philanthropist, West Point graduate.
The NDOP event also included appearances by Christian schools and ministries. The Faith Center for the Arts orchestra and choirs performed three songs. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by students at American Christian School. Students from Veritas Christian Academy read a Scripture passage. Pastor Raphael and Aly Giglio performed “The Blessing.” Raphael Giglio is the lead pastor of North Shore Fellowship Christian and Mission Church in Rumson, NJ. Aly Giglio is the worship leader.