taking the words of Jesus seriously

“What we want to pray for is real human beings, real people… so much pain, children in detention.” -Brian Houston

I believe prayer is the most powerful form of protest.

So last night when one of the most powerful Christian leaders in the world, Pastor Brian Houston, called his International Hillsong movement to stand in prayer for some of the most powerless people in the world, the thousands of children in detention here in Australia, I was moved to tears.

Why? Because it means we’ve won.

It’s not a question of if, but when.

Freedom will come for children in detention and refugees. We are promised, God makes a way when there is no way. So when the church starts praying for God to make a way, the gates of hell cannot prevail against God’s people compelled into action for the least of these.

This was not a political statement.

This was a prophetic statement.

My friend, Pastor Donna Crouch’s heart is not one motivated by politics. Donna’s heart and leadership is one moved by the Spirit of God. When she says, “There are 1, 100 children in offshore detention. It’s crazy. These are children. They are just like our kids.” That’s a heart that dares to beat for what breaks the heart of God.

For these Christian leaders this is not about right or left. This is about right and wrong. Hillsong, instead of being dragged into politics, has instead declared the prophetic: these people matter to God! These desperate people, God created. These forgotten people, Christ died for. These most vulnerable people, the Holy Spirit is working in. Instead of choosing a political side, Pastor Brian chose the prophetic path of prayer for the powerless.

Related: Before Getting Arrested…#LoveMakesAWay

As the great 20th Century theologian and Nazi resister, Karl Barth put it “prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

By praying the way they did, Hillsong chose to stand in the prophetic stream of the best of the evangelical and Pentecostal traditions. That great British Evangelical leader John Stott reminds us,

“Whenever God’s people have been effective as salt and light in the community, there has been less social decay and more social uplift. In the United States, for example, after the early nineteenth century awakening associated with Charles G. Finney, born-again Christians were in the forefront of every major social reform in America. They spearheaded the abolitionist movement, the temperance movement, the peace movement and the early feminist movement.”

What we saw at Hillsong last night, what we are seeing in the Love Makes A Way movement, is God’s people responding to a move of God: to demand the dignity that God desires for all of his children. John Stott reminds us this is the early history of Evangelicalism, and Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Grey reminds us it is the roots of Pentecostalism. Last night Hillsong reminded us that this is our prophetic future and called us in prayer to pull forward this promise into the present.  So I leave you with Pastor Donna’s prayer for you to share in as we pull down Heaven, and pull forward God’s future of freedom for all:

We want you to use us.
We want you to work through the church…
to truly reflect who you are,
And how you work Father.
May Lord this next chapter begin,
In your Mighty Name.
Amen and Amen.

About The Author


Australian pastor and social change educator, Jarrod McKenna, has been described by Rev. Jim Lawson, as “an expert in nonviolent social change.” Jarrod is the Founding Director of CommonGrace.org.au, a co-initiator of the #LoveMakesAWay movement for refugee rights and is a co-founder of the global GazaCeasefirePilgrimage.com movement. Jarrod pastors with Steeple Church in Melbourne and Table in the Trees in Perth, and is the co-founder of the InVerse Podcast and Collective with Dr Drew Hart. He is living on Wadjuk Noongar land, found on most maps as Perth, Australia, with the love of his life Kathleen and their boys.

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