Nearly 200 people braved chilly temperatures Friday night to take part in the first Hinesville citywide prayer gathering to provide guidance to the youngsters in the community.
The prayer vigil, sponsored by area religious leaders, was hastily prepared by Pastors Anthony Johnson of the Mount Carmel Deliverance Center Church in Rincon and Richard Hayes of New Day Outreach Ministries in Hinesville.
Johnson said he spent a lot of time the day of the Sandy Hook school shootings, which claimed the lives 20 children and six adults Dec. 14, flipping through TV channels and listening to news accounts of the tragedy and came up with the idea to hold a prayer vigil in Hinesville.
“The Lord laid it on my heart to do something for this city, for this area just to cover, and to protect, and pray over the young people that are in this particular area,” he said.
He called his friend Hayes, and the men quickly organized the prayer vigil with the help of other religious leaders.
The hour-long ceremony, held on the sport field of the Liberty County Recreation department, was filled with music provided by the Voice of Unity. The group, made up of 16 to 18-year-old Bradwell students, sang “We are the World” and “Are You Listening.”
“Our young people are facing many things in this society and this age now where they are facing drugs, alcohol and peer pressure to do things which are outside of what they actually believe,” Hayes told the crowd. “We have come together and decided there is something we can do.”
At one point during the vigil, the youngsters were asked to stand before the group of pastors, who raised their right hands and offered a litany of prayers for the children in attendance.
April Torres attended the vigil with her daughters Nicole and Mercedes.
“I always appreciate it when our political leaders and our pastors of the community unite together for such a cause as this, thinking about us, praying for the educators,” she said. “I just thought it was an awesome idea.”
Nicole Torres added the service was very fulfilling.