More than 12 million Christians in 179 countries made a public confession of faith on June 25 in the first global March for Jesus.
March for Jesus had a unifying influence in Burundi, where Christians from the Hutu and Tutsi tribes walked side by side. First-time public marches were held in Cambodia and Mongolia, two countries where the Christian church has experienced formidable religious oppression. Twenty Christians gathered secretly in Morocco to pray for their country.
A tropical storm that hit Hong Kong the eve of the March for Jesus did not hold back the estimated 11,000 Christians who gathered. Benjamin Wong, national coordinator of March for Jesus in Hong Kong, said, "This march is a living demonstration that the gospel of Jesus Christ can unite people from different nationalities, races, and cultures together as one."
Recent interfaith tensions over a proposed law to teach religion in Ecuador's public schools did not spill over to the event in Quito, where an ecumenical crowd of 15,000 marched without incident through the city's hotel and business district.
Many marchers carried signs proclaiming, "Not by religion, but by faith in Jesus Christ," a reference to evangelical opposition to the proposed religion law, which religious minorities say will favor the predominant Catholic church.
Around 3,500 Belgian Protestants marched in the streets of Brussels, seat of the European Union's main institutions. Participants carried religious banners, played contemporary music, danced, and held mime performances in the streets. Two days before the march, Belgium's leading daily paper, Le Soir, published an article criticizing march planners for professing their faith in such a public way while at the same time keeping silent about issues such as unemployment, war in Bosnia, and ongoing carnage in Rwanda.
Despite severe restrictions on religious freedom, up to 45 people from seven countries were involved in March for Jesus activities in Tibet, an autonomous region in western China on the Indian border. As part of the activities, a group of participants marched seven times around the Jokhang Temple, which is considered Tibetan Buddhism's holiest site and the center of Tibetan religious life.
Graham Kendrick, who wrote the praise songs sung in the marches, participated in both the first and last events of the day. He began in Christchurch, New Zealand, and later crossed the International Date Line to be in Western Samoa. In order to have a march in each time zone, Christians aboard the HMS Norfolk gathered for prayer in the mid-Atlantic.
Kendrick helped organize the first March for Jesus in his native England in 1987. This year in the United States, 1.5 million—including 20,000 prisoners—marched in 550 cities. The event now crosses denominational and liturgical lines.
"It's taken awhile for people to become comfortable with the concept," Kendrick told CT. "At the heart, it is an act of worship, which doesn't need any justification."
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