LIHUE — Pastor Roy “Rocky” Sasaki shouted three words when it was his time to speak at the 13th annual Statewide Worship and Prayer Watch: “Freedom, freedom, freedom.”
And with each yell, the crowd raised their arms and shouted back: “Amen,” “Hallelujah,” and “Yes.”
“As Christians, we cannot go back to 2016,” Sasaki said, standing behind a cross and under the Statewide Prayer Watch banner. “We see 2017 as the year of the Lord, for us to expect great things from God and expect great things for God. Alleluia.”
That short talk set the tone for a spirited gathering of about 100 people who came to sing, worship and seek God’s guidance and protection. They prayed for the country, for families, for nations, for military and for government leaders. They prayed for youth, for churches, for education, for Israel and they prayed for repentance and protection, too.
The rally brought together members of different churches “in unity, one body, one mind, one accord,” which pleased Kevin Cabreira of Kapaa Lighthouse Outreach Center.
Leaders from New Hope Lihue, Kauai Bible Church, Aloha Church, U-Turn for Christ, Faith Christian Fellowship, Kauai Island Ministries and Salvation Army Lihue participated in the three-hour session.
“It’s something I prayed for and cried out for for such a long time, but never knew it existed until I got introduced to it a year ago,” Cabreira said as he held his six-month-old daughter, Samantha. “I was amazed how many bodies of Kauai actually participated in this.”
Organizer Delia Astrologio said the prayer watch was ushering in a new year and thanking God for blessings.
“Amen,” she shouted to the crowd referred to as “prayer warriors.”
Similar gatherings were happening at the same time Sunday at other Hawaiian islands to cover the state in prayers, she said.
“We need prayer more than ever, praise the Lord,” Astrologio said. “He is moved by our prayers. How many believe that?”
Many men and women continued to raise their arms wide open, their eyes closed, smiles on many of their faces.
“Jesus Christ is coming soon, so get ready,” Astrologio said. “Ready or not, he’s coming soon.”
Two visitors to Kauai, Ron and Margaret Smoltz of California, joined the prayer watch. They watched from the back rows, their hands clasped together.
They said they usually attend church on Sundays back home, so they decided to stop and join the praise and worship at the convention hall since it was close to the resort they were staying at.
“Prayer is important,” Ron Smoltz said. “It changes lives.”
Dely Sasaki of Kauai Island Ministries said they have long been praying for Kauai, dating back to when Hurricane Iniki hit and devastated the island in 1992. They prayed for restoration and revitalization of the island’s many businesses as they slowly recovered from the disaster.
They have since been praying for families, government and churches, and all stations of life on Kauai.
“I really believe that the Lord has answered a lot of our prayers,” Dely Sasaki said. “I really believe there’s been a real growth in Hawaii in answer to prayers.
“There’s unity with the churches, which is beautiful,” she added. “Everything we do together is bringing unity to the body of Christ.”