The ReAwaken America Worship Service in Branson
“I’ve got a prophetic word for you: We win. We win! I’ve got a word for you, Church, the Church of the Lord Jesus. I’ve got a word for you, body of Christ: we win.”
With those words, Marty Grisham christened the ReAwaken America Tour event in Branson, Missouri, over the weekend as the Church and body of Christ. The head of a Pentecostal ministry called “Loudmouth prayer,” he offered this promise of victory while sharing the stage with MAGA political figures like Eric Trump, Michael Flynn, Kash Patel, pillow-hugger Mike Lindell, and people who participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
But Grisham wasn’t alone in framing the two-day rally as a gathering of the body of Christ. Anna Khait, a former contestant on the TV reality show Survivor, called those gathered at the ReAwaken event “the light,” thus invoking a metaphor Jesus used about those following him.
“This country is in darkness. We are the light in the darkness,” she said. “And it’s only by the grace of God, amen.”
Similarly, “prophet” Julie Green also described those at the event in religious terms traditionally used to refer to God’s people. She made the declaration after prophesying in the name of God that former President Donald Trump would soon return to the Oval Office.
“How many [are] excited that our president, Trump, is coming back?” she asked to loud cheers. “They can’t intimidate this body of Christ because we are something different. We are the remnant, and we will not back off, we will not back down, and because we know that God is on our side and we win.”
Such rhetoric might seem odd at a political rally, but it accurately describes the way they acted. This traveling variety show of Christian Nationalism, anti-vaccine rhetoric, QAnon conspiracies, and election denialism is more than just another political event. It includes times of congregational singing of praise music, prayers, sermons, and even baptisms. This MAGA revival that’s been going around the nation for over a year cannot be fully understood in merely partisan terms.
In this issue of A Public Witness, I take you inside the latest iteration of the ReAwaken America Tour that occurred Nov. 4-5 in Branson. Based on what I heard from the stage and what I saw as I walked around inside the event, it was clear they see this as a church gathering. So, I will share highlights of the event by considering it in the form of a church service. It’s okay if you don’t have a bulletin, I’ll walk you through it.
Note: On Monday, we published a photo essay offering an inside look at the ReAwaken America Tour event in Branson. But it’s only available for paid subscribers. So, if you haven’t yet, upgrade today to see the more than two dozen photos not included in this report.
The Church of MAGA
I’ve watched other versions of the ReAwaken America Tour online, but moving from virtual attendance to going in person helped me see the religious liturgy and elements even clearer. I’ll offer a recap of the service to save you from visiting (you’re welcome).
Call to worship.
The service in Branson started like previous ReAwaken America events. “Prophet” Amanda Grace led a group of people in blowing shofars seven times to kick off each day of the event. Journalist Sarah Posner, author of Unholy, previously documented the co-option of this Jewish instrument at Christian Nationalistic events (including during the Jan. 6 insurrection). Grace also predicted the midterm elections would be part of bringing Trump back to the White House since it would happen on a “blood moon” day.
At ReAwaken, Dave Scarlett explained why they would be blowing the shofars: “That’s what we’re here for: to get America back to our King of kings and Lord of hosts. So, to bring in the spiritual realm, we always ask the Father to come, the Son to come, and we’re going to invite the Holy Spirit to come. And how we do that, we blow into the shofar. We’re ready to go to war with the enemy in the spiritual realm and the physical realm to take our country back in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Songs of praise.
Before speakers came up to talk about how the COVID pandemic was a fraud, vaccines are dangerous, the 2020 election was stolen, and 5G networks are a plot of the new world order, both days started with congregational songs led by the worship team from Influence Church in Anaheim, California. The chosen songs for this service included “How Great is Our God,” “Our God Reigns,” “Lion and the Lamb,” “Goodness of God,” and “Shout to the Lord.”
Since this service is devoted to praising, defending, and prophesying the return of Donald Trump, it’s critical to have an official priest of the church to bring formal greetings. Eric Trump often fills that role (and sometimes Donald Jr.). On a couple occasions, Eric has even called his dad during a ReAwaken event and held the phone up to the microphone for the former president to greet his fans (alas I missed out as Eric didn’t make the call during his Branson remarks). Over the weekend, he came to the stage as a video montage of his dad dancing played on the big screens.
“Guys, we love you. You guys are so incredible. And it is good to be here,” Eric said. “And you see all these American flags. Right, this is real America.”
“Now you look at this country, and you know how hard this is for me? You know, we were out there every single day fighting and fighting and fighting against all odds. Actually, we had the best odd of all, which was the guy up there,” Eric said as he pointed upward and recounted his father’s presidency with “we” language. “We will never ever ever stop fighting. This family will never ever ever stop fighting.”
The congregation then stood and chanted, “We love Trump! We love Trump! We love Trump!”
Jackson Lahmeyer, an Oklahoma pastor and failed U.S. Senate candidate who proudly embraces the term “Christian Nationalist,” led the congregation in a prayer after he preached. He asked everyone to stand up and hold up their hands so they could experience the Holy Spirit to receive “a holy boldness” necessary to continue the work.
“Father, it is my request that right now fresh fire would fall in this place,” he prayed. “We receive the Holy Spirit, a fresh infilling so that we can leave this place with power, with power, with divine power.”
Clay Clark, the organizer and emcee of the ReAwaken America Tour, likes to lead a litany at the events. The people, many who trek to various ReAwaken services as it moves around the nation, enthusiastically join in.
Clark: “How many of you believe that Jesus is King?”
Clark: “How many of you believe that President Donald J. Trump is, in fact, our president?”
Clark: “And how many of you believe that General Flynn is America’s general?”
While many churches dropped the offertory time during the COVID pandemic, ReAwaken continues to push the giving times. Perhaps that’s not surprising since they preach that the pandemic was fake, but it’s also because this is a profit-ic enterprise. Nearly every speaker has something to sell, many of them putting their websites or QR codes on the screen during their presentation — with Clay Clark often coming on stage to reiterate how people can learn more, buy things, or donate. Clark and Michael Flynn even urge the congregants to invest in gold and silver.
And the tithing doesn’t have to be just online. Dozens of vendors — including booths for many of the speakers — were just steps away from the auditorium. The Trump store sat just outside the doors, with others a bit further away under a big revival tent outside. There one could buy “Fight Like a Flynn” shirts, Clark’s books, beauty products to make you look “5-10 years younger,” golden Trump coins from a “prophet,” lots of products praising Jesus and/or cursing Biden, crystal power pendants, products to protect you from COVID or vaccines, artwork showing Trump and Flynn as Revolutionary heroes, some sort of fabric to “protect” you from 5G radiation, and towels from MyPillow (which I don’t think are supposed to be used as pillows).
This religious movement is bringing converts into its fold. Literally. During a baptism service in the swimming pool of a nearby hotel, around 150 ReAwaken attendees lined up to be baptized. With many wearing their pro-Trump, anti-Biden, or Americana clothing, they took turns being plunged beneath the chlorinated waters. Several couples were both baptized, as were children and multiple generations of some families — all while a band nearby sang Christian music. Organizers say nearly 5,000 people have been baptized during the 17 ReAwaken events.
“Prophet” Julie Green came forward to offer a word from the Lord. But rather than open a Bible app, she first read some of her previous “prophecies” on her phone before sensing God had a fresh one for her to deliver (which conveniently coincided with her speaking timeslot). Back in April, Green campaigned for Doug Mastriano in his run for governor of Pennsylvania, and she prophesied, “‘Doug Mastriano, I have you here for such a time as this,’ saith the Lord.” A look at the polls suggests that prophecy isn’t looking too good (at least according to me of little faith). Like she did with Mastriano, she borrowed biblical phrases in her new “prophecy” about how Trump — who she has repeatedly called a new “David” — is coming back to office soon.
“For I the Lord this day am telling my children to receive your victory as I have shown you in my words and through my prophets that I speak to them and I give them what’s going to happen before it happens,” Green declared with her eyes closed. “My country, my nation of the United States of America, receive your victory this day because as your elections draw near, do not be afraid of the fraud because I am bringing that fraud down. That fraud is not bigger than me.”
“I told you before that I am cleansing your House, that I am cleansing your Senate, and, yes, I am cleansing the White House. Those people who are there, those people who have stolen your nation, I am bringing them all down,” Green added as if still speaking for God. “So, to my children and to my body, I am telling you this day that I am bringing this victory. I am getting you your nation back. You are winning these elections. You are getting my David. My David is my son, and no one will stop him from taking his place, his rightful place of power. What has been stolen will be given back.”
Simone Gold, an anti-COVID vaccine physician arrested for her role during the Jan. 6 insurrection, received the rock star treatment at ReAwaken less than two months after being released from prison for her Jan. 6 activity. For her entrance, the service included “We are the Champions” by Queen as photos of Gold appeared on the big screens.
“I’ve done my sentence but committed no crime,” the music declared along with photos of Gold in the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“But it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise,” the song continued as the screens played clips of media outlets that “canceled” Gold and then stock prison footage before Gold walked out during the chorus to rapturous applause.
Lance Wallnau, a “prophet” who has been stumping for GOP candidates this year, offered the main sermon at ReAwaken in Branson. Wallnau, who has embraced the term “Christian Nationalist,” is perhaps best known for popularizing the claim that Trump was like King Cyrus, which Wallnau came to by reading Isaiah 45 since Trump was the 45th president. And that seemed like crazy stuff until I heard him in Branson.
Wallnau walked the congregation through a couple texts. First, he invoked the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 as he urged people not to be afraid of being called a “Christian Nationalist.” As he explained, he sees the sheep not as those helping the least of these (I mean, who said that Marxist thing?) but as those protecting national sovereignty.
“What’s coming down in the last days — and all the theologians fight me on it, but so what,” Wallnau said. “When Jesus comes back, the Bible says he’s going to gather all the nations in front of him and separate them into sheep and goat categories. Understand something, the sheep nations, by instinct what you’re doing is preserving the sovereignty of the United States from being broken down and assimilated as a beat-up junior partner in a global empire. We will always be separate from that system.”
Wallnau then jumped to Luke 2:34 to offer a “prophecy.” In that verse, Simeon is making a prophecy about the baby Jesus being one that will “be spoken against.” To connect the dots from Jesus to ReAwaken, Wallnau interjected, “This movement is in its infancy, but it’s about to grow very quickly.” And, Wallnau added, they are being spoken against, a framing that puts the movement in the place of Jesus in the words from Simeon. Wallnau then noted that on the Jewish calendar this is the year 5783, which he decided offered another clue.
“If you go to Strong’s Concordance, there’s a word in Greek and a word in Hebrew next to all these different words,” Wallanu said. “What word in the Concordance actually corresponds with 5783? And it means to expose that and make it naked, to reveal what has been hidden.”
The congregation cheered and many nodded their heads in agreement.
“This is our year to see the exposure, and you’re starting to see it already happen. You don’t think that God had his hand in putting Elon Musk over Twitter?” Wallnau added. “Elon is doing a splendid job of opening up and exposing things right now. This election is going to be the exposure of things right now. And the spirit of the Lord says it’s a sign that will be spoken against.”
To recap in case you got lost, we can take a prophecy about baby Jesus and a word used in Habakkuk to predict things like a billionaire buying a social media app this year because this is a young movement and there’s a word that happens to be the 5,783rd word in a book listing biblical words. (Warning: don’t try that exegesis in a seminary paper.)
During both days of ReAwaken, people were invited to come forward for prayer and to have a “prophet” like Amanda Grace or Julie Green put hands on them. Both days the aisles and hallways filled up with long lines, with some people seeking a prayer of healing. Many people fell to the ground after being touched.
Song of response.
As the service neared its close, Christian musician Sean Feucht came on stage to lead a round of worship. As he noted between songs, he had recently performed during campaign rallies for Arizona gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake and Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano (and he said they will both win).
At Branson, he urged people to join him in “a prophetic moment” for MAGA victories in the midterm elections. He recounted the story from 2 Kings 13 where the prophet Elisha told Israel’s king to strike the ground with a handful of arrows, but since the king only did it three times he received a limited victory. So, he told everyone to hold up an imaginary arrow in their hands and then strike the ground much more than three times to bring victory in the midterms. And so, the congregation shouted “strike” a couple dozen times while chopping the air to the beats of the music before giving a large shout together.
Michael Flynn, the main face of ReAwaken, came to the stage to close out the service. He thanked everyone for coming. He gave them a call to live out what they had learned by voting on Tuesday and getting involved more locally to help the movement grow. And Flynn, who during a previous ReAwaken event urged pastors to preach about the Constitution more than the Bible, offered a Christian Nationalistic blessing at the end of the Branson event.
“The Judeo-Christian values that this country was created upon, very serious thing to me. Our Constitution is a, it’s a fulfillment of a promise that we make to each other as Americans, just as the Bible is a fulfillment of the promises that we make to each other as Christians on this planet,” he said. “And anybody that believes — anybody that believes — the Bible is a very powerful thing, as is the Constitution. And those promises are things like the Bill of Rights, things like the Ten Commandments.”
A Concluding Word
There’s a lot I could say about experiencing ReAwaken America in person. But I’ll let a couple of real prophets do the talking.
“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths, and convocations — I cannot bear your worthless assemblies,” God said through Isaiah. “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!”
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me,” God said through Amos. “Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
Thus saith the Lord. Amen.
As a public witness,
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