the gettysburg address

I love this oft-cited quote about history,

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
― Edmund Burke

Then there’s this from Winston Churchill

“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

What I understand from these historical giants is that history matters not only in the moment when it happens but also for all the moments that are about to happen.

Every day is an anniversary. Every calendar flip or turn signifies that not only are we adding a new day to history but it represents a volume of days that have already become historic. That’s why I love those, “On this day in history” pieces. My anniversary, my birthday and the birthdays of my loved ones are always significant dates. And so is April 9th.

April 9th. Why April 9th? It’s a day in the future that has potentially historic implications for what is about to take in 2016. That’s the day we’ve set aside to ask 30,000 pastors and ministry leaders to join us in front of the Lincoln Memorial and plead to God to draw our nation back to Him. We’re calling it United Cry DC16.

Though April 9, 2016 is 347 [for every day that passes after 4/27 subtract 1 from this number] days away it’s what happened on this day in years past that led us to choose it for United Cry DC’16. There are three historic events that all happened or culminated on April 9 that make this date loom large in the annals of history and why we think that April 9, 2016 has a chance to be just as historic:

  • The ending of the Civil War in 1865 – Repentance for National Sins
  • The outpouring at Azusa Street in 1906 – Praying for Revival
  • Deitrich Bonhoeffer martyred in Nazi Germany in 1945 for civic engagement – Engaging the Voice of Pastors

The ending of the Civil War

Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. The Civil War was a black mark on the history of our nation. It represented some of the best and the worst in us as a growing nation. There is nothing more devastating that a country turning its hatred inward and getting involved in a war against itself. We were anything but united as a country. It was a time of repentance and time to begin again. Abraham Lincoln’s faith and steadfast spirit is what lead us out of that travesty. The leadership he displayed in the midst of this horrific event is unparalleled. And, the fact that we will be standing in front of the memorial to his life and legacy in Washington, DC crying out to God to once again heal and restore us as the UNITED States of America is no coincidence. For a further reading on this significant event and other facts about the Civil War click here.

The Outpouring at Azusa Street in 1906 (Praying for Revival)

The end of the Civil War also had a key role in one of the key revivals post Civil War. William Seymour led a revival in Los Angeles named the Azusa Street revival on April 9, 1906. When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in the rebel states, Simon Seymour (William’s father) enlisted in the Northern Army and served until the end of the Civil War. William Seymour grew in his faith and during his days in days in Houston, preaching to African Americans and caught the eye of Nealy Terry, a guest from Los Angeles. When Terry returned to Los Angeles, she persuaded the church she was part of to call William Seymour to a meeting. To read more of the details of this Azusa Street revival click here.

Deitrich Bonhoeffer martyred in Nazi Germany in 1945 for civic engagement

Among the reams of history written during World War II, few people could be said to provide a more intriguing character study than Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Hanged at the Flossenburg concentration camp on April 9, 1945, the former Lutheran theologian and committed pacifist was executed for his role in the plot to kill Adolph Hitler (from Maps of the World). His dedication to God and to do what was right in the midst of very difficult circumstances makes Dietrich Bonhoeffer a hero.


Four anniversaries of April 9. Three that share a historical story of renewal, revival and redemption. The next one we pray we bring restoration of God’s people back to a deep, abiding, transformational faith that will go down in the history books as the day America and the Church returned to their God. Join us April 9, 2016 to see history happen!

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