Written by Teresa Goodnight
Guarding the City Gates: City Elders Call to Action
Christian leaders. Standing on the Bible. Standing at the city gates. Uniting across all 77 counties in Oklahoma. Uniting counties across the country. Re-establishing the role of the Church in civil government. Protecting us from anti-Christian agendas plaguing our country. They are coming. City Elders is to be a national network of Christian leaders governing the city gates establishing the Kingdom of God.
Do I have your attention yet? It’s not just time to get ready. It’s time to answer the call.
In just one gathering of the City Elders, I was ready to go. Everything I heard was everything I longed to hear from anyone in the Church right now. Anyone. From guest speaker Congressman Kevin Hern to his counterpart Congressman Mark Wayne Mullin, they spoke Biblical truths, prayed with authority, and challenged the audience to stand on God’s word and to stop being silent.
I was overwhelmed with excitement. The City Elders President, Jesse “Leon” Rodgers, had not even started to speak. I’ve been watching our freedoms erode in our silence; Christians are pressed into corners finding no ground to stand on. Most don’t even want to stand. The persecution has been heating up in America. It’s been slow enough to desensitize us as the heat was rising; fast enough that we started to boil over in the pot with our freedoms going down in flames.
When did we allow liberal agendas to enter our school shaping the minds of our children? When did believing in God’s word make you subject to discrimination from operating your business in a city or airport? When did Christian religious beliefs become grounds for blocking your businesses like Chick Fil A? When?
God gifted citizens of this country with inalienable rights—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are rights deemed given by God to human beings. However, we are consenting to give them away. We just sit in our rocking chairs in silence. We lost a biblically based education system originally created at the hands of our forefathers. We let our guard down. We watched it slip away with barely a mention from most pulpits. It feels like the guards, who were to be at the city gates, were on a break for the last few decades. We let the walls around the cities God gave us fall down.
Before Jesse took the podium, he aired a video recounting some of the exact battles lost along the way in this war for our freedom in America. In it, Jesse shared those fires lighting us up towards this boiling point when prayer and the word of God were removed from our schools. He flashed blazes of heat from when the courts stripped away the sanctity of life with Roe V. Wade. Flames whipped around us as the sanctity of marriage was abolished in our courts. He spoke of states targeting the purity and innocence of our children to be trained in the LGBT community. One by one, he highlighted the combustions leading us toward destruction.
Then, the video shared how government funded public education is now the sanctuary for secular humanism and evolution—maybe the best secret weapon being used. Honestly, it was a bit like watching him paint an explosive, verbal erosion of morality in America. It was a battle plan connected in its core to remove God from our country. Completely.
In it, Jesse also shared the staggering statistic that over 80% of the children of evangelicals walk away from Christ in their first year of college. We shared this concern in our April issue, interviewing Dr. Everett Piper, former President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, (available online at communityspiritmagazine.com or on Issuu).
The premise was really this: If we want this country to remain free, then we must stand up and unify with a Kingdom purpose.
Why would Christians “Guard the Gates?”
Maybe you are asking why this freedom should really matter to the Church. Why should you think about getting off of your sofa, tossing your weekly commercial free Netflix binge? Well, that same freedom allows us to share Christ and follow the Great Commission. It allows us to worship. To pray. To gather together in His name in His churches. In other countries, we know people are imprisoned or killed for telling someone about Jesus. They face the same kinds of punishments for gathering to worship or to pray. Freedom should matter to the Church maybe more than any other people group out there, if we have any interest in worshiping our God and bringing people into His Kingdom.
Jesse took to the podium and shared, “The premise behind the City Elders is based on the Biblical pattern of the fortified cities of Israel, who guarded and governed the cities at the city gates. These leaders were the first line of defense against attacks or intrusions of any kind. Their responsibility was the protection of the inhabitants of the city, including their families.” Jesse continued, “It’s a Biblical role that we, as the Church, have let go of. We really have forgotten to keep up with our defenses.” I listened as deeply as I’ve listened to anything in a long time. I knew he was right. I saw the walls down myself. I saw them crumbling before me even in the last decade. There was nothing I could do, but hang my head with others in the room, recognizing my own part in letting those walls be torn away.
Jesse went on, “City Elders are proven Christian leaders from sectors of the Church, business community, and civil government, who when they convene constitute the spiritual governing council of the cities or a community. They are local leaders whose lives are guided by Biblical principles, Judeo Christian values, and who are committed to the exaltation of Christ Jesus and the practice of His Lordship in every sphere of life. Their mission is to govern the gates spiritually, politically, and economically so that life is protected, liberty is defended, Christ is exalted and families can flourish.”
If God doesn’t speak to you in that message, I just didn’t use the right font or something. I couldn’t hold back my spirit wanting to applaud for the God who was calling us to rise up together and defend our cities. Our freedom. Our right to worship Him. To follow Him. It was incredibly overwhelming as I contemplated my part in the destruction (from my silence) and my potential to possibly be used by God to right the wrong. With my four-year old daughter’s future at stake—my heart was burdened with the need to tell our readers about the hope God was providing. The calling God was instigating in spirits across the city in the hearts He dwells in. My hope? That you too would hear God’s call to support this group in whatever way God specifically might call you.
Unity with Kingdom Purpose
As a “Watchman on the Wall,” Jesse has had plenty of exposure in the political realm, making a mark for both religious freedom and the sanctity of marriage, family and life. During the election in 2016, Jesse told then candidate Trump, “While you’re focused on building the wall, the economy, the military and decentralizing education, there is a corollary to what you are going to be doing politically that the Church must be doing. The Church must get our spiritual walls back up. 9/11 showed us that the walls around America are down. So, we have to start righting the foundation and building again.” The City Elders are taking up that call to rebuild it. They are going into our counties to recruit those called by God to be a part, whether as leaders or supporters.
Jesse shared he believes, “Education is key, as well as pure discipleship. There’s got to be a brand new system of discipleship implemented. The Sunday School systems have broken down. Now, we put our children in children’s Church and there’s not the substance oriented foundational teaching that’s going on. It’s piecemealed instead of systematic didactic teaching.” Jesse went on, “What’s happened is America has become biblically illiterate. The stats show it. We’re having to start at the foundation. Foundationally, we are talking about government, divine order. I believe that we are going to participate in what the Holy Spirit is doing in reestablishing the government of God in the earth, bringing the Church together and bringing civil government into one Kingdom context.”
Jesse stressed, “This effort is not about being just multi-denominational. It has a Kingdom context in the Church’s role in relation to civil government and how the Kingdom of God operates.” Jesse added, “Unity movements have failed in the past because they were unity for the sake of unity, just for the sake of the Church. The purpose for the unification of the Church is a Kingdom impact. So, the Church must have a Kingdom context for it to have its significance, purpose, motive, goal, and Modus Operandi in check.” Jesse continued, “The Kingdom context is civil government, the Church and the family. There’s more to it but these are the fundamental institutions that are divinely ordained and have their origin in God himself.”
God’s Leaders on their Knees
Jesse recently attended the national pastor’s conference in Washington D.C. with other members of the City Elders, as well as hundreds of pastors from across the country. They all reported gaining an understanding of today’s political and policy issues we are facing. Jesse said, “The best part of the conference was that the prayer was just so powerful. God’s leaders gathered together and praying in Washington D.C. to redirect our nation back to God.”
While in this particular City Elders meeting that day, Congressman Hern burst into the room. He had been across the street interviewing on the radio about the devastating floods. God prompted him to head to the Doubletree, where he knew the City Elders were gathered, and request prayer for our city and for these people whose lives were upside down. Those kinds of leaders, requesting those kinds of prayers, agreeing with us that God is in control both in Heaven and on Earth—we need more of those.
While in D.C., Jesse ran into Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. Jesse shared, “She is possibly the most important figure in the Trump administration for the purpose of the restoration of education. Education is the number one issue. Abortion is critical. All of the agenda and points of battle are important, but education is the foundational issue, because the secularization of America is the result of a secular humanist education system. So, to have a Godly, praying woman in that post, working with President Trump is key.” Jesse then added, “We will be inviting her to Oklahoma. We will have a symposium on the reformation of education before the year is over.” Again, those kinds of leaders, praying, seeking God for His direction to lead our nation back to Him. Those are what we need.
Jesse also mentioned with excitement, “Congressman Hern and Congressman Mullen are going to help us invite President Trump to Oklahoma. We are going to invite 3,141 county seats from across the nation to converge on Tulsa to cast the vision of City Elders being established in all counties across the nation. At some point that meeting will take place—either this year or next.”
In closing, Jesse said, “The City Elders are here to rise up in Christ, guard the city gates, and protect our freedom and families. We are rising up to say ‘You will not bring these things against Christ into my city. Not on my watch.”
Jesse “Leon” Rodgers and his lovely wife, Tammy, have served as pastors, evangelists, resident missionaries in South East Asia and as Bible College instructors. He is a graduate of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary where he received his post-graduate degree. Jesse is the chairman of the Oklahoma Watchmen on the Wall Network; the pastor’s network of the Family Research Council, Washington, D.C. and the Founder of “City Elders” a Reformation Model of City Governance. His unique role with the Family Research Council has positioned him to influence government officials from the local municipalities to the White House. He is a sought-after conference speaker, with a heart to teach others to reign in this life, by the power and authority of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In Genesis, Adam and Eve gave up their freedom. They had it all. Everything. With one choice, God took it all away from them. Generations to come sought to gain it back only to have those who had it no longer appreciate it. In many cases, they worshipped false Gods and turned their back on the God who had provided the freedom. In Exodus, in the story of Moses, the Israelites had God’s power leading the Israelites out of Egypt to freedom. They trembled in fear when they saw the Egyptians coming. These are the same people being led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Then, God splits the Red Sea, gets them to the other side, and closes the sea back upon the Egyptians pursuing them. You would think they would be thanking God for their freedom over and over. For a short time they did. But, when they were crossing the desert and found no food, they were once again pining to be slaves in Egypt. God gave them manna, flatbread, they found each morning to feed and nourish them. Did that calm them into worship? Yeah, ok. I think it lasted like 5 minutes.
Just a short time after all of these things, when Moses is receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, where were they? Worshiping false Gods made of gold that they crafted while he was up there getting direction from God. We are taught these stories from the pulpit.
We shake our heads in disbelief that they could so quickly forget God and what He did for them. But, here we are. We’ve prepared our children so little that Satan trips up 80% of them in their freshman year? Abortion is so horrible, we’d just like to not talk about it? How long will our weakened platform of freedom remain in tact? How long will God allow us to be like the Egyptians worshiping our false God’s of our relaxed and slightly selfish lives, while we ignore the state of our union? It’s really difficult to say. That said, looking at Biblical references, I fear we might not be too far from the end of His rope.