STUART, Fla. – As the American dream of prosperity and security continues to fade for millions of citizens, many are uncertain where they can turn these days for hope and help.
That has prompted some to go back to … the Beginning.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth!” shouted Eula Clarke, mayor of Stuart, Fla., who commenced the 13th annual Bible Marathon from a public band shell in her hometown Wednesday night.
Clarke is among hundreds of people who are voicing every verse of Holy Scripture from a King James Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, over the course of 90 hours until this Sunday.
In 15-minute increments, readers of all ages are speaking into a microphone connected to loudspeakers facing eastward across the Atlantic Ocean toward Jerusalem, making it abundantly clear they want God’s Word to be heard in the public arena.
The governments of the City of Stuart and Martin County in which it sits have both issued official proclamations celebrating this Bible Marathon.
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Clarke told WND: “It’s a part of our Constitution that we have the right to free speech, the right to have our religion, and it’s a good thing that there are people standing up who want to do this and that we have the ability to facilitate it at the city. And I think it’s a good thing for our community.”
When asked if she ever hears snide comments from those who think government has no business promoting Jesus in the public square, she said, “I hear that, because there’s the separation of church and state, but also the Constitution does provide for people to have their free expression. So it is that balance that we all have to go through and each one to his own.”
The original marathon in Stuart dates back to 2001 in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks against the nation. Pastors Gene and Donna Healton of Spirit of Prophecy Ministries in Stuart stepped up to the plate to organize the public reading of Scripture.
“We know the country is really not in good shape right now and we need to get back on the foundation of the Bible,” Gene Healton told WND.
“And if we don’t, we’re going downhill fast. We know that. Our country needs the Word of God and so we need to continue to declare it and continue to never stop declaring it. They’re trying to take God out of all the fabric of our country. Any place at all where God may be, they want to stop it.”
He noted that after previous WND coverage of the Bible Marathon, readers across the state in Venice, Fla., were so inspired by what was happening in Stuart, they organized their own event that now takes place every spring. He has also received messages of encouragement from as far away as the Mediterranean nation of Cyprus.
Gene’s wife, Donna, said, “We thought we were just doing it one year, but here we are 13 years. It’s like a mandate God says [to do]. I think this may be the most important thing that the Lord has called us to do here in this county. Just to be able to have God’s Word go forth from here, and with the Ten Commandments here on the land, and here we have the cross and the Star of David. God’s people are just coming together and I think it’s just exciting what God’s doing.”
While she’s aware the U.S. in a sick state spiritually, she’s encouraging people not to give up hope.
“Maybe the nation is getting worse and worse and we can see it by the things that are happening on the news,” Donna Healton explained.
“I really feel like God is sending prophets to speak the Word, but if our government is not going to listen to us, God is going to raise up a people. And I think even though we see things getting harder and people are struggling more with their finances and their jobs and just everything, I mean people are working harder, getting paid less.
“We need to think about building the kingdom of God, and so as people are struggling and having hard times, I think they’re seeking God out more. We have to tell people God is our answer, and so we have to turn to Him because He says things are going to happen in the nations, and we’re one of the nations. … There’s no hope sometimes if you look in the natural, but with God, all things are possible, and He’s our hope.”