An American pastor now ministering in Winnipeg says he is hopeful and prayerful for his country on Inauguration Day.
John Schaffner and his family have been in Winnipeg for the last four years. He says his country has experienced deep division through the term of President Donald Trump, and it's something he's experienced firsthand.
"Politics has fractured my family like never before the last four years. It hasn't been theoretical or philosophical for us the last four years; it's very personal."
Tensions reached a boiling point the other week when supporters of President Trump began a riot and stormed into the U.S. Capitol Building. Five people, including a police officer, ended up dying as a result of the violence.
"We were in shock," Schaffner says when the violence broke out. "As Americans living in Canada, and watching this, we were just sitting in front of the television just in shock of what was happening - what we were seeing and what was unfolding."
Schaffner calls the political atmosphere "volatile" right now in his home country.
"Talking to my family, talking to my friends, talking to ministry leaders ... it is a powder keg. The racial unrest, the pandemic, the political polarization, they've all swirled together to create this perfect storm of uncertainty. I see it as a pandemic of suspicion and mistrust.
"My heart, my prayer, is for the people of God to be set apart from all of that mudslinging. I think Christians, and Christian leaders in particular, have to untangle themselves from political parties, and political platforms, and politicians. You don't have to have a Ph.D. in theology - it's pretty basic and simple as 2 Chronicles 7:14, ' If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.' The solution isn't political, it's spiritual, and the remedy is revival," Schaffner says.
Revival not dependent on politicians
Schaffner says he doesn't see despair when looking at the U.S.A. from afar, but rather he sees conditions that are ripe for that revival.
"That's what I'm praying. The early Church had no government support. On the contrary, the government was against them. The Church was born in a politically hostile environment, and yet it blossomed, and it thrived, in spite of the political craziness that was swirling around them. Having the right politician in power is never a prerequisite for revival."
As far as Inauguration Day specifically, Schaffner says he's praying "for people that are feeling incredibly anxious, for people that are afraid - which is a lot of people right now - for people that are afraid that when Biden takes office that everything is going to come unravelled, that God would show up in people's lives in special ways to provide the hope and the peace that can only be found through faith in Him."