Monday, December 5, 2011

Note to First Responder PrayerWalkers

Special thanks to all of you who were able to respond to last Wednesday's PrayerWalk on such short notice and also to you who could not come but held us up in prayer. Moving quickly worked out very well and we had over a 100 there with fairly good weather.

We went into this one on high alert... This home had seen shootings about a week earlier and was just a 100 feet away from the NO Salvation Army Youth Center who brought out over 30 youth to our PW. That combined with a large family groups from both the house, the victim's family and the neighborhood made a very large and diverse group. I know most of you who were there could sense the dynamics at work and were in prayer for God's presence and peace on the group...for which I am very thankful. The Lord gave us a wonderful time of ministry...several pastors prayed with great anointing and Willie Barney shared a Divinely inspired challenge that strongly impacted the youth and neighborhood.

We are seeing the power of prayer and obedience on the streets...and are working on a report documenting answers to prayer, what we are learning, and where the Lord is leading.

While many of us celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace it is also sadly true that domestic violence increases significantly in our culture during the Christmas season...OPD reported at our last network meeting that domestic violence is increasing right now in Omaha. A few weeks ago a wife shot and killed her husband as he brutally attacked her... a 2-yr old and a 3-yr old were home at the time. First Responders does not normally do PrayerWalks in front of a home where one family member has killed another...we try to reach out to the family and neighborhood quietly as we have opportunity and we encourage non-public prayer for or near where these tragic homicides occur.

As you go about your activities during this Christmas season please give God permission to guide your eyes to see, recognize and then pray for hurting people and situations. God may or may not lead you to do something, but it is important that we learn to see our community with the eyes of Christ and not miss His heart and purposes in the hustle and bustle of the season.

Many Blessings be upon you all for faithfully praying this last year.

See you on the streets...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nine shot-two dead-in two days!
First Responders Homicide PrayerWalk:
Tuesday, November 22nd, 5:00-6:00 PM
Meet at Freedom Worship Center, 3015 Parker
then to the two sites nearby at 5:15 PM

Media Reports:
2:16 AM Saturday police found Jacquez Simmis, 23, dead at the corner of 33rd Ave & Burdette. Simmis' friend, Dominic Richards, also shot, told police the two had been walking down the street when someone shot them.

At 3:25 a.m. Saturday, James Mun, 19, suffered gunshot wounds at 1915 N. 27th Street and died of his injuries on Sunday afternoon. Two dead in just over an hour eight blocks apart.

The spree started around 1:45 Saturday morning outside Club X at 24th and O and ended Sunday afternoon at 5:00 PM with three critically wounded at 36th & Martin. At this time the shootings have not been connected.

 At 5:00 PM Tuesday, meet in the parking lot at Freedom Worship Center, 3015 Parker where we will split into two groups, one to 1915 N. 27th Street and the other to 33rd Ave & Burdette, each 4 blocks away. We are encouraging those that can to PrayerWalk the 4 blocks to either site. After praying at each site for about 15 minutes we will reconvene at Freedom to pray into the overall violence in the city... especially this weekend. We should be done by 7:00 PM

Some of you may recall that 30th & Parker was a high priority area in 2008 where we saw God answer prayer after a number of prayer walks in that area based out of Freedom and Salem Churches that saw the removal of the Pleasant View Housing Projects and no homicides in 2009 and one in 2010. This weekend makes 4 Homicides so far this year within an 6 block radius of Freedom Church... In this area, one homicide last year and three of four this year were within 2 blocks of 33rd Ave & Burdette. This is another sober reminder of what we are learning in our battle against violence. To keep violence down in an area there must be an ongoing visible prayer presence and strong networking that brings together churches, schools, businesses, neighborhood alliances, police, and concerned neighbors.

Please Note:
First Responder PrayerWalks are not “prayer-vigils” on behalf of the family but a community response to violence. Family members are invited if we have contact info, and our team reaches out to care and minister to them as Jesus would.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

First Responders - Prayerwalking Update

Strategic PrayerWalks: Last Spring I attempted to launch what I called Strategic PrayerWalks and it never came together. When First Responders began in 2007 our teams often prayed into the spiritual realm, as the Lord moved families and neighbors started joining in and the Lord gave us opportunities to minister to them. Many times our team has ministered to between 30 and 100 family, friends and neighbors...and we have seen people come to Christ right on the street. As these wonderful opportunities to minister developed, our team had less time to pray into the heavenlies...something many of these people and the media would not understand.

Paula Determan who has a youth at risk ministry called "The Way Home." has started bringing a small team of worshipers and intercessors to our PrayerWalks..their main purpose is to quietly worship and intercede around the edges while we pray and minister to hurting families and neighbors. I feel that this may provide the strategic prayer focus I was trying to get started last spring. If you are interested in this let me know or just show up and I will connect you with Paula and you can participate as led on site.

God is answering prayer in the 42nd & Bedford area: This has long been a violent area. In 2008 we saw violence go down through prayer...we let up and the violence returned. This summer the police and gang unit asked us to make the area a primary focus. We realized that a permanent prayer presence was needed. Gail Ross at Turning Point agreed to take the lead and has been uniting area churches, ministries, and neighbors to pray and take back their streets with remarkable results. Many of you were there when we helped them launch with a City-Wide Stop The Violence PrayerWalk at 42nd & Bedford on July 19th. In the 60 days prior to that PW there were 60 incidents of violence in that area...In the 60 days since there have been just 2 and neither had weapons involved. PTL! Another clear evidence of the power of prayer and a unified visible presence. They are planning a neighborhood clean-up day on Saturday, Oct 22. If you are interested in getting involved, contact Gail Ross at [email protected] or one of the local pastors in that area.

Opportunity to Pray and Minister: This is more Linda Reid's area with ETHP, but as she is still on a missions trip to Pakistan, I was asked to get this rolling...Turning Point Youth Ministry Campus will be hosting their 4th annual free outdoor music and performing arts concert, the Gospel On The Green! This free community outreach event is scheduled to take place in the courtyard on the Turning Point campus Saturday, October 15th, 2011 from 3:00pm to 7:00pm. They would like to have a Prayer-Ministry area during the event. If you are interested in helping to minister to people during the event please contact me (info below).

John & Viv Ewing: Most of you know the role John has played in forming First Responders and also may have noticed that John is running for congress. We will not endorse any candidate, but will always respond to pray for those in office... especially when they ask. Here is a request for prayer Viv sent me for John and her. "Please pray for Godly wisdom, unmitigated favor with members of the community, Protection from hurt and harm."

Four years and 200 PrayerWalks (150 First Responders) later...What have we learned? We have learned a lot on these PrayerWalks over the years and I want to compile the insights and lessons we have learned... especially what God has taught us. I have kept most of the email stories and thoughts that were sent me over the years but also want to give opportunity for more insights, stories, etc. from you all. Please take a moment to write down anything that is on your heart. When it is completed we will make it available.

See you on the streets...
Dave Gehrls

Friday, September 30, 2011

First Responders Homicide PrayerWalk: Sunday, October 2nd, 2:30-3:00 PM at 5809 Grand Ave.

Media Reports: 5:30 Thursday morning Richard Harrison, 21 was found by his mother in his bedroom closet covered in blood. Later in the day the police determined that this was a homicide. Richard was close to completing his degree at MCC and wanted to create video games. He worked as a food server at Midtown Cinema and was described as a quiet, friendly young man busy with school and work.

This was the 30th homicide this year. Last year at this time we had 25 homicides on our way to 35...We need God's grace and wisdom to help stop the violence this year.
Directions: At 2:30 PM Sunday, October 2nd  we will meet  at 58th & Grand Ave.  Click here for Google Map Link  Pastor Bruce and Femi will be leading the PrayerWalk

Please Note: First Responder PrayerWalks are not “prayer-vigils” on behalf of the family but a community response to violence. Family members are invited if we have contact info, and our team reaches out to care and minister to them as Jesus would.

Thank you for your faithfulness to be First Responders 
“…until there is no place in Omaha for violence to hide!”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Responders Double Homicide PrayerWalk: Thursday, September 15th, 5:30-6:00 PM at 4439 Commercial Ave (just east of 20th & Ames)

Media reports: Monday morning two young boys found their mom Jamelia Hesseltine, 28 and Carl Reed, 29 dead in their 2nd floor apartment. Both had been shot in the head, police have determined that it is a double homicide.

Directions: At 5:30 PM Thursday, Sept 15th, we will meet at 4439 Commercial Ave, just east of 20th & Ames.

Please Note: First Responder PrayerWalks are not “prayer-vigils” on behalf of the family but a community response to violence. Family members are invited if we have contact info, and our team reaches out to care and minister to them as Jesus would.

Thank you for your faithfulness to be First Responders “…until there is no place in Omaha for violence to hide!”

Please pass this on to those you feel would be interested.

Monday, August 29, 2011

First Responders Homicide PrayerWalk: Today

5:30 - 6:00 PM just North of Ames on 36th

Media reports: Saturday afternoon just before 5:00 PM 17 yr old Devina Johnson was sitting in the passenger seat of a car at 4522 N. 36th Ave, just north of North High when someone walked up and fired five times. Devina has a two yr old daughter.

Sunday afternoon a short distance away on 37th there was a young man shot in a running gun fight involving seveal vehicles...he is currently in the hospital with life threatening injuries.

Directions: At 5:30 PM Wednesday, August 29th, we will meet at just north of Ames on 36th Street.

Please Note: First Responder PrayerWalks are not “prayer-vigils” on behalf of the family but a community response to violence. Family members are invited if we have contact info, and our team reaches out to care and minister to them as Jesus would.

Thank you for your faithfulness to be First Responders “…until there is no place in Omaha for violence to hide!”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Empower Omaha
"Stop The Violence" Community PrayerWalk

Tuesday, July 26th ~ 6:00 -7:00 PM
at 42nd & Bedford
Meet at the parking lot east of the JNJ store

The Omaha 360 Violence Intervention and Prevention Network has been requested by OPD and the Gang Unit to focus our PrayerWalks again in the 42nd & Bedford area.

Following a series of PrayerWalks in 2008-2009 this neighborhood saw some measurable peace for a while but is again a hotspot of mostly gang related violence with frequent gunfire, several homicides and shootings that have included several innocent children.

Lasting peace in this neighborhood requires a strong and sustained local presence on these streets. Turning Point and local churches are working to organize strong Adopt-A-Block groups in this area and partner with neighborhood associations.

Tuesday night join us in coming alongside the churches, neighborhood groups and caring families of this neighborhood:
  • Letting them know they are not alone in the battle against violence
  • Helping give a strong, visible message to this neighborhood that the righteous are taking back their streets…block by block.  

Join with area pastors and believers from all over Omaha as we stand together as one body…the body of Christ working together to help “Stop The Violence.”
Bring the kids. They make great prayerwalkers...  We will also have police presence in the area during the prayerwalk. 

The owner of the J-N-J Grocery said he will bring out cold bottled water and some snacks to thank us for coming!
Please forward this email to your Christian friends and announce in meetings.

For more Information Contact
Dave Gehrls (
[email protected]
Gail Ross 
[email protected]org
Femi Awodele ([email protected])
Bruce Williams 
[email protected]
Femi Awodele ([email protected])
Willie Barney (
[email protected])
John Ewing (
[email protected])

Friday, May 20, 2011

Harmony Week 2011 May 19-27

Sunday, May 22: 2:00 – 6:00 pm Harmony Sunday
Omaha 360 - A City United - Memorial Park
Speakers, Prayer, Music, Food, Inflatables, Rally
Bring your chairs, blankets, etc.

3:00 pm Safe Summer Rally, Prayer, and Activities

For more info and full schedule go to

Friday, May 6, 2011

First Responders PrayerWalk Update from Dave

We are in a remarkable quiet time without a homicide since April 5th and we have gone a week now without a felony assault. Last year after a violent Spring we went all summer without a gang homicide in North Omaha. Give praise to the Lord and keep praying that this calm extends into and all summer. Let’s not let up as the battle is far from over. Our lead team is planning a number of other prayer opportunities over the summer to keep the spiritual pressure up.
  • First Responders Homicide and Pre-Emptive PrayerWalks are standing ready to move quickly into prayer whenever and wherever needed.
  • Adopt-A-Block is growing and will become our primary long term prayer strategy until there is no place for violence to hide in Omaha.
  • The Strategic PrayerWalks at hotspots each month will begin as soon as I can finalize the scheduling.
  • We did our first North Omaha National Day of Prayer Breakfast yesterday with about 150 pastors and leaders in addition to our annual NDP evening prayer service last night at West Hills Church.
  • God is moving strongly in South Omaha right now, I have been teaching PrayerWalking in several Hispanic Churches the last few weeks and a number of pastors from North and West Omaha are walking in unity with Hispanic Pastors tomorrow morning in the Cinco de Mayo Parade.
  • Our Omaha 360 “Step Up, Step Forward – Help Stop the Violence Rally and PrayerWalks” for the summer will begin on Sunday May 22 at Memorial Park as part of Harmony Week…details coming soon.
There are two special areas we need prayer today and next week:
  1. Tonight there will be a special dinner for over 25 mothers who have lost children to violence. The goal is to just bless them with a nice dinner and fellowship with other mom’s who have been through what they have. Each mom will take home a gift bag full of beauty products that women from churches all over town have been donating the last few weeks. Please lift this time in prayer and pray that each mom receives a special touch from the Fathers heart that fills them with His peace and love.
  2. The Westboro Baptist Church has announced a demonstration for this next Tuesday at North High from 2:40-3:10 just as the students get out of school. The police will be there, and are primarily concerned about reprisal attacks on the demonstrators…Which is what they want to happen so they can then bring lawsuits which helps finance their efforts. Please pray that they decide not to come… We will be calling for a First Responders Pre-emptive PrayerWalk on Monday night at 5:30 on the Ames corner by North High School…also some of us plan to be at the school on Tuesday.
Blessings, Dave

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Recient Spike In Shootings - Insight from Dave:

In the 3½ years we have been doing First Responder PrayerWalks I have noticed that there are several times each year when we have a bunch of shootings and/or homicides in a group like this last weekend. Sometimes they are connected (gangs or retaliation), sometimes there seems to be no “human” connection like this weekend. What I have noticed is that these concentrated groupings of shootings and homicides do not necessarily indicate an increase in overall violence or crime…Police calls are actually down a bit right now.

When we do have these times I wonder if “violence seems to stimulate more violence” as if a spirit of violence is causing a shark-like feeding frenzy among those who are susceptible. What I do know is that when we have one of these spikes of violence over a few days or a week, the police step up their vigilance and activity and so must we in the church step up to help stem the tide in the spiritual realm as well as the natural. There is clear evidence that we are helping to make a difference.

First Responders Homicide PrayerWalk: Thursday, April 7th, 5:30-6:00 PM in the main parking lot of Seymour Park, 68th & Harrison

Media reports: Just before 5:00 PM Tuesday, 19-year old Joseph Piper was shot and killed in the parking lot of Seymour park. With the help of witnesses in the park it appears that police are making quick progress… Tyler D. Weakly, 18, was arrested early Wednesday morning and booked him for accessory to murder.

Directions: At 5:30 PM Thursday we will meet near the tennis courts/shooting range in the main parking lot of Seymour Park 68th & Harrison. Rain is forecast so come prepared.

Please Note: First Responder PrayerWalks are not “prayer-vigils” on behalf of the family but a community response to violence. Family members are invited if we have contact info, and our team reaches out to care and minister to them as Jesus would.

Thank you for your faithfulness to be First Responders…to help reduce violence in our community.
“…until there is no place in Omaha for violence to hide!”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

First Responders Homicide PrayerWalk: Today, March 10th, 5:30-6:00 PM at 30th and Newport Avenue (Just North of Miller Park)

Media reports: Our 9th homicide in 2011 is 36 year old Jarrod Maxwell shot to death just feet from the entrance to Family Dollar store, 30th and Newport Avenue, at 10:21 Tuesday morning.

Police spotted the suspect car which led them on a chase that ended near 42nd and Himebaugh. The suspect’s car hit several other cars during the chase, was disabled and the suspects took off on foot, at least one with a gun. With officers searching the neighborhood, it was a tense situation that put five Omaha Public Schools on lock down for an hour and a half. Police caught one suspect and took others in for questioning. While everyone is thankful that no one else was hurt, both neighborhoods feel violated and upset by this violence.

Directions: At 5:30 PM Thursday we will meet at 30th and Newport Avenue (Just North of Miller Park). There is a parking lot on the east side of 30th Street then we will meet on the corner by the Family Dollar Store.

Please Note: First Responder PrayerWalks are not “prayer-vigils” on behalf of the family but a community response to violence. Family members are invited if we have contact info, and our team reaches out to care and minister to them as Jesus would.

Thank you for your faithfulness to be First Responders “…until there is no place in Omaha for violence to hide!”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

First Responders Homicide PrayerWalk: 5:30-6:00 PM, Friday Feb 25th at 39th & Bedford

Media reports: Wednesday just after 5:30 a.m. 25-year-old Willie Longmore of Omaha was found in the street near 39th and Bedford with a gunshot wound to the head and died Wednesday night. Police are trying to determine if he was shot there or later brought to the neighborhood. Residents told news reporters that they heard arguing and at least six shots fired.

Our 6th homicide in 2011 was in a high gang area we PrayerWalked six times in 2008-9 following three homicides in 2008, almost nightly gunfire, and where a little girl was hit by gunfire coming through the walls of her home. In 2009-10 there were no homicides in this area and neighborhood watch leaders told me that the neighborhood became much more peaceful following the PrayerWalks. This is one of those strategic areas where we need to see an Adopt-A-Block ongoing prayer presence.

Directions: At 5:30 PM we will meet on the corner of 39th & Bedford. Willie was found a few houses north and we will move down there if there is enough room. Best parking will be on 39th Street just to the south of Bedford. Weather forecast is for 20° and possible flurries.

Thank You for your faithfulness to help reduce violence in our community.

Blessings, Dave Gehrls

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

First Responders “Preemptive PrayerWalk” for North/Benson/NW/Central Basketball Tournament,

 Tue Feb 22 and Thru Feb 24, 5:30-6:00 PM at Central High

Central High School has requested support from the OPD Gang Unit for a HS Girls BB Tournament this Tuesday and Thursday evenings. These girls games have the potential to become a target of violence usually from people not directly associated with the athletes, their fans and families.

First Responders “Preemptive PrayerWalks” are an extension of our homicide PrayerWalks that helps target events and activities where OPD and Omaha 360 feels that there is a potential risk of violence.

This is the eleventh time First Responders has done a “Preemptive PrayerWalk” in conjunction with Omaha 360, OPD and the Gang Unit’s Violence Suppression Team. So far, every time we have supported our Police with a “Preemptive PrayerWalk” there was no violence at the site that night and no significant violence at the site for the following week.

Game Schedule: (all games at Central)
Tue, Feb 22:
5:00 PM Central v. Northwest
7:00 PM Benson vs North
Thur, Feb 4:
6:00 PM winners play

Directions: Both Tuesday and Thursday we will meet at 5:30 PM just outside the main entrance to the Gym which is between the Football Stadium and the School Bldg. Access can be had from either the West or East side. If you do not see our circle near the main entrance, then we are PrayerWalking the area around the school in small teams.

Parking: I suggest PrayerWalkers park in the parking lot just to the east of the HS at 20th & Dodge or along Dodge just South of the School and the Joslyn Art Museum. Remember Dodge is a one way going West and there is no access from the Joslyn parking lot.

Thank You for your faithfulness to stand in prayer with our police and community.
If you cannot attend please be in prayer during the day and evening for exciting but peaceful games both these nights.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

First Responders PrayerWalk today, 5:15-5:45 PM at Millard South High

There were spontaneous prayer vigils at MSHS last night and also at several churches. The school is closed today and we anticipate more prayer-vigils as students, families, school staff and the community processes their grief in this tragedy.

Tonight at 5:15 we will meet near the flag-pole in front of the East entrance for a time of prayer then prayerwalk the area joining with and appropriately ministering to others that have spontaneously showed up.

We don’t see ourselves as stepping into the lead position in the community responses to this tragedy but joining in with others to do our part… We will also stay flexible for what the Lord may lead if many others start to join our prayer circle.

First Responders is a church/community prayer response to violence that also ministers to the neighborhood and those grieving as Jesus would and letting them know that they are not alone. We invite pastors and churches to join with us in caring for our community following this tragedy.

If you cannot get into the east parking lot, please park across “Q” Street at Southwest Church of the Nazarene 14808 Q Street and walk across to the East Entrance.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Responders Homicide PrayerWalk today, Tuesday, January 4th 5:15-5:45 PM just SE of 72nd & L

 This will be a special focus PrayerWalk on Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence in partnership with the YWCA.

Media Reports: 35-year-old Rita Eckhout of Omaha was murdered and 47-year-old Mitchel Hadan wounded Saturday night in an apparent murder, attempted suicide shooting inside a car stopped on the eastbound ramp onto L Street from 72nd Street around 5:40 pm.

The two have a three year old son together and according to family had a rocky relationship over the last few years. I the past Mitch Hadan has been a "Crime Stoppers Most Wanted," and last November was wanted on several felony warrants for burglary. Hadan was also arrested last year for domestic violence assault, where he allegedly held his wife against her will for several days, assaulting her and threatening her with a knife.

At 5:15 we will meet in the parking lot of Lamb of God Lutheran Church which is just South of the eastbound ramp onto “L” Street from 72nd. Enter business entrance off of 72th Street about a block south of “L”. Forecast temp is 30…Dress Warm…especially your feet!

Please Note: First Responder PrayerWalks are not “prayer-vigils” on behalf of the family but a community response to violence. Family members are invited if we have contact info, and our team reaches out to care and minister to them as Jesus would.