‘Wailing Women’ call from Arkansas goes nationwide

Apostle Karla K. Runner (left) organized a prayer service on the steps of the state Capitol in 2021 and 2022. Today, similar services will be held in Little Rock and at state capitols across the country. At right is a poster promoting today's prayer gatherings. It and other posters promoting the event have a patriotic theme. (Courtesy photos)

Two years ago, Apostle Karla K. Runner organized a prayer meeting on the steps of the Arkansas state Capitol, urging fellow Christian women to "raise up a cry for our city, state and nation."

She wanted the participants to not only petition heaven but to weep, as the prophet Jeremiah did, over the suffering and the sins of his people.

The gathering, which Runner dubbed "The Rise of the Wailing Women," attracted a few dozen people, with some participants praying aloud in English and others utilizing unknown tongues as they called on the Lord to heal their land.

A year later, Runner summoned the women again and they converged, not only in Little Rock but also in three other state capitols -- Baton Rouge, Phoenix and Harrisburg, Pa.

Today Runner and her partners will be praying for the third straight year -- this time nationwide.

She's calling it "WW3: A Call to the Wailing Women. "

In Little Rock, Runner and others will assemble on the eastern steps. "Near the big gold doors," she said.

Fellow Christians have signed up to lead similar assemblies in all 50 states, she said.

In Sacramento, Calif., prayer partners have been given a permit to worship and pray on the southwest corner of the Capitol grounds, not far from a string of palm trees.

In evergreen-rich Olympia, Wash., they're authorized to converge on the north steps of the Legislative Building.

In some places, the arrangements are less formal. In one, they'll gather in the rotunda, Runner said.

The "wailing women" concept is scriptural, Runner said.

In the ninth chapter of Jeremiah, the Lord Almighty says to "call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them. Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids." (New International Version).

Runner, who attends Full Counsel Metro Church in North Little Rock, was commissioned as an apostle by the International Ministers Fellowship in London in 2011.

In addition to founding Wailing to Warring Ministries, she's also a Little Rock skincare specialist; her social media accounts refer to her as a Beauty Revivalist and the Lash Queen.

"I'm a licensed esthetician and have been for about 44 years, so I work in the beauty industry," she said. "I'm beautifying the exterior of women on my day job and and helping them to realize the beauty on the inside of them through my ministerial work," she said.

After last year's event, Runner said God directed her to expand the prayer meeting from coast to coast.

She accepted the assignment -- and headed to amazon.com to order a wall map.

"It was something that you might see in a third grade classroom or something. It was real simple. I liked the bright colors. It was big enough that these 65-year-old eyes [did not] have any problems seeing the names of states or their state capitols," she said.

State-by-state, she rounded up volunteers with help from like-minded Christians, writing their names and numbers on the map as the list expanded.

Alaska and Wisconsin were the last two states to come on board, she said. That was roughly two weeks ago.

The recruitment effort succeeded with help from committed allies, she said.

"There are prayer networks all across this nation that women are a part of, who have linked arms with this vision, and just brought it to pass," Runner said. "It's the most amazing thing I've ever been involved in."

People are asked to assemble at the state Capitol at 11 a.m.

At 11:30 a.m. CDT, each of the 50 gatherings will pray for the nation, but they'll also repent for their own area's transgressions, she said.

"Heinous things have taken place in each state," Runner said.

Arkansas' Indigenous peoples were evicted from their land and Blacks were massacred in Elaine, she said.

"Across each state, there are ... sins that have been committed on the land that need to be repented for so that God can bring healing to our land," she said.

In Mississippi, Jennifer Gomez will travel 80 miles from her home in Philadelphia to Jackson to help lead its service. Prayers will be in Choctaw as well as English, Gomez, a tribal member, said.

"Prayer is our communication from the throne room of God," she said. "It opens a portal for us to hear what what the Lord wants to do."

It's important not only to speak but to listen, she suggested.

"We're hearing from Him. It's a two-way conversation," she added.

In Sacramento, Christianna Schreifels is helping to organize the effort. A member of Pray California and Prayer Force Inc., she regularly intercedes for her state and its 58 counties, seeking either God's blessing or His mercy.

The Bible tells Christians to "pray without ceasing," she noted, quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

She'll be driving from Big Bear City, Calif., 475 miles to the south, but it's worth the eight-hour drive, she said.

"I believe that we're called as Christians to be watchmen on the wall of our cities and our states and our nation. I take it seriously," she said.