FLORENCE, S.C. — Not much makes Mike Reichenbach nervous, but the prospect of organizing a community prayer and fasting unity gathering had him scared.
Reichenbach explained that he had never attempted to organize an event like the unity gathering before.
"I've never done something like this," he said. "I'm usually comfortable talking about chamber of commerce things as chairman or business things. ... I've never organized gatherings, so this is new to me as well."
Reichenbach and his wife, Charisse, are the owners of Ford, Lincoln and Volkswagen dealerships in Florence. He currently serves as chairman of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
"Not much makes me nervous ... but I've had many times over the last week and half, [I've asked] Charisse, God, 'What am I doing here?' I'm so far out of wheelhouse," Reichenbach said.
His path to organizing a community prayer and fasting unity gathering began with scripture.
Reichenbach explained that he and Charisse have been going to a prayer gathering each week to pray for the city, county and the Pee Dee region, "just because this place is home and we love it." He added that he and Charisse feel a responsibility to pray for the community and to lead by example and by praying.
About three weeks ago, the prayer group read verse 7:14 from the Second Book of Chronicles.
Both Books of Chronicles are considered part of the history portion of the Old Testament. The first nine chapters of the second book tell the story of King Solomon.
That verse states, "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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
"I'm no theologian. I don't know the Bible as well as I should," Reichenbach said. "I read that [verse] over and over again, because it meant so much."
The portion of the verse about healing the land resonated with Reichenbach.
"I look at the polarization politically and the polarization racially with the social unrest and the social unjustice, and you look at the pandemic and the mask and the no masks polarization, then you throw in denominal tribalism and territorialism," Reichenbach said. "I couldn't shake the feeling of we need our land healed."
After he heard the verse, he said he told Charisse that he wanted to do more than lament the divisions in the country and community. Reichenbach added that he wanted to help believers and nonbelievers take the lead in humbling themselves before the Almighty.
"There's a lot of things that need healing," he said.
Reichenbach said it was challenging to organize the gathering, because he had never attempted something like it before. He posted on Facebook about the gathering and soon learned that many people feel the same way he does.
"I'm amazed and excited with the number of people who believe in exactly what I have been feeling, what was laid on my heart," he said. "There are dozens of people who have volunteered."
He said some people volunteered to hand out flyers, others to direct traffic, even to help him secure an insurance certificate for liability purposes. Reichenbach added that a local insurance agent who did not want to be named donated the insurance certificate and time and money to obtain it.
"This land, our county and our city, needs this," Reichenbach said the agent told him.
A local D.J. donated a sound system for the gathering.
He added the donations of time and effort have meant a lot to him.
"If we're supposed to lead − and I'm just an average Florentine − if 'm supposed to lead in whatever capacity that I can, then I don't do it under my own power," Reichenbach said. "We're like God, we need you to heal our land, so let's approach it from a place of humility."