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April 8, 2024 by KATE BURNS

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“I believe this may be the biggest threat to America right now—it’s a spirit of the age that has been constricting, binding and holding people back from their god-given identity and their god-given destiny.” Ross Johnston rants into the camera.

The video from last October is titled “How lust became America’s biggest danger.”

“Now before I share with you exactly which demonic spirit I believe this is, I want to share a dream that somebody shared with me that was so powerful. if you’ve heard of Lou Engle, Papa Lou Engle…” he continues. 

Johnston goes on to explain a dream Engle’s daughter supposedly had where she walked into a room that “represented the LGBTQ agenda” while holding an infant baby. The room was filled with “the most defiling and degrading sexual acts” taking place, Johnston recounts. In the dream, when the “LGBTQ People” recognized she wouldn’t “go along” with what they were doing, the “group started to attack the baby in her arms.”

CA Will Be Saved (CAWBS) is led by two major Sean Feucht acolytes: Joel Mott and Ross Johnston. CAWBS was inspired by Feucht’s “Let Us Worship” events in 2020, in which Feucht led massive, unsanitary crowds in Christian music during the height of the pandemic to protest COVID safety restrictions. CAWBS’s founders birthed their own youth movement focusing on pop-ups filled with the music, revival and baptisms typical of evangelicalism—with a particular interest in converting queer people to a straights-only version of Christian supremacy.

Mott and Johnston met in San Diego in 2020. In a July 2023 interview with the website Red Liberty, Johnston claims he was having a crisis of faith but then God spoke to him and said “If you don’t stand with me now you never will.” He broke into tears and started repenting and asking God,  “Whatever you want to do with my life, use it, give me people.” As the story goes, Johnston then walked into a revival tent in Orange County and saw Mott worshiping. 

“I just knew there was something between us and we needed to connect,” Johnston recounted. 

The two quickly became friends and realized they both had a “burning passion for California”. Shortly thereafter both Mott and Johnston attended one of Sean Feucht’s “Let Us Worship” events. 

Joel Mott and Sean Feucht at the “Let Us Worship” event in Oceanside 2023

Mott’s parents are the directors of  “Ekballo Pasadena’, part of The Call Ministries founded by hate preacher Lou Engle. “The Call” started as a large-scale, evangelical protest in 2000 after the failed GOP-led impeachment of Clinton. Lou Engle and Che Ahn, both part of the pro-Christian theocracy New Apostolic Reformation movement, were behind the campaign.

“The Call” grew into a sprawling Christian enterprise that for 18 years filled stadiums across America and the world. Today it functions as the foundation of Engle’s ministry and ongoing movement. “Ekballo Passadena” is where youth are sought out to attend their $700-a-semester discipleship training school. 

While Mott grew up in the ministry, surrounded by the holy spirit and supernatural miracles, Johnston’s origin story is a little different.

If you ever see Johnston holding a microphone you will hear him explain that he was born by artificial insemination, grew up in a lesbian household with two moms, never went to church and never heard the name of Jesus growing up. At 16, Johnston says he was invited to church where he encountered the holy spirit and presence of god ‘for the first time in his life” and was born again shortly after. 

CAWBS was originally called “The Presence Place.” 2021 saw the rebrand to CA Will Be Saved with a new GenZ-coded website, updated socials and an event held in Huntington beach. “California Will Be Saved” appears to be a riff on the New Apostolic Reformation slogan “America Will be saved.” 


CAWBS follows the Feucht playbook, bringing worship and Christian nationalism out from the pulpit to the masses, engaging in community pop up events, targeting areas of “darkness” to bring “light”. The darkness, in their eyes, refers to cities or communities where living openly as a queer person or practicing a non-Christian faith is relatively tolerable. From the outside, their pop up events can seem harmless, but as soon as you scratch the surface you will see something more sinister is afoot. 

In October 2023, Johnston took to Instagram with a video titled “Hundered’s [sic] of ex-LGBTQ came to Jesus”. The video was filled with people dancing, singing and waving Jesus flags. The post also served as advertising for the rally with “Rainbow Revival” at Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, where he would speak the following day. “Rainbow Revival” is an organization run by people who said they gave up their “LGBTQ+ desires” and found Christ. 

Johnston’s mentor, Sean Feucht, joined him on stage in Dallas.

“This is my brother from another mother, this is Ross, all the way from California,” Feucht said, introducing Johnston. “Ross is leading a movement that’s setting the captives in the LGBTQ community free.”

Feucht then invited Johnston to join him to pray for freedom.

”How many know God is saving those out of the most hopeless, Godless and darkest situations in America?” Johnston said.

What does he see as the “Godless and darkest situations?”

  “You see, for me, I was born by artificial insemination. I grew up in a lesbian household…” 

The focus by many Christian nationalist organizations on California isn’t a mistake. 1 in 8 Americans live in California. It is a key target for right wing activism in general. Aside from being an electoral prize, it’s just obviously strategically unwise to ignore such a large population—and its youth vote. Gen Z, generally defined as those born between 1997-2012, is CAWBS’s target demographic. A 2020 NBC exit poll suggested that 65% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 voted for Biden — 11% more than any other age group. Not only are GenZ voting for democratic tickets, they are also voting at record numbers in modern era politics, hence the focus from the right. 

Through LCRW’s research and attending in-person events, CAWBS appears to be successful in attracting younger people. Their high-energy events see large numbers following them around California on their campaigns. Though LCRW does not have hard data, it appears Mott and Johnston are attracting a younger, more racially diverse crowd than that of Feucht.

CAWBS’s model is very similar to that of  Feucht’s “Let Us Worship” or ‘Kingdom to the Capitol” tours. During those tours, Feucht is the musician and Jay Koopman of Harvest Rock Church is the hype-man. Mott follows Feucht as the musical lead of the duo. Mott loves writing and performing Jesus ballads for the masses and what he lacks in charisma, Johnston steps up, acting as Mott’s hype-man. Johnston loves the microphone. He does the crowd work, always centering his origin story. Both are constantly decked out in Cali bro sports gear, their own Jesus merch and backwards snapback hats. Johnston is known to get the crowd going with a play on Tupac’s  “Ain’t no party like a thug life party,” replacing “thug life” with “holy ghost.”


What started as smaller beach style pop up concerts in Venice, Santa Monica and downtown L.A. quickly developed into larger scale live events and thus larger requests for donations. In July of last year, Mott took to Instagram to fundraise for a pop up event in downtown L.A., casually asking for 25k in five days.

While CAWBS asks for large sums of cash for their events, both Mott and Johnston also fundraise individually through “Modern Day Missions,” a global fundraising platform specifically for Christian Missionaries.

In July of 2023 CAWBS acquired a permit to close down a portion of Hollywood Blvd outside of Mann’s Chinese theater. 

It was a full production with stage, sound equipment and a focus on “Human Trafficking”. 

“We kinda felt a pull from God to Hollywood. I’d just seen the film Sound of Freedom,Mott said in an interview with Red Liberty a week before the event.

Sound of Freedom is a soft-QAnon propaganda film based on a former nonprofit CEO’s likely exaggerated claims of rescuing children from sex traffickers. Proponents of the film believe in QAnon-adjacent right wing conspiracy theories about sex trafficking children.

In the interview, Mott goes on to suggest the film wasn’t picked up by Hollywood for some nefarious reason, but he’s glad that the film is out there and “blowing up.”

“[Jesus is] our ONLY hope to ending these kind of issues. It’s either god shows up and he breaks in and cuts the head of the serpent off or we’re just hopeless down here,”  he said. “Jesus is ultimately the answer.” 

“We’re raising $50k for the event,” he added.

Standing in front of a large AV screen with “Saturday July 30, United Nations World Against Human Trafficking Day,” Mott, Johnston and others invited Jesus to “end human trafficking and the darkness across Hollywood.” They believe that triggering revival, (revival meaning a mass spiritual reawakening via Christ) in California will see the rest of the world follow, ending human trafficking and bringing peace on earth, healing and biblical law. Throughout the afternoon they referred to the film The Sound of Freedom, invited pastors to preach and even a woman who claimed Jesus saved her from trafficking. She told a story of Jesus showing up backstage at the “Body Shop,” a Sunset Boulevard adult entertainment club, and saving her, then rewarding her with a Bridal store.

The event pulled a large crowd and ended in water baptisms in large plastic buckets outside of Mann’s Chinese Theater. Mott and Johnston claim they were the first baptisms performed on the strip.

On February 24th this year, CAWBS descended on San Bernardino after announcing the event on Instagram in late January. 

“We’re coming to a place where many say it’s too dark and nobody wants to go but we are coming with the gospel and the sound of worship” Johnston said. 

Days before the event Mott took to social media to complain he was ill.

“In the last weeks I’ve gotten extremely sick. Fever, aches, sore throat, cold sweats, congestion, dizziness,” Mott said.

He blamed it on the devil.

“I haven’t felt this much warfare before any of our concerts,” Mott said before concluding, “See y’all this weekend. We’re going to trample on the enemy’s face.” 

The event pulled a large young, racially diverse crowd. From the stage Mott, Johnston and their performers delivered the usual energy-filled worship concert, altar calls, and crying. They even had a Spanish translator. The event again ended with water baptisms in blow-up kiddie pools.

Saturday, March 9th, CAWBS joined United Revival once again for their annual “Jesus March” in Santa Monica. The previous year’s event drew in about 600 people, including local street brawlers, January 6th attendees, Proud Boy affiliates and other violent bigots. https://twitter.com/katerqburns/status/1764812432621600899?s=43&t=hssf4NVDNsSdQc5b3Vme-Q

Mott, Johnston and United Revival claim there were tens of thousands there this year, though it was likely under two thousand. The large crowd met on the pier for worship and revival before embarking on the “Jesus March” that saw them flood 3rd street promenade before heading back to the Pier for some more worship and the usual water baptism in inflatable pools, overlooking the ocean.


In February of this year Johnston joined Jenny Donelley of Anti-LGBTQ groups Her Voice Movement and “Don’t Mess With Our Kids” in Portland at the Lloyd Centre Doubletree. Donnelly’s movements are focused on making queer people living their life miserable. “Her Voice Movement” (HMV) is the umbrella that “Don’t Mess With Our Kids” (DMWOK)sits under. HVM is geared towards activating women, across the country to usher Christian Nationalism via the “Million Woman March ” in Washington DC this coming October 12th. DMWOK is geared towards more local activation, getting “mama bears,” as Donnelly calls them, involved in local politics and organizes “Call To The Capitol” rallies in each state, with a national day of action this coming Saturday, April 13th . While LCRW doesn’t have a clear picture of how they first met, Johnston has been a key speaker for many of Donnely’s events over the past 6 months. 

“We destroy the idol of feelings in Portland, Oregon right now, I feel like I’m a man, I feel like I’m a woman. We destroy that idol right now in the name of Jesus. We declare the design of God to take preference and authority in this region,” Johnston preached at the February event. 

“Any gender confusion we bind you in Jesus name, sexual immorality you will not mark this land anymore, we will be people of purity and righteousness” 

Johnston and Donelly have been working together frequently under the Her Voice Movement banner. Ross attended the February 9th/10th “Los Angeles Freedom Tour” event as a key speaker.

Jay Koopman, recently teamed up with Johnston to launch a new initiative and Instagram account. Koopman is associate pastor of NAR leader Che Ahn’s Harvest Rock church in Pasadena and Sean Feucht’s hype-man for the “Kingdom to the Capitol” tour and Let Us Worship. Koopman’s ties to the NAR through his mentor and boss Che Ahn is worth noting. NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) is a hugely influential network that seeks to be its own branch of Christianity, complete with its own prophets and apostles. The NAR are dominionists—believers in establishing a Christian theocracy and have a firm foot in the Trump 2024 camp. Ahn himself was active in rejecting the 2020 election, taking the main stage on Jan 5th 2021 at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Freedom Plaza, DC.

Johnston and Koopman’s pitch is to hold regular revival events targeting children and youth. The events are held at the New Life Christian Centre in Santa Ana. They call it “1 Night Only.”

Johnston has become a rising star in the movement with regular speaker bookings across the country. LCRW counted at least 30 this year so far. He’s sought out by Christian organizations wanting to engage youth in their congregation. The message they want Johnston to deliver to their children is concerning. He leans into the fact he was born into a lesbian household then flips the script and says homosexuality is a sin and not the design of God, but it’s okay, because CAWBS and Jesus can “save and heal” you. His message, as is so common in evangelical Christianity, is that being gay or trans is at best a choice and a personal failing and at worst demonic possession.

Johnston has his own Youtube channel where he uploads content weekly. Titles include “lesbian mom story”, “Transgender man surrenders to Jesus,” “Overcome porn addiction,” “Does my lesbian mom support me as a Christian?” and “Can I be gay and Christian?”(The answer to the last one is ‘no.’) 

In an October 2023 Youtube video titled “How should christians approach the LGBT community”, Johnston outlined their approach clearly. 

“Does sin separate us from god? Absolutely. Is living in an LGBTQ lifestyle a sin? Absolutely. It’s not the design of God,” he said.

He explained that to save the LGBTQ community they have to befriend them and not “just [yell] about how horrible they are.” Johnston’s strategy, he coaches his viewers, is essentially to befriend queer people, earn their trust and convince them they can be redeemed from being queer through Christ. He uses the example of his personal story as a way to build trust before flipping the script and telling queer people they’re living in sin but can be saved. 

Both Mott and Johnston have recently endorsed Trump’s 2024 campaign. Johnston took to Youtube with a video titled “Can America be saved?” 

“Could it be that president Trump is similar to King Xeres or King Cyrus?” Johnston pondered. 

Matthew D. Taylor, ICJS Protestant scholar and creator of the “Charismatic Revival Fury: The New Apostolic Reformation” podcast series, told LCRW that comparing Trump to Cyrus, however, is not new for evangelicals:

The analogy between Trump and Cyrus started almost as soon as Trump declared his candidacy for president in 2015. The prophet Jeremiah Johnson was the first to make the comparison, as far as I can find. But this idea was quickly then picked up by Lance Wallnau who really popularized it as a prophecy he claimed to receive when he met Trump in the fall of 2015. The claim is: Cyrus was the heathen Persian emperor whom God “anointed” (according to Isaiah 45)  for the purpose of delivering the Jewish people out of their exile in Babylon. Cyrus sent them back to rebuild Jerusalem. Trump is like Cyrus (or has a “Cyrus Anointing” as they sometimes phrase it) in that he is also not a person of God, per se, but he is a warrior-king who, they believe, will deliver conservative Christians from their cultural exile. This analogy serves as a way to square the circle of why devout Christians should embrace Trump, who does not have many of the conventional markers of Christian belief or practice. If Trump is an anointed instrument in the hand of God, they reason, he doesn’t need to be pious for that.

I’ll also note that the term “anointed” in Hebrew mashiach is where we get the term “messiah.” To be a messiah means to be chosen and anointed by God for a purpose. So to call Trump a Cyrus or say that Trump has a Cyrus Anointing is implicitly invoking messianic imagery, justifying the way that many American Christians have looked to Trump as a sort of heathen deliverer and imbuing him with divine purpose.

Taylor reads Johnston’s comparison of Trump to Xerxes as a reinterpretation of Nehemiah—the book of the Bible that deals with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s Temple and held the Judeans captive.

This is part of a very common trope in Independent Charismatic circles of reinterpreting or allegorizing Hebrew Bible / Old Testament figures or concepts and overlaying those onto modern times and modern politics. What I find interesting here with the Cyrus and Xerxes images is that Johnston is simultaneously blending a sort of Christian democratic logic (Trump is popular and winning in the polls and blessed by God because he governs in conformity with God’s will – a very dubious and debatable claim on several levels) with the old logic of the divine right of kings (God ordains certain rulers for God’s purposes). But there’s a contradiction there: Does Trump need to win the election or just be elevated by God for his alignment with God’s purposes? Does Johnston actually care what the will of the people is or is he only interested in seeing “God’s chosen candidate” elected? 

To be clear, Cyrus and Xerxes were never elected. They were emperors, ruling over vast Iron Age empires in the Fertile Crescent. So which is Trump, a politician and candidate in a modern democracy or a replica of an Iron Age tyrant? Playing with these images allows them to simultaneously make both arguments without ever pausing to reconcile the two. In short, their logic is more rooted in the ancient past of humanity – the divine right of kings – but they gloss over that in the language of democracy. At the end of the day, these folks are more interested in the outcome – i.e., Trump as supreme ruler – than the process – i.e., the machinery and messiness of democracy and election. When push comes to shove – as it did in 2020, and as I fear it will again in 2024 – when their authoritarian spiritual vision meets impasses created by democracy and the rule of law, they have proven themselves quite adept at jettisoning democracy for the sake of their desired outcome. As I write in my book, “there are few more dangerous moments in a democracy than when the purported voice of God supplants the voice of the people”

“We cannot vote for people who support abortion. We cannot support candidates who want [to push] the LGBTQ agenda onto children and our schools,” Johnston said in the “Can America be Saved?” video.

He continued, saying that Joe Biden hasn’t followed “biblical design” and “god’s own law”, so the only answer is Trump since they can’t vote for Jesus himself.

March 15th and 16th saw Mott and Johnston join Feucht and Koopman for the inaugural “Let Us Worship Firestarters Conference” in Seattle. The event was hosted by Pursuit Snohomish and pastor Russell Johnson. United Revival also joined the party, following their Santa Monica Jesus March with CAWBS.


The conference branded itself as moving away from “contemporary lukewarm Christianity” to a more radical version. Firestarters focused on youth activation, media training to “infiltrate culture”, radical Evangelism, “transforming your city.” The conference saw groups hit the streets of Seattle roaming around praising Jesus and creating Christian-flavored engagement bait. LCRW asked Taylor to weigh in on the conference’s agenda and how they frame their version of Christianity.

Ironically, in these charismatic Christian circles, the word “religious” is an insult. They frequently contrast their ecstatic, supernaturalistic, “Spirit-filled” form of Christianity with other more staid and liturgical styles of Christian belief and practice. The word “lukewarm” in Christian conversations is almost always a reference to Revelation 3:16 where a group of “lukewarm” followers of Jesus are condemned by Jesus himself. So, by claiming to be radical, they are saying they are the real Christians. This messaging is often directed at other people or potential followers who might already identify as Christians as a way of delegitimizing other forms of Christianity to say that this radical (and often extremely right-wing) style of charismatic Christianity is superior to other forms.

For many charismatic Christians, and especially for leaders and followers in the New Apostolic Reformation, “transforming” / “transformation” is a synonym for the Christianization of society. They lament how secular or downright demonic mainstream American culture is, and they pray and preach about “revival” (a spiritual and charismatic renewal of Christian piety) that will lead to “transformation” or “reformation,” by which they mean the conquest of the Seven Mountains to bring American society into conformity with their understanding of Christianity. These are more positive and coded ways of talking about what a previous generation of charismatic Christian leaders (and sometimes these same NAR leaders today behind closed doors) called “taking dominion.” The basic idea is that God wants Christians to build the Kingdom of God on earth — they often phrase this as “bring heaven to earth” — and remake society into their Christian vision. 

Last week, Che Ahn and his Harvest International Ministry network (HIM) held their annual global summit from April 3-6th. The event recognises people associated with the HIM as “Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers.” Ahn and his ministry recognized Johnston as an Evangelist. Ahn included some of Johnston’s origin story in his speech recognising his evangelist work 

“I hope, Ross you don’t mind me sharing this, because he’s been raised up for such a time as this, Ross was raised by two lesbian moms in California,” Ahn said, continuing, “He didn’t know a dad, and God radically saved him for such a time as this because he can speak to transgenderism, he can speak to the gay community, he can speak too as someone who was raised in that environment”

This official recognition will see Johnston’s speaking opportunities expand greatly. He’ll now have access to Ahn’s HIM network of 25,000+ ministries in 65+ countries and Ahn is now his official Apostle, and clear ties to NAR.

Aside from networking with the broader Christian nationalist movement, the pair behind CAWBS are collaborating with young Christian nationalist influencers. Johnston took to his Instagram and Youtube on the 20th March with the question “Should Christian Women wear crop tops and bikinis?” He was Joined by Hannah Williamson, a pastor’s daughter-turned influencer who pitches herself as bringing Gen Z “back to biblical truth.” 

“If I’m calling myself a believer in Jesus and I’m in a relationship or married to a woman who shows her body more than what I would consider to honor God, that is going against my convictions, so much so that I’d rather not even put myself in that position” Ross proclaimed in the video. 

Williamson shared her conflicting feelings about wearing leggings to the gym, because while they are comfortable “that doesn’t mean they’re modest.” She then suggested women tie a jacket or sweater around their waists to protect their “brothers and sisters in Christ.” 

Johnston was thrilled by this suggestion.

“Maybe if we taught women, hey maybe this isn’t how God wants you to dress, Maybe this isn’t how you want to be perceived by other men and women,” he said.“It can be something as simple as, Just put a sweater on, SOLVED, like literally so simple.”

Johnston’s reach with young people goes beyond Christian spaces and Youtube channels. He’s recently been invited to speak at California high schools by “The Jesus Clubs.” 

Brian Barcelona, the founder of “the Jesus Clubs” and “One Voice Student Missions,” joined Lou Engle previously said he mentored Barcelona.

LCRW asked Taylor about why people like Mott and Johnston and their influence on campuses is dangerous.

The NAR leaders and the people they’ve mentored like Feucht, Mott, and Johnston are carriers of very extreme theology. Beyond their hostile approach to LGBTQ rights, these folks are ardent anti-abortion advocates, envision a wholescale Christian takeover of society, and believe that their prophecies and apostolic leadership give them license to push a far-right, MAGA-fied version of Christianity as the one true gospel. There are many kinds of Jesus clubs and Bible clubs that invite speakers into public schools, but I would argue these are some of the most dangerous of those speakers and leaders. 

They have embraced anti-democratic politics, converting LGBTQ people away from their self-affirmed sexual orientations, and a desire to dominate society. Don’t let their hip garb, lively music, and youthful, multiethnic audiences fool you — these are some of the most ardent Christian supremacists in America today, who frequently make common cause with the likes of the Proud Boys and other militia groups. They are entitled to the same religious freedoms and freedom of expression as everyone else, but don’t confuse them with run-of-the-mill evangelicals.


Christofascism and Extremism researcher living in Southern California. Originally from so-called Australia-Taungurung proud.

@katerqburns on Twitter

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