FROM THE STATES: Baptists in Fla., La., Ark. pray for revival
Today's From the States features items from:
Florida Baptist Convention
Baptist Message (Louisiana)
Arkansas Baptist News
Pastors plead for spiritual renewal,
repentance among Fla. Baptists
By Barbara Denman
STARKE, Fla. (Florida Baptist Convention) -- Seeking to fill a spiritual hunger, 234 Florida Baptist pastors and ministers fell on their knees to pray for personal renewal, family, churches and others, as well as revival in the state and nation, when they gathered in pastor-led prayer meetings across the state in May and June.
Pastors from Pensacola to Miami joined together in five regional prayer meetings held at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota, May 19; First Baptist Church in Chipley, First Baptist Church in Kissimmee, and First Baptist Church in Boca Raton, June 17; and Madison Street Baptist Church, June 24.
"It was a time for refreshing and renewal in our lives," said John Green, pastor of Shindler Drive Baptist Church in Jacksonville who attended the Starke meeting. "I am thankful that I was there."
The most meaningful aspect to Green "was when we prayed for one another's churches. We often pray for our life, our church, our ministry. It was a great sign of unity and kingdom-mindedness for us to pray for other churches and pastors."
The prayer meetings were an outgrowth of "Engage Florida," a statewide emphasis designed as a four-year effort to ignite people to become engaged in God's mission. Engage Florida is the next phase of ReVision Florida, developed by the State Board of Missions as a response to the "Imagine In … Great Commission Resurgence Task Force" to involve Florida Baptists in spiritual renewal.
Each meeting was facilitated by pastors of the host churches and prominent Florida Baptist pastors -- Ken Whitten, Idlewild Baptist Church; Tommy Green, First Baptist in Brandon; Ted Traylor, Olive Church in Pensacola; and Jimmy Scroggins, First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach.
During the time in West Florida, Traylor explained how the gathering was a grassroots effort and told the group, "As Johnathan Edwards said, 'We have to do something.' So men, we will pray and ask God's presence and blessings.
"We must pray and pray hard. Where pastors go, people will follow. We need to get on our knees and beg Him to move among us. We need revival, my church needs revival, our state and nation need revival."
Tommy Green told the Southwest Florida and Northeast Florida groups, "Our churches must come together in unity or we won't see revival."
Several of the keynote speakers cited Ezekiel 22:30, "And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none" to lead the pastors to pray for their own repentance and spiritual renewal.
Other Scripture presented included: Ephesians 5:25 and 28; 6:1 and 6:4 to lift up their families; Matthew 16:17 to pray for their churches; and James 5:16 for healing.
Interspersed between the Scripture were times of individual prayer, prayer in groups and corporate prayer; as well as music. Some pastors received specific prayers for needs in their own lives and churches as fellow pastors laid hands on those in need to lift them up before God.
Rich Kincl, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tallahassee, called the West Florida gathering "tremendous, a blessing to me, personally. Nobody knows pastors like pastors. We have a tremendous calling, tremendous responsibilities and tremendous stress. It was good to get together with fellow pastors. God spoke to me."
Many of those in attendance were moved that each of the keynote speakers and pastors displayed a transparency and vulnerability in their own lives.
"It was refreshing and humbling to see so many pastors calling out to God for a moving of His Spirit," said Eddie Eaton, pastor of West Pittman Baptist Church in Westville.
Russell Johnson, pastor of the Spanish-speaking International Bible Baptist Church in Miami, called the meeting "a win-win for everyone present."
"I believe the greatest value is simply the living out of Hebrews 10:24-25, where we were able to motivate one another to acts of love and good works, as well as encourage one another in said work," he said.
"We need that as pastors. Our people need us to be strengthened to help them face the realities of the broken world in which we live in with the power of the Gospel and the message of grace."
Many of the pastors were able to form new bonds of relationships with the pastors they knew and ones they had met for the first time.
"To gather with other pastors for prayer was special," said Carlos Lugo, pastor of Atlantic Baptist Church in Margate. "As leaders, we sometimes find ourselves limited in what we can ask others to pray for us. At the meeting, we simply shared many of the same concerns and challenges. It helped us to reconnect with co-laborers and recharge our passion for ministry."
Lugo and others called for the prayer meetings to continue.
"God willing, I will be attending the gatherings in our area for as long as they have them," he said.
Florida Baptist State Convention President Tim Maynard, pastor of Fruit Cove Baptist Church in St. Johns, said concerted prayer efforts are "imperative" for Florida Baptists.
"No great movement of God biblically or historically began without God's people prostrate before Him in prayer," Maynard said. "I pray for Florida Baptists that these meetings will be seen as the birthplace of awakening and true revival in our state."
John Green concurred, "We must seek God and cry out to Him more, to call on Him to awaken His church and to save the lost. My hope is that this wouldn't be a one-time emphasis across our state, but that it would be the beginning of a movement of God."
This article appeared in the Florida Baptist Witness (gofbw.com), newsjournal of the Florida Baptist Convention. Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.
La. pastors gather for day
of prayer, reflection
By Brian Blackwell
LAFAYETTE, La. (Baptist Message) -- If revival is to come, it must start with God's people humbling themselves and praying for repentance, one Louisiana Baptist pastor said at a recent prayer gathering.
"No revival has taken place apart from prayer," Philip Robertson prayed. "I want to see our nation experience a mighty move of God.
"Maybe, just maybe, God is getting ready to send the breeze but maybe he's waiting because he sees our sails aren't raised," continued Robertson, who serves as pastor of Philadelphia Baptist in Deville. "Let's say 'God bring me to the place where I can set my sails so when the winds of revival come, I'll be ready."
The called day of prayer at First Baptist Lafayette drew 77 pastors and other Louisiana Baptists from throughout the state. Throughout the day those in attendance worshiped through a few songs and enjoyed fellowship but primarily prayed individually, with one another in pairs, around tables and out loud with the entire group in attendance.
Prayers included repentance, the President's 2020 Commission, Louisiana College, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and other college students in the state, needs of the churches and revival.
Steve Horn, pastor of First Lafayette and president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, asked the pastors if they had any sin that they were hiding in their hearts and led a prayer of repentance.
"Our prayer here together is we would begin to make our prayer even now that oh God do not let this end here but that we would begin to sense that this is just the beginning," Horn prayed.
Stewart Holloway, pastor of First Baptist Pineville, was one of nine pastors to lead one of the themes of the prayer event.
"The time spent praying with fellow pastors was invigorating," Holloway said. "Few meetings have felt as beneficial and kingdom-focused as this day of prayer. I am hopeful we will have regional pastor prayer gatherings begin as a result of this meeting."
Holloway was one of a few Louisiana Baptist pastors who attended a prayer gathering last fall in Dallas, which was the genesis of the prayer event in Lafayette. The Call to Pray for Revival and Awakening on Sept. 30-Oct. 1 drew more than 175 pastors from 27 states to a gathering at a hotel near the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd, who also serves as senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, organized the gathering.
At the event, pastors focused on personal revival and for revival in their church and nation.
Horn said that after the meeting he discussed the possibility of bringing a similar event for Louisiana Baptist pastors to the state.
"Steve patterned our gathering much after that event," Holloway said. "Some of the same themes were used -– repentance, needs of pastors and churches, prayer specifically for awakening. Steve felt there was a need to pray for LC and NOBTS to make the day more specifically about Louisiana. I thought that was a great idea."
Jack Gandy, pastor of Johnson Bayou Baptist Church in Cameron, was among the 77 pastors who attended the event. He came away inspired and upbeat.
"If revival is going to become reality, the burden for it must be deeply ingrained in the heart of leadership," he said. "Yesterday I think we got a taste of that."
Chad Gilbert, pastor of Edgewater Baptist in New Orleans, said he came away renewed and exhausted. He envisions other prayer events to follow around the state.
"Crying out for the Lord with brothers from across the state is an experience unlike any other," he said. "Crying out for the Lord with brothers from across the state for 5 hours is like ascending a mountain with a team -- it is difficult, but each man motivates perseverance in the next. I am committed to seeing this take shape as a movement, not just a one-time moment."
Mike Walker, pastor of the Bayou Church in Lafayette, felt a sense of unity within the room of those in attendance.
"We came to a prayer meeting with no agendas other than to seek God's face and to pray," Walker said. "We experienced a fresh spirit of unity and focus."
Wayne Hunt, pastor of Coteau Baptist Church in Houma, echoed the thought.
"This gathering was a very refreshing and renewing of Spirit," Hunt said. "I felt encouraged and convicted.
"After attending the Pastors Conference and Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore, this was a perfect addition to restoration and revival through prayer. God is using Dr. Steve Horn in a mighty way.
"I am blessed to have been able to attend," he continued. "No promotional materials, no sponsored ads and no paid speakers led us into a genuine experience with God."
Though the prayer event has concluded, it likely will not be the only such gathering planned in the state.
Horn closed the prayer meeting with a challenge to pastors to hold prayer gatherings in their area of the state.
"I pray a challenge to us," Horn said. "As we go in recognizing there are folks from every part of your state, that you can go back to your association and your region and just take what we did."
This article appeared in the Baptist Message (baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Brian Blackwell is on the staff of the Baptist Message.
440 seniors answer call
to prayer for revival
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) -- Since being organized as part of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention's (ABSC) Prayer, Revival and Spiritual Awakening Task Force, the ABSC Senior Adult Prayer Force has seen an influx in participants, seniors who are passionate about working hard to bring about revival and spiritual awakening in America and around the world.
Don Moore, former ABSC executive director, recently joined the ABSC executive and administrative team as a contract worker in order to better facilitate the mobilization of these Arkansas Baptist seniors.
Over the past three months, nine church and associational meetings have resulted in 440 Arkansas Baptist seniors making commitments in writing to pray daily for themselves, their pastors and their churches to experience revival.
"Senior adults are grasping the seriousness of the hour and committing to pray daily for revival and awakening. Nine church or associational groups have addressed this matter with a special emphasis," said Moore.
"The seniors involved have been specifically challenged to pray weekly with another person or persons about this matter," he said. "On a monthly basis they have been asked to pray with someone outside their fellowship for God to send revival and awakening to our land."
Moore emphasized that senior adults are well aware of the crises faced by the nation and by churches.
"As secular and anti-Christian forces wield a wider influence with most of our evangelical churches declining, they realize that 'church as usual' will not stop the bleeding in the Body of Christ," said Moore.
"The children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these people are becoming victims of the godless culture that surrounds them. … Aware that seven out of 10 young people 18-29 years of age who have been reached by the church leave during this age span, they realize the options for reclaiming them are limited."
Moore added, "The hope is not in another adjustment to worship styles, slick programming, hyperactive ministries or dynamic personalities paraded before them. Such efforts have largely failed in the past."
Moore said the options are clear.
"Only a supernatural movement of God can save the day for the nation and for our churches. Such events in the past have been called 'revival' and 'awakening.' Before every great awakening, God has prompted a group of people to persevere in prayer until the heavens open with showers of blessing. When Israel cried out to God, the Bible says, 'He heard their cry and came down to deliver them,' said Moore, referencing Exodus 3:7-8.
"Senior adults are crying out to God for Him to come down," said Moore, going on to quote Isaiah 64:1 (NIV), which says, "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!"
A Senior Adult Prayer Gathering will be held at Hot Springs Baptist Church, Hot Springs, Oct. 9-10. Space will be limited, and reservations are required, said Moore.
This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (arkansasbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist Convention.
EDITOR'S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board's call to embrace the world's 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board's call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.