FROM THE STATES: Okla., S.C., Mich. evangelism/missions news; '... desperate prayer and a crying out to God'
Today's From the States features items from:
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)
The Courier (South Carolina)
Baptist Beacon (Michigan)
Okla. pastors, staff cry out
to God at 'Day to Pray' event
By Brian Hobbs
MOORE, Okla. (The Baptist Messenger) -- Repentance, reformation, revival. These were among the themes prayed about and spoken of at the inaugural Day to Pray event on Mon., Oct. 20, at First Baptist Church in Moore, Okla.
The all-day prayer event, which attracted more than 250 pastors and church staff members from across the state, was hosted by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and led by BGCO Executive Director-Treasurer Anthony L. Jordan and BGCO President Nick Garland, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow.
"I was so encouraged and blessed by the turnout, as well as the intensity of participation," Garland said at the conclusion of the day. "It was a great day of worship, indeed!"
Quoting Nehemiah, Jordan began the meeting by saying "these are not days for business as usual."
"When Nehemiah saw the dark times and learned of the broken down walls in Jerusalem, the Bible says he mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of Heaven," said Jordan. "Today, we are here to fast and pray, because we serve a mighty God."
The day included Scripture readings, times for worship through music and large portions of time to pray individually and in small groups. Participants were asked to fast throughout the event and no food was served.
One attendee, Benny Layton, associate pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Morris, said, "I'm praising God and thanking Him for this event." Layton has seen fruit from similar prayer events held at his local church. "Prayer time is where accountability happens. Prayer is where we come in contact with God and our lives with each other."
Among those offering brief devotionals during the event was BGCO Prayer and Spiritual Awakening Specialist Gregory Frizzell.
"The secret to revival is not merely prayer, but desperate prayer and a crying out to God," said Frizzell, who encouraged the pastors and staff to "go deep" in their prayers, repenting of sin, shallow praying, broken relationships, time wasted and a spirit of doubt, all in hopes of God bringing awakening in this land.
Prayer times focused on various topics, including adoring God, repenting of sin and interceding for leaders and others in need, as well as petitioning God to send revival and awakening to Oklahoma, starting in the churches.
Brief presentations on prayer were made by pastors from around the state, including Blake Gideon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Edmond. Gideon underscored the famous revival that took place in Wales, in which 100,000 came to Christ.
"To look at the moral conditions of the times leading up to that revival, we see many similarities," he said. "What we are doing today through this event is asking God to use us. But our prayers cannot stop here."
Other presenters included Oklahoma City, Quail Springs Pastor Hance Dilbeck, who spoke on the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and retired International Mission Board President and Oklahoma pastor Tom Elliff, who spoke on what revival could mean for global missions and reaching the lost.
Garland led various times of prayer, offering prayer prompts. Garland also challenged pastors to bring prayer meetings to their local congregations.
"I don't just mean Wednesday evening Bible study time that we call prayer meetings," he said. "We need an outbreak of prayer meetings across the state, if we are truly going to see a move of God."
For more information on the Day to Pray, or materials related to prayer, contact the BGCO executive office and BGCO prayer office at 405/942-3800.
This article appeared in The Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Brian Hobbs is editor of The Baptist Messenger.
Boston church plant to be 'catalyst
for encounters with Christ'
By Butch Blume
BOSTON (The Courier) -- When Chris Causey and Jason Hodges were friends and classmates at Columbia International University, they talked of someday working together in ministry. They even dreamed about planting a church together.
A few years later, they began serving on staff together in the student and adult ministries at Taylors First Baptist Church near Greenville, S.C. The church was thriving, and the work was fulfilling and exciting. Under the leadership of then-senior pastor Frank Page and, later, interim pastor Steve Cloud, Causey and Hodges were challenged to "dream bold and big for Taylors" and never to stop growing as leaders.
That personal and professional growth always accommodated a "stirring desire for church planting," Causey said.
During the interim period before Paul Jimenez was called as senior pastor at Taylors, Causey was asked to preach on three consecutive Sunday evenings. As he thought about what he might say in the messages (he was studying the Book of Acts), he lay in bed one night and imagined what would happen if Jesus invited him to meet at Starbucks for coffee and conversation.
"What would he say? What would the Creator God of the Universe want to talk about?" Causey said. "I imagined he would want to talk about the church."
Causey said he saw a vision of the church "shining as a bride with beauty and righteousness" in communities all over the world, the tangible presence of Christ. "God has entrusted the church with the gospel, and there is no plan B," he said.
During that period when he preached three straight Sunday nights, "God grabbed my heart, and the church became more than an organization" for Causey. Preaching from Acts, he began to see Paul's letter as a "plan book, not just a devotional." He saw Paul's strategy of targeting cities of cultural influence and major population centers as the model for church planting.
Causey and Hodges continued to "dream and pray" and visit different cities. Two years later, Taylors First Baptist endorsed and pledged to support the men's vision of planting a church near Boston, one of the most influential cities in America. Boston has produced presidents and other world leaders. One in five world leaders who were educated in America attended a university in Boston.
"It is probably the most potent city in America," said Causey. "It had a profound spiritual influence on our nation in the past, but it is no longer the spiritual hub of what God is doing in America." Today, less than 2 percent of the people who live in the county where Causey and Hodges are establishing Encounter Church are evangelical Christians. One in 12 Bostonians consider themselves atheists.
Nearly 5 million people live in the Greater Boston area, and 350,000 live within driving distance of Encounter's target community. Seven families from Taylors Church sold out and moved with Causey and Hodges, both 33, and their families to begin the work of establishing Encounter Church. They are "investing in relationships" and meeting people and holding public events. In October, they took part in a community event, and 70 families expressed interest in learning more about their church.
The plan for Encounter Church, which is part of the North America Mission Board "Send" strategy, is to have preview worship services in the spring of next year and to begin weekly services in September 2015. Causey is senior pastor, and Hodges is executive pastor.
In September, five Upstate churches came together to pledge financial support for Encounter Church. They also agreed to send mission teams over the next year to support the new church plant. "It was a very powerful service and a moving experience to see these pastors, who often are pictured as competitors, joining together to do something great," said Al Phillips, associate pastor at First Baptist North Spartanburg, which hosted the Global Impact Celebration on Sept. 4, at which the five churches presented $75,000 to help launch the church.
With the encouragement and support of Upstate churches and the engagement of his fellow church planters in the Boston area, Causey sees evidence of "God doing incredible work."
"We're not going to damage the church by planting another church," he said. "In the past, God's spirit has moved in Boston. Lives were transformed."
Causey believes the people of Boston can encounter God once again and that the church can "shine as a bride" in one of the world's most important cities.
For more information about Encounter Church, visit Boston339.com.
This article appeared in The Courier (baptistcourier.com), newsjournal of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Butch Blume is managing editor of The Courier.
New Ypsilanti, Mich., church
aims to reach motorcyclists
By Jonathan Guenther
YPSILANITI, Mich. (Baptist Beacon) -- Biker culture — with its tattoos and leather — often finds its place on the fringes of society. One new church, however, seeks to place this unique and diverse community at the center of its outreach efforts.
"Bikers are not accepted widely in society, let alone churches," said Kevin Bruinsma, founder of Narrow Path Christian Biker Church in Ypsilanti. "I wanted to have a Christian Church where bikers can not only feel welcome but accepted in a safe place of worship."
Described as a tattoo-loving, welcoming church, Narrow Path held its launch service on Aug. 3. The launch service saw a standing room only crowd.
"It was awesome; God's awesome," Bruinsma said. "People keep continuing to come, including people who have sworn off church years ago."
Bruinsma also leads a Christian motorcycle ministry known as the Army of Christ. A rider himself, he desires to reach anyone with Christ's love but has a special heart for the biker community.
"[At] most churches, when you show up wearing leathers, people look down on you," Bruinsma said. I don't care what you look like or how you dress, just please come dressed!"
In addition to the Army of Christ, the location of the church in Ypsilanti is also helpful for attracting bikers to the church.
"Where God put the church is right smack in the middle of the biker community," Bruinsma said. "We've had people come from twenty miles away on a weekly basis."
Bruinsma felt God leading him to Ypsilanti as the perfect place to start the church. He also followed God's timing to ensure the church not only had the right place but was also started at the right time.
"It was always my plan to have a biker church in a couple of years, but God was saying now," Bruinsma said. "When God speaks I listen, and that's how Narrow Path came to exist."
This article appeared in the Baptist Beacon (baptistbeacon.net), newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Jonathan Guenther is managing editor of the Baptist Beacon.
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.