DULUTH — Few will argue that 2018 will go down as a notable year in Southern Baptist history. One, or actually five, of those reasons has brought a call for Georgia Baptists to join SBC President J.D. Greear’s urging for a day of prayer and fasting this upcoming Monday, Oct. 8.
Georgia Baptist pastors and leaders gave their support and urged those around the state to be involved, as five Southern Baptist entities – Southwestern Seminary, the SBC Executive Committee, International Mission Board, New Orleans Seminary, and LifeWay Christian Resources – seek their next president. The timing of those vacancies, Georgia Baptists attest, couldn’t come at a more crucial time for the Convention, nor the country.
“In a nation so divided and among a people so expressive of division, there is no power great enough to bring healing that we can apply than the power of prayer,” said Georgia Baptist Executive Director J. Robert White, who on Wednesday urged pastors and ministry leaders to take part.
…there is no power great enough to bring healing that we can apply than the power of prayer.”
Executive Director-elect Thomas Hammond echoed White’s sentiments.
“I wholeheartedly support our President’s call for all Southern Baptists to set aside a day for prayer and fasting,” he stated. “I also want to encourage all Georgia Baptists to take part in this strategic action.
“E.M. Bounds said ‘Prayer is not preparation for the battle, it is the battle.’ As we move forward together during these days of transition we must seek the Lord for guidance and wisdom. So, let’s unite our hearts together on Oct. 8 that His will might be done!”
Observed: a focus on prayer
Emmanuel Baptist Church, Blackshear Pastor Mike Stone also serves as chairman of the SBC Executive Committee. He noted the importance of the presidential positions to be filled amid ongoing cultural conflicts.
“The SBC is divided on significant issues,” Stone said. “Some of those issues are specific to the entity heads. For example, how will Southern Baptists entities continue to address the issue of sexual abuse? How will we respond to the social justice movement? What is the role of the entity president related to his Board? How much influence should entity heads have within the larger SBC? In other words, these strategic positions are not being filled in a status quo era.”
…these strategic positions are not being filled in a status quo era.”
Marty Youngblood serves Georgia Baptists as a prayer and spiritual renewal catalyst. It would just so have it that Youngblood received White’s email and spoke to The Index during a break at PrayerLink 2018 in Dallas, a regular gathering of SBC prayer leaders.
“J.D. Greear is a man of prayer and has a passion for it, so this call is in line with who he is,” said Youngblood. “We’re in need of an awakening in the Southern Baptist Convention – our ministries, our churches, but it must begin within us.”
He added that over the years he’s noticed a trend of churches becoming more focused on prayer.
“Everyone’s kind of elevated their attention when it comes to prayer,” Youngblood noted. “More churches are doing prayer conferences, training, and renewing their commitment to it. I’ve seen this being the case over the last five years.”
Unprecedented times, unprecedented opportunities
That renewal couldn’t have come at a better time, as far as Stone is concerned.
“Unprecedented times provide unprecedented opportunities. The darkness in our world demands the light of the Gospel that Southern Baptists can shine. And the loving unity of God’s people can stand in stark contrast to the deep division in our culture,” he said.
“As EC Chairman, I personally echo President Greear’s call for a special day of prayer and fasting. Our search committees need the wisdom of God and the direction of the Spirit. And that can come through an army of Southern Baptists in prayer before God.”
Youngblood pointed out PrayerLink 2018’s focus verse of 2 Chron. 20:12. In that passage, he said, the “vast number” (CSB) can refer to the challenges brought forward by today’s culture when it comes to the Gospel. The last sentence mirrors the feeling of many Christians today: “We do not know what to do, but we look to you.”
“Our ideas aren’t always working in today’s culture,” he said. “We need God’s help. It’s time to come together and say, ‘Lord we’re going to look to you [for answers]. And when we hear from you we’ll have something to connect with and impact this culture.’
“Prayer and evangelism have always worked together. They need to do so much more than ever before. As we pray, we share. As we share, we pray. In turn, we do what the Great Commission has called us to do and leave the results to God.”