“The window of heaven is wide open to everyone of us that’s a follower of Christ today. So, I ask you this question, you got someone better to talk to?” Gordon Fort, Senior Ambassador for the President at the International Mission Board (IMB) asked this question as he prompted attendees at the SBC of Virginia (SBCV) Prayer Summit to pray.
Nearly 200 people from SBC of Virginia churches gathered in January at New Bridge Baptist Church in Sandston for the summit. The event specifically fostered prayer for the nations. Attendees were challenged to change the way they pray, to include lifting up missionaries.
“This was one of the most important, one-day events I have attended,” shared Alec Selz, a deacon from Old Powhatan Baptist Church in Powhatan. “I was challenged to pray specifically for our missionaries in ways I had not considered and challenged to change the way I pray and reach out in the lostness around me.”
The event also featured guest speaker Susan Lafferty, a writer, missions advocate, and wife of the executive vice president of the IMB. Lafferty provided believers with practical ways they can be praying for IMB missionary families.
“We must pray specifically and strategically for our missionaries.” Lafferty added that believers in the faith need to be praying against the physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and logistical realities that attempt to hinder the work of the Gospel.
The Prayer Summit included a panel discussion emceed by Brad Russell, mobilization strategist for the SBC of Virginia. The panel discussion included Fort, Lafferty, Senior Pastor Jim Booth from Staples Mill Road Baptist Church in Glen Allen, and Senior Pastor Jeff Mingee, a church planter at Catalyst Church in Newport News, and involved questions about missionary care and giving to missions.
Mingee highlighted three ways their church serves and prays for missionaries; the offering, regular communication, and extending community. Explaining how they use the offering, he said, “We’ll try to tell stories about what’s happening on the field and tie those to their giving. For example, ‘three young people in southeast Asia were baptized this week because you give to missions.’ So, we use those stories all of the time.” Mingee also pointed out that as churches give to the Cooperative Program through the SBCV, they are supporting missionaries all over the world. Each of those giving churches has its own missions-stories to celebrate.
Gordon stressed prayer being one of the most under-utilized weapons in the Great Commission arsenal and necessary for the spiritual battle missionaries are facing daily on the field. “Prayer is just not ‘important’,” said Fort. “It is essential!”
Participants were challenged to pray for churches to be a “house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17), to pray for God to raise up missionaries from their churches to be sent out to proclaim the Gospel, and to pray that in the next five years God would raise up 500 missionaries to be called out specifically from SBC churches.