“… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
Philippians 2:2 (NIV)
There is unquestionable strength in numbers, but that strength becomes supernatural when people align around a common mission. In a world that all too frequently seeks to show what divides us, the last year has also revealed what can happen when we allow love to unite us.
Unity in Action
On March 6, 2020, I boarded a flight in Washington, D.C. It would be my last for the year. A week later, the United States government declared a national emergency, and sobering reports of the rapid spread of the coronavirus began to pour in from Baptist sisters and brothers around the world. Our team at the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) scrambled to respond to the crisis, but it was unlike any we had witnessed in our lifetime. For a ministry whose mission is to network Baptists to impact the world for Christ, how could we effectively do so at a time when the world was forcibly isolated?
When the best step to take is unclear, the best choice to make is draw near.
Physical distance mandates had separated humanity, but there was no need to socially distance from our Savior. The best choice was to pray. Our team got to work planning a global prayer call that would feature brief interview segments with ministry leaders from an array of institutions ranging from healthcare to higher education. The call would serve as a kickoff to a 24-hour prayer marathon with an invitation for people to intercede in one-hour time slots. More than 600 people from 44 countries joined the initiative, which led to the formation of a global prayer team and intercession for thousands of prayer requests in the months that followed.
There are few things that can unite the people of God more effectively than praying together. This is the basis for our Baptists One in Prayer resource, a weekly email that highlights several countries each week and how to specifically pray for God’s work in those areas. Over the course of the year, recipients have the opportunity to pray for every nation in the world as well as for specific needs that arise when disasters strike or religious freedom is threatened. Using the One in Prayer email as our guide, the BWA team gathers each Wednesday for a strategic time of prayer for the world and for one another.
At a time when international travel is limited, you have the opportunity to bring the world to your people.
- Invite your community to sign up for the weekly One in Prayer email at BaptistWorld.org/prayer.
- Set aside a time for a global prayer focus within your worship services, Sunday School classes, and Bible study gatherings.
- Seek out and share firsthand prayers from ministry leaders serving in other parts of the world. The BWA shares such prayers in both video and written formats throughout the year.
- Consider placing a map in a prominent place in your home as both a reminder to pray for the world but also as a teaching tool to encourage children / grandchildren to become global prayer warriors.
While we long for the day when Gospel witness can again take place face-to-face, we must make certain we are ready for the doors God will open. We have long prayed for the Spirit to ready the hearts of the lost, but we will have missed the mark if do not seize this time to ready ours. The challenges of this pandemic have prepared the way, softening what was once hard soil into fertile ground awaiting harvest.
- Write down the names of five people in your life who are in need of Christ’s love.
- Ask God to open doors for you to be a source of encouragement and hope in their lives and for the Spirit to bring Colossians 4:6 (NIV) to bear so that “your conversation [may] be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
I wholeheartedly believe praying people are powerful people. Imagine the revival that might await if believers around the world are united in prayer in the pursuit of our shared mission.
But may we never forget the object of our pursuit is a Person. A post-pandemic world without our ever-present Savior is a sad world indeed, so let us pray together as Moses did: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” (Exodus 33:15, NIV). Lead us on, Lord.
For Reflection and Discussion
- Why do you think prayer is often perceived as the last resort rather than the first step?
- In your spiritual life, has prayer felt more like a passive step or an active one?
- What steps can you take to incorporate a global prayer focus into your daily life? Into your community?
- What lessons have you learned during this season that you can share as part of your Gospel witness with those seeking answers?
- What steps can and will you take in your community to ensure no one loses sight of our shared mission?
BWA General Council Resolution 1987.4
The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Amman, Jordan, July 5-12, 1987, welcomes the vision of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America for the year 2000 A.D. to be recognized as a Year of Peace to mark the beginning of the third Christian millennium.
We see this vision to be in line with the long-range program approved by the BWA Congress in Toronto in 1980 and with similar initiatives of other world Christian bodies.
We believe it would truly honor our Lord Jesus Christ, at whose coming 2,000 years angels sang of Him as “Prince of Peace’ destined to bring “peace on earth to men of good will.”
Towards this goal, we call our Baptist members and churches all over the world to become reconcilers actively committed to peace through prayer, evangelism, the pursuit of justice and the development of interpersonal and international relationships.
We affirm our part in the mission of the whole church of Christ to enter into the sufferings of humanity, announcing the good news of salvation in Christ and seeking non-violent solutions to world tensions.
We express the hope that Christian reconcilers will be able to promote all aspects of peace in every area of conflict so that the world’s resources might be redirected towards ridding humanity of hunger, poverty and injustice.
We pledge ourselves to work and pray with all Christians and other people of good will in the intervening years to spread worldwide the strong desire that the year 2000 A.D. will see the world at peace, ready to enter the third millennium free from the threat of war.
Original Source Bibliography: Claas, Gerhard, editor. Baptist World Alliance 1987 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory. McLean, VA: Baptist World Alliance, 1987.
Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Gerhard Claas, ed., Baptist World Alliance 1987 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory (McLean, VA: Baptist World Alliance, 1987), p. 60.
Online Document Full Citation: BWA General Council Resolution 1987.4 2000 A.D. — Year of Peace; https://o7e.4a3.myftpupload.com/resolutions.
In-text Online Document Citation: (BWA General Council Resolution 1987.4).
BWA World Congress Resolution 1950.5
Since the wrong we have committed only God can correct; since the peace and universal brotherhood we seek and long for, only God can bring; since the unity we desire, only God can bring it to pass; since every commission that has reported acknowledges that prayer is the key and the solution of the problems in its area and that at home and abroad souls are hungry for a better understanding of each other and a close walk with God, regardless of race, color, social, economic or cultural level;
Since the church feels more and more a deep responsibility for developing closer fellowship among people over the world who have accepted Jesus Christ as both Savior and the Lord, and believe it the divine obligation to do the same;
Since we face a dreadfully uncertain tomorrow; and men are eagerly looking in every direction for a word of cheer, hope, advice and comradeship;
Since we especially are painfully aware of the sufferings, the sorrows, and the devastating conditions, in which the people of Korea and soldiers from many different lands at present find themselves,
Since prayer is the means that God has given man to have direct communication with him:
Be it resolved:
That the Eighth Baptist World Congress will ratify its faith in the effectiveness of prayer in human and divine relationship,
(a) By expressing its joy that so many Baptist churches take a regular part in the Universal Week of Prayer and in the World Day of Prayer.
(b) By commending to all Baptists the necessity of making use of our privilege and duty of prayer regularly in these fateful days.
Original Source Bibliography: Ohrn, Arnold T, editor. Eighth Baptist World Congress, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A., July 22-27, 1950. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1951.
Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Arnold T. Ohrn, ed., Eighth Baptist World Congress, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A., July 22-27, 1950 (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1951), pp. 341-342.
Online Document Full Citation: BWA World Congress Resolution 1950.5 Resolution on Prayer; https://o7e.4a3.myftpupload.com/resolutions.
In-text Online Document Citation: (BWA World Congress Resolution 1950.5).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA – March 25, 2020)
In response to the growing impact of COVID-19 around the world, the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) calls on the global Baptist family to join together for a 24-hour prayer marathon, launching with an audio conference on Monday, March 30, at 9:15 a.m. EDT.
The launch call will feature updates from several of the most impacted regions as well as dedicated times of prayer for specific groups, including pastors and ministry leaders, healthcare providers, educators, relief workers, and communication professionals.
“In this challenging context, it is imperative that we seek God together in prayer,” said Elijah Brown, BWA General Secretary. “The one-hour opening prayer conference will provide an amazing opportunity to hear from ministry leaders in Italy, to learn how refugee camps are being impacted in the Middle East, to discover how Baptists have risen up in Wuhan, and to hear voices from around the globe united in prayer.”
In addition to the opening audio conference, the BWA is asking Baptists everywhere to sign up for half-hour time slots to facilitate 24 hours of uninterrupted prayer on behalf of those impacted by COVID-19.
The BWA has created a microsite with instructions and resources for the prayer marathon. Additional content will be added in the coming days.
“We see this 24-hour prayer initiative as a beautiful opportunity to stand together during this global pandemic. I hope it will galvanize our commitment to pray together daily as Baptist sisters and brothers during this crisis and beyond,” said Merritt Johnston, BWA Director of Communications and Media and COVID-19 Prayer Coordinator. “We are grateful for technological resources that can connect us virtually during this season of physical isolation, and we will continue to utilize these resources to mobilize prayer efforts and offer pastoral encouragement during these difficult days. I look forward to seeing how God moves during this time and sharing those stories with our global Baptist family.”
To find out more or to sign up for a prayer marathon time slot, visit: bit.ly/BWAPrayerMarathon.
To sign up for the weekly “Baptists One in Prayer” email, visit bit.ly/BWAEmail.
The Baptist World Alliance issues a global call for 24 hours of prayer to begin at 9:15 a.m. EDT on Monday, March 30, 2020.
Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Elijah Brown responds to the COVID-19 pandemic with a call to pray.