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24-hour prayer vigil helps students focus on missions

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–For 24 hours recently, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary sought to stand in the gap for the world.

More than 100 Southern Seminary students participated in a 24-hour prayer vigil for global missions on April 18-19 as part of the seminary’s Great Commission Week — a period of special emphasis on missions. Prayer focused mainly on the 70 students who will go from the seminary to the mission field this summer for missions trips that will last anywhere from two weeks to a lifetime.

Coordinators set up a tent in the middle of campus where students could gather in solitude and pray. The need for prayer was further underscored by hanging flags from various nations around the tent.

“Coming onto the campus and seeing the tent here and seeing people focused … on praying for those ministering around the world is very encouraging to my own spiritual walk,” said David Fee, a master of divinity student.

“It’s so neat to see the Lord do such a great work here at Southern and to see people sitting on the steps earnestly pouring out their hearts to God.”

Shane Critser, coordinator of missions activities at Southern, said more than 100 students signed up to fill the 30-minute blocks of prayer over the one-day period. Critser said the effort was partially aimed at giving non-missions students an opportunity to participate in missions through prayer.

“It (prayer) is critical,” he said. “This also helps students on campus to see that they have a part to play in global missions, an important part. I think that has been the key in this effort — for everyone to have a role in missions.”

Participants said they were both encouraged and convicted by the prayer thrust — encouraged by seeing others in prayer and convicted because it is a reminder that missions work is ultimately dependent upon the sovereign hand of God.

“It is convicting and encouraging when you see people praying,” said Gail Fee, who is David’s wife and also a master of divinity student at Southern. “It makes you want to pray. It makes you want to stop and seek the Lord and pray for people and the seminary and missions.”

Some 60-70 students from Southern will spend all or part of this summer on mission fields all over the world, Critser said. Some of them are going for short-term trips and will return to school in the fall.

Others are beginning a lifetime’s work as a career missionary. Both organizers and participants said prayer for missions should be ongoing and not end with focused efforts such as the vigil.

“I think we need to make an intentional effort to be praying for missions — not only here at the seminary but in our churches,” David Fee said. “Because it is something that we just get the mindset of, ‘Oh, yes, God is working over there.’ But the thing is, God wants us to be a part of that work through prayer. And that’s the exciting part.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: PRAYER VIGIL.

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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