HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (BP) — At age 93, after pastoring 70 years, fighting in World War II and preaching at revivals all over the U.S., Fred Lunsford was ready for the Lord to take him home.
But, Lunsford recounted, God had different plans for his life and was just getting started laying a new path that would expand well beyond the mountain town of Marble, N.C., where he’d lived all his life.
Lunsford said he spent many hours every day frequenting his personal prayer garden and a mountain on his property he called “Light House Mountain” asking God to reveal His purpose.
It was in that prayer garden, two miles from his house, that God told him to begin praying for spiritual revival, Lunsford said. Eventually, those hours in prayer led to an event, scheduled for May 5, in which more than 100,000 people are expected to pray with Lunsford.
“He [God] extended my years for a reason, and He wanted me to pray for spiritual awakening and to get as many people praying as I could,” Lunsford said. “God spoke into my heart, and I yielded to it. It’s not me; it’s the Lord.”
For the next two years, Lunsford told everyone he could about his mission to pray for revival and believed that it would come. During this time, Lunsford shared his testimony at a conference where David Horton, president of Fruitland Baptist Bible College in Hendersonville, N.C., was speaking.
Horton, inspired and impacted by Lunsford’s testimony, shared the mission with Greg Mathis, pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church, also in Hendersonville.
Horton, Mathis along with Fruitland Baptist Bible College professors Michael Horton and JD Grant, went to spend a day with Lunsford, praying with him and listening to the ways God had impressed the call to revival on him.
While the men sat inside their vehicle January 20, 2020, Lunsford prayed for the spiritual awakening to begin, and said that with the pastors’ visit, it had begun.
“I don’t know how to explain to you what happened that day,” Mathis said. “I have never felt a manifestation of the Spirit of God like I did in that vehicle that day.”
In the following days, Mathis said, he could not get the idea of the spiritual awakening out of his mind. He and Lunsford began planning for a gathering of 100 pastors at the top of Lunsford’s “Light House Mountain” to pray for revival and awakening.
But 100 pastors quickly turned into 200 who planned to dedicate one day to gather on the mountain and, led by Lunsford, pray for God to move.
But as their plans took shape, the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold. Social distancing requirements made it clear to Mathis, Lunsford and others involved that gathering in person was no longer an option. But, Lunsford said, those 200 pastors who initially committed to the idea were only sparks for a global movement.
“By phone we began to pray with Fred as to what else God would want,” Mathis said.
Lunsford said he believed it was never about gathering 200 preachers atop the mountain, but that God was getting their attention.
“He said, ‘I now believe God wants 10,000 people from wherever they are to join me on that day praying for spiritual awakening in this country,'” Mathis said, recounting Lunsford’s words.
Setting aside May 5 for Lunsford to go alone to the mountain to pray, with others joining him in spirit, Mathis began to reach out to other North Carolina pastors, asking them to encourage their congregations to commit to prayer.
But word of the event spread, and soon Mathis and his team saw over 100,000 individuals pledged to pray on that day.
Working through the Mud Creek Baptist Church website, Mathis’ team created the webpage “Praying on the Mountain”, drawing global attention. The number of those committing to pray has grown each day.
Mathis said the entire experience confirmed his belief that God is working and prayer is powerful.
“It’s made me feel that God truly wants to do something,” Mathis said. “I think God is giving a spiritual awakening through this and many other things, many other prayers.”
Mathis said God is using COVID-19 to call people to Himself and get their attention. “God’s doing something and God’s prompting the hearts of Christians to come together.”
Lunsford said the response has been more than he ever expected.
“It’s been amazing how it’s all happened, what’s taken place,” he said. “It’s beyond my comprehension. I just can’t understand it. It’s all because of His grace. I know this is of God, and on May the 5th something big is going to happen.
“I believe honestly that God is going to do something extraordinary, that will get the attention of people all over the world. I don’t know what it is, but I believe it with all my heart.”
Lunsford said he believes the day of prayer will be a launching pad for something bigger down the road.
“I believe God is moving, and we need to listen,” Lunsford said.
Mud Creek Baptist Church is assembling a documentary on Lunsford’s life and mission, set to be available for free viewing May 17. Watch a preview of the documentary here: