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Baptists need to work together to win world for Christ: Fanini

SAN DIEGO (BP)–“Let’s work together to win the world for Jesus Christ,” the president of the Baptist World Alliance challenged Southern Baptist evangelism and church planting leaders Sept. 9.
Nilson Fanini, an evangelist and pastor from Brazil, addressed participants in Reach ’98, a national conference on evangelism and church planting held Sept. 8-11 in San Diego.
In addition to plenary sessions, the conference included more than 75 small-group workshops and a separate Inner-City Evangelism (ICE) Conference. More than 700 individuals in the San Diego area made professions of faith through the ICE conference and “experiential events” that accompanied six of the evangelism workshops.
Fanini said the Baptist World Alliance has as its main goal to make one family of all Baptists around the world. “We should work together to win the world for Jesus Christ. With God all things are possible. The things that are impossible for men are possible for God.”
Fanini encouraged Southern Baptists not to be discouraged, noting many ways he has seen God working around the world. “We have a great God. He is powerful. We have never before had so many open doors as we have today.”
In India, 26,000 came to Christ during one weeklong crusade, he said. In Latin America, lives are being changed by the thousands. And in many formerly communist countries church buildings are once again being used as houses of worship.
Fanini described a scene at one building in Latvia that was returned to the church after being used many years as a gymnasium. Thousands crowded to get inside as the church’s last pastor, who had spent 35 years in Siberia, opened the doors.
“All the Christians came in, kneeling down and kissing the floor, because God gave back to them the building again,” he said. “But do you know what they did? They left the scoreboard on the wall so the younger generation would not forget. I said, ‘Look at the scoreboard: Jesus 100, Devil, 0.’”
Fanini also praised Southern Baptists for their evangelism passion and missions vision. “Don’t lose your mission vision. Don’t lose your evangelism passion. The church must evangelize or die. The church must go out.”
He outlined three things the church needs to win America and Canada for Jesus Christ.
“First, the church needs power — God’s power. The 20th century church is powerless. The power of the Holy Spirit is what the church needs. Prayer is the answer,” said Fanini. “The Bible plus prayer equals sanctification.”
He likened the 20th Century church to a new car. “Suppose you buy a brand new car. You turn the key, but it doesn’t work. You discover the tank is empty. We have so many brand new churches that look like Cadillacs and Mercedes. The pastor turns the key, but the church doesn’t work because it is empty of the oil of the Holy Spirit.”
Secondly, the church needs compassion. “What is compassion?” Fanini asked. “Compassion is crying on the inside for the eternal fate of souls. Do you cry for your children? For your neighbor? For the American people?”
“The first century church had no computer, no fax, no telephone, no radio, no television, no university, no seminary. But with so little they did so much,” he said. Why with so much are we doing so little?”
Thirdly, the church needs commitment. “Commit to the Lord, to his calling, to his church. Commit to your denomination. I am not ashamed to be a Baptist – are you?” he said.
He related a story of a woman in China with cancer who had a chance to go to London for treatment. The Chinese government would only let her go if she left her family behind and if she denied Jesus. She refused to deny her Christ. Three months later she died. “It is so much cheaper to be a Christian in the U.S.”
“Baptists need to work together to win the world for Jesus,” Fanini said. “God is the only one in the whole universe who can do it alone. He doesn’t need us, but he asks us to work with him together.”
“Time is short. Let’s win the world for Jesus Christ. Let’s preach the gospel,” he challenged.

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  • Lynne Jones