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Chapman urges prayer for national revival; Hemphill introduced as EKG strategist

PHOENIX (BP)–Saying there hasn’t been a national “spiritual awakening” during his lifetime, Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman called on Southern Baptists June 17 to fall on their knees in prayer and ask God to send revival to the nation.

Delivering his Executive Committee report at the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix, Chapman said the convention’s Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative has few program-like plans and little published material. But even at this stage, the initiative asks believers to ask themselves one question: “Am I a Kingdom person?” Being a Kingdom person, Chapman said, involves praying.

Chapman said God has burdened his heart to pray for a national revival.

“I believe that’s what God wants for America,” he said. “I believe that’s what God wants for Southern Baptists.”

Chapman said he believes God “wants Southern Baptists to be the ones on their knees praying” in order that He “might fill us with His fire and with His Holy Spirit in order that something different can happen in [America].”

As part of the unfolding Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative, the North American Mission Board will launch a program in 2004 in which Southern Baptist churches will be praying for other Southern Baptist churches, Chapman announced. By the end of 2004, he said, every church in the convention will have been prayed over by another church.

“I don’t know anything that we need more from our local churches than for our people to be praying,” he said.

But Chapman stressed that a Kingdom focus must begin in the hearts of individuals who are humbling themselves before the Lord. A spiritual awakening, he said, will be marked by holy living, sacrificial service and global witness.

Southern Baptists may have done “so many good things” that they don’t recognize “the need for God to do something supernatural,” Chapman said.

Believers should ask if they have “lost the joy” and if they have “been beaten down,” he said. They should, in turn, pray, “God, give me a passion” and then act on that passion in order to make a difference.

Chapman introduced Kenneth Hemphill, who will become the national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth Aug. 1. Chapman said Hemphill has the “scholarly mind of a theologian, the passion of an evangelist and the heart of a pastor.”

Hemphill said that since announcing his retirement as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, he has been asked why he left a post at the “world’s largest seminary to take another task.”

The answer, he said, is simple: “The will of God and the work of God.”

“That’s it — plain and simple and no other reason, no other excuse,” Hemphill said. “Simply, I had to ask the question, ‘Where do my gifts and my talents suit best the Kingdom of God as He works among the people that I’m a part of — our Southern Baptist Convention?”

Hemphill said he is thankful for the “privilege” of having served at Southwestern and the “opportunity” to serve with Empowering Kingdom Growth.

Addressing the issue of prayer and the Kingdom of God, Hemphill said prayer should be God-focused, not man-focused. In fact, Hemphill said he has had to repent of praying with the focus on himself.

“I began to change my prayer life,” he said.

Believers, Hemphill said, should ask: “Do I spend my life, my time and my energies for the kingdoms of the world and men’s glory or do I spend my resources, my time and my energies for the Kingdom of heaven and my Father’s reward?”

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  • Michael Foust