PHOENIX (BP) — Southern Baptists will meet in Phoenix for the 2017 annual convention on June 13-14. A citywide evangelistic outreach known as Crossover is organized every year before the convention. This year, on Sunday night, June 11, evangelist Greg Laurie with Harvest America will be preaching the Gospel at the University of Phoenix Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals football team.
Crossover Arizona is a wonderful opportunity, even now, for us to begin praying for the thousands of people who will gather to hear the life-transforming message of Christ in Phoenix and streamed around the world. Our prayers along with the proclamation of the Gospel have tremendous power to advance God’s Kingdom.
It has been said that prayer without evangelism lends itself to mysticism, and evangelism without prayer lends itself to presumption. Prayer without Gospel proclamation and Gospel proclamation without prayer is akin to a boxer trying to fight with one hand tied behind his back. Two hands working in harmony are so much more effective.
Prayer by itself packs a powerful punch. The Gospel by itself is powerful as well. But God desires these two spiritual weapons to function simultaneously. Prayer and Gospel proclamation unleashed together on the battlefield for men’s souls is a divinely volatile mix, capable of “demolishing arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
I had the privilege of witnessing the one-two punch of prayer and the Gospel in Argentina during a weeklong evangelistic campaign. The evangelist preached on an elevated platform, about 10 feet high. This made the preacher more visible to the vast crowd. But there was a more important reason for the elevated platform. Underneath, more than 100 intercessors were raising their voices to God.
Well before the first worship song, and all the way through to the altar call, we prayed for the salvation of those who heard the message. We were invisible to the crowd but very visible to God. I’ll never forget the palpable presence of God under that platform and in the lives of those who responded to the Gospel — many hundreds gave their lives to Christ.
In Phoenix, on the night of June 11 there might not be an army of intercessors under the platform. Instead, they will be spread around the city and state and probably even spread throughout the stands at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
The last time this stadium figured so prominently in the national spotlight was during the 2015 Super Bowl. You might remember that game. The Patriots snatched victory from the jaws of certain defeat when, on the last play of the game and with less than a minute to play, they intercepted the ball on the one yard line. An improbable victory was wrestled from the hands of the adversary.
The event scheduled for June 11 in that very same stadium will not be a football game. But make no mistake. It will certainly be a contest, a battle and an intense spiritual struggle. And the spoils of victory are astronomically more important than a mere trophy. The eternal destinies of thousands of people will hang in the balance.
We will pray and the message will be proclaimed. It will be a message about the Victorious One who, by all appearances, had been defeated. The adversary’s game plan appeared to have carried the day. He had run out the clock, it seemed. The Son of God hung dead upon the cross, and there was no hope.
But God is the keeper of the clock, and He is very adept at intercepting the adversary’s schemes. On the third day the Victorious One — the crucified, dead and buried one — rose from the dead, turning apparent defeat into glorious victory for all who believe in Him.
This message is too important to neglect in prayer. Jesus is the hope of Phoenix, the nation and the world. Let’s begin to pray today that on the evening of June 11 the proclamation of the cross over Phoenix transforms lives around the world.