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‘Lift Up Your Voice’ asks churches to unite in prayer for missionaries

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Churches looking for new ways to support missionaries and deepen their members’ prayer lives can answer a new call to prayer called “Lift Up Your Voice.”

Through this year-long prayer emphasis, Southern Baptist churches are urged to partner with the International Mission Board to pray for missionaries around the world.

The partnership is centered on “Voices of the Faithful,” a new 366-day devotional book by Beth Moore and nearly 300 Southern Baptist missionaries who contributed stories of sacrifice, hardship and joy in spreading the good news.

Lift Up Your Voice encourages individual church members or families to use Voices of the Faithful at home during daily devotional times. Then church groups, with the help of a facilitator’s guide, can meet monthly to pray and discuss what God has been teaching them.

“The mission field is abuzz with excited conversation between missionaries as they anticipate God’s unprecedented movement among the lost as thousands upon thousands of Southern Baptists and other evangelicals begin, perhaps for the first time, to pray regularly for international missionaries and the peoples to whom they minister,” said Ed Cox, director of the board’s International Prayer Strategy office.

“I’m confident that when Christians throughout the nation discover the hearts of missionaries through Voices of the Faithful, they will unite their own hearts in prayer, interceding for missionary needs and their major concerns — the lost peoples of the world,” Cox added.

Ken Winter, director of the IMB’s Church Services Strategic Mobilizers Team, said he already has seen families use the book in their personal devotion times to help them pray specifically for missionaries and people groups around the world.

“Pastors are excited we are offering a tool to help them stimulate their congregations to pray,” said Jerry Daniel, leader of Church and Partnership Services. “Lift Up Your Voice is designed to be accessible to churches of all sizes.”

Some churches have planned to start Lift Up Your Voice in January for a yearlong prayer movement in their churches.

“I highly encourage church leaders to join this nationwide chorus of prayers as we ‘lift up our voices’ in prayer,” Cox said. “My vision for Southern Baptists is that we would be a praying people impacting a lost world. I strongly sense that God is going to use Voices of the Faithful to move us one giant step closer to that reality.”

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, Va., has decided to use the book as part of its prayer meetings for the year 2006, starting in January. Jeff Ginn, pastor of Mount Pleasant, said the church will read through the book during the week and then discuss it during Wednesday night prayer meetings.

“We try to have a real strong missions initiative for our church,” Ginn said. “Hopefully, reading the devotionals will build up prayer support for missionaries.”

Daniel said many Southern Baptists are interested in lessons presented by Moore, whose Bible studies for women have been a big hit for more than a decade. With the help of the book, people can learn about missionaries and learn how to pray for them, he said.

“One of the greatest challenges pastors face is to mobilize people to pray for missionaries on the field,” Winter said. “The partnership is for Southern Baptists to mobilize in intercessory prayer for missionaries serving overseas and for the people groups they serve.”

Pastors who face the challenge of getting church members to pray can use Lift Up Your Voice to motivate them to pray.

“Lift Up Your Voice is a special invitation for your church to lift up hearts, minds and voices in prayer and devotion in support of missionaries and for the lost around the world,” said Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board.

Through their stories, missionaries urge readers to become involved in the work God is doing to expand His kingdom.

“By the time you finish the book, you will have traveled the entire world with [missionaries],” Moore said in the book’s introduction. “I dare you not to fall in love. Whether [you are] called to pray, called to give, called to go on short-term mission trips, two-year mission stints or surrender entirely to career missions, [you are] all called to the nations.”

In January 2006, Moore, Rankin and musician Travis Cottrell will conduct a simulcast for churches already involved in the Lift Up Your Voice call to prayer and to stimulate others to join in praying for overseas missionaries.

Lift Up Your Voice resources include a copy of the Voices of the Faithful book, a small group facilitator’s guide, a poster, a map, bulletin inserts and a companion CD and iWorship DVD from Integrity Music. Starting in January, missionary updates will be available for download as video, featuring missionaries from each month in Voices of the Faithful.

Voices of the Faithful is available for purchase through local retailers and through the International Mission Board at www.voicesofthefaithful.com or (800) 999-3113. Special pricing is available for bulk orders. The planning and facilitator’s guides can be downloaded without charge at www.voicesofthefaithful.com.

    About the Author

  • Jesse Lyautey