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Prayer for missions boosted via simulcast, testimonies

SAN DIEGO (BP)–“What would happen if we would commit to pray for our missionaries?” best-selling author and speaker Beth Moore asked an audience in San Diego during a live simulcast to hundreds of churches nationwide Jan. 27.

“The Bible says where two or three or more are gathered, Christ is in our midst,” said Moore, who added she has been burdened for worldwide missionaries since her childhood. “But if 10,000 Christians agreed to pray as one people for Christ and the nations, can’t you picture Christ looking over to His Father and saying, ‘Well, would you look at that.'”

Moore was the featured speaker for the live “Lift Up Your Voice … a Call to Prayer” simulcast from the San Diego-area Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon. A key focus of the simulcast was “Voices of the Faithful,” a new book for fostering prayer for missions.

Released by Integrity Publishers, Voices of the Faithful provides 366 devotions by International Mission Board-appointed missionaries who serve around the world. Moore wrote the introduction and the lead-ins to month by-month sections of the devotional book, which was compiled by Kim Davis, a former missionary to South Africa.

The two women met in 2002 when Moore was conducting a retreat for missionaries. They collaborated on the book with the IMB, agreeing that the book’s royalties will be given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

Joining Moore during the simulcast to promote the prayer initiative were Jerry Rankin, IMB president; David Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church and author of several books; and worship leader Travis Cottrell. The simulcast was broadcast by the Church Communication Network.

“[Prayer] is a way every one of us can be on the same page,” said Moore, who annually leads conferences for women missionaries.

Rankin said entire churches are using the book to emphasize missions.

“It’s an excellent resource to challenge churches,” the IMB president said. “People tend to pray for missions generally, but now they can pray more specifically. It is unique. No one I know has been able to read just one devotion a day. Once they start reading the book, they can’t put it down.

“It’s a handle we’ve never had before.”

Ryan Riley, associate pastor of Mount Hermon Baptist Church in Danville, Va., said the simulcast provided solid encouragement for Christian families to pray for missions together. The Virginia church was among more than 70 churches nationwide that opened their doors to the public to view the simulcast.

“We had a lot of families attend, parents and grandparents,” Riley said. “Praying together as a family is a wonderful thing. We all ought to be able to pray for missionaries. I think [families] all came away encouraged on what to pray and how to pray for missions.”

Many were touched by Carrie McDonnall’s testimony during the simulcast. McDonnall, a humanitarian aid worker with the IMB, was critically wounded in Iraq nearly two years ago when insurgents attacked the vehicle in which she was riding. Her husband David and three other workers died from wounds sustained in the attack.

McDonnall, who could not attend the event because of a recent surgery for her injuries, relayed her story via video. She recounted being injured in Iraq and waking up in the hospital to hear the news that her husband of only a year and a half had died in the ambush.

“Her testimony was tremendous,” Riley said. “It’s something [those who attended] could relate to with what is going on right now over there. It’s a real-time event. I think our people were very encouraged by [her story].”

Those involved in the simulcast hope Christians nationwide will realize the importance of praying regularly for missionaries, said Byron Williamson, president and CEO of Integrity Publishers.

“We’re hoping this is a virally infectious spark to get people involved in this important movement,” he said. “It helps us as churches to refocus on missions.”

Prayer is how the Gospel is advanced, said Jeremiah, who traveled to Swaziland last year with 400 members of his church to plant gardens and provide spiritual health.

“It’s not going to happen through technology or our intellectual abilities but only through prayer,” said Jeremiah, who schedules missionary testimonies before each offering during Sunday worship services. “When we pray, God works. We believe God blesses churches that bless missions.”

Many people have begun using Voices of the Faithful in praying for missions, evidenced by sales of 280,000 copies during the first five months of the book’s release. Williamson expects first-year sales to reach half a million.

“It’s amazing no one has thought of this type of devotional before,” he said. He related that 25 percent of the sales are to people in denominations other than Southern Baptist.

“If it’s used as a daily tool, the impact will be significant,” Williamson said. “Pastors will tell pastors and next year we’ll have 10 times the number of churches participating in this focus.”

Moore, bowing on her knees, closed the simulcast in prayer. As thousands of Christians lifted their voices, she asked them to repeat after her: “My Lord, my God, I commit to You that the name of Christ would go into every people group, tribe, tongue and nation.”

Lift Up Your Voice is a year-long partnership between local churches and the International Mission Board to connect with the lessons and inspiration from overseas missions, utilizing the Voices of the Faithful devotional book and support materials from the International Mission Board.
“Voices of the Faithful” (www.voicesofthefaithful.com) can be found at LifeWay bookstores, Wal-Mart and other outlets as well as the International Mission Board via www.resources.imb.org or toll-free 1-800-999-3113. Shawn Hendricks contributed to this story.

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  • Kelli Cottrell