TACOMA, Wash. (BP)–Thick fog didn’t stop about 150 members of Tacoma First Baptist Church in Washington from their pre-dawn prayer meeting Oct. 5.
This day, they focused much of their intercessory prayer on “The Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for Evangelism” and Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch.
“Few things encourage me more than to know people are praying for me,” Welch said.
Pastors and laypeople all along his 50-state Everyone Can tour have assured Welch of their prayers for his emphasis on winning people to Christ and baptizing them into the membership of a local church.
“Many people are also praying for our safety,” Welch told Baptist Press. “I’m aware of one nationwide prayer vigil that included highways on the bus route,” he said of Southern Baptists across the United States who have driven and prayed over every road on his bus tour itinerary.
“The great revivals of Christian history were preceded by fervent and sincere prayer,” Welch reminded. “Acts, chapter 1, records that prayer preceded the Day of Pentecost and thousands of changed lives resulted.”
In his penchant for briefly deviating from his usual remarks at each Everyone Can rally, Welch told his Tacoma audience that God, heaven and even hell generate evangelistic behavior.
“Because he loved the world, God the Father sent His Son,” Welch began. Love sent Jesus Christ to the cross to die and the Holy Spirit expresses compassion toward sinners by calling them to Christ, he continued, noting also that there is rejoicing in heaven when someone becomes a Christian.
Welch then stunned his listeners when he spoke of evangelism from hell, referring to the parable Jesus taught concerning the rich man and poor man. Welch recalled that the rich man pleaded from hell that someone be sent to his family to warn them about his eternal plight.
“If God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit cares so much about lost people, and if there is celebration in heaven for new Christians as well as lamentation from hell for non-Christians, then why don’t we care?” Welch asked. “Why don’t we care?”
Compassion can ebb away over a period of years but can be regained in a matter of moments: “My grandma’s wood-burning stove taught me that,” Welch said. “If I wanted to stay warm, I needed to stay near the fire.”
If Southern Baptists would care and engage in serious prayer for lost people, Welch said he believes God will send revival to the SBC.
“Our convention’s fortune and future are found in one of our campaign’s catchphrases: ‘Witness, Win and Baptize ONE MILLION!” Welch said.
“However, while our fortune and future should be important to us, they shouldn’t be more important than the millions of lost people around us,” he said.
The number of lost people is not an impersonal statistic, Welch said, but they represent “our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, neighbors and co-workers.
“We love these people, don’t we?” Welch asked. “If we do, then we’ll tell them about Jesus.”