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U.S. must be evangelized anew, BWA president tells students

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)??Baptist World Alliance President Nilson Fanini underscored the urgent need to evangelize the globe, beginning in America, in a Sept. 23 chapel message at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“I think you must win the United States for Christ again,” Fanini told students at the Kansas City, Mo., campus. “Many Americans are ready to go to Africa, to Asia, but they are not ready to win people in their own streets.”
Challenging students to win the world for Christ, Fanini noted the local starting points for the initiative: “Let’s win America for Jesus Christ,” he said. “Let’s win Kansas City for Jesus Christ. Let’s win Missouri for Jesus Christ.”
Fanini has been president of the Baptist World Alliance since 1995. The BWA is a fellowship of 187 Baptist unions and conventions comprising a membership of more than 40 million baptized believers. Fanini, who is also president of the Brazilian Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church, Niteroi, Brazil, will complete his five?year term as BWA president in the year 2000.
The spread of homosexuality, the resurgence of eastern religions and the rapid birth rate are indicators of the need for renewed evangelistic efforts worldwide, Fanini said. In light of these factors, he is challenging churches worldwide to double their membership, to double the attendance in seminaries, to double the number of churches and to double the number of missionaries by the year 2000.
Unity and international cooperation are essential to the task of world evangelization, Fanini said. Just as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit work together, so must Christians, Fanini said.
“God has just one family,” Fanini said. “He doesn’t have four families ?? a yellow family, a red family, a black family, a white family. He has just one family.”
Fanini decried the lack of spiritual fervency in the American church. He compared the American church to a church in Russia where he had preached to the lost inside while believers kneeled in the snow outside to pray. When multitudes responded, Fanini asked God why so many had responded in Russia, while so few respond in America.
“You know what God told me?” Fanini said. “He said, ‘Fanini, here the snow is on the outside. There the snow is inside.'”
Fanini told seminary students that in some churches the problem in evangelism lies not with the congregation, but with the pastor.
“Be careful! Often the problem isn’t in front of the pulpit, it’s behind the pulpit,” Fanini said. “If you have a missionary pastor, you have a missionary church. If you have an evangelistic pastor, you have an evangelistic church. The church is the mirror of the pastor.”

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  • Clinton Wolf