SBC Life Articles

Week of Prayer: A Long Standing Tradition

A Vietnamese church planter in suburban Vancouver, B.C., struggling to reach those of his own nationality in one of the most international cities in the world.

The director of an inner-city missions center and church in Waterbury, Ct., celebrating the diversity of his community through neighborhood programs and worship services.

These are just two of the more than 5,000 missionaries who carry out the work of the Great Commission with the support of the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

In a tradition that dates back to 1895, Southern Baptists will place special emphasis on the contributions of these servants this spring through The Week of Prayer for North American Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

Long a supporter of missions, Annie Armstrong founded Woman's Missionary Union in 1888 and served eighteen years as corresponding secretary for the organization. In 1895, Armstrong and other WMU leaders designated the third week in March as a time of special prayer for the Home Mission Board. Since that year, Southern Baptists have observed an annual Week of Prayer for Home Missions and taken a special domestic missions offering. The offering was named in honor of Armstrong in 1934 and the Week of Prayer for North American Missions is now the first week of March every year.

The 1998 national goal for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is $42 million. The Offering makes up 38 percent of the agency's budget, and all of the offering dollars are committed to supporting missionaries serving on the field and cooperative work with state conventions.

Southern Baptists are able to magnify the impact of their contributions to missions through the cooperative networks that have been developed with churches, associations, and state conventions to fund the missionaries. In some cases, the contribution by NAMB is relatively small but enough to make a particular work possible in cooperation with local churches, associations, and state conventions. In other cases, particularly in areas where Southern Baptists are not as strong, most of the support is funded directly by NAMB dollars.

But the Week of Prayer is about much more than paying the bills. The contribution of prayer can be made by everyone, and it is the one aspect of the emphasis on home missions that can have priceless results. Missionaries struggle daily with obstacles that seem insurmountable, but God continues to act on the prayers of His people in the lives of missionaries.

The Week of Prayer for North American Missions is March 1-8, 1998, and eight home missionaries are featured for prayer support. The field includes the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Guam, and American Samoa. Home missionaries are ordinary people seeking extraordinary ways to demonstrate Christ's love. They have names, families, and needs; and they get tired, just like anyone else. They need prayer and financial support.

March 1 Valerie and Hylan Carter serve through a Baptist Center in Richmond, Va. They conduct social and spiritual programs including food, clothing and support groups to help drug addicts and abuse victims. "God has called me to help people move toward independence in personal living, avoiding dependence on government programs," said Valerie. "And he has called me to encourage them toward spiritual maturity."

March 2 Emory and Beverly Lussi minister in Star Valley, Wyo., one of two areas given top priority for evangelism by the Wyoming convention. Emory is pastor of a newly constituted church in the heart of a Mormon farming community. The church, which averages eighty on Sunday morning, is hoped to be the first of four new starts in the fifty-mile-long valley.

March 3 Waterbury Baptist Ministries in Waterbury, Conn., is a church/weekday ministry center with a forty-two-member congregation. The community is an ethnic mix of African-American, Jamaican, Anglo, French, and Puerto Rican residents. Maner and Rhonie Black-Tyson have been in Connecticut for five years and rely on volunteers to staff the center. Amy Reed is also serving in Waterbury as a US-2 missionary. She helps Maner with the day-to-day center activities.

March 4 Tommy Thomas is associational missionary for the River Valley Association in Kingman, Ariz. He and his wife, Laura, are involved in starting a resort ministry in the RV communities springing up along the banks of the Colorado River in western Arizona. Tommy's primary emphasis is church planting.

March 5 David Nguyen serves as pastor of a small Vietnamese congregation in Vancouver, B.C., a highly international community in which the largest Baptist church in Chinese and multiculturalism is celebrated. Nguyen and his wife, Truc, started God's Grace Vietnamese Baptist Church in his father's home in suburban Vancouver, and now meet on Sunday afternoons at the sponsoring English-speaking congregation. On Friday nights, they gather for Bible study in homes.

March 6 From Christmas to Easter, Fred and Marsha Weatherly conduct worship services on the slopes of two ski resorts near Mammoth Lakes, Calif. From mid-June to Labor Day, their ministry shifts to outdoor worship services with vacationers at Lake Mary. Fred also serves as pastor of High Sierra Christian Church, and as chaplain for the Eastern Sierra Passage Lodge, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.

March 7 Randy and Kitt Johnson ride the Florida Junior Rodeo and Florida High School Rodeo circuits. Randy serves as a chaplain for the two rodeo associations. The couple also attends horse shows and statewide rodeos where Randy conducts worship services and Kitt performs music and drama.

March 8 In the midst of inner-city strife and chaos, Baptist Mission Centers are seeking to transform the community. In Houston, Texas, Dorcas and Emerson Byrd are co-administrators of Baptist Mission Centers, three weekday ministry centers which address the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of the community. "We are introducing individuals to the transforming power of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ," said Dorcas. "That's the power that brings abundant life."

    About the Author

  • Lynne Jones