This spring, Sharon and I have been on the road to pray with people at Missouri’s county courthouses. It has been an amazing journey to 41 county courthouses where we prayed with some of Missouri’s finest saints. Our goal is all 114 county courthouses and the City of St. Louis.
The gatherings were primarily Baptist in composition, but some other evangelical groups participated in the local prayer gatherings. Joining us were county commissioners, assessors, collectors, sheriffs, mayors, educators, state and national representatives, business men and women.
In most counties, we all stood on the lawn in front of the courthouse to call upon the Lord. Some counties have gazebos and those made for a great gathering place. In most counties, the courthouse square is a center of activity all day long. When people would drive by, it was often funny to watch them do a double-take to see what a group of people was doing in their town on the courthouse lawn.
The size of our groups has varied from small to large. It kinda reminds me about the composition of Missouri Baptist churches. Our churches are small and large and everything in between. No matter the size, we have a great and mighty God who invites us to pray and to seek His face. We seek to be faithful to call upon Him. We desperately need Him. Our churches desperately need the Lord to reign over His people. Our communities need the Lord to heal the brokenness exhibited by lawlessness, rebellion, and blatant wickedness.
What have we experienced this spring? I have lots of stories about great people on mission with our God in our counties across this great state. Here are a few things that were obvious this spring:
Gratefulness for our freedom. At times, we experienced an overwhelming sense of thankfulness for our freedom. Unlike many nations around the world, we were able to pray on the public square in the mighty name of Jesus. We talked about jurisdictional leadership and called for godly leaders to serve the different spheres of life. We expressed our gratefulness for those who founded our nation on godly principles and voiced our thankfulness for those in the military who helped secure our freedoms.
Tears over the brokenness. Every person present knew of someone who was caught up in drug abuse, primarily opioid and alcohol. We talked about the families torn apart by these. As we prayed, we grieved over the children caught in the web of foster care because of their parents’ choices. We expressed gratefulness that many Missouri Baptists are working with our Missouri Baptist Children’s Home to provide training and help through our local churches for these troubled children.
We are a broken culture with problems too big for one person or one organization to fix. The primary need is for men and women to surrender their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. If we start on our knees with humble hearts, it will be amazing what our God will do.
At one of the prayer meetings, I began to hear the sound of raindrops falling. I looked up to see if it was about to be more than just a sprinkle of rain. I heard the gentleman next to me. He sniffed. Then I realized that part of what I heard was not raindrops but this man’s tears dripping off of his face and onto the sidewalk. The pathway for an outpouring of God’s Spirit is paved with the tears from a broken heart.
Calling on the Lord is the beginning, not the end of our engagement. God wills us to call upon Him. Prayer is foundational to all we do. I’m constantly reminded that our God is so mighty that He can do in one moment what it would take us a hundred lifetimes to do.
While praying across the southern counties, we also met many volunteers from several states serving the Lord with those devastated by the flood waters. We saw godly people wearing yellow Disaster Relief shirts dragging nasty debris out of the houses and doing so in the name of Jesus. John King, pastor of FBC West Plains, says that the color of love for some people is red or pink, but the color of love for him is yellow—Disaster Relief yellow. Because God’s people were praying and because God’s people are serving, mighty things happen.
One of the men who was flooded out in Neosho and sheltered at Calvary Baptist Church asked if he could go out with the DR team from Texas. He wanted to go help clean up the debris. He worked all day with the Texas volunteers. That evening when the team came in for dinner, he asked some questions and an astute volunteer seized the opportunity to lead the man to faith in Christ. The Sunday following, the man came to Calvary and publicly surrendered his life to Christ and is a candidate for baptism and future discipleship.
We aren’t finished yet. We have 60+ counties to go. As our Pray Across Missouri team travels from one location to another location (usually four a day), we’d take a lunch and dinner break at a local establishment. We’ve intentionally avoided the chain establishments. If the restaurant menu claimed to make them, Sharon ordered fried pickles. She is looking for the best fried pickles in the state. Consequently, the MBC state missionary who coordinates the “Pray Across Missouri” initiative, Spencer Hutson, gave us a nickname, “The Fried Pickle Tour.”
We are finished this spring but will start again in the fall. Join us when we come to your county. Watch The Pathway and the “Pray Across Missouri” Facebook page for details.