Global Day of Prayer coming June 4 to St. Louis
May 16, 2006
ST. LOUIS – African Christians will lead their brothers and sisters in the faith around the world in prayer during the June 4 Global Day of Prayer. Missouri Christians will gather that day at the new Busch Stadium to participate.
“I think it is God working outside of the box,” said Bott Radio Network personality Harold Hendrick, a key organizer of the event and a member of First Baptist Church, Ferguson. “He picked one of the most unlikely sources in the world—great poverty, a lot of strife and problems, just reeking and rampant with the AIDS epidemic—these people, out of that poverty, have come together to pray by the millions on each Pentecost Sunday.
“It’s Africa that’s inviting the rest of the world to join them in prayer on that day. So we think that when God is working in that unusual way, then we would do well to respond and listen to God when He’s trying to show us something that’s maybe non-traditional.”
Hendrick said Southern Baptists can get a better handle on the event by thinking about the elements that go into a typical Billy Graham Crusade. The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) are part of the larger body of Christ, Hendrick reasoned, and therefore ought to be participants in an event that draws attention to the words of Jesus that are written in John 17.
About 3,000 people came last season at the old Busch Stadium. The goal this year is for 10,000 to participate from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. on Pentecost Sunday.
“When Jesus prayed for unity, it was qualified by those who are His,” Hendrick said. “It’s not old-fashioned ecumenicalism, just everybody who’s religious in one blob, it’s the body of Christ—those who are born-again regardless of their stripe.
“We have non-negotiables, where the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, Jesus is the Son of God, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, rose again, is coming back, and He’s the only way we can be saved as we repent and are drawn to Him. Those are the non-negotiables. So many other things are essentially optional as far as being one body.
“In other words, you’re going to have all kinds of preferences, worship styles, denominations, races, ethnic and cultural groups. Those are all peripheral. But Jesus prayed that we would be brought together if we were His—not in one big denomination but as the body of Christ.”
Hendrick emphasized that after the 2006 Global Day of Prayer, four more of these prayer celebrations will be held if the Lord tarries. Come expecting the Holy Spirit in you to bear witness of the Holy Spirit in the man, woman, boy or girl whom you may be sitting next to, Hendrick said.
“In the New Testament there were churches of born-again people in regions,” he explained. “So we are the body of Christ in this region. If you are born again, you are part of the body of Christ. So it is in obedience, and as part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17, that we connect and think of ourselves as one across lines—not abandoning convictions, the rock-solid, non-negotiable aspects of our faith, but coming together as churches as people have for generations in the Billy Graham Crusades.
“As a lifetime Baptist, I would be hopeful that my Baptist brothers and sisters would not miss out on this wonderful experience of recognizing that Jesus has saved people from a lot of different groups. We’ve had missionaries in Africa for two centuries, so we might think of it in many cases as the result of God using our own Southern Baptist missionaries to call us to come pray with them. So this is really the follow-through to the fruits of our mission work, to an extent.”
Believers who are in general agreement with the Lausanne Covenant, an orthodox declaration agreed upon by more than 2,300 churches during the 1974 International Congress to be more intentional about world evangelization, are encouraged to attend.
A 10-day period of repentance and prayer from May 25-June 3 is being emphasized along with 90 days of blessing, from June 5 through Sept. 2, after the event.