"This is a call to pray. There's no other answer," Fort said at the PrayerLink 2013 annual meeting in Nashville Oct. 10-12. "There's no other person going to come riding in on a white horse and save the day. The Republicans aren't going to save the day. The Democrats aren't going to save the day. A new independent party isn't going to save the day. This is something that only God Himself ... will fix."
Fort, International Mission Board senior vice president for prayer mobilization and training, briefed the 20 PrayerLink members in attendance on the IMB's new School of Prayer for All Nations (SPAN) that immerses 10-15 people in an intensive week of prayer and Bible study at IMB's International Learning Center near Richmond, Va.
"What is the need of the hour?" Fort asked the group. "You are the spiritual watchmen.... You stand between the people of God and the nation and God Himself. What is the need of the hour? I just became convinced that … there's no answer except prayer. There's nowhere else to go. You can't program your way out of this. You can't manipulate your way out of this. You can't motivate people out of this."
PrayerLink, comprised of representatives from cooperating Baptist state conventions, the Canadian National Baptist Convention and the ministry entities of the Southern Baptist Convention, promotes and facilitates a renewed prayer emphasis among churches. SPAN, one of many resources available to churches, will offer sessions Oct. 28-Nov. 1, Dec. 2-6 and several dates in 2014.
Southern Baptists in the U.S. trail other nations in mobilizing Baptist missionaries, and only prayer will change that reality, said Fort, a career missionary before joining IMB's administrative team in 2004.
"This is what's deeply disturbing in my heart as I've come forward to lead our overseas office in global strategy," Fort said. "Our field leaders have said, 'Gordon if we could mobilize 8,000 missionaries, we could address every single unreached, unengaged people group.' Everyone in the world who has never had a witness could get a witness.
"And we could stay healthy and strong in the places where we have a foothold and are sharing the Gospel so that the Gospel can find root," Fort continued. "And the church could bear fruit and we could then advance into the areas where there's no witness and, in our lifetime, we could see literally every language, people, tribe and nation engaged with the Gospel."
IMB has nearly 5,000 missionaries in the field. Part of the reason Southern Baptists are not able to mobilize more workers is because they are battling moral depravity at home, Fort said.
"If you look at the condition of the church locally, if the manifest presence of God is not being experienced, then of course this would be no surprise to anyone here," Fort said. "Why would we export such mediocre Christianity?"
Fort noted, "It begins in church life. If members are transformed, you would see the impact of salt and light in the community and in the nation.
"Who really has the responsibility? I don't expect a secular government to save the day. Do you?"
In three days of meetings, PrayerLink crafted a three-point agenda for 2014.
-- "Seek God: Recognizing that our only hope is a God-given spiritual awakening, we acknowledge God is calling His people to repent and seek Him through wholehearted love, righteous living and fervent, united, Kingdom-focused prayer."
-- "Elevate prayer: Furthermore, recognizing that prayer is essential for personal, corporate, community, national and global spiritual transformation, we recommend the SBC entity members of PrayerLink develop a digital resource center for churches to access the many prayer tools available from PrayerLink members."
-- "Pledge cooperation: PrayerLink, in cooperation with associations, state conventions, the SBC entities and other Great Commission partners, pledges itself as a co-laborer to assist churches in mobilizing God-initiated, Kingdom-focused prayer."
The meeting included Bible teaching, small-group prayer, worship and prayerwalks through downtown Nashville, the SBC Building and LifeWay Christian Resources facilities.
PrayerLink will hold its 2014 session Oct. 8-10 in Denver, followed by an After-Glow Prayer Emphasis, Oct.10-12 in that city. Ron Clement, team leader for church enrichment and evangelism of the Colorado Baptist General Convention, will host the sessions.
Clement was among eight individuals chosen for PrayerLink's 2014 leadership team, also including Chris Schofield of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina; Connie Dixon of the New Mexico Baptist Convention; Mike Jackson of the Alabama Baptist Convention; Gary Frost, vice president of NAMB's Midwest Region; Eddie Cox, director of IMB's Office of Global Prayer Strategy; Claude King, LifeWay discipleship and adult ministry specialist; and Roger S. Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations with the SBC Executive Committee.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' staff writer. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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