Adults

Day 6 - Kelly and Brandi Parrish

Day 6 Week of Prayer

Fort Collins, Colorado

The beauty of the Rocky Mountains inspires awe and reverence, but few in northern Colorado know the Creator responsible for the majesty. Church planters Kelly and Brandi Parrish hope to introduce them.

“People in Colorado are highly connected to nature, but they don’t know Jesus,” said Kelly, who pastors Living Rock Church in Fort Collins, located about an hour north of Denver. Home to Colorado State University, Fort Collins is the fourth fastest-  growing community in Colorado. The tech industry draws workers from all over the United States and Asia. The people are highly educated, well off financially, and very independent.

“Tolerance is big,” said Kelly. “The mind-set is ‘You believe what you want to believe; I’ll believe what I want to believe.’ Rarely will people bring up God.”

Jacob and Jessica Dahl

Week of Prayer Day 5

Ellensburg, Washington

When they encounter college students who are cynical about church, North American Mission Board church planters Jacob and Jessica Dahl are not surprised. In fact, they see themselves in those students.

Jessica spent her first two years of college at Washington State University (WSU) believing a career in journalism was her future. An engineering major, Jacob was just as determined to pursue financial and career success. Both surrendered to the Lord during their college years and found authentic Christian community at Resonate Church, a gathering that launched in 2007 with the goal of reaching college students for Christ.

The Dahls met in 2009, graduated soon after, and joined Resonate Church as interns. Both had the idea that God could have a year or two of their lives before they entered the professional world.

“Neither of us saw this as long term,” Jessica said. “We were still telling God, ‘You can have some of our lives, but not all of it.’ ”

Kim and Ron Carr

Week of Prayer Day 4

Jacksonville, Florida

The large refugee population of Jacksonville, Florida, creates a high demand for English as a second language (ESL) programs. The International Learning Center (ILC) led by NAMB Send Relief–ILC national director Kim Carr meets that need daily by investing in the lives of those displaced from their home countries by poverty, war, and persecution.

Carr and her husband, Ron, founded the ministry in 2000, and they officially opened the ILC in 2003. Since then, they have enrolled over 5000 ESL learners representing 108 countries. Often, ILC students have worked as professionals in their home countries yet find few job opportunities in the United States. To help this situation, ILC programs focus on English language acquisition, reading, workplace skills, citizenship classes, and youth tutoring. The ILC’s focus on family is important.

Garth and Patty Leno

Week of Prayer Day 3

Windsor, Ontario

We Love Windsor is an annual three-day event in Windsor, Ontario. Last year, members of The Gathering stood near the warehouse where the church meets and distributed water and soft drinks at one of the busiest intersections in the city. The simple act of kindness is just one of the ways Garth and Patty Leno, church planters with the North American Mission Board, and their church, The Gathering Windsor, seek to engage the largely unchurched population of Ontario’s 10th largest city.

“We try to take advantage of existing opportunities and create some of our own,” said Garth Leno, pastor of The Gathering Windsor. “Every chance we get, we throw a party.”

The Gathering’s first birthday barbecue in May 2015 was an especially popular event, drawing a packed house of 350 people. The celebration included testimonies, baptisms, and afterward, carnival games and food. The first birthday party was so successful, the church did it again in 2016 and attracted an even larger crowd.

James and Natarsha Roberson

Week of Prayer - Day 2

Brooklyn, New York

The Bridge Church in Brooklyn, New York, has incredible diversity and creative talent, which means every day brings new challenges for NAMB church planters James and Natarsha Roberson.

“In this city, people have all types of belief and all types of lifestyles,” said James, pastor of The Bridge Church. “The goal can’t be to just gather a bunch of people who are going to come on Sunday and be in the building. We had to embrace that some will take 7–10 years to come to faith.”

The city presents an interesting ministry environment, and The Bridge Church reflects that. About 75 percent of the church’s 125 or so attendees are single adults in their mid-20s, a comfortable demographic for James, whose background includes many years in college ministry. Most are natives of Brooklyn but grandchildren of immigrants, so ethnically they identify closely with Caribbean, Latino, and Anglo communities that came to America with a strong faith foundation. The problem is that many of their grandparents’ churches worship in their native language rather than English.

A Plentiful Harvest

Week of Prayer Day 1

In Acts 8, we find Philip proclaiming Christ to the lost people of Samaria—a place full of evil. The crowds listened to Philip’s words “with one accord,” and the Holy Spirit broke through the darkness. People were delivered from unclean spirits. They were healed from illness. Even Simon the magician turned to Jesus and was baptized, though there are questions about his sincerity. The Spirit of God swept through Samaria, and Scripture says there was “great joy in that city.” It was a victory for Christ and His kingdom.

The vast missions field of North America is just as dark as long-ago Samaria. Terrible violence and sexual perversion are regular topics on the news. Broken relationships and poverty fragment families. Long the voice of hope in our communities, churches are losing their influence. Approximately 75 percent of Southern Baptist churches in America are plateaued or declining. Many are closing. On average, 17 Southern Baptist churches shut their doors for good every Sunday, leaving underserved and unreached neighborhoods in cities across North America.

How can we respond? Prayer should be at the top of our list.

Engaging, Cultivating, and Investing

theme for 2017 annie armstong easter offering

Reaching the Unchurched in North America

By Carrie Brown McWhorter

The word cooperation suggests an attitude of unity, a sense of harmony and teamwork. “Together for His Kingdom,” this year’s theme for the Week of Prayer for North American Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, emphasizes the cooperative mission of Southern Baptists to pray for missionaries, give to support their work, and go to further the gospel.

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) estimates 259 million people in the United States and Canada do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. Researchers are finding a growing spiritual apathy among the unchurched. A June 2016 study by LifeWay Research found that few think about what happens after they die and only a third of respondents said they would go to a worship service, even if invited by a friend.

If the unchurched are willing to visit a service, there might not be a church trying to reach them. According to NAMB, only one Southern Baptist congregation exists for every 6,828 people in North America.

Seek with All Your Heart

We have been thinking a lot about time this month—managing time and investing time in relationships. Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is a time for everything. Sometimes I wonder: Really? Is there really time for everything we need to do and everything God wants us to do? I don’t know about you, but for me it is a huge challenge!

OK, but if it comes from God’s Word, then we know it’s true, right? But how? Psalm 139:16 says God has our days planned. Ephesians 2:10 says that there are works prepared in advance for us to do. In Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NIV), God says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” He continues to say that with these plans in place, “then you will call on me and come and pray to me. . . . You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Beautiful.

Maybe the amazing fact that God knows us and that He has plans for our days and our time are what can bring us to know Him more—not simply to know His plans but to know Him. Maybe we can learn how to seek not only answers for our questions but also Him.

Habitat for Humanity: Every House Is Built by Someone

“This isn’t a story about doing good,” Joyce Daugherty said of volunteering, along with husband Bob, with Habitat for Humanity (HFH). “This is really an account of our willingness to be available. It is about living by faith.”

It all started while visiting their daughter at Baylor University in Texas, where they saw a house being built on a flatbed truck. Their daughter said the students were building it in their spare time for HFH.

HFH was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller after visiting Clarence Jordan at Koinonia Farm near Americus, Georgia. During their stay, the Fullers and Jordan developed the concept of “partnership housing,” where those needing housing would work alongside volunteers to build simple but decent housing, and in 1976, HFH was born. Since then, 6.8 million people have found stability with “safe, decent and affordable shelter.”

Breaking Down Walls and Building Relationships

A circle of friends surrounds Melissa* and lays hands on her shoulders as they pray for her healing from breast cancer. Deborah squeezes Melissa’s arm in encouragement and to remind Melissa that she’s not alone.

Melissa and her family attend Harvest Church at Anthem, which Deborah Bishop and her husband, Mike, planted in Florence, Arizona. She had not been attending the church for very long before she received the cancer diagnosis.

“Melissa has said more than once how thankful she and her family are that God brought them to our church because of the love and support they have received,” said Deborah, a North American Mission Board church planter. “They love hearing the Word of God preached each week and she says that it always speaks to her and her family.”

Recently Melissa’s cancer went into remission.

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