Week of Prayer for North American Missions

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.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Garth and Patty Leno

On February 10, The Gathering Windsor helped some very special members of its community make lifetime memories when the church hosted Night to Shine, a prom night experience for people with special needs.

Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, Night to Shine is centered on God’s love, which made it an ideal outreach event for The Gathering, whose mission is to bring glory to God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In a Facebook post, Pastor Garth Leno wrote that the church was “praying that God [would] empower our planning team to create an unforgettable event that will make every participant feel like a King or a Queen for the night.”

The event held special meaning for Leno and his wife, Patty, as their 30-year-old daughter, Jamie, attended Night to Shine—her first prom. The event was a significant opportunity for the church as well, Leno said.

Teaching Preschoolers to Help Others and to Give

child on bike

During the months of March and April, Southern Baptists will focus on giving to North American missions through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. We will focus on praying for North American missions during the Week of Prayer, March 5–12. For Mission Friends®, our March unit will serve as the North American Mission Study.

Our focus on North American missions provides a natural opportunity for Mission Friends leaders to teach preschoolers that we are never too young to be on mission with God! Two resources that can deepen your preschoolers’ understanding of the missional lifestyle are I Can Give  and I Can Do It! 

The Faith Still Stands

My friends Diana and John Lewis served faithfully as your North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionaries. John was a palliative care chaplain. Diana served as a church and community ministries missionary. They were featured week of prayer missionaries in the spring of 2007. Diana remembers vividly the very day millions prayed for them. John had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Hospital tests on that day would reveal the extensive cancer that would take John’s life three short months later.

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