Prayer plea for Syrian, Iraqi Christians voiced by Floyd

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd added the crisis in Iraq and Syria alongside his continuing plea for prayer for spiritual awakening when he delivered his first address to the SBC Executive Committee Monday (Sept. 22) in Nashville.

"Perhaps you know or maybe you don't, but currently in Iraq and Syria we are witnessing a once-in-a-thousand-year destruction of the Christian church. A modern book of martyrs is being written," Floyd said. "We need to elevate before our churches the international crisis in Iraq and Syria."

Floyd's call for prayer came hours before news broke of airstrikes by combined United States and Arab forces against ISIS strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

"Pray every day for these brothers. Pray the prayer of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:2, that God might deliver them from wicked and evil men," Floyd encouraged Executive Committee members. "Call upon your church to pray even this Sunday about it.

"Pastors and Christian leaders, educate yourself and speak up on behalf of these brothers and sisters in your churches and on social media. Don't let the world ignore this. I call upon each of us tonight as Southern Baptists to be a voice that resounds loudly and clearly about this issue."

In advance of the SBC annual World Hunger Sunday Oct. 12, Floyd urged financial support of Global Hunger Relief and Baptist Global Response initiatives which aid persecuted and displaced Christians globally.

The crisis in Syria and Iraq is more extreme than many realize, Floyd said, describing ISIS as demonic evil aimed at a brutal genocide and Christian holocaust.

"Just three days ago, I was invited to a confidential briefing with 40 global Christian leaders. What I learned on that call was that the situation in Iraq and Syria is even worse than any of us have imagined," Floyd said. "Christian children have been beheaded, Christians are being cut in half, Christian women are being raped and trafficked by the thousands, and more than 500,000 Christians in Iraq alone have been displaced."

Since taking office in June, Floyd has consistently urged Southern Baptists to pray for spiritual awakening and revival. He continued his plea in speaking to the Executive Committee.

"We need to believe God for the next Great Awakening. We cannot fix ourselves," said Floyd, longtime senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. "Most of us know history relating to the awakenings of the past, but however you want to describe it, we need a mighty move of God in this nation like none of us have ever seen."

Romans 13:11 and 1 Chronicles 12:32 both exhort Christians to know and respond appropriately to the times, Floyd said, in regard to the world's current ills.

"We are so blessed that sovereign God has chosen us to live at this point in human history, in this decisive and critical season," Floyd said, "and we must rise up and be more responsive than we have ever been."

The SBC has experienced many transitions since its founding in 1845 and cannot conduct itself with "ancient systems in modern times," Floyd said.

"These days call us to faith, to believing God for the impossible, and to change not once, not twice, but perpetually in order to be able to be positioned continually as a denomination to reach the world for Christ," he said.

"We must be willing to die to ourselves, die to our preferences, die to our disagreements, die to our biases and prejudices, and be willing to die to our ways, practices and actions that may prohibit God's power upon us from reaching the world for Christ."

In order to believe God for the next Great Awakening, Christians must agree that revival is needed, become extraordinary in their prayer lives and enlist thousands more to pray for revival.

Unity, agreement and cooperation were prevailing themes of Floyd's address. He urged Southern Baptists to take seven steps in response toward revival. In addition to praying for Iraq and Syria and praying for a Great Awakening, Floyd urged Southern Baptists to come together in unity, recapture what it means to cooperate together, elevate the needs and values of the SBC Cooperative Program, recommit to personal and church evangelism, and attend the annual meeting June 16-17 in Columbus, Ohio.

Floyd announced the new website www.pray4awakening.com as a tool to mobilize Southern Baptists in prayer.

"Extraordinary prayer is more than you are doing today personally, more than our churches are doing today, and more than our convention is doing today," Floyd said. "We need to call out to God with great urgency, with a firm conviction, that revival and spiritual awakening is our great need. Therefore, we will not stop crying out to God until God brings it to us."

During his presidency, Floyd said he already has heard from Southern Baptist leaders a sense of desperation and urgency for God to "fall down upon His people with fresh power and with fresh fire from heaven."

He said he has conducted conference calls with Southern Baptist leaders including student, collegiate, young adult and education pastors to strategize for personal and church evangelism across the nation.

"Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, these are days of crisis, urgency and opportunity. We must increase our pace in all we do. We need our own holy version of a hurry up, no huddle offense in fulfilling the Great Commission," he said, referencing the coaching strategy of Gus Malzahn, head football coach of the Auburn University Tigers.

"We will only do this when we work together in this urgent moment, to pray more than ever, to unify more than ever, to cooperate more than ever, to give more than ever, to be more courageous than ever, and to commit ourselves more than ever to finish the task of reaching the world for Christ."

Diana Chandler is general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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