Spiritual awakening stirs in hearts of N.C. Baptistsby BSCNC Communications
For months Andy Atkins preached through the book of Romans, his sermon series planned about a year in advance. When it came time to study his text for October he realized he would be preaching on Romans 13:11-14; the same text used as the theme scripture passage for the recent annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC).
Atkins, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Dobson, knew the Lord was speaking to him. His congregation used the “Awaken” prayer guide and committed to praying throughout the month of October for spiritual awakening.
The Lord was already at work in Atkins’ life, and as Atkins experienced a season of conviction, brokenness and renewal, he wanted others to share in the experience.
“Every pastor who experiences revival longs for it to spread into the lives of their church family,” Atkins said. “God is working and we can’t wait to see what He’s going to do in the days ahead.”
Although Fairview is seeing lives transformed by the gospel, Atkins said the natural corollary to spiritual awakening is satanic attacks, and Fairview has not been immune to such attacks.
“We’ve seen more spiritual warfare than we have in a long time. I see people who are being absolutely trampled on,” he said. “If we’re going to cry out for revival, we need to expect spiritual warfare. It can happen in the pews and in the highest levels of leadership.”
Despite the spiritual challenges, God is at work and Atkins expressed gratitude for the Convention’s emphasis on encouraging churches to pray for spiritual awakening.
“We’ve got to wake up and be about the main thing – about the Father’s business,” he said.
Atkins shared that one reason he believes so many churches need spiritual revival is because the focus is no longer on the gospel.
“The only people we envision in our churches are just like us, or who come on our terms and fit our mold. The beauty of the body is the diversity,” he said.
Atkins also spoke to the importance of returning to an emphasis on discipleship. Fairview is still seeing fruit as a result of a lay renewal weekend Bob and Phyllis Foy led at the church six years ago. “We have to teach people from childhood; we have to model discipleship for them,” he said.
Although change may come at a slower pace than what they would like, Atkins encouraged pastors to stay the course and to trust God to answer the prayers of His people.
Bobby Lewis, who pastors Salem Baptist Church in Dobson, has also seen the gospel transform lives as the congregation has returned to a focus on prayer.
“One Sunday in late September I stood to preach, and I just couldn’t get the message out. I felt God impressing on my heart the need for prayer,” he said.
That Sunday, Lewis led the congregation in a time of extended prayer and praise to God. “We began to see the power of God moving in a magnificent way. People are still talking about how it raised our awareness and urgency of the need for spiritual awakening,” he said.
That Sunday, a man in in his 60s came to know Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. “He said that day, as he experienced the power and presence of God, he knew he needed Jesus Christ in his life,” Lewis said.
Since then, others have come to faith in Christ and been baptized.
“Awakening is coming to northwest North Carolina,” Lewis said. “We pray it will touch the nations.”
Marcus Redding, pastor of Hulls Grove Baptist Church in Vale, said God began stirring in his heart during the summer about the need for a return to prayer. As he met with other pastors and Convention leadership, he sensed the Holy Spirit at work.
Redding asked North Carolina Baptists to continue praying for spiritual awakening long after the annual meeting.
“God is calling His people to prayer and fasting; this is not just about a meeting,” he said. “I urge you to call on our King.”