In March 2019 Jesus followers from Baptist churches around the Bay of Plenty (BOP) gathered to pray and fast together, believing together for God to do something miraculous in his church, in this country and in this broken world.
Called a ‘Sacred Hui’, the gathering was prompted by downward trending statistics in the Baptist Year Book. The message went out: “Before we start with vision casting and strategy meetings, setting goals and looking for new programmes, let’s stop and seek God through a united commitment to pray and fast, to discover his heart for the region.”
People from churches across the BOP, from Whakatane and Rotorua to Katikati, attended two combined corporate times of prayer. Friday evening 1st March was a time of reflection, confession, repentance and worship. Prayer stations were set up at Otumoetai Baptist Church that encouraged whole family participation. These included symbolic wearing of sackcloth and ashes, writing confessions and shredding them in a shedder, writing messages in sand, writing prayers, using magnetic letters on a whiteboard to express worship and praise, and much more.
Sunday evening 3rd March we met again at Otumoetai Baptist, this time with prayer stations around the ‘seven mountains of societal influence’: religion, family, education, government, media, arts and entertainment, and business. This also gave opportunity to pray for specific requests from churches in the region. Church groups met together to discuss what they believed the Holy Spirit was saying to them as a result of the time spent locally in his presence. These were then written on bricks and a memorial wall was built. This, too, was designed for cross‑generational participation.
Between these two corporate times, each church was encouraged to fast and pray at their local church, for their fellowship and for the other Baptist churches in our region. Churches did this in different ways, including holding a prayer breakfast or an evening prayer vigil, having prayer stations during a Sunday morning service, or meeting at three mealtimes to pray. The style wasn’t important; that we were joining with our family of churches in this Sacred Hui was the overarching blessing and motivation.
The question has arisen, “Will we do it again?” The answer from many has been a strong, “Yes!”
Story: Russell Embling, Pastor of Katikati Baptist Church