College students focus of Jan. 22 meeting
A pastor in Southern Illinois is calling Christians across the state to meet together this month to pray and fast for spiritual awakening among the more than 850,000 college students in Illinois.
Phil Nelson, pastor of Lakeland Baptist Church in Carbondale, sent a letter to Illinois Baptist churches late last year, urging churches toward increased prayer for and involvement on college campuses.
“In 1985 when I came as a campus pastor to Southern Illinois University, we had over 1,000 students that claimed to be associated with a Baptist church in Illinois, but just four years ago our list from the university of students who claimed an association with a Baptist church was less than 50,” Nelson wrote.
“In a state where over 850,000 are enrolled in college work we have very few viable ministries to our American students. This cannot be our position any longer for the sake of the Gospel in the lives of our children and young adults.”
Nelson said the idea for the prayer meetings began to take shape at the 2015 IBSA Annual Meeting, where he connected with potential host pastors. Four churches so far have committed to host a prayer meeting on January 22, and there is still time for more to sign on, Nelson said. The four sites currently are:
• Evanston Baptist Church, Evanston
• College Avenue Baptist Church, Normal
• First Baptist Church, Bethalto
• Stonefort Missionary Baptist Church, Stonefort
Each meeting will begin at 9 p.m. and end at 6 the next morning. Each hour of prayer is divided into several segments and will include times of group prayer, worship and fellowship. Pray-ers are invited to come and go, Nelson said.
The format is based on a prayer gathering he attended in 1976, shortly after he became a Christian as a college student at Southern Illinois University. That meeting “changed the campus make-up at Carbondale,” Nelson told the Illinois Baptist. He shared more about the experience in his letter to churches:
“I participated in an all-night prayer meeting where many evangelical campus ministries came together to pray and fast throughout the night and ask God to bring an awakening on our campus,” Nelson wrote.
“That spring we saw many students in every ministry come to trust Christ and many of those who trusted Christ are now still spread across this globe in active evangelical ministries to this day.”
For more information about the January 22 prayer meetings, contact Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (618) 529-4906.