By Mark Proctor
Associate administrator, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
God sings, says the Hebrew prophet Zephaniah, when His children come home. Your Tennessee Baptist Mission Board Conference Center staffs at Carson Springs and Linden Valley have heard those joyful songs thousands of times. But this year those songs will go largely unheard on the English Mountain and the Buffalo River. As a result of the pandemic, most summer events have been cancelled and the silence is deafening. Will you pray with us that the music of restoration and salvation would once again visit us?
The third Sunday of May each year, this year May 17, is set aside for a Day of Prayer for Tennessee Baptist Conference Centers. This year we need those prayers more than ever before. Like our churches, the pandemic has brought unprecedented times to our doorstep at the Conference Centers. A moment of personal prayer, a designated time in Sunday school, and an intentional segment in Sunday’s worship would gather us together at the throne for this tremendous need. Would you join us? We are encouraging three specific points of prayer.
First, please pray as churches reopen that pastors and groups will once again return to the conference centers for rest, encouragement, and a renewed vision from the Lord. We like to say, “you can see forever from the mountain” and, “time stands still on the river” and surely that is true. What better places for Tennessee Baptists to come and be refreshed than their own retreat centers in the Smoky Mountains and in the Buffalo River valley — built by Baptists for Baptists. Pray that staffs will come for planning retreats, that pastors will come for personal sabbaticals and vision planning, and that groups will come for fun and fellowship once again. And pray that joy and hope and peace will be restored among each soul.
Second, pray that all those groups and individuals that have had their events cancelled can and will reschedule as we reopen and move ahead. Over 6,000 of our guests have had their plans altered this year by the pandemic and we want them back. All of them. Our goal is to serve our guests impeccably in irresistible places and our conference centers most certainly are. Those guests are the fuel that drives our ministry. It is time now to refuel and move ahead. Would you pray?
Finally, pray with us that our conference centers’ staffs and leadership will grow richly in skills and hope from the pandemic experience. Moses, in Exodus 18, “told his father-in-law (Jethro)…all the hardship that had come upon them in the way …,”and Jethro, “…rejoiced for all the good that Lord had done…” Moses told the hardship, the more mature Jethro rejoiced in the good. Our desire is that we see with clear eyes the hardship and realities of our situation and still be able to rejoice for the good that has been done through it. We see great things ahead for Tennessee Baptist Conference Centers — changed lives, bigger, better camps and events, deeper discipleship, and revival among God’s people. We see new visions, new facilities, constant changes and constant growth. Your prayers will help us make that happen.
We hear the music. Do you? It is the sound of almighty God moving among the people of Tennessee and we have great concert venues in Carson Springs and Linden Valley in which to listen. Even though the days of hardship are here, we are rejoicing and praying that God will use us in special new ways.
That is the desire of our heart. We are so grateful to be able to share that desire with you and to have your partnership this Sunday. B&R