Somewhere east of Avignon she prays, “Seigneur, bénis ton église alors qu’elle se réunit pour la session de la Conférence Générale.”
Near a church south of São Paulo he pleads, “Senhor, que Tua Igreja seja abençoada enquanto se reúne para a Assembleia da Associação Geral.”
From a basement near Kharkiv a family lifts an evening prayer: “Господи, благослови Твою церкву, коли вона збирається на сесію Генеральної конференції.”
In a storefront south of Veracruz believers linger on their knees: “Señor, bendice a tu iglesia al reunirse para el congreso de la Asociación General.”
Among his cattle near Arusha, a prayer warrior intercedes: “Bwana, libariki kanisa lako linapokusanyika kwa Kikao cha Konferensi Kuu.”
On a fourteenth floor above Pusan, a mother whispers with her child: “주님,Ê대총회Ê총회를Ê위해Ê모이는Ê당신의Ê교회를Ê축복해Ê주시옵소서.”
As hundreds traveled to St. Louis, many voices reached to heaven: “Lord, bless your church as it gathers for the General Conference Session.”
It is an awesome thing to be the object of a praying church. It clarifies: it focuses our thought. It challenges us to rise above whatever pettiness we own. The prayers of millions bring both joy and solemn obligation.
Just now, the delegates to the 61st General Conference Session have arrived in St. Louis, Missouri or made plans to join the Session virtually. Their hopes, their goals, are as varied as the great diversity of believers they represent around the globe.
Some have traveled from regions where Adventism is powerfully successful, where rapid growth and cultural awareness have given believers sturdy confidence.
Others represent those places where the gospel moves in single digits, winning one or two or five, but rarely knowing popular acclaim.
Some arriving in St. Louis speak of hardship, pain, and challenge, where resources are scarce and laborers are few.
Others talk of building programs, campus expansions, and new degree offerings at Adventist universities and colleges.
All these—and more—are being prayed for day by day and hour by hour: “From such a rich diversity, Lord shape the unity we need.”
We are not asking for anything impossible, or for something God is reluctant to give. The book of Acts reminds us that the unity for which Christ prayed sometimes requires hours, days, weeks, months, or years. Thus the consensus reported in Acts 15 from the young church’s first council emerged under the guiding of the Spirit in conversations—even arguments—about the best course for the church to take.
The welding of so many different minds and different experiences of faith will be much like every other welding job. There is going to be some heat and some friction if the bond is going to last. There will likely be some tension and some passion if this movement learns to forge a bond that world-weight can rest upon.
Delegates are learning to align their lives and conversations with the millions who are praying that something not on the published agenda will occur—that hearts will be humbled; that pride will recede; that graciousness and trust will overcome our all-too-frequent celebrations of ourselves. At minimum, I shouldn’t frustrate the righteous prayers of thousands of believers pleading with God that I will be thoughtful, kind, and respectful.
Our awareness of so many praying people moves us toward a wiser, kinder gathering—a place where wounds begin to heal, and trust extends a gentle hand.
To all who now are praying, hear our heartfelt gratitude.
To all who now are being interceded for, let’s live to honor their requests.