2014: The Year to Persevere

Rev. Dimas Salaberrios, president of Concerts of Prayer Greater New York (center), speaks at Movement Day with Matt Bennett, president of Christian Union (left), and Delores Burnett, outreach manager at American Bible Society (right).

For over two two decades, pastors and leaders from the Metro New York area have gathered each January at the Tuscarora Inn and Conference Center in Pennsylvania. They come from cities and boroughs and suburbs to seek the Lord corporately for 48 hours at the Pastor’s Prayer Summit.

It’s cold in January at Tuscarora, located in Mount Bethel, off the scenic and frigid Delaware River. But inside, the fire of the Holy Spirit burns brightly with worship, praise, prayer, and preaching. Hosted by Concerts of Prayer Greater New York, the event helps set the tone for the year as pastors meet with God at the mountain and return home refreshed and filled with vision and hope.

The 23rd Annual Pastor’s Prayer Summit will be held January 27-29 and features Luis Palau, Dr. A.R. Bernard, and Dr. David Ireland. Rev. Dimas Salaberrios, the president of Concerts of Prayer and pastor ofInfinityChurch in theBronx, will be the host.

AtNew York CityLeadershipCenter’s Movement Day in October,Palauand Rev. Salaberrios were on a panel at the prayer track.

“Prayer has always been high on my list,” said Rev. Salaberrios, who leads a 6 a.m. prayer call with his church. “We have to be hungry for God. If God doesn’t empower us, we will be flat. We have to force our sinful flesh to be in the presence of God.”

Palau, calling intercessory prayer “the privilege of every believer,” said we must tarry until the breakthrough comes, giving examples of times he had sought the Lord until he received an answer.

“We have to pray through,” he said.

Matt Bennett, the founder and president of Christian Union, was also on that panel. Christian Union is a leadership development ministry active at Columbia, Cornell,Dartmouth, Harvard,Princeton, Penn, and Yale.

Bennett talked about the need to develop a thirst for prayer and a desire to pursue the Lord passionately as we boldly ask, seek, and knock (Luke 11:9-10). He also said we need to regain the discipline of fasting.

“Fasting strikes fear in some people’s hearts,” Bennett said, “but in the first century, all Christians fasted on Mondays and Wednesdays. If they did this, don’t we need to do the same? This is a normal way of life for men and women who seek after God.”

Prayer and seeking God are paramount at Christian Union. The staff prays together for one hour each morning and ministry fellows pray for another hour with students on campus. Bennett will tell you that this daily practice has enabled the ministry to grow almost exponentially. When Christian Union was launched atPrinceton12 years ago, three students were enrolled in its first Bible course. This year, there are 1,100 students in Christian Union Bible Courses at seven schools. AtPrinceton, a Christian Union-resourced and supported ministry, Princeton Faith and Action, is the largest organization on campus, Christian or secular.

In January, Christian Union is hosting a national 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting initiative.

What about you? Like many pastors, churches, and Christians in our region, have you decided to start the year off with a time of prayer and/or fasting? The Bible says that there is no need to worry or fear; If we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, He will give us everything we need (Matt. 6:33).

There are breakthroughs ahead in 2014 if we will only not give up. However, no one said it would be easy. It seems like every day, more of our religious freedoms are being erased and the Christian worldview is increasingly marginalized. In New York City, the battle over churches having equal access to public schools still rages. InNew Jersey, activists, politicians, and judges are seeking to fast-track same-sex marriage, bypassing the legislative process. And many of our friends, family members, and neighbors don’t have a relationship with Jesus and are missing out on the hope and abundant life He gives.

But we must persevere like Moses did. In prayer, we must continually battle for promised lands and precious people who are held in bondage. Like Moses, we must keep coming back until the victory is won.

In the classic book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, Jim Collins identifies common traits of highly successful organizations. One chapter is entitled “Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith).” In those pages, he writes about the “Stockdale Paradox.” Admiral James Stockdale was a prisoner of war in the “Hanoi Hilton” for eight years during the Vietnam War. After interviewing Stockdale, Collins discovered the paradox that enabled him to be realistic, yet hopeful, and survive the brutal torture.

“I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life,” Stockdale says in Good to Great.

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the brutal facts of your reality, whatever they might be.”

That’s the kind of faith and patience we will need in 2014. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).”

Let’s believe God for great things this year. Let’s pray and seek Him like never before and earnestly believe the words of Galatians 6:9: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Written by Tom Campisi, publisher of Tri-State Voice. Tom welcomes your comments about this article or anything that is happening in the Metro New York Christian community. E-mail him at Tom@Tristatevoice.com.

 

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