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The General Superintendent speaks: ‘A wake-up call’

The tragic attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have caused millions of Americans to reexamine priorities and take inventory of their spiritual lives. Many have turned to the church for answers. Congregations have reported record attendance and political leaders have openly called citizens to prayer. Some believe the attacks are God’s judgment for America’s sin. But, let me suggest that God has a much larger perspective.

Certainly this is a time to repent of our sins as individuals and as a nation. We must cry out to God for mercy according to 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (NIV).

But we should also remember that the Bible focuses much more on God’s efforts to save the lost than it dwells on the judgment of the wicked. This is an ideal time to share Christ’s love with friends and family members. The Holy Spirit is preparing their hearts to receive salvation.

Many backsliders are searching for a path back to Jesus. Let me encourage you to show them the way to eternal life.

God desires to unleash His mercy through the church and individuals like you and me. The church cannot proceed with a business-as-usual attitude. We cannot conduct church services that are so programmed that they’re absent of the Spirit’s power. The lives of men and women are at stake. One wonders how many of those working in the World Trade Center and in the Pentagon were in church the Sunday before the attack, but did not hear an adequate presentation of the gospel. How many were not given an opportunity to repent of their sins and accept Christ at an altar? How many did not experience the presence and power of the Holy Spirit?

Intercessory prayer

• Pray for our president and the men and women who serve with him in all branches of government. Pray that God would give wisdom.

• Pray for a spiritual awakening for our nation.

• Pray for those who are being called to serve in our Armed Forces.

• Pray for those who have suffered the loss of loved ones in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, and for those who are suffering from physical harm such as burns and broken bones.

• Pray for God’s mercy, forgiveness and favor.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we carry a great responsibility. God says the blood of the lost will be required at the hand of the righteous who fail to warn them of their wickedness (Ezekiel 3:17-19). We must regain our awareness of eternity. Only then will we do whatever we can to rescue people from eternal death, even those who consider us their enemy.

We’re guilty at times of making ministry too complicated. As we live out the truth, walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and demonstrate the compassion of Christ, people will be drawn to Jesus. This is a season of opportunity to offer comfort to those who are hurting, not only from the pain of this recent loss, but also to those who are dissatisfied with a self-serving life. God’s wake-up call is an invitation to lay aside the entanglements of sin and find true freedom and personal fulfillment as "one nation under God."

Our nation’s leaders have identified this as a war like no other in our history. Israel in the Old Testament also confronted enemies they could not defeat. But when they called upon God and threw themselves on His mercy, He delivered them. We as a nation and as a church must say, "Lord, we are not adequate to thwart this enemy. We need Your wisdom, Your help, Your defense." Let us acknowledge that it’s not by our might or power or cleverness or organization; it’s by God’s Spirit that we will be victorious.

— Thomas E. Trask

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