College ministries in Waco unite for student prayer revival

Worship leaders from many local churches in Waco follow social distancing measures as they join together to lead college students in worship and praise during FM72.

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WACO—Baylor University students came together virtually in mid-April to praise God and pray together at FM72, a 72-hour prayer revival.

The event, originally planned for Fountain Mall at the center of the Baylor campus, was moved online following the campus’s shutdown due to the COVID-19 virus. Students, along with family members and friends from all 50 states and 12 countries, participated.

Baylor’s Baptist Student Ministry hosted the April 13-15 prayer revival in conjunction with other campus ministries and local churches. Charles Ramsey, BSM director at Baylor, coordinated the event. He explained that hosting FM72 virtually was a way for students to come together and pray during turbulent times.

“In this time of fear and unknown and uncertainty, I thought it was vitally important that we ministered to one another. We needed a space where people could come together to voice concerns and feel heard,” Ramsey said.

FM72 kicked off on April 13 with a worship night livestreamed on Facebook and FM72’s website.

Logistical challenges

Ministry leaders led short devotionals presented between songs throughout the evening. Worship leaders were careful to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines, including standing farther apart and limiting the number of people who could be in the room.

Worship leaders Rebecca Harris and Jerry Swam Sadi lead one of the nightly worship services during FM72.

Planning the evening worship experiences was difficult, because organizers had to completely redesign them to fit an online format instead of a physical stage, Ramsey noted.

“It took a lot of collaboration to pull this together,” he said. “Bands and worship leaders couldn’t get together to practice. People didn’t have months to prepare what they were going to talk about. And they had to readjust the schedule to fit an online audience.

“People tune in and listen to things differently when they’re watching a livestream than they do when they’re present physically.”

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After the first evening worship service, a Zoom prayer room was opened and remained active for the next 72 hours. Prayer times were entirely student-led, with students signing up to lead one-hour slots of prayer time where they would host the room and invite others to join them.

“They prayed, interceding for different issues, praying for campus and the community, praying for people that had been affected by the virus and for people in need and who are suffering. They prayed through Scripture passages and also had a time of waiting on the Lord and of voicing concerns and requests,” Ramsey explained.

“It was amazing to watch the students plan, coordinate and mobilize for those 72 hours. From my perspective, the 150 prayer hosts were the backbone of the event. Seeing their commitment in action and listening to the minister was extremely rewarding to me.”

Continued Baylor influence

Last year, Baylor college leaders and pastors felt called to unite students and campuses in Waco for Christ. They looked back on a gathering of Baylor students in 1945 who came together to pray for revival for 90 days as inspiration, choosing the heart of the Baylor campus as host site for the prayer revival.

Though FM72 was not held on the campus this year, Baylor’s support still was instrumental this year. Baylor University President Linda Livingstone and her husband, Brad, supported FM72’s mission and part of the early push to move the event online. They led the opening prayer for the final night of worship and shared a short devotional about prayer and hope.

Also, many of the worship and college ministry leaders were current or former Truett Theological Seminary students.

“It really was a showcase of Truett talent,” Ramsey said. “We simply could not have done this without these gifted and equipped leaders who serve in our community. These are ministers of the gospel, and we continue to benefit from our strong partnership with Dean Todd Still at George W. Truett Seminary.”

Everyone involved with the planning and leading of FM72 did it because of the lasting impact they knew it would have on students, Ramsey noted.

Exceeded expectations

Even with those high expectations, Ramsey was overwhelmed by the response they saw. During worship services, a phone number was displayed on the screen for prayer requests.

It prompted thousands of calls, and a team of students was on-call to pray over each one individually and to respond to the person. Some students who participated were not from Baylor or other local Waco colleges, but rather had been invited by friends to participate.

Ramsey said it was a testimony to God’s grace that so many more lives were touched through this virtual event.

Now that FM72 is over, Ramsey is excited to see the students carry their passion and all that they learned into their own homes. One unique opportunity COVID-19 has brought to light is that the students are scattered around the world, where they can minister to those around them.

“These students are now sharing the gospel in their homes and their communities of influence. They’re in a place where they can now minister and look to their family and neighborhood,” Ramsey said. “FM72 was a commission of the students to be ministers of the gospel, not only with their friends, but in their homes and communities.”

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