Written by Warren Gasaway, Evangelism + Church Health Interim Team Leader

Arkansas Baptists, thank you for the support and prayers given to the State Evangelism Conference (ECON) on January 23 and 24. Our pastors, staff, and church leaders showed up in anticipation and the Lord met with us in a special way. The Evangelism and Church Health Team prayed for our leaders to have a moment with the Lord where they could be refreshed, inspired for the Gospel, and equipped to do kingdom work. 

I’ve heard from so many leaders expressing gratitude for the time we shared. One leader shared how after Monday night’s session, the leadership group from their church was overwhelmed with a sense of prayer. They all met in one hotel room and spent time sharing and praying together. 

Another pastor shared a personal story of being released from bitterness and anger at the altar after a Tuesday morning session. Knowing the challenges leaders face with church struggles, personal struggles, and relationship struggles, the Lord gave us a time of repentance, release, and hope.  

The Lord gave us some great practical tools on Monday and Tuesday to help our churches grow in abilities to reach people. 

One leader shared how the equipping time at lunch on Tuesday could revolutionize his ministry and strategy for empowering his church to reach the lost. Another leader shared that the youth ministry on Wednesday following ECON saw the most unchurched guests ever. With the Gospel presented clearly, a soul was saved. Jesus is still changing lives. 

One pastor shared how God powerfully reminded that the first person to talk to when faced with difficult decisions was the Father Himself. The Lord dismantled his heart and reestablished a time of great fellowship with this servant leader. Then, he enjoyed a great lunch with other pastors talking through leadership issues. He described the sense of community among Arkansas Baptists as refreshing. 

More encouraging stories can be shared, but the point needs to be made. ECON was more than a conference this year. Our gatherings can sometimes be known for maneuvering to gain leadership influence. Sometimes when we get together, agendas concerning hot topics can overtake our core values. Sometimes, the problems we face drown out the mission we all love. Thank you, Arkansas Baptists, for coming to ECON wanting more. I believe the desire for a moment with the Lord created the meaningfulness of this year’s conference. So many of you came expectant to meet with God, and he answered. Together, let’s continue to offer hope and salvation to the lost. 

We are already praying and planning for 2024. Would you join us? Mark the dates of January 22 and 23 on your calendar and let’s continue to make evangelism the heart of who we are. 

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