August 17 marked the beginning of a new school year at the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) and my seventh as Campus Minister for the Baptist Collegiate Ministry on this campus. It also marked the beginning of a 40 Days of Prayer initiative started by my neighbor, Teresa Stark. Mrs. Teresa is the wife of Dr. Robert Stark, a 26-year professor of agriculture at UAM.
Now retired, the Starks have made it a continued part of their mission to minister through prayer. In speaking about her vision behind the 40 days of prayer for college students, Stark said, “God wants us to pray. The more we pray, the more we can see His hands are working. Last year, five ladies in our Sunday School class used the 40 days of prayer guide to pray for our college students in our city. We could see God working on our students. Praise God! A team of 20 prayer warriors prayed this year. They faithfully prayed for our college students every day for 40 days. We were excited to see the outcomes of our corporate prayers. Matthew 7:7 says, ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’”
Over the last 40 plus days, Mrs. Teresa would send out daily prompts, requests, devotionals, and even a song of worship to facilitate our time in prayer. Along with praying for specific needs, we were led to pray for the students’ pursuit of holiness and righteousness, as well as prayers for mental health and to avoid temptation. Each day was a significant point of prayer for the overall spiritual health of our students. I would put specific requests from time to time when they would arise. We were able to find students furniture, prayed for Gospel appointments, and even raised money to provide an international student a flight back to their home country.
The most significant prayer opportunity and focus was to pray for lost students and for disciples of Jesus on our campus to share with them the Gospel. As of this week we have had close to 100 Gospel conversations and have seen multiple professions of faith.
This has been one of the most fruitful starts to a semester that we have seen in some time. I believe that we are witnessing the power of the faithful prayers of a few. Could you imagine the impact if all Arkansas Baptists would unite in prayer for the lost in our state?