|A Million Prayers|
|Written by Joshua Smith|
New Birth’s prayer line hits milestone in two years
Every day at daybreak, Elder Carla Stokes rises and reaches for her phone. At 6:30 a.m., she calls the same number she has for more than two years and is immediately connected to people from around the globe—from Angola to Zimbabwe, Hong Kong to Turkey, to the Caribbean islands and Latin America.
Elder Stokes, as she is known by her church family at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, says she is amazed by the glory of God revealed through technology. She never expected New Birth’s prayer line to ignite a world of prayer warriors.
New Birth’s prayer line began in May 2011. In February, the church celebrated a milestone: The ministry tracked a whopping 1 million connections it made with people from 79 countries over nearly two years on its prayer line. Some called once or twice a week, while others like Elder Stokes called every day. The impact, church leaders say, has been phenomenal.
“Our prayer call is having an amazing influence on thousands of lives throughout the world and we believe it’s crucial that believers everywhere know that they, too, can experience God’s great wonders and miracles through the power of prayer,” said Elder Stokes, who oversees New Birth’s prayer ministry.
New Birth tracked the connections with its prayer intercessors through internet data it collects. Many of its intercessors speak more than one language and call in everyday, even on holidays, to assist the ministry.
“The intercessors are not on site. All participants dial in from wherever they are each and every day at 6:30 a.m.,” said Elder Stokes. “So far, we have documented participation from 79 countries, but there are probably more. Those are only the ones we are aware of.”
Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, says the prayer line has become a movement.
“We realize that the ministry of the kingdom is bigger than a local assembly and so New Birth is excited because we’re bringing pastors and churches together who understand that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, with one mission and that is to restore that which was lost and what was lost was our dominion, our kingdom dominion. That is why this ministry is so important,” said Long. “For almost 20 years, New Birth has impacted around the world through our broadcast ministry. This prayer call has reunited and reignited the believers and those who have been touched for years through our broadcast ministry. Now, we’re tying countries together in strong prayer, praying for their people, praying for the government and praying for education.”
Bishop Long says there was never a goal to reach a million connections. There was no goal number in mind, in fact.
“This prayer ministry has become an effective form of evangelism because in its original conception, it was only intended for a week. It has been extended a couple years and it has grown from a couple of a hundred to well over 5,000 a morning and a million calls around the world with evidence of salvations, with evidence of miracles, with evidence of breakthrough,” said Long. “It’s become a great evangelistic tool to invite others that are unsaved, that don’t know the Lord, that they get an experience with the Lord and a super natural encounter with people daily from around the world. It’s been fantastic.”
New Birth says one of the reasons for its success is the frequency of the call. A number of other prayer lines, such as the one at Nashville’s Mount Zion Full Gospel, are weekly prayer calls. New Birth’s prayer call takes place daily.
“Every day, thousands of people call in from all over the world,” said Elder Stokes. New Birth says the daily prayer line is a way to address the needs of people daily by uplifting, encouraging, and praying for their needs to be met.
“We have to meet people where they are, physically, financially and emotionally,” said Long. “That approach is working as we take on callers with all sorts of issues. One recent prayer call was for supernatural healing for a young man who just signed a full scholarship to play football at UGA and is scheduled to have surgery for an injury, to a woman who is fighting cancer at St. Jude Hospital.”