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The economic crisis is a huge opportunity

The current economic crisis has got a lot of people running scared. I contend that as unemployment rises and people become more worried, our opportunity as followers of Jesus has never been greater. My friend Os Hillman said it well in a letter he just sent in which he recounts another crisis in …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
The current economic crisis has got a lot of people running scared. I contend that as unemployment rises and people become more worried, our opportunity as followers of Jesus has never been greater. My friend Os Hillman said it well in a letter he just sent in which he recounts another crisis in our nation’s history:
 
In 1857, America’s secular and religious conditions combined to bring about a financial crash. The third great panic in American history swept the speculative wealth away. Thousands of merchants were forced to the wall as banks failed, and railroads went into bankruptcy. Factories were shut down and vast numbers thrown out of employment. New York City alone had 30,000 idle men. These conditions set the stage for God’s “change agent” to fulfill his purpose.
 
The hearts of people were thoroughly weaned from speculation and uncertain gain, while hunger and despair stared them in the face. On 1st July, 1857, a quiet and zealous business man named Jeremiah Lanphier took up an appointment as a City Missionary in downtown New York.
 
This Wall Street businessman began to invite others to join him in a noonday prayer-meeting, to be held on Wednesdays once a week. At twelve noon, on September 23rd, 1857 the door was opened and the faithful Lanphier took his seat to await the response to his invitation. Five minutes went by. No one appeared. The businessman paced the room in a conflict of fear and faith. Ten minutes elapsed. Still no one came. Fifteen minutes passed. Lanphier was yet alone. Twenty minutes; twenty-five; thirty; and then at 12.30 p.m., a step was heard on the stairs, and the first person appeared, then another, and another, and another, until six people were present and the prayer meeting began. On the following Wednesday, October 7th, there were forty! In the first week of October 1857, it was decided to hold a meeting daily instead of weekly.
 
Within six months, 10,000 business people were gathering daily for prayer in New York, and within two years, 1 million converts were added to the American churches.
 

Could this current economic crisis be the greatest opportunity for the church in the last 150 years? Let me encourage you to be ever more sensitive to those people around you.

Comments (5)

  • Awsome Word Seth and Yes I agree we have opportunities now that we didn’t have even six months ago. When most people HAVE they trust in themselves, BUT when hard times hit (NOW) they are more open to receiving the GREAT HOPE (Jesus Christ) Let’s not miss out on this awsome opportunity.

  • This is a great message Seth. But it requires of us not just a spirit of opportunism but an investment in relationships. We don’t have to go back 150 years. We had a huge “opportunity” after 9/11 and Im not sure the Kingdom is any better for it… certainly our government, financial and cultural institutions are not better for it.

    Fortunately, just like in the old testament and from that time forward, God keeps giving us new opportunities to step up and participate.

  • “Could this current economic crisis be the greatest opportunity for the church in the last 150 years?”

    This question is a very worrisome one for me to think about. Why??

    When you know how much was lost by many churches in my country that put their “profits” in the stock market; when you hear how many pastors and their leaders agonize the bad economic situation as it reflects in their “harvest” of tithes and offerings; when you learn of how many BILLIONS in USA Dollars($) was lost by many Christian business men here within the last 12months!!! I weep, I weep when I wonder how this same Church can arise with solution and a message of hope for a fast failing world system, when itself seems overwhelmed and deeply submerged in the mire.

    We know God alone has the perfect answers to the crisis but when the world we seek to witness the goodness of our God through Christ notice our lame attitude and worried disposition to the same issues that trouble them, they’d
    rather try someone or somewhere else certainly NOT the Church.

    May it please the Lord Jesus in our day, to stir someone’s heart with a call that will send lost souls His way in this Kairos moment. In Jesus Name!! Amen!!

  • “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few”. Matthew 9:37. This is certainly an opportunity for all us believers to help those who are hurting. In these tough times, you’ll find the harvest IS very plentiful. We just take more time to pay attention and engage in conversation to those around us in our own world: neighbors, community, place of work, church, Bible study, clubs, hairdresser etc. Our circle of influence is bigger than we think. Let’s reap more for his Kingdom while the harvest is plentiful.

  • Seth, I have a vision of opening our house once a week for a prayer meeting. Not necessarily because of the economic crisis but more to help my Christian friends encounter the presence and power of God.

    So much of “christian activity” is centered around “about God” stuff singing about God, talking about God, reading about God, etc. rather than encoutering His presence and power directly with no intermediary.

    You once said “religious people believe in God but not in the Kingdom of God.” How true! The kingdom is coming and I don’t want anyone to miss it because of dead religion.

    So onto my question, how in the heck does one lead such a meeting? especially when it’s hard for many to pray for mere minutes let along hours. I know the disciples struggled in the garden to pray for an hour so we’re not alone. Any resources or people you can connect me with to help birth this type of thing? Just looking for wisdom and experience of those gone before me.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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