Two years ago Fred Lunsford had a unique experience in prayer. The 95-year-old World War II veteran and longtime North Carolina pastor said God gave him a “tremendous burden” to call others to pray for spiritual awakening in America. Now, that call to prayer has become a nationally recognized event on May 5.
Lunsford recounted his experience in a video produced by Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C.
Lunsford often goes to a prayer garden near his home in Marble, N.C., to spend time with God. On a summer day two years ago, Lunsford said he looked in the direction of nearby Buckhorn Gap and had an unusual experience.
“I saw Jesus standing in that gap,” he said. “Just then I saw a thundercloud come up behind Him and start rolling over the mountain. And then I heard thunder roll and lightning began to flash.”
Lunsford began praying. He referenced the fact that his wife, Gladys, died in 2014. “I think it’s just time to take me home,” he prayed. “I’m ready to go.”
God said “not yet,” according to Lunsford, but he didn’t know why.
“I kept going back every day for maybe three weeks or a month before one day He answered me.” said Lunsford. “He said, ‘Not yet, because I’ve got some unfinished business that you need to take care of.’”
Lunsford said the task he believes God laid before him was to celebrate his 70-year anniversary in the ministry and call people to pray for spiritual awakening.
God told him, “I want to send renewal,” Lunsford said. “I want to send a new work among you.”
A group of North Carolina ministry leaders who visited Lunsford earlier this year were inspired to support the call to prayer. The group included Mud Creek’s pastor Greg Mathis, David Horton, president of Fruitland Baptist Bible College, and others.
Mathis said in a statement on Mud Creek’s website that the group prayed with Lunsford and had their own unique experience.
“Heaven came down and the area in which we were praying could barely contain us,” Mathis said.
That meeting led to an effort to gather 100 pastors – and then 200 – in an event called “Praying on the Mountain,” scheduled for May 5. When it became clear that COVID-19 restrictions prevented the group from gathering in person, they shifted focus toward calling Christians to pray where they are.
As of May 1, at least 3,300 individuals have signed up to represent around 124,000 people from churches, Bible study groups, families, universities and businesses who plan to participate in the prayer emphasis, according to Mud Creek.
Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, plans to host an online interview and prayer time with Lunsford, Mathis, Horton and others at 3 p.m. on May 5.
Chris Schofield, director of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Office of Prayer, is coordinating an online prayer gathering May 5 as well, combining their weekly chapel service with emphases on “Praying on the Mountain” and “National Day of Prayer” events.
Tom Wagoner, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Dunn, N.C., told the Biblical Recorder his church leadership team plans to spend the day in prayer at the historic Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Liberty, N.C., a key center of revival during the 18th century Great Awakening.
Mathis told the Recorder that he has heard from churches in Kentucky, Texas, Florida and other states that plan to have similar outings or online events.
“It’s amazing, and I really thank God from the depths of my heart,” Lunsford told Baptist Press. “We know that we need spiritual awakening, we know we need the healing of our land. I am so in awe about it and at the same time, I’m thankful and grateful for all the people involved. It’s beyond my words to describe.”