Extreme Love, an Extreme Success
By Melissa Pratt
Hundreds of churches embarked on a journey of “Extreme Love” during the forty days leading up to Easter. The goal was to focus on God’s extreme love through prayer and fasting in order that it might be shared between believers and demonstrated with those who have yet to know the extreme love of God. As in years past, miracles have been reported.
One pastor shared a story about a married couple that had been separated since December. The husband had actually left his wedding ring at the altar one Sunday, but the pastor had kept it safe. During the second week of Focus 40, they walked into the church together during the week. The pastor retrieved the ring, and the couple renewed their vows.
Another pastor shared a story that had been a year in the making. During Focus 40 2012, their church had focused on praying for the lost. Someone in their church carried the name of a young, single mom in her pocket for the entire forty days, but that single mom made no move toward God. However, the person who had her name maintained a commitment to pray for her throughout the year. As Easter 2013 rolled around, the young mother was in attendance over the Easter weekend. When the invitation was given, the single mom ran down the aisle to receive Christ as Savior!
In another church, eight people were baptized on Easter. One of those persons was a sixty-seven-year-old man who had never previously made a commitment to Christ. The pastor reported how the Extreme Love campaign, along with a prayer and fasting effort, transformed their church members into “marketplace messengers” for the gospel. It was the intentional way the church members were living out the message of love in their daily lives that caused the sixty-seven-year-old man to go to the pastor’s office and start asking spiritual questions that led to his salvation.
In one church, more than one hundred people participated in small groups via the Extreme Love Bible study book, which was a new feature for this year’s Focus 40. Group members were challenged to develop an Extreme Love project that would enable them to show extreme love to a person or group of people in their community. Projects ranged from visiting shut-ins and providing quarters to people in Laundromats, to providing Easter dinner and a new Easter outfit for a restaurant server.
There is power in agreement (Matt 18:19). What could be more transforming in our communities than agreeing to know and share the love of God with those who need to experience it? Let’s not stop leading with love, but let us carry the emphasis of Focus Forty 2013 into each coming day in an effort to truly be the body of Christ on a mission of love.
Learn more about the church-wide opportunity to exercise extreme love, Global Service Day (October 5, 2013) at www.chog.org/globalserviceday.