Since his election as executive director/treasurer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 2010, Randy C. Davis has crisscrossed the state hundreds of times.
2014 will be no different, except he will be traveling to every county - all 95 Tennessee counties during the next 12 months -- to lead prayer rallies in or on the steps of courthouses in every county seat town. Among the first of these rallies will be at the Cannon County Courthouse in Woodbury at 9 a.m. April 8. Representatives from county Baptist churches and county and city public officials are invited.
"When I left First Baptist Church (Sevierville where he served as pastor prior to accepting the call to serve Tennessee Baptists statewide), a few weeks into the transition I sensed God wanted me to ring the bell of salvation as loudly and clearly as I possibly could," he recalled.
As Davis travels to each county he will ring a bell which has been designated the "Salvation Bell." The bell is on loan for the year from First Baptist Church, Sevierville. Davis noted, "throughout history, church bells have been used to communicate urgent messages. As we ring the 'Salvation Bell' -- which we will be ringing in every county -- we hope and pray it will communicate to churches the urgent message to share Christ more now than ever before." The "Salvation Bell" is mounted in the bed of a specially painted pickup with the words "Praying Across Tennessee."
In addition to praying for spiritual awakening, the rallies will be used as a platform to pray for and express appreciation for "public servants and our Baptist pastors" in each county, Davis said.
"The bell will be used," explained Davis, "to help raise awareness that Tennessee is no longer a church field but is now a mission field."
"The alarming decline in the number of Tennesseans being won to the Lord has been a tremendous burden shared by many people across our state," Davis observed, "I sense Tennessee Baptists want to see a monumental change in the direction we've been going," he said.
The Tennessee Baptist executive said the intention is "not to have 95 large crowds to gather. Our intention is church representatives will join us there and return to their churches committed to lead their members to pray for spiritual awakening." He noted each of the rallies would last no more than 15-20 minutes.
The plan is to have the prayer rallies at the courthouse of each county seat town. When that is logistically not possible, the rallies will be moved to the nearest Baptist church, Davis said.
"My greatest hope is that growing out of the rallies will be ongoing prayer meetings in every county in which people earnestly seek the Lord," Davis said. "Every great spiritual awakening started out with a few people being really desperate for the Lord," he added.