The idea came to Phil Nelson after preaching through the book of Jonah. If the prophet’s preaching judgment on Nineveh made the whole city repent and turn to God, he wondered what would happen if someone preached not just judgment, but hope.
Nelson and a small team from his church in southern Illinois, Lakeland Baptist in Carbondale, ventured to Chicago — more than 300 miles to the north — for a two-week prayerwalk through the city.
Carrying a 10-foot-tall, 80-pound wooden cross, Nelson, his daughter Hannah and Steve and Trish Whitaker walked through some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods in May, stopping to pray with people and share the Gospel.
“There is something about carrying a cross through the streets of a city that just causes people to stop and think about Christ,” Nelson said.
“When we decide to go out and become public about our faith, not in an abrasive way, but when we decide to make Jesus known and make Him famous, God sends people in our direction,” the pastor said.
The team wore T-shirts with the words “Hope for the city” on the front and a paraphrase of Deuteronomy 2:36 on the back: No city too difficult for God.
As they walked, people saw the cross and came over to talk about it. People called out to them from car windows, Nelson said. A Chicago Tribune reporter came out to interview the team. They prayed at every public school, hospital, church and police station they passed. Some local Christians and pastors joined them as they walked a total of 75 miles and saw six professions of faith.
The team stayed overnight in 10 different host churches. At the end of each day, the walkers went back to their host church for the evening and led a prayer meeting simulcast on Facebook, with up to 500 people joining them nightly online, Nelson said.
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Source: Baptist Press