In the dark Waco night, Drew Humphrey, a college pastor at Highland Baptist Church, and one of his students, Alex*, stepped into the Brazos River. The pastor asked the student if he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, and when the student replied in the affirmative, the pastor dunked him under the water. Cheers went up from students watching along the bank. This was the culmination of FM72, a 72-hour prayer revival on Baylor University’s campus, led by the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) and other Waco churches and ministries.
FM72 was inspired by a gathering of Baylor students in 1945 who came together to pray for revival for 90 days. In 2019, Baylor college leaders and pastors felt called to unite students and campuses in Waco for Christ, and they looked to the original gathering as inspiration. In 2020 the event was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year, the planning team for FM72 was ready to go big.
“We were consistently meeting, dreaming, and praying leading up to it,” Charley Ramsey, director of the Baylor BSM, explained.
Praying in the heart of campus
“FM” stands for Fountain Mall, a green space in the heart of Baylor’s campus. A prayer tent was erected in the space, and for the full 72 hours, students came in and out of the tent, praying at all hours of the day and night. There was also a student-led worship band that would play into the nights as students worshipped and prayed.
The tent offered guided prayer sections, including ones that encouraged students to meditate on the descriptors of God, to seek forgiveness, to pray for the nations and to pray for the community. Alex Criswell, a junior at Baylor, spoke about his favorite night at the prayer tent, when so many students arrived that they had to spill out into the surrounding lawn. As he and a friend sat outside under the stars praying, they could hear the worship band and students sing praise songs.
“The Lord was so clearly moving. There was prayer and intercession going on all around,” Criswell explained.
That night, the worship band stayed until 3 a.m. singing songs to the Lord.
“That just speaks to what the students are experiencing and what they’re longing for,” Ramsey said . “We want to equip students with how to learn how to pray. That’s where the growth is.”
Worshipping and listening for God’s voice
In addition to the prayer tent, there were worship services that took place each night of the event in McLane Stadium. Over 1,500 students attended each night. Ramsey explained that the stadium was a huge blessing, because the venue was larger than Fountain Mall, allowing the students to socially distance themselves as they worshipped. McLane Stadium and their sound equipment were both provided by the Baylor student government, who passed one of their biggest bills in history to help fund the event.
Throughout all of the worship nights, there was an emphasis on getting right with God and missions, with speakers like Jenny Allen, author and founder of IF:Gathering and Nik Ripkin, author of “The Insanity of God.”
Every night, there was an open call for students who felt convicted to step forward. On the last night, when Ripkin spoke about missions, Ramsey was overwhelmed by the number of students who stepped forward.
“That was unprecedented. We had so many students step up and say I want to go serve on missions,” Ramsey said. “And they want to go this summer, they don’t want to wait until they graduate, they want to go now.”
Ramsey connected the students who felt called to missions with Brenda Sanders, director of Go Now, a Texas Baptists student missions program.
That last night was also the night Humphrey baptized a student in the Brazos River, behind McLane Stadium. Seeing the immediate responsiveness of students who felt God calling them was a testimony to Ramsey of the importance of events like FM72, which give students an opportunity to pause and reflect on what God may be asking them to do.
After the initial 72 hours were over, students asked that the prayer tent remain. They continued praying and interceding for an additional five days, their hearts on fire to reach their community and the nations with Christ.
To learn more about BSM, go to txbsm.org. Find a BSM near you and see how you can be involved in making a difference in the lives of college students in your community at txbsm.org/locations.
*name has been changed