MANATEE COUNTY — Members of Bayside Community Church in the East County last week joined thousands of Christians from as far away as Australia, Tanzania and Peru in Awakening, a three-week commitment to prayer and fasting.
The commitment, started by Celebration Church in Jacksonville three years ago, seeks to help Christians and church leadership refocus their lives at the beginning of a new year.
“It’s a great way to start off 2011 and to rededicate our lives to Christ,” Bayside Creative and Communications Coordinator Kristin Becnel said. “And it is so cool to have churches from all over reading the same devotional and praying the same thing.”
This year, Awakening, which began Jan. 10 and runs through Jan. 30, also includes a 21-day Virtual Conference. Through the Awakening website, participants can listen to messages from more than 60 pastors, including Bayside’s Randy Bezet. The program also is uniting participants throughout the world through its Twitter feed, Awake21, and Facebook page.
The fasting portion of Awakening is intentionally flexible, Becnel said. Some may choose to participate the entire 21 days. Others may do two or three days a week. The goal isn’t to follow guidelines of the program but rather to consider one’s faith.
“By giving something up, we take that time for God and grow in our relationship with Him,” Becnel said.
This year marks Bayside’s third year participating in Awawkening. In years past, Becnel said the experience has yielded significant growth in the Christian faith out east.
“At the end, we always set aside time to come together, and we hear all these incredible stories on how Awakening has helped people and families,” Bencel said.
Contact Michael Eng at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT: A 21-day program of Christian prayer, fasting and devotion.
WHEN: Jan. 10-30