Will We Be the Answer to Jesus’s Prayer? (The Battle for Oneness)

By Bunni Pounds Published on July 5, 2024

Growing up as a young Christian, I caught a glimpse of that I believe the Body of Christ can look like: one Body with different functions and expressions that is walking together in unity.

As a young Bible school student in the early 1990s, watching seemingly “radical” leaders like James Robison breaking down barriers and coming together left a mark on me. For example, Robison was a Southern Baptist evangelist who developed a friendship with Jack Hayford, an incredible teacher from the Foursquare Pentecostal denomination.

And when artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, Margaret Becker, Steve Camp, Carman, and Michael Card were singing songs about Jesus and Scripture, no one cared what denomination they were from. The only questions were, did they know Him, and could they communicate His heart for people and for the Church?

I believe Bible-believing political activists today, and the larger social conservative movement, operate that way now. We understand each other — and we need each other. We are on the front lines of the battle for the soul of our nation, and we all know it.

Praying for Unity

Our efforts and communication styles are distinct, but at the end of the day, those differences are miniscule compared to the threats we face. When we join forces to push back against bad policies, corrupt leaders, and outright wickedness, we shouldn’t care where our battle buddies come from or the nuances of our beliefs. All that matters is stopping the enemy’s forward advance.

In His final prayer on Earth, recorded in John 17, Jesus prayed both for the disciples standing in front of Him and for us. This is the prayer I believe Christians in this generation should see answered:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)

I love gathering with top conservative leaders and seeing Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics, Reformed and all the rest together in one room. We lay down our labels and come together for the good of the Body of the Christ, and ultimately for the good of our nation and the world.

Erasing Personal Kingdoms

During His last Passover with His disciples, Jesus exhorted them with these words: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Too often in the ministry world or political movements, we subtly build our own “kingdoms.” We become siloed off from others and feel we are in competition with them. But if we allow that to happen, we lose opportunities for internal growth and outward expansion. We need each other, and many times we don’t even know that truth or understand it.

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Though our work at Christians Engaged over the last four years, we have desperately attempted — on purpose — to bring the Body of Christ together. We hold a national conference each year that brings ministry and government leaders together across denominational and generational lines to communicate their hearts for prayer, voting, and engagement, and to wake up the Church. We take on hard topics like justice, economics, and local government through our classes and curriculum projects; we interview Christian experts on those topics regardless of their specialties in other subjects. Our board of directors and staff has Charismatics, non-Charismatic evangelicals, Protestants, and Catholics; we also are attempting to engage young adults (ages 16-30) in our work. It is not easy, but America is worth it. Only as we come together on common ground can we see improvement and ultimate victories.

Releasing Preferences

Recently, I had to ask myself if I have been building my own “kingdom.” Would I be willing to lay down some of my preferences for the greater good?

And the answer is: Yes, I am willing.

Since the end of April, Craig DeRoche, president and CEO of the Family Policy Alliance Foundation (FPAF) — launched years ago by Focus on the Family — and I have been working on a plan for our two ministries to come together. I cannot say the process has been easy. It has taken a lot of time, effort, and deep conversations. We have had to talk through any potential issue that could arise that would try to derail our unity. It has been a labor of love, but it has been worth it.

On Monday, we announced to the world that our two organizations have merged. We are now one big happy family.

Both the Family Policy Alliance and FPAF are leaders in pro-family education and grassroots activism. As a result of those efforts, there are now family policy councils in nearly 40 U.S. states; meanwhile, Christians Engaged challenges churches and individual Christians to pray for the nation, to vote, and to get involved in their local communities.

Our merger will create an expanded network capable of driving cultural and legislative change to advance biblical values. This is huge news for the Body of Christ, the social conservative movement, and our nation.

Relinquishing Control

I prayed every day through this intense process, finally getting confirmation from the Lord. Our board also got numerous confirmations along the way that we were on the right path. Yet even the night our boards merged; I was a little nervous. There was a moment when our board chairman turned the meeting over to our new FPAF board chairman, former Air Force Lt. Gen. Patrick Caruana. This was the moment I had to release control and obey what God had told me to do: to “trust without borders.”

Caruana greeted us all and started talking about how he had recently been struck by Jesus’s words in John 17. He paused, then said: “God was calling us to be one and to be an example to the world.” It was a beautiful moment — another confirmation — and peace filled my heart.

How Will You Respond?

Together, our organizations aim to activate one million Christians to engage in the upcoming U.S. presidential election and local elections across the country for years to come. Our teams have come together to assist and serve each other with our gifts and talents.

The questions we faced in this process are salient for every Christian ministry and individual: Will we walk in the Spirit of John 17 and see past our differences for the greater good, or will we let petty things divide us?

I hope our story will be a testimony for the Church at large. I pray that we will be the answer to Jesus’s prayer. I pray that as we embark on this new adventure together, we carry the heart of Jesus into everything we do.

Our nation needs to be rescued from destruction, and only one unified Body will be able to accomplish His will on earth as we anxiously wait for His soon-coming return. Let’s be the generation to whom He can say with confidence,

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

 

Bunni Pounds is president and founder of Christians Engaged, a ministry activating the Body of Christ to pray, vote, and engage regularly, as well as the host of Conversations With Christians Engaged, seen here on The Stream each week. She is also the vice president of civic and church engagement for the Family Policy Alliance and the Family Policy Alliance Foundation. Her book, Jesus and Politics: One Woman’s Walk with God in a Mudslinging Profession, was released in February.

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