For the 'Rays' of the world
I met a lady a month or so ago. A letter sent to my office inviting me and the church to gather in prayer at Victory Park was my introduction. The woman, a pastor, has a heart to serve God and the passion to serve not one...not two.... but three churches. The woman is Pastor Deborah Widget of Bethel AME church here in Lewistown. She started something. By the way, she lives west of Pittsburgh and commutes to Lewistown weekly to serve.
Our first gathering comprised of 15 people of various churches. We shared our name, our church, and our love of God. We sang. We prayed. We bonded. Great excitement was shared and a second prayer gathering was planned.
Interestingly, the second gathering produced a decline in total participants, but the spiritual fire did not wane. The call by Pastor Widget enlivened the small group and a third prayer event was planned. A prayer walk would occur on July 23. Little did any of us know the heat index and humidity the 23rd would be unfriendly. The fire of the spirit was much hotter than the environment today.
Our gathering this morning included 9 people which ironically represented no less than 10 churches. I know it doesn't make sense to say 9 people repped 10 churches, but three pastors represented 7 of the 10 congregations.
There was a genuine energy as we talked and shared who we were, where we serve, and why we were standing in a parking lot on one of the hotter days of the year. We were three pastors, a retired Army vet, a recovering addict, and other layfolk from the churches with a desire to make a difference. Little did we know how much difference we'd make today by the power of God's Spirit.
Our plan included walking about two blocks down the street, stopping at each corner to pray, then rotating back to the starting point. The power of the first prayer goaded us to walk three blocks down the street, have extended conversations at each stopping point, and the prayer time was electric.
As we journeyed back toward the parking lot, we stopped and prayed in front of some local businesses. Unknown to us, a couple fellows were sitting on a streetside bench watching. As we finished praying and thinking about our next stop, we walked and chatted.
As we passed the bench, one man, Rick, asked if we could pray for his friend Ray. We all nodded in agreement and then I remembered seeing Rick the day before literally sitting in the Juniata River cooling off. I mentioned seeing him there and he smiled. The God moment, born out of a woman's call weeks earlier to bring people together in prayer, occurred when 9 people surrounded two men on the sidewalk, calling upon the God who created them to bring healing to them.
While everyone involved wanted the opportunity to pray with people on the street, it was the persons sitting on the street that asked us to pray for them. I personally feel a bit embarrassed that I didn't offer the love of God to them first. God made sure the 'do gooders' walking around town praying for the town had the opportunity to be the church.
Ray is a Vietnam Vet suffering from the aftereffects of 'agent orange' and he was grateful for the prayer, and our acknowledgment of him and Rick. Rick and Ray's spirits were lifted, their self-esteem bolstered, and their souls cared for in the midst of a prayer walk.
Consider the length of time the walk lasted. In two hours, we walked 7 blocks. Had we talked and prayed more or less at any of the stops, we would have likely never met Ray and Rick. Again, I can't fathom God's divine work underneath the surface of our plans. Because each stop was crafted by God's design, an encounter occurred that changed the trajectory of two men and the faith walks of 9 church folk.
In case you're feeling unworthy to pray for somebody, know that God will use your weaknesses to minister to those who are weaker. He will also use your voice and heart to transform his kingdom.
"A Musing Pastor"
PS: Our next prayer gathering will be at the Hope Center at Bethel AME church, 23 North Juniata Street Lewistown on August 13 at 10 AM. Will I see you there? Will you be stirred to step forward so that your life can be a blessing to others? I'm praying so for all the 'Rays' of the world.