Tag Archives: Prayer

How to Pray for our New Churches

by Jeff Wright, Leadership Minister

“I desire, then, that in every place [we] should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument…” – 1 Timothy 2.8 (NRSV)

Franconia Conference is amid a lot of transition.  New congregations from across the US are aligning with the traditional core of Franconia congregations in Eastern Pennsylvania.  A merger with Eastern District is in process.  Churches from California and perhaps even Florida are joining the conference or at least exploring relationships.  Ties with international partners are expanding.  These are wonderful days to be a part of this historic body of believers.

Of course, the challenge is always one of communication across the human barriers of language, culture, and geography. Those from the center of conference life in Eastern Pennsylvania might wonder, “What can I do to encourage this growing movement?” It might sound trite, but I believe our prayers are the most powerful and effective offering we can make on behalf of the new expressions of Church that God is aligning with us in Franconia Conference. 

So, how ought we to pray for these new and emerging Franconia Conference congregations?

Wayne Nitzsche (right) prays for Jessica Miller at her installation service, November 2016

First, pray in the simple language of the Lord’s prayer that the Kingdom of God will come to Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Sarasota, Tampa, San Francisco, Mexico City, and elsewhere, just like it does in Souderton and Harleysville and Heaven.  In every place, God is at work.  Knowing that a dedicated band of Jesus-followers are simply praying, “Thy Kingdom Come…” is an amazing encouragement. 

Second, as you pray, remember that many of our new Franconia congregations have experienced significant trauma in recent years.  For example, the church in California came to Franconia out of a painful process.  Furthermore, they live with a constant anxiety regarding immigration status—even though most of our California members hold legal standing in the US.  Other new congregations aligning with Franconia have also experienced trauma of various kinds.  Praying for healing and increased empathy are gifts of hope for our new congregations.

Third, when you pray, be open to the changes God is putting in front of you.  Restoring the 175-year rift between churches in Eastern Pennsylvania will be transformation for Franconia Mennonite Conference.  A new name for this God-movement is coming.  As a conference of churches, we speak many languages.  While, in my experience, Franconia has done an outstanding job in learning to be intercultural and multi-linguistic, we still have room for growth.  New congregations from across the country and around the world will change the way we do church in our local congregation—and that is a blessing!  May we receive it as such.

Finally, pray for our pastors.  A small team of three friends, who encourage me in my work as a Leadership Minister (and pray for me in my role!), join with me in praying each day for a different Franconia Conference pastor that I am privileged to walk with in ministry.  We pray for their health and well-being.  We pray for their marriages and their families.  We pray for them to be resilient and tough.  We pray for them to be tender and broken.  It is the singular honor of my work to offer regular and sustained intercession for the pastors I serve with in Franconia Conference.  Your intercessions on behalf of the pastors and the staff of Franconia Conference are a treasured gift.

Perhaps in our postmodern, busy, overscheduled, hyperactive world, prayer has become a relic of a season past and gone from us.  I hope not!  May we, as an old/new conference of churches from New England, to Florida, to California, and beyond, be linked together by the simple, powerful proposition of praying for one another.

Prayer for Assembly

by Noel Santiago, Leadership Minister for Missional Transformation

As we come upon our time for Conference Assembly, we are focused on being one in the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I believe Jesus would be looking forward to this weekend with anticipation of his prayer being answered in John 17. 

In this passage, he has prayed for himself, his disciples and then for all those who will believe – this includes you and me. After praying for his disciples Jesus goes on to pray these words, they may be His word for us this weekend:

I’m praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me.

– John 17:20- 23 MSG

May we find that Jesus’ prayer continues to be answered as we gather together in the Spirit and in peace.

Learning to Pray In New Ways

By Randy Heacock, Leadership Minister and Pastor at Doylestown Mennonite Church

Is it possible to teach an old dog new tricks?  Many of us have heard or said this phrase over our lifetime. We say this to state the challenge when trying to change patterns or habits. Those of us in congregational leadership can name our fair share of experiences that indicate old dogs do not learn new tricks. However, I want to celebrate a congregation that is learning to pray in new ways.

For some time I have been disturbed by the focus of our prayers. Back in 2013 while on sabbatical, I visited 10 congregations to see how they did prayer on a Sunday morning and to discover what their practice communicated about the purpose of prayer. Though some churches were quite liturgical and others more informal, my overall conclusion of the purpose of congregational prayer was that God needed to be directed what and how to help those we love. In talking with individuals, I discovered people had formulas and for some, their prayers were bargaining sessions with God.

I struggled to align this with Jesus’ teaching, “thy kingdom come and thy will be done.”  Our prayers seem to call on God to make our will be done and our kingdom be ordered as we see fit. However, I knew changing our prayer habits would not be easy. Even the suggestion that our practice of prayer needed to be altered raised some eyebrows. For the past several years, we at Doylestown Mennonite have tried a few different ways to pray. I preached differently about prayer and we offered some additional training.

Recently, we invited Noel Santiago, Franconia Conference Leadership Minister for Missional Transformation, to lead us in four sessions on prayer. Though we have only had two of the four sessions thus far, there is clear evidence that we are learning to pray in new ways. Noel quickly developed a level of trust with those present and encouraged us to believe for our time together that God will speak to us if we listen.  Rather than starting with our need, Noel encouraged us to seek what God wanted and then pray for that rather than our own desire. While it would be too lengthy of an article if I went into all that Noel has shared in our two sessions, I can tell you people are being changed.

People from the age of 18 to 89 are reflecting together on what God has said to them.   Tears have been shed for prayers people have crafted for one another. A younger person declared only God could have given those specific words of encouragement. Noel then pointed out that we prophesied over one another. We are a long way from mastering this new way to pray as we raise questions and acknowledge some awkwardness. Yet there is no doubt the Spirit is moving and God is stirring deep within us.

Please pray for us as we have two sessions yet to complete, but also as we seek to continue to practice and learn what God has for us in prayer. I am grateful that Franconia Conference is willing to hire such people like Noel with different gifts to equip us as churches. I have witnessed people of all ages, learning new ways to approach God in prayer!

 

It starts in Heaven: a ministry of prayer

by Sharon Williams, Nueva Vida Norristown New Life

prayer
Noel Santiago (left) leads Franconia Conference’s prayer ministry.

What if we could focus our prayers to God by starting where God starts, with God’s good and perfect will? Like Jesus said, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NRSV). What does this mean, especially when we pray about earth’s troubling situations or illnesses that don’t exist in heaven?

Noel Santiago, Franconia Conference’s LEADership Minister of Spiritual Transformation, remembers his early years in the intercessory prayer ministry. A young girl was in an endless coma. Persons who felt drawn to intercessory prayer gathered at the conference center weekly. They wondered, what is God teaching us?

As they prayed, they began to hear the invitation to leave the situation at the altar, to praise God for what God was doing, and to find peace and rest in their spirits. They also realized that they were standing in the gap to pray for those who could not pray about this situation with a spirit of peace. Through grateful worship and silent listening, they noticed that Lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives, congregations, and communities was becoming a theme. They also sensed that God wanted the girl and her family to acknowledge Jesus’ lordship in their lives.

After three weeks of individual and corporate praying, the girl came out of the coma. At the end of six weeks, she and her family stood before their congregation to give thanks to God and to testify about what God had done in their lives. Then they sang a song that acknowledged the lordship of Jesus over their lives. God had used everyone’s prayers to bring about one of the key activities of heaven, echoed on earth.

Noel can recount many similar stories. One time, Claude Good of the Worm Project came to ask for prayer for one million deworming pills. Distribution of the pills had been tied up in red tape for three months. The intercessors sought God’s heart. A week later, the red tape was gone and the pills were released to their appointed place on earth, as it was the desire of heaven.

Why are we so amazed when we pray and God moves heaven and earth on our behalf?

An important lesson for the intercessors was to move forward by celebrating what God has done and is doing, rather than banging on heaven’s door with a report of what God has not done. We don’t need to beg God for what is needed. The purpose of prayer is to fervently align our hearts and purposes with God’s heart and purposes.

The intercessors—persons called within and beyond Franconia conference—learned by praying together and carefully observing what happened. When the intercessory prayer ministry started, some churches or Sunday school groups had functioning prayer chains for sharing prayer requests and praises. The intercessors encouraged congregations to form their own intercessory prayer teams and to create prayer rooms.

The intercessors stay connected by email for receiving and responding to prayer requests. Occasionally, they come together for special requests and events, such as the situation at Spruce Lake Retreat last fall and conference assemblies. They teach and equip intercessors for this ministry in Sunday school classes, Bible studies and conference meetings. Noel also incorporates intercessory prayer into his LEADership ministry with pastors and elders, teaching them to pray for each leader’s ministry and for the community. The team regularly intercedes for congregations, leaders, and anyone seeking God’s guidance.

The intercessors are eager to connect with others who are drawn to this ministry. To learn more, contact Noel (nsantiago@franconiaconference.org, 267-932-6050).

Sharon K. Williams is a musician, editor and congregational/non-profit consultant. She serves the Lord with the Nueva Vida Norristown New Life congregation as minister of worship.

Prayer ‘essential’ for MWC assembly

by Phyllis Pellman Good, Mennonite World Conference

Joanne Dietzel of Strasburg, Pa., coordinates the MWC Prayer Network. — Liesa Unger/MWC

Mennonite World Conference is establishing a Prayer Network, recognizing the importance of prayer in preparation for its global assembly July 21-26 in Harrisburg, Pa.

“We are organizing an event which will bring people together from all over the world,” said Lynn Roth, MWC North America representative. “I believe it can happen only if it is bathed in prayer and is God’s doing.”

The first worry on everyone’s mind is obtaining visas.

“Our main concern is for young people,” he said. “But older persons from some of the countries where the largest Anabaptist churches are located — Ethiopia, Congo and India, for example — may have trouble, too.

“The American government’s concern for security, now more than ever, means that many of our sisters and brothers will likely be denied the possibility of worshiping and fellowshiping in this grand reunion.”

A visa task force is prepared to support registrants going through the visa process.

“We promised to do all in our power to work with U.S. government officials and embassies in those countries where this issue is especially difficult,” he said. “We believe that prayer is essential.”

A second concern is getting North American Anabaptists to see the assembly as a not-to-be-missed opportunity.

“Many of us will probably question whether we can set aside things in our daily lives long enough to travel to and attend the whole five and a half days of PA 2015,” Roth said. “We want to pray for ourselves, that we will learn the gift of hospitality of the heart and be willing to be transformed by the experience of hosting the global church.”

Inspired by Zimbabwe

The idea for a Prayer Network came from the Zimbabwean Brethren in Christ Church, which hosted the MWC assembly in 2003. In Zimbabwe, food and fuel were scarce, the economy was weak and the government unreliable. The Zimbabweans acknowledged all of this, stockpiling food and fuel months in advance. They also prayed.

Zimbabwean BIC member Ethel Sibanda led a Prayer Network. She also rallied people who weren’t attending the assembly but wanted to assure hospitality.

“We have learned from the Zimbabweans,” said Prayer Network coordinator Joanne Dietz­el of Strasburg, Pa. “We invite everyone who believes in prayer and the global church to join the Prayer Network.”

All who sign up on the MWC website will receive emails sharing specific needs and giving thanks for blessings.

Jane Hoober Peifer, a member of the Prayer Network planning team, has launched an MWC Prayer Walk in Lancas­ter.

“ ‘Walking with God’ is the theme for PA 2015, so walking while praying seems like an appropriate discipline to practice,” Peifer said.

She hopes groups of walkers will form across North America and around the world. Ideas for forming an MWC Prayer Walk group will appear on MWC’s Prayer Network page, along with passages of Scripture and prayer requests.

Five ways you can help prepare for Pennsylvania 2015

 by Phyllis Pellman Good for Mennonite World Conference

Next July, Anabaptists from around the world will gather for worship and fellowship at Mennonite World Conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. More than 8000 participants are expected to attend, and conference staff and volunteers are making arrangements to feed and lodge attendees, as well as preparing worship services, workshops, music, and the Global Church Village, a large display area and meeting place.

Mennonite World Conference is inviting North American congregations to get involved now, and help begin welcoming brothers and sisters from across the globe.

Pennsylvania 2015 will include worship, singing, and time for reflection in small groups. Photo by Merle Good.
Pennsylvania 2015 will include worship, singing, and time for reflection in small groups. Photo by Merle Good.

Here are five ways you can support the gathering:

Join the prayer network. You’ll receive monthly emails about particular needs as conference staff prepare. Two big prayer requests: that attendees from the global south will be granted visas so they can attend, and that churches here will offer extravagant hospitality as they welcome participants from other parts of the world.

Learn more about your global family of faith. A good resource is What We Believe Together, by Alfred Neufeld. The book is based on the Mennonite World Conference statement “Shared Convictions of Global Anabaptists,” and includes questions for discussion, so it’s a great resource for Sunday School classes and small groups.

Want other resources for your congregation, Sunday School class or small group? Check out Mennonite World Conference’s resource page, which includes news, background information, and guides for congregations.

Volunteer. It takes a (global) village to welcome so many people, and volunteers are needed now, as well as during the assembly. Those who assist during the gathering receive a discounted registration rate. More information is available at www.mwc-cmm.org/pa2015volunteer.

Partner. MWC is encouraging congregations in the U.S. to partner with each other so that churches with fewer financial resources or with recent immigrants to the U.S. can attend the gathering. The registration cost is split three ways: MWC and both congregations contribute part of the fee.

Register! Plan to attend Harrisburg 2015, where you’ll build relationships and remember the gift of belonging to an international family of faith. Register at www.mwc-cmm.org/pa2015registration.

A daughter’s tribute to John M. Drescher

by Sandy Drescher-Lehman, Souderton congregation

John Drescher with family
John Drescher with the family that he loved, August 2013. Photo provided.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.

That’s one of the many quotes we received over these last two weeks from your hearts to ours. We’ve been overwhelmed and grateful for your love to us and for our parents. Many of you know that two of Dad’s greatest joys were writing and preaching. The man we knew best was the one who cried tears of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love and who surrounded us with his laughter, his creativity ,and his daily prayers for each of us by name.

When he couldn’t stand long enough to preach any more this past year and his hands were too shaky to write—when all that was over, the thing that kept him wanting to live was his family. He cried tears of unspeakable love as he told us that even though he was so eager to touch Jesus, he cried tears of overwhelming grief to know that he was leaving us.

Dad worked out his life with words, writing them and sharing them. He worked at how to do relationships with words. He admitted that our mother was the one in his life who inspired him to write about the fruit of the Spirit. He asked her out for a date when someone in college pointed to her and said, “That woman would do anything for anyone,” and he found out how true that would be.

Dad moved around a lot when he was a child and made a decision to not do that when he had a family. He did travel a lot for the work that he loved. When he came back, he always had something in his suitcase for each of us—usually a pack of life-savers—that was a splurge for him, to let us know he’d missed us. In the summers, he plowed up a plot for each of us in our big garden and taught us the value of honoring the land. I remember him bragging to anyone who would listen about the big cantaloupe I raised and sold at our roadside stand, to earn money for Christmas presents. He was my overt cheerleader in everything from my childhood creations to being a pastor when it wasn’t okay for women to do that.

His favorite sermon to preach—the one he told me a few months ago that he still wanted to preach again—was on encouragement. He was a cheerleader for the church of Jesus Christ, for each person who shared their stories with him and for each of us in his family.

We’ll miss our cheerleader.

Dad taught us by his example to never accept a job based on what it will pay, but how it resonates with God’s calling. He taught us to decide how much we need to live on and give the rest away; that giving away 10 percent of what we earn is only the place to start.

He showed us that miracles happen all around us, all the time, and that we just need to notice them. Before gas got expensive, he took us on Sunday aft drives to look at the “views.” It was always the same one, but it was always newly amazing to him. Nature was to be honored and enjoyed. Life itself was a miracle.

Each of us in the family have our own experiences of times that he and mother together prayed us through crises of health and faith and emotional upheaval in our lives. I’m sure our memories of his faith and the power of prayer will help us keep watching for and expecting miracles, but we’ll miss his prayers.

After Dad was gone, we found the poems he wrote for this day in a folder with his memorial service plans. So he finished his life with poems again. In his last weeks of life, he was reading the scriptures purely for himself. We’d over hear him repeating Psalm 90, the psalm that upheld his spirit at the end, the last one he’d memorized for such a time as this:

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God. You turn us back to dust, and say, Turn back, you mortals. For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past. You sweep them away and they are like a dream… Satisfy us in the morning, with your steadfast love so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days… Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!”

May it be so for each of us, as we choose to allow Dad’s prayers and his spirit to live on through us.

John M. Drescher passed away on July 10, 2014.  Excerpted from the eulogy given at John’s funeral by his daughter, Sandy. Posted with permission. 

Celebrations kick off 2015 Mennonite World Conference assembly

by Phyllis Pellman Good, Mennonite World Conference

Mennonites and Brethren in Christ in eastern Pennsylvania enthusiastically welcomed Mennonite World Conference leaders on Sunday, July 20 at two kick-off celebrations, exactly one year in advance of the opening of the July 2015 Mennonite World Conference assembly. The 2015 assembly will be held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

One of the kick-off events was held on the morning of July 20 at Harrisburg Brethren in Christ Church. The afternoon event, held on the same day, took place at Mount Joy Mennonite Church.

MWC leaders join in the kick-off celebration. Left to right: Vikal P. Rao of India, assembly program committee; Liesa Unger of Germany, MWC chief international events officer; and César García of Colombia, MWC general secretary. Photo by Merle Good
MWC leaders join in the kick-off celebration. Left to right: Vikal P. Rao of India, assembly program committee; Liesa Unger of Germany, MWC chief international events officer; and César García of Colombia, MWC general secretary. Photo by Merle Good.

At both events, MWC General Secretary César García introduced the assembly theme, “Walking with God.” He noted it is drawn from the story of the disciples walking the road to Emmaus, in Luke 24. The disciples seem to be in a contentious discussion, but they still walk side by side.

“Only when they were seated at the table, communing together, did they discover who Jesus was,” said García. “When we are together in communion, we see with different eyes. And we discover Jesus in a new way.”

Songwriters Frances Crowhill Miller and Daryl Snider and song leader Marcy Hostetler led the afternoon audience of some 300 in rousing international singing.

Vikal P. Rao of India, a member of the assembly program committee, gave the audience a glimpse of the Global Church Village. The village will be a performance area within the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, where assembly will be held.

“Every afternoon during the assembly, our stage will be filled with storytelling, drama, and music. We will celebrate our diversity within the unity of MWC,” he told the crowd.

Joanne Dietzel introduced the prayer network.

“We face two pressing concerns as hosts of Pennsylvania 2015,” she said. “Will all of our sisters and brothers from the Global South who want to join the assembly be able to get visas to enter the U.S.? And will those of us who live in North America be willing to offer hospitality of the heart to our guests? Will we step out of our overly-busy lives and fully join the week of worship, fellowship, and service, from July 21-26 next year?”

For more information about the 2015 MWC Assembly, go to mwc-cmm.org/pa2015.  Franconia Conference provides communication support for Pennsylvania 2015.

Anointed for Business Prayer Teams

by Noel Santiago, LEADership Minister for Spiritual Transformation

“The boardroom should be to those anointed to serve
in the marketplace what the pulpit is to pastors.”

Noel SantiagoSuch is one of the many thought-provoking quotes found in the book Anointed For Business by Ed Silvoso. Intended to stimulate and perhaps shift our ways of thinking, Ed brings forth a wealth of experience grounded in the Biblical text.

And as this book has shifted our ways of thinking, the prayer ministry of Franconia Conference has partnered with other regional prayer groups to establish prayer teams that go into local businesses and organizations to offer prayers on behalf of their behalf.

The Anointed for Business Prayer Time is about blessing owners, employees, their families, work, relationships, and engagement as they go about their daily work as worship. We also seek to participate and bless the church, the body of Christ, in order to bring about reconciliation between the church and the marketplace. We seek the Lord and intercede on behalf of the business/organizations/churches so that the transformational values noted below are achieved and that their financial and/or organizational or ministry needs are surpassed to the point where they can give from a place of abundance, even as they continue their giving generously as a lifestyle.

Transformation Companies are ones which embrace and seek to live out the following values:

  1. Intentionally investing in the betterment of its workforce and its families;
  2. Actively pursuing the transformation of its sphere of influence and expertise in the marketplace;
  3. Investing generously and sacrificially in the broader community;
  4. Purposefully connecting with other companies, professions, and individuals to impact the world.

Transformation Churches are ones whose leaders embrace and seek to:

  1. Equip, commission, and release its members to reach the marketplace and intentionally pastor the city/region;
  2. Diligently pursue organic unity in the larger Body of Christ to energize the mission of the Church;
  3. Commit a growing percentage of its resources to Kingdom expansion by sacrificially investing beyond the local congregation to achieve transformation;
  4. Expect the Kingdom of God to be tangibly manifested in cities and nations.

So, here’s this word “transformation.” For us, this means the elimination of systemic poverty in four key areas: spiritually, relationally, motivationally, and materially.

Spiritual poverty afflicts those who don’t know that God is their father and are unable to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9b). They think of themselves as spiritual orphans. They believe that they are all alone, that God has judged or abandoned them, and that no one loves them. When trouble comes, they have no spiritual resources to draw on.

Relational poverty encompasses those whose focus is on themselves at the expense of the community of which they are a part. They may have great wealth but still suffer from a lack of close relationships with family, friends, and associates. They are lacking the “us” and the “our” of “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

Motivational poverty is a state of hopelessness that engulfs those who have no adequate way, means, or confidence to tackle tomorrow’s challenges. “Daily bread” is exactly that–it’s an ongoing occurrence. When people come under the grip of poverty, even when there is bread today, they have no hope that they will be able to provide for their needs tomorrow. This leads to anxiety, fear, insecurity, and sometimes even greed.

Material poverty is the most obvious manifestation of poverty because it involves lacking the resources necessary to sustain life. In this context, “daily bread” may include food, water, clothing, housing, and other essential resources. Material poverty always compromises people’s ability to focus on a spiritual life, relationships, and motivation, because when you’re hungry, you can’t think of anything else.

One way our prayer teams work at this is through placing Prayer Request Boxes in local businesses and organizations to provide employees of the company or organization an opportunity to submit personal prayer requests. The vision is that if each person employed at a given company or organization is experiencing the power of God in answered prayers in their personal lives, this will then have a ripple effect on other areas of their lives including their workplace.

This is not to suggest that such experiences aren’t already occurring or that the church is not meeting these needs. Rather it is an attempt to work at having the primary location where this impact is most keenly felt be the marketplace, the location where we want to see the transformation occur.

Transformational Churches reach beyond their walls and partner with marketplace ministers to see their city and nation transformed by the message of Christ! Kingdom Companies and organizations apply biblical principles to their “marketplace” and partner with others to see their city and industry transformed. If you’d like to hear more stories, visit Ed’s website at: www.transformourworld.org. You’ll see this is about “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

Do you want to learn more about Anointed for Business Prayer Teams?  Noel would be glad to hear from you.

Deep Run East joins MAMA Project in Honduras

Deep Run & MAMA Project
The dedication service at Iglesia Evangelica del Principe de Paz.

by Barb Rice, Deep Run East

Ken Burkholder, pastor of Deep Run East congregation (Perkasie, Pa.), joined the 27th MAMA Project Team that Deep Run East has sent to Honduras since 2001.  Over the years, Pastor Ken had heard from teams reporting on their experiences and had met some of the MAMA Project partners on their visits to the US, but on March 15-22, he joined the team in Honduras.

On March 16, one day after arrival in San Pedro Sula, the team arrived at Iglesia Central Menonita (the largest Mennonite Church in the city) for an inspired and holy time of worship.  Wow… talk about a worship team and praise music!  Pastor Ken was invited to preach and his sermon followed worship, focusing on II Cor. 5: 17-21, “In Christ—New Creation.”  In the context of violence and poverty in Honduras, the call to reconciliation and being ambassadors and coworkers with Christ was powerful to all who were listening.

After the worship service it was good to play a little “Mennonite game,” meeting Honduran young persons who had been part of the Mennonite Central Committee IVEP program and also discovering that the worship band leader had attended Eastern Mennonite University’s Peace Institute.  What a blessing to fellowship with other believers around the world; Pastor Ken and another team member were visiting so long that the rest of the group left them behind!

Pastor Adalid Romero, president of the Honduran Mennonite Church, met with our team and explained how life in Honduras was lived in the midst of organized crime and corruption, with much illegal immigration to the US, Mexico, and Spain.  He shared that “the situation here would be that much worse than it already is, if it wasn’t for the presence of the churches in Honduras!”  The Honduran Mennonite Church works to teach peacemaking in schools where guns and knives show up routinely, introducing students to a different way of problem solving without violence.

That Sunday evening, the team headed to Iglesia Evangelica del Principe de Paz, a church in a poor community at the edge of the city.  The church is located in the middle of drug traffic and gang tensions, but the community loves our teams and helps to ensure we are protected.  Deep Run East and Swamp congregation (Quakertown, Pa.) have partnered with the pastor of this church, Juan Angel Ramirez, to work in this community.  A new church has been built over the last two years and, as we arrived, everyone was waiting outside for the “big reveal.”  The dedication service included ribbon cutting, with eight children dressed in rented wedding clothes holding the ribbons.  Pastor Ken, as the honored guest, was given the scissors.  The new building is an amazing testament of God’s desire for the church to be a beacon of hope, sitting up on the hill for all in the community to see.

Deep Run &  MAMA Project
The worship space at Maranatha Menonita church.

That week we traveled to a remote community each day, setting up a clinic to give parasite medicine and vitamins and do medical consults.    In addition, a work project was planned in each community.  Our team organizer, Irma Dinora Molina, an involved member in the Honduran Mennonite Church, suggested working in some of the poor struggling Mennonite communities around San Pedro Sula.  This plan was a perfect fit for a team with a Mennonite pastor.  It was a highlight to see Ken connect, pray, and worship with the pastors in these communities.  These are some of Ken’s comments after our trip:

  • The Church is the Hope of the World – In the midst of the poverty, suffering, and brokenness that we encountered in Honduras, we witnessed how the church is a beacon of light and hope. I greatly enjoyed interacting with the pastors. They love the Lord, they love their communities, they believe in the power of prayer, and some of them are literally risking their lives to be pastors!
  • Power of Prayer – The people of Honduras pray often and fervently! We prayed together before beginning our work for the day, we laid hands on and prayed for a vehicle that wasn’t running well, and we experienced answered prayers from our Deep Run East and Honduran friends in various ways throughout the week.
  • Spontaneous Worship/Prayer Experience – Words simply cannot capture the one experience I had of spontaneous worship and prayer among a group of Hondurans as we were finishing a painting job. I clearly witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit and I would describe this as a “modern-day Pentecost experience.”

If worship experiences like these seem intriguing, think about joining even more powerful worship services at Mennonite World Conference in Harrisburg, PA, July 2015.  Our friends in Honduras are anxious to come too…please pray for the visa process.