Tag Archives: Prayer

Evangelist Joey Perez at Arise Community Outreach

Joey Perez at Ariseby Lynne Allebach, Arise

For three nights in early March, evangelist and author Joey Perez held a teaching seminar at the Encore Center in Harleysville, sponsored by Arise Community Outreach.  Joey has been seen on the 700 Club and written two books:  I Lived to Tell About It and Mysteries of Angels.  He is the driving force behind Worldwide Evangelistic Ministries, headquartered in Philadelphia, PA.

Joey spoke each night about the need for saints to be in prayer and to know who their adversary is in this world.  Through Bible teaching, he showed that we as believers have power and authority over the evil forces present in the world today.

Joey began by teaching about the need to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and to use the spiritual weapons available to us (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  He reminded those in attendance that we are not fighting flesh and blood, but spiritual beings.  He told stories from his own life growing up in a household where idolatry and witchcraft were practiced.  Other stories came from his work in evangelistic ministry around the world.

Next he focused on the need to be persistent in prayer (Luke 18:1-8).  He stressed that prayers made in the will of God will avail much.  Attendees were reminded of the words found in Luke 11:9 that those who ask will receive and those who seek will find.  God wants to give us good gifts and when we are in a close relationship with Him we will receive those good gifts.  Prayer and spending time studying God’s word help us to build that close relationship with Him.

Joey Perez at AriseJoey stressed the importance of protecting our hearts and minds from things that can give the devil an opening to enter our lives.  He suggested that not just individuals and families, but churches as well need to be vigilant about giving an opening to those spirits that come to tear down and destroy.

Joey feels the Indian Valley area is ripe for a movement of the Holy Spirit.  It is hoped that everyone who attended the three nights of meetings will take Joey’s message to heart and share that message with others.

For more information on Joey Perez and Worldwide Evangelistic Ministries, go to www.joeyperezministries.com.  For more information on Arise Community Outreach, visit www.arisepa.com

Helping People to Pray

Sandy Landesby Sandy Landes, Doylestown

Writing a call to ministry story is probably the last thing I ever expected to do if you would have asked me fifteen years ago. At that time in my life, I had doubts about the role of women in leadership and yet I was serving in different capacities in my home congregation, Doylestown Mennonite Church. As I look back on that time, I think the call to ministry had been brewing in my life for several years.

After working as an elementary school teacher for four years, my husband Steve and I began having children and my focus changed to homeschooling, which was a natural extension of my love for learning and teaching. I learned some leadership skills in the steering committee of the homeschool group of which we were active members. Being called to ministry in the church, however, was a different kind of leadership for which I was not ready.

Around this time, I read a book entitled Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.  It ignited a spark in me that had been smoldering for some time.  I felt called to begin a prayer time in our congregational setting.

Inviting people to pray during Sunday School, we focused on intentionally praying for our congregation, our community, and persons we knew by name who were not yet followers of Jesus. Out of that prayer time, we learned about prayer, about God and ourselves. Doylestown Mennonite Church graciously allowed this group to develop a prayer room where persons could come to pray together or on their own.

I gradually began inviting the congregation to more and more prayer initiatives as well as connecting with other persons involved in prayer ministry. Randy Heacock, pastor of Doylestown, encouraged and welcomed my involvement in calling the congregation to prayer.  He, along, with the Ministry Leadership Team, affirmed my giftings by asking me to serve on staff as Prayer Minister. I sensed the Spirit was opening the door so I stepped in. Since then I have made several more steps into this calling. I served for several years as Prayer Ministry coordinator for Franconia Conference, working alongside staff and pastors in the conference as well as prayer leaders.  Being mentored by Noel Santiago in the prayer ministry was also helpful for me.

It was during this time that Steve and I attended a conference at Spruce Lake Retreat.  The speaker invited us to ask God what our mission was and I very clearly heard, “You are called to help people pray.” At that time, I did not connect that mission with being called to the ministry as a vocation.

Taking on the identity of a pastor grew gradually as I continued to serve as prayer minister in the congregation but also in other settings. Connecting with persons in my local community, serving on prayer teams in local businesses, and doing more pastoral care visitation in retirement communities have all been important ways for me to grow into the identity of pastor.

The more I think about the mission statement I sensed from the Holy Spirit several years ago, the more I realize that was a call to pastoral work. In Acts 6, we read the story of the apostles discerning their calling in the context of the local church. The apostles declared their priorities to be prayer and the ministry of the word.  Randy preached from this text at my licensing on Jan. 5 and the more I ponder  this, the more I realize that helping people to pray is a  pastoral task.  How important it is that pastors teach the word, but also pray and invite, lead, model, and encourage others to pray!  When we as followers of Christ are able to grow in our relationship with God through prayer, we will be transformed and changed. Very simply, I see that as a priority for pastors. I am thankful to be called to serve Christ, the church, and the world in this way.

The hesitations I had about women in ministry were changed as I began to understand God’s invitation to all in Acts 2:17 where Peter reminds the crowd of the prophecy in Joel of the Holy Spirit being poured out on all people, sons and daughters, young and old. I see the incredible ways God uses both men and women in the kingdom work and I am grateful for God’s work in all of us. I anticipate growing in hope and joy as I continue to walk this journey of ministry alongside my brothers and sisters.

Brokenness and healing in Doylestown

Chaplain George Lindsey and KrisAnne Swartley at Doylestown congregation’s Veteran’s Day prayer service. Photo by Randy Heacock.

by KrisAnne Swartley, Doylestown congregation

On Sunday evening November 10th, a group of people from the community and from Doylestown congregation gathered to reflect on the painful parts of life and to seek hope in God’s Presence.

Chaplain George Lindsey of the local VFW, spoke honestly and with vulnerability about the depression he felt while deployed in Iraq, as well as the PTSD he struggled to overcome when he arrived back home. He also spoke with great confidence about God’s comfort and the many ways God has healed and continues to heal him.  George led us in singing “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand!”

Ron and Robin Miller also spoke about the hope they find in Jesus as they continue to grieve the loss of their son, Brett. They read from Psalm 22, “from birth I was cast upon you, God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near.”

In the candlelight and silence, with broken pieces of slate in our hands to symbolize how broken we sometimes feel, we waited on God. We could hear one another weeping. And then we prayed that God in Jesus would make all things well, even in the midst of suffering.

After the service was over, many of us stayed to talk and pray with one another. It was a healing time of honesty and hope, this beautiful evening that broke down barriers between “church” and “community.”

Introducing Towamencin Mennonite Church

TowamencinTowamencin Mennonite Church is located on Sumneytown Pike in Kulpsville, adjacent to the Lansdale exit of the PA Turnpike. The church has been around since 1713.

Towamencin can be described as a family-friendly, traditional, Anabaptist congregation that is evolving in its diversity and mission. Families from Ethiopia, Kenya, India, and Ghana now call Towamencin their home and we are struggling together to embrace our missional identity. Our mission statement calls us to extend God’s healing, hope, and forgiveness to all through the power of the Holy Spirit, yet we are finding that in practice, this can be a difficult task. So with God’s help, we are on a journey of learning.

Our leadership structure includes a team of four elders, a deacon, and two deaconesses along with our pastor. We also have a church council which gives a voice to persons in the pews.

The location of the church affords us opportunities for ministry. In fact, thousands of commuters drive by our building each day. Our inspirational sign with weekly thought-provoking messages provides both words of encouragement and challenge to these commuters. Some of the commuters use our parking lot for carpooling.  We serve breakfast cake and coffee to these folks several days a year in attempt to get to know them better.

Twice a year, we hold a yard sale which brings many persons to the church. We have found that many of these folks are in need of prayer and a listening ear. Our prayer tent has been a great tool for ministering to these folks. One of our largest ministries at Towamencin is Vacation Bible School.  Each year, 80% of the kids that come to VBS are from the community. This has provided a way for us to connect in direct ways with persons from the community.

We’re fit, prayerful, and we stick together

Phoenix prayer walkby Emily Ralph, eralph@franconiaconference.org

As we neared the park, the police officer guiding our prayer walk through the streets of Phoenix thanked Mennonite Church USA’s leaders for allowing her to participate in the event.  “Many groups string out and lag behind,” she said, “But you guys stick together, you’re fit, and you’re prayerful.  You’ve made my day.”

Her words produced a chuckle that toasty summer evening, but I’ve continued to chew on them as I’ve accompanied Elizabeth Soto Albrecht on the last two weeks of her cross-country journey to visit Mennonite Church USA congregations.

We have visited congregations who gather three or four times a week for prayer meetings, congregations who participate in acts of civil disobedience, congregations who march in parades, who hold community fairs and weekly laundry outreaches, who open their facilities to the homeless, who wrestle with Scripture and sometimes one another.

We met leaders who speak Spanish, English, Indonesian, French, Vietnamese, German, Creole, and Garifuna.  We worshiped with congregations who sang out of hymnbooks, who sang off the wall, who sang from memory.  We prayed with our hands lifted in the air, in silent moments of meditation, and on awkward but delightful walks through city streets.  We had conversations with people who are concerned about the future of Mennonite Church USA, with people who are excited about it, and with people who didn’t even know they belonged to Mennonite Church USA.

In some ways, the police officer’s observations are a reflection of who we want to be, who we are on our best day.  We’re fit, active, working to bring about God’s reign on earth.  We’re prayerful, throwing ourselves and our hopes and dreams on the mercy of a faithful, just, and loving God.  We stick together, knowing that faith must happen in community, even when members of that community don’t agree with or even like one another.

On our journey, Elizabeth has often reminded congregations that our denomination is only 12 years old.  Like most preteens, we’re still trying to figure out who we are, how we should behave.  The next few years, our teen years, will show us what we’re made of as we face increasingly difficult and potentially divisive issues.  Will we stay fit and prayerful?  Will we stick together?  Will our neighbors, like the police officer, want to participate in what God is doing in our midst?

Maybe her words were less an observation and more a prophetic word on that final evening of Convention.  Maybe our prayer walk was less for the people of Phoenix and more for ourselves, a symbolic act that marked the transition between what has been and what could be.  Maybe it was an act of hope, of promise, a way of assuring ourselves, even as we worry and doubt, that with some cold water, exercise, and plenty of prayer, we can stick together.  Even in the Arizona heat.

Hiding treasures where others may find them

House of Prayer: Welcome
House of Prayer: Welcome

by Sandy Drescher-Lehman, Souderton

Making safe space for people to experience the love of God has been a passion of mine ever since I can remember.  That passion has been given life in camp settings, in prison cells, in our home and yard, in homeless shelters, on bicycle trips, in mental health facilities, and in churches.

Thirty years ago, after a profound experience at a retreat center of God’s love totally enveloping and holding me, my life verse became Isaiah 43: “But now, [Sandy], the Lord who created you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name. You are mine.’”  Since that day, I have had the desire to live as many minutes of my life as possible in the heart of that much Love and to help others to connect with that much Love in whatever way they can experience it, thus receiving the healing we all need to become more fully human and to hold more of the Divine.

House of Prayer: Life's Transitions
House of Prayer: Life’s Transitions

A formative book for me was, “Prayer and Temperament” which taught me the different ways that different personalities pray. I resonated with Sue Monk Kidd, when she said “Symbols are the language of the soul” and Paul Tillich who called Christians to the revitalization of their inner lives through the recovery of symbols. I began to notice how not only symbols but color, also, called my soul to go deeper into the wordless heart of God.

Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach encouraged the practice of looking for God in everything. I noticed, as a worship leader, that when all of our senses are called for, people more easily engage in the heart of worship rather than only staying in their head with words and reasoning. And I’ve always loved the stories of Pippi Longstocking, who hid treasures in old tree stumps so she could watch her friends joyfully discover them on their “thing-finding” adventures.

House of Prayer: Resting with God
House of Prayer: Resting with God

So, when I became one of the pastors at Souderton Mennonite Church, I had the chance to combine all those learnings and passions!  Joy Sawatzky and I began inviting people to special times of prayer to begin the Lenten season, combining input with times of silence; spending time alone with God in any of the several prayer centers we created, each with colors and symbols and scriptures. The variety was in the ways participants were invited to use their body or mind or taste buds or ears or sense of smell or sight.  When we ended these retreats by “sharing the wealth” of our time with God, we were always overwhelmed to hear how God had come to each person in exactly the way that was most needed – far beyond anything we could have planned or imagined!

Then about 7 years ago, the ideas for different ways to pray suddenly exploded into 50 and then 60 centers, as more people joined the team, creating ways to express and make available to others how they prayed most easily. In experimenting with each other’s favorite methods and colors and symbols for praying, we discovered that when we try new ways of prayer, we sometimes go even deeper into the heart of God than engaging our usual patterns over and over. We organized the centers into rooms of a house – the kitchen (where we pray as we eat), the study (where we pray as we read and write and kneel and listen to music), the playroom (where tactile centers and craft centers help children play their prayers), the bedroom (where it’s enough to just BE; resting in God’s comfort), the art room (where all kinds of things to create wait to be discovered), and the great outdoors (where the sounds and smells and sights of creation invite us to pray in our walking and in noticing God in the world)

House of Prayer: Prayer Wheels
House of Prayer: Prayer Wheels

And my Pippi-heart loves to hide treasures in places where those who enter may or may not find them! The “House” symbolically calls us to see every room we enter as a place of prayer; every moment we live is another chance to be aware of God’s love and peace and mercy and grace and healing and whatever else we need from the One who created us and continues to create through us!

Souderton’s Lenten House of Prayer will be open February 8-18th, from 9am to 9pm in the congregation’s fellowship hall.  All are welcome to visit.  For more information or to access other Lenten resources from Souderton congregation, visit their website.

God IS at Work…

by Sandy Landes, Franconia Prayer Ministry Coordinator

On November 10, Franconia and Eastern District Conferences will gather for our annual assembly, around the theme of “God at Work.”  More information.

How do we live life in such a way that it requires faith? Hebrews 11 says that, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him, must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

I see God at work building faith in Him in many different ways in our community. In my role as prayer ministry coordinator for Franconia Conference, much of what I do involves seeing people cooperating with God through prayer as they put their faith in a God who invites us to come to the throne of grace with boldness (Hebrews 4:16).

On Wednesday, September 12, twenty-eight pastors and credentialed leaders gathered at Camp Men-O-Lan (Quakertown, Pa.) to spend the day in prayer and fellowship. God was at Work as the pastors listened to what God was saying to them through the Word, through the testimonies of each other, and through creation. I saw faith built as leaders related the ways in which God has been faithful and is providing all they need to continue to follow Jesus and equip the church for ministry.

Salem Mennonite Church (Quakertown, Pa.) was the setting for another example of God at Work, releasing his healing power. Marcella Ruch shared her story of being a “yes” woman for God, even as God called her to a healing ministry after retirement. We may hear the words, “healing ministry” and assume it means only a prayer ministry but there is a duality to the work God is doing through Marcella. Since her retirement 15 years ago, God has used Marcella to start a free clinic for uninsured people in her city of Colorado Springs, to start a medical outreach for the families of Liberia, and to minister his healing power wherever she goes. God blessed Marcella as she shared her testimony and inspired others to also say “yes” to God, even if it doesn’t fit in with their plans. Several persons were touched by God’s love as they received personal prayer ministry by a prayer team.

God's house of promise
God’s House of Promise, on Allentown Road in Souderton, Pa.

I also see God at Work in a new ministry beginning this week in the little stone building on Allentown Road just below Lower Road in Souderton, Pa.  God’s House of Promise is an ecumenical ministry with the purposes of uniting the body of Christ and transforming our community through the continuous reading of God’s Word aloud on a daily basis, offering a place to pray for personal, community, and worldwide needs, and uniting our community in monthly worship.

The kick-off event for God’s House of Promise was held on Saturday, Sept 22 at Souderton (Pa.) Mennonite Church. Seeing worshipers from many different denominations praying together is an example of God at Work answering the prayers of Jesus in John 17, “that they would all be one.”

It is encouraging to see God at work in so many different ways in our community, in the church and outside. As I have been prayer-walking with a close friend in my neighborhood, we have been drawn to stop in at a local bar and to connect with and bless the new friends we are making there. It requires faith that God is at work as we share stories and build connections on a personal level. Through God’s nudging we have prayed for healing, for provision of jobs, and for blessing on the families of the employees. It requires faith to believe that the kingdom of God is present as we enter in to an unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable environment, but we trust that God is at work because we believe, as it says in Ephesians 3:20, that “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

How have you seen God at work in your congregation, community, and conference?  Share your story (in a sentence or several paragraphs—up to you!) here.

2012 Wednesday Morning Prayers at Conference Center

Franconia Conference Wednesday morning prayers

Beginning Weds,  Feb. 1 and continuing through Weds. April 11, a group will meet at the conference center, 569 Yoder Road, Harleysville, 9am-10am to pray. Our prayers will be focused on praying for the region which includes the Franconia conference congregations, partners in mission, and conference related ministries. Everyone is invited to join our hearts with the heart of God to seek first his kingdom. Any questions contact Sandy Landes, prayer ministry coordinator, email: slandes@franconiaconference.org or phone 267-932-6050,x116.

Day of Prayer and Fasting for Norristown New Life/Nueva Vida

Click here for Day-of-Prayer-and-Fasting-for-NNLNV-prayer-guide1

All are invited to set aside a day in October, Weds. Oct 12, to pray and fast and seek the Lord on behalf of our brothers and sisters of Norristown New Life in “Enlarging their Place in God’s World”,  as well as the work God wants to do in our communities in bringing forth the kingdom. A prayer gathering will be held on Weds am, Oct 12, 9 am -10:00 am  at the Franconia conference center to join your prayers with others. In addition, a group will gather in Norristown at the meetinghouse, 3 E. Marshall St., that day from 12 noon to 1 pm. to pray and walk through and around the property.

Toward transformation with the Wild Goose

Steve Kriss, Philadelphia Praise Center, skriss@franconiaconference.org

In late August the board and staff of Franconia Conference gathered to share dreams and visions, to work at logistical details for assembly and to take a step toward reconciliation and healing. It was a beautiful day at the pavilion behind the meetinghouse at Blooming Glen, amongst cornfields—the first day when brisk air invites longsleeves and light jackets after a hot summer. We were meeting to do business plan, to eat together, to imagine.

As the sun was setting to the west, we gathered in a circle for prayer, confession, and mutual commissioning. Led by LEADership Minister Ray Yoder, we prayed with the Conference’s core values and vision—centered in Christ—placed on the floor between us. We were there in a shared journey, shared struggle, with sometimes shared hope and sometimes contested dreams. We are different people, representing different histories, perspectives, congregations. It’s hard work and real commitment in a postmodern world to be together, to witness together, to carry each other’s joys and burdens.

Photo by Emily Ralph

But something interesting happened as we ended our prayer, at the moment of our confession of our struggle, our inadequacies, our failures and foibles—a trail of wild geese streamed over us loudly, moved to form a V and flew into the sunset. In Celtic Christianity, a tradition that maintained a healthy and hearty faithful Christianity while the rest ofEuropeand the Mediterranean region muddled through a difficult time, the Wild Goose was a name given the Holy Spirit. In that evening, amidst our questions and questing, I think the Spirit invited us again to move on, to press into a new day, to gather our diversity of experience and perspective, to pay attention to the signs around us in creation, culture, Text and Spirit and to soar into God’s future.

When I am reading this Intersections, I am struck again by how the Spirit continues to stir us. Within these pages, the diverse dreams for the reign of God and the life of discipleship that we incarnate are written in story form. We are people of many commitments and ways of describing God. We’ve been called forth and cultivated from many places . . . and we’re going into diverse places fromVermonttoBaltimoretoEngland. We’re young dreamers, pilgrim seekers and mature leaders building peace in places like Souderton, Quakertown and Allentown. We’re trying out the reconciling process by gathering across historic divisions and cultural boundaries with assembly this year . . . and we’re committing to a yearlong journey focusing on extending Christ’s justice and peace.

It feels like we’re trying to follow the Wild Goose, recognizing a new day, moving in diverse and unexpected places, seeing sometimes what was unimaginable emerge, and grappling to deal with it and make sense of it. The Celtic Christians maintained a real faith in tough and confusing times. They provoked art, developed mission movements and cultivated missional communities. They used resources creatively and carefully. They were mindful of the connection of body, soul, mind, land, resources and the resurrected Christ.

When I read our stories in this issue, I know we’re on the journey. The Spirit is stirring. Something continues to be breaking forth. We’ll need to continue to be prepared for it, to cultivate, to hope and work, to pay attention for both the signs and possibilities around us, near and far. The Spirit invites us as a historic and yet emerging community further into a journey, offering up a mission which we might embrace and find both ourselves and the world transformed through the story of the Good News even in disconcerting times.