40 Years of Prayer – Live Deeply

We’re Helen McKinney, Elizabeth Anderson and Renee Cook, and this is how we’re living deeply through the Missions Prayer Meeting, which takes place every Friday morning at 9 in Room B237 in the main church building. You’re invited to join. We’d love to have you!

Helen McKinney: “We started the Missions Prayer Meeting in about 1981. Actually for a long time before that, I had prayed at home for CSPC missionaries by myself. I would just look over the update letters they sent and pray over them. One of my good friends knew I was praying and she was interested in missions also. So she started praying with me, just the two of us, for a year or more. And for some reason -I can’t remember exactly how- other people started getting interested in coming. Eventually the size grew to about 20 people praying each week, which was great. Each one of us would take about three or four letters and we would all pray for them together. It was a ministry I was interested in because, having been a missionary, I realized how important prayer was. The missionaries just seemed at first like they couldn’t believe they had a group going through their letters and praying just for them. It makes such a difference. We didn’t have a group like this when I was on the mission field. I was just so thrilled at the relationships with them and to know what they were doing and what their problems were. I could relate- my husband was a doctor, and together we opened a 72-bed mission hospital in Honduras. Over 21 years we developed nursing, technician and X-ray schools. So much was accomplished, but we also found out firsthand that being a missionary is hard. Moving to a third world country was hard. Learning the language was hard- I didn’t know Spanish when we went. And in terms of school, we had a good missionary school nearby, so the kids were cared for and we had them at home through eighth grade. But the hardest part for me of all of it was sending our children away back to the USA for high school. They were older, of course, but kids aren’t ready to be separated from their families at that age. Moms aren’t ready for the separation either!”

Elizabeth Anderson: “Helen McKinney is my mom, and I’ve been attending the Missions Prayer Meeting since about 1996. Every week we get lots of update letters –probably 40 or more- from missionaries. We obviously have quite a few missionaries, mission agencies and organizations that CSPC supports, so the church has a particular email address they can send their letters to and then we can access those letters. I maintain the files and folders for the prayer letters. Starting in 2001, after 20 years of running the meetings, my mom was getting tired. It was a lot of work to both organize the prayer letters and lead the prayer group. So during the summer of 2001, she said ‘I think we’re just going to have to take a break this summer.’ I said, ‘We can’t stop praying for the missionaries all summer long.’ So I took over organizing the letters that summer and my friend Linda Lind said she would lead the prayer group. That’s what we did for the summer. The only thing is, Mom never took the responsibility back. So now I’ve been doing it for 20 years!”

Renee Cook: “I’d gradually developed an interest in missions from our family having dinner with and then housing a missionary. When you start hearing the highs and lows of what it’s like, the next logical step is to think, ‘Gosh, these people need prayer.’ So I started coming to the Missions Prayer Meeting in probably 2000. And then in 2007 or 2008, Linda Lind was moving further away from the church and asked me to take over the leadership. Mine is the easiest job. I just open the group –I have to look at the emails and see what’s of highest importance or what I think the group most needs to know about and pray over. So my part is just to say, ‘Here are our big things going on.’ If we find out missionaries are coming to town, we reach out to them and say ‘Hey, come to the prayer meeting’ because it’s very true that once our group hears from their hearts, gets to see a face and gets to know a personality, we just pray better. So we encourage our missionaries to come when they can.”

Renee Cook: “Each weekly meeting usually lasts about an hour, with 20 to 25 people in attendance. First the whole group first prays for big needs together, and then we split into groups of two and take three or four letters apiece to pray over. Right now a lot of the prayer needs are COVID-related: Can they get back into their countries? How are they adjusting? Can they resume their ministries? A lot of them may be in country, but they’re in lockdown. Many are going through what it’s like to be sick.”

Elizabeth Anderson: “We encourage the praying people in our group to reach out and write to tell the missionaries they’re being prayed for. And we have several that are faithful to do that. When they do, we’ll often hear back from the missionaries the same day. They appreciate so much somebody writing, praying for and remembering them, so that’s very fulfilling. One thing Renee often reminds us is that there’s also a lot going on that does not make the prayer letters. It’s stuff that maybe is too personal, too hurtful. And so she reminds us to pray for those things that are not in the prayer letters as well.”

Renee Cook: “Missionaries tell us they feel isolated, forgotten and alone. They just reach out and say, ‘Please pray for me.’ Most of the church never knows about that. Other people who support them never know these things happen. One couple was in Niger and their home was attacked by rebels. They lost everything- the home was burned to the ground. We knew about it that night and could just pray amid the hurt, fear and all that that was going on. We encourage missionaries that whenever an urgent need comes up –it can be an email of four sentences- let us know and we will pray. Yes, every missionary we support has a folder with pictures and background and then their latest letters, so they get rotated through and prayed for even if they never send us a prayer request. But every week they send a request, they will get prayed for. So it’s possible to get prayed for every week by our prayer group.”

Elizabeth Anderson: “One of the real perks of attending the Missions Prayer Meeting is that whenever our missionaries are in town, usually they will come and join us. There’s nothing like seeing them in person, hearing directly from them what’s really going on; getting to know their personality. That’s just a real perk.”

Renee Cook: “Every year during the CSPC Global Missions Conference, we invite the missionaries who are attending to come to our prayer group. Then we give them our folder and we say, ‘Are your latest updates in here?” and we make them exchange with someone else. The point is- is it easy to pray for the folder you’re given? We want them to help us know how to pray for them, and to make sure the needs we’re praying for are current. They often leave the meeting saying, ‘A lot of people say they pray for us, but you really mean it.’ Even once they’re back on the mission field, some will say they can feel the prayers on their behalf at the time the meeting is going on.”

Helen McKinney: “I can’t believe this group I helped start is still going 40 years later, but I’m sure thankful. Because of our weekly prayer for the missionaries, the concept has spread to other churches in other places. God is really at work.”

Renee Cook: “We would like the prayer meeting to be big enough that we could pray for every CSPC missions partner every week. But we’re still asking for, still dreaming about that. Anyone who wants to come can simply show up at 9am Friday morning in Room B237 in the main church building. Also, if you’re nervous about praying out loud, please know you don’t have to do that in front of the whole group. You just pray out loud with the other person when you break into your groups of two. Each person takes turns with his or her folders, praying for the items that are there. For 40 years, God has been showing up at CSPC to hear lambs pray. We just need to sit back and marvel at that. There are times we’re all praying in our groups and I should just focus on what the other person with me is praying, and I am. But at the same time you begin to hear these echoes of everyone praying around the room. There is nothing as precious as that.”

 

 

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