“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress….The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Is. 9:1a, 2)
Today I received an email to pastors involved with the Church Renewal movement initiated by Southland Church in Steinbeck, Manitoba. One of their prayer partners received this word of encouragement that they shared with us. I felt drawn to pray for Covid and the effect it is having on the churches. I saw this big grey blanket dropping over the churches and wanting to stifle them. It was bringing despair and hopelessness. As the pastors stayed connected in Church Renewal, lifting one another up, there was a comradery. They picked up their armor and learned a new way to wear it. As the pastors prayed with hands lifted to heaven, the congregants saw and were encouraged. There were candles being lit all through the churches and the blanket lifted.
I think that is a good picture of what is happening in our society during these days. Covid challenges have been like a grey blank on our world that is causing fear, despair, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, financial stress, family conflict, addictions, depression and hopelessness among us. However, the church doesn’t need to be smothered with that spirit of gloom. We have seen Jesus who came into the world at a dark time for Israel, and dispelled gloom for many by showing them that He had come to save them from their own sinfulness, bless them and make them a blessing to the world. As the ones who have seen the light of God shinning in the face of Jesus, we can be light to our neighbors who live in darkness this Christmas season.
I sense that this year, there is an increased eagerness in our society to celebrate Christmas. Most don’t know what sparked the love, joy and peace that Christmas fosters, but we can light candles of hope as we celebrate with joy His coming and tell the world why we celebrate it. I am asking the Lord to help me share this good news in some way, with at least one person each week, perhaps you will pray a similar prayer this Advent.
“Growing Your Local Church into a House of Prayer” Prayer Summit
We rounded off the 4 part Prayer Summit series this past Thursday night. All of them have been very inspiring and well attended. During this fourth one a number of people from our movement, shared some practical initiatives and ways to grow the prayer life of your church.
If you would like to view the video of this past Prayer Summit you can find it on the FMCIC website under the Prayer menu, in the “Resources” box (if it isn’t in the box when you get this, check the next day or so). Unfortunately, we did not have the “translation room” feature added to this past summit and so our dear French-speaking brothers and sisters were unable to hear a translation of the summit. We are so sorry for that oversight and hope to have it translated for you in video format.
Answers to Prayer
Originally, we had planned on holding the Prayer Summit for an evening and morning before General Conference this past June, but because of Covid, both General Conference and the Prayer Summit were cancelled as in-person events. But, we developed “a new way to wear our armour” and held 4 online summits instead. I think that in the end we had just as many in actual attendance as we had hoped for (a hundred) and then more, as people share these videos with others. One church told me that they plan to share them in some of their small groups.
The other way I see God answering prayer for us is that Doug and Margie Newton have not only been instructors for us in prayer, but have become a part of our National Prayer Team during this time. They see God at work in our prayer movement and so have enthusiastically and sacrificially prayed with us and helped us plan these times. Now they have offered to coach any of our churches that would like help developing the prayer life of their church! And they are willing to do this at no charge to your church. If you would like to contact them about this you can do so at [email protected] or [email protected]
Prayer Points for our November 25, 2020 National Prayer Meeting
1. Thank God for the good Prayer Summits and for Doug and Margie’s help. Pray that God would help us to apply the principles taught and be inspired by the initiatives shared.
2. That God would completely heal Doug Newton of Covid and give he and Margie strength to continue being catalysts of prayer in the Free Methodist churches.
3. That God would search our hearts and reveal anything that is displeasing to Him personally, in our churches and as family of churches, and help us to repent of them so that nothing is hindering our prayers.
4. That Bishop Cliff and the National Leadership Team will stay close to the heart of God and His Word, so that they will know what His will is for our movement at this time, and have the courage and wisdom to lead us in that way.
5. That pastors and congregations will know how to care for their flock under these restrictive conditions.
6. That our churches will know how to share and celebration the coming of the “Light of the World” at this Christmas time.
7. That the National Prayer Team will know where to go from here in its efforts to help stir up a spirit of prayer within our movement.
8. That we will experience a unity that is based on being one in mind, love, spirit and purpose (Php. 2:1,2)