Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
All praises and thanksgiving to our Lord for the CRC National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 7. A sincere thank you to all who joined us for a virtual prayer meeting, and for those who prayed at home or somewhere else. In this letter I hope to capture how the Spirit brought us together!
On April 13, I shared a vision for a virtual National Day of Prayer with Colin Watson, our acting Executive Director, to ensure this vision aligned with one of his three priorities for our denomination: prayer. His response, "I love this idea."
In less than a month, with God's help, we coordinated a successful denominational National Day of Prayer, including churches, ministries, denominational agencies, and staff in the U.S., Canada, and around the world.
We began by connecting with existing prayer ministries and individuals. We were blessed with such an incredible planning team and facilitators:
- Rev. Jon Hoekema, Pastor, Horizon Community Church, Downers Grove, IL
- Rev. Aris Sanchez, Pastor, Outreach & Missions, Spirit and Truth Fellowship, Philadelphia, PA
- Rev. Emily Vanden Heuvel, Sr. Producer Pastoral Care, Prayer Ministry Coordinator, ReFrame Media, Grand Rapids, MI
- Rev. Mirtha Villafane, Local Mission Leader Greater Los Angeles, Hispanic Developer Classis Greater Los Angeles, CA
- Rev. Fred Harvey, Lead Pastor, Spirit and Truth Fellowship, Philadelphia, PA
- Bob Dekker, Donor Relations Manager Michigan & East Coast, Grand Rapids, MI
- Patti Fisher, Travel and Logistics Coordinator, Resonate Global Mission, Grand Rapids, MI
- James Boldenow, Member, Encounter Church, Grand Rapids, MI
- Rev. Bonny Mulder-Behnia, Executive Pastor, Rosewood CRC, Bellflower, CA
- Rev. Larry Doornbos, Director, Vibrant Congregations, Grand Rapids, MI
- Becky Tjapkes, Candidate Eligible for Call, Ferrysburg Community Church, Spring Lake, MI
- Randall Bohl, Church and Missionary Support Developer, Resonate Global Mission, Grand Rapids, MI
- Bryan Haley, Back to God Ministries International, Grand Rapids, MI
- Rev. Jeff Vanderhooft, Pastor, Rock of Life CRC, Willmar, MN
- Bonnie Nicholas, Director, Safe Church Ministry, Grand Rapids, MI
- Rev. Dan De Graff, Pastor, Baldwin CRC, Baldwin, MI
- Rev. Kyle Haack, Pastor, Wheaton CRC, Wheaton, IL
- Rev. Mark Timmer, Pastor, Third CRC, Zeeland, MI
- Rev. Pete Byma, Pastor, Westview CRC, Allendale, MI
On May 7, we had three opportunities for prayer at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m. Immediately, upon joining the call, participants heard God's word.
Psalm 107:1-3 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those be redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. (read in its entirety)
Romans 8:18-19 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (read through verse 30)
We were warmly welcomed with a purpose and focus statement and joined in a prayer acknowledging God's sovereignty and the Holy Spirit's presence. The instructions for virtual transport from the large room to breakout rooms caught our attention and raised our curiosity! We were transported safely. Each prayer room was led by a facilitator. Using a list of prayer points, they helped create an atmosphere for prayer. We are grateful for a Spanish language breakout room led by Mirtha Villafane in the evening.
We then came back to the large room, where we heard about the possibility of having denominational meetings similar to this one quarterly. We ended the event with a prayer celebrating God's goodness, comfort, and peace.
Here's what facilitator Bonny Mulder-Behnia said later when asked the following questions: What did you experience as a facilitator? What did this mean to you?
I was blessed to hear a former teacher pray compassionately for children, a former health care worker pray empathetically for those on the front lines, a retired pastor pray wisely for the leaders of our denomination during this daunting season of the church, and a female pastor pray tenderly for an elderly gentleman who couldn't find the words his heart was trying to express. I felt the Holy Spirit in our breakout zoom session with people from various places and backgrounds, yet all brothers and sisters in Christ.
Here's what some participants said:
Thank you for a meaningful prayer time on Zoom! To God be the Glory! "Rejoice always. Pray constantly. In all circumstances give thanks." 1 Thess. 5:16-18.—Verla M. Blom
Yes, I would be interested in doing this quarterly!—Tiffany Louzon, Special Needs Ministry Coordinator
I am so grateful for this initiative, and I have been concerned about the prayer ministry of the CRC. I am encouraged. Let’s do it again.—Eldean Kamp
Great, powerful time. Thanks. It was mentioned that if we care to consider doing this every quarter, we should connect with you. I am interested.—Gary Schipper
Thanks to the planning committee for all your work! It was really good to pray with people from other parts of the country, other churches, and other believers. I think this would be great to see more of in the future.—Dan De Graff
I wanted to let you know that I would be interested in participating in future denominational prayer gatherings. May the Lord continue to bless you and your ministry!—Mark Bennink
I would like to be added to the list for future prayer gatherings. Thank you for organizing us this evening for a moment united in prayer.—Rebecca Hall
I appreciate hearing from those who shared this experience! This was such an incredible prayer meeting. The prayer points are attached below if you would like to use them personally or in your church or ministry. We will continue praying as the Body of Christ!
I am also grateful for Diane Dykgraaf's excellent leadership and instructions on navigating from the central gathering place to breakout rooms (and back again). If you are inspired to join us for prayer in the future, please email Denise Posie at [email protected].
In closing, I believe what Patti Fisher said, "Our heavenly Father is smiling!"
Abundant grace to you,
Denise and Diane (Leadership Diversity)