ELKHART, Ind. -- When the announcement for Mennonite Mission Network’s Day of Prayer came across his desk, the Rev. Neil Amstutz was interested, but wasn’t sure he had the energy to organize more activities. For the busy pastor of Waterford Mennonite Church (Goshen, Ind.), it seemed like just one more thing on an already long to-do list.
But the more he thought about it, the more he dwelled on the importance of doing something. He also remembered the people he knew from Benin, West Africa.
“I thought of my friends, Bonaventure, Antoine, Frederick and others, from Benin Bible Institute,” he said, “and how embarrassed I would be if they knew that I thought I was too busy to have a prayer meeting about my own church and about mission.”
That was the clincher, said Amstutz. He decided to ask Elaine Jarvis, a member of the church, to take on the organizational tasks, and on Friday night, May 18, a small group gathered for prayer.
“In the end, it didn’t matter whether we were in a full sanctuary, or 10 people gathered around a table,” he said. “God and the people of God at Waterford met together in that room to pray for three things: the mission and leadership of our congregation; Benin Bible Institute and our partnership; and Mission Network mission workers around the world."
Marlene Kroeker, the chairperson of Mission Network’s Day of Prayer planning committee, says what happened at Waterford is exactly what she and her committee hoped for.
“There are a lot of ways for churches and individuals to pray,” she said. “Waterford found a way that worked for them, and it was a blessing to Mission Network and to the people who attended.”
In Elida, Ohio, congregants at Salem Mennonite Church prayed specifically for Moriah Hurst, an MMN worker in Australia, who they support, and then collected special prayers and cards for her on Sunday. Hively Avenue Mennonite Church, in Elkhart, Ind., dedicated an hour Friday morning to praying for Mission Network workers by using prayer cards and Mission Mosaic, MMN’s prayer directory. Mennonite Church USA staff took part in a 24-hour prayer vigil, as did supporters of Lois and Wayne Hochstetler, who are worker care specialists based in London.
And all day long, prayer requests from Africa, South America and elsewhere popped up on Mission Network’s Facebook page.
“We were in good company,” said Kroeker. “Mary Raber, an MMN worker in Ukraine, and a group of people from her congregation had an all-night prayer vigil, and Joint Christian Services, a Mission Network partner agency in Asia, had a 40-hour prayer vigil on May 17 and 18.”
The Mongolia Mission Partnership, a group of congregations in Ohio that support mission work in Mongolia, held a 24-hour prayer vigil, with each of the six churches taking a four-hour time slot and then holding a fundraising meal at the end of the time of prayer.
The idea for the Mission Network Day of Prayer came about because both MMN workers and staff recognized the importance of prayer in their work, and because they wanted a day to focus specifically on praying for mission. In 2011, May 18 was set as the designated date for the first Day of Prayer, and congregations and individuals were encouraged to think of ways to pray for both local and international mission work.
Watching all the creative ways people choose to pray is inspirational, says Kroeker, and it encourages her and the Day of Prayer committee as they think about the third annual Day of Prayer in 2013.
“We love to see people getting excited about prayer and about mission!” she said.
Mennonite Mission Network, the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA, leads, mobilizes and equips the church to participate in holistic witness to Jesus Christ in a broken world. Media may contact Andrew Clouse at email@example.com, 574-523-3024 or 866-866-2872, ext. 23024.