In Chattanooga, TN there is a support organization for youth ministry called the Chattanooga Youth Network (the name probably didn’t take most of the initial meeting). They sponsor training, retreats, and other events for youthworkers in the Tennessee Valley area. The executive director of that entity, Tony Souder, has become a friend over the years as I approach the five year mark at my current church.
In the spring of last year, Tony reached out to those of us in the network for prayer. His wife has suffered for over 15 years with unbelievable, undiagnosable pain. She hasn’t been able to go to church in ten years. She’s been suffering as long as I’ve been married. Try to think of anything that you’ve done for 15 years, then trade out those memories for suffering–that’s been Rhonda’s existence for that amount of time.
Reaching out for Tony wasn’t easy; he visibly struggled with emotion each time he’d bring himself to talk to our small group of Chattanooga area UMC youthworkers. And as I worked last spring to create a prayer service for our youth specifically for Tony, I found myself struggling as well–I felt selfish, asking for specific prayer for one of my own friends. Surely other needs existed in the families of our own church that were equally deserving of such attention.
What emerged from that effort was an examination of the practice of prayer. How do we decide how we’ll spend our time in prayer? Are we picky? Are we generous? Do we think it really matters or makes a difference? In the links below you’ll find a PDF leader guide and 3 mp4 video segments that create an hour long (or longer) session for use with your group. At the end of the PDF we’ve provided an opportunity for you to communicate to Tony that you & your group participated. Hearing from groups around the country will bring some relief to a family that has had difficulty as a constant companion for longer than I care to imagine.
The session is copyrighted by my curriculum company (the Youthworker Circuit) but it is offered free of charge and you’re encouraged to copy/paste or share or rent a plane and drop-it-as-propaganda as you see fit. We just want to cover this family in love and community.
Here’s the PDF – Why We Pray
And you can find the videos here: YouthWorker Movement YouTube Channel
Peace to you all,