Shared Experience, Shared Hope - Kathryn King
It was the end of our annual women's retreat. I was cleaning up some odds and ends while people were saying their goodbyes all around me. We had just finished our last service where I had run the PowerPoint, and the women were exchanging numbers and hugs. I had already said goodbye to most of the women I knew and connected with over the weekend when Mary Flin, our missionary in Topeka, tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to find her standing with one of the ladies she brought from Topeka, an older woman who was very quiet. Mary told me her name was Doriece and that she had just been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
As I looked over to Doriece I saw her eyes fill with tears as Mary told me more of her story. I took her hand as I heard that the doctors were very harsh with her when they gave her the diagnosis and told her that she should prepare for the worst. These doctors left her with little hope and little information, so Doriece left the office feeling scared and alone. I gave Doriece a hug and she clung tightly to me. I had the opportunity to tell her my story–how I had multiple surgeries and radiation treatment for my thyroid cancer, but that I was told that it has a good outcome most of the time. I gave her the little advice I had from my experience, and I hugged her as she cried. She told me that I gave her hope, and I pray she left feeling loved and cared for.
As we said goodbye and exchanged contact information, my eyes filled with tears. There have been many times during this past year when I wondered why I had cancer. At times it seemed like pointless pain and fear had been brought into my life. I know that God has used it in my own heart to teach me things about Himself and to trust in Him. But if it was all for the purpose of giving this one hurting woman from the inner city of Topeka some hope, then it was worth it all. I am so glad that God gave me that glimpse of His plan. Doriece is a sweet soul who desires to shine a light in her city. I pray that as she goes through treatment, God continues to use my story to give her hope.
Kathryn King lives and serves in Wichita, KS, with her husband Jordan and their two sons.
Midwest Regional Update
Last week concluded our youth camps at MSR Camp & Retreat Center. Our schedule stays fully booked year-round with youth and family camps, conferences, Christmas in the Country and all sorts of small group retreats, volunteer projects and reunions that all support the greater mission of World Impact. Our women's retreat last spring hit record numbers and we are gearing up for the men's conference in October—it promises to be equally large. Churches from all over the region come to MSR for a real sense of Christian family and togetherness.
Our TUMI classes are continually expanding. We have classes in multiple prisons around the Midwest and in all our ministry cities of Dallas, Denver, St. Louis, Topeka and Wichita. The inmates in the Hutchinson (near Wichita) and Lansing (near Topeka) Correctional Facilities are working toward beginning their own church plants within the prison walls! We even have TUMI satellites in Cuba, India, and South Africa that began through relationships here in the Midwest.
Our 17 Associates are already fully engaged in missions and it is our joy to come alongside them in whatever way we can. Through their partnerships we are able to:
- start more TUMI satellites (one of which recently began in Fort Worth, TX)
- plant more churches in urban areas (Iglesia del Maestro recently partnered with Mount Moriah)
- minister inside more prisons (Associates in Denver are expanding our presence in local prisons)
- increase our reach within the city through evangelistic outreaches
In Wichita, our mobile medical clinic travels to five different sites each week to offer acute medical care in the name of Jesus and offers a monthly dental clinic as well. Each site is a partnering church with volunteer church members ready to talk and pray with each patient. Our World Impact Thrift Store continues to be an affordable place for clothing and home goods in the city. We have seen increased gang activity in the neighborhood surrounding our store, but we continue to be an outpost of the gospel in a troubled area.
The Midwest is home to many of our senior level staff members including our newest member, Reverend Dr. Alvin Sanders. Alvin will serve as our national team leader of ministry mobilization and implementation, overseeing processes of greater faithfulness and fruitfulness in World Impact's four focus areas and the ministry initiatives within them. Welcome to the World Impact family, Alvin.
Structured Prayer - Matt Penner
In modern evangelicalism we seem to value a more individualized spirituality. There is great emphasis on personal Bible study and quiet times, but set and structured prayers have been lost. Praying at a set time in a structured way seems to fly in the face of our highly personal, self-focused culture.
My daughter spent much of her 5th grade year studying Church history—specifically monks—and she wanted to see it all first hand. So, our family headed to a Benedictine monastery in Tulsa, OK, for a three-day spiritual retreat. At this abbey, the monks follow a strict communal prayer life, praying in Latin seven times a day. They allow guests to come and participate in the prayer times as a spiritual retreat.
It was impressive to see the discipline and rigor of the monks. They get up at 4:45 every day and gather for prayer seven times a day. We were able to go to five of these prayer times and they gave us just a small taste of what that would be like. As I left the abbey, I thought about having more serious and fixed times of prayer for myself.
Prayer is hard work. It isn't easy and it doesn't come natural. Left to ourselves, it is easy to forsake prayer for other activities. While we know that prayer is important and valuable to our spiritual lives, it is just difficult to make it a consistent part of our schedule. God knew this human struggle; therefore, He set up structured prayer and worship to enable His people to better connect with Him.
The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:64, "Seven times a day I praise you..." In Daniel 6 we see Daniel's regular practice was to pray three times a day. Jesus clearly modeled and needed regular times of prayer as he would rise early in the morning or spend the night praying to His Father (Luke 5:16, 6:12; Mark 1:35). This model of structured prayer times continued with some of the early Church Fathers, Tertullian and Cyprian, who promoted prayer three times a day. By 530 A.D., Benedict's Rule was set up where monks prayed seven times a day, the same Rule the monks in Tulsa follow.
This is only a brief history of how structured prayer is biblically and historically sound. While there have been different modes and ways to structure prayer, consistent times are morning and evening prayer. The best way to start is to consider morning and evening prayer and then just pray through the Psalms. Below is a schedule to pray through the Psalms in a month. If you want more structured prayer and a way to connect to the ancient church, you could consider going through the Book of Common Prayer.
There are many ways we can connect to the Lord, but structured times of prayer is one of the tried and true methods that the church has consistently done for centuries.
Matt Penner is World Impact's National Prayer Director. He and his family live and serve in Wichita, Kansas.