Like finding a gift in the closet six weeks after Christmas
Converge Content Specialist
Discipleship & spiritual formation
“God has a way of distributing his tidbits of peace, joy and understanding in his time. And by taking the 21 days of prayer and allowing those verses, thoughts and prayers to come into your heart and soul, we’re able to absorb them into our being and shine that light out into the community.” — Cheryl Karam, a member of Valley Community Baptist Church in Avon, Connecticut
With many churches still unable to meet in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Converge churches across the country and world found unique and creative ways to start 2021 with 21 Days of Prayer.
In Cushing, Minnesota, a rural village of fewer than 100 people, Cushing Baptist Church is the only church in town. Because Cushing Baptist is small, they’ve been able to continue to meet in person.
But some people haven’t been able to come back to church. Pastor Dan Holmes delivered the 21 Days of Prayer guide to their home to help them stay connected.
“This year, upfront, I was going to make a big effort to make 21 Days of Prayer a more personal outreach from me back to my congregation,” Holmes said. “Because we’re suffering from the disruption of connection.
“People were glad to see me. We were able to talk, through the door, for 5-10 minutes. Even the ones who are the leeriest of all this still welcomed me.
“I hoped this exercise would help rebuild some of our connections that have taken a bit of a beating during the pandemic. One of the best benefits of this year’s 21 Days of Prayer is it gave us a tool that helped us reconnect.”
“I tried to reinforce the theme in such a way that people would then follow through with a devotional that week that would bring an application in a more personal way,” he said.
Finding community online
Marshfield, Wisconsin, is a town of about 18,000 people located in the center of the state. Hub Life Church, a new Converge Great Lakes church plant, started holding weekly gatherings in downtown Marshfield in September 2019. The church participated in 21 Days of Prayer during its pre-launch and launch team phases in 2019 and post-launch in 2020.
This year, Hub Life gathered online for its 21 Days of Prayer. Every day, 16 church members read a devotional and Scriptures based on their values. They also shared what God was saying to them through each day’s reading.
“We’re all unique individuals who God has created. We all have different gifts. We all think differently. We all have ways that we think about the Word differently,” lead pastor Casey Schifelbine said. “And all of our different ways of thinking about the Scriptures and what it’s saying, not taking the belief away and the faith and the truth of it, but just saying it in different ways is really encouraging to all of us.”
The pastor said the emphasis on prayer would continue as they live out their value of leaning on God. The church has a Facebook Messenger prayer group and a Thursday night prayer gathering.
“I believe the church is like a train, and prayer fuels the train. This is why we create a space every Thursday night for prayer and why we participate in 21 Days of Prayer,” Schifelbine said. “We will continue to have prayer as an emphasis in our sermon series and through our YouVersion Bible App. We will continue to think of creative ways to have our people pray so that we love people and lead them to meet, know and follow Jesus.”
“The tidbit God gave me was like a gift”
Valley Community Baptist Church in Avon, Connecticut, gathered in person and online on January 31 to celebrate and share their 21 Days of Prayer experiences.
“God helped me to realize something extremely important,” church member Cheryl Karam said. “We don’t know what other people are going through.
“The tidbit that God gave me was like a gift. It was like uncovering something when you’re digging with your kids in the yard. It was like uncovering something totally unexpected — like finding a gift in the closet six weeks after Christmas.”
Michael Smith serves as Converge’s content specialist. He has nearly two decades in the newspaper publishing industry. Michael worked as a copy editor and designer for the Tampa Tribune for more than a dozen years. He also was a member of the editorial staff of Florida Baptist Witness and other publications across the Southeast.