By Johnathon Goodenow
PEORIA – Annual conference attendees took time out early Saturday to attend the annual prayer breakfast and remember the ministries supported by Our Conference, Our Kids.
Cards with pictures representing the fruits of the Spirit were on each of the tables, emphasizing that these ministries help to foster these fruits in children who need support and might not otherwise be touched by a faith community. These children had written short messages on the cards thanking the church for helping support these programs.
A volunteer spoke from each of the five ministries (The Baby Fold, Chaddock, Cunningham Children’s Home, Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House and Spero Family Services), giving testimonies of the amazing things God did through these programs and showing that each one was causing children and parents to yield great fruit.
Lori Bultemeier, from The Baby Fold, said that it was extremely important that Christians pray for the volunteers in these ministries. “They need a community of faith to lean on so that they have the energy and the faith to help these children and families in need,” she said. Oftentimes, the people they serve don’t have any other faith resources, and the volunteers fill that gap. She said if the volunteers don’t have resources to “refill” and strengthen their own faith however, they will struggle to be able to give it to others.
The children and families served by OCOK often have to surpass violence and hardship that few could imagine. Be it physical abuse from a parent, poverty or absence of parents, these children often overcome a lot as these ministries help them and teach them in whatever ways they can.
Deborah Pollex from Spero Family Services told a story about a time she used sand from a Zen garden to teach some children about God’s love. She told a group of them to pick up a handful of the sand, and then said that each individual grain of sand represented thoughts that God had about them specifically. The children started to protest and attempted to pick up smaller amounts of sand that they believed represented God’s actual care for them, but the wet sand stuck to their hands and they couldn’t get rid of it.
“I think they got it,” Pollex said.
After the testimonies, attendees gathered around the staff to pray. Together they prayed for their ministries that they might touch the hearts and minds of each person that they meet, but they also prayed for each volunteer individually. At each table in the room, agency staff sat while a group of United Methodists huddled around them and laid hands on them. The room echoed with prayers as roughly 15 were prayed over several times each.
The Spirit moved in the attendees that morning, and tears welled up in the eyes of persons prayed for as they felt each prayer.
Do remember to pray for the staff and volunteers of the agencies being supported by the Our Conference, Our Kids campaign. The ministry that they do in the IGRC is not small, and they reach many hearts with the help of God. Pray that they might be continually filled with the Spirit and not become tired, but renewed and refreshed.