It is so encouraging to have such a wide group of friends & family following my journey and praying for my ministry at GOHOP (Greater Ontario House of Prayer).
A couple big endeavours have wrapped up for me…
The Online TrueCity Conference & Prayer Room was a great success! I’m always a little wary of online versions of things but to my (happy) surprise the TrueCity Conference and the Prayer Room weren’t just successful they were also very meaningful. If you missed the conference I would highly recommend these 2 videos:
- Refraction, an artistic reflection and poem by Brielle Goheen (7 min) touching on the themes of mental health, trauma and brokenness. There is a real openness and honesty to this video. https://youtu.be/DyfP6OTV8K0
- Jill Weber’s talk on “Invitations in the Wilderness” (20 min). Jill is one of the founders of GOHOP and a good friend. Her talk is very relevant for anyone experiencing the pandemic as a wilderness season. https://youtu.be/as-ZzN1ys2U
In preparation for the conference I was part of the online prayer room planning team. My biggest contribution was creating “A Visual Guide to Prayer Walking.” This was made available in 3 formats:
- Full colour version for smartphones
- Black & white printer friendly version
- Online social media campaign. For three weeks I posted images, prayer prompts and stories related to the prayer guide on GOHOP’s FaceBook and Instagram pages.
This visual prayer guide was definitely my creative “baby” and I’m very happy with how it was received by churches in Hamilton. I’m also pleasantly surprised how it travelled to other parts of North America. 24-7 Prayer Canada was invited to do some prayer workshops for leaders with Alpha (a discipleship and outreach initiative that many churches use). My prayer walking guide was one of the resources that they suggested people. 24-7 Prayer Portland was also encouraging people on Instagram to take a look at the guide. When I was creating the drawings and prayer prompts for this project I really tried to make it be something that could live in lots of different neighbourhoods. Having other leaders see that it can be used in other cities is very gratifying.
If you haven’t seed the guide here are a couple pages from the smartphone version:
Please pray that these prayer walking resources continue to find their way into the hands of the right people. I’m thinking about expanding the project and creating some sort of physical resource (like a deck of cards). Pray for me as I discern if this is something I should be investing my time into.
At the end of May I will have finished participating in the online edition of GOHOP’s Prayer Internship called “Studies in New Monasticism.” Completing the one year internship program is mandatory for all GOHOP staff. It was a very different experience being part of something like this entirely online. I found it especially challenging to learn and build relationships with people I have never met in person. In some ways I feel like I missed out on the community aspects of the internship. That being said, this was the perfect year for me to invest so much time into the internship since other GOHOP initiatives have been scaled back. This online version was opened up to the wider 24-7 Prayer movement. I got to meet a number of people from the west coast of the USA. The biggest advantage of being online is that our monthly guest speakers were from all around the world. Sometimes they were even the author of the book we were reading. This made the online experience feel a little less like second best.
Please Pray for the next Internship which will start in the fall of 2021. The hope would be that this cohort would be able to meet in person. Pray that the right mix of people would sign up.
At the end of April there was a spiritual retreat as part of the internship. Now you might be asking yourself, “How do you do a spiritual retreat online?” That is exactly what I was asking myself. A few hours of each day was spent online and the rest of the time we were supposed to try and engage in rest, silence and solitude for a weekend. In my busy home none of these things are very easy to achieve (especially in the middle of a provincial stay at home order). Eventually I stumbled on an idea of how to carve out some mental and physical space for retreating. I set up a tent in my backyard. I did all my Zoom meetings from the tent and even slept outside for 2 nights. Just the ability to have a space separate from my family and work allowed me to be present during this strange online retreat. It was still second best in comparison to going away but it was infinitely better than just going about my weekend the same as always. Weather permitting I plan to set up a tent once a month for the summer just to switch things up a little. My youngest son especially found it relaxing to spend a number of hours out in the tent.
Please Pray for my family during the pandemic. Thankfully my wife and I have both gotten our first vaccination, but the end of this thing still feels far off. My daughter is home from University so that is nice but our house is again very full. My oldest son is in grade 10 and doing well with online school but he misses his friends. Online school does not work for my youngest son in grade 3, he requires constant supervision. My wife has thankfully not been laid off from her new job at Staples but we never really know what her schedule will be from one week to the next.
A big part of my work and learning journey with GOHOP so far has been around the practice of listening prayer. I have been a part of the Barnabas Listening Prayer Team that hosts two learning labs each month (currently on Zoom). These learning labs really break down the idea of listening and discernment into something that is both practical and attainable. Each night is a combination of stories, discussion, and guided spiritual practices. After those warm ups we break into small groups and practice listening prayer for each other. We take a couple minutes to listen to God in silence. Often we pray, “God, what is your heart for this person?” Each person listening then shares what they “got.” It is amazing to see all the different ways God speaks. Some people get a scripture or a song. Other people get a single word, a phrase or even a feeling. I often get a picture or a scene. If you don’t get anything there is no pressure to make something up, everyone is just happy you tried. It is amazing when you see common themes or threads emerge from everyone’s little pieces and fragments. It is also very encouraging when you are brave enough to share something that didn’t make any sense to you, but the person you were listening for is so happy because it fits into something they have already been thinking about or praying into.
I had the privilege of co-leading the April open house. It was a little scary moving from being a listening prayer “newbie” (I just dipped my toe into the Barnabas thing about a year and a half ago) to now being a facilitator. That being said it went really well. I felt like some of my newness to the practice made it easy for me to be welcoming to people less familiar with listening prayer. Some more experienced Barnabas members gave me some encouraging feedback. I was told that I made things feel really safe when I led. I was very happy to hear that, making sure that we create a safe framework for something as vulnerable as listening prayer is so important. A scripture that is used over and over again at Barnabas comes from 1 Corinthians 14:3 “…the one who prophesies,” or the one who practices listening prayer “speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” Some other guidelines we use to keep things safe are:
- Remember that God’s voice sounds like the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control)
- Always ask, “Does this line up with what God has already said in scripture? Does this sound like Jesus?”
- We are all just practicing so offer your listening prayers lightly. It is up to each person being prayed for to discern what resonates with them. If something doesn’t resonate, people are free to say “thanks but no thanks.” That is the beauty of a learning lab.
I think helping people safely experience listening prayer for themselves is a very powerful discipleship tool. It helps people know that this Jesus thing, this Holy Spirit thing is actually real. God isn’t just something we talk about in the abstract or the theoretical, God is a person who loves us and is already communicating with us all the time, we just need to practice the skill of listening and engaging.
Please pray for me as I continue to grow in my own practice of listening prayer. I’m also part of a GOHOP team that practices listening prayer for pastors. Pray that this could be a blessing for the right individual pastors. Pray that Barnabas and GOHOP would reach new circles of people wanting to engage in listening and discernment practices.
My job at GOHOP is a little like being a missionary where I have to raise my own support. I received a number of one time donations that have enabled me to be paid in full until the end of July. In the long run the most sustainable model is for me to have a team of people signed up to be monthly givers. I currently have 48% of the monthly giving I need and my goal is to raise an additional $1410 per month by the end of July. That might sound like a big ask but I really believe that God has called me into this ministry and that God is going to raise up a diverse group of people to be part of my monthly financial support team. I currently have 11 households that give a combined total of $1300 a month (that is 5 more people since my last newsletter). These donations range anywhere from $5 to $300 a month.
Here is what it might look like from me to raise the rest of my goal:
- 3 people giving $200 per month.
- 4 people giving $100 per month.
- 3 people giving $75 per month.
- 3 people giving $50 per month.
- 2 people giving $25 per month.
If you would rather use post dated cheques you can find all the info about that on my website: https://randellneudorf.com/gohop/donate/
GOHOP is a registered Canadian Charity so all donations are tax deductible. I try to be really open about my fundraising and what is being done with the money raised. You can check out all the details (including my hours and rate of pay) here: https://randellneudorf.com/gohop/fundraising-plan/
Please Pray that I would be able to raise my full support by the end of July. It is a strange thing to be fundraising in the middle of a pandemic, pray that I would be able to connect with the right people to become part of my monthly financial giving team. I sometimes feel like I have exhausted my personal list of connections, pray that God would connect me to new circles of community. I don’t want to hound anyone but I also know there are people that I already reached out to that just missed the initial message, pray that I would be wise in knowing who I should contact again.
Thanks so much for getting to the bottom of this update. I appreciate your investment of time and prayer into my journey. I would love to know what you are up to. Feel free to reach out so we can set up a phone call, zoom chat or socially distanced walk.