I have heard from a few people that they have missed my newsletters. I’m sorry for waiting so long to update you. Back in January I shared that I was dealing with anxiety attacks. It has been quite the struggle. There have been many months where I have had an anxiety attack every week, and they could last 3-4 days.
Thankfully I was connected to a therapist and was able to get some strategies to help recognize the start of an attack and try to curb it before it got worse. It turns out physical exercise is a big part of releasing anxiety for me. The 2nd piece of the puzzle has been medication.
It has been a huge blessing to have the cost of my therapy covered by the Health Centre that my family Doctor is out of. I’m half way through the 20 free sessions that I was approved for. It has been a very hard and all consuming journey. I have so much respect for the strength and endurance of the people that I know that live with mental health issues.
The team at GOHOP (Greater Ontario House of Prayer) has also been very supportive, allowing me to adjust my hours as needed.
Even with all this help I’m still having a really hard time with anxiety attacks. As of right now I’m going on a medical leave to rest, reset and focus on getting the anxiety attacks under control. My plan is to reassess with my doctor and therapist as of the beginning of July to see how I’m doing.
- Please continue to pray for my mental health and that the anxiety I experience would subside.
- I would also appreciate prayers for my physical health. My chronic pain flares up in weird ways. This month my right foot, left achilles and left wrist have all been giving me a lot of trouble.
Now that you are caught up with my health, I would like to let you know what I have been up to with GOHOP.
TrueCity Conference & Prayer Room:
Every year GOHOP creates a 2 week 27/7 prayer room as part of the TrueCity conference. It was my job to curate the stations and physical space of the prayer room. I had 6 artists contribute art for the room and a large team of GOHOP staff & volunteers help create prayer stations and the ambience of the room. The first thing people saw when walking in was a 12 foot labyrinth that I was able to draw on the floor.
I was also able to contribute a series of paintings on the Stations of the Cross. With the help of Erin Steckley (who did a student placement with GOHOP) we created a resource for Visio Divina (a way of looking at art to meditate and pray). We had art all over the room, and invited people to be open to what God might want to say to them through what they were looking at. If you would like to learn more about Visio Divina, feel free to take a look at the attached resource.
t was so great to see the prayer room come together. So many people contributed art, prayer stations, and helped shape the space. After 2 weeks of volunteers and the local church participating in 24/7 prayer we were getting ready to completely disassemble the prayer room. We were happily surprised to find out that we will continue to be able to use the fellowship hall at Wentworth Baptist Church as a prayer room for the next year. The idea is still taking shape but we are working towards having drop in hours in the prayer room in the fall on a weekly basis. GOHOP has been praying for a year round accessible prayer space for a while so this is a big answer to prayer.
- Pray for GOHOP as we start to create drop in prayer opportunities in our new prayer room space.
- Pray that God would build on the experiences, relationships, and connections that were fostered in the TrueCity Prayer Room
Asah: Creativity & Prayer Studio
Asah has been really building. During Lent we made traditional Ukrainian Easter Eggs and learned about how for Ukrainian Christians the practice of decorating eggs is deeply tied to their faith and prayer life.
We were able to host Asah nights in the TrueCity Prayer Room. Each week we focused on teaching people the spiritual practice of Visio Divina and then engaged in some prayerful drawing. I led a workshop on drawing in your bible (my version of underlining and taking notes). We had some new testaments for people who wanted to try out the idea but didn’t want to mark up their own bible.
Prayer Retreat at Maple Grove:
I was invited to lead a 3 day prayer retreat at the Maple Grove Christian Retreat Centre. My son Ethan and I got to stay in a very nice cabin (always great when one of your kids gets to come on a work trip).
I led people through:
- An Introduction to spiritual practices. People engaged with the practice of Visio Divina (through the attached resource) and my Stations of the Cross paintings. I also shared some stories and ideas on Prayer Walking based on my Visual Guide to Prayer Walking.
- A Gospel Contemplation Meditation where people engaged with a gospel story through the lens of their imagination. I like to use a theatrical lens where people hear the story as the director (set the scene), then as an actor (choose a role), and finally people were invited to break the fourth wall (showing up in the story as themselves and have a conversation with Jesus).
- Abstract Art Worksop on Drawing the Fruit of the Spirit. Adults and kids got a chance to think about drawing as a way to pray and learn about God.
- I preached on the prayer practice of silence and solitude at Maple Grove’s Sunday service. Whenever I teach on prayer I try to include lots of practical ideas and end with a time of trying out those ideas.
For some people this was the first time they were exposed to ways of praying that weren’t just folding your hands and talking.
Pray that God would grow more opportunities for people at Maple Grove to be exposed to the wider tradition, wisdom, and streams of the church.
Anxiety & Kindness Project:
I have been working on a number of songs and cartoons that have come out of my struggles with anxiety. Last week I got the chance to share these creative endeavours with my friends at the Meeting Place Church in a sermon. I mixed together stories, drawings and songs to talk about my journey and what God has been teaching me. Many people found the teaching very encouraging.
I have also been posting the drawings on Facebook and Instagram. Here what I posted along with the drawing above:
In 2022 I started having anxiety attacks. It has been really hard. I have been seeing a therapist. One of the things we have been talking about is core beliefs and personal life rules. The beliefs that we live by without even really being aware of them. They are kind of like the bottom of an iceberg. We have to go down pretty deep to see what is hiding down there. If a core belief is causing problems we need to try to replace it with something more helpful.
For me, many of my life decisions have been formed around the idea of “justice.” Dig a little deeper and what I’m really seeking to do is make “perfect” decisions. If I can make the perfect decision or be perfectly prepared I protect myself from being wrong and I protect myself from failing. If I can do all that, “I WIN!”
I have never thought of myself as a perfectionist, and in many ways I’m not, but I hate being wrong. I hate making mistakes. I always try to make the best decisions, the most perfect decision.
This all works fine until there is no perfect thing. Every choice is not even close to being second best. Perfect justice is sometimes unattainable because it would have needed to have happened in the past, or even to someone else. The wrongs and injustices are bells that can’t be un-rung.
That all brings me to my new goal. I just need things to be “good enough.” The idea of kindness has been coming up again and again for me. I’m starting to aim for the “kind thing” instead of the perfect/justice/right thing. The new core belief I’m trying to live into is “doing the kind thing is good enough.”
To start to absorb this belief and to watch for kindness in my life and the world around me I’m going to be trying to make some little cartoon drawings in my art journal.
You can see more of these drawings here:
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/randell.neudorf
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randell.neudorf
Please be praying that God would continue to open doors for me to teach, lead workshops and share my art, stories and songs.
I have the following lessons ready to go for churches and small groups looking to book a guest speaker or workshop:
- Prayer Walking
- Visio Divina
- Art & Prayer
- Anxiety & Kindness (a teaching through stories, cartoons, and songs)
- Entering the Gospel through our Imagination (learning the spiritual practice of Gospel Contemplation).
Thank you to all the people who have been giving towards my GOHOP support fund. From January to March I was 100% on budget (my goal is to raise $2903 a month). As of the end of May donations were $1445 under budget. I did get a number of guest speaking and workshop requests so with the honorariums I have received, I actually am only about $300 under budget, as of June 1st.
I am currently up to 16 households signed up for monthly giving plans (3 new givers signed up in the last few months). To reach my monthly goal of $2903, I need to raise an additional $1244 a month.
Please consider contributing a monthly or annual donation towards the work that I do with GOHOP.
Make an Online Donation Through CanadaHelps:
If you would like to sign up for a monthly giving plan or make a one time donation online tonation towards my support you can do that here: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/53164
Please be praying for my ongoing fundraising efforts. As I’m currently on sick leave I will not be able to do any fundraising right now. Pray specifically that the short term funds needed would come in over the summer months.
Do you get GOHOP’s newsletter?
The GOHOP newsletter would give you a broader picture of GOHOP’s ministry, whereas my Punk Monk newsletter focuses more on my portfolio and activities within GOHOP.
Thank you so much for taking an interest in my ministry with GOHOP. I’ll aim to have my next newsletter out for you in September.
Grace & Peace,