Punk Monk Newsletter – September 2021

I don’t know about you but I feel like I’m moving on from the holding pattern created by the pandemic. I’m very thankful that almost everyone in my family is vaccinated (other than my youngest) and that there are more in person opportunities happening in the community. On Labour Day my family walked around the Tiger Cats football stadium for the first home game since covid. We saw lots of smiles, heard lots of cheers, and even saw the SnowBirds fly over in spectacular formation. There was a real energy in the air. I’m looking forward to some of that same energy spilling over into my life and ministry this fall at GOHOP (Greater Ontario House of Prayer). 

Coordinating GOPHOP’s “Prayer for Pastors & Leaders” Team:

This fall I will be taking on the responsibility of interim coordinator for our weekly “Prayer for Pastors & Leaders” team. Supporting pastors is a big part of the reason I joined GOHOP so I’m very excited to be given this opportunity. Every Friday at 9:30am we pray for the pastors, leaders and churches of Hamilton (and beyond). At 11am we meet with a different pastor/leader for a personal prayer session. We take some time to listen to God on the pastor’s behalf and then share with them the words, feelings, scripture, or image that came to mind. To keep things safe, listening prayers are offered in a humble way where the person being listened for decides what they want to keep. If it doesn’t resonate the person is free to say “I have no idea what that is about, I’m just going to leave that with you.”
Last year this prayer time was 100% done over Zoom. This year we are going to start meeting more often in person. Many pastors are so weary of online interactions, while other leaders are still unable to meet in person. My plan is to take our cue from the person being prayed for. If the person wants to meet in person we will gladly do that. If Zoom is preferred (for any reason) we have had over a year of practice and can meet in that digital space with confidence and authenticity. 

Keeping the zoom option open also allows us to meet with leaders outside of the Hamilton area. Last year it was a real blessing to connect with people from Missisiaga, Toronto, and Ottawa. Meeting this wider circle of pastors was a real blessing to us and helped combat our own feelings of online isolation. 

  • Please pray for me in this new leadership role. Pray that I would be able to connect with pastors and leaders who would benefit from this ministry. Pray that I could strike the right balance of in-person and zoom prayer times. 
  • If you would like to learn more about listening prayer check out Barnabas (an online learning community that I’m part of): https://www.gohop.ca/barnabas-listening-prayer 

2021 Virtual Prayer Truck Recap:

Once again the Virtual Prayer Truck happened during the month of July. To kick off the event I did a live worship painting as part of an outdoor gathering in front of Living Rock Ministries. The piece is now hanging in a little alcove in front of the Rock. This little patch of concrete is often used by street involved youth as a safe space. While I was creating that painting, I tried to pray into the location where this art work would end up living. The very next day a homeless couple found shelter under the blessing “Peace Be To These Streets.” 

For the rest of the month I was part of daily prayer walks where we handed out water downtown. We were encouraged to be open to asking people if they would like to be prayed for. I found it easy to connect with people in need of water. In some of my previous jobs I did program outreach for street youth. I already knew some of the spots people would be hanging out and I knew that the water would be welcome on a hot day. Most days I would give out a case of water in about an hour. Offering to pray for strangers was much less natural. A few other GOHOP staff members heard about all the water I was giving out and wanted to join me on my walks.  When I had someone to walk with we were able to offer prayer more naturally along with the water (Jesus must have known what he was doing when he sent the disciples out in pairs). 

On the last day of the Virtual Prayer Truck I got to be part of a closing worship gathering in front of the Rock. It was a real celebration of the journey we had been on. 

  • There is a sense at GOHOP that we need to continue to be connected to the streets through prayer walking. Please pray for us as we continue to find ways to pray for and with people who are homeless or street involved. 

Fundraising Update:

As I come up to one year at GOHOP I feel very grateful for all the financial contributions I have received from family, friends, ministry partners and even some strangers. It was a big leap of faith stepping into a ministry where I have to raise my own support. God has been very faithful in mobilizing the support I need each month, often with a healthy buffer of 3-6 months. That cushion has felt pretty good but it is now not so big: 

  • I currently have support raised to be paid in full until the end of September 2021. It is statistically very hard to fundraise over the summer break so I was very thankful that my buffer brought me into the school year.
  • I need to raise an additional $1410 a month starting in October 2021. 48% of my fundraising budget is covered by people who have signed up for monthly giving plans. The other 52% has come from one time donations that are very helpful but less predictable.

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Consider signing up for a monthly giving plan.My goal is to increase my monthly givers to 75%. I currently have 12 monthly givers that contribute a combined total of $1300 a month. Some people give $25 a month others give $300 a month. It all helps to make my ministry with GOHOP sustainable. 
  • If you gave a one time gift over the last year, please consider making a donation again this year.
  • Ask your church, small group or leadership team if they would be interested in having me visit them.  I would be happy to teach, lead music, talk about GOHOP or lead a creative spiritual practice activity.
  • Please pray for my fundraising efforts. In my first newsletter I joked that GOHOP is the “Greater Ontario House of Prayer” not the “Greater Ontario House of Fundraising” and that is still true. Prayer support is absolutely an act of generosity.

CLICK HERE to make a DONATION

Donations can be made online (through CanadaHelps) or by cheque.
I am very transparent about money and have posted all my fundraising goals (including my rate of pay) here: https://randellneudorf.com/gohop/fundraising-plan/

Art Journal:

I sometimes post drawings from my art journal along with a written reflection on my Facebook & Instagram pages. This practice has been a way for me to combine thoughts about my spiritual, artistic and family life all in one place. Here is the story from my last post about some unwanted guests:

“My family spent much of the summer this year battling bed bugs. It was so much work getting our house ready for a heat treatment. We spent a solid week from sun up to sun down bagging up laundry, making trips to the laundromat, sorting, decluttering and throwing things in the garbage.

The first treatment didn’t get all the bugs so a month later we needed a follow up treatment (under warranty) of some kind of fungal powder that is poisonous to the bugs. That was another week of moving furniture and doing laundry to get ready. Thankfully the second treatment finished the job and 2 months later things are starting to feel normal again.

That being said I was having bug nightmares up until the last week of August. I also felt really isolated, I didn’t want to unknowingly pass along the bugs to friends or family. Thankfully I have some friends who are really open and honest about their own bed bug battles. I also found that every time I was open about what we were going through that people would share their own stories about having bed bugs.

These little pests (that are absolutely a huge problem) have too much power to silence, isolate and shame people.

I’m trying to be open about what my family went through to help other people not feel alone. We got bed bugs in the middle of a pandemic while we were more isolated than any other time in our lives. It absolutely can happen to anyone. It isn’t a Hamilton thing or a poor thing, it is an everywhere thing. I was listening to a Ted Talk on resilience and it spoke about the importance of not falling into the “why me?” trap. It said that resilient people ask “why not me?”In my first drawing from my art journal I was trying to convey the all encompassing fear and anxiety I was experiencing. I was very much stuck in a cycle of “Why me?!”

In the second drawing I was trying to right size that fear and anxiety and hand it over to the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t until I went on a one day spiritual retreat by myself that I was able to let go of some of my anxiety.I still have moments of phantom Bed Bug induced anxiety but I’m doing much better. Being open and honest helps a lot. Focusing more on God and less on me also helps. Both these things are helping me be more resilient and right sizing my perspective by saying “Why not me?””

  • Please pray that my house would continue to be bed bug free. Also pray that we wouldn’t let the fear of bed bugs keep us from being a hospitable family. Pray that we would catch any future pests before they become an issue.

Lastly…

I just wanted to let you know that we had a great start to our Asah: Creativity & Prayer Studio nights. We plan to continue this but we need to take a break in September to plan ahead. One of the creative activities I led was using abstract art as a way of thinking about the Fruits of the Spirit. Sometimes abstract art can get at the feeling behind a word or idea that can open us up to the Holy Spirit. I’m looking forward to leading more of these experiments  in prayerful art and artful prayer in the near future.

Thanks for taking an interest in what I’m up to and being part of team PUNK MONK!

 
Grace & Peace,Randell Neudorf Head Shot 2020 - Square Close Up copy
 
Randell (Randy) Neudorf

Punk Monk Newsletter – May 2021

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: 

  1. Full colour version for smartphones
  2. Black & white printer friendly version
  3. 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.

You can still download your copy of the guide here:
https://www.gohop.ca/virtual-walks

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.

Listening Prayer:

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. 

If you would like to join me for one of Barnabas’ Learning Labs on Zoom you can sign up here: https://www.gohop.ca/barnabas-listening-prayer

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.

Financial Update: 

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 feel led to contribute to my monthly support, you can sign up online through CanadaHelps here: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/53164

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. 

Grace & Peace,

Randell (Randy) Neudorf
Cell: 905-379-3717
Email: randellneudorf@gmail.com
Website: https://randellneudorf.com/gohop/

Ask (Luke 11:9-13)

Some people like to make notes in their bible or underline things. I have started to draw in mine. Here is the text I turned into an illuminated manuscript today:

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit[ to those who ask him!” – Jesus (Luke 11: 9-13 NRSV)


Click Here to see more drawings from Randell Neudorf’s Bible