So you might be asking yourself “What on earth will Randy be doing at GOHOP?” That is a very good question. I’m one year into starting a new job in the middle of a pandemic so it every month has been a little different but there are a number of places that I have been focusing my attention
COVID has taken a great toll on our shepherds who have been caring for their congregations and they are in great need peer support and prayer support.
I have been hosting a “Pastors Prayer Time” in the GOHOP prayer room on Wednesday mornings since 2017. This started with a few church planters and music pastors who felt like they didn’t quite fit into the typical church mold. Everyone was very busy so we choose to keep our prayer times super simple. One person shared what was on their heart and then everyone else went around the circle praying for them. This would happen for each pastor and I know it sounds simple but it is also very powerful. For this year I have moved the prayer time outside to my backyard. As the weather turned colder we switched to prayer walks (being outside, rain or shine, is my new spiritual discipline). As I have talked to pastors there is a great need to be meeting with other pastors in person.
GOHOP’s “Prayer for Pastors & Leaders” team has been diligently praying for pastors since 2001. As of September 2021 I became the interim coordinator for this 20 year old ministry. Each week we invite a pastor for a one hour session of listening prayer. Instead of having the pastor rattle off their prayer request we take some time to listen in silence for what God might be wanting to say as an encouraging word, scripture promise, or loving picture. The team then humbly shares these things with the pastor and they get to decide (with no pressure) what they want to receive as a gift from God. The pastor gets a chance to reflect back on what they have heard, share their prayer requests and then have the team pray for them again. As a pastor I was prayed for by this team a few times. It is profound in any season but especially needed in times of trial or transition when it is hard to listen for yourself (like during a pandemic). It is a huge blessing to be now come full circle and be part of this amazing prayer team.
The last piece of my support role is networking with pastors to help connect them to the prayer & practices they need in their own spiritual journey. Networking and building community comes very naturally to me. After being a pastor for 10 years (and an additional 10 years in street ministry) I have many leadership connections in Hamilton, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, and church planting circles across Canada.
Barnabas Learning Lab:
Over the last couple of years I have had a number of practical experiences that have opened me up to listening as a core part of prayer & discernment. Barnabas is a team of Jesus followers who try to create safe and practical opportunities for people to learn to actively listen for the Holy Spirit. The premise is that God is speaking into our lives all the time but we are like a fish in water who can’t see the water. Barnabas creates safe opportunities to stretch spiritual muscles. My involvement at first will be learning weekly from the Barnabas core team so that I can do my own stretching (and bring that into my pastor support work).
I will also be doing outreach to help other people connect with the Barnabas open house nights. I have brought a number of curious (but skeptical) friends to these nights and they have all come out beaming with stories of something amazing happening. My teen daughter went one night. She partly hoped to see if the “weird stuff” I had been talking about during my past visits to Barnabas might be true. Mostly though she went to prove that she didn’t have any listening prayer gifts and that this stuff wasn’t going to do anything for her no matter what had been happening for her dad. When she got out of her time with a Listening Prayer group she was absolutely beaming! It wasn’t just because she had received some encouraging words from the others but because she had opened herself up to Holy Spirit by praying “God what is your heart for this person that I don’t know.” My daughter actually heard/felt/perceived something. She walked into the Barnabas prayer time thinking that she sort of believed this Holy Spirit thing might be real to knowing deep inside herself that the Holy Spirit is not only real but speaks to her! Not only does God speak, but what is said is profoundly shaped by love. I’m excited to connect more people to this life giving experience.
For more info on Barnabas visit: https://www.gohop.ca/barnabas-listening-prayer
Creativity & Organization are two words that don’t usually go together but I’m one of those strange people who have gifts in both areas. I have an ability to manage volunteers and create helpful guidelines while also creating reflective experiences that draw upon my art and music background. GOHOP has a number of times a year where they get churches from all across the city to pray around the clock together in interactive creative spaces. Yes prayer can be a bowed head but it can also be painting, labyrinths, origami or colouring. Part of my role will be using my creativity & organizational skills to help support these prayer events. Here are are few examples of what what this has looked like:
I created “A Visual Guide to Prayer Walking” for the 2021 TrueCity Conference & Virtual Prayer Room. Each page consisted of a drawing and a prayer prompt to inspire people to get out into their own neighbourhood to pray and perhaps find God in unexpected places. I like to create things that can live on past a single event so this guide was designed to be used in a variety of contexts. You can download your free copy of my prayer walking guide here: https://randellneudorf.com/prayer-walking/
I was part of the 2021 Virtual Prayer Truck team. The Prayer Truck is in partnership with the Living Rock (a ministry that works with street involved youth) and ran for 2 weeks in July. There was a online component to this 2 week initiative but I focused on the in person components. I contributed a live painting performance to the kick off outdoor worship gathering. The “Peace be to these Streets” painting was installed in an alcove in front of the Rock that is often used as a shelter by people who find themselves on the street. The painting is meant to be a prayer blessing to anyone who seeks sheltered there. I was part of the daily downtown prayer walking initiative where we signed up for an our walk to pray for people and hand out water. I use to do street outreach walks for organizations like Living Rock and RE-create so I’m very comfortable saying hi to people on the street. I made it my goal to connect with the homeless and street community and give out a case of water each time I went on a walk. I used the same routes I use to use doing outreach and quickly started connecting with people on the margins. I found it easy to strike up conversations and offer water but i must admit I found it hard at first to ask people if I could pray for them. As other GOHOP staff heard about all my interactions they started signing up to walk with me. I was able to help my coworkers meet lots of different people downtown. Going out in pairs also opened up natural opportunities to pray for people (apparently Jesus knew what he was doing when he sent the disciples out twos). To wrap up the 2 weeks I was part of a worship team for an outdoor gathering in front of the Rock. I put the “rock & roll” into the worship by playing lead guitar and handing out percussion instruments for people wanting to join the band.
I Asah (pronounced aw-saw’) is the Hebrew word for “make.” It is also the word used in the Bible when talking about a tree “bearing” fruit. “Asah: Creativity & Prayer Studio” is an intiative I have started with local artist Megan Little (she is a member of Saint Clair Community Church). We have started hosting monthly workshops that each bend a spiritual practice (like gospel contemplation or lectio divina) towards creativity and a creative practice (like collage or painting) towards prayer. 2021 has been a trial run to see if there is interest and to give ourselves permission to play around with the concept. We are very excited about where this is going and plan to build this up more officially in 2022.