So you might be asking yourself “What on earth will Randy be doing at GOHOP?” That is a very good question. I’m just getting started in my new job but there are a few places I will be focusing on in my first year.
Supporting Pastors: 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 turns colder we will switch 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. COVID has taken a great toll on our shepherds who have been caring for their congregations. GOHOP also has a “Prayer for Pastors & Leaders” team on Fridays that has been diligently praying for pastors since 2001. Each week they invite a pastor for a one hour session of listening prayer. Instead of having the pastor rattle off their prayer request they 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. I am so excited to be part of this team. 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. I’ll also be networking with pastors from my Hamilton, denominational, and church planting circles to help connect them to the prayer & practices they need in their own spiritual journey.
Barnabas Learning Lab: Over the last year 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. I’m excited about using my creativity as a spiritual gift as well as helping volunteers be equipped to be great hosts. If you want to know what this kind of prayer looks like, check out info on the Prayer Truck or the TrueCity 24/7 Prayer Room. I will also be getting my own crash course in modern & ancient monastic practices as I participate in GOHOP’s Prayer Internship Program. This year the internship is online and I am able to connect with 24-7 Prayer leaders from across North America.