MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)–It started with one name. Soon, the slips of paper smothered a small bulletin board. Before Jo Minton knew it, her LifeWay Christian Store staff had gathered for prayer the names of hundreds of U.S. soldiers fighting in the war against Iraq.
In March, a mother came into the Montgomery, Ala., store to purchase a copy of the New Testament. When Minton, the store manager, learned the Bible was for the woman’s son who was leaving for Iraq the next day, she requested his name so her staff could pray for him during daily devotions.
“His name was the first name on the board,” Minton said. “It’s just been remarkable. There are more than 300 names on the board now, and we pray for each person and their families every day.”
The LifeWay store staff committed to pray for the soldiers on the board daily until each soldier returned home. Minton attributes Alabama’s low casualty rate in the war to the power of prayer, and she said she believes that prayer has saved many lives.
“It was very exciting to see this store looking for ministry opportunities in the midst of war,” said Zach Lang, director of the Southeastern region for LifeWay Christian Stores. “I couldn’t help but think how grateful the families of the soldiers must have been to know that this store’s employees would actually take time to collect the names of and pray for their loved ones serving our country.”
The staff prays together every morning before unlocking the doors. Large boards full of names stand at the front of the store so anyone can add to the giant prayer list.
“We have to start earlier every day,” Minton said. “Sometimes we unlock the doors, and our customers come in and pray with us. We read every name out loud and pray for them.”
Some of the parents and family members of people on the prayer board have stopped by the store to thank Minton and her employees for their prayers. “It’s nice for them to know that they’re not the only ones praying for their sons or daughters,” she said.
Lang said the Montgomery store employees exemplify LifeWay’s mission to minister to the people it serves.
“Ministry is our purpose,” he said. “In our stores, it is typically done through providing Bibles, books, music and other materials to individuals and churches. I think this prayer ministry is just another example of how our stores are willing to go the extra mile to minister to their customers. This exemplifies the ministry hearts of our LifeWay employees.”
The store’s prayer ministry has captured the attention of the community and was featured on a local television news program, but Minton said her staff is just doing its job.
“This store is not just about providing products,” she said. “We have a ministry. It’s an honor to be able to do this for the people in our community and in our state.”
Lang agreed. “Our folks aren’t satisfied to just open the doors and sell products each day. They want to make a difference in the lives of their customers.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: DAILY DEVOTIONAL, PRAYERS FOR SOLDIERS, EMPLOYEES WHO PRAY, JO MINTON, STORE’S TRIBUTE TO SOLDIERS and PREPARING TO PRAY.