TEMPE, Ariz. (BP)–Each Thursday evening, Kent and Janice Joan go on a short walk, up one side of the street, down the other, and back again. It only takes about 10 minutes, but the potential benefits are eternal.
The Doans are one of thousands of couples participating in Lighthouses of Prayer, an evangelical movement that has been adopted and embraced as a core strategy by the North American Mission Board. And in the Doans’ case, it is part of their personal involvement in “Celebrate Jesus 2000: Caring for the Valley of the Sun” — the name chosen by local Southern Baptists in the Phoenix area for the Strategic Focus Cities evangelism and church planting initiative directed toward transforming cities with the gospel.
As they walk their street, they pray aloud — heard only by each other — for each of the families who are their neighbors. And as they pray, they are considering how they might serve their neighbors and eventually find opportunities for sharing the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ with them.
“We just walk along the sidewalk, and if we know the people by name we pray for them by name. And if we don’t, we just pray in general terms,” said Kent Doan. “And if we know of specific concerns or needs for that family we would pray for those things.”
The Doans said they got involved after taking a class on prayer journeying offered through their church, Corona Baptist Church in nearby Chandler. Through the course, a NAMB resource titled “Taking It to the Streets,” the couple learned how simple it was to get started praying for neighbors. And how the effort in itself raised a personal awareness of the people all around them who need Christ.
“It was something that was very simple,” Doan said. “I mean, you’re in your own home, so you don’t have to go anywhere. It doesn’t even cost anything. So the number of excuses you can come up with for not doing it went to zero.
“This is something where the Lord just said, ‘This is simple. Anybody can do this. Get involved,'” he said.
The Lighthouses of Prayer movement offers a number of suggestions for how people can get involved, the Doans said, based on three main points: pray, care and share. First they pray, then they find ways of caring for their neighbors, then they share Christ as opportunities arise.
A suggested field for each “Lighthouse” is the five houses on each side of the family’s home, as well as 10 houses on the opposite side of the street. In the Doans’ case, their street had exactly 14 homes — seven on each side — and theirs is approximately in the middle.
Their prayerwalks started earlier this year, and they are still seeking God’s will about how he would like them to proceed next.
“We’ve got a number of ideas,” Janice Doan said. “We’ve kind of been thinking we’d like to get the Jesus video to every door in our neighborhood. So we’re still seeking.”
Across Phoenix, others have been catching the vision to make their homes “Lighthouses of Prayer,” said Sheila Jones, prayer coordinator for Strategic Focus Cities/Celebrate Jesus 2000 in Phoenix and also a member of Corona Baptist Church.
Her exposure to the Lighthouses movement began at a women’s evangelism conference four years ago in Wheaton, Ill. But she felt like God had already led her personally in the same direction.
“God had just sort of placed in my heart that simple evangelism strategy years ago,” she said. “I would just sort of do it naturally.”
In addition to prayerwalking their neighborhood, they hold a yearly Christmas open house to get to know their neighbors better. And generally, she said they try to find ways they can serve their neighbors.
“We just baby-sit, drive their kids around, and whatever our neighbors need we just let them know we’re here to help,” she said.
Like the Doans, she said she has found the simplicity of the “Lighthouses” movement is what appeals to people.
“You don’t have to attend seminars, take a bunch of classes and memorize all this stuff,” she said. “You just pray and ask God to help you do the next step. What I’ve heard people say is they like that.”
For more information on becoming a Lighthouse of Prayer, NAMB’s “Taking it to the Streets” prayer journeying resource or other aspects of starting a Great Commission Prayer Ministry, visit www.namb.net/prayer.
For information on volunteering with Strategic Focus Cities/Celebrate Jesus 2000 in Phoenix, visit the www.Phoenix2000.net Internet site or call (602) 957-9160.