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Prayer bands help children & adults pray for soldiers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–For most 10-year-olds, the promise of spring means warmer weather, longer days and time for a few games of catch with dad.

But that won’t be the case this year for Zach Gipson, a fourth-grader in Nashville. Zach’s dad, Tim, an activated reservist with the 118th Airlift Wing Division of the Tennessee Air National Guard, shipped out for Kuwait on March 12.

While the separation is undoubtedly difficult and the idea of his dad fighting in a war is intensely frightening, Zach and his family are dealing with the stress the best way they know — by praying.

“I talked to my husband yesterday, and he said to thank everyone for their prayers,” Robin Gipson said. “He knows that they’re working because everything has been going so well. I can tell that everyone is praying for me, because I don’t think I could handle it. This is all new to us. He’s never had to go away before. My church is just like a real family.”

Zach and his friends aren’t just leaving the praying up to the adults. First Baptist Church’s children’s choir, made up of 32 children in grades four through five and five leaders, have been praying for Zach’s dad during each practice, but now they’ll be wearing special bracelets to remind them to pray for Tim Gipson daily.

“Periodically in our choir we just get on our knees and pray for something in particular,” said Martha Kirkland, director of First Baptist’s children’s choir. “But children are very concrete, and the abstract is hard for them. A bracelet with Tim Gipson’s name on it on their arm is going to be very accessible to their thought processes.”

Specialty Imprints, a part of the direct marketing department of LifeWay Christian Stores, developed the idea for the soldier prayer band from the POW bracelets used during earlier wars and conflicts to remind Americans of fellow citizens fighting for freedom and justice. The stainless steel soldier prayer bands differ from POW bracelets in that they are specifically designed to encourage those wearing them to pray for the activated soldier.

“Thinking back to the POW bracelets, we saw how they helped people come together even for people they didn’t know,” said Cathy Brown, marketing coordinator in LifeWay’s direct sales section. “We tried to do a positive slant on it by creating a prayer bracelet.”

Kirkland, also a LifeWay employee, thought the soldier prayer bands would be a perfect reminder of the power of prayer for the children in her choir, so she made arrangements for each child to receive one customized with Tim Gipson’s name.

“Intercessory prayer is a seemingly very natural thing for the kids,” Kirkland said. “It’s all part of what they expect. They are also very team-oriented, so when everybody has a bracelet, that’s going to be a plus.”

Besides teaching children about prayer, Kirkland predicts the bracelets also will help them understand what it means to be a Christian — serving and caring for others.

“That’s what church is all about,” she said. “We use the words ‘church family’ a lot in our choir. I’m going to predict that it will spread throughout the rest of our church.”

For Robin Gipson, First Baptist already has proven itself to be a family, but it’s the prayers of the children that make the bond even more meaningful.

“This helps Zach realize that there are more than just us lifting his dad up in prayer,” she said. “I know God hears everyone’s prayers, but I think the children’s are especially special.”

Designed to be worn by both women and men, the soldier prayer bands can be custom engraved with a soldier’s name and division. Adult stainless steel bands are also available for $10. For more information or to order, call 1-800-443-8032 or visit www.lifewaystores.com/jewelry.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at https://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: PRAYING FOR DAD and CHOIR’S COMMITMENT.

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  • Mandy Crow