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Volunteers walk & pray in community where a new church will be started

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–“We’re on ‘Plan C,'” church starter Danny Adams told the Crossover Orlando 2000 volunteers who came to work June 10 in the new, affluent Avalon-Stoneybrook community on the east edge of the Florida city.

“Plan A” was to conduct surveys of shoppers at the new Alafaya Waterford shopping center on Alafaya Trail, Adams explained. However, a week before Crossover activities were scheduled to take place, a team of men working with the proposed new church start went to the shopping center for a “trial run” and were asked to leave the shopping center property.

“Plan B” was door-to-door canvassing. But driving through the area, the church planting team discovered there were too many “no soliciting” signs for such an effort to be productive.

So they implemented “Plan C” — prayer journeying. A total of 35 volunteers participated in the Saturday journey — three teams driving by gated communities to focus prayer on the residents living inside and five teams walking through more easily accessible areas.

“We think it’s ‘Plan C,’ but it’s probably God’s ‘Plan A,'” volunteer Annette Meadors cheerfully conceded.

“I think God is just trying to show us that we need some more prayer to go into this area,” added Adams, who said Avalon-Stoneybrook is exploding in population. Just 10 years ago the community, located about 10 miles from downtown Orlando, was farmland and marshes. Now it’s projected to have a population of 50,000 in 20 square miles within about seven years.

The proposed new Southern Baptist congregation has not yet begun meeting. Adams and his wife, Amber, arrived on the field just two weeks before Crossover. As a first step toward the church start, they are trying to meet people in the community and find Christians to form a core group, Adams said.

As the prayer journey teams circulated through the area, they prayed for the material and spiritual needs of residents, for God’s blessing on the Adamses and their ministry, for other Crossover participants and for the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 13-14 annual meeting in Orlando.

Unlike survey cards or public decisions for Christ, results of the prayer teams’ one-day effort cannot be counted or easily measured.

But don’t take the attitude that “all I can do is pray,” Baptist campus minister Yvette Palmer told students on her prayer journey team. Palmer, from Eunice, La., shared what she had learned on a trip to Vietnam that involved prayerwalks. International Mission Board personnel told Palmer and her team that revival is being experienced in some places in Vietnam and, in every instance, it is occurring places where prayerwalkers had been.

Randy Gallaway, campus minister from Milton, Ontario, Canada, said he brought students to give them an opportunity to experience different kinds of evangelistic outreach and perhaps be inspired to use some of those approaches in their own communities.

Asked how well the approaches used in Orlando would work in Canada, Gallaway said door-to-door canvassing has not been highly effective except in some new communities where residents were open to being asked about needs. Block parties do work there, he said. And, “of course, prayerwalks work everywhere.”

For more information on prayer journeying, including the North American Mission Board training resource “Taking Prayer to the Streets,” visit www.namb.net/prayer.

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  • Shari Schubert