Spotlight on Prayer Chain Member Corrie Meyer
“I had never been on a mission trip - never even been to a Vacation Bible School.” For Corrie Meyer, traveling to Ethiopia last June with Faith that Works meant entering new territory in more than one way.
Corrie decided to go with Faith that Works to Ethiopia last year after becoming involved in our local outreach with Hispanic families in the Chesterfield Mobile Home Park through her church community group at the time. Her group leaders had strong relationships with residents in the mobile home park, and Corrie started volunteering in the community with the Faith that Works after-school tutoring program.
As Corrie built relationships in the mobile home park, she was also going through a time of vocational discernment with her community group. Her group leaders knew about Faith that Works’ global outreach with Somalis in Ethiopia and suggested that Corrie join the Faith that Works trip to Ethiopia in June 2014. The trip would offer her a chance to learn about ministry work. It would also be a completely new experience.
Corrie (L) and other June 2014 Faith that Works team members in East Africa
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Corrie, but she knew the plan. “We were going there to provide a conference for the Somali leaders and their families to come together in a safe place.” Many Somali Christians in the Horn of Africa live in hostile environments and are isolated from other Somali Christians. The conference offered them a time of fellowship and discipleship. They could safely “express what they had been holding in or whispering at night,” said Corrie.
Corrie’s primary role on the trip was to observe and journal, to see firsthand the reasons for the mission and meet the people involved in the Somali outreach. She could then share the experience and stories of the Somali Christians with others. “It’s necessary to share the story of the struggle they’re going through...to see it and to feel it,” said Corrie. The story and struggle she witnessed was powerful. “It felt like while I was there I had walked into the book of Acts. I was observing what it was like for the early church,” Corrie said. She saw the Somali Christians “spreading the gospel in an environment that rejects it.”
As Corrie interacted with and heard the testimonies of persecuted Somali Christians, she was moved by the strength and depth of their faith. Corrie saw men and women displaying “absolute joy despite persecution” and realized their faith was strong because they had to depend on God for daily survival. She also saw God’s faithfulness as He answered prayers of the Somali believers. “It was amazing to see: one, their dependence (on God); and two, see God deliver.” God’s activity was real and visible.
While in Ethiopia, Corrie was challenged and inspired in her own spiritual life as she witnessed the powerful prayer life of the Somali Christians and as she prayed each morning and evening with the Faith that Works team. The trip exposed Corrie to the joy and power of prayer in a new way, and left her desiring a deep prayer life when she returned to the US. She had seen and experienced what felt like another world, and she did not want to forget the experience.
Corrie crossing a footbridge in Ethiopia
Back in the US, Corrie decided to join one of Faith that Works’ weekly prayer chains to stay connected to the work happening with the Somali people. Each week Cathy Westbury, the prayer chain leader, sends out an email to the members with a prayer theme for the week, suggested scripture readings, and news and prayer requests from our Somali leaders. There are seven people on each prayer chain, and each person commits to pray for one hour, one day a week. At the end of their hour, they email, text, or call the next person on the prayer chain to share reflections, prayers, and feelings that emerged as they prayed.
Corrie said the idea of spending one hour in prayer was initially a little scary, but she has found that she often ends up spending more than an hour in prayer on her prayer chain days. Corrie said she typically spends the hour in fellowship with God by reading scripture, writing, and speaking with Him in prayer. Though prayer can be a struggle at times, said Corrie, the weekly prayer chain emails offer a structure and starting point and help her connect prayer to scripture.
Though Corrie hasn’t met all of the other prayer chain members in person, the structure of the prayer chain connects Corrie to those before and after her on the chain. Along with the weekly email from the prayer chain leader, Corrie receives an email or message from the person before her on the chain with their prayers and reflections. This exposes her to the way others pray, interpret scripture, and experience God, which is something she came to value while praying with Somali Christians in Ethiopia.
“I never realized how valuable it is to pray with someone who is totally different than you,” said Corrie. “Everyone’s prayer style is so unique.”
Praying with people who have a different culture or language, different experiences with God, or different interpretations of scripture verses can help reveal new things about God and His work. It “helps you see where you’ve put God in a box,” said Corrie. Praying together also calls for vulnerability, Corrie said, and is a powerful way to connect with others.
For Corrie, traveling to Ethiopia and meeting Somali men, women, and children in person makes her prayers for them all the more real. The Somali believers have a deep place in her heart because she has seen and known them. They are fellow Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ. “It doesn’t feel superficial to say ‘brothers and sisters’ anymore,” said Corrie. “We do stand shoulder to shoulder because we both worship the same God.”
To learn more about Faith that Works' prayer chains and prayer ministry, contact Cathy Westbury at firstname.lastname@example.org.