by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (April 6, 2020) – More than 90 cars filled the east parking lot at Bethel Church Sunday afternoon, rolling in and lining up with gentle direction from three traffic control volunteers. In observance of Illinois’ social distancing guidelines, the drivers and passengers did not leave their vehicles or even roll down their windows. The church doors remained locked—church members were there to take their service on the road.
Bethel’s leaders had no idea what the participation rate might be in the church’s first “Unite Prayer Drive.” Only last Sunday the drive was still just an idea. Plans were solidified by Friday, and during the April 5 Sunday morning YouTube service, Pastor Jason Nelson revealed the specifics to viewers. Church members then received a follow-up email outlining the details.
“We will circle the three hospitals in our region in prayer in a continuous drive in our cars,” explained the email. “This is a way to care for burdened first-responders and healthcare workers and pray healing for people who are sick.” The email provided specific instructions about which exit to leave the parking lot from and what route to take to Community Health in Munster, Franciscan Health in Munster, and Franciscan Health in Dyer, Indiana.
The email also included some specific prayer prompts for pray-ers to use, listing personnel such as doctors, police, and first responders, but also others directly affected, such as hospital patients and families unable to visit them. At least 30 members of Bethel Church are first responders, and their names were listed in the email as well. “Pray for the health and safety of these individuals and their families,” were the instructions.
The procession began exiting east onto Wentworth at 4:00pm, turning north and heading to Ridge Road. By 4:15pm, the Bethel parking lot was empty.
Around 5:30pm, Bethel’s east lot was full again as cars returned from the prayer drive. Upon arriving back at the church building, participants spent 10 minutes praying for Bethel ministries and people, particularly during the current time of adjustments and stress.
Bethel Church is located at 3500 Glenwood-Lansing Road in Lansing, Illinois. The church’s online worship service is released every Sunday and can be watched on the church’s YouTube channel (Bethel Church Online), website (discoverbethel.org), or Facebook page (facebook.com/BethelChurchLansing).
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