John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
James 5:16b “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous person (man) avails much.”
New Hope / Eastern Kentucky Ministry Outreach is a wonderful new partnership for reaching the lost and making disciples in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Working with our partner David Spencer, pastor of the Bear Pen Community Church, we’ve witnessed the Holy Spirit do amazing things. The ministry is moving ahead at such a rapid rate that it is hard to keep abreast of all that’s happening. The major expansion of the Bear Pen Church and the Abiding Hope Food Pantry, the church plant on Shoemaker Ridge, the commissioning of our first Minister of Intercessory Prayer, home Bible studies and prayer meetings, and the organizing of Prayer Bands are just a few of the things that are happening.
Our target area for the church-planting ministry is bounded by Interstate 64 on the north and Interstate 75 on the west. The eastern boundaries are the state lines with West Virginia and Virginia. The southern reach of the area is the Tennessee state line. In this rugged corner of Kentucky, a recent survey indicated there are approximately 670,000 people who are unchurched. This area also has over 500 major streams with branches reaching into untold numbers of hollows where scores of people live.
As many of the larger denominational churches have located in county seat towns or other larger towns, the little country churches have disappeared at an alarming rate. These small mountain churches represented the presence of Christ in these communities. In their absence, the spiritual, moral, and social fabric that held these people together has deteriorated. Drugs, alcohol, meth labs, and bootleggers have become a way of life. People living out of wedlock, illegitimate and unwanted children, and the disintegration of the family unit plague the area. Unemployment and discouragement hang over Eastern Kentucky like a black cloud. A sense of hopelessness has eroded the strong independent, hard working spirit of this proud people.
As believers, we cannot help but be aware of the words of Jesus on the Mount of Ascension. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Many of us have supported missionaries serving the ends of the earth. We have also been active in ministering to those in our local communities. These things we ought to be doing in obedience to the words of Jesus. But what about Samaria, an out of the way place with poor and often culturally different people? The folks of Eastern Kentucky are not in a foreign land, nor are they in our local communities, but they desperately need the gospel to be preached and a helping hand to bring them to the Savior!
Our vision is to go into these small communities and plant or reopen these small churches. Our desire is that many here in Eastern Kentucky who walk in darkness will see the great light of Christ (Isa. 9:2). Our recent experiences show that the people here in Eastern Kentucky are hungry for the gospel. The revival fires are glowing in the mountains – we want to fan the flames. God is answering the prayers of saints who prayed generations ago as well as those who are praying today. Our church plant on Shoemaker Ridge is less than a year old. Without a church, the area had become notorious for drug dealers, meth labs, and bootleggers. Already 33 people on the ridge have come to saving faith in Christ. In a place called Wide Creek another abandoned church was opened. Mike Spencer, David’s brother, has led the church in transforming the whole community. Over 100 people have been saved across 10 years. The drug dealers have moved out. The cock fighters have left the area and as one gambler put it “you can’t get enough fellers together to have a poker game.”
Would you be willing to become a partner with us in this great church-planting endeavor? We are in the process of establishing Prayer Bands that will focus on Eastern Kentucky, our “Samaria”. We want to gather people into Prayer Bands of approximately 6 to 8 people. The organizing point might be your local church or a neighborhood group. Peterson’s The Message translation of Matt. 6:7-12 is a useful description of our program: “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and He knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.”
With that in mind, the structure of the Prayer Bands is quite simple:
- The people who accept the challenge of being a part of a Prayer Band believe their prayers play a vital part in the success of this ministry.
- They must be willing to faithfully meet their daily commitment.
- Each person is expected to pray a minimum of 15 minutes a day. Although the time may seem brief, we are not heard because of our ‘much speaking’ (Matt. 6:7). Focused pray by each one in the group added to the prayers of other band members is substantial.
- Members of the Prayer Band are requested to meet once a month for a approximately 30 minutes for a group time of fellowship and prayer. Before Sunday morning services or before evening services could serve as a convenient time. One person should be selected as the convener.
- New Hope / Eastern KY Ministry will keep in regular contact with Band members keeping them informed about the ministry and sharing new prayer concerns.
A future hope is that various Band members, either as individuals or as a group, might come to Eastern Kentucky to visit. These visits could be planned as a ‘Vacation with a Purpose’. The area where our church planting/revival ministry is taking place is naturally beautiful. Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Red River Gorge, and Buckhorn Lake State Park are close by. A lovelier place to spend a few days would be hard to find. The larger purpose would be to visit to our churches and future sites for church plants, to meet some of the people involved in the ministry, and to experience the mountain culture.
Our heart’s desire is that enough Prayer Bands will be formed to yield a combined 100 hours per week for this ministry. We are already half way there! If you would be willing to be a part of a Prayer Band, please gather interested people together. Send the names and addresses to the NHIM office. We will send you sign up material, our most urgent prayer requests, and regular updates. Please consider joining us.