I moved to Chattanooga on a Saturday in July. Starting over as a twenty-six year old in a new city quickly became overwhelming. I was in Chattanooga for less than twenty-four hours when I walked into the doors of North Shore Fellowship. A kind smile greeted me and asked if I wanted to sign up for the Pray for Me Campaign. I said “Yes!” without knowing what it was, but assuming it would be a good way to get involved in my new church.
A month after saying “yes” to participate in the Pray for Me Campaign, launch Sunday happened. I stood in a pew among other adults from three different generations as the youth of our church lined the perimeter. It was a wonderful sight to see, youth from eleven to eighteen asking adults to pray for them. Then it was my turn. A bright-eyed, blonde haired sixth grader walked up to me followed by a woman in her late thirties, Melissa, and one in her early sixties, Suzanne. Summer said, “Will you pray for me?” The answer was a resounding “Yes!” and the four of us found a little corner of the church, had a seat and got to know each other a little bit. After the initial introductions Summer shared with us how we could be praying for her. Summer spoke of the nerves that come with being in a new grade with a new routine and lockers, making new friends and auditioning for school plays. She shared her excitement for a trip to Disney over Thanksgiving and we talked at length about our mutual love for Old Navy. As I have prayed for Summer using the Pray for Me Prayer Guide my heart has been fed and nourished.
That Sunday in August, I didn’t know just what saying “yes” to being involved in the Pray for Me Campaign would mean for me. I mentioned that moving to a new city was overwhelming. In the middle of a crazy transition where I felt the weight of change and instability, God gave me something to steady me. Friendship. We met because we all recognize the beauty in the church rallying around the next generation and see prayer as a starting place for that to happen. Summer is being prayed for by three women; however, she is not the only one benefiting from the Pray for Me Campaign.
I have made two friends who are older than me, wiser than me and in different stages of life than me. Suzanne and Melissa encourage me. They have come into my life and let me into theirs and I have felt swollen with an awareness of God’s goodness to me. We share meals together and talk about life. Suzanne has even introduced me to new friends my own age. Last month she had a group of twenty-somethings in her home for dinner, Melissa joined and we laughed and enjoyed each other. Just this week we met for breakfast to celebrate the Christmas season. I have these friendships because God was kind to draw me into this thing called the Pray for Me Campaign.
I have been in Chattanooga for six months and now work here at the Pray for Me Campaign. Although I now work here, I bought into its goodness before I was ever hired. I learned from being involved in the Pray for Me Campaign that it bridges the gap between generations in a beautifully organic way. The older generations in our churches really want to love our youth and young people well but don’t always know how to do that. And our youth and young people don’t always know that they need friendships with the older generations until they have them. The Pray for Me Campaign is a practical way to answer this disconnection.
This is my hope for Summer and the entirety of the next generation— I hope that they have beautiful friendships with people who are ten, twenty, thirty, forty, even fifty years older than them. Friendships that are full of encouragement, wisdom, and awe. Friendship that will encourage them, reminding them of the one constant— Christ, his gospel and his goodness to his people.
Even today God’s sovereign plan continues to intertwine and weave and dip as he draws us further into relationship with each other, communion with him and one day closer to his return. I am abundantly grateful that plan included the Pray for Me Campaign and the friends I have made because of it.