A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

 

USA: The Whatcom Story: how day and night prayer
impacted a community.


Almost every significant move of God in history was preceded by
fervent, united prayer. This inspired Christians in Whatcom county
on the north-west coast of the United States to establish a ‘canopy of day and night prayer’ over their region. The results are astonishing.

“One night I was in church and I heard a prophecy that God would move by his Spirit over the native north-west tribes of the United States,”
recalls Viola Riebe of the Hoh River Nation. “It would be like a tsunami,
gaining in power, moving from the natives to other churches.”
For Riebe this was a hopeful prophecy, as back in 1700 a giant earthquake in the area generated a tsunami that almost devastated her native tribe.
She felt God wanted to turn the negative past into a positive future.

In 2008 a house of prayer was launched in Bellingham, the county’s seat, a community of 90,000 people. This Light of the World Prayer Center 
(LOWPC) included native American believers and Christians from other
churches. Together they established a day and night prayer watch,
similar to the Moravians in Herrnhut.
 
Native American prayer meeting
The Spirit of the Moravians

“What God has been doing in Whatcom county is linked to this town in
Germany,” says Jason Hubbard, director of the LOWPC. “God led me to
visit Herrnhut, home of Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians. I learned
their amazing story of awakening into prayer and missions. The passion of these Moravian believers was ‘to win for the Lamb who was slain the due reward of his suffering’.* Inspired by their example, we wanted to
be a modern-day expression of this powerful movement of united prayer and missions.”

* This quote has been attributed to missionaries Johann Leonhard Dober and David Nitschmann, two young Moravian Brethren from Herrnhut, Germany. When God called them in 1732 to minister to the African slaves on the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix in the Danish West Indies, they were willing to sell themselves to a slave owner if that was the only way to reach the slaves. As their ship pulled away from the docks, it is said that they called out to their loved ones on shore, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”
The World Prayer Center

Reaching the Unreached 9-min 2019 version – Revival
Click to watch the inspiring video ‘The Spirit of the Moravians’



Pastors and churches team up in prayer

Whatcom county could certainly use a change in the spiritual
atmosphere. “Over the last several decades we have seen tragic church
splits among God’s people, an increase of witchcraft and sexual
immorality, pastors who have fallen,” says Hubbard. “However, since day and night prayer has been established in a simple way, senior pastors are gathering monthly to build spiritual friendships and seek God for the
county.”

“This is an unbelievable blessing,” says Grant Fishbook, pastor of Christ
the King. “Trust has been built over time as the message sunk in that
we’re not each other’s competition. Our competitor is the devil, but we
are family and on the same team. We love each other and want to live
that out. Now the pastors text and call each other for encouragement and drink coffee together, because there’s a genuine interest in what’s
happening with each part of the family. They ask: How are you doing,
how can I pray, how can I support you?”

“When we exalt Christ, it brings us together,” says Shawn Cunningham,
pastor of Hilcrest Chapel. “We have seen a growth and increasing unity
among churches in Whatcom county and that has come through the
power of prayer. Prayer by nature unifies God’s people.” 

Alvin Vandergriend, church prayer coordinator of the 3rd Christian
Reformed Church, agrees. “A canopy of prayer is a covering of God’s
providential blessing over a territory. Prayer is where we access God’s
resource and heart, where he empowers us to fulfil his mission. For all
the years I’ve been involved in ministry, I’ve never seen pastors come
together like now in Whatcom county – in the numbers they are coming
together, the prayer that happens there, and the encouragement they
give each other. It is quite amazing.”
 
Pastors’ Prayer Meeting


Ivan Montenegro testifies of revival

In Whatcom county 80 pastors out of a hundred are now praying
consistently together. This includes the native, Hispanic and Korean
churches, it’s a truly multi-cultural expression of the Body of Christ.
Pastors have also been sharing their pulpits and holding joint community services with thousands of people coming together.

Phenominal church growth: 10,000 salvations, 80 church plants

The unity also led to an explosion of church plants – 80 church plants in a decade – with 10,000 first-time salvations of people who were baptized in water. This is a phenominal church growth in what has historically been one of the least churched areas in the United States.

The 15,000 member strong Hispanic community experiences a real
revival. Ivan Montenegro, church planter with the Hispanic Church,
reports: “Every day we see people come to Christ. We started 11 new
churches and baptized at least 1,500 people, which is a 10% growth.
If you ask me: ‘How come?’ all I can say is: it’s the fire of God through
prayer. Every church in our area is growing.”

Churches also developed a county-wide men’s ministry. These men come from 40 different churches and see their lives transformed through the
gospel and prayer. Raul Chaves, Men’s pastor at Band of Brothers, says: “Healing is taking place in these men and their families. They become
the men God intended them to be. And it’s all about prayer. We pray
before, during and after everything we do.”

Cleaning up the city

“We can corporately serve the community and those in need,” says Jo Fletcher, director of NWCF/SOS. “When the police told us that they don’t have the manpower to clean up the graffiti in the city, we mobilized five churches and 500 people to get the job done. It was a great opportunity to make a difference for people who have been vandalized, to experience the love of Christ.”

Impact on students and children

Focusing prayer on college campuses also paid off. At Western Washington University 70 professors began to connect and pray together. On Friday nights 600 students are seeking God for their campus. “It boggles my mind that wherever I turn I see students praying and reading the Bible,” says professor Paul Chen. “In three to four years the Christian presence on our campus will have increased.”

Ekklesia pastor Brian McSwan reports that 35 youth pastors meet together on a monthly basis, and every Wednesday night young adults gather downtown to pray. Around 700 kids now participate each week in Good News Clubs in Whatcom county, with 60 percent of them unchurched.
Pregnancy clinics and foster care

The churches in Whatcom county are also contending for life. “We believe that God is a god of adoption and a father to the fatherless,” explains Jason Hubbard. “We’ve been praying for women at the pregnancy clinic to find hope for their future. We’ve been praying for the number of adoptions to increase in Whatcom county. We are also praying for God to end abortion.”

Christie Tucker, counselor at the Whatcom Pregnancy Clinic, confirms the effects of prayer at the crisis pregnancy clinic. “We have women who came in adamant to have an abortion. We say little, we just love them and pray. As we’re praying we see their hearts transform, and women go from thinking that abortion is their only option to realizing that they want and love their child. Our abortion numbers have consistently dropped over the last 10 years.”

Prayer for women at risk

Lani Swanson of Skookum House
Christians also turned their hearts to the foster care system. “At the World Prayer Center we pray deliberately and strategically about the needs of foster kids, foster parents and the social workers working with them,” says Ray Deck III, director of Skookum Kids. “As a result, the number of available foster homes here in Whatcom county has doubled in the last three years.”

Lani Swanson, family sphere coordinator at the LOWPC, introduces us to the Skookum House, a 72-hour emergency foster care home, run by a hundred volunteers. This six-bed facility is the first place that children come to when they’ve been taken out of their home because of an emergency situation. “When the social workers bring them here, they’re probably experiencing the biggest trauma in their life, and we can be there for them with love, prayer and a cup of cool water.”

Women at risk and homeless people

A local rescue home, birthed in prayer, has seen the restoration of dozens of trafficked women, with 30 coming to salvation. Aaron Newcomb, founder of Engedi Refuge, says: “We are attempting to do something that we are incapable of doing ourselves. Only God is capable of healing someone’s heart and past. In our long-term program we have seen over 90% of the women who came for help not return to any form of sex trafficking. Normally a program like ours has a 15-20% success rate. God is actually healing and restoring their lives in an incredible way.”

Shannon Williamson is director of the Drop-in Center, a shelter where Christians provide a bed and food to the homeless. She explains that combining worship and intercession with hands-on ministry is powerful. “We are under a canopy of day and night prayer. We minister first before the Lord, and then we go out and serve and minister in the community.”

Shannon Williamson giving a Bible study in the homeless shelter

Flourishing businesses

The Light of the World Prayer Center also consistently ‘surrounds’ business people with prayer. Business owners fellowship and partner together with the aim to see their businesses become a force for change in the community. “We have a strong business team,” says Strategic Teams leader Jeremy Schweder. “Several businesses we’ve been praying for last year had breakthrough years where they’ve prospered in incredible ways.” This is confirmed by Wes Herman, founder of Woods Coffee. “We’ve seen amazing growth. We’re now building stores 20 and 21. I believe that the things that are happening here are no accident. It’s a fruit of prayer.”

The vision is spreading

In Whatcom county the principles of exalting Jesus in day and night prayer and worship, unity among the local churches, and together loving and serving the community, brings transformation. Because it’s such a workable strategy, it is spreading like wildfire to other communities and cities. So far 12 other cities in America and cities in Indonesia, the Czech Republic, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates have adopted the prayer strategy and are also beginning to see transformation.

In February 2019 Jason Hubbard, Whatcom county’s prayer director, was appointed as executive coordinator of the International Prayer Council, a global network of prayer movements. This will help to spread the vision.

Watch the Whatcom story on video:

Part 1 (2012) – https://vimeo.com/245452466
Part 2 (2017) – https://vimeo.com/245446591

Source: Jason Hubbard, LOWPC, edited by Joel News


GENERAL BLOGS INDEX
BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)
BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)
BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)
BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)
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BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)
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