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August 26, 2013

Drive-through church offers prayer to go

Anne Keith was driving home from a homecoming service at her own church when she felt God leading her to turn into the parking lot of Cedar Valley Cathedral of Praise on Cleveland Highway.

The church was hosting a drive-through prayer ministry.

“God said, ‘Go to this church and let them pray for you,’” Keith said.

That was six weeks ago, and she hasn’t missed a week yet.

“It’s something I look forward to every week. I start on Wednesday thinking, ‘It’s three more days,’ then ‘two more days,’” Keith said. “I don’t have to go up there, but I choose to because I want to. It encourages me and uplifts me, helps to strengthen me. It reinforces my hope for life in general.”

Keith is one of many people who receive a blessing at the church, which hosts a drive-through prayer mission each Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.

Members of the church stand along Cleveland Highway at Beaverdale Road holding signs and waving to let people passing by know they are welcome to come to the church for prayer — without having to get out of their cars.

“We’ve stepped outside the box,” Susan Goss said. “We’re bringing (God and prayer) to the people. ... We don’t want to be recognized. It’s not about us. It’s all about God.”

Church members are warm and welcoming, and they continually praise God as they gather under the awning of their church waiting for a driver. They are mindful to keep the focus on God and those who need prayer.

“It doesn’t matter what denomination you are,” Barry Suggs said. “Come as you are. There is no pressure. It’s about what they need. We don’t turn away anybody for anything.”

Keith had been struggling with some of her family members, who were not Christians.

“I was asking for prayer for salvation for my son,” she said. “I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. They’ve got a heart for people and a burden and concern for the community. ... You can’t ever get too much prayer for anything.”

Two weeks later, Keith’s son began to follow God.

Several churches across the nation offer a drive-through prayer ministry for their communities.

A speaker at the church gave members the idea for the ministry and they began the drive-through service on May 26 of this year.

“God’s brought a good number of people every Sunday,” Suggs said. “Seventeen have prayed prayers for salvation. And we’ve seen other miracles. We have seen changes no human could do.

“We believe in all of the Bible,” he said. “We’re believers in  healing and miracles. God showed us what to do. The Lord has always worked miracles.”

In addition to praying for people, members of the church give visitors a prayer cloth. The cloth is based on Acts 19:11-12, which says “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”

Touching the cloth serves as a reminder that God has touched the person holding it. The cloth is red to symbolize Jesus’ blood which was shed to make salvation available to everyone.

“They gave me a prayer cloth,” said Keith, who attends Concord Baptist Church. “My church doesn’t do that. It reminds me every day of my life that I have faith that God can do anything. There’s nothing God cannot do. It reminds me of hope and strength. I carry two with me. I won’t get dressed without them.”

God calls people to take on different tasks to spread his word and love, Keith said.

“They have a calling,” she said. “I think it’s a very sweet, caring, loving ministry. I think that’s a blessing in this world.”

Church members hope to expand their ministry to Saturdays as well. They said if God calls them to be out there seven days a week, they will be.

“We want God’s will to be done,” Goss said. “He’s coming back, and we want our whole community to be saved.”

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