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When Cindy Martin heard in 2017 that organizers had exceeded their fundraising goals for the Vancouver Festival of Hope, and that the surplus would be used to help finance the next BGEAC outreach event, her mind started turning.
If they can pay it forward, why can’t we pray it forward? she thought.
Cindy, BGEAC’s ministry developer, contacted the Vancouver Festival leadership team and BGEAC supporters in the region, and invited them to join her in praying weekly for the Prince Edward Island Celebration of Hope in Charlottetown later that year.
Most team members and supporters said yes, and Pray It Forward was born. For eight weeks before the PEI Celebration’s main outreach weekend, and one week after, Cindy emailed updates and praise/prayer items to 10 to 15 Christians in Vancouver, PEI, and Calgary, where BGEAC is based.
Then everyone participated in weekly 30-minute conference calls to lift up to God the three nights of music, testimonies, and Gospel presentations from Will Graham in Charlottetown.
“This made the Vancouver folks an important part of the PEI Celebration,” Cindy said.
BGEA supporter Bill Stanley agrees. The Pray It Forward participant from Vancouver has supported the ministry since the 1984 Billy Graham Crusade at B.C. Place.
“Having been involved in outreach events, I recognize there’s so much that we don’t think about, yet prayer is so important,” Bill said. “In preparation for the outreach events, and also for the people who will be moved by the Spirit.”
The Pray It Forward initiative is in keeping with Billy Graham’s philosophy of prayer. In fact, Mr. Graham was known to say the most important priority when preparing for an evangelistic event was always the same: prayer, prayer, prayer.
Pray It Forward gained more momentum in 2018 when BGEAC partnered with local churches to organize Celebrations of Hope in the remote Nunavut community of Rankin Inlet and in the Avalon region of Newfoundland. Bill and some other Vancouver Festival supporters took part in those prayer phone calls, joining with new participants from Rankin Inlet and the Avalon region.
“It was heartwarming that there were people all over the country who took time out of their lives to pray for our town,” said Pray It Forward participant Alide Sanguin, from Rankin Inlet. “That was very special.”
Bringing everyone together from opposite ends of Canada to pray for the two Celebrations proved to be a challenge for Cindy, due to a four-and-a-half hour time difference between Vancouver and St. John’s. That difference meant not everyone who wanted to be part of the prayer calls could participate each time.
But she did her best to overcome that barrier by using the Zoom online messaging tool so participants with video capability could not only hear each other but also see each other. Cindy used the tool again during the Rankin Inlet Celebration’s two nights of outreach—carrying around her laptop and its imbedded video camera to show Pray It Forward participants how the Celebration was coming together.
“Doing this communicated the fact that Rankin Inlet residents were being noticed and there was something big happening there—and the rest of the prayer team could feel the excitement,” Cindy said.
“That added another dimension to our prayer,” Bill noted. “I could see people praying in Rankin Inlet, Calgary, PEI, and Newfoundland. We were united in our desire that all would work well. It was a wonderful experience.”
“It was heartwarming that there were people all over the country who took time out of their lives to pray for our town. That was very special.”
—Alide Sanguin, Pray It Forward participant, Rankin Inlet
Rankin Inlet’s Pray It Forward participants were among the most committed pray-ers, even after the Nunavut event ended, Alide says: “Avalon was just a week after Rankin, so we knew we were sharing the excitement of the Celebration coming there.”
“I want to stay involved because Baker Lake has such a desperate need for Christ,” Alide said. “The Celebration will have an impact on
the entire region—including Rankin, because there are many family relationships between the two towns.”
Meanwhile, Cindy is exploring ways to develop Pray It Forward, including having multiple prayer calls during a variety of times so more people can participate across many time zones.
“The culture of our ministry has always been to declare our dependence on the Lord and on prayer,” she said. “For me, when the time came for a late-afternoon Pray It Forward prayer call, I’d sometimes be out of gas. But after 30 minutes of meeting and praying together, my spirit was revived.”
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