The phone rings. “Hi Jill, Sara’s here at Living Rock, wanting to know when the prayer truck opens.”
It was 9 am.
I laugh. “Tell her she’s early! We’re opening at 8 pm tonight.”
Sara had been joining us for our weekly Wednesday prayer meetings at the Rock. She didn’t like to pray out loud, but was hungry for community and loved the worship.
7:30 pm, the first night, Sara showed up. Due to mobility challenges, she wasn’t able to climb into the truck, but that didn’t prevent her from planting herself in one of the folding chairs in front of it. Day in and day out, Sara sat by the truck. At 10 pm each night, I sent her back to her group home. “It’s the rules, Sara. No women alone out here at night!” When I realized that she was going to be a permanent fixture, I decided to put her to work.
“You see those people walking by?” I pointed. “Let’s pray for them. And those people in scooters?” (Hamilton, in my opinion, is the scooter capital of Canada – though some would argue that Brantford is). “Let’s pray that God heals them so they don’t need their scooters anymore. And see that parking lot? Let’s pray that no-one’s car gets broken into.”
She caught on right away. When I arrived the next day, she exclaimed, “I’m a prayer warrior! I prayed over all those cars in the parking lot! I love the prayer truck! It’s MY prayer truck!”
Sara wasn’t the only one who claimed the truck as her own. Halfway through the second week, two teen girls, heavily tattooed and pierced, visited us. They carried a picture of one of their friends who had just died. “We just knew we had to come to the truck and pray – we’ve got to get some good energy being released.” We glued the picture of their friend on the wall, and they wrote loving memories and prayers around it. Over the rest of the week, there was a small but steady stream of youth who came to grieve and pray – youth who would never consider going to a church. They knew we were here, and they chose the truck as their sanctuary. It was their prayer truck.
The first week, the Hamilton Spectator did an article on what we were doing. The lead line was “Hamilton has a cupcake truck, a grilled cheese truck, and now a prayer truck.” It had a prophetic ring to it.
The truck is shut down now, and I’m grieving.
The issue is sustainability. We’re tired and there are simply not enough of us at this juncture to man the truck full time. We were using a borrowed truck, and a borrowed parking spot. Plus, in our Canadian climate, an outdoor prayer room loses some of its glam when the temperature dips.
Several times over the last two weeks, I exclaimed to friends and passers by. “I’m ruined! I never want to pray inside again!”
I am. And I don’t. A ministry mentor of mine once said to me “put yourself in the path of oncoming grace.” We did that in the last two weeks of praying on the streets of Hamilton. But when grace knocks you down and bowls you over, how do you pick yourself up again and resume the journey you were on before? Or should you?
What does an Urban Monastery that is attractive and accessible to those on the margins look like? These last couple of weeks, it looked like a Uhaul. Please pray for us as we reflect on what God has done in our midst, assimilate our new learning, and seek the Lord as to how to move forward.