Quebec House of Prayer – Even the Sparrow finds a Place by Your Altar

Tanya Allatt, with her husband Brian, runs the Quebec House of Prayer.  She posted this picture on Facebook yesterday.

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A robin had built a nest on the wreath on the front door of her home.

“She stays with her eggs all night. Then, in the morning, I knock gently to let her know that I need to let my chicks out the door for school.” wrote Tanya, “She is very obliging.”

The prayer room at QHOP has another nest, for another birdie.

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A local missionary contracted a very painful chronic virus while overseas, and is now convalescing at QHOP.  She is staying at their motel.  They care for her.  When her pain abates enough to leave her bed, they wheel her over to the prayer room where she can lie down and rest in the presence of the Lord.  The sparrow with the broken wing has a place by the altar.

Waitaminit, did you say motel?  A House of Prayer has a motel?

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Yes, last year QHOP purchased the motel on the adjoining property.  They run it as a standard motel, and suites are available for pilgrims to the House of Prayer.  As they took it over and learned how to run it, they have learned a lot about extending hospitality.

“At QHOP we host the Presence of the Lord.  Asking ourselves, what makes the Holy Spirit comfortable here?  What welcomes His presence here among us?” muses Tanya, “And we also host the people of the Lord.  What makes the House of Prayer a welcoming, safe place for pilgrims?”

Robins, sparrows, pilgrims, all finding a place by the altar of the Lord in Sherbrooke Quebec.

The Fish with Fresh Eyes

Recently I heard a great story about three fish.

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One day two fish were swimming in the ocean.  A third fish swam up to them and gurgled “the water is lovely today, isn’t it?”

They smiled and nodded and the third fish swam on.  When it was out of sight, they turned to one another and asked,

“What’s water?”

Its easy to be unaware of our atmosphere, our surroundings, because we are immersed in it every day.  Changes in our spirits and in our communities often happen very slowly, in very small increments.  I’ve often said to city reachers that city transformation is not measured in months or years, but in decades.  Change takes time, and can be imperceptible as it happens.

That is why it is so valuable to have someone come visit from the outside, look at everything with a fresh set of eyes, and tell you what they see.

Andy Freemen, author of Punk Monk, did just that during the last week.  He came, he saw, and he shared with us what he saw God doing in our midst.  It was deeply encouraging and really strengthened the hearts of our team.  We feel energized to dig more deeply into the work that God has for us here in Hamilton, confident that God is at moving wonderfully amongst us.

Tomorrow, I get to do just the same thing that Andy did.  I’m flying to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit my friend Lisa Koons, who runs 24/7 Charlotte.

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Joined by USA 24-7 Leaders Joe Steinke and Dave Powers, we are going to hang out with her and her prayer community.

We’re gonna tell her how great the water is.  I can’t wait!

Punk Monk and Knitting a Sweater that Fits

Years ago GOHOP went on a journey of exploration.  We loved some of the spiritual DNA we had received from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City:  praying scriptures, a vocational call for some to a lifestyle extravagantly given to prayer, the fusion of prayer and worship, the centrality of Jesus in the prayer movement.

However, we found that the IHOP model wasn’t fitting us or our context the way we had hoped.  It was like we borrowed a friend’s sweater that we loved, but our body was shaped differently, so when it was on us, it didn’t fit or look the same.  We wanted our Presbyterian friends to be just as comfortable in the prayer room as our Pentecostal ones.  Although we loved Harp and Bowl, we were eager to explore what the Apostle Paul calls “all kinds of prayer.”  And we wanted to create an expression that was meaningful and accessible to the urban poor.

Enter 24-7 Prayer and Andy Freeman.

Andy was the founder of 24-7 International’s first Boiler Room (their name for Houses of Prayer) and co-authored a book Punk Monk with Pete Greig.  In his book, Andy painted a picture of communities built around prayer, mission and justice, and models of doing life and prayer together that seemed like they might fit us better.

So we began to knit our own sweater, keeping the wooly bits from IHOP that we still loved, and weaving in strands of spiritual DNA and models that Andy and 24-7 embodied.  The end result?  GOHOP in it’s present incarnation.  Community dinners and houses.  Prayer in UHauls in back alleys.  A joyful mash up of all kinds folks from diverse theological perspectives.

Today I’m picking Andy up at the airport, and he’s spending three days with us.  We’re gonna show him around Hamilton and immerse him in our rhythms.  In a sense, he is an important spiritual father to our little prayer community.  I’m hoping that as he prays, eats, and chats with us, that he will see how God has used him to create life in our midst and help us knit a sweater that fits – that he would see his life and vision enfleshed in our community and that he would be encouraged.

Andy will be joining us at our Annual General Party at 541 Eatery and Exchange on Wednesday night at 7:30.  Once a year we gather to eat, pray, and love…. and tell stories.  I bet Andy’s got a bunch of good ones.  Maybe you can join us!

GOHOP Annual General Party