What are the Webers Up To! Resourcing Prayer Communities

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Prayer Truck is behind us, and now we are gearing up for the fall.  It’s going to be very full and rich!  We have over 15 part time interns in our 10 month Studies in New Monasticism Internship.  2 part time students from McMaster Divinity College.  We are running 2 cohorts of monthly group spiritual direction for women leaders, called Soul Sisters.  We’re expanding our prayer room hours so that we’re open whenever 541 Eatery and Exchange is open.  We’re beginning to explore the possibility of a Social Enterprise Business to run alongside GOHOP, and we’ve embarked on The Sustainability Project, which will be providing resources to front line justice workers to reduce burn out rates in the field.  Kirk is in the final stages of an amazing and creative upgrade to the GOHOP website.

Don’t worry, Kirk and I aren’t doing this all by ourselves.  We have a fantastic and ever growing team of gifted leaders that are working hard cultivating prayer, mission and justice in Hamilton.

As you may be aware, in addition to my local responsibilities with GOHOP, I stepped into a role with 24/7 International about a year ago. I am now serving on their global Boiler Room Team.  The function of the team is to cultivate the prayer communities and church plants that have sprung out of the 24/7 movement, helping provide structure, oversight and undergirding, developing training tracks for emergent leaders, and building national and international collaborations.

My area of responsibility is supporting and cultivating the New Monastic/House of Prayer communities affiliated 24/7, mostly in North America but also to some small degree in Europe and the UK.  I have monthly mentoring/spiritual direction with prayer community leaders via skype, and then annual “site visits” to their communities to offer support and to lend expertise.

Jill and the 24-7 Prayer Boiler Room Network Team - fantastic leaders from both sides of the pond!
Jill and the 24-7 Prayer Boiler Room Network Team – fantastic leaders from both sides of the pond!

Between my 24/7 responsibilities and my quarterly training in Chicago, with the Transforming Centre, I’m travelling a few days every month.  In September I will be in Charlotte, North Carolina as we formerly adopt 24/7 Charlotte into the movement.  And in October I will be in Hernhutt, Germany – home of the famous Moravian 100 year prayer meeting in the 1700’s and the birth of the first Protestant Missions movement.  Next stop is Salzburg, Austria where I will be doing a site visit of a 24/7 House of Prayer there.  Then it’s on to Vienna for 24/7’s Global Gathering.  I will be in leadership/oversight meetings with the Boiler Room Team, teaching workshops at the Gathering, as well as meeting with and doing consultations with New Monastic/House of Prayer leaders from all over the world.

A number of my expenses are being covered by 24/7, but I will still need to raise an additional $1500 – $2000 to meet my travel expense budget for 2015.  I’m also looking for folks who have an abundance of air miles/travel points who might be interested in helping me with some of my monthly flights.  Would you prayerfully consider partnering with me as I invest in the development of new leaders and young prayer communities?

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I just want to go back to Prayer Truck for a minute and tell a story.   Early one Monday morning in June I opened the truck for the first shift of the season.  As I did, a young man raced across the parking lot towards me.  “The prayer people!” he yelled, “Thank God!”  He sat with me for an hour and a half and shared his story.  He was a pimp, and in leadership in one of the local gangs, but crystal meth use was eating away at his life.  In the midst of all that, he was having encounters with God and wanted to talk about it.  He allowed me to pray for him, and even wrote some of his own prayers on the wall of the Prayer Truck, before he went on with his day.

It was amazing.

The scope of our ministry has increased, but really when it comes down to it, our work is all about helping an individual learn how to pray, how to open up conversation and communion with the God of the Universe who can (and often will) change everything.  Thanks everyone for all your love, your prayers, your partnership in the gospel.  Please pray for Kirk as he works hard to complete the website.  Pray for me for wisdom and discernment in my leadership, and that I could be fully present and fully loving not only towards Jesus, but towards those He puts in my path.

If you are interested in partnering with us, you can donate online at www.canadahelps.org (type GOHOP in their internal search engine), or send cheques made payable to GOHOP to Box 57022, Jackson Square, ON, L8P 4W9.  Email me at jill@gohop.ca for instructions regarding air miles/points.

Communion (A Poem)

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I drop into silence

like the bottom of a well.

Sit in the darkness

and let my eyes adjust.

I see the etchings

the scratches

of my ancestors.

Hieroglyphics shimmer

Stories of long ago.

My fingers trace the ridges of their narrative.

My palms feel the heat

that radiates and pulses.

Their stories enter my skin.

Our hearts thrum together

The ancient rhythm

In the shadows of the earth.

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!

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On a Quest for New Location for GOHOP

We are guests.

And have always been.

For the entire life of GOHOP, over 13 years, we have been the grateful recipients of the hospitality of others.

First it was the Crossroads Centre in Burlington, where for seven years they gave us free prayer and office space, complete with 24/7 access and security.

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And then Youth Unlimited, up in Waterdown, invited us to come and pray at a little house that would eventually be torn down and replaced with their exciting new Centre for Youth Excellence.

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And a local church, Flamborough Christian Fellowship, donated a room at their facility for us to set up an office.

When we responded to God’s call to bring the House of Prayer to downtown Hamilton, Hughson Street Baptist and True City offered us prayer and collaborative office space.

And then Philpott Church generously gave us access to the Vine, a block from Jackson Square, where we have been praying for the last few years. Rent free. In fact, it cost them to have us there, in terms of utility expenses.

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For the entire life of our little urban monastery, the generosity of others has made it possible for us to devote ourselves to prayer, urban mission, and developing leaders in the city.

Hughson and Philpott are now in exciting seasons of renovation and expansion, but it means for us that the time has come to find another place for our office and prayer room, hopefully by the end of September/mid October.

When it was time for us to move to Hamilton, The Lord gave us a word, to speak to our friends and enter the city. I wrote about it some time ago here.

So as we are discerning next steps, it made good sense to us to speak to our friends about the upcoming move and to see what doors God might open through those conversations.

Please pray for us as we transition, and drop me an email if you want to chat about it, and pray and dream together! God has been faithful to date, and we look forward eagerly to see what He has next for us. All of us. Together.

Resources for Communities – Bed Bug Prevention

We’ve been initiated.

And are now true blue Hamiltonians.

We spent a good chunk of the summer battling bedbugs in our community house. After 4 visits from the exterminators, likely 20 hours of vacuuming and a gazillion loads of laundry, we have now been free from bug sightings or bitings for about a month. I’m feelingly increasingly optimistic that we have overcome. A week or so ago, I baked a cake which I decorated as a bedbug, and we ATE IT, as a declaration of our vanquishing our creepy little foes (I know, kinda gross, but very satisfying).

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At our latest house meeting, we put together a bedbug prevention plan, which we hope will, y’now, prevent further infestations. So here is the list from our brainstorming session!

– wash bedding weekly
– keep bedrooms uncluttered
– have bedbug covers on every mattress
– dust with diatimaceous earth, which is a very fine algae that dehydrates and kills bedbugs within about 48 hours. We use food grade DE, so as not to cause any harm to our parrot Bert. We dust around the baseboards, all the nooks and crannies of our bed frames, in between our mattresses. We also dust under the cushions of the main floor couches and easy chairs.
– put a this goopy circle of petroleum jelly on each couch or soft chair leg, and bed legs.
– metal bed frames are better than wood.
– make sure your blankets don’t touch the floors of your bedroom, and that your bed doesn’t touch the walls.
– don’t leave clothes lying around on the floor of your bedrooms.
– vacuum the couches after big social events, or after a friend who comes over who you know has bedbugs. Inspect couch cushions regularly.
– when you visit someone or somewhere that might be infested (which includes movie theatres and buses!), throw your clothes in the dryer for 30 minutes upon your return. It might feel like a hassle, but it is nothing compared to the hassle of trying to get your house free of bugs.
– when travelling, don’t put your suitcase on the floor in the hotel room. Instead place it on a table. Upon returning, unpack suitcase outside the house, take clothes directly to the laundry, and then vacuum out your suitcase, and optionally dust it with diatimaceous earth.
– regularly run your purse/backpack through the dryer for 30 minutes.
– if you buy anything used (ie Value Village, garage sales), launder it immediately, or if it’s not launderable, closely inspect, wipe down or vacuum it.

I expect there are those among you who have great prevention strategies as well, and we would love to hear them! Send them to us in the comment section.

Bedbugs are pandemic in Hamilton. We wrestle with the tension of being hospitable to our friends, many of whom are struggling with bedbugs as well, and keeping our home uninfected. The reality is that hospitality can be hazardous and costly. We feel like it’s worth the risk, and with a little pro activity at our end we can diminish the risk and enjoy our friends with more peace of mind.

Review of The Sacred Year, by Michael Yankoski

In my quest to make more space for God in my life, I’ve read books on spiritual disciplines.

Lots of them.

Lots and lots, actually.

Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Ruth Haley Barton, Thomas Merton, Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove, and Charles Ringma have all shaped my theology and practice.

So when my new friend Michael asked me to review and advanced copy of his new book, The Sacred Year, I was honoured to have been asked, eager to see what he would add to what is already a rich conversation.

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Working as I do with emergent leaders in our city, most of whom are in their 20’s and early 30’s, I am always on the lookout for resources that can fuel their heart for the Person and the mission of Jesus.  This is one such resource, and I plan to use it for our New Monastic Internships and as a key equipping tool for local churches.

Michael is a lyrical writer.  With his wit and candour, he draws you into his journey to explore the deeper life.  He is a thoughtful practitioner, not a mere theorist, and many of his practices (some of them a little zany, truth be told) took him and will take his readers out of their comfort zones and into new spiritual territory.  He is honest.  He is courageous.  He is contagious.

This book is the spiritual journey of everyman.  It is easy for us to elevate the “professional pray-ers” or the “vocational mystics”, our modern day Desert Fathers and Mothers, and disqualify ourselves from a deeper life of devotion and obedience to Christ.  But Michael is just a regular guy, like the rest of us.  If Michael can do it, I can do it.  You can do it.

In our context here in Hamilton we are seeing lifestyles of prayer, mission and justice becoming more prevalent – normal Christian living, if you will.  Michael lives that lifestyle and calls others to join him in a way that is compelling and infectious.  

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The book isn’t out yet, but you don’t have to wait long!  You can pre-order here or read more about it at www.thesacredyear.com.