Moravian Sculpture Walk

Posted: October 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

I’m very interested in outdoor prayer rooms.  There is something about being in the midst of creation that is so restorative to the soul – it’s easy to feel close to God in the woods.  The Moravians in Herrnhut must agree, because they’ve created a sculpture walk – seven kilometres in the black forests of Germany, interspersed with beautiful statues that speak of spiritual realities.

walking in the woods

       walking in the woods

mushrooms!

               mushrooms!

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                        Communion

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These guys seem mad at each other…..

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Recent world events cause me to look at Herrnhut through new eyes.  I’ve always known it as the German village where they had a 100 year prayer meeting that launched the first Protestant missions movement in history.  This sleepy little town rocked the nations.

Off we go to Herrnhut!

Off we go to Herrnhut!

The view of Herrnhut from the prayer tower.

The view of Herrnhut from the prayer tower.

But I’ve never thought of it as the settlement of Moravian refugees, fleeing religious persecution.  They found shelter and welcome with Count Zinzendorf, and in the context of this idyllic German countryside they build a new life, a new community.  A life and community that looked beyond it’s own needs and set it’s heart on sharing the shelter and welcome of the Gospel to lands and peoples far beyond them.

On Pilgrimage

Posted: October 14, 2015 in pilgrimage

Today I leave for two weeks in Germany and Austria.  I’m landing in Dresden, meeting my daughter and six others of our GOHOP community, and then we are hopping on a train to Herrnhut, Germany.  Tomorrow night I will be sleeping in the Moravian Guest House and learning first hand all about the 100 year prayer meeting Zinzendorf and the Moravians launched in the 1700s that started the first Protestant missions movement in history.

After a few days there we journey to Salzburg, Austria, where we will be connecting with a Catholic 24-7 Community, and helping them with the Syrian refugees that they are welcoming and serving.  I have no idea what to expect at all, except that I’m going to learn.  A lot.  And likely be very humbled in the process.

Then it’s on to Vienna, where I am joining my 24-7 Boiler Room Network Team for a couple days of strategizing how we can serve this growing movement of prayer communities.  And finally, I will join about 1000 pilgrims who will have gathered from the far flung corners of the globe to celebrate 24-7’s 15th birthday and our semi annual Global Gathering.

Please pray for me, for Hannah, and for the 9 other members of the GOHOP community as we travel and serve.  Many of us are teaching at the Gathering, so we are excited not only to learn, but also share the stories of what God is doing in Hamilton.

Im going to try and break my writing dry spell, and to blog each day of my journey – so welcome to the pilgrimage!

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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.

Feast for the Senses

Posted: August 12, 2015 in pilgrimage, Prayer, Retreat, Worship

I just got back from a few days of retreat with the Transforming Community in Chicago.  This retreat we learned about the spiritual practice of Embodiment.  Seeing the body as sacred.  Being present to our bodies, caring for our bodies.  Exploring what it means for the body to be a place of encounter with God.  One of our exercises was to go on a prayer walk, so one morning in the wee hours I took a brisk stroll around the lake at the retreat centre.

This is the secret passageway to the lake walk

This is the secret passageway to the lake walk

The air was heavy and humid.  The silence was deep.  The beauty was astounding.

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There was a very interesting juxtaposition of wilderness and stone bridges with pillars.  Fascinating and lovely.

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The deer were plentiful, curious, and very tame!

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My body invigorated by walking.  My spirit nurtured by silence.  My soul nourished by beauty.

God present with me in all of it.

Communion (A Poem)

Posted: June 28, 2015 in Community, pilgrimage, Prayer

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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.

It’s confession time.

I’ve got a bad habit.

I wake up in the morning.  It’s early.  Real early.  I don’t really want to get out of bed yet.  Not ready to face my day.

Reflex kicks in and reach to my bedside table and grab it.

My IPad.  Or my phone.  Whatever is handier.

First I scroll through Facebook.  Then Instagram.  Feedly for the blogs I’m following.  Gmail.  And then the news.  It’s good to be current with news, right?  It feels like a vital connection.

Before I know it, and hour has passed.  I’m replete with information and electronic white noise.

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At night I do it all over again, tucked in with my tech.

And I wonder why I’m not hearing the Lord’s voice the way I used to.

I love what Pastor Abraham has to say about fasting.  “It leaves more room for the Holy Spirit,” he chuckles.

I need to make room in my brain space.  My soul space.

This weekend, I unplug.  Keep my phone off.  Less than 15 minutes of internet each day.  I spend most of the weekend mucking in my garden.  By Sunday night I am pleasantly sore and tired, and my insides feel expansive and clear.

Encouraged, I exile technology from my bedroom.

This morning I wake up early.  Real early.

I don’t want to get out of bed yet, so I just lay there and remind myself of the Lord’s presence.  An old hymn pops into my heart and I hum it quietly to myself.  I think of Psalm 42:8.

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

I wonder how many of His songs I have missed, swallowed by technological gluttony.  But today I am able to hear it.

Vital connection.

You are Invited

Posted: May 7, 2015 in Hospitality, Prayer

I’m in Sherbrooke, Quebec, with the team of the Quebec House of Prayer.  We are sharing stories of their life together.  “Tell me your juiciest, most QHOPPY moment.”

Lots of tales, many warm tears.  They’re a tender hearted bunch.

What caches my attention is that most of the stories begin with the phrase, “so I received an invitation…”  As I look around the table of dedicated prayer missionaries, I realize that they are all there because they have been invited.  Brian and Tanya, the Directors, reached out to them (usually via Facebook messenger), and asked “would you come join us?”

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Fourteen and half years ago, Kirk and I felt a call to prayer missions.  So we did the only thing we knew to to – we applied to be staff at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.  We auditioned, went down for an interview, and were accepted.  We began to put our affairs in order.  I trained people to replace me at the church, and offloaded my business clients.  But as the time to depart drew near, we started to feel ill at ease.  Something didn’t feel right.  I remember one night, Kirk was pacing back and forth in our bedroom, “If there is a peace of Christ that passes understanding, this isn’t it!”  So discerning that we had made a mistake, we pushed pause, and retreated to the family cottage to pout and to pray.

And while we were there we received an invitation.  A group of pastors who had already been praying together weekly for six years contacted us.  They wanted to see a House of Prayer established in Southern Ontario, and could we come and help?

The rest, as they say, is history.

We received an invitation.

Encouraged by the success of Brian and Tanya’s invitations, I’ve been spending this week asking people to join us.  “Come and play the hand drums in our worship set!  Bring your guitar!  Hey, would you consider joining our staff?”

I’m on a roll, so I thought I would do it on the blog as well.

May I invite you to join us?  For a prayer meeting?  Or an afternoon in the prayer room?  To help out at the Prayer Truck this summer?  Or maybe God is calling you to urban and prayer missions for short term or even vocationally?

You are very welcome to come and visit with us and explore with us this lifestyle given to loving Jesus through prayer, mission and justice.  Drop me a line at jill@gohop.ca if you want to chat about it!

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You’ve been invited.

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.

Prayer Trail, Labyrinth and Prayer Chapel

Posted: April 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

A Methodist Church has partnered with 24-7 Charlotte to create a lovely outdoor prayer space.  We were able to explore it today.