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Tuesday

Tearing down walls in Seattle

Prayers ring out through the fellowship hall at Trinity Life Center on a drizzly Seattle morning. It’s astonishing that 10 men can make such a racket. And these are pastors — pastors who care less about maintaining a veneer of spiritual dignity and more about God changing lives, beginning with their own.

"Pray for public teachers," says one man during a brief request time.

"Pray for men to get free of Internet pornography," says another.

"Pray for more unity among us," says another.

These men — black, white and Hispanic pastors from the Rainier valley area of Seattle — have been meeting like this for almost two years. Walls have come down, they say. Being real is the order of the day. The atmosphere here is cozy, with chairs situated around a fireplace and steaming coffee cups in hands. But the comfort these men feel together comes from their sincere desire to pray for the city.

"We’re believing that as we dwell together in unity, the anointing is going to fall on our house," says Jim Gershong, pastor of a mostly Filipino church. "We had to talk out the competitiveness and speak openly."

The meeting, which lasts more than 90 minutes, includes times of intercession for the community; at other times, they share praise reports and applaud each other; at other times, they repent in tears or gather around a hurting brother and lay hands on him. Often the heart-wrenching prayer goes on for minutes, flowing from one topic to another as men pace with hands raised or sit with open Bibles on their knees.

"God, we need Your boldness, Your courage."

"I pray that gang members, prostitutes, businessmen would run to Christ, fall down at His feet."

"Hallelujah!"

Tom Newman pastors Trinity Life Center, a church of 100 with a vision for the community. The prayer meeting, he believes, is one of many signs that God is moving in this city.

"We dream of turning that elementary school building into a Seattle Dream Center," he says, pointing to a school as we drive by. Trinity already uses the school for outreaches, holding toy, clothing and food giveaways every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"Our vision is to build a bridge of credibility with the community and grow the people to the spiritual level where God can bring in the lost and really see them changed," Tom says. "That is happening now, just like God said it would."

The prayer meeting, he believes, is evidence that God has His hand on Seattle.

Crossing cultural lines in Little Havana

The ping of hammers and the putter of an air compressor drift out of the building on the corner of 8th and 22nd. Inside, MAPS RV volunteers do their jobs. Several men are hanging a recessed ceiling. Four women scrub grease-laden grills. Others paint and install electrical fixtures. Their efforts are a part of a project to reach Little Havana in Miami, Florida, for Christ.

"Welcome to Centro Cristiano Casablanco," says Janie Wead, coordinator of the Assemblies of God Hispanic 2000 Project. "I don’t think you can have a more strategic placement of an inner-city church than this one."

According to Wead, there are 6,000 homeless people in the area, and at night the streets become bastions for prostitutes, gangs and drug dealers. But, says Wead, Little Havana is also a thriving community where many immigrants have established legitimate businesses and achieved the American dream.

"We have to reach those who have prospered here and those who have suffered here," she says. "The greatest challenge is to reach across the cultural lines and touch these people."

Centro Cristiano will eventually be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, says Wead. But already people have come to the center for meals, showers, and a place to sleep and wash their clothes.

"This community needs a spiritual, emotional and physical center of help," says Bernie Frownfelter, an RVer from Flint, Mich. "It’s amazing how many people are in this area – it is a great harvest field."

During their morning break, the RVers sit in a circle as Wead delivers a devotional that is part pep talk and part battle cry.

"Many people are down on their knees crying out to God and believing that He is going to do something here in Little Havana," she tells them. "You can’t be here very long and not realize that this city is on course for a divine appointment with the Lord."

Janie Wead is a nationally appointed home missionary.

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