Last month, we shared a story from Joy Frey, a Christianity Explored course leader at Wallenstein Bible Chapel in Ontario. Joy has led dozens of people to Christ both through CE courses at her church and one-to-one coaching through an online version of CE offered by BGEA. Her testimony is one of perseverance, love, and steadfastness. Yet there is another key element to Joy’s ministry that she sees as absolutely essential: prayer.
When I asked Joy if she thought churches and Christians needed to take prayer more seriously, she answered with a resounding, “Yes!” As I talked with Joy, she outlined the necessity of prayer for anyone running a Christianity Explored course in three specific areas…
Pray before a course begins
This step may seem obvious. But Joy and her Christianity Explored team took praying before running a course perhaps more seriously than most. Joy and her outreach pastor, Ron Seabrooke, wouldn’t even schedule a course until they’d prayed about exactly who to invite. If God didn’t bring anyone to mind… they didn’t run a course!
“Pastor Ron called it our ‘hit list’,” she laughed. “He was maybe a bit more intense than me. But yes, we’d sit down with a piece of paper and start praying. When a name came to mind, we wrote it down. And that’s who we invited to the next course.
“We’d start that process months before a course began. So while we were running the spring course, we were praying for who to invite to the fall course. The cycle continued like that.”
“That’s so interesting,” I said. “I think a lot of churches assume that when you begin a Christianity Explored course, you should invite any and everyone you know! But you’re saying you didn’t ask the Holy Spirit, ‘Should I run a course?’ but rather, ‘For whom should I run a course?’ That’s a big difference. Ultimately, God is the only one who knows who is and isn’t ready to hear the Gospel in that way.”
“Exactly.” Joy said. “But that’s not to say we had success every time. Sometimes we prayed, made a list, invited them… and they all said no! Once, we ran a course and no one showed up. Not a single person. Pastor Ron reminded me that we just have to keep going! That doesn’t mean God isn’t working or that we ‘failed’ in our prayers.”
Reflect: As you think about your next course, how does praying about who your course is for change your perspective?
Ask others to pray for you
There’s one group of people in Joy’s life that she says are one of the only reasons she continues to do the work of evangelism. They’re called the War Room (yes, think the movie). This group of over 80 people at Wallenstein Bible Chapel pray specifically and intentionally for each other and for God’s work in the church. “This group has been a stronghold,” Joy said. “These people pray for me at the drop of a request, at instant notice. My husband and three daughters are on this team, along with others who hold a special place in my heart. I felt the need for those closest to me to be a part of this ministry [Christianity Explored] with me.”
Joy makes no qualms about the difficulties of evangelism. “There is much opposition from the evil one, when a Christian stands on the front lines of battle. You need to be ready to face opposition and recognize deception.”
For Joy, this is where her War Room steps in. “These people pray for me. They guard my flank as the evil one would attack me personally and as I stand at the front lines of battle. They are there when I need prayer as I connect with people from my community. They also pray for me as I connect with my online students in my CE Discipleship Coach capacity with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.”
Together, the War Room has walked through many struggles, including the loss of loved ones and church staff members. “Though these deaths were a shock to all of us,” Joy said, “we remained strong in the Lord.”
Reflect: Do you ask others to pray for you? How would this change the way you lead a Christianity Explored course?
Pray for the unbelievers you already know
I asked Joy if she thought churches and Christians needed a stronger emphasis on praying for the lost.
“Most definitely!” she replied. “Prayer is the number one key when it comes to sharing the gospel with the lost. When prayer stops being a burden, and you start to view it as a privilege, there is a great joy that develops as you let God do his work in His time.” For Joy, praying for her friends was the first step to building a relationship with them. She believes that praying for people’s hearts is not just the first step, but a continual process as we share the Gospel with someone, even over many years.
Reflect: Are you intentional about praying for your unbelieving friends? How much time do you spend in prayer before sharing the Gospel? For how long do you pray for a person’s salvation?
As our interview drew to a close, I asked Joy what advice she had for someone nervous about starting a Christianity Explored course.
“Perfect!” Joy said, “you are right where God wants you. Nervousness is one of the best ways to keep you dependent on God. That’s where your help is going to come from anyhow. Even the Apostle Paul spoke about his nervousness to the Corinthian church.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
“I’d be more concerned about a person who felt 100% confident and wasn’t scared at all.” Joy said. “A person who leans on their own ‘know how‘ needs to be forewarned. The evil one loves self-confident and self-dependent people. It keeps us from going to God, our source.”
Joy points to Ephesians 6:10-19 as a way to spiritually prepare for a Christianity Explored course. “These verses are not idle, empty words to fill up the pages of God’s Word. They are meant to be ‘put on’ and so that we ‘take a stand‘ because the evil one will strike.”
To read more from Joy, please read her guest blog here.
To watch Joy and Jeff’s testimony, check out our YouTube channel.
For more information on running a Christianity Explored course, please visit our website.