Kneeling in New York: Prayer Support Shows Vitality of Church-Missionary Relationship
By Kim Ousley
Roy Ferguson, pastor of Busti Church of God in Jamestown, New York, is on a mission to pray for all of the missionary families under the Church of God Ministries umbrella. Even eighteen inches of snow can’t stop this church from achieving their goal.
“I came here twenty-seven years ago from Sikeston, Missouri, from Tanner Street Church of God and was the youth pastor there,” said Ferguson. “We had a weekly prayer project and would choose three families from within the congregation to pray for randomly.” After moving his family to Jamestown, New York, Ferguson adopted that idea and started doing it with his present congregation.
“Since then, we’ve expanded it, and the first extension was to add missionaries.”
Missionaries are randomly drawn from little slips of paper in a jar, and prayed over. That’s it. So simple, and yet so profound. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, says Ferguson. After that, they added a local church each week. During the recession, the church also added a local business to pray for on a weekly basis. They changed the terminology to prayer focus to include families within their church, also.
“Every week, we pick two families from within our church, a missionary, a local church, and a local business,” said Ferguson. “It’s really been interesting how God superintends that whole process.”
Jonathon and Beth Todd, missionaries in Brazil for Global Strategy, were recent recipients of a prayer letter from the church. “It was perfect timing,” said Todd. “We have been in the states and just got the call to head back to Brazil.” For their children, Miriam (6) and Jonah (3), it was a hard transition to leave family behind and go back to their other home in Brazil.
Todd shared that the email and letter saying that the Busti Church of God was praying for them that very week of transition was God’s timing in an otherwise difficult week. Both he and his wife provide support to around twenty-five churches within their region. Todd says he tends to provide more of the technical support and does photography as needed. Beth takes care of more of the paperwork and helping to get Children of Promise up and running in their area. They also teach seminary and provide guidance to new interns in the field.
There are seven church of God churches within a forty-five minute drive of where they live. However, a hundred Church of God churches are spread out in the westernmost part of the state.
Pastor Ferguson comments on “how many times [they’ve] gotten a note from a business, person, church, or missionary that expressed, ‘You just can’t believe how timely that letter was.’”
He remembers one time coming to the Church of God Convention back when it was in Anderson, Indiana. And a short-term missionary shared how she was about to give up, but received a letter from Ferguson’s church saying they were praying for her. She felt like God was telling her to not give up.
“When we do our prayer time on Sundays, we publish their picture and their name, and in our bulletin we send it out as our weekly reminder. We’ve been doing this for at least twenty-five years.” And they have no intention to stop anytime soon.
Kim Ousley serves as a freelance writer for Church of God Ministries.
Learn more about Global Strategy, and discover opportunities for partnership, at www.chogglobal.org.