By Stan Friedman
ANGELS CAMP, CA (October 31, 2011) – The First Responder team at Grace Hills Bible Church, an Evangelical Covenant Church congregation, is letting people in their community know someone is praying for them.
A handful of members of the Covenant congregation meet each Monday afternoon at the local El Jardin restaurant to write notes of encouragement to people who attended on Sunday, but also anyone in the community needing prayer and encouragement.
“We identify those who need encouragement through word of mouth,” says Pastor Dusty Bach. “We live in a tight-knit rural community, and word can spread rather quickly about those in our community who need encouragement.”
At other times, Bach says, “God just puts the names of people on our hearts, and we send them a note on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The team then gathers and discusses the needs we are aware of, and which needs are appropriate.”
The ministry began as a way to connect with first-time visitors, but it quickly grew into an opportunity to respond to prayer requests received on Sunday and show appreciation to those who are serving in Grace Hills ministries. It quickly grew beyond its original intentions.
Recipients frequently share with team members that the note came at just the right time.
“Typically it is the first thing we hear as people walk in the doors of the church,” Bach says.
Most of the notes are sent to people in the community, but a missionary to Sweden expressed his gratitude to the church for the one he received.
“What you wrote, and the fact that you took time to write it, means so much to me as I await my upcoming surgery,” he wrote. “I’ll keep the card by my desk in my office until then. I have been collecting Bible verses and promises from the Lord since we returned from the USA. And the verse you shared in this card will be included!”
“It is amazing to see the positive effects and responses that come from the people who receive our simple hand-written notes,” Bach says. “This has opened the door for deeper ministry to take place in our local mission field.”
Members of the First Responder team say the ministry has grown their own prayer lives and deepened their relationships with God.
Grace Hills began gathering as a home fellowship in August 2010 and was officially planted on April 1, 2011.