On the first Thursday of each month members of Lindenwald United Methodist Church in Hamilton and senior pastor Rev. Valerie Waibel line up along Pleasant Avenue holding signs that announce “FREE PRAYER DRIVE THRU.” They wave at passing motorists and invite them to take a break and stop for prayer.
It is an amazing, spirit-filled experience for both the volunteers and those who stop. When first proposed in 2008 by Bruce Dickerson, the Director of Transformational Ministries at Lindenwald, (Bruce is now pastor at Mt. Orab UMC), some naysayers asked, “Are you suggesting that perfect strangers are going to pull into our parking lot, then share personal prayer requests with another perfect stranger?” We tried it anyway!
A woman was driving the very first car that stopped, her husband in the passenger seat and three young children in the back seat. As she rolled down the driver’s window, Greg Albright, Lindenwald's lay leader said, “Hi. My name is Greg. How can we pray today?” The wife looked at her husband and he looked back, both of them sighing deeply. Then he said in a trembling voice, “Our marriage is in trouble. Would you pray for us?”
Greg went on to say, "We have prayed with folks on their way to the hospital, folks just returning from a difficult appointment with their doctor, some just released from jail, another on his way to turn himself in to the police. Parents praying for children, grandparents praying for grandchildren, truckers, police, people walking or riding bikes. Often, their tears start before they drive through our entrance. Many report that they had cried out to God ONLY MINUTES AGO. The people of the world, our neighbors are DESPERATE for compassion, grace, and a fellow traveler to show that grace and compassion."
If you would like further information about how you could do this spiritual outreach at your church, contact the the Lindenwald church office at 513-863-8822 or lumc [at] lindenwaldumc.org.