Bethany College program partners students with supporters for prayer
A necessary component of Bethany’s vision to make disciples as Jesus asked us to do is nurture through prayer, says director of advancement Rick Guenther. For more than a decade, staff and faculty at Bethany College, Hepburn, Sask., have put knees to this conviction by partnering volunteer alumni and supporters to pray for specific students or staff members for the duration of the school year.
It’s not unusual for a Christian college to send out photo prayer cards of their students, but Bethany’s prayer ministry includes the student’s email address – and gives students their partner’s contact information – to encourage interaction. The coordinator sends general prayer requests, but also encourages the parties to contact each other with specific needs and encouragement.
“The most important part is that everyone is prayed for, not that everyone is contacted regularly (although that might happen in a perfect world),” says Sandy Derksen, Bethany advancement administrative assistant and current prayer program coordinator.
In the 1990s, then-director of off-campus resources Jack Braun was inspired to start the program by a supporter’s comment about his intentional habit of praying for students, faculty, and staff at Bethany. When Rob Neufeld became director of donor and alumni relations, 2008–2012, he took charge of the program that had waned since Braun’s departure in 2005.
“What drew me to participate was the simple conviction that our students and staff need prayer support,” says Neufeld. “In my view, Bible college is a spiritual battleground.”
Neufeld was encouraged by the “100-plus people who wanted to be a part of this ministry.” Each year, some would bow out, but others would join. “As I visited friends of Bethany across the country – from Toronto to Victoria – it was very cool to see our students’ photos on people’s fridges.”
For fourth-year student and women’s residence director Claressa Campbell, it has been meaningful to be prayed for “right from the start of school.
“I appreciate that alumni and friends of the college value the students, value prayer, and value partnership. Through prayer, they are shaping a healthy relationship between generations,” says Campbell. “I also like that I can pray for my partner, and not just receive.”