We never really know where a story starts. We thought we could trace this one back but soon realised that God had been at work long before we woke up to what he was doing. He was weaving many other stories together into this one. So this is just one part of the story of Transformation Prayer here in Staines.
During the summer of 2009 some friends came to visit us at Staines Baptist Fellowship from Maranguape in North East Brazil. They came to infect us although they didn’t know that, of course! Joaquin and Edelene were simply following the prompting of God to visit and encourage us as part of the mission partnership that our two churches have pursued for several years.
Together we watched an hour long video called 'Transformations' produced in the USA in 1999 by George Otis Jr. of The Sentinel Group. It is a graphic presentation of four cities across the world in which the presence of God has transformed not only the churches, but also entire communities in response to prayer. Now I had seen this film several years before and had been unmoved by it, sharing some of the suspicions that others have harboured about the claims made in the film.
At the end of the film Joaquin turned to me and asked "what do you think?" And from that point I knew that God wanted us to pray, churches together in unity, for ourselves, our churches and our communities as we prayed and talked about God’s purposes together a vision began to emerge. It was a vision for transformation; for us, our churches and our community. And the transformation comes about as Christians come together in unity to pray together for each other and for their community. We wanted to pray for others and we wanted to pray with others so we began to pray and invite people to join us. The meetings began to grow and develop. More churches caught the vision.
As we call local Christians together for regular prayer the signs are good. We have barely started but we have made a beginning together. Barriers are coming down and the dividing walls that once separated us are crumbling. It wasn’t entirely straightforward. We had to abandon our old prejudices, suspicion, fear and defensiveness. Above all we needed to set aside our narrow, sectional interest in our own gain and open our hearts to the wider interest of Christ’s kingdom. It is so easy to pray for our own spiritual prosperity at the expense, if need be, of others. We focus on our own needs and our own glory, forgetting that in his kingdom Jesus Christ won’t necessarily recognise the artificial boundaries of our traditions and prejudices.
Now a new spirit begins to emerge. The old suspicion is giving way to a new respect and mutual acknowledgement. Our heart cry now is for more of what we are beginning to taste and see. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Transformation Prayer was the birthplace of Staines Street Angels; we started to meet, prayer walking around the town and asking God to show us where Satan’s strongholds were. We believed very strongly that God viewed alcohol and especially its free availability to young people as one of the enemy’s strongholds. After just two months the police came to Churches Together; "Can you start a Street Angels group here?" This was quite literally a God given opportunity to confront the results of Satan’s work on the late/night streets. Since then we have prayed fervently for our town centre, seeing pubs and bars close and the night time economy transformed. On one memorable occasion 12 church leaders met for communion in a town centre pub Which closed two weeks later! A groups of "prayers" stopped outside a late night club which was applying for a table dancing license. "Lord, this is your club" they declared, "run it the way you want it to it." Next week the club had closed, boarded up, never to open again!
During 2013 Transformation Prayer has given birth to two exciting prayer ministries; , aiming to cover more that a thousand streets in prayer, and PRAYER on the STREETS , Jesus’ people in the town centre praying for members of the public and risking God by declaring that he does care, he does have the power and he does hear our prayers. Find out more about these on the TRANSFORMATION web site. And we are delighted to link with the Neighbourhood Prayer Network in praying for the streets in our communities