The Free Methodist Church’s third National Prayer Summit proved to be the largest yet, and it launched the National Intercessors Network to bring the Free Methodist community together “in hearing what God is saying, and responding across our land in unified prayer.” This new network was detailed near the end of the Feb. 22–24 summit that focused on the theme of “Prayer & Community Transformation.”
The network is not designed to replace prayer networks in local churches that pray for congregational needs and personal situations. It will instead be a nationwide effort in which people listen to God, tell what they hear, listen to others, and unite in prayer.
“We’re talking about different kinds of issues that affect the big picture for localities, counties, states, the nation and even the world,” said Brett Heintzman, who coordinated this year’s summit at the Spring Arbor (Michigan) Free Methodist Church with his wife, Barb. “How are we going to get these people together? Well, with the blessings of technology, video conferencing is available to us as well as regular video teaching.”
Visit npmfmc.org/nin to learn more about the National Intercessors Network and fill out an online form to enlist.
Barb Heintzman said this year’s summit attracted nearly 600 people — including 203 pastors and 14 superintendents — from across the United States along with a few international participants. The summit was one of the largest national gatherings of Free Methodists in the denomination’s history apart from general and youth conferences.
National Prayer Ministry Co-Directors Doug and Margie Newton expressed appreciation for the other members of the summit’s leadership team along with the many other volunteers and the participants. As the conference concluded, Doug said, “We are trying to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, and we don’t know what the future’s going to hold, but we know that the Lord is taking us to a place to help this church realize a dream that Margie and I were given by the Lord in 2000, and that is that every Free Methodist church would become a house of prayer.”
Even more participants are expected for the next National Prayer Summit, which Doug Newton said will be held in Orlando on the two days before General Conference 2019. The summit will be “the prayer covering” for the conference, which is scheduled for July 16-19 at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center.
When Philip and Annie Madison traveled from Los Angeles, California, to Greenville, Illinois, to attend the first National Prayer Summit in March 2015, the Newtons asked them to serve on the National Prayer Ministry Leadership Team. In an interview after this year’s summit, Annie Madison said the national gatherings have led to regional gatherings that have reached many additional people.
“We had a local summit in Los Angeles where a number of churches got together, and Doug and Margie came and spoke, and that has caused a fire to start in Los Angeles,” she said. “It’s not just the National Prayer Summit. It is happening locally.”
The keynote speaker in Spring Arbor was George Otis Jr. — the producer of the “Transformations” documentary series and the president of the Sentinel Group. Otis cited the revival roots of Methodism and then shared stories of how modern communities have been transformed. He said the Sentinel Group has tracked 800 contemporary communities impacted by revival.
“These are communities that haven’t just had a series of great worship services or church meetings or healing crusades. These places have been turned upside down,” Otis said.
Along with spiritual transformation, Otis said revival has brought political, economic and ecological change. That transformation, however, ultimately starts at a personal level. “When we are personally transformed, community transformation begins, because we are part of the community,” Otis said.
Bishop David Kendall delivered two messages that provided a strong biblical foundation for the summit. In the first, Kendall said we rarely view our loving, saving, powerful God — who is capable of creation, virgin birth and resurrection — in His proper place.
“God has already done the certifiably impossible only in order to do more impressive things still. Did Jesus not say, ‘Greater things than these you will do’?” Kendall said. “Will God not have the last holy laugh?”
In his second message, Kendall cited scriptural examples of God protecting and providing for His people in unpredictable ways. “God defeats the powers that oppose Him,” he said before leading the summit in Communion with female pastors exclusively serving the elements. “At the table, Jesus overcomes the powers. He collapses the walls. He becomes our peace and, then through us, the world’s peace.”
Doug Newton also delivered a message in which he confessed personal sins. He said there would be no point to hold the summit “if we don’t fully come before the Lord for cleansing from sin and get everything right before Him to the best of our ability.”
Workshops & Community Prayer
The afternoon of Feb. 23 was devoted to three different workshop tracks: “Choosing Mary’s Place” by Margie and Doug Newton; “Intercession Foundations” by John Piippo, the author of “Leading the Presence-Driven Church” and the senior pastor of Redeemer Fellowship Church in Monroe, Michigan; and “Community Transformation” by Steve Beaumont, an Australian businessman who moved to the United States six years ago to become the business community pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California.
Beaumont insisted that Christian businesses should be the best businesses, and he emphasized that working in a business can be both ministry and worship. “Marketplace is never second-class ministry,” he said. “Work is worship. The problem is a lot of us worship work, but if we actually understand, the act of working — the act of serving, the act of doing things — is still worshipping Him because we are representing Him.”
Beaumont’s workshop participants divided into prayer teams and entered the surrounding area to pray at local businesses and institutions.
That evening, former North Michigan Conference Superintendent Ron White shared about his experience praying at the Center for Women in Jackson, Michigan, and also praying for a man with prostate cancer who approached his group’s van. White and other members of the group shared with the man that they were cancer survivors.
“We had a beautiful time of praying,” White said. “As he left, he just said, ‘Wow, I was really meant to stop at this van.’ He was just blown away.”
Ariel Wich — the worship pastor of Canasawacta Valley Free Methodist Church in Norwich, New York — shared about her group’s experience praying over Spring Arbor University President Brent Ellis. “We stopped him quick before he could give us any background or what’s going on in his day, and we just started praying over him,” Wich said. “People in the group led out with specific words that popped into their minds — ‘courage,’ ‘vitality,’ ‘sacred,’ all the same words kept popping into our minds.”
According to Wich, Ellis then shared with the prayer team members that their words were “exactly the confirmation he needed of the decisions that he was making” at the time.
The following summit videos are courtesy of the Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church: