Prayer on the Streets: Testimonies from the Westside
Written by Adam Whitescarver | ChattHOP Staff
I want to bear witness to Christ's work in our city, testifying that taking God to the streets is NOT impossible. Quite to the contrary, He is already there, and has been long before we got there. He is the One who has prepared people we pray for before we meet them so that somehow, some way, we are regularly told things like “That’s exactly what I needed to hear today!” or “How did you know I had been struggling with that?” Truth be told, we didn’t know, but God did, and He led us to the right people and gave us the right prayers to pray.
Almost weekly, a few of us from ChattHOP go out and prayer walk the streets. Usually we head to Chattanooga’s Westside, one of our city's poorest neighborhoods. At a park recently, we met a lady who needed a job, and asked us to pray God would give her one. She got a job two days later and credited our prayers as the reason she got one. We know this because we saw her a few weeks later and she stopped us and asked us to take a selfie with her so she could show her friends the people who prayed for her.
Another time we prayed for a lady waiting at the bus stop. As we started praying for her, she was literally overwhelmed with gratitude toward God for the timeliness of our prayers. She couldn’t believe her ears when we were praying and speaking blessings over her life concerning things that were making her angry, but had not told us about beforehand. She had been angry about her job, didn’t like her boss, and didn’t want to take the bus to go to work, but when we left her she was praising Jesus right there in the streets, knowing that He was going to help her with work and strengthen her by giving her a right attitude toward authority.
One day we felt strangely compelled to go a different route than we normally went, and turned down a side street. There we found a lady who had just lost her best friend to a violent stabbing the day before. We spend some time praying for her, her mother and another friend, and they were all profoundly grateful. You know those times when you are at church and you sense the Presence of God among the congregation so powerfully—almost like an electric current going through the room? This was one of those moments, only it was outside on someone’s doorstep.
We have even literally been flagged down from across the street, with arms wildly waving and hearing exclamations of “Prayer people! Prayer people! Come pray for me! I need prayer!!!”
God is meant to be praised in the streets and in the church, and our hope and prayer is that as the streets are filled with new, fresh voices praising Him, that our churches, old and new, would be filled with the same voices praising His good Name and salvation in Jesus Christ.
Lest someone scoff at these stories thinking, “Well this is just ministry among the poor, it would be much harder with the affluent,” I will say that there are more remarkable stories when we’ve prayed in downtown, on the Walnut Street Bridge and along Frazier Avenue on the Northshore. God makes no difference between the rich and the poor in our town or any other town.
We started doing all this not knowing what we were doing, but went out trusting God would equip us as we went, and He has. In some ways, we found ourselves over-prepared for the work. The things we do when we pray for or minister to others in the comfort of our churches are things we can easily do, and have been long-equipped to do outside the walls of the church. We simply struggle to find the boldness to try.
Esther struggled with this as well. She wrestled to find the courage to speak to the king, but she was brought into the kingdom “for such a time as this”, to save the people of God1. We too are brought into God’s Kingdom for such a time as the one we are living in now to participate in the salvation of His people. God ordained that you and I would live right now and inherit these days we find ourselves in.2 The question is, will we step out and love those He chose to surround us with?
We are meant to be His witnesses in our local city (Jerusalem), region (Judea), and to the ends of the earth.3 And frankly, it’s not the end-all, be-all if people aren’t getting saved left and right. Jeremiah the prophet had few converts at all. The same is true for Isaiah. Several of the disciples, after their message had been rejected and they were run out of town, “were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”4
We have found this testimony to be true in our own lives as well. Certainly we have met some people who rejected our being there, but there has not been one week that we have ever hit the streets and not come back rejoicing, having seen people affected by the love of God. Whether our prayers and message are accepted or not, we too are filled with more joy and the Holy Spirit each time we go out.
It is this desire for more of Him that is the primary push for going out week after week to minister to those who need Him, being energized and hopeful even in the face of seemingly hopeless situations.
1 Esther 4:14.
2 Acts 17:26-28.
3 Acts 1:8.
4 Acts 13:52.