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For rural Louisiana church, prayer workshop an annual source of spiritual growth, strength
PHOTO BY STEVE SANDIFER
Focus on prayer - Attendees pray during the 19th annual Calhoun Prayer Enrichment Workshop in Calhoun, La.

CALHOUN, LA. - For two decades, a workshop focused on prayer has drawn church members from near and far to a rural congregation just off Interstate 20.

The recent 19th annual Calhoun Prayer Enrichment Workshopattracted 100 people from 33 churches in eight states.

“Small churches can do great things if you ask God to be in it and guide you with his voice,” said Keith Roberts, the 55-member Calhoun Church of Christ’s minister for 31 years.

Roberts, author of the book “Why God Waits For You to Pray,” said the workshop began as an effort to “take prayer off the back burner and make it something that was really a part of the life of the church.”

Since 1994, a Tuesday night prayer group has helped the northeast Louisiana church keep its focus on conversing with God. About eight to 12 members meet in a different person’s home each week.

“We fellowship a little bit,” Roberts said, “but mainly, we pray.”

A sign outside the red-brick church building declares: “Need prayer? Call our prayer hotline ... or use our drive-thru prayer request box.” At various times, the congregation has prayed by name for everyone in the Calhoun phone directory. The town has a population of about 7,500.

Speakers at the recent workshop included Patrick Mead, minister for the Eastside Church of Christ in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Albert Lemmons, pastoral care minister for the Fourth Avenue Church of Christ in Franklin, Tenn.

Louvenia Williams, a member of the University Church of Christ in Monroe, La., said the workshop helps improve her prayer life.

“With the way the economy and the world is in such turmoil, we are leaning more toward prayer,” Williams said.

Like Williams, Karolyn Parsons, a member of the Airline Drive Church of Christ in Bossier City, La., said she wouldn’t dare miss the workshop.

“I found the thing that improved my prayer life and my Christian walk the most is when I started praying ... that God would keep my eyes, ears, hands and heart open to do service for others,” Parsons said. “He has put me in some interesting situations and puts many speed bumps in my way, so that I slow down and handle each one.”

Five members of the Southwest Central Church of Christ in Houston drove more than 300 miles to attend the workshop.

“This is a must-go for our prayer ministry,” pastoral care minister Steve Sandifer said. 

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