By JOEY REISTROFFER
SPARTANBURG — If you want to enjoy a peaceful walk in your neighborhood on a Saturday morning with autumn in full bloom, here is one way to do it.
Bring along a friend, breathe in that crisp, fresh air and pray. Amble along in silent meditation and ask the Lord to bless all the buildings, houses and people you pass on the way.
They have needs — many, many needs. And only God and prayer can help them.
Like the cancer victim gripped by pain who has given up hope. Like the elderly woman confined to a wheelchair, sitting alone behind the walls of her home, craving companionship.
Mission Carolina wants to touch these people. It wants to give them hope and tell them that God, indeed, does hear their prayers.
Last Saturday, Mission Carolina organized a prayer walk around Spartanburg County. About 20 people from different faiths converged at the First Presbyterian Church, split up in twos, then hit the streets praying.
They covered sections of downtown, Duncan Park, Converse Heights and Hampton Heights. They didn’t get all of Spartanburg County, but that is their quest, according to Art McQueen, leader of the group. And they will continue holding these prayer walks in different sections of the county until everybody and every facility has been touched.
McQueen said Mission Carolina is a two-year-old organization committed to joining North Carolina and South Carolina in a network of prayer. Its mission will be accomplished when every person and every house, business and building in both Carolinas have been prayed over.
“We don’t get in your face,” said McQueen, coordinator for Spartanburg County. “We do it very quietly. We walk along and pray silently, so people don’t even know what’s going on.” If people ask what is going on, they are invited to share in the prayers.
One group visited City Hall, asking the Lord to instill Christian values on those who lead the community. Others prayed for the patients suffering at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center.
Another group stopped by the city jail, praying for those behind bars. “When you’re incarcerated like that, it seems like the devil steals your hope,” one of the prayer walkers said, adding that even people outside the jail can feel imprisoned by their lives.
“There’s a hurting world out there,” said Fred Bryson, one of the walkers.
“We want to be like a lighthouse in our neighborhoods,” McQueen said. When prayer and light come in, darkness leaves, he said. “They cannot co-exist.”
So these 20 prayer walkers went out into their neighborhoods and brought a little light into the lives of many people along their routes.
Most of all, they brought a little light into their own lives.
“I came here negative,” said one of the prayer walkers, who explained how he was about to lose his job after 20 years and how he felt betrayed and a bit bitter by the experience. “Now that I see what’s happening here, it really helps,” he said as he finally let his frustration go. “Prayer really does help.”
And that is why Mission Carolina is slowly going out and touching the neighborhoods of Spartanburg County and other regions of the Carolinas. It wants people to know that prayer does work.
“We have no agenda,” McQueen said. “Our only thing is to love Jesus Christ.” And when we pray, God brings us together to do his will. “It’s all spiritual,” he said. “It’s the Holy Spirit working.”
On this Saturday, the Lord brought Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics and Church of God believers together to pray for Spartanburg County.
No divisions. Just a walk with a friend and the Lord on an autumn morning in full bloom.