(Our Children’s Leaders Team (CLT) has been blessing our children and their parents for several years, and as Andrea Lang, who has served with the CLT, has recently become our Pastor of Children’s & Family Ministry, we wanted to take extra time to make sure everyone on the CLT is better known. So, for the next few weeks, we’ll be hearing from everyone on the team.)
by Alyssa Tennison
My name is Alyssa Tennison and I coordinate the prayer ministry for children, family and youth. My husband (Justin) and I began attending Church of the Cross nine years ago when I was newly pregnant with our oldest child. We now have four children: Julia (8 yrs), Lauren (6 yrs), Ted (3 yrs) and William (15 mos). It’s been a privilege and joy to raise our family alongside of you, whom we consider our larger, close-knit extended spiritual family. We count it one of life’s greatest gifts to worship with all of you through the weeks, months, seasons and years.
There are many reasons that I feel Church of the Cross is an extra special place. One of them is the depth and intentionality of the children’s ministry, and the place of honor that the children hold among us. In addition, there lies another important value in our church, which is the belief that prayer makes a difference in the lives of children. Our church has upheld this value since it began its existence. In fact, just as the church was launching, a few adults met regularly on the floor upstairs to faithfully pray through a litany of names.
I didn’t realize how much this commitment to prayer for the children would actually impact and uphold me personally. As a newcomer nine years ago and having just had my first baby, I found myself exhausted and weary as I adjusted to life as a new mother. Tired and emotionally drained, I sat down at my kitchen table to finally begin to tackle some neglected emails as my infant slept. As I scanned my inbox, I found an email from Helen Keuning who told me that she’d been praying for my pregnancy, rejoiced at the birth of my baby, and would be praying as I transitioned. Those of you who remember those first postpartum days might remember how easy the tears could come (husband and wives alike might remember this!). An overwhelming sense of gratefulness and belonging overtook me in that weary, emotional moment. I felt carried by a larger church family and I knew I really wasn’t alone if I had the committed prayer support of someone I didn’t even know from my church body.
In my role as the Prayer Coordinator, it’s my desire is for all of our families to experience the same support and strength through this ministry. I want parents to know they aren’t in this journey alone, that they belong here, and that the prayers of our church family can make a powerful difference in the lives of you and your children. Additionally, I want the children to know that we care about them so much that we will make this commitment to them.
As many of you know, each child has someone assigned to pray regularly and specifically for them. Each month we pray not only for specific requests, but we rely on the words of Scripture to guide us. The prayer team consists of 50 adults who pray for about 5-8 kids each, which represents a total of 248 children covered in prayer from the moment we first know they are being knit together in the womb until they graduate college or reach a similar age. It brings me such joy to match each new family with a prayer partner when they first join or church or have their fist baby.
This year, the theme of our prayers comes from a group listening prayer activity that our Children’s Leadership team did together last summer. We spent time asking God what verses he would have us pray over the children and they all seemed to fall under an umbrella of “Put On” and “Walk this Way.” Printouts of the verses can be found on the welcome desk each week and anyone is welcome to take them home and join us in prayer for any children that may be in your life. If you are a parent, I encourage you to continue to form a relationship with the person who is matched to pray for your family. Share pictures and requests, and get to know them! I love that this ministry connects us all together through growing relationships and the bond of prayer, creating a web that strengthens our entire body.
The prayers for the children here have been likened to deep roots of a tree, grounding and securing a spiritually flourishing and fruitful life. The other picture that comes to mind is that of the earth, and the layers of soil and rock that create a solid foundation. We want all of the kids here to build their lives on the rock of Jesus, not sinking sand. Our prayers over the years have created layers and layers of spiritual foundation that we know will reap a harvest in each of their lives, and we pray that harvest will spill over into a lost and dying world that needs the same solid Foundation and deep roots of faith.
“The prayers of a righteous person are POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE” (James 5:16) and we can claim our righteousness through the blood of Jesus and rest in the fact that God really is doing a beautiful work through the layers of prayers in the life of each of these children. What could He do with days, months and years of prayers for them? How could this impact our world eternally for the kingdom? Let’s dream together as we pray!