In 1989 I had been pastoring JBC for 13 years, and I was burnt out, worn out, discouraged, depressed, and ready to quit. I had found 2 different dairies that had attractive herdsman position jobs open, and I was writing my resume sure that I would get one or the other of the jobs. I felt like a total failure as a pastor, and I was disgusted at myself for thinking that I could successfully pastor a church, and subsequently wasting 13 years of my life. In February of 1989 the late Joe Aldrich, president of Multnomah Bible College wrote a letter to most of the pastors in the greater Salem area. In the letter he quoted a recent study about the church in the USA which said that Oregon was the least churched state of all 50 and that Marion and Lynn counties were in the list of the 5 counties that were least churched in Oregon. He suggested that the pastors in the greater Salem area should get together and pray for several days with no agenda for God to work in our State and ultimately in our country.
So we did, 63 pastors prayed together for 8 to 10 hours for 3 days that God would work in our lives individually, that he would work in out respective churches, in the State of Oregon, and in our entire country. The experience was life changing for me as I made prayer the key discipline and activity of my life and ministry after that. My life changed drastically and so did JBC. I made a commitment that I would pastor JBC until I died no matter how bad it got, and that I would survive by spending time with the infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent God of the universe in Prayer every day.
I am here at the prayer summit in Cannon Beach, Oregon now for my 30th time in a row with no misses since it’s beginning. I come each year expecting to experience God in a new and novel way, and I come away from the 3 days with a fresh commitment to prayer. Especially a strong commitment to pray for each and every person at JBC at least once each week. This discipline that I started in 1989 has made a huge difference in my life and in the life of our church. Every year here at the beach I remake that original commitment, goal, and vow to pray however many hours a day it will take to cover each person with God’s grace.