Bringing the Prayer Tour back home
Our church has taken many trips with CSM for many years, but I personally got involved four years ago when my oldest son was finally old enough to take part in our Senior High mission trip. CSM Denver was our first CSM experience during the summer of 2016. Since then, we have attended CSM Los Angeles in 2018, CSM Nashville in 2018 and CSM San Francisco in 2019.
Although we have enjoyed each and every one of our serving opportunities in all of the cities we have served, many of our youth and leaders have literally fallen in love with the Prayer Tour aspect of the CSM experience.
Similarly for me, the CSM Prayer Tour centers me to serve in the upcoming week. It truly focuses your heart and mind on that particular city and its people, its successes, its struggles, its hopes and dreams, its needs and desires. It's a time to learn about the history of the city as well as the culture of the people living there today. It's a time to be reverent; to allow God to open your heart and mind to His people living in the area and to allow God to show you where and how you will be furthering His Kingdom. The result is personal knowledge of a city, its inhabitants and its actual (rather than assumed) needs.
After talking amongst ourselves for a couple of years about how moving this experience is for us each time, we decided that we would like to create a prayer tour of our own city. Our hope is that we would gain the same type of knowledge about our own community and its residents. We wanted to find out the actual needs of our neighbors struggling with poverty and/or experiencing homelessness.
We live in Shreveport, Louisiana, which has a population of around 250,000 people. Our Youth Director took it upon himself to spend hours and days researching many of the neighborhoods and areas of our city to find out the particular demographics of each, ranging from race, culture, religion, education, socioeconomic status, crime rate and behavioral tendencies of each. This was no small task! The information we gathered was overwhelming and enlightening at the same time. Armed with an arsenal information and statistics, we set off in several different church vehicles and had our first Prayer Tour of our own City with our entire Youth Group.
It was an emotional experience for us all. We helped one another, and our youth, understand the struggles that many areas of our community face as well as thousands of individuals. Just as we've done with CSM, we stopped at many places along the way to pray for particular groups of people, neighborhoods and non-profits that need support to continue to serve those experiencing poverty or homelessness.
We all agreed that this is an activity we would like to do on a regular basis and one that we would like to offer to our entire church congregation so our church can better understand the needs of our community so that we can more accurately meet the needs of our community, rather than just doing "good things" that may or may not actually be needed.
Thank you CSM for being more than a week long mission trip! Thank you for helping instill in our youth and in our youth leadership a true heart for service and an understanding of what it means to truly be the body of Christ!