Setting Captives Free – Praying for the Ministry of Shepherd’s Fold

The Lord is constantly reminding me that He is the One who is in control of the big things and the little things. Last week, I was consumed with getting our decorations ready for our church’s annual Trunk and Treat event. We had had family illness running through the ranks and it had put us way behind. Not only did was I not able to make time to write a post last week, I also forgot to at least post a link to this blog on social media sites as I often do to encourage/remind us all to be praying for our cities and all the great ministries in it. However, the stats page showed that last Friday had one of its biggest days in a long time. I try to stay focused on not doing this for the numbers, but it so encourages me to see people coming here and hopefully praying with me for our communities. It just reminded me that the Lord doesn’t need me and all of my words to prompt people to pray. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. I’m just glad He allows me to be a part of that in a small way. I think it’s important for anyone in any kind of ministry to remember that only the Lord is able to produce eternal results, and we can be humbly amazed and grateful to be a part of it. Remembering that also makes it so much easier to have peace and fight discouragement when hard times come. It’s the Lord’s battle, and He will fight on our behalf.

The previous post was about a ministry who helps those affected by crime to navigate through the system while preparing them for a stable life once they get out. Today, we are praying for Shepherd’s Fold, a ministry dedicated to helping men and women who have already been released from prison/jail to find total freedom from the inside out. They do this by equipping them to make a genuine life transformation after prison through education, budget and job training, and regular Bible study and counseling. Founded in 1986 by Mary Kay Beard and her husband, Shepherd’s Fold is the most experienced, longest-running successful prison re-entry ministry in Alabama. One of their ministry strategies that I love is that they are committed to prayer and have a prayer team that regularly prays for their ministry and those in their care. (They are looking to add to their prayer team, so if that is something you might be interested in, contact their prayer team coordinator, you can contact him through their website or call 205-780-6211.) Their current executive director is Green Calhoun, and they operate 4 houses in the West End area caring for 25-28 or so men and women at a time, in addition to graduate housing in Shelby County they provide at a low rent as their graduates transition to true independent living. They have helped over 1,650 previous offenders become law-abiding, productive citizens.

Eph. 4:8-13 – “8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” 9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

Lord Jesus, we praise You as the King of King and Lord of Lords, the One who fills all things! You are fully God yet willingly became fully man so that we could relate to You even in our depravity. You have stormed the gates of hell and have transferred us from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of light! (Col. 1:13) Because of You, we are no longer strangers and aliens, but are adopted as sons so that we can cry out, Abba, Father!

Lord, we pray that the men and women who enter the Shepherd’s Fold would discover who they are in You. Set them free from the identity they formed while in prison, and reveal Yourself to them as their Savior who has stormed the gates of hell just to rescue them. We pray that they would not only see themselves as rescued, but also as receivers of the good gifts You have given them. Lord, the enemy has spent years convincing them they had nothing and were worth nothing. We pray that You would use Shepherd’s Fold to help break off every lie, every chain, and that they would step into their giftings, callings, whatever You created them for. We know that You have good plans for these men and women, plans to prosper them and to give them a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)

We also pray that as they transition step by step into “normal” society, that the Body of Christ would be there to embrace them and welcome them as brothers and sisters in Christ and fellow heirs. Forgive us, Father, for how many times we tend to hold those “with a past” at arms length. Let grace abound in Your body, Lord, but also give us wisdom and discernment so that we don’t become so “graceful” that we compromise truth. We do not do our brothers and sisters any favors when that happens. Lord, we can’t do this without out. Lead us. Teach us. Change us. Not just them. Make us all one, and grow us up together in the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, to the fullness of Christ.

We pray specifically for the Green Calhoun and for the leadership, staff, and volunteers of Shepherd’s Fold. Give them protection, wisdom, and guidance as You use them to rescue these men and women. Equip them fully for this work of service – strengthen them; uphold them with Your right hand; hone their gifts and talents; purify their hearts and minds. Provide for them spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially. Let the purpose for which You have called Shepherd’s Fold into being be fully realized in every single life that comes through their doors. We pray this for Your honor and glory and for Your name’s sake. Amen.

If you want to share your own thoughts, prayers, or Scripture for Shepherd’s Fold, or if you have a question for us, we would love to hear from you in the comments! Thank you so much for taking the time to pray with us for another amazing ministry in the metro-Birmingham area.

Blessing the Children – a Back-to-school Prayer

Throughout this month, children all over the metro-B’ham area will be going back to school – public, private, homeschool and college. Some have already started back. Even though I have the next 2 cities prepped and almost ready to go up on the blog here, I could not get away from the thought that perhaps we should lift up these children in prayer together. After all, not only are they precious gifts from the Lord, but they are also the future of the cities and towns we love and are praying for. My prayer has been mostly prompted from The Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13. I might also reference parts of other verses as I pray.

Heavenly Father, You sit enthroned in Sovereign Lordship over all the earth. Nothing happens to us or to our children that You are not aware of and divinely allow into our lives, as hard as it is sometimes. Praise be to God, who can take all of the moments that touch our lives and redeem them for our good and Your glory. In Your holiness, You never fail, and in it we find Your perfect love, Your amazing grace and mercy for us and for our children; we also find Your justice and wrath when evil is suffered by Your children. Indeed, were it not for the blood of Christ shed for us, all of us would have to endure the full measure of Your wrath. Therefore, we plead the blood of Jesus Christ over the children of the metro-B’ham area. We proclaim salvation over them. May the power and the truth of the Gospel become more real than all the other voices clamoring for their souls.

Father, let Your kingdom come into every schoolroom, every hallway, every locker room, every place where children will be through the course each school day. Let Your kingdom come into every home, and into every heart of every child and parent and teacher, so that righteousness and justice and truth would reign in them and through them. Let Your will be done in their lives. We praise You that Job 42:2 says that You can do all things, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Help us and help these children to trust in Your good and perfect plan when it requires them and us to experience very hard and painful things. Thank You, Father, that the truth is, through the pain we can see redemption if we keep our eyes on You. You are the God who redeems and restores. It is what Your kingdom is all about. It is the purpose for which Christ died – to reconcile all things back to God. Hallelujah!

Father, You know that there are children who will go to school hungry, both physically and heart-wise. Thank You for the school programs that help feed these kids physically. Yet You are the only one who can feed their soul and hearts. So we pray for physical provision for them, maybe even raising up local churches to help meet that physical need. And we pray they would encounter the Bread of Life, who would fill them like nothing else can in their heart, mind and spirit. Let them know You and experience You every single day, even in an environment and circumstances that would try to deny You.

Because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness for our sins. Forgiveness, though, is becoming a foreign concept in our culture, which is breeding so much violence. Father, by Your Spirit, we pray that these kids would experience forgiveness, and would learn how to extend it to others. Dispel the lies that we’ve been taught about what forgiveness is and isn’t, and show them how powerful true forgiveness is.

Father, there is so much evil surrounding us and these precious children in this day and age. Please protect them. Oh how my heart aches and grieves at the headlines which have become all too common about children suffering abuse at the hands of the very ones they were supposed to trust. Father, can I be so bold to ask that this school year, not one child would be abused in the school setting? We also pray that for all the children who have been abuse and are still suffering in silence and fear, that You would expose the evil that was done to them, and bring justice on their behalf. Deliver them from evil, O God!

Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

What would you pray for the school-children of the metro-B’ham area?

 

Praying for Tarrant

To those of you who might be a bit OCD, like I am, about things being in correct alphabetical order, forgive me. Tarrant should have been posted before Thorsby. Thankfully, the important thing is that it doesn’t matter to God what order they’re in, of course, and He hears our prayers for each municipality.


www.cityoftarrant.com

Located in Jefferson County, 5 miles NE of Birmingham

Mayor Loxcil B. Tuck

Incorporated on August 17, 1918

2010 population: 6, 397

  • Founded as a city of industry, according to its website
  • 2 versions of why city was named Tarrant: Named in honor of Benjamin Tarrant, who lived in the community most of his life. Other sources claim city was named for Felix I. Tarrant, the president of National Cast Iron Pipe Company, which built the first major industrial plant in the area in 1912.
  • Home to many churches
  • Includes water recreation areas such as Ketona Lakes and Barton Branch

Psalm 33:18-23 – “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine. our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.”

Hallelujah to the One who is full of truth and lovingkindness! It is easy to look around us and find things that rob us of our hope, and damages our trust. If we keep our eyes on You, Lord, our hope is renewed day by day, and we can rest in Your unfailing love.

We lift up to You the City of Tarrant today, Lord God. Thank You that Your eye is on this city and its people. We pray that that fact would be a reality to the people there, and that it would change them. Grant them a reverence and awe of the God of the universe who calls them by name. Let them recognize that Your holiness isn’t about an angry God waiting to smite down or condemn those who fall short of His standards, but that it’s about a loving God who knew they would be unable to even comprehend His character, and so sent His only Son to reveal Himself to us, and to pay the price with His life so that we could enjoy Your love, mercy, grace and holiness for eternity. Make the true Gospel known throughout the city of Tarrant. Separate it from the perverted gospel that runs rampant in our American culture – especially in the South.

We pray life over Tarrant, Alabama, abundant life that can only be found in You. We pray that Your resurrection power would encompass this city and raise up the dead places, where Satan thought he had won. We pray for redemption and restoration of those things the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy. We pray for the counterbalance, which is Your abundant life.

We pray for Mayor Tuck and those who serve alongside her in leadership. We pray that You would enable them to wait on the LORD. Let them see and know that You are their help and shield, when they wait on You and fear Your name. We pray that their hearts would rejoice in You. Lead them in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake.

Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon Tarrant, AL, according as they hope in You.

What are you hoping in the Lord for today?

 

Praying for the Town of Susan Moore

Located in Blount County

Mayor Jamie Brothers

Named after Susan Moore, daughter-in-law of Robert M. Moore, one of the community’s first settlers

Incorporated November 1982

2010 population: 763

  • Settled in 1865 by the Robert M. Moore family
  • Originally named Clarence after the oldest son of David and Susan Moore. Renamed Susan Moore in 1982
  • Dr. David Moore, Jr. and Dr. Joe Moore donated monies for  a school which was named after their mother, Susan Moore
  • Dr. David Moore, Jr. and Dr. Joe Moore, grandsons of Robert M. Moore, joined with another doctor and founded South Highland Hospital

I was wondering what made them decide to change the name from Clarence to Susan Moore. Based on the little bit of reading I did, it was simply because so many people already assumed that was the town’s name because it was the school’s name. So they changed it to simplify things.

Based on the charitable acts of Drs. David and Joe Moore, I was led to I Corinthians 13 for the passage to pray out of today.

I Cor. 13: 4-8a – “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;”

Lord God, You are Love. You are all the things this passage describes and so much more. Some say that Your love and Your wrath, or Your love and Your justice seem to contradict each other, but perhaps that is only because we do not have a deep enough understanding of perfect love. It is deeper and wider and higher than our finite mind can possibly conceive, and more than we can experience in this lifetime.

We pray for the town of Susan Moore, that it would be known for living in the love of Christ. Thank You that it’s history is rich in the charitable acts which helped the town become what it is today. Let the current of Your love run deep into the foundation of this community. May the love of Christ dwell in the very heart of this town through faith; so that every person there may be rooted and grounded in love, and know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. (from Eph. 3: 17, 19)

Because of Your love, we pray that justice would reign in Susan Moore, AL.
Because of Your love, we pray that this town would produce and promote joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (from Gal. 5:22-23)
Because of Your love, we pray that the spirit of fear would have no power in this town nor in the people of this town.
Because of Your love, we pray that Mayor Brothers and the other leaders of this community would be established in truth, justice and righteousness. Grant them the strength to bear their responsibilities in wisdom, humility and righteousness.
Finally, because of Your love, we pray that the Church in Susan Moore, Alabama would experience tremendous growth in You, by Your Spirit. Let them throw off the shackles of every encumbrance and set their eyes on the prize; to become a trophy of Your grace, mercy and love, and to bring many souls into Your kingdom. Cause this group of believers to impact their homes, their community, and even the surrounding areas with Your love.

We pray all this in Your name, because we love You, because You first loved us. Hallelujah. Amen.

How would you finish that prayer: Because of Your love, I pray________?

 

 

Declaring Salvation in Mulga

This finishes up the municipalities that start with “M”.

Located in Jefferson County ten miles west of Birmingham

Mayor Dennis McCrary

Recognized as a community in 1907

Incorporated 1947. At that time, the mining communities in the surrounding areas had running water, but Mulga did not. Many residents had to haul water from surrounded water stations to their homes. The residents incorporated in order to get running water services.

Reportedly named after an Indian leader.

2010 population 836

  • The name Mulga comes from an Indian name
  • Grew as a private housing alternative to a nearby mining community (also known as Mulga)
  • Originally called East Mulga

Isaiah 12:2-4 – “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation. And in that day you will say, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember His name is exalted.'”

O LORD our God, Your name is exalted above the highest heavens. There is nothing we can do or say that can come close to describing Your great name. Yet, You allow us to carry it with us and to make it known among us. What glory!

We thank You for raising up the town of Mulga, AL for the purpose of displaying Your great name and Your salvation. We pray that every person in Mulga would put their trust in You, Lord God. Let the weak know Your strength. Let the ones bowed down in despair learn the new song You put in their hearts. May the ones who feel dried up and forgotten drink deeply of Your living water, and that You would refresh and restore them.

We pray that Your justice in Mulga would roll down like waters (Amos 5:24). Father, the history of mining and anything tied to the Native Americans is laced heavily with injustice. We pray that You would restore righteousness and tear down any stronghold of injustice and unrighteousness that may exist in Mulga. Let this town be a place that declares Your righteous deeds and exalts Your name.

Please bless Mayor McCrary, and all those who lead the town of Mulga know Your salvation. Let them give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, and learn Your righteous judgments (from Psalm 119:7). Grant them wisdom and strength, and let them lead from a place of joy, in order to declare Your greatness and salvation through everything that they do.

Lord, we thank You for Your salvation. Make it known among us, so that it can be made known through us. Amen.

We would love it if you would join the prayer conversation. How do you pray for your city or community?

Praying for Moody, Alabama

I realized this morning that I inadvertently skipped over Moody in our prayer journey through the metro-Birmingham area. My apologies to the people of Moody!

**Also, I HAVE to acknowledge that Birmingham is currently abortion-free! The last remaining abortion clinic has been shut down, at least temporarily. I know of so many who have labored and warred in prayer for so many years to see that happen! Glory to God! Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Fellow Prayer-Warriors, our prayers for our cities make a difference! God moves and acts in response to the prayers of His people. Hallelujah!!! Now with that in mind, let’s turn our attention and prayers toward Moody, Alabama today.

Website http://www.moodyalabama.gov/

Located in St. Clair County 15 miles east of Birmingham

Mayor Joe Lee

Incorporated in 1963

Named for Epps Moody, who built the first home in Moody in 1820

2010 population 11,726

  • Originally called Moody’s Crossroads because the city grew up at the intersection of two roads
  • Annual Oktoberfest the last Saturday in October

Psalm 67:1-3 – “God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us. Selah. That Your way may be known upon the earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You.”

Lord God, we thank You for Your grace and mercy. You pour out blessings we do not deserve, and Your mercy never fails us. Never. Hallelujah. We pray that You would be gracious to the people of Moody. We pray that they would see Your hand of mercy and blessing like never before in their city and in every aspect of their lives. We pray that Your mercy would compel people to repent of sinful habits, and be set free in a real relationship with You. We pray Your grace would repair relationships that seem broken beyond repair. Bless the widow and orphan with families.

We pray for Mayor Lee and those who assist him in leading the city of Moody. Let Your face shine upon them, Lord, and lead them in the way they should go. Let them keep their eyes on You, and let them find favor with You and those they have sworn to lead. Give them grace to be humble servant-leaders, like Christ. Be gracious to provide them with the resources they need for their city, and with the knowledge to steward them well.

God we pray for Your Church in Moody. Raise them up to be a source of Your blessing, grace and mercy in their city. Use them to make Your name and Your ways  known among the people of Moody and unto the whole earth. Let Your salvation be made known through them to all nations. Let the praises of the people to You start in Your Church, and spread throughout all of the city of Moody, and to the world.

Let Moody, AL be known as a city that knows the blessing and goodness of the Lord, and let it cause all those who hear of it rejoice in Your name.

How are you feeling led to pray for Moody, or for your own town, today? What do you think about the story of the last abortion clinic in Birmingham being shut down?

Praying for Eldridge, Alabama

In Walker County

Mayor: Bobbie Jean Dodd

Founded: 1842

Incorporated: 1972

Named after Eldridge Mallard

  • Population 2010 census 130

  • Reported to be the oldest community in Walker County

  • Originally named Camp Springs after an Indian camp site that was also used by early travelers.  Andrew Jackson’s army is said to have camped at the springs on the way to and from the Battle of New Orleans in 1814.

  • Post Office opened in 1836.

  • In 1819 John Blyer was commissioned to build the first toll road in the state from the Tennessee Valley to Tuscaloosa.  The road opened in 1822. An earlier road that connected Jasper and Pikeville also passed through Camp Springs.  Both roads were postal routes. Camp Springs, with a post office and Inn, became a stage coach stop. Eldridge Mallard, Byler’s son-in-law, was the first Postmaster and toll master.  People began referring to Camp Springs as Eldridge

  • Churches have always been an important part of Eldridge’s heritage.  The first school was held in the Free Will Baptist Church in 1880’s. In 1897 it became Eldridge Normal School and was one of only two Walker County schools. In 1906 the name was changed to Eldridge Baptist Academy. The Academy closed in 1940.

  • In April 23, 1943, the women of Eldridge planted a live oak tree in honor of the men who had left to serve in World War II.  The “Service Oak” as it is called is still standing in memory of those who did not return from the World War II

Facebook Page: ELDRIDGE, ALABAMA – HOME SWEET HOME!
If you have time, you should check out their Facebook page. It looks like a tight-knit community that knows how to have fun together, based on their pictures and events.

Psalm 95:6-8 – “Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our maker, for He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness,”

Holy Lord, we choose to bow down and worship You. Creator of Heaven and Earth, the One who holds us in Your hand and has written all of our days in Your book before there was one of them. We choose to submit to You , because You are our Sovereign God and King.

May the people of Eldridge acknowledge You as their maker and Lord, the One worthy of all their worship. We pray that You would give Mayor Dodd, the town council, and all the leaders of Eldridge a heart that is not hardened, but soft and able to hear Your voice. Grant them Your wisdom. Cause them to keep their eyes fixed on You.

We pray for the Church in Eldridge to prepare their hearts to hear from You like never before. Reveal Yourself to them through Your covenant lovingkindness. Remove hard-heartedness from their midst, and give them a heart that beats after Yours. The Church was an important part of building up this town and community. We pray that it would continue to follow You and become a display of Your love and grace throughout Eldridge and the surrounding communities.

Father, we pray this in Your matchless, glorious name.

How are you feeling led to pray for Eldridge? We would love to have you join the prayer conversation!