IRONWOOD, MI – Virtual Prayer Walk / Mission Trip going to the uttermost parts of Michigan! After crossing over the "Mighty Mac" (Mackinac Bridge), westward through the U.P. (Upper Peninsula), along the shores of the Great Lakes, bypassing historical lighthouses, pausing cruise control through small towns and searching National Forrest's for the indigenous Bigfoot, our mission teams arrived in the City of Ironwood. Catalyst Baptist Church in Ironwood is 2 miles east of the Michigan Upper Peninsula Wisconsin border. Pastor Ian & Stephanie Minielly are North American Mission Board Church Planters in Ironwood, a community of about 6,000 people. The nearest Michigan Baptist church is more than a 2 hours drive away.
On Saturday, August 13th, Pastor Ian and Stephanie's Michigan Baptist brothers and sisters were no longer hundreds of miles away. Six mission teams combined to total over 30 people representing 6 Michigan Baptist churches came together to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of Catalyst Baptist Church at Historic Ironwood Depot Park. The 6 churches represented included, Catalyst Baptist in Ironwood, North End Baptist in Mt Morris, The Orchard Church in Traverse City, Lakepointe Church in Macomb, Potter's Wheel in Fenton, and First Baptist of Gwinn in Gwinn. The celebration included a Community Block Party with bounce houses, face painting, back-to-school backpacks loaded with supplies, snacks, hotdogs and water. Entertainment was proved by The Potter's Wheel Band, Fenton, MI.
This was Joshua Tyson's, a member of North End Baptist Church, first mission trip. He said, "The experience at Ironwood's block party was incredible and rewarding. Giving out the backpacks was a blessing." More than 200 people from the community attended the Block Party. Contact cards were filled out and the data collected showed 74 families, 168 students, 75 adults were shown the love of Christ. 122 backpacks with supplies were given to elementary school children, 200 mission dolls and 200 water bottles were handed out. An awesome total of 34 people requested a follow up contact from Pastor Ian.
"God honored the prayers and hard work of Michigan Baptists by flooding Depot Park with over 200 people. Last year we drew 17. If that is not a blessing by God I don't know what is" said Ian Minielly, NAMB Church Planter, Pastor of Catalyst Baptist Church. "Isn't it amazing how God brings people together from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and gifting, from different places of birth etc., to converge in one focused place and effort for the sake of the gospel message!" Marc Burnett, Senior Pastor, Potter's Wheel, Fenton, MI.
For two days prior to the Block Party, mission teams prayer walked and engaged with people in several neighborhoods of the surrounding community, knocking on doors, and sharing flyers announcing the block party in the park. The team had several opportunities to stop and pray for special needs with families. One family was in need of a staircase off the back of the home for added safety for the children. As the team began to pray it was impressed upon their hearts to meet that need. Chuck Danzer, North End Baptist Church, Mt. Morris, put his carpentry skills to work and completed a set of steps for the family. Afterwards, he said, "There were blessings beyond expectations!"
There were many opportunities to pray with and hear the hearts of Pastor Ian and his wife Stephanie. It was very obvious that God had called them to Ironwood, that they have a passion for the people of Ironwood, and want to share the Hope of Christ with as many as they can. "I really enjoyed being a part of the mission trip to Ironwood. God greatly blessed our time there. We felt the Lord's presence and loved getting to know Pastor Ian. We'll continue to pray for his ministry there" said Carolyn Stephens of North End Baptist Church, Mt. Morris. Prayer walking offered the mission teams many engagement opportunities. A single mom with three children shared her story of being homeless and had just been able to find a home for her family. A team member noticed that the children all had snow boots on in the middle of August. That soon charged and the little boy was heard saying, "You are the nicest lady ever, Thank you!" "Look how high I can jump now!"
“I saw God's light and love in the actions of the team that served the community of Ironwood. The greater thing, though, was seeing that light reflected in the faces of those whose needs we met – not just basic needs for school supplies or food or the like – but the need for love. So many of them feel forgotten and invisible, beaten down by life. God used our team to be his hands and feet to remind them they are still seen. It was a humbling privilege to be used by God in this way" said Andra Williams of The Orchard Church, Traverse City.
This Prayer Walking Mission Trip was captured and shared by the WMU of Michigan Team as a virtual FaceBook event. More than 60 Michigan Baptists joined the team virtually over the 5 day trip, viewing video posts, pictures and writing in prayers as the mission team served in the community of Ironwood. The event page is still available for viewing from the Women's Ministry & WMU Mission Education Facebook page.
Chuck Turner, President of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan, joined the virtual prayer walk and shared, "I have been blessed as I have participated in this virtual prayer walk. I continued to praise God for what He accomplished through the efforts of many. Thank you."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sue Hodnett is the Women’s Ministry & WMU Consultant for the BSCM as well as the Executive Director for WMU of Michigan. She attends Lakepointe Church in Macomb, MI.