A young lady enters a hushed room and quietly picks up a missionary’s letter from Africa. Sitting beside other college students, she scans the letter, her heart pounding as she pictures malnourished children in need of hope. “Someday I’ll go,” she thinks as tears trickle down her cheeks, but until that day comes, she prays.
Since its founding in 1974, Mission Prayer Band (MPB) has helped students to be more aware of missionaries’ needs and activities. Its desire is to encourage student prayer and involvement in global ministry.
“Mission Prayer Band is more than a group of people getting together to hear a missionary speak,” said Annelisa Winston (’10), an MPB member for seven years. “It’s a time when the mission field becomes real. You will never regret taking 30 minutes out of your week to hear of the needs around the world.”
Each week, missions-minded students and faculty connect with missionaries through hearing their stories, reading recent prayer letters, praying for their needs, and writing letters of encouragement.
For some like Annelisa, their heart for missions becomes contagious. Jonathan Winston (Sr., DE), Annelisa’s brother, is the MPB president. What excites him about MPB is raising awareness of missions. “We have been able to implement the Monday Missions Minute in chapel each week,” he said. This chapel time informs students about missions from the perspective of students who have gone on short-term trips or are missionary kids or international students.
Another way students get involved is by keeping the missionary letters that they read to continue to pray for the missionaries. “Being able to grab a recent missionary’s letter and pray for that missionary by myself makes MPB special to me,” said MPB secretary Jenn Johnson (Sr., AZ).
Each week, the MPB officers gather dozens of letters written by students to encourage the missionaries they’d been praying for that week. Jonathan enjoys this aspect of MPB because “it allows each student to share, encourage, and connect directly with missionaries.”
MPB chaplain Trevor Schumacher (Sr., TN) uses his time in MPB to prepare him now for a future in the field. “I know that God wants me to be in missions. Hearing others talk about missions encourages and challenges me to one day go,” he said. “Mission Prayer Band is a great opportunity to grow your faith in God. It really opens your eyes to the different cultures around us and challenges us to pray specifically for the different needs of missionaries.”
From a few students back in the 1970s to the hundreds that attend now, Mission Prayer Band continues to challenge students to simply set aside 30 minutes during their week to make a difference in the lives of missionaries across the globe.