Campus News

Bethel prayer conference is ‘unleashed’

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“Prayer that changes things.” Sound familiar? Well, that’s not surprising, since it’s basically the rallying cry of the upcoming prayer coaching conference on campus this weekend: “Unleashed.” “Unleashed” is a 2-day conference with four sessions, two on Friday, Feb. 19, and two on Saturday, Feb. 20. Each session provides coaching for students on the practice of corporate prayer. “We call them sessions, but they’re a session/service,” said Tammy Chenoweth, the wife of Bethel College President Dr. Gregg Chenoweth and one of the main organizers for the “Unleashed” conference. “It’s really kind of hard to explain. They’re not just teaching…there’s music, it’s worship.” Zachary Gillis will be providing said music, and Melissa Carr of Conference Services has coordinated much of the weekend. To attend, students must RSVP at bethelcollege.edu/unleashed or call 574.807.7209. The main speaker for the conference is Pastor Corey Jones from Crossroads Tabernacle Church of the Nazarene in Fort Worth, Tex. “(Jones’) church has been practicing corporate prayer for 15, 20 years,” said Chenoweth. “It’s what saved his church…when he and his wife came to that church, it was down to (about) 30 people, it was almost closed.” After struggling to help his church survive for the next three years in its low-income surroundings, Jones finally attended a prayer conference sponsored by Christ Tabernacle Church in New York, the daughter church of Brooklyn Tabernacle. “He went to one of their prayer meetings…and it was in that prayer meeting that they had…that the Holy Spirit pretty much just arrested him, and really spoke to his heart, and said, ‘You need to quit everything that you’re doing at your church program-wise and just call your people to pray.’” From then on, Jones began prayer meetings at his church that started small, but kept growing and growing, and more and more people began attending the church without much going out and inviting people. That was in 2009. From there, Jones felt God’s calling him to teach the process of corporate prayer to others. Chenoweth went to one of Jones’ prayer conferences in 2009. “I went for a few years, actually before we moved here,” she said. “Anybody who’s been a part of it has gone away changed. So, it’s not just learning about prayer, it’s learning what prayer is, what the Biblical point of view is and practicing it, and the Holy Spirit just shows up during the sessions. It’s pretty amazing.” That’s the church conference. Chenoweth said she’s never seen something like this on a college campus, and so she’s not sure how things may adjust depending on the audience and environment. But the basic idea is the same. After going to the conference in Texas, Chenoweth took the ideas she’d learned and brought it back to her church. The effects were so great, when she and her husband came to Bethel, she wanted to apply the same idea to campus. “Prayer has been a part of my life for many, many, many years, but this whole idea of corporate prayer and bringing a body of people together was fairly new, but it’s been so effective,” she said. There are two sessions per day, Friday at 3:00 p.m. in the Everest-Rohrer Chapel and at 7:00 p.m. in the Middleton Hall of Science Octorium. Saturday’s sessions are at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., both in the Octorium. The name “Unleashed” has a bit of a backstory as well. The theme verse for the conference is John 14:12-14: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (KJV) “‘Unleashed’ came out of that because we are kind of two-fold: we want to see, through the power of prayer, God’s power unleashed on our lives. We also want to see chains broken, unleashed on the people that come,” explained Chenoweth. To prepare for the conference, Chenoweth and various other faculty and staff members have been praying over the venues and rooms the conference will be held in. One faculty member who has been particularly outspoken about this conference is associate professor of English Dr. Christian Davis. “I believe that in Christian revival everyone would get serious about loving Jesus and helping other people in that pursuit,” said Davis. “There needs to be a lot of prayer in our world. If more prayers were raised up, then that could inevitably cause an urge for revival.” Davis also commented on how he thinks the conference will manifest itself on campus. “It’s, in many ways, like what we do during spiritual emphasis week, except for that people will willingly show up over the weekend when it’s not a required event,” said Davis, “It allows people the chance to actively pursue further knowledge on this idea of prayer while placing the dedication into their hands.” Chenoweth emphasized again and again the conference’s large focus on prayer and its impact. “All throughout Scripture it talks about ‘ask, ask, ask. Pray, pray, pray. Pray without ceasing,’” she said. “And so that’s the big point of it…as students register, be praying about that event to be effective.” As for why students specifically should attend, or really even care about the conference, Chenoweth talked about how this is the application of Bethel’s Christian education focus. “This conference is one of those things that’s going to challenge your spiritual growth,” she said. “I look at it as, for the students, it’s one way for us to help equip you in your spiritual growth and in your Christian faith, and it will be really powerful for you in that way.” Davis also talked about the importance of students’ attending and investing themselves in the conference. “My guess is that 10 percent or less of the student body will actively seek this out,” he said. “However, I do believe that this is something that can cause an impact even if there are lower numbers than what would be considered ‘ideal.’ If the students can thoroughly engage into this weekend’s conference then I believe it can have a positive effect, but that ultimately depends on the outlook that the students have on the experience.” As for any final comments he had on the conference as a whole, Davis said, “I ultimately hope that the Holy Spirit will makes his presence known and that people would find themselves controlled by the desire to serve the Lord and his desires for our lives instead of the obligation of attending required meetings.” Chenoweth as well commented again on the prayer focus: “My hope is that…the Holy Spirit will show up and show out and that the people that come and are in attendance will experience the presence of the Holy Spirit, and leave with this insatiable desire to know the Lord more through the power of prayer, and to not only incorporate it into their life personally but as a part of their group, their church, their family, their friends to see the power of prayer in that.”
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