"Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you." (Philippians 4:21)
(Forgive me; the first couple of paragraphs will be kind of "overly
detailed introductory material". If you want to skip them, you may, but
I felt they were rather necessary to make you appreciate the rest of the piece!)
I almost could have called this piece, "Friday Throwback", for in some
ways that's what it felt like. It would really take pages and pages to
tell you of how much Barnabas Ministries, Inc. and its "John 17:23
Fellowship Groups" have meant to me. That ministry was started largely
though the efforts of The Rev. Dr. Richard A. "Dick" Germaine over
twenty years ago. (Dick's story could really be made into a Christian
film. He came to Hopkinton, Massachusetts pastor a "liberal" New
England Congregational church in the early 1970s and saw God transform
that church into one of the most important and dynamic evangelical
churches in New England. Dick resigned that pastorate over a decade ago
but remains very active as the Executive Director of Barnabas
Ministries, Inc.) During the final six years that I was pastoring in
Framingham, I was a Member of a "John 17:23 Group" led by Dick himself.
I got to know him very well and was the recipient of lots of prayer and
helpful counsel from him. One of the ministries of Barnabas
Ministries, Inc. is the "weekly pastors prayer outpost". I know, that
almost sounds like a title from the Old West! At least, it always did
to me. On Friday mornings, Dick and a group of Intercessors meet in the
"chapel" at Faith Community Church in Hopkinton and pray for all of the
pastors who are involved in any way with the "John 17:23 Fellowship"
and specifically pray for requests that various pastors have e-mailed in
to them. The pastors prayer outpost is always open to any pastor who
has a need or who just wants special prayer. He or she can just show up
and receive that prayer blessing.
For a couple of years, I became a "regular" at the Friday morning prayer
times; usually going every other week, but occasionally even attending
weekly. There have been many losses in my life over the past six years
or so. For me, a couple of the greatest losses have been the "John
17:23 Fellowship Group" which met every other week on Wednesday mornings
and the Friday "pastors prayer outpost". Due to my secular work
schedule, I had to drop out of each- and considering I was not pastoring
anymore, I really didn't meet the criteria for the Wednesday group. I have occasionally
attended the Friday prayer times since the church has closed and I've
moved out of the area; but over the past three years, such Friday
mornings have been very rare and I don't think I'd been to one for over a
year prior to today.
It's most unusual for me to not be assigned to work at the answering
service on a Friday morning. When I saw that time slot was "open" I
began thinking about going to the Friday morning pastors prayer
outpost. There were some mixed emotions. Am I a pastor or not? I am
still an Ordained Minister. However, I get very mixed messages about
that question: Am I a pastor or not? I'm not currently pastoring a
church. I don't generally go around telling people I'm a pastor. I
usually just introduce myself as "Bob Baril" and say nothing about the
pastor stuff. Some people insist on calling me "Pastor Bob Baril".
Others have pretty strongly let me know I'm definitely not "Pastor Bob
Baril". I just kind of keep it neutral and "go with" however that other
person wants it to be. I wondered if it would be a good idea to attend
the pastors prayer outpost or not. Last night, the weather forecast
was calling for "two inches of snow" especially in central
Massachusetts. I figured it was pretty definite I would not be
going to the pastors prayer outpost, but would rather be scraping down
driveways and walkways with a shovel. I was surprised and relieved when
there was no snow on the roadways this morning and no more than an inch
on most lawns.
I was just a bit nervous and uncomfortable as I walked into the chapel
at Faith Community Church at 8 a.m. I was warmly received, and
literally hailed as a pastor. I wondered if I really deserved that
title and recognition. The intercessors are usually divided up into
several groups- there were three groups today. I used to be really
"into it" when I'd be part of these prayer meetings years ago. As we
prayed for various pastors and churches and situations I realized I was
pretty much "out of the loop". I did not recognize quite a few of the
names of pastors. After several years, there have been a lot of
pastoral changes in the area. It still felt great to be part of it,
however. I was blessed that a pastor in the small group in which I was
praying specifically prayed for me and my situation. I did not ask for this at all, but it almost moved me to tears.
Toward the end of the Friday morning intercessory time, everybody goes
up to the front of the chapel and stacks of cards (I think they're 4 x 6 cards)
are passed out to each person. On each card is the name of a pastor
and the place where he or she ministers. (If the pastor is retired or
in transition, it may just include the pastor's name.) One person reads
a Bible verse and leads in a general prayer; then we each
simultaneously read the names of each of the pastors out loud. Finally,
when all of the names have been read, we close with an "Amen". I
always find it interesting if the names of some clergy friends of mine
are found on any of "my" cards when we do this exercise. I was rather
blessed that today I had the name: Dan Condon, Meeting Place Church.
(He is the pastor of the new English-speaking Assemblies of God church
When we finished, I had this thought: "They probably don't have my name
on one of these cards anymore. Why would they? I don't pastor a
church and I'm not even likely to do so again."
No sooner had I finished that thought, when Jay Germaine, Dick's wife
turned to me with a big smile. "I did not get to pray for you in the
small group today," she said, "but I had your name on one of my cards so
I did get to pray for you!"
Boy, was that a surprise and an encouragement!
I have not yet told you what I will call "the frosting on the cake" about this morning:
I met a fellow Assemblies of God minister that I did not know. He's a
black African guy who is starting a brand new church in Milford,
Massachusetts. His name is Christophe Akagla and the church will be a
multi-cultural church known as "The Mount of the Lord". It turns our there are
some mutual pastors we each know. Christophe [like a lot of black
African pastors] is young, happy, energetic, and friendly. We had a
chance to chit chat for a couple of minutes afterward in the parking
lot. He was so happy to meet me, and, well, that made me very happy!
Yes, it was kind of a "Friday Throwback" but more than that, it was a Divine appointment!
Incidentally, for more information about Barnabas Ministries, Inc., please check out: