Lighthouses of Prayer continues to transform lives through pandemicBookmark this
For those visiting the Alamo City, San Antonio is easily remem- bered for its diverse cuisine, bustling tourist spots and its extensive list of must-do things. And if they stay long enough, they will undoubtedly describe it the same way locals do every day—a place of potential, growth and astounding resilience.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the repercussions that have continued in the months
following stay-at-home orders, San Antonioians have displayed amazing perseverance. The community’s ability to adapt is one thing that pastor of River of Life Church and president for nonprofit Lighthouses of Prayer International (LPI) Pastor Gene Loeffler passionately describes as “a community full of diverse cultures and backgrounds”—a people, despite their differences, who work together to overcome hardship.
LPI, whose purpose is to be a guiding light for Christians to fulfill their call to be disciples through united prayer groups, is one organization that has been able to continue its mission despite the recent circumstances. The abrupt stop to our daily lives due to the pandemic and racial strife that has surfaced is, as Pastor Gene coined, “A Devine Pause” and a time when prayer is needed most.
“Prayer is how we talk to God. How we grow in our relationship with Him,” Pastor Gene said. “There isn’t a formality on how to start, just ask God to open your heart and whatever answer you’re seeking, pray. When the founder, Joan Courtney of Lighthouses of Prayer International, back then called Women’s Prayer International, started this ministry 20 years ago, she had a vision of women coming together to pray in unity for spiritual revival. Today, men are gathering for the same purpose—to glorify God through prayer.”
LPI was established in 1997 as an outreach effort for the Christian evan- gelist Billy Graham. Courtney answered the call to be a prayer leader for San Antonio. And as the crusaders prepared for their way to South Texas, Courtney, together with fellow women, flooded the heavens with fervent prayer.
Since its founding nearly 25 years ago, LPI’s mission has not changed. In the midst of city restrictions and personal reservations as a result of the pandemic, Pastor Gene says people still long for connection and prayer is the foundation of that fellowship. Thankfully, technology has made it possible to share the Gospel with the masses. To date, LPI has 19 prayer groups that encompass nearly every area of San Antonio. Groups, many currently using technology to stay connected, continue to pray for their personal needs, our economic recovery and our city and nation’s spiritual healing. With current circumstances it’s hard to predict the future need of LPI’s outreach efforts, but Pastor Gene noted that, now more so than ever, pastors need to come together to support and pray with and for one another.
“To have access to God’s teachings through technology is a blessing. There is no doubt things will be different moving forward,” Pastor Gene said. “And there is no better time to grow in your relationship with God then when it is being tested in every way, whether you’re going through financial hardships or if you’re experiencing loneliness. God wants us to have a deeper relationship with Him and prayer gives us that opportunity.”
Throughout history, in all Christian denominations, scholars credit prayer as the primary reason for spiritual change. Pastor Gene raised a Christian but didn’t fully accept Christ until his early 20s, attributes prayer as direction for his own personal journey.
“I pray to God to guide me. He opened up my heart to become a pastor years ago—to serve my community, to lead them sacrificially—to bring them closer to Him,” he said.
Prior to moving back to San Antonio, Pastor Gene and his family ministered to an affluent California neighborhood. There they gained invaluable knowl- edge, but returning to the Alamo City, Pastor Gene recalled, “rescued” them.
“We are now ministering in a much more difficult context. There is a lot of poverty, both of belongings and spiritu- ally. There is generational pain, hurt and brokenness. But God put it in our hearts to love the people, and in so many ways, they rescued us.”
Through this pandemic, many San Antonioians continue to seek the grace of the Lord through new means.
In early August, more than 200,000 gathered in person and online for PraySA, a park-and-pray gathering, which took place at the Freeman Coliseum. Many city pastors, leaders, ministries and part- ners from numerous churches around the city, joined to unite through prayer.
“The sheer attendance of this event was amazing and I’m honored that I got to be a small part of that. We desire God’s intercession. People long for connection. And on a smaller scale, our work with Lighthouses of Prayer is really an oppor- tunity to do that. It’s a place where people of all Christian denominations and differences come together to be evangelists as God has called us to be.”
The first men’s prayer group for LPI consists of 12 pastors, in which, Pastor Gene, intentionally selected 12 as the specific number to gather.
“When I prayed about the direction God was wanting us to take with the addition of men to the ministry, I felt He was telling me that we needed to lift up our leaders,” Pastor Gene said. “There is so much going on right now and when we can come together and pray for one another for guidance, we light a fire that we can bring back to our church communities. That’s where it starts.”
While there haven’t been as many gath- erings because of the pandemic, Pastor Gene is confident the time these pastors spend in unity will continue to make an impact on the city.
“Spiritual growth starts with prayer,” he said. “We need prayer, now more than ever. Starting a prayer group with fellow moms or coworkers or golfing buddies is a great way to strengthen our faith and deepen our relationship with God. This can still happen now, when people are reluctant to gather in person. They can do this through Zoom calls or other technology that allows that connection. Now, with both men and women groups focused on glorifying the Lord through prayer, we can be beacons of light for our city—one lighthouse at a time.”
Be A Light.
Pray. For us to turn back to God as a city and nation. For spiritual healing of our city and nation. Pray for revival to sweep the land. Unite. Start a Lighthouse of Prayer group in your area. Impact. Pray continuously and spread the Gospel everywhere you go. Give. LPI relies on the financial generosity of our community to support its efforts. Donations can be made through the LPI website.