Every morning Hillside students pray for a specific city in the North American Division that has a population of 1,000,000 or more.
It all began when Paula Sachse, a member of The Shepherd’s House, talked to Charlyn Marsh, teacher at Hillside Christian School, about a program she had heard about at Wisconsin Camp Meeting called “Mission to the Cities Prayer Map.” Paula was excited! She explained the program to Charlyn, that it was a part of the General Conference’s “Reach the World” initiative, and asked Charlyn if she was interested in the school participating. She was interested, so Paula volunteered to come to school and explain it to the students.
The heart of the program is a map that looks like a map of a subway system and lists all the cities in the world with a population over one million. Paula gave each student a map. The goal is for volunteers to pray for cities on the map. The students were excited when they saw the map. “This map looks cool. What is it?”, “There are this many big cities in the world?!”, “My parents would like to see this. Can we have extra maps to take home to our families?” they asked. At the beginning of the year, the students and teacher discussed what line to start with. They voted to start praying for cities on the North American Division line. “We are almost done with the North American Division Line,” says seventh-grader Carson Sajdak, “I can’t wait to start a new line.”
The map has caused a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity. You might hear a conversation similar to this at prayer time: “I wonder what city we are praying for today?” students muse as they eagerly take the map out of their desks each morning to find out which city they are praying for that day. “Melbourne is the next station on the line,” said one student. “Melbourne is not in the NAD. It’s in Australia. Everyone knows that.”
“There must be another Melbourne. Let’s find out where it is.” Charlyn leads them in a discussion of where the city is and what they know about it. Students then look it up to see how far it is from Wausau and learn more about the city. “It’s a great discussion starter,” says Charlyn. “There are a lot of big cities in North America I had never heard of,” says seventh-grader Carlos Torres.
Questions on the back of the map have helped focus student prayers on others has enriched prayer time at school. Instead of each student praying a variation of “Bless the people of Indianapolis,” each student prays for a different aspect of the city for that day. One student will pray specifically for the leaders of that city. Another prays for the missionaries to that city. Another prays for the families and marriages in that city. Another prays for the health of the city’s residents. Another prays for the education of the city’s residents. Another prays for the homeless of the city. Another prays that everyone in the city will come to know Jesus.
“It’s nice to have something specific to pray for,” says fourth-grader Ayden Martinez-Sanchez. “I like that we are all praying for the different things, but for the same place,” said seventh-grader Emy Ruehl.
This prayer ministry has helped Hillside students to look beyond their own little world. It can be quite shocking for an elementary student in a small, mostly Christian town to learn that there are billions of people in the world who need to know Jesus. “I had no idea there were so many people who haven’t heard about Jesus,” says second-grader Riley Fisher.
When they pray for the homeless and marriages and families of the city, they realize how blessed they are to have a home and family and be grateful. “I am grateful for my parents and all they do for me,” says seventh-grader Grace Hixon.
Hillside Christian School is a one-room school that has served Wausau, Wisconsin, for almost 70 years. Its mission is to develop leaders today who will walk with Jesus into eternity. For more information about Hillside, visit https://wausauwi.adventistschoolconnect.org.
Mission to the Cities Prayer Map has helped Hillside implement its mission by helping students see the needs of others, to develop a more focused prayer experience and a deeper prayer life. For more information about Mission to the Cities Prayer Map, visit https://missiontothecities.org/resources.
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Charlyn Marsh, author, has taught and volunteered at Hillside Christian School for 30 years.
Jamie Fisher, photographer
This article has been reprinted in the Lake Union Herald and the Adventist Review