By Brooke Hill | Staff Writer
Groups of parents from across the nation meet to pray for Baylor students and campus life. Many prayer meetings for September took place throughout the week of Sept. 4, while other groups will meet later in the month.
The goals of Parents in Prayer are to encourage, support and gain strength from other parents as they spend time talking with God about the needs of the students, faculty and administration; unite, through the Internet, with individuals who are not able to join the group physically but will join online to pray at the same time; and gain peace of mind in knowing their students are blessed with prayer.
“I believe it helps ease the transition of their students being away from home,” Toni Kercher, parent volunteer leader from Houston, wrote in an email to The Lariat. “I feel that parents feel comfort in knowing their students are at a Christian University and offers groups to support them during their Baylor journey. I feel that parents feel peace knowing that Baylor cares deeply for students and parents are praying for their student’s success.”
Each month, the group focuses on a specific word to pray about. September’s word is “change.” The groups this month were encouraged to pray for the changes in their children’s lives and for the clutter in students lives that surround the beginning of a new school year. Parents prayed that students will “prioritize, organize and use time wisely as change is taking place daily,” according to the website.
In addition to praying for change, many groups across the nation were praying for students whose homes have been affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“Despite our group being a newly formed one, we had a good number of parents show up and they were super engaged, leading us into a longer prayer time, which of course included lifting up all those affected by Hurricane Harvey and those assisting in relief efforts,” Helen Rodriguez, parent volunteer from Laguna Hills, California, wrote in an email to The Lariat.
Many parents enjoy participating in the groups because their kids might even get to know each other.
“Last year, we took turns going around the circle, giving update and voicing prayer requests,” Holly Ramsey, parent volunteer leader for the Chicago group, wrote in an email to The Lariat. “One mom requested prayer for her son, who was reaching out to other students who may have challenges. Her son was going to be meeting that week with a freshman who was down, discouraged, struggling, wondering if Baylor was his place. She asked us to pray for a specific day and time that her son had arranged the meeting. The very next mom in the circle then said, with tears in her eyes, ‘I think that is my son your son is meeting.’ And indeed it was. Neither mom knew the other beforehand and the sons did not know each other prior to Baylor. It is phenomenally encouraging to catch these “God glimpses” into how the ordinary can be a divine appointment.”
There are 45 chapters across the nation Gail Offringa, Director of the Parents Network, said her goal is to have at least one Parents in Prayer group in every state where a student is from, and eventually hopes to expand Parents in Prayer to our international communities.
Offringa said the program is special because it gives parents a chance to gain advice from parents who have had students at Baylor for a few years.
“They get advice from parents who are one or two years ahead of them. At almost every group that I visit, a parent will express how these monthly meetings have been a lifeline for them and give them such comfort and support,” Offringa wrote in an email to The Lariat.
The Parents Network also serves as an on campus liaison for any needs that may arise.
“One Houston parent called with concerns that her son and friends who were going to travel to Houston to help the clean-up effort would not be properly prepared for the devastation they were about to face,” Offringa said. “We were able to contact the Spiritual Life office who worked with the Resident Chaplain and [Community Leader] to meet with the students to prepare them before their trip.”
Offringa said that she loved hearing from parents last year that they were praying for God to make it clear who Baylor’s next president should be.
“I look at it like this: just as Jesus undergirds all that we do at Baylor, our prayer groups undergird the building of the Kingdom at Baylor by supporting and praying for students, each other, faculty, staff, and the university as a whole,” Offringa said.