5:30 AM The lights are turned on in the Hideout, a place where Burman university students get together to play ping-pong, soccer table, billiards, or just hang out. Its capacity is for about 120 students but this time, it is a group of ladies from the College Heights church, led by Tena Zazulak, who open the doors of the Hideout and cheerfully start working like ants in the kitchen area, preparing breakfast for the attendees to the prayer meeting. How many people would come?
5:45 AM Pastor Ted Deer, Parkview Adventist Academy and Burman University chaplain, along with few students start moving tables and chairs to transform the room into a prayer meeting. Chairs are placed in circles forming small groups of about 8 – 10 people. Nobody knows for sure how many people would come.
5:55 AM The room is ready and Pastor Don MacLafferty, the main speaker of this event, calls everyone to get together to pray for the direction of the Holy Spirit. What a circle of faith!
6:00 AM Burman university students and College Heights church members start to flood the room. Despite the low temperature of a typical Central Alberta winter morning, faces are smiling and a sense of enthusiasm can be felt all around. Our first 10 Days in the Upper Room: Revival 101 has started!
The program is based on the book of The Acts of the Apostles, and carefully designed for an intergenerational audience. Participants leading each section are an adult and a youth. Music is a traditional hymn or a more modern song that many of the attendees know. Starting with a warm welcome and a prayer, the following segments were devoted to thank God for what He has done for us, praise Him for Who He Is, followed by a personal confession and repentance moment. The core of the program was based on the first 4 chapters of the book of Acts and readings from Ellen G. White. After the Read & Share moment, the small groups pray to claim God’s promises about the Holy Spirit, and the whole meeting finishes with a 24-hour challenge.
7:00 AM. A very nutritious homemade breakfast is served and the room is filled with talks, and laughter.
Ten Days in the Upper Room: Revival 101 was a project started in late November 2017, inspired by the 10 Days of Prayer 2018 launched by the General Conference at the world-wide level, and keeping in mind our own needs as a church that nurtures students, staff, faculty and families of three different academic campuses: College Heights Christian School, Parkview Adventist Academy and Burman University, in Lacombe, Central Alberta.
Tabitha Phiri, the Prayer Ministry leader, and Pastor Jeff Potts, the senior pastor at College Heights church, initiated the challenging coordination with pastors, student leaders, and deaconesses. The successful experience with 10 days of prayer, done in early September 2017 in one of the rooms of the church, was such an encouraging event that we wanted to do it again, before the Winter term starts, but this time in a bigger room for a larger audience.
Pastor Don MacLafferty, Founder and President of In Discipleship Ministry, tailored the program for us. Pastors Ted Deer and David Benjamin were also leader speakers and key pieces of the success of the 10 Days of Prayer journey. Students and church members had active participation in the program. It was amazing to see evidence of the Holy Spirit working in us: people confessing and repenting of their sins, making things right with each other, experiencing a holy boldness to witness for Christ, and generously sharing their possessions with those in need.
Here some examples of what was commonly heard among people in the Hideout:
Nathan, BU student: “It’s a life changing experience to me … I would say my life relationship with God has been strengthened during these days … I have learned spiritual aspects that impacted my life … The most outstanding thing was the testimonies … They have strengthened my walk with Christ because I learned what others are doing and I am not alone in what I am going through…”
Becky & Verne Gustavsen, College Heights church members: “We made lots of friends in our groups. We met people that we would never ever probably otherwise met, which is wonderful.”
The main objectives for this event were to recognize our need of the Holy Spirit, to ask for it daily as Jesus, to imitate the actions of the Spirit-filled first Christians, and to reinforce the bridges between youth and adults attending our College Heights church, to create a stronger sense of community.
Overall, the average attendance each day was 72. Sabbath January 13th had the lowest attendance with 47 participants. However, attendance rose to over 102 participants by the 10th day, Friday January 19th. All glory and praise to our Heavenly Father.