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Lodi Week of Prayer Rescued by PUC Students

Amy Bauer-Heald
Pacific Union College students presented a week of prayer for nearly 130 students at Lodi Academy (LA) in mid-January after a scheduled speaker canceled, leaving the school without a week-of-prayer program. Kelli Fessler, a sophomore physical therapy major at PUC, helped organize the program together with six other members of her family group.

Fessler’s family group, like others on the PUC campus, is a small group of students who meet regularly on Sunday evenings to fellowship and interact—a sort of counseling session in which the students can talk openly about what’s happening in their lives and turn to prayer and scripture as a source of encouragement. The idea, initiated by PUC student Jason Decena and headed by group leaders like Kelli Fessler, has spread across the PUC campus.

Decena’s suggestion that the leaders try to do something unique for their respective groups prompted Fessler to contact Samir Berbawy, the principal of Lodi Academy. The goal of the project was to plan something that would help make each group and its members stronger.

“I called the principal to see whether there was anything we could do,” said Fessler, a graduate of LA. “ He asked if we would put on their week of prayer, since the speaker had backed out the day before.” The only guideline the group received was the topic of the week, “Our Different Needs.” Pulling the program together from scratch, the women referenced both scripture and author Max Lucado in planning the week of prayer.

“We selected this passage because it just seemed to fit,” explained Fessler, referring to Lucado’s vivid description of God’s love: “God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.”

PUC sophomores Sameena Johnson and Heidi Nollan began the week’s look at how much we all need the Lord by discussing the topic, “Being real with ourselves, others, and God.” Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s presentations by Debbie Phillips and Paula Velasco focused on the issues of “Our need to be needed” and “Our need for others.” On Thursday, Kristi Baumbach and Kelli Fessler spoke with the students on the topic of “Our need for God”; and the week was concluded by Lauren McConnehey’s exploration of “God’s need for us.”

In all, the group spent hours of preparation time on the week of prayer. All of the group members remained involved before and during the event —when the non presenters would gather to pray for the students who were at Lodi on that day.

“It was a huge blessing for us,” says Fessler. “At least I know I received a blessing. When we started out I said to the group, ‘If we touch just one life this week it will have been worth the whole week.’”

Lauren McConnehey took Kelli’s goal one step further.“If it makes us closer to God,” she told the group, “if we are blessed by the experience, than it will have been worth it.” And judging by the enthusiastic response of the participants, the week was a success.
Note: This is an archived article and does not necessarily represent current issues at Pacific Union College.