Dear Emmaus Brothers and Sister,
I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is my honor and privilege to currently serve as the Spiritual Director for the Louisville Emmaus Community. Most of you are aware that I was a pilgrim on Louisville Emmaus Walk # 1 in August of 1986 and I sat at the table of Mark. At that point in my life I was still a lay person, serving as the Principal at LaGrange Elementary School in the Oldham County School System.
As is the case for many people who have been blessed to have been on a Walk, mine was a life-changing experience. When talking to perspective persons about the Walk, I am always careful in sharing the fact that on my walk I felt the Holy Spirit reminding me of the promise I made to the LORD as I accepted Jesus as my Savior; a commitment to become a missionary.
As powerful as that call was on my life, I also became aware of the fact that there were two areas in my spiritual formation that needed to be altered. My study of God’s Holy Word and the leading of Bible studies was for the wrong reason. My motive was to be able to impress people with my knowledge. I sought to be praised for my ability as a teacher as well as the depth of my knowledge of Scripture.
Shortly after my Walk, I enrolled in my first Precept Bible Study, which was held at Middletown United Methodist Church. I joined several other men in the in-depth study of the Gospel of John, which lasted for several months. God wanted me to understand that Biblical knowledge is important, however, knowledge without application to your life only serves as a means of pride and a source of recognition.
Prior to leaving for the mission field in Costa Rica, my wife Jackie and I participated in, along with several hundred other people, a two-week trip to the Holy Land sponsored by Precept Ministries. Eventually, I became certified as a Precept Bible study leader and taught courses in Costa Rica. We were the LORD’S instruments in establishing Precept Ministries in that beautiful county among those awesome people.
Well, the other area of my spiritual walk that was in need of change was my prayer life. Of course Bible study and prayer go together to form a rich devotional format. On my Walk, I learned about the ACTS prayer pattern.
A – adoration (praise)
C – confession
T – thanksgiving
S – supplication (intercession and petition)
After my Walk I adopted this pattern and my devotional life has been enriched as a result. Over the years since my Walk, I have developed a Prayer Journal in which I use the ACTS methodology. In my study of the ministry of John Wesley, I learned that he had so many things he was praying for that he divided the items of supplication into seven categories, one for each day of the week. Adopting this format, on Sunday I pray for those persons with special burdens such as persons incarcerated in jail or prison, for marriages that at risk, for those persons who suffer from various addictions, for those persons with employment or financial problems, for those persons having to care for family members who are ill, for those persons suffering the pain of divorce, for those persons who are separated from family, friends and loved ones for various reasons, for those persons who are homeless, for those persons who are suffering from strained family relationships, for those persons who suffer from emotional or mental problems, the issue of abortion, for those persons who need spiritual renewal in their lives, for those persons who need special guidance in their lives, and for those persons who are home-bound, in nursing homes, etc.
On Monday I pray for those persons who need salvation. On Tuesday I pray for those persons who are ill, hospitalized and those who are in nursing homes and those who mourn the death of family members, loved ones and friends.. On Wednesday, I pray for my church and each member by name. On Thursday I pray for those persons who suffer persecution for their faith in Jesus and for those nations in which there is persecution, for those involved in Bible studies, for church schools, colleges and seminaries, for God’s anointing on seminary professors, for those persons enrolled in seminaries, for my country and the President, for the leaders of the government of Kentucky, for the Spanish Language Institute in Costa Rica, for the leaders of the National Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors, and for the leaders and pastors of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Costa Rica.
On Friday I pray for the leaders and pastors of the Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. On Saturday I pray for various missionaries and mission agencies and specifically for the leaders and missionaries of Jews for Jesus and TMS Global.
I feel certain that some of you reading this message will conclude that what I have just described is way too mechanical and lacks divine inspiration. To be sure this methodology is not for everyone but it suits my personality, which is described as “concrete sequential.” Please know that the pattern is flexible in that specific prayer requests are included on the day they are received and then placed in the specific category.
It goes without saying that prayer undergirds all aspects of the Emmaus Movement. This is especially evident during Walks, but I would encourage you to lift up every area and activity of our Community. I would specifically recommend that you pray for the Board of Directors of the Louisville Emmaus Community:
Mark Smithson Nancy Crittenden Diana Maslowski
Candice Donaldson Susan Smith Linda Laun
Guy Morgan Vance Taylor Stephen Culver
Kevin Brodie Ken Bewick Susan Rittenhouse
Teresa Kinberger Drucilla Vettiner Matthew Mitchell
Tom Chaplin Don Craig
I would also ask you to pray for the Lay Directors for the upcoming Walks in March of next year:
Walk # 171 – Steve Rademaker
Walk # 172 – Vonda Stutzenberger
Another critical area in need of much prayer is sponsorship. Our community will only continue to exist if we sponsor persons on the various Walks. Pray to the LORD to seek His guidance tn selecting candidates. I strongly recommend that you invite perspective pilgrims to attend Gatherings as a means to introduce them to this precious gift from God. I would also suggest that you give them a copy of the booklet “What Is Emmaus” which you can purchase through the Upper Room.
As you explain what happens on a Walk, please don’t give the impression that this is some “secret event” and you can’t tell them anything. Truthfully, you can tell them, for example, that they will be served Holy Communion every day, but you don’t tell them about “Dying Moments.” You can share that there will be five talks each day and that some will be given my clergy and others by lay members of the team. You don’t have to tell them what each talk is about.
I can recall a number of cases when the wife of a man who went on a Walk was having second thoughts about going on a Walk herself because her husband would not tell her what happened on his Walk. Friends, you can explain the experience in detail without mentioning the special events such as Dying Moments, Candlelight, Letters, Agape, etc. Emmaus is not a secret sect!
An area of prayer that is often overlooked or forgotten by many people is thankfulness. Friends, even in times of stress and anxiety we can be thankful for what the LORD has provided us in the past. I am especially thankful for the leadership of Mark Smithson, our Community Lay Director. Mark assumed leadership of the Community in the aftermath of the Corona Pandemic with all it’s negative aspects. There is no doubt in my mind that Mark was God’s choice for this season in the history of the Community. He has done much to facilitate the revival and renewal of our Community. I would suggest that you thank Mark personally for his hard work and service.
One final request; we need more clergy to join our Community in order to fill the five clergy positions on teams for Walks. If your pastor has not gone on a Walk, please pray about how you can approach him or her to do so. This need is urgent.
I look forward to seeing you at the next Gathering. Until then, I pray that your Fourth Days are filled with many blessings from the LORD!
Louisville Walk # 1
Table of Mark