Prayers for U.S. leaders, military planned

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Across the region, people have flown American flags, tied yellow ribbons around trees and lampposts in an effort to show their support of troops serving in Iraq and the Middle East.

But neither of those things makes as big a difference in life as prayer can, area Christians say.

Novena Bollinger of Jackson said prayer support can provide a "great comfort" for families of military personnel. Bollinger has two sons in the military, one in the U.S. Marines and another in the Army.

Her son Levi, a reservist, has been activated and will leave at the end of May to help with the rebuilding phase in Iraq.

She helped organize weekly prayer services at First Baptist Church in Jackson for the military during the war. In a service just days before the war broke out, "We prayed for the president and his advisers and the people in Iraq because there were innocent people affected."

Prayers for the nation, federal and state leaders and for moral awakening and renewal will be offered during the annual Mayors' Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning.

The event is part of activities planned on the National Day of Prayer, held each year on the first Thursday in May. A noon service will be held at the steps at the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson. Jim Bollinger, Novena's husband, will pray for the military during the noon service.

The National Day of Prayer is a "big draw for those who believe in prayer and what prayer can do," said Dee Dee Wilson, who is helping to organize the breakfast.

Several area church members and ministers will take part in service at the Osage Community Centre in Cape Girardeau. Doors open at 6:30 a.m. Serving for the continental breakfast begins at 6:45 a.m. and the service will start at 7 a.m.

The event is sponsored by the ministerial alliances of Cape Girardeau and Jackson. Featured speaker is Bekki Cook, former Missouri Secretary of State.

War's impact

Wilson expects that the war in Iraq will have an impact on the prayer service. "We're a community of faith over here who can pray for those people" serving in the military, she said.

A community choir will kick off the breakfast with the national anthem and the song "In God We Trust."

The service "is a great way to start the day," Wilson said. "The Holy Spirit is going to show up on that day."

Wilson took over organizing the event in January after being appointed by the ministerial alliances. In years past, the event was organized by Jack and Sherri Mehner, who resigned their volunteer posts last fall. The Mehners also organize a monthly prayer service for the community, held on the first Tuesday of each month.

Wilson solicited volunteers to help focus on food, location, speakers and prayer. "We're all working together to make the event happen," she said.

"None of this was my doing. I think God pulled the strings and laid the groundwork."

Wilson previously had served on the worship team at La Croix United Methodist Church but had to resign to work full-time in the family-owned business. Serving on the prayer committee, she said, "is something that God prepared me to do."

335-6611, extension 126

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