How does an elementary school go about reaching the cities of the world? Forest Lake Education Center in Longwood, Florida, United States, has mapped out a plan to pray during the 2019-2020 school year for the more than 570 cities worldwide that have a population of a million or more.
Seventh-grade teacher Rosalee Taylor said she was watching the 3ABN television network during the summer of 2019 when she heard a Mission to the Cities advertisement for a free prayer map. The ad directed her to the Mission to the Cities website, where she found the offer repeated.
Her request for a map read: “What a wonderful idea to pray for our cities. I would like to use the prayer map ministries with my students. My students can pray for the youth in those cities and learn about the people of those cities.”
After that initial contact, however, Taylor’s idea quickly grew from having the students in her classroom pray to having the entire student body pray. The prayer map, which is laid out to look like a subway map and organizes the cities by the divisions, or regions, of the General Conference, fits with the school’s existing plan to celebrate the diverse cultures of the world through the theme, “The Family of God.” It also fits with the goal of the school’s director of spiritual enrichment, Joy Uzarraga, who was looking for a way to increase the prayer activities of the school.
When Uzarraga heard Taylor’s idea, she worked out a plan to have each grade level pray for one or two of the divisions of the General Conference, which, on the map, are made to look like subway lines, with cities representing the stops along the way.
Each classroom will pray for one week for each city on their line, praying, for example, on Monday for the city leaders of Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday for missionaries in Tokyo, on Wednesday for the city’s families, on Thursday for education in that city, and on Friday that the people of Tokyo would come to know Jesus. At the end of the week, the class will check off Tokyo on the prayer map in their classroom. With each class doing their part, all the cities of a million or more worldwide will be prayed for within nine months.
As the 2019-2020 school year began, the more than 670 students set out together to pray their way around the world. Students now pray daily in their classrooms for their designated regions and cities, and, at the same time, they are getting to know the cultures and also the history of the church in that region.
Additionally, the school emphasizes the value of diverse cultures through a monthly school-wide focus on a particular region of the world. Each month, in a special chapel program, they celebrate the region of the month with songs, flags, history nuggets, mission stories, and, when possible, a speaker from the highlighted part of the world. Further, school-wide morning announcements include a time of prayer for student requests as well as for the leaders and families of cities in the region being celebrated that month.
As another way of emphasizing the importance of praying for the cities and people of the world, a large prayer map hangs on the wall outside Uzarraga’s office, and the children place sticker dots in the circles of the cities as they are prayed for. Additionally, all students have received small prayer maps to take home so that they can pray around the world with their families.
Adventist Mission leaders believe this method has the potential of reaching others for Christ.
“Perhaps one day we will see the eternal result of 670 children and their families praying for the cities!” they said.