North America Canopy of Prayer Conference Call and Podcast
Hosted by Ted Hahs and Lloyd Turner
Harvest Evangelism's Applied Prayer Evangelism Task Force
Transformation is about prayer from a transformed heart that exercises vibrant faith and hope both for the needs of other individuals AND the systemic needs of our larger community.
In this podcast we interviewed Pr. Anthony Summers of Michael's Transportation Service on the innovative strategies their company is implementing to eliminate systemic poverty. We also talked with Cliff Lawson about the Adopt Your Street movement in Vallejo where it is at and their strategy to move it forward.
Pr. Anthony Summers is one of the "Three Amigos," marketplace ministers effecting transformation in Vallejo, featured in our recent documentary "Transformation Vallejo." In addition to his position as a marketplace minister, Pr. Summers also has 25 years experience in pulpit ministry so he brings the valuable perspective of of a dual citizen in both realms of ministry.
He is the executive director of the training academy, the branch of Michael Transportation Service that trains commercial bus and truck drivers.
Sid Nicholas, a Marketplace Minister and the Human resources manager of MTS also participated in the interview.
Anthony Summer first met Michael Brown, the founder and president of MTS, through fishing together. He has been working for MTS for two and a half years.
Overview of Job Creation Strategy
Summers: The transportation industry is the 5th largest industry in the world, so there is always a need for licensed skilled drivers. The MTS training academy has existed for about 10 years as a branch of Michael's Transportation Service. Every month they are producing drivers for all different types of positions from school bus drivers to charter bus drivers to limo and commercial truck drivers.
Because of this at sometimes they have a surplus of drivers so about 6 months ago they opened a new branch that hires these drivers directly then contracts them out as temp drivers to different places. This piece is growing rapidly. Recently they have met with the director of health and social services and the Sheriff's department, they are now talking about how to go inside the jails to equip people to get job skills for when they come out. The training academy not only does the training but they also have the added benefit of hiring the drivers themselves so they would do all the screening, then contract them out as temp drivers to other employers.
Q. How have you brought transformation principles into this aspect of the business?
Summers: We at MTS are a marketplace ministry where kingdom business happens everyday. That vision puts ministry on the forefront. We are representing Jesus Christ everyday in everything we do
This happens organically and the training academy was a very natural place for this to manifest, because now Jesus is the center of everything.
Q. You train in Job Skills as well as Life Skills. Can you expand on that?
One of the components of our training is to teach the soft skills training such as how to balance a check book, how to present themselves in a job interview, how to get a job, those things are very important.
Sid Nicolas: People who are given a skill can now depend upon themselves not just depend upon whatever they had to before. This can transform their lives in the deepest sense so we see this as a ministry not just a job. If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime. I take the opportunity to pray for everyone who comes in, every job applicant, as well as everyone of our employees every day. I see this as a my role as the director of HR. I am a minister its not just a job. This changes the way you interact with people and the way they respond to you.
Q: How do people receive this prayer?
Sid: We have had about 20 of our employees receive Jesus because I have prayed for them.
Q: How do you deal with the seperation of church and state?
National unemployment is 9% but that number doesn't really tell the true picture of the unemployment need in our country. First of all it varies considerably region to region, for example in Newark, New Jersey, a city with a demographic similar to Vallejo, the unemployment is 15%. The second and more important factor is that neither of those unemployment numbers take into account discouraged workers, those that are so negative about job prospects that they don't even apply for a job in the month covered by the survey. So for example, in Newark, NJ, the "real" unemployment rate is probably 25-30%, when you take into account the number of discouraged workers. 9% national unemployment is bad enough, but the real numbers show that it is truly an epidemic. One of the largest group of "discouraged workers" would be those with some form of criminal record. To address the true unemployment we are going to have to address this demographic and find solutions.
Recently I was sharing some of the work we are doing in the area, particularly speaking about the mentoring program in Newark that we featured in our June podcast, with a city councilman in St. Petersburg, FL He was very interested because he is facing the same challenges in his city, but his question was: "How do you deal with the issue of separation of Church and State?" Pr. Summers, how would you address that question?
Summers: Because someone is gainfully employed via a business, this is a non-issue. MTS is a for profit company with a good reputation in the community. We are able to show them evidence-based outcomes that are positive. We have favor with sheriff's office and social services and other civic officials so the separation of church and state is never an issue. In fact quite the opposite. We practice prayer evangelism everywhere we go, we always ask people how we can pray for them. I encourage you all to do that and particularly for those in positions of authority. When we bless them and we pray for them, whether it be the DA, or someone in the sheriff's office, or the school system, they have always opened up and are so grateful for our prayers which generally don't take much longer that 30 seconds.
Q: Expand on the plans you have to expand this business model to other businesses beyond just bus driving.
Summers: I would encourage everyone who has a job skill to consider going into the prison system to train other. This is so needed and if we can give them a employable skill we can change lives and transform society. That's what we're supposed to be about, confronting systemic poverty. We are talking to others, such as a baker, barber, and other to partner with us in this job training. So we have the life skills side and then the job skills side.
Another point I want to clarify, when we teach the life skills to ex-offenders or those still the prison system, it's not like we need to teach them everything. There is a high level of intelligence among them, in fact the prison system is goldmine of talent, intellect and potential that we need to tap into. One of the most important factor, that goes further than anything else is to recognize and affirm the value already in them and that brings out what they already have to bring to the table. As Christians we certainly need to not see the those who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated as second class citizens certainly they've made some mistakes, but our God is not only the God of a second change, but a third chance, and as many chances as you need.
Q: (from Sheila Gilbert in West Palm Beach, FL) Isn't it a big hangup for potential employers to hire ex-cons.
Summers: Yes, the answer is that you have to be the conduit. Reach out to local law enforcement and prison officials to establish relationship and explore options. There is a risk to hiring ex-offenders, but there is also a risk in hiring any employee. The key is to take this from being an unknown risk to being a known risk and seeing what are the factors that contribute to it and how can it be mitigated. That's really what business is all about. What we certainly believe as Christians but what we have also found from our experience and what is born out by the research is that it is possible for people to turn their lives around and become excellent employees, and if given the right tools and the opportunity that will be the expected outcome and in fact people want them because they have a needed skill.
Sheila: One thing we believe is very important is to provide people with a good salary. If you give some one who has always been working for minimum wage the opportunity to earn $14-$15 an hour you ave given them an incentive and dignity and they will rise to the challenge, so rather than hire two people at minimum wage, give that opportunity to one person.
Summers: Yes, we have definitely found that to be very important: to give people a livable wage. [For more on the innovative ways they have not only provided their employees at MTS a livable wage, but have empowered them to be business owners, listen to our podcast from June of 2012]
Part 2, Adopt Your Street
As you've heard from Anthony Summer and Sid Nicolas, A lifestyle of prayer evangelism is essential to this whole process of transformation. Ministry happens so much smoother in a favorable spiritual climate, that is why it is so important for us to recognize how to change the spiritual climate and then maintain it in a positive position. This is the role of prayer evangelism and the Adopt Your Street, Canopy of Prayer by mobilizing a grass roots movement of people to pray for an entire region street by street on a daily basis the spiritual climate over the region will change.
Cliff Lawson - report on AYS in Vallejo:
- 1,467 streets in Vallejo total
- 372 adoptions
- 172 unique streets actively prayer over
- Goal:100% adoption by October 1
Lloyd: There are 4 different stages in an Adopt Your Street movement: Measure, Monitor, Manage, and Multiply. You are in the Measure stage right now, and are moving into the Manage stage. You need to develop a leadership network, to divide the city in section, and have a team leader over each section so they can encourage the street adoptions and the street adopters in their area.
Cliff Lawson: That's what we're doing right now. We're modeling it off the neighborhood watch system in our city so we have 4 quadrants and are assigning leaders to each quadrant.
Lloyd: there are two challenges in people minds that you need to over come
- On one hand people say: "This is too easy" meaning it won't make any different
- On the other hand people say "This is too hard to cover an entire city" meaning is too complicate and you'll never be able to organize it.
Strategy for going forward:
- Recognize that changing the spiritual climate is essential. All the wonderful ministry we're hearing about has a direct line back to the lifestyle of prayer evangelism and a positive spiritual climate, when the spiritual climate is favorable doors naturally open. Therefore it is crucial that we learn how to gain to control of the spiritual climate, turn it favorable and maintain it favorable.
- The true asset to an effective adopt your street movement is not the number of streets adopt so much as it is THE PEOPLE who have adopted those streets. It is their prayers and their lifestyle of prayer evangelism that is the acting agent to change the spiritual climate. So moving forward the strategy is to cultivate those people in as personal a way as possible, communicating to them both via email and phone calls if possible to encourage them in their street adoption and encourgae them to invite their friends to also participate.
- The other step to the strategy is to mobilize people from outside the city to also help adopt streets in Vallejo so that Vallejo can reach 100% of street adoption.
Call to Action
As we have heard Vallejo is a prototype for transformation that is already blessing so many, we all have an interested in seeing it continue to move forward and breakthrough further in transformation, so let's come alongside the city and give the added push they need to move forward, by adopting street in Vallejo to help them get to 100% adoption.
We took a vote and it was unanimously decided that we would all adopt a street in Vallejo.
Two ways to adopt a street in Vallejo:
- Just send an email to Pr. Cliff Lawson
and say "I want to adopt a street." He'll sign you up and send you the name of your street.
- You can visit www.transformationvallejo.org and choose a street for yourself from the list of unadopted streets they have posted there.
Closing Prayer - Dave Gschwend
PS. Mark your calendar to join in September for our next call
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