March 30, 2016 | 11 a.m.
By Monique Kleinhuizen '08, Communications Strategist
Lars Anderson ’17 is majoring in finance and marketing, plays baseball, and leads a YoungLife ministry group for youth at Mounds View High School, located near Bethel’s campus. He’s also got a passion for prayer, which has brought about an ambitious student-led initiative on campus.
Anderson and a group of friends—with some oversight from the campus ministries staff—are creating a space where Bethel community members can engage in intentional prayer. Beginning March 30, and running through the month of April, there will be a six-person tent set up on the green space in Kresge Courtyard, which lies in the middle of campus between the Wellness Center, Hagstrom Center, and Brushaber Commons.
Anderson explains that the idea for this initiative came from a vision a Bethel alumnus and friend of Anderson’s had from half a world away. Nick Kruse ’16, who is living and teaching in South Korea, told Anderson“ that he has devoted a lot of time to prayer and while praying for me, he had a vision of me helping to start a 24/7 prayer tent here at Bethel,” says Anderson. “He had zero idea about the specifics, but he knew that he—as weird as it may have sounded to someone across the world—should share it with me and ask me to pray about it. I had been praying for clarity of a way that God could use me at Bethel.”
With that, the idea began to take shape and the specifics ironed out. The tent will be stocked with seating and lighting, a mat for kneeling, a desk with journaling paper, and pens. There will be a board on which community members—or those who come to pray—can post prayer requests, photos, or responses. The hope is that every minute of every day, someone will be present in the tent and praying for the Bethel community. The rest, says Anderson, will be largely up to the Holy Spirit.
“They should just expect God to show up and do what he does, and allow God to cover them with love and an understanding of who He is. We also encourage anyone looking to be in a holy place—or looking for prayer for their personal lives or something going on—to go into the tent to ask for prayer,” says Anderson. “The hope of the Prayer Tent is to invite God to have a great impact on all the students and people of Bethel University. We want to fight through prayer to bring a new fire and passion for Jesus to the students of Bethel. Obviously, this needs to be Spirit-led, and God needs to be working through prayer to change people.”
The Prayer Tent reflects a larger commitment to—and history of—prayer on Bethel’s campus. In 2011, a similar “Tent of Meeting” initiative had a very positive response from students. “It was an incredible experience for our campus…people took time to be out there—entire floors of students, athletics teams—but the important thing is that students are being obedient to what God is calling them to do,” says Assistant Campus Pastor Donna Johnson. “I believe God wants to move on our campus—we have to get out of the way of what God is doing.”
Student-led groups like Pray First meet regularly to intercede for campus worship gatherings, staff and faculty, and even to walk through residence halls emptying students’ trash cans and offering to pray for them. CityFront is another student group that travels to spots in Minneapolis, handing out free food, talking with people, and praying with them. Every group is supported by an on-campus prayer team that prays specifically for that group’s conversations.
“God is calling us back to the basics…he wants us to encounter him through prayer. It’s exciting!” says Johnson.
Bethel students, staff, and faculty who are interested in signing up to pray in the Prayer Tent can sign up online. Wider community members are welcome to pray from afar, or are encouraged to sign up for the National Prayer Initiative to receive monthly prayer requests from Bethel.