It is not about politics; it is about prayer, according to Bill and Linda Fast. The couple, active members of Only Believe Ministries Christian Center in Botkins, felt a strong leading of God to put together a time of prayer.
“God just laid it on our hearts to organize people to come together and pray,” said Linda Fast, “The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 7:14, ‘If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.’”
They started the prayer gatherings on Oct. 9 and have met every week since then. The last meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the gazebo in the Lima Town Square.
The meetings do not have a particular schedule, but there is usually some music and a speaker.
“It’s the leading of the Holy Spirit,” said Bill Fast. “We start at 6:30 p.m. and go for an hour. We have some music like ‘America the Beautiful’ — patriotic type songs — and different pastors have spoken, but the main reason we are there is to pray.”
The various pastors who have spoken include the Rev. Jim Fletcher of First Baptist Church in Spencerville; the Rev. Randy Manns who co-pastors a church that meets at the Lima YMCA on Sunday and Thursday nights and is also the mayor of Kenton; and Bill Fast, who is a licensed minister.
On Tuesday’s gathering, the Rev. Phil Lee from Agape Fellowship Church and the Rev. Phil Walker from Only Believe Ministries Christian Center in Kenton will each be speaking briefly.
Bill Fast, who retired from Ford Motor Co. after 34 years and now works security at the Lima Army Tank Plant, stressed that they are not a political party. “We are not Republican, we are not Democrat, we are not a tea party group,” he said. “We are not endorsing one candidate over another. Our purpose is to pray for who God wants to be our leader.”
Added Fletcher, “I believe in what they are doing. I’d like to see more people praying together. Our country is a mess right now, and the only way to get out of it is to pray.”
It took the couple four weeks to organize the prayer gatherings, and that included getting a permit from the city of Lima.
“Bob Buddhe, who is helping us with this and took over when we were gone last week, he helped us get the permit,” said Bill Fast. “Basically, we had to pay a fee and fill out paperwork, and then it took a couple weeks to get the permit, so we could legally meet as a group.”
While the Fasts did get the word out through radio and television, they have relied mostly on word of mouth.
“When we talked to people about this,” said Linda Fast, “they were excited. A lot of people said if we organized it, they would come.”
Added Bill Fast, “We had some flyers in churches, but we aren’t an organized group like that. We weren’t out canvassing neighborhoods or pushing an agenda. We are just praying for God to heal our country, to restore it to what our forefathers died for.”
Attendance has ranged from around 20 to more than 50 people, peaking at the second gathering on Oct. 16. The Fasts are hoping that people from all walks of life will join them Tuesday.
“Everyone is welcome to come,” said Linda Fast. “We are asking people of all denominations to come and join us in prayer.”
The couple believes that this is a critical time in the nation, and it is very important for believers of all denominations to become united in prayer for our country, and the world in general.
“It’s not just our nation,” said Bill Fast, “The U.S. has always been looked to as a leader and this is the land of opportunity for many people. We want to get back to our roots of what we once were.”
Linda Fast added, “There are lots of people praying and fasting all over this country. God is a God of promise and if His people will pray, then He will hear from heaven and heal our land. We are asking that people fast one meal a day until the election, so we can see God move for our nation. We are giving up some of our comfort to show God we are sincere.”
The couple hopes that when people leave each gathering, they will have a renewed sense of the power of prayer.
“We want people to have an urgency to pray,” said Linda Fast. “We want them to seek God and know they can make a difference with prayer. We want to be one voice before God. Prayer can change things, especially when you can get a corporate group together. We just want God to hear us.”