Pray With Africa Builds Community for Continent

October 02, 2009


Two teams of young people will visit 30 U.S. cities this fall to build a worldwide community in support of African Christians working daily with the poor, sick and hungry.

Pray With Africa, a new Upper Room Ministries initiative, seeks to inspire people to connect across continents, to pray each other’s prayers and to put those prayers into action by giving their time, energy and resources to address key issues facing the African people, says Cary Graham, project director.

“Instead of rushing to action—seeing an infomercial where there's a hungry child and a celebrity spokesperson urging us to react —we're trying to build community first,” Graham says.

“We're going to college campuses, churches and small venues, showing the film and asking people to adopt our ‘Learn. Pray. Act.’ philosophy—this new way of looking at and being in community with Africa,” he says. “And we’re providing ways to live out that philosophy.”

Two teams of volunteers, ages 18-27, will travel across the U.S. to present and discuss Pray With Africa’s goals and to screen “Listen: A New African Narrative,” a film that goes beyond the images of warring and suffering in Africa to show how Africans are working to change their communities.

Faith in action

The 38-minute film follows people of faith in five African nations who are making a difference in their communities. In Liberia, Christians dig wells to rebuild the clean water supply; in Mali, they help combat malnutrition; in Uganda, they work with people trying to overcome the ravages of conflict; in South Africa, they try to recover from systemic poverty brought about by decades of apartheid, and in Malawi, they minister to people with HIV/AIDS.

From September to November, one team will travel to cities in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. The other team will go to North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. A list of cities the teams will visit and opportunities to schedule a viewing of the film are available at the Pray With Africa Web site,

The site will feature a different prayer from Africa each day and ways to get involved with ministries there. Graham says he hopes the site will foster an interactive prayer community where people around the world will connect through the discipline of prayer.

“The Upper Room has always been about connecting people to God’s presence through prayer and acts of faith. It’s exciting to send forth passionate young adults to create awareness about the transforming power of prayer in Africa and to share new ways we can join together and pray for God’s work in this world,” adds Sarah Wilke, Upper Room publisher.

Prayer rings

One example of how Pray With Africa will build community is a partnership with an HIV/AIDS support group in the Tiwasunge community in Malawi, which is featured in the film. The Tiwasunge community is producing wooden prayer rings, which will be sold online and on the tour, Graham says.

“Tipemphere,” which means “let us pray” in Chichewa, will be inscribed on each ring. People who get a ring will be able to register it online using a serial number on the inside of each ring.

“You are then encouraged to pass the prayer ring to someone else and encourage them to register the ring as well,” Graham says. “You will be able to track where your ring goes through the Web site. It will be an amazing way to watch this symbol of prayer travel around the world.”

More information is available by contacting Graham at (615) 340-1767 or  

Tom Gillem
Gillem is a Nashville, Tenn.,-based freelance writer for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

Chris Wright, Robin Moore, Nicole Guthrie, and Kevin Kuoni from Pray With Africa visited the Conference Office in Crestwood.