Over the past few months, I’ve been on Zoom a lot. On these video calls, I’ve been meeting with missionaries and pastors to think about the impact of Covid-19 on mission trips. At the same time, I’ve been reflecting on something Paul says in a few of his letters. “We always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters.” Paul writes these words to God’s people when he can’t be with them in person, to let them know that people are praying for them, lifting them up and praising God for their lives and ministries. Those two things collided for me recently when a pastor contacted me asking if we could create a virtual prayer walk so that her mission team could pray for the people and places they would have gone on their summer mission trip.
What an amazing idea, I thought, and completely rooted in Scripture. Just like Paul prayed for people when he couldn’t be with them, we can pray for our mission partners. And what’s more, because of technology, we can see where they live and work.
Together with Corrie Vos, mission director at Faith Church in Dyer, IN, our mission partners at IPManaus, in Brazil, and Bob Oliveira, a missionary to Brazil, we created this virtual prayer walk through the Amazon in Brazil. Our hope is to encourage groups who had to cancel mission trips to come together virtually to pray for our mission partners.
And, if you have a mission partner you want to pray for in this way, we’re sharing how we did it. Follow the steps below or watch the video tutorial to partner with the missionaries and mission agencies your church supports to build your own virtual prayer walk.
How to set up a virtual prayer walk
- Contact the missionary or mission agency you support to ask for their permission to build a virtual prayer walk.
- In partnership with the missionary, gather a list of locations, prayer requests, and images to go with them.
- Log in to Google Earth, click the projects icon (map pin on a square), and select New Project. (I like to create mine in Google Drive.)
- Click New Feature, then Search to Add Place by entering your first location.
- When you find your location, click Add to Project.
- Edit your location by selecting the pencil icon, then click Replace to begin uploading your image and entering your prayer points in the text box.
- Look at the map view on the right. You can zoom in or out on the surface map, or drop into street view (where available) to find just the right view of your location. In street view you can move left to right and adjust the angle by using your mouse. When you have the view you want, click Capture this View in the bottom left corner.
- If the location you are looking for doesn’t appear by name on the map, you can enter the address and then drop a pin on the map by clicking the Add Placemark button in the bottom left corner of the map, and then clicking the location you want to mark. (We did this in our Amazon virtual prayer walk to mark the Mission Boat Harbor.)
- Once you have added all of your location features, you can go through the entire prayer walk by clicking Present.
- When you are ready to share your virtual prayer walk with your team or your church, click the Share Project icon (a person with a plus sign) in the top right of the project. You will need to adjust your sharing settings to “anyone with the link can view” and then copy the shareable link.
- Share the link via email, text, or social media, and encourage your team or church to pray through the virtual prayer walk.
Stephanie Soderstrom is coordinator for Short-term Mission for the Reformed Church in America. You can connect with her by email at email@example.com.