"Beautiful gates for young people going into the heart of the city."
1998 - Entering the Birmingham Gate
Paul and Lucy Hughes moved to Birmingham on June 1 of 1998 to serve college students with InterVarsity's campus ministry at Birmingham-Southern College. In early July at a Passion for Jesus conference in Kansas City, Paul and Lucy were introduced to Dale Cathey, a Birmingham businessman. Dale's first words when meeting them were, "You are beautiful gates. I see young people going through you into the heart of the city." Paul was suddenly bent over under the power of God's Spirit with these words. They proved to be true time and again.
Before returning to Birmingham, God confirmed that the Hughes family was to join Sardis Missionary Baptist Church in Ensley near Birmingham-Southern College. The sermon the following Sunday was from Acts 3 where a man crippled from birth was healed at the temple by Peter and John at the gate called "Beautiful"! This leading Black Church was an amazing place of growth and a way for many racial and cultural barriers to be bridged over the eight years the family was there. This was especially helpful as Paul pioneered student ministries at Miles College and other Historically Black Colleges in Alabama, Mississippi, and West Tennessee.
In August of 1998, Dale Cathey was prompted by God's Spirit to drive to downtown Birmingham from his suburban home. Not knowing where he was going, or for what purpose, he found himself weeping in front of a warehouse at 925 28th Street North. One amazing thing led to another and Dale and his sons became owners of the building. They eventually built a 24x24x12 prayer room inside the warehouse during 1999. The Prayer Room was filled with bean bags, painted in the colors of the Tabernacle of Israel, and had all the flags of the world inside. Paul brought college students into the heart of the city who fell in love with God in the Warehouse Prayer Room.
1999+ - Global 24/7 Prayer Movements are birthed.
Without realizing it, the night and day prayer room in Dale's warehouse was beginning at the same time as two global 24/7 prayer movements were being sovereignly launched on both sides of the Atlantic. In September of 1999 the International House of Prayer in Kansas City went 24/7/365 with "Harp and Bowl" musically driven prayer. In Chicester, England that same month, a 24/7 prayer room caught fire and spread the vision of 24/7 missional prayer rooms all over Europe and the globe. Paul and Lucy would find themselves dynamically and personally connected to both movements.
Two of Lucy's sisters married men that became pastors with Mike Bickle in Kansas City before he started IHOP. Allen Hood had just graduated from Asbury Seminary in 1998 and considered moving to Alabama to join Paul in campus ministry with InterVarsity. Allen did come and speak at InterVarsity camps and at Birmingham-Southern College's IV group at different times. But God's plan was clearly for the Hoods to serve at the International House of Prayer where he has become the college president and one of IHOP's most popular conference speakers. One of Paul's IV campus staff from Florida moved to Kansas City and became the first Black staff at IHOP and has directed the Night Watch for the last 16 years.
During 2004 in London, Paul and Lucy met Dave Roberts, one of the authors of Red Moon Rising, a best seller about the rise of 24/7 prayer rooms out of Chicester, England. The other author and founder, Pete Grieg, would meet Paul later that year in Kansas City and many friendships grew with Pete and his American 24/7 Prayer leaders in Kansas City, David Blackwell, Nathan and Marisa Chud, and others. A strong association formed for Campus prayer movements. Paul introduced Pete Grieg to the national leaders of InterVarsity who had him come to the IVCF National Staff meeting in 2004. Paul was put in charge of working with David Blackwell's team to bring a 24/7 style Prayer Room to Urbana 2006 in St. Louis. Urbana is the largest student missions convention in the world. Creative Prayer Rooms like that one have been a part of every Urbana convention since. It was a beautiful marriage of the global 24/7 prayer and missions movements.
Through the personal relationships with IHOP KC and InterVarsity leaders, Paul was also able to bring IHOP staff to National InterVarsity staff conferences to create 24 hour prayer rooms. Later with the leadership of IV's Mary Anne Voelkel, Paul helped link 20,000 ONETHING attendees and 20,000 Urbana attendees to bless and honor and pray for one another during their coinciding conferences every three years.
Paul also started 24 hour prayer rooms at IV's weeklong Southeast Regional Chapter Camps. The IV Chapter at Birmingham-Southern hosted a 48 hour weekend of prayer on campus in the HQ of the United Methodist Church in 2005. A group of students at the University of Alabama influenced by the Birmingham Prayer Furnace started the Tuscaloosa House of Prayer with regular all night prayer meetings. Generations of college students were being baptized into the power and presence of God in those night and day prayer rooms.
2000-2004 - Urban Plunges, Lou Engle comes to Birmingham, and "BHOP" - More Young People going into the Heart of the City.
In 2000 and 2001, Paul directed a national Spring Break program for InterVarsity called the Birmingham Urban Plunge. College students from California to Maine, Florida to South Dakota would converge for several weeks in March to dive into the scriptures to learn from God's heart concerning Biblical justice, racial reconciliation, and city transformation. Dale's company would provide skilled labor along with hundreds of students providing unskilled labor to renovate urban churches. The late former Mayor of Birmingham, David Vann, and other Christian leaders from the Civil Rights era would meet with students in places like the 16th St Baptist Church to unpack Birmingham's history even as it was being redeemed.
On November 3, 2003 President George W Bush came to 28th St North to speak at a business across the street from the Warehouse Prayer Room. Later that same day, national prayer leader, Lou Engle, came to the warehouse on a "Trail of Prayers" leading up to a stadium prayer event in Dallas dealing with root causes of the culture of violence and death in America. With two busloads of praying college students gathered around, Lou prayed over Paul, "Give this man the desires of his heart for a house of prayer in Birmingham."
From January to July of 2004, high school students led by 17 year old Gabriel Hughes gathered in the Warehouse twice per month for spontaneous worship and prayer meetings they called, "BHOP" for Birmingham House of Prayer. That June was the first of three InterVarsity summer college student missions going to the heart of Muslim Central Asia that were launched in prayer from the warehouse in 2004, 05, and 06. The Warehouse Prayer Room was becoming a beautiful Birmingham Gate from which young people would come from, and go to, the nations of the world.
Dale had blessed BHOP, but he felt it was not the name of the prayer ministry in the future. Paul asked Lucy whether "The Furnace" would make a good name. Soon afterward, billboards announcing a new entertainment venue on the same street as the Warehouse Prayer Room began to pop up on I-20. It's name was The Furnace. But instead of being a place where men could gaze on the uncovered beauty of God in worship, this Furnace was a strip club for men to gaze on the beauty of uncovered women.
The name of the ministry was chosen as the Birmingham Prayer Furnace in the spirit of Romans 5:5 "Hope does not disappoint, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Iron furnaces had burned 24/7 for decades in Birmingham. We were a city that literally had fire by night and smoke by day like the Presence of God over the nation of Israel in the wilderness for forty years. We saw God's burning love, like the bright orange molten iron, being poured out over the whole city by the Holy Spirit. Our vision as a ministry was to spark a prayer furnace of 24/7 passion in the heart of the Bride of Christ in Birmingham to prepare her for Jesus, her Bridegroom King.
2006 - 2007 - Paul Survives a Stroke in Tajikistan, the Prayer Furnace is born, Kingdom Forerunners is incorporated.
While leading the third summer mission team of college students to Tajikistan, Paul suffered a stroke and was airlifted to Istanbul, Turkey to recover. He was able to meet his three sons and the rest of the mission team in England for the debrief and finish the mission together.
Even though Paul was weakened, the impulse to launch a mobile weekend house of prayer grew after returning to Birmingham.
On Rosh Hashanah, September 22, 2006 the Birmingham Prayer Furnace was launched at Fullness Christian Fellowship in Vestavia. Since then, Mobile Prayer Furnaces of 27 hours in length have been held around Metro Birmingham at local churches, men's and women's transition and rehab facilites, college campuses, and parachurch ministry centers.
On April 1, 2007 Paul began a 9 month sabbatical from InterVarsity and began to write the Finishing Well Series. On June 1 of 2007, Paul filed the incorporation papers for Kingdom Forerunners. Al Mathis, owner of the DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park became the first Board Chair. Al, his father, and his grandfather, had all been national board members for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship - USA. Kingdom Forerunners became the organization to provide leadership for the Birmingham Prayer Furnace, Alabama Campus Prayer Network, and the regional prayer and justice initiatives which later would be named Redigging the Wells. It would become the flexible vehicle for Paul to resign from InterVarsity in Feb 2008 after more than 25 years of campus ministry and remain in full time ministry to pursue a new call to campuses, cities, and regions.
2007 - 2011 - Campus Prayer Networks, the Cyrus Circle Prayer Room, and Altar Builders Conferences
In the Fall of 2007 the first of six biennial Alabama Campus Prayer Summits was held at the Warehouse with 100+ college students representing 10 campuses from Huntsville to Montgomery. A Nigerian-born recent graduate of Southeastern Bible College, Ike Ubasineke, served as the first Alabama Campus Prayer Network leader. In 2011, a new tradition of college student gatherings began with annual conferences for African-American students in Kansas City and Atlanta which continue alongside the Alabama Campus Prayer Network. The Alabama Campus Prayer Summits were paused for 5 years while new networks of missional campus prayer leaders formed across the nation and the Southeast. In 2016, strong bonds formed between Paul Hughes and Jarred Fonseca with Michael Thornton and Nico Peele who lead the Ignite Movement out of North Carolina. This has inspired the desire to relaunch Deep South Campus Prayer Summits in Alabama.
From May 2010 to December 2013, a Birmingham Prayer Furnace Base was located in North Shelby County at 5120 Cyrus Circle. In September of 2010, Gabriel Hughes and other young leaders launched a Sunday morning fellowship called Hope Culture that also met at Cyrus Circle until moving to a larger space in 2013. For three and a half years, prayer and worship continued at the BPF Base 6 hours or more most days with 24 hour prayer lasting as along as 40 days from February 2 to March 11, 2011.
An annual worship conference began on April 8-9, 2011 called Altar Builders. Directors of the Gateway House of Prayer in St. Louis were among the first guest speakers. At the end of the conference, Paul was introduced to a woman who for 20 years had led horseback teams of intercessors across the country. Bershet, a Filipina, was married to a Native American named Gua. Along with the "Glory Riders", Bershet took a large worship tent with her. That 24/7 worship tent had been pitched on state capitol lawns and many other important places from California to DC, and Canada to Mexcio. Bershet was meeting Paul to prepare for a four horse team Glory Ride from the Four Corners of Alabama. They were to converge in Birmingham and then go as one team to worship on the State Capitol steps in Montgomery on May 6th, the National Day of Prayer that year.
2011 - Intercession over Alabama and a Confrontation in the Heavens
As Bershet and Paul met, a young man from Birmingham meeting with them declared, "I see the skies boiling over you and your teams as they converge in Birmingham." The day the teams converged in Birmingham was April 27, 2011, the day of the greatest tornado outbreak in the history of the Southern States. Alabama was at the center. On that morning, the two southern Native American Glory Rider teams on the Four Corners Ride met at Moundville just south of Tuscaloosa. From these Indian Mounds, they prayed mercy over Alabama while watching the F-4 tornado that started in Mississippi tear through Tuscaloosa on its way to Birmingham. The skies were boiling over them.
As that same tornado came toward downtown Birmingham, Dale Cathey stood on the top of his Warehouse and prayed with upraised hands that the tornado would not hit the airport. National weather maps would show that the only break in the continuous ground contact with that deadly F-4 tornado on its way to Georgia came just before arriving near the Shuttlesworth International Airport. The tornado lifted and moved north sparing the airport and going through a low density population path. If you look at that April 27 weather map showing dozens of tornado lines rake across Alabama, look at the one break in the longest line and think of a wild Birmingham businessman, standing on the roof of his warehouse within 2 miles of the storm center changing its path by prayer.
2012 - Redigging the Wells is birthed
After the Four Corners Glory Ride it became clear to some intercessors that Bershet and her team had another assignment in Alabama. They decided to join a city-wide prayer event at Legion Field stadium on the 49th anniversary of the September 15, 1963 bombing of the 16th St Baptist Church. The event was called Redigging the Wells after the Genesis 26 story of Isaac returning to the places where his father Abraham had dug wells and lived before him. Redigging the Wells was tapping into the moments before the bomb went off which was a Youth Sunday service around the theme "A Love That Forgives." Jesus wanted a New Birmingham to be birthed 50 years later out of that same spirit of forgiving love that the forces of hate had tried to kill.
The Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board meetings were at Legion Field. The city approved the plans for a stadium prayer event and Paul and his team met regularly with city officials. Mayor William Bell spoke at the kickoff leaders luncheon for Redigging the Wells in June 2012. But as the date drew closer, it became clear the people of the city were not ready for the dream of filling a stadium with corporate worship in Jesus name. The venue was changed to Railroad Park less than 3 weeks before the September 15 gathering. The plans for the Procession of Praise from the 16th St Baptist Church were changed from Legion Field to Railroad Park as well. Though much smaller, Railroad Park represented Birmingham's future, while Legion Field represented Birmingham's past.
Something else happened before Redigging the Wells 2012 that no one saw coming. God spoke to Lucy Hughes in the night and said, "It begins, before it begins." Jesus was speaking to the vision Paul and Bershet had to pitch the 24/7 worship tent on Birmingham's "Temple Mount" - Kelly Ingram Park. Just as Jerusalem is the world's most fought over city and the Temple Mount there to this day is the pin of the global political hand-grenade, Kelly Ingram Park is the place where forces of hatred and violence clashed with forces of non-violent hope for change in 1963. If there was to be a New Birmingham where the justice of Jesus would be released in His name to a new generation, that ground needed to be occupied with day and night worship.
On September 11 (9/11 represents another terroist bombing that shocked America) Paul and Bershet met with two City Parks staff in a private meeting. They agreed there was something really important about getting that worship tent up for three days and three nights before the beginning of the Procession of Praise from the 16th St Baptist Church to Railroad Park. They devised an unusual strategy to make it happen without normal protocols on less than 24 hours notice. Thus for 72 hours, Jesus was worshipped by Native Americans, African Americans, and European Americans in peace on the formerly violent ground of Kelly Ingram Park where police dogs and fire hoses had attacked an earlier generation.
The spiritual ground of the New Birmingham was taken quietly during those 72 hours of worship that no one in the city even knew about except teams of paired off-duty policemen required to stand guard night and day! The foundations of a New Birmingham were laid in the secret place of night and day prayer and worship. God is the architect and builder of the New Jerusalem. He is also the architect and builder of the New Birmingham. The process is the same. God's people dig into His Father heart of love for the New City of Jesus' dreams.
On September 15, 2012, Dale Cathey blew a ram's horn to start the Procession of Praise with hundreds marching from the 16th Street Baptist Church to Railroad Park. Horses with Native American riders who had prayed across the nation led the release of justice in Jesus name to a new generation in that parade. Simultaneously worship began a mile away at Railroad Park. When the Procession march-ers, dancers, banner bearers, and singers came over the hill and joined the worship at Railroad Park, something shifted forever in Birmingham. That 49th anniversary of the 1963 bombing launched a year of Jubilee that culminated with Redigging the Wells a year later on September 13-15, 2013.
The largest reunion of 16th Street Baptist bombing survivors gathered on Sunday morning September 15, 2013 to experience a redemptive explosion of love at the very moment of the explosion of hatred 50 years before. This took place at Guiding Light Church led by a bombing survivor and former pastor of 16th St Baptist, Bishop Jim Lowe. The reopening of wells of blessings dug through the prayers and faithful lives of spiritual forefathers and foremothers was accomplished!
2014 - 2015 - Moving to Omega Street in the Titusville community
One of the bombing survivors who served with the Redigging the Wells leadership team became a close friend and prayer partner with Paul. Bernardine Layton was 15 years old and one of two survivors closest to the blast that killed their friends. Her story was made into a video and her testimony of forgiveness was shared at both September 15 events. Bernardine moved back into the neighborhood she grew up in during 2013. She joined Living Church Ministries under the leadership of Bishop Demetrics Roscoe in the heart of the Titusville community. Demetrics and Bernardine were childhood friends. Demetrics was 15 and riding his bike near the 16th St Baptist Church when the bomb exploded. It was Demetrics who introduced Bernardine to Paul in a room at Living Church that later became the Omega Street Prayer Room of the Birmingham Prayer Furnace.
In January of 2013, a worship leader named Taylor McCall accepted an invitation to lead a 2 hour set during a 27 hour Mobile Prayer Furnace at The Lovelady Center for Women. Taylor and Paul began to realize a common thread existed in their callings in Birmingham. Taylor was one of the senior leaders of a missional house church movement calling themselves The Common Thread Community. Common Thread through prayer had already begun to dream God's dream for the Titusville community to be renewed by the power of gospel communities living and loving within the neighborhood. The partnership of the Prayer Furnace community, Common Thread community, and Living Church community grew throughout 2013.
In the Fall of 2013, Prayer Furnace leaders made the decision to accept an invitation from Bishop Roscoe to move the primary Prayer Room from the suburbs in North Shelby County to 401 Omega Street in Titusville. It had always been the dream in Paul's heart and the assignment from Jesus to build an altar of 24/7 prayer and worship in the heart of Birmingham. Plans to finish well with the Prayer Room Base at Cyrus Circle in December were made along with new plans for opening the Omega Street Prayer Room well on January 17-18.
Bernardine Layton was excited about the Omega Street Prayer Room moving into her neighborhood! She told Paul to put her to work doing anything. She suggested she would be good at answering phones. Then very unexpectedly Bernardine passed. Instead of having the opening of the Omega Street Prayer Room on January 17-18 as planned, 401 Omega Street was packed with Bernardine's friends and family mourning and celebrating her life and death. Bernardine received a promotion answering calls for the Prayer Furnace in the Cloud of Witnesses.
The week after the funeral, on Friday, January 24, 2014 the first 27 hour Omega Street Prayer Furnace began. Bishop Roscoe preached the first sermon and the Living Church Praise Team led the first set. Heading into Saturday evening, Taylor McCall and a Common Thread worship team were leading as the news came to Paul that Dale Cathey had suddenly passed that morning. Scheduled to preach in an hour, Paul sat pondering the first words he had ever heard his friend Dale speak. 'You are gates. Beautiful gates. I see young people going through you into the heart of the city." Looking around the room with Lucy as they quietly wept, Paul watched young people worshipping Jesus in the heart of the city again. But this was the first time that the Prayer Furnace was resting on a spiritually new foundation. A new Birmingham had been birthed during the 49th to 50th Jubilee anniversary year of the September 15, 1963 bombing.
Bernardine survived the bombing in '63 but her funeral was on the day that the Omega Street Prayer Room was scheduled to open in 2014. Her work was done. Dale laid the foundation cornerstone of the city-wide 24/7 prayer room in the warehouse on 28th St. N in 1999, but died during the 27 hour Omega Street Prayer Furnace in '14. His work was done.
For a new generation, the work is just beginning. Paul shared as much as he could with the Prayer Furnace gathering that night about the significance of Dale's life and death and its meaning for the 24/7 prayer movement in Birmingham. Then it was time for Jarred Fonseca, the new director of the Alabama Campus Prayer Network to preach. It was fitting. The voices of a new generation were beginning to be heard. Birmingham and the world would never be the same.
After that night in January 2014, the Kingdom Forerunners family gave everything it had throughout 2014 and half of 2015 to establish an active multi-ethnic Prayer Room in the Titusville neighborhood. The location offered low cost housing and proximity on the other side of Interstate 65 to the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Our dream was to purchase and renovate several houses in that historic Black community for college students, interns, staff, and even families to live in community while growing a 24/7 prayer and worship hub in the heart of the city.
During that season of partnership with Bishop Roscoe and the Living Church family we hosted large teams of visiting young adults from the International House of Prayer University in Kansas City, The Well internship out of the Atlanta University Center, and from the Youth With a Mission base out of Tyler, Texas. We were able to continue our successful two month summer intensive programs begun at our Cyrus Circle base in 2011. These summer programs had produced strong disciples, some of whom have gone on to serve as full time missionaries overseas and in the States. It was exciting to see The Common Thread Community move into the neighborhood and successfully create a missional community nearby which continues to this day.
But our dreams of renovating homes and a second floor 24/7 Prayer Room at Living Church were not to be fulfilled. Several attempts to acquire properties or raise monies for Prayer Room construction failed. During the summer of 2015 Living Church agreed to invite another tenant into their space and our Prayer Room community moved to another part of downtown Birmingham in the Pepper Place District.
2015 - The Heart of the City Prayer Room Campaign
During the Spring of 2015 a vision grew from one of the KF Board members, Brett Golson, to attempt to purchased an infamous, defunct abortion clinic right next to UAB and turn it into a 24/7 Prayer Room. A Heart of the City pledge Campaign was secretly organized to enlist major donations to purchase the building where an estimated 20,000 lives had been aborted and Eric Rudolph (of Olympic Park bombing infamy) had also bombed. We had one of the leaders of the damaging Planned Parenthood video sting came to help us cast vision for turning the former death clinic into a 24/7 Prayer Room for life. About $120,000 was pledged which was not enough to make an offer before the UAB juggernaut scooped up the property.
The abortion clinic had been one that our praying community had stood before many times over the years. Our son Daniel first stood on the sidewalk of that clinic on his 7th birthday of March 2004. It was a great day when UAB bulldozed it and we could rejoice in the victory over that property during the annual March for Life in January of 2016. The Birmingham Prayer Furnace had birthed the Bound For Life chapter in Birmingham back in 2007 and Natalie Farber Brumfield has led silent prayer sieges in front of Birmingham's remaining abortion clinics with others ever since.
What next? Over the years we had contended for a more permanent site for 24/7 prayer that had included Dale's Warehouse, Fullness Christian Fellowship, Cyrus Circle, the former Village/Downtown Church, Carraway Hospital, the Liberty National Building, the John Hand Building, Living Church in Titusville, and the New Woman/All Women Clinic. In the Fall of 2015, we even attempted to raise enough money to buy a large four story home on the same street as Common Thread leaders in Southside before coming just short of what was need to buy that property, and now we were temporarily at House of Grace in Pepper Place.
2016 - Grace to keep the prayer movement moving
That Fall our friend and partner Lestley Drake, pastor of the Lovelady Center, introduced us to Andrew Morrow, a young businessman in Woodlawn who owned a former Masonic Temple that Bull Connor had been a member of. We moved our weekly meetings there in January of 2016 and held our Altar Builders conference there in February. In the process, all of the Masonic symbols were removed and Christian symbols set in place to consecrate the building for the renewal of the historic Woodlawn community. While the building (Woodrow Hall) is not likely to be the eventual 24/7 Prayer Hub, the relationships that have resulted from being in Woodlawn have led to several creative missional outreaches in the whole area.
In April of 2016, we moved our weekly meetings back into the sweet confines of our own home. Every Tuesday night our house is packed for the Forerunner Fellowship. It sure is nice not to have to ask permission to hold a meeting or not to worry about being asked to leave!
Mitch Kelley, our amazing worship director for the Birmingham Prayer Furnace had been hired in late 2015 by Fullness Christian Fellowship in Vestavia where the Prayer Furnace was birthed and now he was able to pursue his vision to establish a Prayer Room with the support of Fullness. Mitch is a beloved member of our Kingdom Forerunner family even as he leads a Prayer Room with another ministry. Night and Day prayer and worship is God's dream, not ours. He can build it however He wants!
In December of 2017, Mitch and Tim Abrasley, another long time Prayer Furnace core member, created a new non-profit with retired businessman, Wayne Newsome. Their hope is to create a missional Prayer Room about 5 blocks from Dale's Warehouse in the Norwood community.
At the same time, our ministry continues to believe the word God gave Lou Engle to pray over Paul back on November 3, 2003 in Dale's Warehouse. "Give this man the desires of His heart for a House of Prayer in Birmingham." Many of my desires have been fulfiled. Praying communities have been created, inspired, and strenghtened wherever we have gone. It has been like the Ark of the Covenent in the days of its return to Israel. The house of Obed-Edom was blessed while it was there. Like the Levites of old we have gone six steps and offered another sacrifice. We have not simply gone from place to place seeking the will of God, we have gone from place to place doing the will of God.
Everywhere our Kingdom Forerunners/Prayer Furnace community has gone there have been pools of blessing left behind. Dale's Warehouse continues to be used for the glory of God with a mentoring ministry teaching urban youth valuable trades. Lawrence Sheffield who is a part of the Common Thread collective of Gospel communities leads Magic City Woodworks where the Prayer Room used to be. It had been Dale's dream to do the very thing that Dale's sons, Sam and Dustin Cathey, have blessed Lawrence to do!
Kelley Lewis was one of the leaders of The Village when we did Prayer Furnaces in the Downtown Church. The Village was created by Andrew Jenkins as a non-profit men's rehab. Kelly started another men's rehab non-profit called New Day, New Stand and has remained a fast friend wherever we have gone. Kelly began organizing prayer vigils all over the city wherever violent crimes have produced fatalities.
The Prayer Furnace played a behind the scenes role as the Lovelady Center made its plans to purchase the old Carraway Hospital. After the purchase was made and subsequent political roadblocks kept Carraway from being occupied (that would have included a home for the City-wide Prayer Room!) we kept contending for Jesus's dream for that property. It may one day be the site of the new UAB stadium and our dreams for a Stadium Christianity event like the one envisioned for Legion Field in 2012 may then be fulfilled there. The Carraway seeds of prayer are in the ground!
Paul Hughes was the connection between the company that owned the Liberty National Tower downtown and the eventual buyer. At one point there was a possibility of three floors becoming the property of Kingdom Forerunners. The eventual deal did not benefit KF but it did benefit Lovelady and who knows what will become of the prayers prayed from that tower as well as the John Hand Building when it was owned by Superior Bank. Just before Superior Bank was taken over by the government in 2011, Marvin Scott, its last CEO loved the House of Prayer Movement and was making a way for us to occupy the top floor for night and day prayer!
So today there are prayer rooms at Fullness Christian Fellowship where we began in 2006. There is a prayer room at the old Advocate Center through Kingsway Church where the pre-Prayer Furnace community partnered with a young adult group called Fire in the Night back in 2005/06. We have helped launch prayer rooms in rehab centers like Lovelady and Breakaway Pointe, a rural rehab for men south of Birmingham in an old flea market!
In 2016/17 the cutting edge seems to be shifting way from building a Birmingham Prayer Room to the regional campus and city prayer movements. There is even a growing connection to missional prayer opportunities in Iraq and Iran. Our ties to Native American leaders nationally continue to deepen. My desire is that the whole Birmingham city and Southeast region would become a furnace of night and day prayer and worship. Jesus spoke to my heart in 2006 and said, "Paul, if you take Birmingham, I will take Mecca." I believe that as this part of God's global vineyard is tended, there is a spiritual connection that will bring the gospel to the heart of Islam on the way toward finishing history well.
What is the dream of Jesus for 2018? We know He is always building His Chuch and preparing His Bride, a global family of affection which is His Body. May we be found faithfully sowing to the Spirit wherever He leads.
People get ready, Jesus is coming. Before He comes, we have more work to do.