How Can We Pray For You?
"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person
has great power as it is working."
It Happens After Prayer
It happens after prayer….
And, this how God used a simple prayer meeting in the story of Restoration Church of Sanford.
It all began in January of 2020, right before the pandemic paralyzed our world, as Pastor Arthur Gonçalves and his family, and a few others began praying on Thursday nights at the Banquet Hall of the Colonial Room Restaurant, a historic, local Sanford diner.
The purpose of that prayer time was to seek the will of the Lord about further ministry and the possibility of planting a church in the city. The foundation was a trust in the Sovereign purposes of the Lord and a faithful commitment to prayer.
“If there is Gospel work for us to do here, make it clear to us, and open doors only you can open, Lord, and if there is not a need for Gospel work, please shut every door that needs to be shut.”
The Lord answered that early prayer by literally bringing people in need to the back door of the Colonial Room. He has continued to answer prayers and to provide in ways that inspire us to say, “Only God!”
Soon after the pandemic hit and after months of Thursday night prayer in the back of the diner, the Lord began to use our team to reach those with spiritual and physical needs. The Lord led Pastor Arthur to add other elements to the time of prayer. We began serving dinner to those in need in our community through meal deliveries and by opening up the back of the diner to those who wanted to come in and eat with us. Over time, this prayer service became a full-blown worship service with a time to worship through song, prayer and the reading and teaching of God’s Word.
We continued to meet every Thursday and called the ministry Pray for Sanford. We fed the homeless and the underserved, participated in weekly worship, and joined together in corporate prayer. As a result of showing up consistently to feed and serve, we have developed trust and strong relationships with many who are often neglected in our city. Through the ministry of Pray for Sanford, we’ve seen the hungry fed, we’ve seen lives changed and we’ve seen lost and broken people saved to the glory of God.
It was through this Thursday night prayer service that the Lord made it clear to us that a Gospel-centered and a Gospel-cultured local Church was needed in our city. In January of 2022, we planted the Restoration Church of Sanford and began meeting on Sunday mornings. We continued to meet on Thursday nights as well for our regular time of outreach and prayer.
Unbeknownst to us, the Lord had something more in mind for this outreach service as he led Pastor Arthur to a Christ-centered, live-in, discipleship-focused addiction recovery program in Missouri called Freeway Ministries. As a new church plant, it felt absolutely insane to pursue bringing the ministry of Freeway to Sanford during our first year as a church.
The Lord made it abundantly clear that He was leading us in this direction. As we stepped out in faith, God showed up in ways that were abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine by His power at work in His church.
Through the generosity of His people, the Lord provided our church with a missionary from Freeway Headquarters, He provided us with a brand new home to serve as the discipleship house for the addiction recovery program, and He even provided us with a van to transport those we serve.
Our Pray for Sanford service will now be called a Freeway Sanford service, but the heart of serving those in need, the commitment to prayer, and the proclamation of God’s Word and the Gospel will remain.
To learn more about Freeway, click here.
"The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be a slothfulness in prayer."
We believe the old reformer was right! God has used our Thursday night prayer service to build our Church and spread the gospel in our community. Through the Thursday gathering God has enabled us to meet the needs of many who are down-and-out, addicted, or homeless, as well as broken families in need of gospel restoration. We cherish our Thursday night prayer and outreach service, and we thank the Lord for the work he has done and will do after His people seek His face in prayer. If you are a part of Restoration Church of Sanford, or just visiting and want to see what RCS is all about, we encourage and exhort you to join us for our Freeway Sanford Service.