Pray & Proclaim

 Hands on a World Map…

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

?????????????????????????????????????I sat in the Prayer Chapel, looked at the map of the world, and thought of the last time I had been here.

Thirty-five years ago.

As a seminarian, I had joined others in a daily noon “Pray for the World” time where we literally placed our hands on countries and claimed people groups for Christ.

I was going to be a missionary. I was going to change the world.


Our floor-to-ceiling map of the world has now been replaced by this beautiful altar in the Prayer Chapel.

Back then, this place was tucked into a small room behind the Chapel. Today it has been refurnished and renamed the “J. Christy Wilson Prayer Chapel” in honor of my missions professor and mentor.

The room has changed. The pieces of paper with requests have changed. The names of many of those countries on the map have changed. And I, too, have changed in the past three decades.


Fall 1977 – One of our hymnsings when I lived with Elisabeth Elliot my first year of seminary (my first red walls)

But God has not changed.

Mike and I are gathering with other Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary grads for our 35th Reunion. We dine together, celebrate, and even spend a day exploring the rich spiritual heritage of this part of New England.

gctsprayerdeskBut to conclude our reunion, we are once again in this sacred place – the Prayer Chapel – spending time doing that which we learned so long ago as youths but which still sustains —- praying over one another.

The requests are different now. They are gritty and hard: children with addictions, fractured churches, faith struggles, retirement decisions and health challenges. Many in this room have spent their lives in those very places we prayed for long ago — Cambodia, Turkey, Japan… And I, too, have counted faraway places as part of my own life ministry, though never my home – Thailand, Malawi, Hong Kong, Kenya, Mexico, Tunisia, Israel, Netherlands, and more.


By God’s grace, I have 11 books on this Alumni Author Bookshelf. So humbled…

God’s plan for me did not include becoming a missionary. But He does continue to allow me to partner in helping to “change the world.” Through prayer. Through proclamation – both written and spoken.

I will never forget receiving an invitation to speak at the opening chapel on my first day of seminary – a time when women were still somewhat rare in such circles. For some reason out of the entire first year class this Boston school chose me and another guy from Carolina to bring a word to fellow students just embarking on our course of theological training.


May 1978 – I am second from left in this group of seminary friends in our “Wilderness Training” class

Honestly, to this day I do not remember what I said. But I do remember that I said it with conviction and Holy Spirit power.

God’s words to Jeremiah were the promise I clung to back then Do not say, ‘I am only a youth,’ for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you.” (Jeremiah 1.7) While I am definitely no longer a youth, I still find courage to proclaim truth through God’s power and anointing. *


This is the site of the old chapel where I spoke at opening convocation back in 1977…

Tradition has it that Saint Francis once said “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.” Do you suppose that was a mandate for us to do the Gospel and not just proclaim it? What do you most remember after hearing a good sermon? Chances are, it’s the stories that take hold of your heart and provide a lasting influence.

Jesus taught through stories too. The world is watching and listening to those who have chosen to live for Christ. What story does He want you to proclaim?


May 2014 – Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Alumni friends – Susan and Darryl Caldwell (Cambodia/Ohio), Doug and Jeanie Birdsall (Japan/Massachusetts), Cindy and Mike McDowell (Connecticut)

I hope that you will have an opportunity to gather and share stories with old friends as I did recently.  And then to pray over each other – gratitude for God’s faithfulness, grace for the future.

gctsarticle“Dear Lord, You have sent me into the world to proclaim Your word. So often the problems of the world seem so complex and intricate that Your word strikes me as embarrassingly simple. Many times I feel tongue-tied in the company of people who are dealing with the world’s social and economic problems… Let me retain innocence and simplicity in the midst of this complex world. What really counts is that all this information, knowledge and insight allow me to speak more clearly and unambiguously Your truthful word. Give me the strength to think clearly, speak freely, and act boldly in Your service. Amen.”   Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)*


GCTS President and Mrs. Ockenga in their NH cabin where I spent Thanksgiving 1978 – dinner cooked on woodstove!

under the mercy, Cindy

NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ as I post them. Thanks!

©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

*selections from  “Live These Words” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell ©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell


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3 Responses to Pray & Proclaim

  1. Marilyn Bullock says:

    Hi Cindy. How appropriate that You wrote this today. I was reading in Live These Words. Today I read about Remember. And was getting ready to work on First place 4 Health Emotional Mapping. Your Blog was interesting and helped me see that I need to record remembrance’s and let God work in my history as he leads me on.

    This weekend I will be with Terri Humphrey as she leads Who am I now.


    Marilyn Bullock

    617 625 9202

    Today is the day the Lord has made

    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

    Psalms 118: 24

  2. Marilyn, thanks for your comment and it’s great to follow what God is doing in your life as you refocus and look towards a new and exciting future. The time with Terry Lynn should be significant and I want you to know I am praying for you. God’s plans for us may not always be what we thought or hoped, but it is always a Perfect Plan. Standing with you…

  3. dawn aldrich says:

    Oh, story. I wish more pastors, teachers and speakers would grasp the importance of story! This has become my greatest critique for those who ask…”tell me the story!”

    You relate God’s Word beautifully through your stories. Thank you forbeing such a great teacher in this!

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