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Touch of Africa in Day of Prayer
Missionary tells her story during annual gathering
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Rodney Gibson and fiance Vanda Scalf hold hands while bowing their heads in prayer during Thursday's National Day of Prayer Observance on the grounds of the Bulloch County Courthouse. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Dressed in her native garb, Bulloch County’s own international missionary Sister Betty Florence spoke of the joys and the dangers of sharing God’s word with natives in Africa. Florence has recently returned from her seventh trip to the Christian Mission School which she had established in the village of Fakanoh in Sierra Leone.
    Florence addressed a crowd of about 200 who gathered Thursday for the National Day of Prayer on the Bulloch County Courthouse lawn. Pastor Ed Neubert, formerly of the Harvest New Covenant Church and now pastor of the Forerunner Christian Fellowship, a home-based church, helped organized the local celebration back in 2001.
    The National Day of Prayer was created by a joint resolution of Congress in 1952, and then signed into law by President Harry Truman. It is observed on the first Thursday in May of every year. After Neubert blew on the “Shofar,” or ceremonial ram’s horn, Chaplain Paul Reaves of the Civil Air Patrol led the crowd in singing some hymns.
    The crowd listened closely as Florence spoke of both her harrowing experiences and her unflagging commitment to persevere no matter what the cost. She said “Here in Statesboro God has done his work, and has sent us to the other side of the world to unleash the power of God by sharing his word. Not knowing nothing – zero – but Jesus, he allowed me to go to Africa.”
    She continued, “The chief, a well-educated man, gave me his permission to build a school. He said he wanted to become a Christian. Unfortunately, when I returned this time things had changed. The elders now demanded that I observe Islamic holidays and rituals, which I refused to do. The elders were so mad I was afraid we would be killed. Basically, we were driven out of the village.”
    Area pastors were given the opportunity to share their personal prayers with those assembled. Pastor Ed Johnson, director of Missions for the Ogeechee River Baptist Association, prayed for eternal care for and safe deliverance of the men and women serving around the world in our armed forces.
    Alex Smith, pastor of the Elm Street Church of God asked for God’s blessing on the Bulloch County Board of Education, the faculty and staff of all of our schools, and the many seniors preparing to graduate. Pastor Washington of the Devine Deliverance Worship Center asked for God’s blessing on the world’s lost souls, and for god’s anointing power to be unleashed upon them.
    Register native LaDonna McCollum was there early. She said “It is so important that we pray for our country and our leaders. President Obama shouldn’t play down his faith. People everywhere are not saying that they believe in God’s word for fear of offending someone.”
    Retirees George and Troby Osmer agreed, stating that “Our nation needs to return to righteousness. We need a spiritual awakening. We believe President Obama may be leading us down the wrong path, and don’t believe he should have played down the National Day of Prayer as he has.”
    Chaplain Reaves closed the meeting out with the song “I Can Pray,” by the Dove Brothers.
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