The Hobby that Sparked a National Prayer Movement
- Friday, August 05, 2005
Many people take up a hobby after they retire. But unlike most post-career hobbies, retired Navy Captain Bill Hunter’s love for bronze sculpting sparked a unique online ministry that today inspires millions of people worldwide to pray daily for America and its leaders.
After the contentious 2000 election, Hunter knew that President Bush and the government would need a lot of prayer. He made a coin depicting America’s first president, George Washington, kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge, and he gave a coin to everyone in his Sunday school class to remind them to pray daily.
A pastor friend encouraged Hunter to think bigger than their church. The two took their seed of an idea to an advertising agency, which helped them plan and launch an Internet ministry that would live in perpetuity – focusing on the office of President rather than the person temporarily residing in The White House.
Their initial goal was to enlist 1 percent of the population – 2.8 million people – in an online prayer ministry that would launch in November 2001.
Then terrorists attacked on September 11, 2001. The Presidential Prayer Team (PPT) launched its website seven days later, on September 18, and it was 500,000 members strong within two weeks. By the time the planned launch arrived, PPT had grown to a million members and was ranked the world’s number one religious website.
Today it publishes weekly prayer updates at www.presidentialprayerteam.org that are prayed over by more than 3 million participants. It also offers a site for children at www. pptkids.org, prays for thousands of military personnel through its Adopt Our Troops initiative and has undertaken several special projects such as Pray the Vote for the 2004 elections and several Virtual Prayer Rallies.
Hunter resumed retirement soon after launch and, while he remains on the Board of Directors, he no longer is involved in PPT’s daily operations. For greater financial efficiency, the advertising agency was replaced with in-house staff, headed by President/CEO John Lind.
“We make an interesting case study on harnessing the power of the Internet for ministry – complete with big mistakes and enormous successes,” says Lind. “I’m not aware of another prayer ministry that exists entirely online. We update our website weekly with prayer requests for our President, our leaders, our nation and our Armed Forces. To remind people to come to the website, we send an email, which gets forwarded to an average of 4.7 other people. Our members primarily are Christians, but from all denominations and across political party lines. We rely heavily on viral marketing for our growth. We even do most of our fundraising online and via email. That’s pretty unique.”
But the real success of any ministry is in the hearts and lives of the people it touches.
“I prayed through [scripture verses on the PPT website] and was truly humbled and blessed,” writes PPT member, Mary. “I feel it is a privilege to hold our leaders up in prayer. My son is serving our nation in the Army in Iraq. As a mom I find it very comforting to turn to God for my son's protection. I am also praying for another soldier and his family through [PPT’s Adopt Our Troops initiative].”
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