The Prayer Zone Challenge isn’t a new endeavor in Texas County. But area pastors say it continues to be an incredibly important one.

“As with far too many things when the new wears off, we look for something else new and shiny,” said Pastor Bill Villapiano of Faith Fellowship. “We must not treat this effort in the same manner. Prayer is not new, nor should it grow old. Prayer is timeless.”

For the fifth consecutive year, the Houston Ministerial Alliance will bring attention to praying for Texas County Schools with a service aligning with the beginning of a new school year. This year’s event is 7 p.m. Sunday (tonight) inside Hiett Gymnasium.

Although it starts with a service, the initiative isn’t a one-time event, Villapiano said. Instead, it’s a renewed focus to pray for students, teachers, administrators and other school employees.

“The prayer zone’s goal is to initiate ongoing prayer throughout the school year,” he said.

Launched in the fall of 2011, the Prayer Zone Challenge rallies believers with an annual August service and signs throughout the county. The “challenge” is for believers to pause and pray for Texas County schools every time they see a sign posted in a yard, hanging on a building or displayed in the window of a business.

The effort crosses many different churches and denominations. The alliance itself consists of Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals and pastors from other backgrounds.

“Every person is needed at this rally,” said Pastor Todd Haley of Ozark Baptist. “As a community, we all desire to have our children, youth adult educators know how important they are to us. By coming together as a community, we send the message, “You are loved and cared for. You are important.”

This year’s service will include acoustic worship led by Tayler Holland and Logan Pacheco, members of Launch Student Ministries at Faith Fellowship. Pastor Russ Stigall of First Baptist Church in Houston will deliver a message on prayer.

To conclude the night, representatives from each of Texas County’s seven school districts –– Houston, Cabool, Licking, Raymondville, Summersville, Success and Plato –– as well as home schoolers will pray specifically for that community and its students.

A prayer guide with instructions about praying for schools will be handed out to those in attendance. New “Prayer Zone Partner” signs will also be available to pick up.

To assist in fundraising to purchase the signs and make them available for free, the Houston Ministerial Alliance designed prayer-themed T-shirts that can be purchased at the service, on the Prayer Zone Challenge page on Facebook or through Jeff McNiell at the Houston Herald. They are $10 apiece.

The Houston Ministerial Alliance is selling this T-shirt to help pay for new Prayer Zone Challenge signs. They will be available at Sunday night’s service or through Jeff McNiell at the Houston Herald.

Villapiano stressed the importance of specific prayers for county schools and the people who work with children on a daily basis. He hopes members of every county community as well as parents, teachers and students will attend the fifth annual service.

“If we won’t pray for our schools, who will?” he said. “It’s important for us to take a local responsibility for praying for the people who spend the most amount of time with our kids in a week. It’s necessary for us to pray for not only the students, but also the people who will leave a long lasting impression on our kids well into adulthood. When someone has that type of impression, they are certainly worthy of our prayer support.”

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