The Record Fall 2014 - M - Many Prayers

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Stuck Between Russia and Ukraine
Leading With Prayer

Sasha and Sarah ViatrovWe are a prayer-led institution,” President Ivan Filby told a chapel audience last semester, and one GC couple couldn’t be more grateful.

Assistant Soccer Coach Sasha Viatrov ’14 and his wife, Admissions Counselor Sarah, experienced the gift of college-wide prayer when their June visit last year with Sasha’s family in Belarus took an alarming turn.

Sasha’s proper documentation as a graduate student in the U.S. slipped through the bureaucratic cracks. The “missing” documentation bumped him from military-exempt student status to eligibility for Belarus’s mandatory military draft. Authorities in the Eastern European nation sandwiched between Russia and Ukraine prohibited him from leaving the country.

Anxious and uncertain, Sarah returned to GC alone, only to find that she was not alone. “God provided me with a community of believers who fervently prayed,” she recalls. In a matter of weeks and with no explanation, Sasha was released.

Corporate prayer is a GC distinctive.

  • In recent years, all college-community prayer walks around campus have set the stage for a new school term.
  • Nearly 40 student-led Bible studies take place across campus each week, many including prayer.
  • Prayer in the classroom is a long-standing tradition. “We pray often in class,” explains Susan Chism, English instructor and GC’s 2014 EMAP Teacher of the Year. “Sometimes students ask for specific prayer.”

Mark OwensAlso across campus, faculty, administrators and staff gather regularly in conference rooms and offices to pray for institutional and personal needs like the Viatrov’s.

Mark Owens heads GC’s Facilities Department and oversees custodial services along with a wide array of building maintenance work and renovations. Members of his team take part in a prayer tradition that has spanned more than 25 years. Each weekday morning, before previewing that day’s work, they meet for prayer.

Sarah Viatrov was somewhat new to the GC community when she and Sasha encountered their difficulties in Belarus. She was heartened when her workmates sent out a campus-wide email explaining the couple’s plight and requesting prayer. The gesture gave her hope and reassured her of God’s unfailing love. “We are so grateful to be a part of the GC community,” she says.

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