Tia Buchanan never thought of herself as having any particular gift for ministry – even though both her parents are pastors.
When she found a place called The Healing Room while living in Nashville a few years back, she was more in need of ministry than ready to minister, she says.
I was at rock bottom in life. I was at a suicidal place, the 33-year-old woman says.
But people at the ministry accepted her as she was and began praying with and for her.
And, every Saturday for three months, Buchanan says, she returned to receive prayer, and the experience turned her around, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Every week I became more free, she says. I mean, I went religiously. Religiously. By the end, I was trying to think of reasons to come in.
One day, the programs leader asked her whether shed be willing to learn how to pray for others, and now Buchanan is starting a similar ministry in Fort Wayne called The Prayer House.
The non-profit ministry, which initially will operate from the chapel at Lutheran Hospital from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays beginning this week, will train volunteers to reach out with prayer for anyone who asks.
Buchanan, a member of The Rock, a non-traditional evangelical Christian congregation in Fort Wayne, says the prayer will be Christian, but not denomination- or congregation-specific.
Shes starting with a small group of seven volunteers, but she hopes to work with all interested churches in finding more people willing to serve as prayer team partners.
We want it to be a platform of unity, she says. We dont promote any churches or church agendas. Were very sensitive to that.
Volunteers will attend free three-hour training sessions once a month for three consecutive months but wont be placed on a prayer team until they feel theyre ready, Buchanan says. The next training session is scheduled for 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 4 at Lutherans chapel.
Prayer sessions with individuals will take place after the group gets some information from them about their concerns. Sessions will last 30 minutes, during which volunteers will not only offer individualized prayer on behalf of the seeker but also may share a spiritual message.
She says sessions aim to release the power of heaven into seekers lives. Sessions are a no-judgment zone, she says.
During trial runs, those requesting prayer included patients and their family members, staff and members of the public at the hospital that day, according to Buchanan, who says the group is working with the knowledge and blessing of the hospitals chaplaincy.
Were not allowed to go in the rooms (of patients) unless they specifically ask, says Buchanan, who is not an ordained pastor.
When it makes sense and helps patients we make our facilities available, says Geoff Thomas, a Lutheran spokesman. Were happy to play host at this point.
Buchanan says shed like first to expand the hours prayer is offered at Lutheran and then perhaps have a presence at other hospitals or in a free-standing facility.
I want to outgrow Lutheran, says Buchanan, who also is the owner of the for-profit Encounter Life Center that provides courses in Christian spiritual development. My heart is to partner with all who see a need.
Buchanan, 33, married to corporate executive James Buchanan and mother of two daughters, says she feels her ministry is to the volunteer prayer partners as well as prayer recipients.
She says watching prayer partners grow as they step into their (God-given) gifts.
I get to watch their transformation, she says, and watch their enthusiasm and excitement grow because theyre using things they didnt know they had and doing things they never thought they could, she says.
And she feels shes found her life purpose.
When I started (training), I thought I was just lucky that God loved me, she says. But I thrived. I knew from the moment I started that this is what Im supposed to do.