Freedom International School recently hosted a 72-hour prayer and fasting event in which they saw prayers answered.
"In 2019 there was a massive increase in gun violence in the city of Winnipeg," says Francine Wiebe, the principal at Freedom International School in Winnipeg. "When students came to school they were quite shaken up. When we had a school family meeting, one of our grown young men was shaking and crying because of this violence."
It was at this point the staff decided to hold a 72-hour time of prayer and fasting that November. It then became an annual event.
"This year we decided to go from Monday to Friday and pray every single morning before school. We had several churches joining us, including The Wave, Anchorpoint Church, as well as Grant Memorial Baptist Church," says Francine.
Staff at the school, along with community members and interested students would meet each morning from 7:00 am until 8:30 am. Since this year's event, they are now meeting each Monday morning.
This Year's 72 Hour Event
"Our focus was fully on the rising violence in Winnipeg. We called it Gangs, Guns, and Our Youth; a Conversation for Peace in Winnipeg."
Francine says the idea behind the event was to ask the question, 'What can we do as the body of Christ in Winnipeg when it comes to violence and to bring peace to our city?' The event ran from November 10-12.
"The event went well," says Hannah Cavey, the school's choral director. "With COVID there were some restrictions, which meant we could house 60 in our chapel. Most of our participants were virtual which meant we had to have a live streaming capacity."
Cavey shares that this was only possible because of Vineyard, Encounter Life Ministries, The Wave, and her father who flew out from Tennessee to record the whole thing.
"The all-day event was on Remembrance Day. Of course, we had a time of remembering deaths from war and violence in our world, but then specifically remembering and looking at lost lives to gang violence and gun violence in Winnipeg."
Freedom International School started off this school year in a precarious position.
"As staff, we heard, 'there's no money for salaries. Are you still okay joining us?' Says Cyndi Wiebe, the graphic design and art teacher at the school. "To my knowledge, everybody still signed on. In the midst of that funding crisis, Francine said in her prayers she kept hearing God say 'pursue Me.'"
That has been the title of their morning prayer and worship time, Pursuing God. As the staff have been pursuing God, He has shown up again and again.
"Our bookkeeper would send me a little note saying 'we can now pay everyone their salary until the end of this month,'" says Francine. "We would announce it at a staff meeting and everyone would cheer. God just continuously provides."
On the first day of the 72-hour prayer event, the school received a gift.
"As of November 10, we received an $80,000 cheque which completes our science lab build. This is a huge relief for us and a massive blessing."
Everyone is invited to the school's Monday morning prayer walk times.
"It's making a difference. We're seeing kids' academic abilities increase," says Francine. "One boy went from a grade 2 reading level in a few short months to a grade 5 reading level. I really think it's not just our amazing teachers, it's also the best teacher ever, the Holy Spirit."
The school only opened in 2018, and from the beginning, prayer, worship, and service have been foundational pillars according to the principal.