Paying It Forward: Holmes teacher uses prayer, assistance to connect with Cedar Valley citizens

About a year and a half ago Corey Peters, a teacher and coach at Holmes Junior High, started a group that goes to different areas to pray for anyone they come across. Students from all over have joined Mr. Peters and have been deeply impacted by the people they have met.

Holmes teacher Corey Peters with Angel. Peters has been involved in a community ministry initiative in which he and students at Holmes have reached out to help Cedar Valley residents through trying times, including Angel, who runs a safe house for children who need another place to stay. (Submitted photo)

The group goes out every Thursday night to different neighborhoods. “We pack about 20 bags of groceries, and we go out to a neighborhood every week. We ask people if they need free groceries, and if they would like prayer.  Whether or not they accept prayer is not a prerequisite to getting groceries. We have run into people from all walks of life. We treat and love everyone the same,” Peters said.

Peters and the group try not to judge anyone they meet. They treat everyone with love and respect. “We have given groceries and prayed for the rich, poor, homeless, prostitutes, gang leaders, single parents, the elderly, Burmese refugees, homosexuals, police officers and people from every religion you can imagine. It is easy to pass judgment while sitting in your easy chair in your house.  It becomes real when you are standing in front of a woman who was nearly beaten to death two nights before you got there, or when you are standing in the living room of a single mother with six children to feed wondering how she will pay rent this month,” Peters said.

Many people welcome the group in to pray for them. “It is really amazing because they answer the door, and for a moment you are strangers and 10 minutes later, you are family.  Most people keep asking, ‘You are really here to do that?’ They really can’t believe someone is doing that.  We are a group of nobodies. We have business people, factory workers, mothers, retirees and students join us. We have people from all different area churches join us and people that don’t attend church. We have had infants up through 90 year olds go with us. It has been really amazing to see the people who have joined us to love others,” Peters said.

One student who has joined the group is Adrienne Boettger. Boettger went to Holmes last year and was involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), which Peters started at the junior high. She is now a CFHS sophomore.

“I wanted to go with Mr. Peters because I really enjoy loving people and talking to them. I had heard about some really cool people he had met on these trips also. I have learned so many great things from these trips. The biggest thing I have learned is how much I have to be thankful for. There are so many things I take for granted on a regular basis without even thinking about it,” Boettger said.

The FCA group members have also joined the community outreach trips. Peters made FCA open to anyone. The FCA members don’t have to join the outreach trips, but they are always welcome to.

Boettger met a woman in Waterloo who really impacted her. Her name is Angel.

“Angel’s house was a safe house for children (when kids needed a safe place to stay for a few nights or weeks, they would stay at her house). Mr. Peters had told me about how much she loved each of the kids that stay at her house. She cared for all nine of them, even though none of the children were kids of her own. He also told me how she did not have a washer or dryer, so she was doing everything by hand then hanging all these childrens clothes up outside, so when I met her, we were delivering a washer that was being donated to her by someone through Mr. Peters,” Boettger said.

Boettger was touched by Angels story. “I have never forgot that trip. I was so amazed by the love she shared with everyone and the happiness she had even without much money,” Boettger said.

On another day, Peters met a young man who was struggling with his wheelchair. “One night as we were praying, I noticed a young man being pushed up an inclined driveway in a wheelchair. It caught my eye because the man pushing him really had a difficult time pushing him. It was a cement driveway, and it should have gone up easily. I ran across the street and the man pushing him was real resistant to us. He asked the man in the wheelchair if he wanted groceries or prayer. The man in the wheelchair nodded his head and said ‘both,’” Peters said.

Peters found out that his name was Mitchell, and he as Multiple Sclerosis. It was very difficult for Mitchell to speak. “We were able to pray with him, and he asked us how to ‘accept’ Christ. It was very emotional because every word for him is a struggle. We also gave him his first Bible. I put his story on Facebook and my blog. I asked if anyone had a newer wheelchair that we could purchase or could be donated. Someone contacted me right away and said that she had a fairly new power wheelchair.  We were able to give it to him with new batteries purchased by ‘Barn Happy,’” Peters said.

The new wheelchair has changed Mitchell’s life. “There would be days where he wouldn’t get out of bed because it was so difficult and no one would come and push him in his wheelchair.  Now he goes to the river every day, and he is always going to neighbors homes to brighten their day. We are now in the final stages to install a ramp for Mitchell outside his home,” Peters said.

Peters has started sharing some of these stories on his blog, “It took many months of prayer before I started writing a blog about some of the stories. I never want this to come across as “Look what I’m doing”. There are many stories I don’t write about. My point is to try to inspire people to get out of the four walls and come together as a community. Drop the lines of division that keeps all of us in our own corners. It is amazing to me that so many people from all over the world stop to read what is going on every week. I have been contacted by people all over the world for prayer, support or to see how they can start doing similar things in their community,” Peters said.


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