As far as she can tell, Kathy Steele — former missionary, licensed professional counselor, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary counseling professor — started the first Moms in Prayer International group in Cuba nearly 20 years ago.
Today, more than 3,000 women are active in Moms in Prayer International (MIPI) groups across Cuba, meeting weekly to pray Scripture for their kids, Steele has learned.
“Knowing your kids and knowing God’s word and then praying His word for them is one of the most powerful things we can ever do for our kids,” said Steele.
Former International Mission Board missionaries to Central America, Steele and her husband Ed, have worked closely with Cuban believers through the years. In 2003, while Steele and other NOBTS professors were teaching at the Havana seminary, she showed women there how to set up an MIPI prayer group. Two years later, Steele taught at the Santiago seminary on the opposite end of the country and did the same.
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In MIPI, women pray Scripture, such as Philippians 4:6, as they bring their children’s names before the Lord. In a country that has known poverty and a shortage of goods and resources, the groups multiplied quickly.
“They have no other resources except God,” Steele said. “Going to God for their children is a really big deal for them.”
Provision in place beforehand
While the first MIPI group in Cuba began in 2003, God provided a key resource years earlier, Steele said.
Serving as IMB missionaries at the time, Steele and her husband were moved to El Paso’s Baptist Spanish Publishing House when their place of service in Central America grew unstable. While there, Steele worked with an editor to translate the MIPI leader’s guide and manual into Spanish.
In Havana in 2003, Steele used the MIPI materials she had helped translate to start the first MIPI group. Ten years after the first group began, women came together from across Cuba to celebrate how God had answered prayers and worked in their children’s lives, Steele said.
Praying Scripture for children first caught Steele’s attention during the couple’s 20-year tenure on the mission field after reading a book on the subject.
Later, at seminary following their IMB service, Steele wrote her dissertation on the impact of praying Scripture for children. Using measurable techniques, Steele researched the emotional health of children whose moms had prayed Scripture for them as compared to moms who had prayed without praying specific Scripture.
The difference was “significant,” Steele explained.
“The longer the mom had been praying [Scripture] for her kids, the stronger their emotional health was,” Steele said. “The emotional health of our kids is probably one of the most important measurable factors of how well they are going to do in life.”
Moms in prayer groups welcome non-believers to come and pray, Steele said.
“It is incredible how many women come to faith in Christ through Moms in Prayer,” Steele said.
Laura Riley, wife of NOBTS ethics professor Jeff Riley and leader of a MIPI group on the NOBTS campus, said MIPI prays for children, schools and teachers.
“Moms in Prayer provides a sisterhood of moms praying for their kids and schools,” Riley said. “God unleashes His power through prayer.”
“Rise Up and Pray New Orleans,” an event Nov. 11, 9 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., at First Baptist Church New Orleans, welcomes women to explore the organization, goals and commitment of MIPI to pray for children and schools. The featured speaker is Susan Shepherd, MIPI’s USA Country Coordinator. Registration is requested for the free event. For information, email email@example.com.