During a time when tensions are high around the nation, prayer is needed now more than ever.
In Birmingham, a group who calls themselves Special Ops, is making a difference in the Woodlawn neighborhood through the power of prayer and love. Faulkner Birmingham lecturer Buddy Parker joined the prayer walk ministry in January.
“The Lord led me to join around the first of the year,” Parker said. “Birmingham is my hometown and I love my town. I want to serve the people here the best way I can.”
“It is really something I have wanted to do all my life for my city – and the stories are amazing,” he said.
Special Ops leader, Lisa Roxanne Richardson is a friend of Parker who first introduced him to the group.
“Roxanne is a good friend who invited me to join. Their group has been meeting for about ten years and it’s been very peaceful,” Parker said.
Parker began teaching speech and theater at Faulkner Birmingham in 1997. Five years ago he was hired as a full time instructor teaching psychology, counseling and Western culture. Before coming to Faulkner, he worked as a radio announcer for WLPH Radio (gospel music) and WYDE (country) and was retired from 39 years as the industrial account manager at Alabama Power. Parker is a street minister of 30 years who began the 10th Ave. Church of Christ to minister to the elderly, mentally ill and prostitutes in Southside in Birmingham.
Through his radio connection, he met Richardson, a morning personality at WDJC, a Christian radio station in Birmingham.
Richardson said she began Special Ops as a way to “infiltrate the darkness.”
“We started out as all women who attempted to reach women in sex trafficking, but expanded to men as we encounter so many men who are addicted to drugs and alcohol or are homeless,” Richardson said. “Now we offer resources to men and women and hand out Bibles, protein and hygiene kits.”
At any given time, the group can vary from 10 to 45 participants. They’ll meet for an hour, take prayer requests and fellowship with one another before walking to motels and truck stops to minister to those they encounter.
“It’s been life changing, both for the group members who call each other family, and for the women rescued from sex trafficking, and the men we encounter and give hope and sometimes shelter and treatment through our contacts,” Richardson said. “Some on the street are believers, some aren’t, but most are very receptive to a smile and prayer.”
“We’re just a group of Christians who pray together and for others,” she added. “Jesus loves, so we want to love.”