Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Traveling Mercies: A Mission to Pray

Some people like the strong, silent types.

I confess that I do, too.

I love the Clint Eastwood movies, especially the old spaghetti westerns. But it’s as Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry series that Eastwood garnered his most enduring early fame.

Remember the classic line from his movie Sudden Impact? “Go ahead, make my day.” Callahan said it while aiming his .44 Magnum at a robber’s head.

Alice Hamilton is also a strong, silent type.

But Alice wouldn’t harm a flea – unless, of course, it jumped on her. She doesn’t carry a .44 Magnum. She carries something much more explosive. She carries the Holy Bible.

Alice is also a prayer warrior, which means she’s armed and doubly dangerous.

Like Eastwood, she speaks in quiet, measured tones. She’s not demonstrative, and she wouldn’t stand out in any crowd, unless it was a crowd of young folk.

You see, Alice is 77 years old.

Alice has traveled far and wide, carrying the gospel. She’s been to Africa three times, once to Nigeria and twice to Namibia where she worked with Christine Benson, her friend who was a missionary there. During one trip to Namibia, she visited South Africa, and toured the cities of Capetown, Durban, East London, and Johannesburg.

Alice is not a pastor; nor is she an evangelist, teacher, apostle or prophet. She’s one of those often unnoticed people in the pews at Crenshaw Christian Center. Alice is a servant, out to do the will of God. Her role is to seek and save those who are lost.

In September 1995, while interceding at Carson Prayer, a small prayer group that meets once a month at the community center in Carson, California, an idea struck her: Why not visit every capital city in the United States and pray in the state capitol? Alice, a single lady who retired in 1992, never let her mind dwell on the difficulties of her new assignment. She gave little more than passing consideration to the weather, the logistics, or the financing of her mission. She would finance it from her life savings.

In fact, Alice was a little tickled that the Lord had entrusted her with such an important assignment. Where she could she would stay with friends, relatives or acquaintances and contacts. At least that was her intention.

But who would she stay with in Montana, or North and South Dakota? Who would put her up in Alaska or Hawaii? How about Wyoming, or Iowa, or New Jersey, or most of the other states?

Get the picture?

“I am totally relying on the Holy Spirit to give me contacts and directions,” Alice said at the time. Even on her Africa journeys, people asked her if she was afraid. “Why go?” they would ask.

“I told them if the Lord is sending me – and I know He is – then He is well able to take care of me,” Alice replied.

But fifty states?

What of the hours of travel? What of the cold and snow? What of night landings in nearly deserted airports, and flagging cabs with her heavy luggage? What of too many McDonald’s meals and not enough hours of sleep? What if she got sick, hurt, or lonely in some god-forsaken place? Who would she talk to, or how would she communicate in these days before the cell phone became a part of everyone’s dress code?

Alice only smiled.

She would pay from her life savings. She would travel with her three companions – the Father God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. What was the big deal?

On January 20, 1996, Alice, armed with $10,000 worth of Continental airline coupons, took off on the first leg of her journey. She hit Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; Montgomery, Alabama; Tallahassee, Florida; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Denver, Colorado, before heading back to Los Angeles on February 21 for a rest. She had been gone thirty-one days and had covered ten states!

Only forty more to go.

But before that first leg was over, she had been given two valuable pieces of advice that allowed her to cut the length of the next four legs by more than half. I’ll tease you by not revealing what they were. She had also begun keeping a journal, thinking that one day she would write a book of her experiences.

Some would have called the mission off right there. “I’ve done enough, Lord,” they would say. Not Alice. No halfway job for her. She would see the whole thing through – no matter what.

Her second leg began on March 17 with Phoenix, Arizona. From there she moved on to Santa Fe, New Mexico; Salt Lake City, Utah; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Boise, Idaho; Helena, Montana; Olympia, Washington; Salem, Oregon; Sacramento, California, and Carson City, Nevada. The trip ended on March 25, a mere eight days later! Thank God for advice she had gotten on the first leg!

Topeka, Kansas, was the first stop on her third leg, which began April 10. From there she went to Jefferson City, Missouri; Lincoln, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; Pierre, South Dakota; Bismarck, North Dakota; Madison, Wisconsin; St. Paul, Minnesota; Springfield, Illinois; Lansing, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio. She returned home on April 22, twelve days later.

In some of her earlier trips, Alice had, on occasion, visited two capitols in one day. On her East Coast swing during the fourth leg of her trip, she would visit four in one day! She began on May 10 with Frankfort, Kentucky, and then on to Columbia, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Charleston, West Virginia; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; Albany, New York; Montpelier, Vermont; Concord, New Hampshire; Hartford, Connecticut; Boston Massachusetts, Providence, Rhode Island; Augusta, Maine; Dover, Delaware, Trenton, New Jersey, and Annapolis, Maryland. She ended on May 19, 1996, having covered 17 capitols, if you include Washington, D.C.!

Alice began her fifth leg by flying to Juneau, Alaska, on June 12, and back to Los Angeles on the thirteenth. However, rather than leave the airport, she immediately caught a flight to Honolulu, Hawaii, arriving there the next day. After praying in the last capitol, she was ready to return home.

Alice Hamilton completed her mission on June 14, 1996, flying back home from Honolulu, Hawaii, her last stop. She had prayed at all fifty state capitols, pled the blood of Jesus over them, and anointed them with oil. Along the way, she led many people to salvation in Christ, and the infilling with the Holy Spirit.

Don’t take my word for it. Read all about this remarkable woman in her wonderful book entitled Traveling Mercies: My Personal Prayer Journey to the 50 State Capitols (Vision Publishing, $8.99, ISBN: 978-0-9762730-5-5). It will soon be available online.

It is in the book that you will discover the two tips that allowed Alice to cut her travel time by more than half.

Traveling Mercies takes you from Alice’s early days in DeBerry, Texas, and through her search for the Holy Spirit. She recounts her three trips to Africa and, of course, you’ll meet the interesting people she met during her trek through the States.

Don’t ever underestimate the strong, silent type.

Their actions speak louder than they do.

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