Each week for almost 20 years, Grace Holland has encouraged the BIC community in prayer.
As author of two prayer publications influencing the life of the denomination — the Prayer Focus and the Cutting Edge — Grace, a former BIC missionary, has called the denominational body to intercede weekly on behalf of BIC U.S. domestic and global ministry.
Earlier this year, Grace decided to step down from writing the publications, which will continue to be overseen by BIC U.S. World Missions. On behalf of the denominational family, we want to express our deepest gratitude for Grace Holland’s spiritual leadership.
For Grace, prayer has been a personal calling and a public vocation.
More than 50 years ago, she felt called to the ministry of prayer. As a missionary in Zimbabwe in the 1960s, Grace recognized the BIC Church there faced strong political unrest, physical violence, and spiritual warfare.
“Because we needed help — we needed a breakthrough — that’s the point at which I made prayer a major part of my life,” said Grace.
She began compiling weekly prayer lists including every person and issue related to the area in Zimbabwe where she was serving. Each week, she methodically prayed over the changing lists, something she continued to do for more than 20 years on the mission field.
Her leadership of the Prayer Focus — which she began writing in 2001 — was unplanned.
Grace and her husband, Fred, had committed themselves to praying for the BIC family weekly at a prayer meeting held at the denomination office, and, over time, Grace began writing all the global and U.S. prayer requests, eventually leading the prayer meeting.
Around 2004, she and Fred started the Cutting Edge to better engage young people in prayer by providing up-to-date prayer requests and feedback on World Missions ministry. Along with the Prayer Focus and the Cutting Edge, she has led other prayer initiatives and publications central to the life of the denomination.
“I am deeply grateful for the ministry of Grace Holland. With wisdom and discernment, she has earned a position of trust throughout the Brethren in Christ global community,” said Jonathan Lloyd, director of World Missions.
“Engaging with ministries across the U.S. and around the world, in her 19 years authoring the Prayer Focus more than 10,000 prayer requests have been published,” he continued. “By example, Grace has called us to intercede together for the growth and health of the global Church. We plan to continue in this important work that Grace has stewarded so well.”
Prayer has also anchored her more than 50 years of vocational service.
For 23 years, Grace served with her husband as a missionary on location in Zimbabwe and Zambia. During part of this time, and continuing during further service in the U.S., she wrote and edited theological curriculum, producing 43 titles, some of which have been published in more than 200 languages. An academic, Grace was a professor at Ashland Theological Seminary and is currently a BIC U.S. Directed Study Program facilitator. She served on the Board for World Missions twice, with a 4-year term as chairperson.
Grace encouraged our denomination’s stance on women in ministry leadership by coauthoring the denominational paper on women in ministry studied by all regional conferences in the early 90s. Previously, in 1986, she was the first woman to present a message at General Conference, now called General Assembly.
Amid her lifelong public service to the Church, Grace said in her autobiography, Planting Seeds: A Missionary Story, that prayer has been the “fervent centerpiece of my life.”
Today, Grace sees prayer as the calling of our denomination, too.
“In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, ‘Without me, you can do nothing.’ We can make all kinds of plans and do all kinds of work, but if God’s not in it, it’s nothing,” said Grace.
Ultimately, Grace desires that we embody a “praying heart in the denomination.”
“I love the Church and want us to love and pray for one another,” Grace said. For her part, Grace continues to lead the weekly Wednesday noon prayer meetings at the denomination office, open to all who are interested.
Thank you, Grace, for your faithful service extending the Kingdom of God.