By Coty Dolores Miranda, Contributor
The “Unshaken Arizona” conference organized by Moms in Prayer International hopes to have a mass prayer for children, grandchildren and the schools they attend around the world.
Kay West and Michelle Keso have been involved with the organization for many years and are on the expansive planning team that has put together this two-day event.
West is among the speakers and Keso is event coordinator and master of ceremonies.
Among the many speakers is actress/director Karen Abercrombie, who starred as Miss Clara in the 2015 film “War Room” among other films and television productions.
The two-day conference will run 7-9 p.m. Sept. 7 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 8 at the First Baptist Church of Tempe, 4525 S. McClintock Drive. A $40 fee includes materials and lunch Saturday.
Keso, an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University, her alma mater, said space remains available.
“Moms in Prayer is an interdenominational organization. We love Jesus and that is what is matters,” said Keso. “Our dream to have a diverse audience of age, ethnicity and denominations.”
Keso, an Ahwatukee resident since 1990, said the planning team of 14 committees has worked on the event for 18 months.
“It takes a long time,” she said. “I will never walk into a big event again without realizing how much work is involved.”
Kay Cassidy West is MIPI’s international leadership director for Southern Africa, encompassing Angola, Botswana, The Union of the Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
After selling their Ahwatukee home and all possessions, she and her husband of 31 years, John West, spent nearly seven years as missionaries in Swaziland, and then South Africa, before returning to Ahwatukee in January 2017.
She is co-founder of Swaziserve, Inc. and serves as current president. She also is the author of “Refiner’s Fire,” a 2016 about her experience in Swaziland – which recently has been renamed by the king of Swaziland as the Kingdom of eSwatini.
West is at work on a second book about her experiences in South Africa.
She said her 16-year involvement with Moms in Prayer has had a profound influence on her. “Moms in Prayer International has been life-changing for me. I hope many women will walk away equipped and encouraged to powerfully pray for their children and grandchildren, and their schools, as well as to pray for our sisters worldwide,” said West.
West, who also serves as the organization’s global prison ministry liaison, is active with her Ahwatukee church, Bridgeway Community Church.
Other speakers scattered throughout the event – along with videos and musical entertainment – include Moms in Prayer President Sally Burke and Fern Nichols, who founded the group in 1984 after being concerned when her two oldest children entered middle school.
“Moms in Prayer is an hour of hope,” she said of the prayer groups that meet locally in members’ homes. “Moms are discovering that being a part of the Moms in Prayer community is turning their fears to faith.”
Co-sponsoring Unshaken Arizona are Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International. Both will join 12 other ministry partners and vendors offering information and products to attendees.
“Whatever season of life you’re in, there’s a group for you,” said Keso, describing MIPI’s various prayer groups encompassing college-age parents, grandparents and for moms with children in elementary, middle school and high school.
“As to what Moms in Prayer has meant to me personally, it has forever impacted how I prayed for my children and others. And the sisterhood is wonderful – that first group I had in my home when my children were young all are coming to Unshaken,” Keso added.
First MIPI Arizona state coordinator Rhonda VanderPloeg, of East Mesa, has been a part of the organization since 1995, when, as a young mother in Holland, Michigan, she joined a prayer group.
When she, her husband and five children moved to Mesa in 2003, she looked to connect with a local group, and discovered there were none.
She started one, serving as a group leader before advancing to area coordinator and then first state coordinator, an office she held for seven years.
“That burning passion for schools and teachers to be bathed in prayer never left my gut,” said VanderPloeg, who still hosts two prayer groups in her home.
“Every single school needs to be prayed for like this. Our teachers spend about seven hours a day pouring into our kids. They deserve to have us support them in prayer. And our children and grandchildren never stop needing our prayers.”
Chandler resident Minnie Salcido said Moms in Prayer has been a part of her life for 23 years.
“I’ve been hosting a Moms in Prayer group in Arizona for over 15 years,” said Salcido, who currently hosts a grandchildren prayer group in her home, and is volunteering at the event . “I’ve learned to pray for my children and the children of my Moms in Prayer prayer partners.”
She encourages area mothers to attend.
“It will be a life-changing event where they’ll be inspired to pray for their children, their schools and their teachers,” she said. “Instead of being worrying mothers, they’ll become praying moms.”
VanderPloeg expressed excitement this extensive event is being held locally.
Many of us have traveled great distances to attend similar events in other states; now we have it right here,” she said.
Unshaken Arizona is one of three MIPI is hosting through this summer and fall. The other two are in Minnesota and North Carolina. Keso said they have pre-registrations from women throughout Arizona, Oregon, California, Minnesota and North Carolina, and registration remains open.