“You can’t pray that prayer on Memorial Day.” That was the communication Dr. Scott Rainey, former pastor of Houston Living Word Church of the Nazarene, received through an email in May 2011 from the director of the Houston National Cemetery.
Dr. Rainey had been the pastor of the 825-member church in Houston, Texas, for eight years and had been invited for three straight years to participate through prayer in the city-wide Memorial Day celebration in Houston, Texas.
2011 was different.
The new director had decided that Dr. Rainey could not end his public prayer with the following words, “While respecting people of every faith today, it is in the name of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, that I pray. Amen.” Rather than just moving on, Dr. Rainey decided to take action. In quick order, a Houston judge granted a restraining order, receiving national attention, to enable him to pray his prayer as he deemed fit, a constitutional right of all Americans.
In the months following the Memorial Day ceremony, it was discovered that the same director had systematically tried to remove all religious comments and activities from the government grounds, taking away the inalienable rights of many other Americans. In the end, the Veteran’s Administration agreed to 50 specific changes (including two executive orders that required prayers be “general”) at the Houston National Cemetery to restore freedoms for those who volunteered to care for families who mourned the loss of heroes at the cemetery.
After such a stunning victory in May 2011, Dr. Rainey resigned as pastor from his church by Dec. 25, 2011, only seven months later. What would cause him to resign in such a short time?
In October 2011, Dr. Rainey traveled to the Eurasia Region to participate in a missionary and pastor conference. While speaking at this conference, he was approached by the Field Strategy Coordinator of the Commonwealth of Independent States (countries of the former Soviet Union). The Field Strategy Coordinator asked Dr. Rainey if he would prayerfully consider moving his young family to Kyiv, Ukraine, to help the Church of the Nazarene in its mission endeavors throughout the 12 countries of the former Soviet Union. After one month of prayer, Dr. Rainey came to believe that this was God’s will, shared the news with his growing church in Houston, Texas, and by April 2012, he, his wife, and their two daughters (age 3 and 7 at the time), were living in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Today, Dr. Rainey and his family speak Russian and serve the Church of the Nazarene as the new Field Strategy Coordinator of the Commonwealth of Independent States. God is blessing their ministry and expanding their vision for helping people across the former Soviet Union find peace with God. Their work oversees 45 churches in six countries, six drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, business projects to help low income families, and a mission team of nine families. In 2016, God led and enabled them to help start three new churches. One of those churches is in L’viv, Ukraine, where they now live. They are preparing to plant three new churches again in 2017.
Dr. Rainey will be sharing the vision for growth in the number of changed lives, families repaired, and drug addicts recovered in the CIS over the next five, 10 and 15 years. He will be preaching from Joshua 1:3, where God told Joshua that wherever he put his feet, God would give them this land. His sermon will be challenging people to go… to put their feet in new places for God’s kingdom.
Dr. Rainey will speak at Washington Court House Church of the Nazarene, 990 Highland Ave., at 7 p.m.on Tuesday, Feb. 7. A simple meal will be served starting at 6 p.m. for all who wish to attend, and a light dessert and beverages following the meeting for all who would like to meet Dr. Rainey. All are welcome. Please bring friends who would like to hear his engaging message.