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My name is Karen Butler, and my church home is Joy of Life, a Foursquare church in Phoenix pastored by Hector and Janelle Ortiz. In my six years with Joy of Life, the Lord has brought me more restoration, healing, growth, joy, freedom and blessings than I ever thought possible. The Ortizes drew me into the body of Christ by exemplifying Jesus in their own lives–through humility, sacrificially serving others and modeling a deep love relationship with the Father.

Joy of Life has several attractive attributes I hadn’t experienced before in church. The first was the Holy Spirit’s presence. I had never learned about the Holy Spirit; I knew of His position in the Trinity but not of His intimate accessibility. Experiencing His presence in worship and prayer deeply impacted me, fueling a passionate pursuit that continues to this day.

Another way the Lord captured my heart at Joy of Life was through prayer. Early on, God ministered to my deepest points of need as different members of the body prayed with me. The fact that they didn’t know me, yet clearly shared revelation from the Lord, was awe-inspiring. In my naivety, I wished I had the “skill” to be used by God that way. In the meantime, Pastor Hector continually emphasized that we, as believers, were God’s ministers, and he encouraged us to walk in faith, releasing the gifts the Lord placed within us.

Gently, the Lord helped me understand that serving Him wasn’t about what I felt qualified to do but more a willingness to submit to Him and trust what He wanted to do. As I learned to walk that out, I developed a passion for prayer. I loved how it connected me with other people and the Father, igniting my faith to believe God’s best for them.

I started a prayer group in my workplace and became bold in telling believers and non-believers I was praying for their needs. I attended regular prayer meetings at church, where I joined in the petitions for God to bring our church a prayer coordinator. Ironically, I was even praying in my quiet time about where the Lord wanted me to serve. Finally, Pastor Hector and others helped me realize the prayer coordinator I was praying for was–me.

Partnering with the Holy Spirit and Pastor Hector to elevate prayer in our body has been a deeply fulfilling joy, ripe with opportunity for personal growth. Through different seasons, we’ve focused on healing, deliverance and altar ministry; prayer intensives; partnering with other Foursquare churches for global prayer meetings; and joining believers from different denominations in interceding for government and our state’s elections. I even had the opportunity to coordinate the prayer ministers for a citywide women’s retreat.

Whether I’m praying aloud with thousands of believers via telecast for the peace of Jerusalem or quietly petitioning the Lord as I hike through Arizona’s beautiful mountains with my dog, Windy, I am forever grateful for the church home where God drew me to begin unfolding His marvelous gifts.