Pastor Craig Hanson started a prayer group called Unite Nampa in Prayer in 2020. He still oversees the group, which continues to meet regularly in Nampa City Hall’s council chambers. (Photo by Gaye Bunderson)
By Gaye Bunderson
Craig Hanson, pastor of Valley Springs Assembly of God Church in Nampa, felt motivated on June 16, 2020 to start a community-wide prayer event, where non-denominational Christians could come together to lift up the Treasure Valley town of just over 100,000 people in supplication to God. He named the faith-based gatherings Unite Nampa in Prayer.
The prayer meetings continue to this day and are generally attended by 15 to 20 townsfolk, with about 12-15 people making up the core group. Attendees come from all walks of life in terms of employment, financial status, personal history, and other things that comprise the diversity of Nampa’s citizens.
The meetings originally started at the Nampa police station at 820 2nd St. S. Then the group prayed in a house near Lakeview Park when winter came. Eventually, Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling invited the group to city hall to pray in the Nampa City Council chambers, where Unite Nampa in Prayer members still meet every Tuesday from noon to 1.
When asked what prompted him to launch the prayer meetings, the pastor said, “A little bit of everything” – the kinds of things that made up the nightly newscasts at the time. He wanted to keep Nampa a safe and positive place to reside. “My responsibility first is to the city I live in,” he said.
He continued: “We’ve prayed for many things: our homes, our churches. We’ve prayed for the protection of God around the city, and for a city where people obey and live by God’s standards.”
He said he witnessed “all the radicalism so prevalent in major cities” and didn’t want that for Nampa.
Prayer themes continue to touch on the idea of protection for the city and its citizens. For instance, according to Hanson, “We pray for the protection of God for our police, and that they abide by the moral values of the Bible and have integrity to do the jobs they’re required to do.”
They pray for both the physical and spiritual needs of Nampans.
Pastor Hanson graduated from Bible college in 1986 in Des Moines, Iowa. He has been in Nampa for roughly 20 years and considers himself “a representative of the believers of the churches of Jesus Christ and the God of the Bible.” He also worked as a deputy sheriff for 20 years, first in Colorado and then in Caldwell. Later, he was a Canyon County commissioner from 2013 to 2017.
He holds many opinions on current topics and the state of the modern church. As an example, he thinks biblical literacy in America is not in good health, and he’d like to see that change.
“The church has lost its power,” he said. “We as a people need to repent of our sins. Apostasy is apathy towards God, who should be our first love. We pray to get back to God. People do good works, such as contributing to the food bank, but they have no repentance. The church must repent. We worship God through our obedience.”
He continued: “People have misconceptions about God’s love – we must love people, but that doesn’t mean we need to approve of what they do. The Bible is my first standard of how I live my life.”
Pastor Hanson acknowledges his is not the only prayer group in the valley. “Our group is doing our part,” he said. “There are multiple groups throughout the valley doing the same things.”
He sees the success in Unite Nampa in Prayer in many ways and includes in that some of the leadership in the city, including the mayor; Nampa City Council President Randy Haverfield; and Chief of Police Joe Huff. All of them are believers in Christ.
All Christians are welcomed at the prayer event. For more information, go to Unite Nampa in Prayer on Facebook.