By Rick Kern
“I don’t think they take it seriously. I don’t think many Christians understand what they’ve really got — the power that they’re tapping into when they pray,” says Sharlene Geldof passionately. Geldof and her husband, Don, Founders and Coordinators of High Mountain Prayer House, may be as humble and unassuming as a lamb but she is a lion when it comes to the power and purpose of prayer. She continues, “A relationship with Jesus is a powerful thing in a person’s life, it transforms them and it transforms the area in which they live and I think people don’t pray because they don’t take it seriously.”
Located at 288 Van Buren Street in Newark, New York, the prayer ministry was established some five-plus years ago as the result of a vision that Sharlene nurtured in prayer for over 30 years. “I was praying one morning, I was having my time with the Lord — this was probably around 37 years ago now, and I felt like the Lord just opened up something to me,” explains Geldof. “I envisioned a group of pastors praying together, which then scanned into a larger picture of a vast piece of land with many buildings. I thought of it as a place for pastors and people of God to go with many things happening there — with conference centers and entertainment, that sort of thing.”
Rather than try to force the vision into solid reality, she continued to submit it to the God who sent it in prayer. “I didn’t really know what to do with that vision, so for 30-years, I prayed and just kept praying and it would sit on the shelf,” she says. “Sometimes, I would try to get rid of it because there was such passion there for it and I didn’t know what to do and so I just kept praying.”
It all began to gel about six-years ago when she was on the phone with a relative. “I was talking to my niece, who was in Texas and she said that she was attending a House of Prayer. It just jumped into my spirit that that was my starting point for this vision, to pray and to start this Prayer House.”
Once the Lord brought the vision into focus and gave it direction, she continued to pray and began looking for a location. “I talked to my pastor and we found a place and a group of pastors came and prayed over it,” she reflects. “We began with a small prayer room.” And so began this remarkable nexus between eternity and time, heaven and earth, Christ and His church.
What manner of woman has the love for God and commitment to His will to wait over 30 years for the fullness of His timing? Sharlene Geldof is a marquee PK — “I was the daughter of a United Methodist pastor,” she recalls. “We moved a lot from town to town through New York State and several places here in Wayne County.” Continuing she notes, “I graduated from Palmyra High School and then went to Pottsdam University and ended up graduating at Geneseo University. I majored in Elementary Special Education.”
While she has held numerous positions in the workforce, Geldof really wound up banking on her college degree at home. “Because I have an autistic son, I say I used my degree to raise my own son,” she explains. “I didn’t feel that I could have a career, but I supplemented our income with various jobs.” Geldof worked as an Assistant Director for a Community Center in Williamson and worked various other jobs throughout the years to help out. However, she concentrated primarily on her home life. “I really felt that my main focus needed to be on my children,” she says, “particularly giving our son, Jason, a chance in life — that I could for him.”
Sharlene and Don have two boys and will celebrate 47 years of marriage in October, 2017. “My husband, Don, was with me right from the start,” she says, “I can’t imagine living this adventure without him! We have weathered every joy and trial along the way together.” Sharlene surrendered her life fully to the Lord about a year after finishing college. “I went to a sharing group and one man in particular gave his testimony,” says Geldof. “It just seemed like he had a real relationship and I guess, strangely, I heard the Gospel and I just hadn’t looked at it that way — as a relationship.” She continues, “But the way he would talk about the Lord, really impressed me, so one day I was just at home, I fell on my face before Him and told Him I would receive Him into my heart and live for Him.”
Among the more prolific spiritual distinctives of High Mountain Prayer House are its 24/7 prayer ministry, various public events, and its passionate pursuit of unity among believers. “We try to build 24/7 prayer with small groups, and worship events, connecting things around the county,” Geldof explains. “If we know that another church is having a prayer group or worship event and that becomes more of the 24/7 piece, we incorporate it and try to build it county-wide. So, that’s one thing we do, encourage the unity.”
Unity among the body of Christ may in fact be the ministry’s dominant, heaven-borne focus. Speaking of area churches she notes, “We recognize that we can’t build unity, regionally, we can build bridges and opportunities for them to come together.” She adds, “So, that is an important distinction, we had a word spoken over us that we were bridge-builders and as we thought that way, it all became a little bit easier. It’s not our responsibility to bring people together. Only God can make us one.”
To that end High Mountain Prayer House collaborates on a number of events, but the emphasis remains unity through prayer — and it is coming together with tremendous promise! “We have quite a few groups now, each with a different emphasis because we are now standing,” says Geldof. “We feel the need to have ministry heads, for instance, we have one woman that will be leading women’s prayer groups and another one will be in charge of the whole 24/7 piece.”
At this point, Sharlene and Don feel led to branch out into the surrounding counties to find the strategic leaders of revivals in those particular areas. “We already have a lot of contacts and are just beginning to build bridges between those leaders” offers Sharlene. “We don’t want to come and bring what God’s doing to Wayne County to another county. We want to find out what God’s already stirring up in that county and then bridge that so that those leaders are connected to one another.”
Finally, she observes, “We have close ties with other area pastors in and outside the county, working more closely with some than others and pray for their churches and others as well. We thank God for them and feel privileged for these rich relationships.” Continuing she adds, “We are always looking for ways to connect the churches and to break down denominational barriers. If you haven’t been a part of churches that relate together, you are missing a Kingdom vision that goes beyond the local church.”
For more information on High Mountain Prayer House, visit their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/wcprayerhouse or call them at (585) 370-9554.