My name is Eileen Hamilton, and I am a huge believer in the power of prayer. I have seen how God can use it in mighty ways to further His kingdom and He can bring about things that are seemingly impossible. I was born and raised in Manhattan, New York City and I grew up in a staunchly Irish Catholic family. I grew up right next to Central Park in a nice but modest apartment with my mother, father, three older sisters, one older brother, and one younger brother (Irish Catholic families were very rarely small). We went to Mass every Sunday, we went to confession regularly, we did not own a Bible, let alone read it on our own, and we believed that attending any church other than a Catholic one was a mortal sin. Regardless of this fear, my mother and I attended a non-Catholic church one Sunday when I was 14 years old.
During the service, we were afraid that we would be eternally condemned for attending this service instead of Mass. The church was also very anti-Catholic and treated us poorly. However, we are Irish, which meant we had our fair share of poor treatment but would always fight through it, so with that attitude engrained in my being, I went back to the church. I heard the Gospel at that church, but I did not understand it. Going forward in the Catholic Church was very different than in a Baptist church, so I went forward many times without understanding the true meaning. I remember someone complaining behind me about my continual altar calls each Sunday, but I had no idea I was doing anything wrong. That, along with several other difficult encounters, eventually led me back to the Catholic Church.
When I was 19, I met a man I fell in love with and we got engaged. I ended up confessing to him that I had attended a non-Catholic church, and he demanded that I go to the priest and confess my great sin of attending that church. I did not feel right about confession as though attending a church was a sin, so I did not go to the priest and my fiancé and I ended up breaking off our engagement. Not long after that, I began to understand the Gospel and in 1952, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. While it was a wonderful event, it was marked by a difficult season following. My family, still strongly Catholic, did not understand this decision I had made, and my brothers and sisters were very angry with me for breaking from the Catholic church. Several tough years went by, and I found myself at the age of 26, no higher education, no beau, and no money, so I did the unthinkable: I enrolled in Bible college and moved to Philadelphia. The following four years were marked with difficulty and God’s goodness through it all. I had no idea how I was going to pay for my tuition, but every time a payment was due, God would provide what I needed. That season of life taught me that if you did not go through hard times, God would not be able to grow you and lead you to where He wants you to be spiritually. And I prayed, oh how I prayed during that time.
Nothing in this life is of great value except Jesus Christ
During my senior year of bible college, I met John, who I fell in love with and married a few years later. He worked with NIKE missiles, so we moved every 2 months for the first few years of our marriage. We stayed busy with his work and raising our three children. In 1966, we were relocated to Winston-Salem. We moved on a Friday, and we attended Calvary the following Sunday, and we never left. At that time in its history, Calvary put a huge emphasis on prayer and had weekly Wednesday night prayer meetings. Those quickly became the highlight of my week, and John and I would take turns keeping the children so the other one could go and pray. There would even be all night prayer meetings. I vividly remember when we began praying for a bigger worship space. We were in a chapel at the time, and we wanted to be able to grow and reach more people for Christ, so we began praying for what God would have for us, and He provided the building we have now. There were so many other times that God answered prayers through the prayer ministry, but I cannot even begin to remember them all. In my own life, I began praying earnestly for my family to know Christ. I prayed and I shared with them every chance I got. Over the years, I was able to see my sisters, one of my brothers, and both of my parents come to Christ. My father was one of the last in our family to come to the Lord. He remained a staunch Catholic until nearly the end of his life, and then one of my sisters shared the Gospel with him one last time, and that time he listened.
Catholics have their flaws, as do all denominations and all people, but one thing I am eternally grateful for is that growing up Catholic instilled in me the great importance of prayer. Even today, though the prayer meetings no longer happen, a small group of us still get together every Wednesday to pray for the church. My biggest heartache as I have gotten older is that prayer is no longer a priority. Our prayer group is getting smaller, so I have been praying for there to be a revival of prayer within our church body. I have also begun to realize that many people do not even realize we have a prayer room at Calvary. We have even begun calling the prayer room the church’s best kept secret! Obviously, prayer can happen anywhere at any time, but I love getting the chance to enter that quiet place so I can lift my hands up to the Lord in prayer and petition. Prayer is powerful, and the backbone of the church, and the enemy is delighted when we stop praying. It is so important that we literally get on our knees and cry out for the beautiful burden that is prayer and for a visitation of the Holy Spirit upon the body of Christ at Calvary.
I look back on my life and see so much of the Lord’s goodness. I have been able to watch all three of my children grow up, get married, and now I have nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. My husband passed away on March 30, 2018, and I miss him terribly, but I know I will see him again. Nothing in this life is of great value except Jesus Christ; we are not of this world; we are just passing through. I have spent so much of my life talking to the Lord through prayer; oh how wonderful it will be to talk with Him face to face.