Thursday, June 3, 2010


This is from today's Press Enterprise newpaper!:

Need prayer?

Shawn Heggi is your man.

Two evenings a week, when he isn't driving a trash truck for the city of Redlands, the burly, 35-year-old father of two sets up a roadside prayer stand in Loma Linda.

A pair of lawn chairs, the tailgate of his white 1998 Toyota Tacoma pickup and a popup tent cover on rainy days serve as his sanctuary. Training comes from his Bible and his friend's BlackBerry, which can summon verses to match a subject on demand. Passing motorists are his congregation.

The small roadside sandwich board with the simple message -- "Need Prayer?" -- is his advertising.

Over the last seven months, his roadside prayer stand has become a fixture Monday and Friday evenings on the south side of Barton Road, a four-lane Loma Linda street that jams with traffic when the job-heavy town of 22,000 residents swells with 60,000 commuters.

People want prayers for their health, for their family, for the troops overseas. But jobs, the economy and troubled marriages are tops these days, Heggi said.

"There are a lot of broken families out there," he said. "I thought we were just going to pray, but there is so much stuff that goes on out there. People have given their lives to the Lord. We've seen kids delivered from drugs. We've seen families put back together."

That's not all.

"A lady one day wanted us to pray for her dog," Heggi said. "It was sick and she had just come from the vet."

Heggi has no formal training as a minister or missionary. He attends Calvary Chapel church in Redlands, some members of which occasionally sit with him by the side of the road. The church is not involved.

God planted the idea in his mind last year, he says, when he was helping a friend move some furniture in Murrieta.

"We were getting on the freeway when I saw this guy on the side of the road," Heggi said. "He had this sign that said, 'Need prayer?' I thought, 'Is this a ministry?' "

Heggi said he talked to members of his church about it and prayed.

"It probably took about a month for the Lord to confirm it. One day we made a sign and came out here and started going for it," he said.

The roadside prayer stand is located in a dirt and gravel field across from an Arco station.

Nearby residents often wave as they drive by, as do many of the commuters. Some motorists honk their horns.

Heggi insists he didn't pick the location. "The Lord did. I was driving down here and he kept putting in my mind, 'This field right here.' There is tons of traffic, tons of people all the time."

With the prayer stand situated midway between Loma Linda University Medical Center and Redlands Community Hospital, medically related prayers are frequently requested.

Debbie Miller, of Big Bear Lake, stopped one recent evening on her way to the Redlands hospital for a CAT scan.

"I just felt like I'm not supposed to go," she said, sobbing. "I felt like the Lord was telling me it is not a good thing to do right now."

She prayed with Heggi and fellow church member Calvin Hart and listened as they took turns reading Bible verses.

Hart, who has the BlackBerry, is a 38-year-old Yucaipa resident who works in construction.

Between prayers, Hart and Heggi read verses.

"This was valuable for me today," Miller said. "They are comforting. They make me realize that I don't have anything to fear."

The roadside prayer stand is a good idea, she said.

"If somebody needed help, I would definitely tell them to stop," she said.

As she pulled away from the stand, Miller headed in the direction of the hospital, but only she and her doctor know if she went there.

Heggi normally sets up shop about 3 p.m., in time to catch the evening commute, and stays until dark.

Motorists stop at random, sometimes nobody for hours and sometimes three or four at a time.

"You can see them coming by and sizing us up," said Hart. "Some people, you can tell by the look on their face, they think we're crazy. That's all right."

Prayer seekers wait patiently for their turn as Heggi and Hart read from their Bibles and kneel in prayer by the side of the cars.

Some people come often. Heggi and Hart call them repeaters.

"One day we were getting bombarded with people," Hart said. "There were three or four people parked here and another car pulled up in the left turn lane and the lady waited and waited. When one of the other cars left, she pulled in. It was like she was at a drive-through."

Ken Stewart, a Loma Linda roofer, recently stopped to pray for his family and to visit Heggi.

"These guys are friends of mine," he said. "I go out there and pray with those guys sometimes.

"You look at the world in which we live, with high unemployment, and you realize there is a lot of need for prayer," Stewart said. "There seem to be a lot of suffering people."

Heggi said he'll be out there until he gets a message from a higher power to stop.

"People stop and get coffee," he said, gesturing to the mini mart across the street. "They stop and get gas. They do everything else, but they forget about prayer. That's the number one thing. I believe prayer is number one."

(Reach Darrell R. Santschi at 951-368-9484 or )


1 comment:

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