Fern Nichols, Moms In Touch
by Laura Leathers
Fern Nichols, President and Founder of Moms In Touch International (MITI), located in Poway, California, knows firsthand about God-given visions. Never could she have imagined herself being called out to teach, equip, mobilize, and encourage women to pray for children and their schools.
She says, “Moms In Touch is a simple ministry: encouraging moms to get together and pray for their children and schools, releasing God’s power through their prayers, one mom meeting with another mom to pray. We let God take it from there.” God has taken it from one mom to more than 150,000 moms. There are chapters located in every state in the nation and in 95 foreign countries as well. It is a ministry that is greatly impacting eternity right here on earth.
It has been said many times that God chooses to work through the ordinary lives of those who are willing to be and do as He commands, so that the world can see an extraordinary God. Fern Nichols, a wife, mother, and grandmother, is impacting her world for Him by stepping out on the path He has chosen for her. She truly exhibits the life of a woman that has been poured out into the lives of others, leaving a legacy that will last into eternity.
Fern was born in Hillsboro, Oregon. Blessed with a wonderful Christian heritage, she came to know the Lord at a very early age. After graduating from high school, she went on to earn her B.S. degree in education. While in college, Fern met her husband, Rle. They have been married for 34 years and have four children: Tyrone, Troy, Travis, and Trisha, and one grandson, Joshua.
Over the past year, God has given Fern a new opportunity to share what she has learned about prayer with others by writing two books: Prayers from a Mom’s Heart, became available in January 2003, which helps moms pray the four steps of prayer topically for their children; and another due out in August 2003 with encouraging stories of women who prayed and saw answers to their prayers.
Just Between Us talked with Fern as she shared her heart’s message for women, encouraging them to make an eternal difference in their world through the power of prayer.
JBU: What was the spark that ignited the passion to pray for children in the schools?
Fern: Everything started after Rle and I moved from Indiana to Abbotsford, British Columbia. In the fall of 1983, our oldest son, Tyrone, received a full scholarship to play junior high basketball at a Christian school. At the beginning of the school year I attended a woman’s auxiliary meeting and asked, “When do the women get together to pray?” I assumed that at a Christian school there would be a prayer meeting.
The president said, “We don’t, but that sounds like a good idea.” I asked, “Do you think the women would be interested in coming together to pray for the principal and children of this school?” She replied, “At the next meeting, why don’t you share what you would like to do, and see what happens.”
At the next meeting, I took 30 minutes to share that I believed our highest calling was prayer and that I would love to meet together with them weekly to pray for our children and their school. I set up guidelines for our time together: we would pray for an hour at a specific time each week; there would be no refreshments or socializing; all prayer requests would be confidential, and we would follow the four steps of prayer (ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication). Twenty women attended that first meeting.
The next year our second son was going into junior high and we decided to place both boys in the public school. I felt an overwhelming burden in my heart that they needed incredible prayer coverage. “Lord, how much more do the kids in public schools need prayer? There must be one other mom who would pray with me for these kids who desperately need Jesus.” My heart went out to my boys as I thought about the peer pressure and the humanistic teachings they would be receiving. My heart was so heavy; I literally felt I was sending them into darkness. I didn’t want their faith to falter but desired that they would be salt and light for the kingdom of God. I knew corporate prayer was powerful, not only because God’s word says so, but also because I had experienced it the year before. The Lord brought to my mind another mom whose daughter went to that school. I immediately called her. The Holy Spirit had already prepared her heart and she said, “Oh Fern, I’d love to.” Together, we thought of a few other moms who might be interested.
The next week five women met in our home and this became the beginnings of Moms In Touch International. I had no idea I was starting anything. I just knew prayer was the answer to what my children needed as they went out into the world.
JBU: When did you realize this was growing beyond your children’s school?
Fern: It happened subtly. Because we couldn’t help but share how our prayers were being answered and how God was changing our relationship with Jesus, other women wanted to be a part of it. The comments I heard over and over again were: MITI has taught me how to pray; learning and applying the four steps of prayer has revolutionized my prayer life. Women began to call, wanting me to share with other moms how to start a MITI group for their child’s school.
It was all by word of mouth, women inviting women. Then churches heard about MITI and invited me to come and share with their women. Moms began to realize that they don’t have to be fearful; their hope is in God through prayer.
JBU: At this time did you realize that God was up to something?
Fern: No, I really didn’t. I was just answering the call and thought it was great that moms wanted to pray for their schools. I was oblivious to the way God was working through my life.
JBU: When did you realize that God was taking this beyond anything you could imagine?
Fern: It was after we had moved to Poway, Calif., in the summer of 1985. The process started all over again: moms telling moms, schools contacting me. In January 1987 about 35 women came together for a retreat to pray and give God glory for what He was doing. It was here that I recall vividly how we prayed that every school in Southern California would have a MITI group. Then we prayed for the entire west coast; and before we were done, we had prayed for the entire United States and beyond. We wanted every mom in the U.S. and the world to experience this life-changing ministry.
In the spring of 1988 I received a phone call from Luanne Crane from Focus on the Family. She told me they were getting letters from around the United States wanting information about Moms In Touch. I shared the vision with her and she conveyed it to Dr. Dobson.
Three months later, 12 other women and I were on our way to Focus on the Family in Pomona, Calif. The women were going to be the prayer support. Dr. Dobson invited all of us into his office and one by one asked us, “How has Moms In Touch changed your life?” We had not heard each other’s stories before. When we were done sharing, there was not a dry eye in the room. Dr. Dobson turned to his producer and said, “I want all of these women in the studio.”
Focus on the Family had over 20,000 responses to that program. This was the turning point that launched the ministry. We have never been the same since then. This particular program is still being aired and we continue to receive feedback.
JBU: Did you have to do some major work to get materials ready?
Fern: By this time we had taken my notes and produced a little booklet. Focus on the Family took the booklet, helped us with the logo, and revised it. They were very very helpful. We could not have done it without them because we were not set up for this type of production. Truly what God births, He supports. If I were to die today, this ministry would go on, for this is His ministry.
JBU: Is your family involved in this ministry and if so to what extent?
Fern: The biggest way Rle helps me is by praying for the ministry and me. He is thrilled that he has a wife who took time out of her life to pray for our children, and he is excited to see MITI growing throughout the world.
Our adult children all love the Lord and are praying for the ministry and me as well. Our oldest son, Ty, was the keynote speaker at our Mom’s Night Out in Minnesota last fall. His wife, Patti, our son Travis and his wife, Tara, and Trisha, our daughter, are all educators bringing salt and light to their classrooms.
JBU: Do you have one personal story that stands out above all of the others?
Fern: When our daughter Trisha graduated from college, God orchestrated her student teaching at a particular school in Poway. We have learned that there has been fifteen years of prayer coverage for this elementary school. What was really exciting is the fact that the receptionist has prayed for Trisha since she was a little girl. There are also a lot of Christian teachers in this school and not too long ago the principal became a Christian. Today, my daughter is receiving fruit from the legacy of prayer at that school.
JBU: Last fall you were in Switzerland for an international conference. What was that experience like?
Fern: There were 800 women from 23 different countries at that gathering. My prayer for the world is “God, I ask that you would pour out a spirit of prayer upon the women of the world like never before so that moms will see God do incredible, extraordinary, and supernatural things because they gather together to pray.” That is exactly what He did at that conference. It was just awesome.
JBU: What is Vision 2003 and how did it come about?
Fern: Every school...in every city...throughout the USA...public and private...children and teachers...covered in prayer! This is Vision 2003.
Periodically, I go to a nearby lake in Poway to seek the Lord for myself as well as for the ministry. Five years ago, the Lord impressed on my heart to have every school prayed for which includes over 40 million children, teachers and staff. What I learned that day is you never know what God is going to do on an unassuming day as you spend time with Him. Service comes out of seeking. When you seek Him, you must then be willing to follow His leading in your life.
Working toward this goal has been a real momentum builder, and has put new life into the ministry. We have seen the Lord provide some awesome things for our website which enhances our ability to share and reach others around the world. There are still thousands of schools – public and private – from kindergarten through college, to be reached in this nation with prayer. We are praying that in His perfect timing God will raise up women to pray, so that every school will be covered in prayer.
JBU: What if you don’t reach your goal?
Fern: The Lord didn’t promise me that this goal would be reached. He said set the goal out there and get going. If you don’t have a goal you aim at nothing. By setting this goal we have seen moms come together with a greater diligence and responsibility about the seriousness of prayer.
JBU: How does a person start a group?
Fern: Pray – asking God to bring one other mom from your child’s school to pray with you. Matthew 18:19-20 says, “Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” It only takes two. Our MITI booklet provides all the information needed to get started. To get a copy, visit your local Christian bookstore or contact us on-line at www.MomsInTouch.org. Once you start a group it is important to register your group online or by phone 1-800-949-MOMS.
JBU: Who else is Moms In Touch for?
Fern: It is our desire to meet the needs of all moms, so the following groups have been formed: homeschool, preschool, working moms, special needs children, prodigals, grandmothers, faculty, teacher, and college and career. You may also adopt a school and adopt a child.
JBU: Why isn’t every school covered? Why aren’t more women coming together and praying?
Fern: It may be that they are not really sure that their prayers make a difference. If we really knew that the God to whom we pray hears and answers prayer, we would be rushing to get together with other parts of the body to pray. Our prayer is that when the spirit of prayer is poured out on women, it will open their eyes to see that their prayers really do make a difference. Often, what happens is that if we don’t see our prayers answered immediately, we think they aren’t being answered. We want moms to realize that God is at work in the heavenlies in ways they can’t see or measure here on earth. But He is at work.
Fern Nichols called like-minded moms who gathered each week to pray for their children and school, and thus began the first Moms In Touch group. What started so simply in 1984 has grown into a worldwide community of praying moms in every state and in more than 120 countries around the world. For more information on Moms In Touch International, visit their website at www.momsintouch.org