I once met a man named Renatus. He lives in Tanzania. I’ve never been to Tanzania. I’ve never even been to Africa. So, I listened carefully to Renatus talk about his home and allowed him to paint a picture for me. That picture is now forever etched into my memory and on my heart. He told about the rampant problem of HIV, the need for clean water, and the hatred that other religious groups have towards followers of Jesus. He told about the church and the strategies they had developed to reach out to their nation. He asked us to pray.
I asked him, “Will you explain to us how important our prayers are to your ministry?” I wish I could have taken a picture of his face as he said with the most serious passionate eyes you can imagine, “Your prayers can meet me wherever I am. Your prayers touch me in my weakness. Your prayers give me spiritual power. In the moment that you are praying, though you may not know what I am dealing with… God is using your prayers to meet my need. God does not waste your prayers…”
That was on October 5, 2008 (journals come in handy) and I remember it like it was yesterday. I think about it all the time.
I watched a video recently that showed believers in different parts of the world praising God and sharing testimonies of how He is transforming lives and communities. In the depths of me I long to go to all the places that their beautiful faces live and to be a part of what God is doing among them. But I can not. I’ve had the enormous privilege and blessing to be able to go to many places and my journeys are not over yet, but I will never get to all of them. It’s just not possible. There are 3 facts that comfort me in the midst of that unfulfillable longing.
1. The same God who is with me and who has worked in my life to draw me to Himself, is where they are and is actively pursuing the hearts of His creation.
2. The Bible has told us how this story ends. One day every nation, tribe, people, and language will bow before the throne of Jesus. THIS is what I long for. My dreams of going everywhere and seeing all these peoples will be fulfilled in eternity at the feet of Jesus. What a beautiful thing to look forward to. What a privilege to serve Him and be a little bit (as much as I can be) of his accomplishing such purposes of drawing nations to Himself.
3. In the meantime, on this side of eternity… I will go wherever the Lord opens doors! But all those places I can not go, I can pray for. God has given me the privilege of praying for brothers and sisters who are serving Him around the world. Like Renatus told us that day… Our prayers can meet them wherever they are. Our prayers can touch them in their weakness. Our prayers can give them spiritual power. What a blessing. What a privilege. What a joy!
Today I have friends who are serving in Sudan. Last week another was in Haiti. A couple weeks ago I sat and talked with a girl who is heading to the Middle East. Tonight I’m hanging out with a friend who is committing her life to serving the Amazon. I love that, in a small sense, I get to go with them!
In a couple of months I will be moving to the other side of the world. A couple of nights ago, my friends threw a dinner for me to share about how people can support me in my going. I have to say, if it wasn’t for prayer I don’t know how I could go… and that goes both ways…
I love my friends. I am blessed RICHLY in the friend department. Leaving friends behind is really hard… but I know that when I live on the other side of the world, I will still be an active part of their lives through prayer. I promise them that. And as I told them, I EXPECT them to do the same for me. I will need their prayers. There is plenty of weakness in me. I’ll need them (you) to stand behind me and hold me up with their (your) prayers.
I am sooooo grateful that we are all in this together and that God, in His sovereignty, has seen fit to work out His plans in the world through the prayers of His people. And may our praying always lead us to doing… but may our doing, never stop us from praying!