Tanzania, Africa was our home for 6 years, as church planting missionaries, in the middle of the African bush. It was beautiful, it was challenging and sometimes it was lonely.
A calling to serve overseas is a wonderful, humbling call. There were times I felt amazed at all that God was doing, then there were times it was harder to see.
A neighbour who had fallen ill invited me to pray for her in the name of Jesus, and she was healed. A man driven to alcoholism was immediately healed of his addiction after hearing the Gospel. A puff adder hidden in the brush lay dormant as my two year old runs impetuously past it.
Awesome, extravagant miracles refresh the soul and encourage our hearts.
Yet, there are other times where God seems more distant, or difficulties begin to wear and tear on our soul. Teammates leave suddenly because of preterm labor, a bible story shared from my heart, lands on a hardened heart, the church building vandalized, baptized believers threatened by their family, tropical illness ravages our body, a prayer for healing wasn’t answered.
Away from family & friends; away from our mentors, teachers and church family; away from our norms of worship, and the deep friendships we had cultivated at home. Sometimes in the harder seasons, we just begin to doubt our ability to hold up in the hardships, and our ability to make it through.
We hold onto our calling, onto the grace of our Lord Jesus, to press on. Knowing without a doubt, that God has brought us to this spot, for this time. We remember the ways He worked to get us here, the financial support, the affirmations, the people He put in our path, those supporting us in prayer. This gave us great courage to press on.
So, as you think of the missionaries serving out of your community or your local body of believers and lift them up in prayer, here are 5 points for #prayer.
Pray for their abiding time with Jesus. A simple statement, a foundational piece of our faith, yet in the middle of a developing country, relationships and community are central to their culture. This often means that the sun comes up at 6:00am and your neighbours may be arriving shortly, to deliver news of someone who died that night, a family member who is ill, to ask for a tool to borrow on the farm that day, or just to check in and say good morning. Community doesn’t stop. Time doesn’t stand still. Pray for your missionaries’ steadfastness to pursue Him first above all else amidst all the needs that present themselves.
Pray for their relationships with team members & their leadership. Early on, our team read an article that gave some shocking statistics: the number one reason why missionaries leave the field is because of other missionaries. Let that sink in. Those of us who go are usually strongly independent types, which can be cause for alarm when too many of that same personality dwell closely for long periods of time. Deeply humbled by this, as a team, we covenanted with each other, that we would work towards unity, always. It became a focus of our prayers and relationship. Pray for their commitment to unity among teammates and their leaders.
Pray for their cultural insight and language ability. I don’t think anything has humbled me more, than not knowing how to communicate with another adult. During my early days learning language, I remember learning the numbers and I practiced with my neighbour ladies...and they applauded for me. They actually clapped their hands, smiled and patted my head...like I was a child. I felt so helpless. But by the grace of God, eventually I learned more, and was able to communicate better. Along with language, comes the ability to say things in a way that is understand culturally. This takes lots of time and insight, as we seek to understand how a different culture thinks and sees the world. Pray for your missionary to have a posture of learning.
Pray for their people group. Prayer is needed for the advance of the gospel among people groups. We can’t forget that this is spiritual battle. Make a practice of praying consistently for your missionary and the names of the people who are in their life, pray that whole families would come to Christ. Keep their picture where you have your times of prayer. Write down the requests they share in their newsletter, or print it out so you have it on hand. When you do pray for them, send them a quick message or email, just reminding them that you prayed for them today. We would receive these messages from our leadership, or supporters after we sent out our newsletters, and it was always encouraging to know that someone had read it and was praying.
Pray for their health. Malaria, dengue fever, schistosomiasis, typhoid are a few health concerns that we faced in Africa. Access to healthcare in developing countries, isn’t the same as in North America, it could mean packing up for a treacherous drive to the city. Having someone watch your kids while you are sick and recuperating isn’t always easy either. When the kids are sick, it can be scary. Pray for their health.
I hope that sharing this will help you, as you labor alongside your missionaries, for the purpose of the #Gospel going forth. It is our great privilege to participate with the Lord in the work for His kingdom.
Who are the missionaries in your life? How will you pray for them today? Don’t forget to tell them you did! Be blessed as you abide in the Vine today!