Does Praying for Missionaries Make a Difference?
How do you pray for mission work when you don’t have very many details? Or, you don’t know the places where our partner missioners are working? Or, you can’t pronounce their names? Or, you don’t understand their context? Or…or…or…
Sometimes we can’t give a lot of details of missions for security reasons, and sometimes we get so overwhelmed with daily life and trying to accomplish simple (and not-so-simple) tasks that we don’t communicate as often or as well as we should.
Still…you want to pray. But, how do you pray?
During this year’s August mission in Kenya, led by our East African mission partner, there’s an amazing story to share that could only have happened because someone(s) was praying!
One of the mission teams was visiting a remote village. They were showing the Jesus Film under a clear, starry night. Most of the people in this particular community practice a religion that combines their traditional beliefs with a religion that is often quite hostile to Christianity. Still, they’re curious and were eager to watch a film where there is no electricity, let alone movie theatres. (They used a generator to show the film.)
While the film was showing, a very large snake came out of the bush and completely disorganized the viewers. This particular snake was notorious in their community and was feared as the source of a lot of curses upon them. The East African partner stopped the film; villagers fled; the missioners grabbed a strong stick and proceeded to whack the snake over and over until it finally died. The community members were amazed that the snake had come out so openly and that the missioners were brave and bold enough to meet it head-on and kill it.
Many times in the Gospels we read about Jesus preaching and performing a miracle. Then, the Bible says, “And the people were amazed and wondered who it is who does this.” (cf. Mark 1.21-28)In the Garden of Eden, the snake is the personification of Satan, and this particular local community also knew that their notorious snake was a locus of evil in their village. The encounter between the snake and the mission team was a powerful picture of the power of Christ to defeat the enemy.
By the end of this year’s August mission, 440 people had come to faith in Christ, two new churches had been planted in the region, and three struggling churches were revived.
This story, though, has taught me a very powerful lesson about prayer. The Kingdom of darkness is always opposed to the Light of the Gospel. The powers of oppression will always oppose the message of the cross of Christ that sets people free. So, we can expect opposition any time there is mission – any time there is an effort to advance the Kingdom of God. We just don’t know how that opposition will come or what form it will take.
And, the prayer? For the forces of darkness and oppression to expose themselves and be defeated by the power of Christ. That’s what happened with the snake. Someone was praying – probably a general prayer. But, God knows how to take those general prayers and apply them in amazing ways in very specific situations.
Who would have thought to ask God to drive the snake out of the bush to be killed by a group of visiting Christian missioners?
Praying for mission doesn’t require us to know all the details. We only have to know how our God – the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – works and the common issues that will be faced in mission and pray into them.
“Lord, expose the plans of the enemy and defeat them. Let your word go forth and not return to you void, but accomplish that which you have purposed.” (Isaiah 55.11)
Thank you for faithfully praying for and supporting the annual August mission:
More than 440 new brothers and sisters in Christ
Two new churches planted
Three struggling churches revived
And, a local community still talking about the visitors to their village who drew the snake out of the bush and killed it. Now, pray for them to have dreams to understand that the God of the missioners is stronger and bigger than any other god. As the Psalms say, “There is none like you.” (Psalm 86.8)
The Rev. Cn. Alison Barfoot is the Founder and Director of Global Mobilization Ministries. Since 2004 she has served as the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda’s Assistant for International Relations. Prior to that, she served as Associate Rector and then Co-Rector of Christ Church, Overland Park, Kansas, from 1997 – 2004.