For the past two weeks I have savored the awesome blessing of spending the first half of the month of July in Africa serving the Lord, seeing souls saved, and ministering together with dear brothers and sisters in Christ through the ministry of The Wilds Camps Abroad! This trip to South Africa and Malawi was a definite “get-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone” trip. Although I had made other mission trips, I had never visited a third-world country.
Since coming home, I have intentionally entered in my journal my “take-aways” from this journey. One in particular stands out to me above all others. I am ashamed to admit it, but I must say that before this trip, I had prayed, but I had not prayed so fervently, so frequently, so specifically, and as trustingly as I did while in Africa.
Without reservation, all that we experienced by the hand of the Lord was absolutely in direct response to prayer! We watched God answer in so many ways, and we had a “front-row seat” to watch it happen for His glory and our good!!
For instance, without going into great detail, after three days of training the nationals how to operate a teen camp, the first day arrived with great anticipation but a bit of fear of the unknown. It’s 8:00 a.m. Where are the campers? We looked out in the yard of the mission compound to see only one teen camper. You read that correctly . . . one teen camper. Undaunted but not knowing how to gather more teens, Dan, our leader make the absolute best decision. He looked at all of the workers and said, “Let’s gather in small groups and PRAY for GOD to bring in campers.” That’s exactly what we did.
As our group cried out to God for a manifestation of Jeremiah 33:3, for God to surprise us, He did exactly as He promised!
Within 30 minutes or less, the gates to the mission compound opened and a pick-up truck laden with a bunch of eager teens entered the grounds. Moments later, the scene was replayed. Eventually, we had 88 teens to begin our first day of camp!! We saw God at work!! What a time of praise we had as we then saw some of those precious souls hear the gospel and respond to the call of salvation!!
You may be puzzled as to why I have entitled my post “My Greatest Heartache in Ministry” when the past few paragraphs have been about God’s amazing work in my heart and the lives of others. Quite frankly, I will say that my greatest heartache in ministry is the lack of prayer among God’s people . . . me included.
I’ve seen folks get up way early to be at church to go on some church fellowship trip. I’ve seen believers pack out an auditorium or outdoor arena to hear their favorite singer or group and sometimes pay a hefty price for the ticket (Oh, and drive two hours to get there.) I’ve seen church members not miss a business meeting so they could vote their way. And on and on I could go, but ask a group of believers to attend a prayer meeting, a prayer advance, or even pray, and . . . well, you know the rest of the story.
When are we as believers who have the very ear of our Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent God (Psalm 34:17), the blood-bought invitation by our Righteous Advocate and Great High Priest to enter into the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16: 1 John 2:1-2), and the Holy Spirit to intercede for us (Romans 8:26), when are we going to make prayer a blessed, expectant, humble, dependent, relational priority of our lives?
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-8)
From a pastor’s heart,