Since my first experience of cross-cultural missions (about 15 years ago), I have been inescapably drawn towards this sort of effort. I have had multiple opportunities for Gospel ministry in countries and cultures other than my own, and each time I teeter on the brink of selling everything I have and relocating my family to some distant land. The logistical realities and my wife’s soft reluctance have been sufficient to keep me from taking the radical plunge.
Like my prayer-life in general, my prayers for missional efforts are not systematic. I do pray regularly, and I am in prayerful thought for much of each day (not audibly, but cognitively relying upon God, thanking Him, pleading with Him, and such). However, my prayers are based on circumstance or a recent increase in awareness of some biblical truth. I learn of a friend’s difficulty, and I trust God’s providence while asking for His mercy. I feel the pressure of life upon my own shoulders, and I run to the refuge of God’s grace and care. I notice the temptation to sin and even indulge my evil desires, and I lament such foolishness while resting in God’s love and patience with me.
Similarly, I have also prayed for missional efforts sporadically, when I become aware of a particular effort or obstacle. Right now, I have spent some time praying for evangelistic efforts in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales. My church family and I have partnered with churches in the Vale for almost three years, and this week is the mission trip of 2017. I was not able to be present on this trip, but my heart and thoughts are with the rest of the team. However, I have become increasingly aware of the need for a more systematic approach to prayer (and all spiritual disciplines generally).
Using the resources at www.operationworld.com, I am reminded of the great need for Gospel ministry around the world and the great need for insulated Christians (like those in western cultures) to remember the real spiritual difficulties we all face. In my rural, East Texas community, it is highly unlikely that I will face religious persecution of any real substance. It is easy for me to fall into a rut in my thinking about Gospel mission and sacrificial engagement. A little spat between church members or some budgetary difficulty is put into better perspective when I remember that some Christians in the world right now are following Christ in the face of an imminent threat to their very lives.
With God’s help, and by His grace, I will take a more systematic approach to prayer from now on. I also plan to lead my family to do the same. May God grant us love for Him, that we may serve Him and others well.