When originally asked to write this article, COVID-19 was the talk of the town. Yet, in just a week’s time, a worldwide killer virus that has claimed nearly 400,000 lives, stymied the global economy, and persists in over 200 counties has taken a back seat in the headlines.
Just weeks ago, our streets were eerily empty. Now they are eerily full of protests.
America is on fire.
As believers, we take seriously the commandment to love God and love neighbor. And therefore, we ask ourselves: What am I to do? How can I help?
Or rather—let us complicate the situation further—how can I help when I live an ocean or two away?
That is the situation that I find myself in today. That is the situation your missionaries find themselves in today.
And yet, we have been called, appointed, and assigned a job. We are to preach the Gospel, often to those that have little to no access to it. As tumultuous as the times may be, we must press on. We must not lose focus. But we cannot do this apart from your help. We need your prayers.
Here are four ways that you can pray for your missionaries:
Pray that God Would Grant Us Wisdom
Acts 13-21 come to us at breakneck speed. Paul is traveling from place to place, planting church after church, and facing hardship after hardship. At times, Paul is downright forbidden by the Spirit to go to a particular place (Acts 16:6) only to be providentially led to that same place sometime later to preach the gospel, see an incredible move of God, and remain there for over a year and a half (Acts 19-20).
Today’s mission field can feel the same way. Life can change in a moment. Most career missionaries have served in many cities, under many titles, fulfilling different roles, and served with various teams. We need wisdom as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of rising and falling political regimes, team dynamics, national partners in the gospel, cultural pressures and traditions, and now, as if the matter were not challenging enough, a global pandemic.
For some of us serving in third world countries, the pandemic has meant that we have neighbors who struggle to eat. It means that we have local church partners that have not received a tithe in three months. Evangelistic advances that we were making were suddenly halted, and even now as countries begin to return to a semblance of normality, only God knows if those once open doors are still, in fact, open.
For some of us, our country of service may never truly be the same. We will need wisdom navigating these times.
The good news is that, amidst these trying times, God has given us the promise, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given” (James 1:5). So please ask God to grant us wisdom to know what to do next. Many difficult decisions must be made regarding finances and strategies in the coming months.
Pray that God Would Grant Us Creativity
Even for missionaries in countries that have now reopened, there are obstacles to overcome post-COVID that did not exist beforehand.
More so than ever before, we must utilize every resource available to us. Whether it is the presence of a like-minded organization with whom we can partner, the possible technological difficulties of evangelizing through the Internet, open doors within communities through healthy relationships with local municipal governments, or a myriad of other unimaginable circumstances. If we are to respond well to the COVID-19 crisis, we must be creative.
Paul requested that the Colossian saints pray that God would open doors to declare Christ clearly (Colossians 4:3-4). In the same way, would you pray that God would give us open doors and creative ways of declaring the Gospel clearly through our ministry strategies?
Pray that God Would Grant Us Joy and Harmony in the Home
Since social-distancing began, like many parents around the globe, we have had to wear many different hats. On any given day, I might wear the English teacher hat, the Spanish teacher hat, the math, science, and history teacher hats, the distance-learning student hat, the homemaker hat, the evangelist hat, the parent hat, and the husband hat, all before lunchtime.
It can wear on you.
I have cooked more meals and washed more dishes than at any other point in my life. And when you are cooped up together 24/7, sometimes our worst fleshly tendencies can rear their ugly heads. To be completely honest, I have been grumpy, I have barked orders, and I have hurt my wife and my children with my attitude and words during this quarantine. I need your prayers. I want to be a better husband and father.
Paul instructed the saints in Colossians 3:12-15 to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, meekness, and patience, to forgive one another as the Lord had forgiven them, to above all put on love which binds all things together in perfect harmony, to let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts, and to be thankful. Those are the qualities we want to fill our home!
Would you pray for your missionaries isolated inside their homes, that this would be a time of fruitfulness and bonding for their families rather than a time of frustration and tension?
Pray that God Would Grant Us Faith
I am thinking about deactivating my Facebook for a time. I live in an open country, and therefore social media is not a threat to our work. I am not deactivating my Facebook due to anything related to my country of service. It all has to do with what is going on in the United States.
It is not that I do not care. I do care. I care too much.
I can’t stop thinking about Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
I can’t stop thinking about David Dorn, the 77-year-old retired police captain who was shot and murdered during a riot in St. Louis.
I can’t stop thinking about my loved ones and the COVID-19 threat that they face. I found out this week that my father’s work essentially shut down after thirty-eight of his coworkers tested positive for the virus. My brother almost certainly had the virus, but praise God, he has recovered.
I want to do something. I want to become a social media advocate. I want to help my struggling family. I want to plant a church. I want to help the United States, a country that I love and call home.
But that is not God’s calling on my life. God has me here and not there. Above all else, what I need right now, is faith. I need deep, unshakable confidence that God is in control and he will bring about his good purposes in all things. I can trust God with my country and my family. But sometimes I feel like the helpless father whose son had an unclean spirit, when he said to our Lord, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Even though God has shown Himself faithful in my life countless times, I am still prone to worry, and I respond by trying to take matters into my own hands.
So please, pray that God would comfort our hearts, pray that God would grant us a deep trust that he both loves and is sovereign over the United States, and pray that God would enable us to dedicate all of our focus on the task that he has given us: heralding good news to every nation, tribe, people, and language of the Earth.
Fulfilling the Great Commission
Christ is king, and he will have the allegiance of all peoples. We are privileged to be a part of his global mission. But in order to be the surrendered servants he calls us to be, during these challenging days amid the pandemic, we need wisdom from above, creativity in fulfilling the Great Commission, joyous harmony in the home, and immovable faith in the precious promises of God’s Word.
Our Lord has said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). Please join us in asking, seeking, and knocking on behalf of your missionaries.