In about 5 weeks, we will have our Challenge Sunday, the climax of the Master Planning process. You will be hearing shortly about an exciting debt reduction/income expansion vision. An important part of our excitement is the spreading of a passion for God to all peoples and nations. This report comes from one of our people who is thousands of miles away, regarding visitors they had last Fall.
Noël and Alma came for a 3-day visit. Only after they arrived did we learn that we live in one of the Gateway Cities in the 10/40 Window. Suddenly a trip which had started out as a simple visit grew in significance in our minds. We realized that we were living in a city which was being specially targeted for concerted prayer in the month of October. What’s more, we were being sent a pair of specially chosen envoys to come in and start a fire of prayer in this place.
Their first day here we visited the town where we had lived for three years and where we had undergone, along with the local body, ongoing spiritual persecution. We prayed that the local believers would be freed from this oppression. Then we went to the former city gate and prayed on the very spot where, in 1901, five foreign missionaries and dozens of local Christians were beheaded during the Boxer Rebellion. We walked the streets of old town marveling at the ancient and ornate architecture, and imploring the Lord to rend the heavens and come down. We visited the Christian family with whom we had suffered the most persecution. Their daughter, whom we have trained the past few years, had just learned that against the odds, she had passed the entrance exam into seminary. So we rejoiced in prayer with them that, even during the time of harassment, the Lord was accomplishing his purposes and our prayer was being answered. We implored the Lord to raise up a faithful disciple to replace her while she is away studying.
The next day we visited an orphanage which had been established by Christians, but then taken over by the government in 1949. The staff of the orphanage are patient and responsible, but the prospects for the children are grim. Most of them have severe deformities. Three-fourths of the children who are brought to the orphanage die within weeks. We prayed as we walked through the orphanage. In the infant room, we made a circuit, touching each of the babies. And as the tears ran down our faces, we prayed for the Lord Jesus to have mercy on the children. We invited the Lord to use us to minister to these outcasts. Noël took a special interest in two of the children and requested that I keep her informed of their development. What a honor for those two children to now have somebody praying for them regularly. We also visited the teenage orphans and sang some Christian songs with the ones who have come to know the Lord. As we left the orphanage, outside the gate there was already another box left containing a silent week-old baby. There is no end in sight to the flood of orphans in this country.
On the way home, we stopped at a temple to the earth god. This temple did not exist a year ago. The villagers have erected it recently. The last time we passed by it, they were holding a large ceremony. In the recent years of Christian revival in this country, there have been an equally widespread revival of local religions, cults and idol worship. We prayed that it would be stopped and that the name of Jesus alone would be spoken here.
On Sunday, we went to the local registered church and heard a wonderful evangelistic sermon. At the same time we watched the political informant from the church (who is also the song leader) walk up and down the aisles and take note of everybody present. We have been warned by the good Christians in the church to avoid him. In a sense, there is ‘the church,’ made up of the leaders, staff, and members, within where there is a subset which constitutes the real church, made up of some of the leaders and staff, and both members and non-members. This subset is evangelical and turning this place upside down with their witness. We prayed for the Lord to speed his Word on its way, and drive out the evil elements.
That evening we had all our staff over and after eating chocolate chip cake, prayed for our staff and our work here. It was delicious to be reminded again by outsiders of the crucial role we have to play here. It is easy to grow accustomed to one’s unspectacular routine. We also commissioned our two prayer envoys who were to leave the next morning to pray in other gateway cities.
Knowing that the recent Gateway movement selected our city for prayer, we feel a new energy and zeal, both to pray along with them (you), and to look expectantly for what the Lord is going to do!