On two occasions over the
last few years, I have been privileged to travel to other cultures and see missionary
work first- hand. Both trips have given real impetus to prayer for missionaries.
First, I have seen the realities of working in a different culture and the sacrifice
involved. Secondly, I have learned that missionaries are real people. They have
the same kind of concerns with living as we have. The spiritual battles with
prayer and Bible study we have are intensified, not lessened, for missionaries.
They still struggle in prioritizing time and raising children and the normal
daily stresses as we do. They still battle the interpersonal relationships and
assembly problems that we encounter--and they do it in a culture and language
different to theirs. They need and deserve our prayer support.
I would like to suggest
three tools that, if used together, could greatly encourage you to pray and
inform you so that you could pray more intelligently.
First, a book that I have
just spent some time looking at. It is called Operation World, compiled
by P. J. Johnstone. The book I have seen is an older edition but the latest
edition is just off the press. It is a list of all or at least the vast majority
of countries around the world. Mr. Johnstone lists for each territory or country:
the size, the population, the kinds of people that make up the country, and
its economic and political makeup. He then gives in percentages the kinds of
religions that make up the country. He defines his terms at the beginning so
that you can think along the same lines with him. He then lists a number of
pointers for prayer for that country. Obviously this book is broad in scope,
but I found a great deal of information about the different countries that I
didn't know before. This book is available from Gospel Folio Press for $12.95
You need to supplement that
book with Missions magazine. This is a fine tool for prayer. Articles of interest
concerning mission work pinpoint various fields of service and effort giving
in-depth information. Also articles that introduce you to various missionaries
give real insight to missions and missionaries that look to the Lord for their
supply, and have been commended by assemblies to go forth apart from a "Mission
board." Along with this are excerpts from letters from missionaries so that
month by month you can keep fresh with things to pray for and things for which
to praise the Lord.
The letters are arranged
in a particular order. They are listed by the days of the month and these days
concur with the Missionary Prayer Handbook. This handbook is arranged
by the days of the month so that each month you pray around the world. Listed
is each of the missionaries that have been commended by New Testament assemblies.
The book gives the present address of the missionary, the specialized field
of service if such, the commending assembly(s), along with the children under
18 and still living "at home." At the back, these children are listed with their
birthdays and whether they are away from home for schooling. In this way cards
and letters of encouragement can be sent, as well as intelligent prayer raised
for these very special children. Both the magazine and the Handbook are available
from CMML, PO Box 13, Spring Lake NJ 07762, or MSC, Inc., 27 Charles Street
East, Toronto, ON M4Y 1R9.
Used together, these three
informative tools can go a long way toward consistent, intelligent, intercessory
prayer. It is too easily true, "out of sight, out of mind" and with the decline
of the "missionary study class" around the country many of these men and women
who have given so much are not held up in prayer and not supported as they should
be. With these tools may each of us individually begin to pray and may we see
an upsurge of missionary interest again.