Christian persecution, Human trafficking, Slum children with a life expectancy of 8 yrs old...these are realities in our world today. We read the articles and weep over the anguish felt by those suffering, but are left with the question, "what can we do?" I myself have wrestled with this for a few months now. With my husband working on behalf of the persecuted, we are receiving news everyday of brothers and sisters being tortured and killed all because they confess Jesus as Lord. I cry in sorrow, I alert my friends to pray, and I hit my knees and beg God to give them every mercy He has, but still am left with the nagging question of what can I DO?
At the age of 15 I traveled to Brazil on a missions trip. We traveled around performing a drama about the passion of Christ and saw many people get saved. We also were given the opportunity to volunteer at a Compassion International site where I got the priceless gift of hugging, holding, and giving a million kisses to the little girl I supported each month. One of the last places we shared our drama was the Dump. This was the largest landfill in the country located about 45 miles south of Rio de Janero. The bus dropped us off 5 miles outside the Dump and we slowly made our way in. Along the well worn path towards the mountains of garbage were shacks made of tin, wood, and sticks. Every time the hot breeze blew, a stench overwhelmed our noses. A number of us became physically ill along the way and all of our team felt an intense oppression overwhelm our spirits. This was a place of hopelessness. I'm not sure when I began crying...I didn't really notice my tears until I was crying so hard I could no longer walk and was being hugged by a small Brazilian boy who called this place of death his home. Children dropped the trash they were sifting through and flocked to our small group dressed in bright costumes. They smiled at us, touched us, combed their fingers through our hair, and begged us to hold them. We invited them to come down to the village church to watch our performance and many of them did. Thanks to our faithful interpreter, many children and a few adults came to accept Jesus into their hearts that day. I performed my part of the china doll without my signature heavy makeup because I had cried it all off...I cried the rest of the day...in fact I cried for weeks after returning to my home. Yes, many of the children had come to salvation, but the reality was that they returned to picking through garbage while starving to death and I boarded a plane and returned to my home. I prayed for them and continued to support my little Compassion girl, but the cry of my heart was the question "What can I DO?"
I have heard it said that We pray for God to reveal the greater good work to us, all the while missing that prayer IS the greater good work. This dear friends is hard to grasp. It is hard to believe that the best and most important thing we can do for those dying and suffering unthinkable terror is to pray for them. It would seem that prayer is a good start to helping them, but surely not the best. It is true that God calls us to give our money to those in need and He calls some to specifically go and minister face to face with the suffering, but He has commanded ALL of us to pray and He takes it very seriously.
Paul commands us to "pray without ceasing". I always found this to be a confusing verse since I'd run out of things to pray about within 15 minutes on my knees. With the ideology that this was the key to being close to the heart of God, I was frustrated thinking I would never get there! But, today God literally hit me over the head by connecting the feelings swelling up inside of me as I learn more about people suffering around the world and the command to pray without ceasing. May I suggest that Paul was not giving us the secret to personal holiness, but rather giving us something to DO that would both connect us to the heart of God and minister to those in need? What if the very heart of being passionate about the things God is passionate about means that we open our eyes to a suffering world for the PURPOSE of prayer?! Friends perhaps the reason that our prayers have ceased long before the day is over is because we have been blind to the ones we need to be praying for and the situations we need to be praying about. If we ask God to break our hearts for what breaks His, there won't be enough hours in the day for us to pray. The body of Christ is united when we pray...that is powerful. The spirits of those suffering are encouraged when we pray...that is powerful. The lives of those around us are changed when we pray...that is powerful. God is glorified when we pray...that leaves me speechless. I can honestly say that I agree with my whole heart, prayer IS the greater good and I want to spend the rest of my life praying without ceasing.