What I learned from mission workers might surprise you
“Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray…” Luke 11:1
I recently returned from a trip to northern Greece where The Flow provides support for two different mission works. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel with three Christian mission workers to a refugee camp, which is one of four they visit weekly. For safety reasons I will call them Andy, Bob, and Mary. The team lives in northern Greece. We traveled over 100 miles to the refugee camp. and once we arrived, I was able to watch Bob and Mary lead two Iranian refugee families through a two-hour Discovery Bible Study in their native language of Farsi. As the study concluded, one of the young Iranian women told Bob and Mary that she wanted to learn more about this “Jesus.”
It was a great experience to see Jesus shared by these Christians in such a humble and natural way.
It was during the drive to and from the refugee camp that I was again deeply moved by these three Christians. During the drive, Andy received a text from his wife. She reported that one of their refugee teammates had finally been granted asylum by the Greek Government. It was quickly explained to me that without asylum a person cannot legally leave Greece, nor do they have legal status within Greece. Their co-worker had been waiting for five years to be granted asylum. During that five year wait he had been illegally beaten by police, unjustly imprisoned for eight months, and been caught in the endless cycle of an uncaring bureaucracy. But on this day he was granted asylum and all unjust and false charges had been canceled by the court.
As soon as these three teammates learned of this incredible decree, each began to cry tears of joy and each spoke the same exact sentence, “We have been praying for him every day for five years!”
Their friend’s new “status” caused these three Christians to reminisce about how God had answered other prayers. Bob shared how the boat he and his family traveled on from Turkey to Greece had started to sink a great distance from land. He prayed asking God to spare him, his wife, and their young child. Bob said, “I am here today because God answered that prayer.” He then told of how he also would not be granted Greek asylum and at one point was planning to illegally leave the country. But first he prayed and asked God to do the impossible: to help him get asylum within two weeks. Once again, God did the impossible and answered his prayer. And now Bob and his wife are planning on a legal move to proclaim Jesus to Iranian refugees gathered in a large city in France.
The conversation about answered prayers continued. Andy spoke about one of the families from the camp that had been a part of today’s Discovery Bible Study. Several months ago they had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse, that was worsening over time. At that meeting they asked their Christian friends to be praying for their safety and for God to protect them. Andy promised the family that they would pray and ask God to provide for their safety and protection. A week later, at their next gathering, one of the women exclaimed, “God answered your prayers. There have never been guards in our camp. But now there are 8 to 10 guards patrolling the camp and every night now a guard is stationed directly outside of our front door! Thank you for praying for us!”
Later in the week, I was able to join a group of 20 Christians who work throughout Greece sharing Jesus with refugees and Greeks. These Christian workers were meeting together for a weekend of biblical training and encouragement. During this weekend together, I met an American mission worker whom I will call Peter. Peter and his wife have been mission workers for years. Peter shared with me that together, he and his wife, have witnessed God do incredible things in transforming the lives of people with whom they have shared Jesus. I asked Peter, “So, what do you do to help make all this happen?” Pete didn’t hesitate! He said, “We spend a lot of time praying.” I blinked and he said it again, “Yeah, we spend a lot of time praying. We ask God to open hearts and to use us to introduce people to Jesus. God is answering our prayers and we are seeing changed lives.”
In my American Christian upbringing and training I have been taught how “to do.” During my lifetime, “prayer meetings” simply turned into “meetings.” These meetings became times where we would plan what we should do and would do. These Christians whom I met still “do,” but long before and long after they “do, ” they pray.
I want to become like them. I want to learn to pray like these Christians pray. They believe in the power of prayer. They believe that God is in control, and they are not. They believe that there are things that only God can do, regardless of how hard they work. They count on God to do what only He can do and then they wait for Him to do it. And when God does act, they are there to participate in His eternal work.
Thanks to your generosity The Flow provides this vehicle to mission workers in Northern Greece to travel to refugee camps. Hundreds and hundreds of prayers have been offered in this vehicle!