For next week’s mission trip, each team member chose a handful of prayer partners to pray with them and for them in the weeks leading up to the trip and during the trip itself.
Since we had such a short lead-in time to this trip — like 34 days, I think it was — we had to choose quickly, and at our first missions meeting I realized that others on the team had already “taken” some of the people I’d hoped to ask. How dare they get them first! That’s a good Christ-like attitude, right?
So in expanding my selection pool, I was encouraged by something my pastor said. He said that being a prayer partner for someone traveling on a mission trip involves that person in the mission and does a work in their life too, softening their heart towards the people being ministered too and sometimes calling them to go in the future.
Hmm. He’s right. Imagine that; my wise old pastor was right. ;)
I know that he’s right because that’s how I first got involved with missions, specifically Nicaragua missions. A woman in our church was going on one of the trips, more than a year ago, and asked me to be her prayer partner. I said yes, and through that was invited to pray for specific things for her and the team, to hear about what they’d be doing, and to be exposed to what the missionaries and our churches were doing there.
Last year, a different friend asked me to be a prayer partner for him, and again, I was involved and praying and growing a softer heart toward the work and the people there.
My experience as a prayer partner was key to opening my heart’s door to the possibility of going myself.
So, when I started thinking in this way about choosing prayer partners, I prayed about whom God would have me choose; whose heart, God, do you want softened and pricked and prepared for a future trip of their own?
Some of the women who are my prayer partners were no-brainers. They’ve been a friend to me in the roughest of times and are true friends. Anyone who will listen to my drama of the last few years and not complain (too much) is a true, true friend. Those are the kind of people you want in your life and that you want praying for you when you’re leaving the country for the first time, leaving your children for the longest time ever, going farther outside your comfort zone than you’ve ever been, etc. I’m so incredibly thankful for those women and they agreed to pray with and for me during this experience. More on this kind of friend in a minute ….
But God also led me to a few people that fit into that category of people He may be going to use in future missions and He wanted me to choose them for that reason. I know without a doubt it was of God because one couple in particular — the one I’m going to tell you about — were very new to me and somewhat unlikely choices only because I didn’t know them intimately.
I met Mike and Vanessia last year when they visited my Sunday morning small group for a while. They were in a Wednesday night class I was in later in the year, and I got to know them a little better in there but still not too well. A few months after we met, I finally got Vanessia’s name right; I kept wanting to call her Victoria. In fact, at one point, she was like, “Just call me V.” I was so embarrassed that I kept messing up her name!
When I prayed for God to show me who He wanted me to select as prayer partners and he brought Mike and Vanessia to mind what I remembered was how fervently and sincerely they prayed at another missions-related prayer circle where we just “happened to be” in the same group. So in addition to allowing God to do a work in their life in regard to their own missions involvement, I was confident they would pray — like really pray — for me and my family and this trip.
So why the photo in this post of an obscure passage of Scripture advising not to eat flying insects?
Well, I’m glad you asked. This was just one of a goody bag full of things for my trip that Vanessia brought me at church this week. The verse about flying insects is attached to a tube of anti-itch medicine to use on any mosquito bites I may get while there. Also in the bag were things like Advil, with a verse about pain; water-flavoring packets with a verse and a prayer about thirsting for God; chapstick with a verse about our lips being used to praise God; a snack bag of goldfish crackers with the passage about Jesus making us fishers of men. The whole bag was full of creative things like that.
Isn’t that just awesome??
Here I was thinking I was doing God this big favor by asking Him who I should choose and choosing the couple He led me to and so excited that He was going to use this opportunity for them to pray and be closer to the missions efforts to do something in their life, and He used it to bless mine too. Is he great or what?!
As it turns out, Vanessia will be going on the next trip our church sends, and she has told me that being involved in some of the prayer and prep for the trip I’m on has gotten her excited about her own trip.
So getting back to that true, true friend.
A month ago we started having meetings as a mission team after church and I knew that I would need someone or some way to have the boys fed and watched during this time. Several possibilities came to mind but the one I went with was asking my friend Suzy — a good friend, who lives close, who was also one of those “no-brainer, she has to be my prayer partner” friends — to help with this.
Suzy has three daughters, and our kids get along pretty well. So my proposal was this: would she take her three plus my two and feed and entertain them after church every Sunday night for four weeks. That was asking a lot, wasn’t it??
Actually, I asked her if she’d try it for one week and see how it went and if it wasn’t disastrous or too overwhelming, maybe we could do that the rest of the month before the trip.
It was a little crazy because the kids ended up having too much fun at times — but isn’t that kind of what being a kid should be about sometimes? — but there were some good things that came out of it too. Our kids really did have a good time together, especially playing Just Dance on the Wii. They had such a good time that my two are very disappointed that the mission training is over and they won’t be going over there every Sunday night any more.
It was great to not have to worry about kids — although I worried some about Suzy :) — and to see that time be good for them and their friends and I think (hope) for Suzy too.
All of this to say that God has blessed me with some amazing friends, old and new, who will not only pray for me and listen to me gripe but who will put their friendship and faith into action, by helping with my kids or encouraging me with scripture and bug spray.
I haven’t even left yet and already God has used this experience to bless and teach me and others about things that are good.