Welcome to my world. Here’s what it looks like:
- not everyone is married, some are divorced, some are remarried, a couple took advantage of the recent law on gay marriage;
- my neighbors seem to have everything—big houses, nice cars, nice looking kids;
- the guy sitting next to me at Starbucks has a visa to study and make his dreams come true. In fact, I live in the most diverse city in the US;
- the girl who plays on my team with whom I am pursuing a friendship, she comes from a broken home;
- Some middle-aged men and women are in the process of watching their parents age and finish their lives:
My neighborhood has a little bit of everything. The international. The atheist. The mocker. The scoffer. The intellectual. The ignorant. Rich and poor. These are people that need Jesus. These are the people that we have been called to reach. They are my mission field.
What does your mission field look like? I’m sure the faces are different, but the state of their soul before God is not.
Pray for each person on the team to join the mission of God. You could pray these exact words, “PRAY THAT EACH ONE REACH ONE AND DISCIPLE THAT ONE TO BECOME A DISCIPLER.”
“Hear my prayer, O LORD, listen to my cry for help.” –Psalm 39:12 (NIV) “Lord, teach us to pray.” –Luke 11:1 “After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed.” –John 17:1 “They all joined together constantly in prayer.” –Acts 1:14 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” –Ephesians 6:18 “Pray continually.” -1 Thessalonians 5:17
Throughout the Bible, believers are called to pray. But what is prayer? What does it mean to “pray without ceasing?” And does prayer really make a difference? There are so many questions that surround prayer. Here is a quick list of what prayer is not.
Prayer is not magic. It is not a magic mantra to get what we want.
Prayer does not make demands. God is not going to be raising Verucca Salt’s anytime soon.
Prayer is for our benefit, not God’s. Our good comes out of prayer but God gets the glory.
Prayer is not a guarantee against suffering. We may never be able to pray suffering away but we can ask God to show us how suffering can be a tool for growth and softening of our hearts.
Prayer is not an opportunity for us to show off. When we pray don’t pray like some do to show off how much they know God.
Pray today for your ministry team to continue to grow in prayer themselves. One way they will be encouraged to grow in prayer is to be more intentional. They will be encouraged to set up a prayer calendar (pray for a different person each day of the month). At 290cc we seek to put into practice the motto, “Prayer is the Work!”
Pray for the Spirit to open blinded eyes and that unbelievers would see Christ in all of his glory. Satan blinds the eyes of unbelievers to the truth of the gospel and the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). It is the Holy Spirit’s role to convict and bring to light the truth and power of the gospel (John 16:8-11). Pray that the Holy Spirit would go ahead of your mission team and prepare the hearts of the lost to respond to Christ and that the Spirit would draw unbelievers to Christ through the preaching of the gospel.
Pray for the team to share often and share clearly. It is to this end that we have been training, pray that our training takes affect in the heart of a hearer as we share our story, God’s story and invite people to Jesus. Finally, pray that those on this team will return with a heart to see people as God sees them, to either communicate gospel truths to them or train them in gospel truths.
Pray for the spiritual wisdom and loving service of the mission team. One of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesian church was that they would grow in spiritual wisdom and depth of love (Ephesians 3:14-20). Mission team members need an abundance of wisdom and love, and God desires to provide it. Pray that our team members will be abundantly wise and discerning as well as filled with love for those whom they will serve and share with. I am thinking of those on our team, by this time into our ministry trip, relationships may be strained but with the help of God, our unity will remain strong.
Pray for this team to thoroughly love one another as they spend a great deal of time with each other. Pray for introverts to get their fill up down time. Pray for extroverts to understand there are people that are different than they. Pray for leaders to step up when friction happens.
Pray for the health, safety, and traveling of the mission team. Traveling to mission destinations (Subways and Buses) and encountering new bacteria (NYC culture) can drastically affect the health and strength of mission team participants. Getting sick is just a normal part of travel. But it is a difficult barrier for the sick one. There is precedent for praying for the health and safety of mission teams in travel. Acts 27 records the storm at sea and shipwreck of Paul and his captors. Yet Paul prayed, and God protected all on the ship (Acts 27:24). Pray that your teams will experience safe travel and health protection while on the mission trip.
Pray for the NYFLO team to stay healthy through the strenuous schedule. Stay safe in and around subway platforms and NYC roads. Why? Not only for us but for God’s glory and the spread of Kingdom.
Pray for the flexibility of the mission team. Sometimes our mission plans require revision and flexibility. Acts 16:6-10 records Paul’s prevention by the Holy Spirit of going into Asia and the Macedonian call. Mission teams must learn to trust God’s plan, not their own and be spiritually discerning. Pray that your teams will be flexible in their planning and discern what God wants to accomplish on the mission trip.
Pray for the NYFLO Team to be flexible. In NYC there is a lot of waiting. Waiting for subways, waiting for people, waiting on God, waiting for food, just waiting. One of the blessings of waiting is the opportunity to trust God, hang out with the team, enjoy the NYC culture. If we are expecting this experience to meet our schedules, then frustration might be the result. Waiting is an all of life experience, it would be very beneficial if we can learn to be content with it this week.
Pray for the spiritual preparation and development of the mission team. There’s a reason Paul’s prayer for spiritual boldness in proclaiming the gospel (Ephesians 6:19) followed his treatment of Christian armor and spiritual warfare. Mission trips are not for the spiritually weak—they require recognition of the spiritual war we are facing. Pray that your teams will be spiritually prepared for the work and war they are sure to face.
Pray for the NYFLO Team to grow in their ability to read and understand God’s heart through the Word of God, grow in their heart for God through prayer, grow in their character through a solid and pure thought life, and grow in love for people through deepening love for Jesus so that it flows to others.
Pray that the mission team will not let the platform take the place of the mission. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commissioned us to make disciples. That’s our mission. Oftentimes, compassion ministry, construction, or other need-based ministries are the “platforms” that give opportunity for mission trips. But success in meeting these needs is not our “mission.” Our mission is disciple-making (evangelism, teaching, baptizing) connected to a local church. It is easy to let the need (platform) become the focus. Pray that our team will not forget the “mission” in lieu of meeting any other need.
Pray that this team will catch a life-long vision of making disciples that make disciples. This may look differently than what we know now but it is definitely the mission of the Church.
These stories must be shared. I have long thought that America would face persecution only when American Christians begin to say that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. The persecution will not be physical but emotional and relational. This book reminded me of my longing to love Jesus, live with Jesus and tell others about Him. It seems to me the Church in America has forgotten this and replaced this goal of life with a gentler and more comfortable pursuit of community with other Christians. There is nothing wrong with this pursuit of community, it is actually wonderful but the community we long for comes from a shared mission of facing fears, overcoming comforts and throwing caution to the wind. I want everyone in my church to read this book- young and old, new Christian and older Christian alike.
Suffering is one of God’s ordained means for the growth of his church. He brought salvation to the world through Christ, our suffering Savior, and he now spreads salvation in the world through Christians as suffering saints. In the words of Paul, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3: 12). Clearly, there is a sense in which the danger of our lives increases in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ (loc. 182 Kindle).
Serving God is not a matter of location, but a matter of obedience (p. 75).
If Jesus is not the answer to the human condition, there is no answer (p. 141).
“Don’t ever give up in freedom what we would never have given up in persecution! That is our witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!” (p. 196).
“Do you know what prison is for us? It is how we get our theological education. Prison in China is for us like seminary is for training church leaders in your country” (p. 231).
Before we can grasp the full meaning of the Resurrection, we first have to witness or experience crucifixion. If we spend our lives so afraid of suffering, so averse to sacrifice, that we avoid even the risk of persecution or crucifixion, then we might never discover the true wonder, joy and power of a resurrection faith. Ironically, avoiding suffering could be the very thing that prevents us from partnering deeply with the Risen Jesus (pp. 308-309).
If Jesus is not the answer to the human condition, there is no answer.