I have a had a difficult couple of months. I wake up many days already fighting off tears. Sometimes all I need is a little perspective. I may have difficulties, but I really don’t have it hard.
Remember the Persecuted Church in Prayer
There are many people around the world who do. I just need to remember them.
Each year a group of us meet to pray together for the persecuted church. This is always an emotional and uniting time. We meet together for hours to pray country by country for those who suffer from religious persecution.
Face-to-Face with Religious Persecution
In a way it hit closer to home as we all have had recent experiences with the thousands of refugees who have come to Austria. We have come face to face with displaced families, walked past babies lying on the cold floor of the train stations with their families.
Remember the blessing of being able to Worship God
Many of these people are fleeing for their lives to be able to do something I often take for granted. To openly worship, pray, read my Bible, and talk about who I am. I can believe what I want without fear of death. I can talk about God on the streets with my kids. I am blessed.
Remember Them As If You Were One of Them
Next time you read your Bible, gather for worship, or pray, remember those who are hunted down for wanting to do the same. Take some time to think on them and ask the Lord to give them strength. One day in November each year has become the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. But we don’t have to wait for that date to pray. Why couldn’t we all take some time to join the Christians who suffer for the name of Christ?
Learn More about the Persecuted Church
If you feel called to do so, take the time to learn more. You can learn more here and here. These are good places to get you started. I challenge you to gather some friends and bring these people before his throne! It will bless you and it could save lives.
Prayer. We know it is powerful. It gives us a direct audience with God the Father. So how come we can’t bring ourselves to do it sometimes?
Has this ever happened to you? Where you feel like you are drowning in the realities of the world around you? When the weight of this world shadows all hope and the weakness in your heart grows stronger than your faith? The moments when you take each step more from a place of fear than a place of faith? For the last couple of weeks, I have been experiencing this. I know what I need to do, but when it gets down to it, I am at a loss for words. I am weak, human, scared, and overwhelmed.
Am I alone in this? Has anyone else felt this struggle? Feeling already defeated, set back and powerless, even in prayer? I know this is a direct result of wanting this to be my year in prayer. Any good competitor would go directly for the weakness their opponent proclaimed. I know to expect spiritual attacks to come in this exact way.
While these emotions and feelings are strong, my God is bigger, stronger, and in control. I may be struggling to fight on my knees during this battle. But I am still in the ranks of the ONE who already won the war.
Why do I let myself be discouraged? I started to think about the times in the Bible when I imagine others have the same struggle. Who comes to your mind?
I thought of Nehemiah. I am certain he felt overwhelmed by the bad news that surrounded him. Nehemiah 1:4 says:
As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
Have you ever felt like this? So overwhelmed that you were moved to action?
As overwhelming as things are now, I can’t help but think about some other examples of people in the Bible who might have felt the same way.
- The Israelites who were in bondage.
- Moses as he stood and looked at the task God had asked him to perform.
- David as he faced Goliath.
- The disciples as the seas raged around them.
- Paul who was imprisoned.
What can we learn from them?
What steps can we take today to return our focus to the one who is already victorious over whatever stands in our way?
1. We spend too much time thinking or talking about it with the wrong people–friends. We need to talk to God.
2. We don’t seek the Lord or call out to him. We forget who he is and what he can do.
3. We never actually ask him for deliverance. We ask him to change things, people, or feelings about the situation. He is capable to change the situation.
Being overwhelmed is like a wake-up call. A call to pray. The trumpet reminding us this is a battle and we need to be ready.
Are there things in your life that are making prayer a challenge for you?
What needs to change in your life or heart to help you call out to the Lord in your situation?
We are missionaries, but a good portion of what we do is missionary support. As we travel, we are blessed to see the many different ways the Lord works around the world. We also have the pleasure of getting to know, support, and encourage the awesome people who are joining him in his work.
I often hear people wondering and discussing reaching out to missionaries. There are some very simple and practical things you can do as individuals, families, and Bible classes to encourage a missionary.
Five Ways to Encourage a Missionary
First and foremost, PRAY. Knowing that you have people lifting you and your work up to the Lord is a powerful motivator.
Stay in Contact with the Missionary
COMMUNICATE. If you do take the time to pray, tell the missionary. Knowing that someone is thinking of you, can change the course of an entire day or week. Loneliness is one of the most common things missionaries experience.
Show an Interest in Their Lives
When missionaries visit, TAKE TIME TO LEARN ABOUT THEIR LIVES. Listen to the stories, ask about the culture, challenges, triumphs, and needs. It is hard enough coming back. No one likes to feel that no one notices or cares.
Send a Thoughtful Note
In this technologically driven world, receiving a handwritten note in the mail is like finding hidden treasure. Again, this shows that we haven’t been forgotten and that we matter. Take the time to SEND A HANDWRITTEN NOTE.
Send a Special Care Package
MAKE A SEASONAL CARE PACKAGE. Celebrations vary around the world. They are also so much a part of culture that being a part of them becomes a part of who you are at times. Many missionaries miss these moments the most. Be mindful of the season and make a holiday care package. Send some things from home that are seasonal. For example: candy corn at Halloween, Peeps at Easter and candy canes at Christmas. If there are kids, a few stickers could bring happiness for days. Even better, send things that aren’t so easy to get outside of the US. Here are a few common things people miss:
- Canned Pumpkin
- Evaporated Milk
- Peppermints (that don’t taste menthol)
- Brown Sugar
- Seasonal Napkins
- Cranberry Sauce
- Girl scout Cookies
Whatever you do or think of will be a blessing. These are just ideas to help get you started.
What are some things you have done or heard about in regards to encouraging missionaries?
It was February. I was about seven weeks pregnant for the second time. As I prepared to leave for the Bible class I was teaching, I knew something was wrong. I ran to the bathroom and I was bleeding. I took several deep breaths, said many prayers, and rushed off to the church.
The next day I went to the doctor. They confirmed there was a problem, told me to rest, and take testosterone for a few week. I did. At the next checkup, they told us the heartbeat was gone.
I was devastated. The doctor instructed me to go home and wait to miscarry. After it happened, I was to call and let them know.
Seven weeks passed and my belly continued to get bigger. So did my hope.
I decided there was some medical mistake. They were wrong. Clearly, my baby was growing. About this time, I started to get sick. I had never had morning sickness this strong and I figured this was just a part of it.
My doctor called to follow up since I never called. She asked me to come in. They looked and said I had a missed miscarriage. The baby was gone but my body wouldn’t let it go. I had to come back the next day to surgically end it.
When the surgery was over, I woke up deeply saddened by the loss of our child, but physically feeling great. Two weeks later I had follow-up tests. Within days, my doctor called my house. I remember thinking how nice she was to call me. She said,
“I took the liberty of running some extra tests after your surgery to try and figure out what happened, and again at the follow-up. Now that all the results are back, I need you to go tomorrow to meet with this doctor. He is a specialist. He can help you, and they will explain it.”
“If you were my sister I would ask you to see my friend at OU Medical Center. I have taken the liberty of making you an appointment.”
After agreeing to the appointment I hung up the phone, rolled into a ball on the bed, and cried. I was hurting for the lost dreams. Secretly, I had named the baby Noah. It hurt to think of all the things he would never experience or become. Even though I only knew he existed for fifteen weeks, he was mine and I loved him.
I called my dad and just sat on the phone with him and cried. My own strong attachment to the baby I lost puzzled me. Grief is a funny thing, but somehow just knowing my dad was listening on the other end comforted me.
Not many people knew I was pregnant because the pregnancy was troubled so early. So I tried to handle my emotions in secret.
Now, there was something about losing him that required me to go to a specialist because my doctor didn’t feel she could explain it? How much more could I take? I called my husband and he made plans to go with me to the appointment.
It didn’t take long to figure out what was coming once we got to the specialist’s office at OU Medical Center. He was in the department of oncology. They asked me to fill out a thirteen page registration form. Most of it had to do with cancer. I just lost a baby. So why were they asking me so many questions that did not apply to my situation?
They called us in, and we met with a team of doctors who explained that I had a rare form of cancer. It prevented the proper development of the pregnancy. In our case it was really rare because I had both tumors and a pregnancy. I would begin chemo the following day.
We were in shock. I had to slam the brakes and shift gears. Though they assured me the cancer was very curable and that I would only need chemo for about three weeks, I was scared.
My thoughts turned to getting through this and focusing on maintaining my life and surviving for the sake of my two year old. Also we were planing to move onto the mission field so I needed to keep it all together.
I suppose now, as I am crying while sharing my story, I probably never fully mourned the loss. It happened as a mixture of the fear of the unknown loomed over me. The reality that no matter what happened next I would never go back to a life that didn’t include cancer.
The next day I gathered up all of my courage. As we walked out of the elevator at the hospital, I said goodbye to all that could have been. I needed all of my energy to focus on hope and move forward to create a new definition of what could be.
As it turned out, three weeks turned into eight months. Countless doctors, four different kinds of treatments, a clinical trial, several scares, constant bleeding, tumor growing, and countless nights stretched out on the floor crying out to the Lord.
While my situation took twists and turns like a roller coaster, God remained at my side and gave me strength. Many things in my life fell apart during that time. I changed, and lost parts of myself that have still not returned.
God is faithful, and he gave me a peace I still can’t understand to this day. Even if I was asked to, I couldn’t explain it.
In some ways I still hurt, and I don’t expect that to change. I still think about what could have been. What would that baby would have been like? They told us chemo was the only way we might be able to preserve my ability to have more kids. But they could not make any promises.
God knew my heart’s desires, and four years later, shortly after moving onto the mission field of Vienna (not Poland as originally planned), I became pregnant with a baby boy. He was born strong and healthy here in Vienna. When he was about eighteen months old, I discovered I was nine weeks pregnant with another baby. My youngest was born here in Vienna as well.
God is faithful. He heard my prayers and answered in his own timing.
I know that he is near to the brokenhearted because he was near to me. I carried most of my pain in secret during that time for various reasons.
During this time, I learned to lean on God alone. I learned what it meant to be in the arms of faithful God as my world fell apart again and again.
If you have gone through the loss of a child, and all that goes along with it I am sure you can relate. If you have survived cancer, I know you know his providence. I pray you experienced his peace as well.
If you are in either of those places now, I am here. Feel free to message me or comment below. I will gladly pray and stand alongside you. Never forget God is faithful, able, and good. He wants that for us. He longs to give us hope and abundant life. Snuggle into his arms and let him pour the peace that is beyond human explanation into your soul. Know you are his treasured creation and he will not abandon you.
Be encouraged by these posts as well!
Have you ever prayed so hard for something, only for God to answer no? I have. More than once.
I am 40 now, and I mentioned at the beginning of last year that I want to be a prayer warrior. I have thinking a great deal about prayer and remembering my journey so far.
When I was younger I dated a guy who had promised to marry me. We lived life with this plan in the back of our heads. He was ten years older than I was. After a year, the relationship became abusive. Still, I prayed and begged God to make my dreams of marrying him come true.
One day, one of my friends noticed my bruises. She moved in with me to help me leave the relationship. God said “no” to marrying a bad guy, and “yes” to reaching me at my lowest. This is where my journey in prayer began.
When I sat broken, scared and alone, he met me there.
We started to talk. Really talk–not me bringing my requests like a grocery list to him.
When I look back on this time in life, I can clearly see why God didn’t answer my prayers to give my life to this man.
That unanswered prayer was to help me learn to long for him.
Almost ten years later, I spent eight months crying into my pillow each night. I was praying this time for the Lord to rid my body of cancer. Treatment was meant to be only 2-3 weeks and it lasted eight months.
During this time, I learned about God’s peace.
During this time, I also prayed and fixated on my prayers for us to become missionaries in Poland. We built a team that fell apart and soon after that it became clear this was another no.
During this time, I learned to trust him.
He said no to Poland because he had a larger plan for our family. One that included Poland and many other countries as well.
Now, I am no longer afraid or upset about unanswered prayers. I have always learned something about myself and the Father when my prayers go unanswered or are answered in an unexpected way.
Can you think of a time when your life was more richly blessed because you didn’t get what you prayed for?