International Ministries

How Long Would You Wait?

June 15, 2011 Journal
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The Children’s Prayer

The children at El Mesias Baptist Church in La Paz have been saving their Sunday School offering  to re-paint five classrooms.  As you might imagine, this offering—although given with much love—does not equal huge amounts each week.  But faithfully, the children have been bringing their pesos and watching them slowly accumulate.  How long have they been praying that God would bless their gifts in order to re-paint their Sunday School rooms?  Their prayer was first uttered in 2003.  Eight years ago!

Eight Years Later

Fast forward to June 2010.  A mission group from Oakwood Baptist Church in Charleston, WV decided to plan an international mission trip after their youth pastor Elliott Gregory had the opportunity to meet Missionary David Reed when he came to WV to speak.  Because the WV mission team would be comprised of youth, David approached El Mesias about hosting this team in June 2011 since they too have a large youth group.  As he began to talk to Pastor Guillermo and his wife Flori about potential projects, Flori became very animated.  “Can they paint our Sunday School rooms?  We’ve been praying for eight years that someone would come and help us paint these rooms!”

Answered Prayer

The Sunday before the team flew to La Paz, Pastor Elliott shared with the Oakwood congregation about the project.  He told them, “By sending this mission team, our church is an answer to prayer for the children of El Mesias.”  One person came up to him afterwards and said, “I’ve never been an answer to someone’s prayer before.”  Our God is so amazing that He will even cross-culturally network our hearts and ministries together!

Waiting for the Church to Come

In addition to painting the Sunday School rooms, the mission team also put together 65 dispensas (sacks of basic food staples) to distribute to families working in an agricultural area outside of La Paz.  The youth group at El Mesias have been ministering to this group of people.  Most of these families have emigrated from Michocan to work as migrant farmers, planting and harvesting tomatoes, onions, and peppers.  Living conditions are very basic, and the hours very long and difficult.  There is rarely time for play and relaxation.

Last Saturday, about 35 of us drove to one of these farms, and set up a sound system on a basketball court near a school on the property.  Using the microphone, one of the young women from El Mesias began to invite people to join us for games with the promise of a gift for each family.  The WV group had brought soccer balls dyed in the evangelism colors (black, red, white, green, yellow).  The balls were first used to play various games in which even the parents and grandparents joined in, and then they were used to explain the Gospel story.  Afterwards, individuals who could remember what 3 of the colors represented, were given a soccer ball as a gift.  Kids and adults walked away with a soccer ball that would continue to tell a story in their community!  Then a social worker helped us distribute the bags of food to the various families.  People were smiling and overcome with gratitude. 

One woman we spoke with said that there is no chance to go to church on Sundays.  They work 7 days a week, and even when they have a couple hours off, there is not sufficient time to drive into town for church.  She was thrilled with the Christian fellowship that afternoon.  And I wondered: how long do some people wait for “the church” to come to them?  How long do some people wait for a cup of living water from their brothers and sisters in Christ?

Why are you Surprised?

Mickensie, one young woman in the WV team, prayed one morning that God would reveal himself in mighty and amazing ways to her that day.  Later that evening, as she was processing with her roommate all the exciting things that had happened that day, she said, “God, sometimes you just surprise me!”  And immediately she heard God reply, “Why are you so surprised?  Isn’t that what you asked for this morning?”

Giving and Receiving

Sometimes our prayers are answered in less than 24 hours.  Sometimes our prayers are answered eight years later.  Sometimes we wait even longer than that.  But while we’re waiting, we also may be called to act.  God’s Spirit may prompt us to respond to someone’s need.  And by doing so, we become the answer to someone’s prayer.  Christian community is giving and receiving.  Blessing and being blessed.  Extending grace; experiencing grace.  

Questions to Ask

Sometimes the question is:  how long would you wait?
Sometimes the question is:  how much are you willing to give?