Does prayer make a difference? (Part 2)

Sometimes it takes a story to help us realize just how much of a difference prayer makes.

We have friends in India who picked two villages to visit. One of the villages they prayed for and the other they did not. When they later went in to proclaim the good news of Jesus, the village they had not prayed for threw them out. In the other village, the one they had prayed for, 45 families became believers.

We so easily take prayer for granted without realizing its incredible potential power.

Indian village

 

Photo Credit: Rishu83 via Compfight cc

What in the world is God up to?

God is doing incredible things all around the world.

  • There are probably more Christians in China now than members of the Communist Party.
  • In Asia, the T4T training has resulted in more than 1.7 million baptisms over the past 10 years.
  • In India, a Hindu nation, one house church network with which I am familiar, is seeing around one million baptisms per year.
  • Now seems to be God’s time for the Muslim world. In one nation we know, there are thousands of house churches. In another area of the Middle East, there is a movement that has more than12,000 house churches.
  • A Buddhist nation has seen more than 110,000 new believers in the past 10 years.
  • In 1991, when the Communists lost control of Mongolia, there were maybe 4 or 5 known Christians. Estimates are that now, just over 20 years later, there are around 100,000.
  • In Africa, Rolland and Heidi Baker have seen more than 10,000 new churches formed in Mozambique and the surrounding nations.

A few years ago, all of this would have seemed impossible. We may not be seeing huge numbers here in the West, but God is on the move in much of the rest of the world. Most (not all) the examples I’ve given here have occurred with disciple making movements/church planting movements. In these movements, the emphasis is on what is going on outside of the traditional church building. Ordinary believers are making disciples and leading small groups that eventually meet as churches.

I know that numbers are not everything, but they are an indication of what God is up to. Several years ago, Wolfgang Simson did a survey of the largest churches in the world. If you include networks of churches that meet in homes, then numbers one through 19 are networks of house churches and number 20, at the time of his survey, was Paul Yonggi Cho’s church in Seoul, Korea.

Throughout the world, God is using ordinary people—just like you—to start churches. What is there to stop you doing the same?

Dandelion seeds

Photo Credit: aussiegall via Compfight cc

Some quotes from one of my heroines–Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India who had a profound impact on my life through her writing. Even reading some of her work now, I can understand why they were so impactful (ouch!) Here are some quotes, several of which are taken from one of her  little books called If:

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

“If I am afraid to speak the truth lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not understand”, or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“There have been times of late when I have had to hold on to one text with all my might: “It is required in stewards that a man may be found faithful.” Praise God, it does not say “successful.”

“Satan is so much more in earnest than we are–he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost.”

“If I do not give a friend “The benefit of the doubt,” but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

Quotes from here and here.

The hemiplegic body of Christ

When I worked as a doctor, there was a diagnosis I never liked to make. “Hemiplegic” is the medical term used to describe paralysis down one side of the body that occurs, for example, after a stroke. If the condition was severe, it was potentially a devastating diagnosis for the person involved, who had to come to terms with the fact that they would be weak and unable to fully function and might have to depend on the help of others for the rest of their lives.

The body of Christ in the West is hemiplegic. Half of it–the female half–is significantly weakened, if not totally paralyzed. The whole body of Christ is suffering as a result.

Where are the women apostles? Where are the women who are prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers? Where are the female role models who dare to do great exploits for the Kingdom of God?  I’m grateful to count several like these as my friends, but in general, women in any form of strategic church leadership in the West are conspicuous by their absence.

It’s not that way in other parts of the world.

  • In China, around 80% of house churches are planted by ordinary women
  • In India there is a significant harvest being reaped by women of all castes. Two years ago, I met two women–ordinary, middle aged housewives–one of whom was responsible for starting 2,000 churches and the other, 6,000 churches.
  • In Dr. Cho’s church of more than 800,000 in Korea, two-thirds of the associate pastors are women, and 47,000 of the 50,000 cell group leaders are women too.
  • In many nations where there is restricted access for the gospel, women are planting churches–they have easy access to homes and naturally share their testimony with others, pray for the sick and demonized and find persons of peace.

If women can do it in other nations, why not here in the West?

Are there women in this country who are willing to break out of the stereotypical role assigned to them by tradition? Who will follow the Great Shepherd into the harvest? Who will dare to break out of their boxes of convention, who will color outside the lines of expectation.

If God is using women in extraordinary ways elsewhere, (and he is) then why not here too? We do not have to remain hemiplegic!

Do you have examples of what God is doing through women either here or in other nations?

Photo credit: Vici-Jane


Motivation for mission

Daisy chain

This story used to motivate me to reach out to my friends who didn't know the Lord. It comes from Things as They are: Mission work in southern India by Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), a missionary from Ireland who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. She worked for 55 years without a furlough, and wrote many inspiring books.

The tom-toms thumped straight on all night and the darkness shuddered round me like a living, feeling thing. I could not go to sleep, so I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this:

That I stood on a grassy sward, and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.

Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding on to her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step . . . it trod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry as they went over!

Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks, as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly, and fell without a sound.

Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simply agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I could only call; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come.

Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of hell.

Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees with their backs turned toward the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it a rather vulgar noise. And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. "Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven't finished your daisy chain yet. It would be really selfish," they said, "to leave us to finish the work alone."

There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries set for miles and miles of the edge.

Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.

Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively, and it called-but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And then they sang a hymn.

Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was-the Cry of the Blood.

Then thundered a voice, the voice of the Lord. "And He said, 'What hast thou done, The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.'"

The tom-toms still beat heavily, the darkness still shuddered and shivered about me; I heard the yells of the devil-dancers and weird, wild shriek of the devil-possessed just outside the gate.

What does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it?

God forgive us! God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin!

What do you think? The story is compelling and emotional; most Christians are "making daisy chains" in a spiritual sense.  Is this the right motivation for misson?