11.23.09

Praying from 10 to Midnight

Posted in 24-7 Prayer, church at 12:28 pm

This last weekend our church spent another twenty-four hours in prayer. There’s always a buzz of activity in the days leading up to a prayer room. We’re decorating, reminding people about their shifts, and trying to find people to come and pray at 3 AM. We always have people “on call” who open the doors and greet people as they come in. This time my shift was from 10 PM – 2 AM. The first two hours were empty, so I would pray.

I have no idea what makes that room so special. But I feel like God really does come and meet us there. It’s moving to read through the journal on the table, or see the scribbled prayers on the wall, or to picture our church members on their knees before the big wooden cross in the room. Our team leader was telling me that he thought that the prayer rooms are the most important thing we do as a church.

It’s also one of the craziest things we do. Marcus prayed four hours straight and when I saw him the next day he said he felt like four hours wasn’t enough. My two hours flew by – I felt like I just got started. Our newly-baptized believer came out of the prayer room with wide eyes and said she’s going to sign up for more hours next time. My friend Simone was giddy at church when he told me he just did his first hour alone in the prayer room.

And so every other month or so (should it be more often?) we all take our turns in the prayer room. Some of us will write, some will pray out loud. Some will sing and some will listen to music. Some will shout and some will be still. But all of will come out somehow changed.

11.19.09

It Has Nothing to do with Us

Posted in church, ministry, Newsletters at 2:49 am

Everybody ready for the big confession?

The growth of the church in Ancona has absolutely nothing to do with me. Or any of the other missionaries working with me. Or any of the members who currently attend.

This fact has really been driven home to me in the past month. Jason asked me if I would meet him at our church building after dinner. A woman who is friends with one of our church members wanted to get together and talk about some things she had been reading in the Bible.

Uhhh … OK. Who could turn down an invitation like that?

So we met and just started talking. Jason started things out by asking her to give us a little bit of background about herself – where she’s from, how she ended up coming to our church.

I was completely unprepared for what was about to happen. In the most clear and genuine way, she talked about how God had been working in her life even before she knew it to prepare her to become a Christian.

She talked about how she needed forgiveness, and how she believed that Jesus lived a perfect life and was a sacrifice for our sins. She knew that baptism was a part of becoming a Christian. She even quoted the passage in Acts where the Ethiopian says, “Look, here’s water … why shouldn’t I be baptized?”

We were honest with her. We talked about how baptism is very important in the life of a Christian, but one part of other things like repentance that are just as important. We told her that problems in life don’t magically go away when people give their lives to Christ. And we asked her a simple question: Are you ready?

And she was. Not even a week later we all met at the Casey’s house to baptize her in the bathtub. When she came out of the bathroom after getting dressed she said, “It’s wonderful to be a newborn!”

All of this reminds me that God is already at work here in Ancona. He is much more concerned than I am about a growing church in this city. He is infinitely better than we are at drawing people to Himself.

We basically just have to show up. We have to find places here where God is already working and join Him. “God made it grow” is such a true verse. We’re all busy seeking Him and doing what we feel He’s leading us to do, but God is the one working behind the scenes.

Welcome to the family, Cristina!