Power in Prayer: Especially for our Missionary Friends

We believe in prayer.

Prayer for each other, for friends that don’t know God loves them yet, prayer for our church, our nation, our missionaries. Ah, yes, the missionaries.

It’s easy to lump them all together in a quick moment of “Lord, bless all the missionaries”, isn’t it?  And they might even say “we’ll take what we can get”. But actually prayer is a lot more than the quick, all-inclusive broad brush stroke of divine ‘blessing’ on whoever and wherever and whatever it is they actually need.

Prayer is a specific conversation between you and our Almighty God!  He teaches us to pray, He awaits our prayer, and He hears our prayer.  Sometimes our prayers may seem quick and sound much like the last time we prayed. I’m betting God is saying, “Come on kid, go ahead and put a little something on that. You’re talking to me and I’ve got all day, I’m all yours!”  Isn’t it amazing that God invites us to come to Him, to share our heart and our hurts and our desires?

A few weeks ago in our study of 2 Thessalonians we came across this little jewel of powerful prayer:

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you.  2 Thessalonians 3:1

Powerful prayer is specific. Nothing wrong with asking God for “blessings” for our missionaries. But what Paul says is, “listen, the Word of God came to you so you now know Him and have a cool church. As we continue to do missionary work pray for us. But not just for safety or blessing or prosperity or good health. Pray that God’s Word would go forward, and go fast!”  That’s what I call the Urgency of Grace! When people hear the Word, they can respond in faith becoming followers of Jesus Christ, therefore they are also honoring, or glorifying God, just by being His!  How many people need Jesus?  All of them!

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Jaron, Nicki, Noelia and Evalie Rogers

At Grace we’ve been blessed to see several of our missionaries over the past few months. Most recently the Rogers stopped in this past Sunday. You can hear Jaron’s message here.  As we send them off, let’s remember how to best pray for them and our other missionaries and ministries. That God’s Word would do what only God’s Word can do. Change lives for eternity. 

Teaching in Thailand

What a great few days so far. Tonight was a great end to a wonderful day. There was a lot of teaching and worship. My cup is full.  Tomorrow we will conclude our part of the Pastor’s Conference.  Here are just a few pictures of our teachers and the beautiful Hmong people.

This is Ron Miller teaching the first night. Ron leads the Baan Immanuel ministries

This is Ron Miller teaching the first night. Ron leads the Baan Immanuel ministries

Here's Linda Holgate teaching the women

Here’s Linda Holgate teaching the women

 

Here's Dan Holgate teaching with our interpreter

Here’s Dan Holgate teaching with our interpreter

 

Paul teaching

Paul teaching

Ladies SessionHmong ConferenceI think we’re all doing well, but feeling spent. Pray for a good night’s rest and a very effective closing day tomorrow.  This has been great! I am so thankful to the Lord for allowing us a small part of an amazing movement.

 

Thailand!

This will be brief. I’ve been meaning for the past couple of days to let you know we’re headed to Thailand once again. Well, now it’s just an hour or so away.  I was blessed to go in March last year with two pastors from Calvary Community in Phoenix, Dan Holgate and Paul Hayes. This year, they invited me back as well as Laurie!  I am so glad the wives are coming along to round out the team. Last year we noticed how many of the Hmong pastors from the neighboring countries came and brought their wives, so this became a priority for us too.  A bonus is that we will get to see Molly Evans, a young lady from Grace who is serving in Bangkok.

As you think of us, please pray for the ministry. Safety and health are bonuses, but the effective work of ministering to these men and women is of utmost priority!

 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ . . .  Colossians 4:2-3

Farewell

Six weeks ago Laurie and I were at the camp in Imuris, Sonora for the first time in 3 years.  I was privileged to speak that Thursday evening. Before the service, we arrived in time to visit with several of the dear saints we’ve known for many years. We sat around the dinner tables and we listened and laughed and learned.

That evening in the service, Hermano Roberto Cruz got up to sing a couple of songs at the request of the campers.  Then afterwards, I got a good picture with him, and suddenly a group of young people jumped in to be with “Hermano Cruz”.  As we walked back toward to dining area, he needed a shoulder to hold onto, I was honored to provide and talk along the way.

This past Thursday was 6 weeks later. And I was in Ures, along with my wife, my brother Leonard and his wife Susie. We were there to honor the memory of Roberto Cruz. He died earlier in the week.

My earliest memories of him were when he pastored the church in Imuris, and I was a small boy.  Through the years, he was known as one of my dad’s friends. He had a beautiful voice and a gracious spirit that made it all believable.  I’ll never forget seeing him in Tucson at my mother’s funeral, and then a few years later, at my father’s. He came all that way. And he played his guitar and he sang. We all knew this was special.

So, when I heard him get up to sing six weeks ago, I knew it was special. And it was. I got a brief clip on my phone, not a song I was too familiar with, but one I can’t get out of my head now. It was the last time I’d hear him sing.

He served faithfully for many years. He led, many followed. Now, it’s our turn to lead.

Blessed Family Ties

Yesterday my brother Leonard Smith spoke on “Why I Am A Missionary”. I requested him to speak on this topic because of our current study in Ephesians and the need to understand how the local body is equipped in order to serve others.  This includes not just life in our local church, it includes how ministry needs to be offered in the far away places like Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico.

You can catch Leonard’s sermon from 2 Cor 5 here, and you can also see the pictures he shared with us here.

This past Sunday, NewSpring Church gave Mandy a chance to talk about how God has comforted and blessed her and her kids since Zac passed away last year.  Over 13,000 saw this video this weekend along with many, like me, online. God continues to use this story of trusting God when it really is painful. Check it out here.

Yep, I’m very proud of my family. I’m thankful for the ways God chooses to use each of us for His glory.  I’m very blessed.

Got the ball?

Pick any sport with a ball.  Doesn’t really matter the sport. If there’s a ball, all eyes are on the ball.  Actually what happens to the ball is the whole point of the sport.  Think of all the other aspects of the sport you thought of, and bottom line, it all comes down to where the ball is, and who’s got it.

In basketball, 9 other on-court players and two benches full of players and coaches along with countless fans are watching the one guy bouncing the ball.  In baseball, 18 guys are watching the ball as it speeds from the hand of the pitcher at 90 miles an hour or as it explodes off the bat and out 300 plus yards.  Again, all the players, coaches, investors, fans, are all watching the ball and watching to see if the player can cross home plate before the ball does.  You see how this works? Soccer, tennis, football (yes! it’s finally here!!), even four square and kickball…it’s all about the ball.

When Jesus got ready to leave this planet and head home, He looked into the eyes of His small group of followers and He saw the future ball-carriers.  He told them they’d have to wait on the Holy Spirit and then they could run with vicious passion to get the ball across the line.  They’ve since passed it to us.  All Jesus came to do, His ‘mission’, has been passed on to us.  He finished the work, He completed the gift of salvation. And now today He’s given us the ball to carry right where we are and in the exact times we live in.  Through lives dedicated to Him and His mission of loving others in truth and grace, we carry the ball He so carefully has tossed to us.

You got the ball?  What are you doing with it?