Should I tell you about the old man we met? Another missionary passed on his photo as she headed back to the States. Said she’d met him in the market somewhere. It was just one picture in a pile of twenty or more. His stature was small and his skin was wrinkled from years of rice farming in the southwestern sun, but his smile was the biggest you’ve seen. We made prayer calendars and used some printshop to put his picture on September, I think. We’d never met any of these people, but we sent their photos tucked in these little prayer calendars home to the States and asked friends everywhere, ‘Will you pray for these people you’ve never met? Will you pray that they’ll meet Jesus?’
We’d already spent a year in those tall, rocky mountains, climbing and circling and looking for villages. On a cold December morning, a group of us went looking for one village and instead found another. The team walked prayerfully along the path and there standing at the gate was the photo come alive-that same old man-still smiling. He asked the team to come in and there on the wall hung the exact photo we’d placed on the prayer calendar.
We all wondered at the odds. There were at least 100 villages, at least 100,000 people to find and here we were-standing right in front of this ONE, this one man who happened to get his picture taken by a foreigner years earlier. Here we were and there he was-this ONE man whose photo was sitting on at least 100 desks or nightstands or prayer benches back in America.
As the team stepped on to that truck and climbed up the steep side of the mountain, we were all certain we were the first believers to scale that height. But once we met him, this old man that we’d looked at every time we folded another prayer calendar, we realized we weren’t the first to visit this village.
Those old women praying for us on the coast of Mississippi, the small group in California, the girl friends in Louisiana and the college friends in South Carolina…they were the ones who’d reached his village first. Their prayers, simple as they may have been, as they glanced at his photo, were the first step, the necessary step we were all depending on. God had used their prayers over this photo to direct the truck driver, clear the path up the mountain, open wide the gate into that village and finally open wide this old man’s heart.
He heard about Christ for the first time that day and all that he heard, he believed. He’d go on to to tell his family, to tell his friends, and even to translate gospel materials into his own language.
“Prayer is action. By it we step out in advance of all other results….Praying is an activity upon which all others depend. By prayer we establish a beachhead for the kingdom among peoples where it has never been before. Prayer strikes the winning blow. All other missionary efforts simply gather up the fruits of our praying. ” David Bryant
Should I tell you about this old man we met? About all the people you yourself can meet-through prayer? How many days do I despair at my lack of involvement in missions for no good reason? No matter the busyness of the day or the month or the year, there is always time and space on the calendar to pray.
Today, we’re praying for Cambodia. If you’re reading in a reader or email, consider coming to www.burningbushes.org to watch the video and pray together with us. You never know if one of the faces you see and pray over will be a face that one day comes face to face with the gospel. Through prayer, we get to go there first!