At the core of our missionary endeavor
I recently visited two restricted-access countries in Africa where some of our missionary personnel are helping to plant the church of Jesus Christ. On this trip I was reminded of three principles of power at the core of our missionary endeavor wherever we labor.
The power of prayer
In both countries I recognized once again that our missionaries and national workers face intense spiritual warfare. We hear this statement often, but it should never become passé. Those who have visited overseas understand this clearly. The moment you step off the plane you can feel the power of Satan and the oppression he brings to a nation.
Yet throughout my visit in Africa I was reminded of the power of prayer — the most effective weapon we have in this spiritual battle. The power of prayer is a principle, but sometimes we fail to acknowledge it. Our Movement places a great emphasis on structure and financial support in missions, but our greatest emphasis must always be the importance of intercessory prayer in breaking the enemy’s bonds.
For generations missionaries have told stories of the power of prayer. They continue to report testimony after testimony of how God sustains and rescues them in trying circumstances. Often when they return to the States for itineration, people tell them the Holy Spirit prompted them to intercede on their behalf. The time of this burden came at the exact time of need. The Holy Spirit recruited intercessors from across the sea at the very time the missionaries were in desperate circumstances.
Our country needs to rise up in intercessory prayer on behalf of missionaries as well as national leaders and churches. If we continually emphasize the power of prayer we will see the Lord break the bondage people are under because of political systems or religious oppression. Our Pentecostal mission depends on prayer because our mission depends on miracles.
The power of love
Love can overcome obstacles that seem impenetrable.
During my flight a businessman said to me, “Do you realize how often world conflicts have developed because of religious beliefs?”
I had to admit his statement is true.
I said to him, “It is often because people do not live out the principles of their religion, be it Christianity or any other religion.”
Because of sinful characteristics within every earthly culture, the enemy’s efforts to foment hostility between believers and bring persecution upon the body of Christ are on the increase. But when we as missionaries and believers display the true love of Jesus Christ and live out the Sermon on the Mount, we will see logjams broken that have developed during centuries of hatred and strife — even among religious groups.
In one restricted-access country, I saw an example of how some ministries have overcome people’s former prejudices and won their hearts. How did it happen? Believers simply displayed the love of Jesus Christ not only in their public affairs but also in their daily walk.
The love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the power of the Holy Ghost enables us to break down barriers of hostility and conflict. Scripture describes it this way: “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:7,8, NKJV).
The power of creativity
My trip reminded me we must be creative in our approach to reaching people in other lands with the gospel. Planting the church of Jesus Christ can’t always be done in the traditional way. Conducting open-air crusades or building churches isn’t always possible.
Because of restrictions in so many places, we must ask the Holy Spirit to show us new, ingenious methods of reaching people. Some societies and populations have raised barriers so impenetrable that traditional methods will not work. Being creative in our methods is the challenge of the hour, and God is helping us.
In Africa and throughout the world I marvel at how the Holy Spirit gives our missionaries creativity. Guided by God’s wisdom, they are sharing the gospel via methods that previously have not been tried. They are finding means of communicating the love of Christ in places where the message is hindered, whether by repressive governments, spiritual illiteracy or language barriers.
As the Lord made the way to eternal life, we can be certain He will make a way to get His message to people so they can receive His salvation. May we remember to do our part by applying the power principles of prayer, love and creativity in all that we do.
L. JOHN BUENO
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4874 - 10/7/07