B ringing an 8-week-old baby back to Nosy Mitsio has definitely taken some adjusting. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do everything I’d done before and that things would look different for me. And so this last month back on the island has been a time of readjusting and catching up with the people around us and with our team. Naturally, I want to figure out how to jump back in and how best to be a part of the ministry; some exciting things have started while we were gone. I have a million ideas of what I could do but when I began to pray about these things, the Lord told me to wait and that He would show me what to do as I prayed for my village.
This answer, although I know it is good, has been quite frustrating. There is so much to be done and so much I want to do, yet he wants me to pray first. As I think back on many times in my life, it’s very typical of me to try to do things with good intentions that meet my own expectations through my own strength, knowledge, and efforts. But my strength has never and will never be sufficient. The verse from Isaiah 43:1 that I always heard as a child is carrying a lot of weight with me now: “He who waits upon the Lord will renew his strength.” How appropriate it is for the Lord to tell me to wait on him right now, because it will be his strength he gives me for the task ahead, his strength I need, not my own.
In James 1:5-6 it says:
According to James, wisdom is the ability to live life rightly and make good decisions. He says in verse 5 that if we want it, all we have to do is ask – come to him in prayer. It’s clear to me that God is saying that if I want to know how best to be a part of his work here then I need to seek his wisdom through prayer so that I’m not floundering about in all my good intentions but without direction.
I ’ve been meditating lately on what I believe to be the most difficult command from Jesus for all of his disciples: “If you don’t carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27). Let’s think about this: he’s saying you need to die to everything that currently gives you life, to completely let go of yourself and your desires in order to truly follow him. And that’s what begins to happen when we pray. We put our desires and agendas to the side so that we can know him more intimately: his desires and his heart for the world around us. And it’s then, in communion with him, that we are transformed and made new, made into reflections of him as our old self begins to die away. In Contagious Disciple Making, Paul Watson states it well: “Prayer isn’t about twisting God’s arm to get Him to do what you think He should. It’s about aligning your heart and mind with God’s.”
Earlier in the book, the author describes a conversation he once had with a Hindu shopkeeper:
This man’s devotion, although ritualistic in nature, was a part of every aspect of his life, every day and throughout every day. I know that most of us don’t even begin to pray to our God that often, but how many of us don’t pray even once each day? Does it seem we’re lacking in this area? Are we intentionally making him a part of everything we do? Do we worship just one day a week or do we make our lives an act of worship, every day and throughout every day?
We want to see not just a church here on Nosy Mitsio, but a church planting movement: a rapidly multiplying increase in Antakarana churches planting more churches. Every successful church planting movement throughout the world has begun with prayer. It’s not a surprise that our whole team has recently been drawn by God towards more prayer, both privately and publicly. Collectively, our team has committed to boldly pray for every sick person we encounter and to seize any other opportunities to pray in front of and with our neighbors in different situations. We’ve prayed over boat trips, newborn babies, and for the safety of a missing family member. We want to model for our neighbors that communication with the Creator is a part of our daily lives and that we trust him for everything we need.
A nd so to you friends, family, and supporters: I ask that you join us in our call to prayer. Let God unite us across the seas to have our hearts joined in longing to see the Antakarana come to know Jesus. Here are the areas where we really need your prayer right now:
* Protection and Perseverance Through Trials – As people begin to boldly proclaim the name of Christ, they will most likely encounter spiritual warfare in its various forms. Pray for us as a team that we continue to be unified and work together as the body of Christ. Pray for protection over us and our families, for good health, rest, and energy to complete the task set before us. And pray against any fear that would hinder us from proclaiming his name and sharing his stories, even in the face of opposition.
* Sharing Bible Stories – The Antakarana do not have a Bible in their language and so we’ve been working to translate Bible stories to share with them. This work can be long and challenging as we seek to choose words that most effectively communicate His story in their heart language. It’s not enough for them to just hear, but they need to be able to repeat the stories so they can then share them with their friends and families. We as a team have really struggled to get people to repeat and retell these stories and sometimes even basic comprehension is a problem. Please pray that God give us a breakthrough in language and that we do not become discouraged but keep persevering in this process, trusting the Lord to give us insight into how best to communicate his stories in ways that are natural to our neighbors. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open their ears to hear and give them understanding to grasp his truths and enthusiasm to share them. Praise God that there has been an interest in hearing the stories and pray that the interest will continue to grow.
* School Ministry – One of our team members has been welcomed at the primary school where she has been teaching Christian songs to the kids. She is also taking the opportunity to teach them about God and who he is. Pray that the truths they are learning will become rooted in their hearts and that the Holy Spirit will prepare them for when they will also soon hear the Bible stories. Pray that as they repeat what they’re learning in their homes and villages, that a desire to learn more about God will grow in their families.
* Medical Ministry – Praise God that the community is taking initiative to be trained and to maintain basic medical care on our region of the island. They have chosen two young people to be trained who will eventually be in charge of providing medical care to the local community. Pray that the community continues to take the appropriate steps to see this through and that the training goes smoothly. Pray that people will see the love of God through these acts of service and through the prayers they receive. Pray that they’ll be able to see the power of God through miraculous healings. This is a key area, because local people believe the ancestors as the ones who give sicknesses and take them away. We pray that God will demonstrate to them that he’s more powerful and that he’s involved in their lives. And please pray for wisdom over Shawn and Angie Mayle as they seek the Lord on how all of this will look in their lives and how they should move forward.
R ight now, we’re in a key transition for our team here on Nosy Mitsio as we move into formal ministry. Praise God that he’s given us open doors into the hearts of the people here and that they’ve grown to love us as we love them. Thanks to all you who have been praying so far, and we encourage you to keep knocking and seeking. We need to be covered in prayer from across the globe.
I’m asking all who read this to commit to continual consistent prayer for us and our team over the next nine months as we bring the gospel to the Antakarana. I do not want to tell you how or with what frequency to do this or that you have to stick strictly with these prayer points, but I ask that you let the Lord lead you in how to pray. If you have trouble getting started, read through Psalm 67 and let that guide you. And as you commit to pray, write and let us know how the Lord has led you to do it and if he shows you anything specific in prayer. We will be encouraged to know that the body of Christ all over the world is joining together to align with God’s heart for the Antakarana.
As the body of Christ, let’s make our lives an act of worship. Let’s become people of prayer, every day and throughout every day. And let’s look forward to the day when the Antakarana will join us.
We anticipate hearing how God will draw you closer to him through prayer.
Lora, Adam, Matimu and David
P.S. If you’re new to our newsletter list, or if you forgot: we have a prayer request page here on our website that we try to update as often as we can get to town (usually not more than once a month). Feel free to check there frequently over the coming months for updates on how to pray for us, our team, and the ministry here.
AIM also hosts a “PrayAfrica” website with prayer requests for various unreached people groups. The Antakarana page prayer requests are oriented more directly for the Antakarana people, including specific events that have happened or are upcoming which can use special prayer. Please visit the website frequently or sign up to be notified with new prayer requests, as another way of keeping up-to-date with how to pray for the people here: http://prayafrica.org/antakarana/