Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pray in the Spirit!

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18

As a child I attended Sunday School at Arbor Heights Community Church in Seattle. In time, this church became affiliated with, and then a member of, the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Through the witness of my Sunday School teachers I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior at age 14. In my first year of college in Bellingham, I attended a “Tent Meeting” held in a tent with a sawdust floor. While listening to the preacher, I realized that I not only needed Jesus Christ as my Savior, but also to invite Him to be my Lord, or Master. I walked forward and prayed, dedicating my life to listening to the voice of Jesus and obeying Him to the best of my abilities, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In 1962 I began attending what was then called Women’s Missionary Prayer Fellowship (WMPF). This is the “arm” of the C&MA that all Alliance women are invited to attend. At age 20, I was the youngest person attending. I barely knew anyone, or what the procedures were or who the missionaries were that they spoke of and prayed for. Nevertheless, I persevered, knowing it was something God wanted me to do. Over time, I learned so much about missionary families, how they lived, what their needs were, and how to pray for them. Their letters were read and prayed over. We rejoiced over their successes, prayed even more over their ongoing requests, and praised God for the amazing fact that we could reach the world effectively through the Name of Jesus Christ! We often sent gift boxes to these missionaries. Finally, I was able to meet them in person when they came home on “furlough” after three years of service.

I also learned the history of WMPF. In the late 1800's, Rev. A. B. Simpson, the educator and organizer of missionaries and ways they and Christians stateside could communicate better, began writing and publishing a magazine. It, too, has changed its name and currently is entitled “aLife”. The Christian women formed local groups to pray for the needs of the missionaries who were ministering in Africa and China under Simpson’s direction. As they heard Rev. Simpson’s passionate preaching, women even felt the need to give their jewelry as an offering, due to their heartfelt compassion for the lost. The idea for the small groups of praying women eventually spread to most, if not all, the Alliance churches world-wide. Donations are still an important part of Alliance Women’s Ministries. Our National AWM annual giving recently surpassed $300,000. It funds missions projects that would not otherwise be completed. The GCF pays for missionary allotments, but not for the needed projects in their area of ministry. So, women united together to help collect funds for different projects each year. A project is decided upon each year; a goal is set. By the end of that year our goal has nearly always been met, thanks to our amazing God!

When planning our meetings, we ask God to give us ideas to make our meetings interesting and profitable for our church family, our community, and the world. This has led to clever ways to keep the prayer time interesting. Those attending bond together, learn geography and about foreign cultures, of the missionaries’ needs and how to help provide for them.

Our times of prayer have been meaningful and successful. From around the world, we learn of miraculous answers to our prayers. Email and Skype has helped to learn of urgent needs quickly. Some prayers are answered immediately, but others are ongoing and often are answered in different ways than we anticipated, but always in the way God planned. We feel closer to our beloved International Workers, as if we know them before ever meeting them, because of our prayers offered up on their behalf. Once I introduced myself to international workers from South America who visited EHA. I’d prayed for and written to them several times, but we had never met. Upon my introduction, the wife said, “I remember you, you wrote to us”. The husband said the same thing when I met him. What an honor to be known by praying for and writing to these workers on the “front line”. Others have spoken to our Alliance Missions Connection (our group’s current name at EHA) and voiced their thanks for our prayers, emails and gifts on their behalf.

It is a privilege and joy to regularly attend AMC and pray with those attending. It is a “free” way to help further the Gospel around the world as was Rev. Simpson’s dream. It is an honor to be a part of Alliance Women’s Ministries worldwide and of what God is doing through faithful prayer.

--Linda Grewelle

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