If you want to learn to ride a bike you start biking. It will feel clumsy, you will likely fall and you may even end up in a ditch. But “practice makes perfect.” It is the same with prayer. Prayer is a discipline for me, not a natural gift. I can use all the practice I can get. And a week (Oct 19-26/10) in Nicaragua on a trip planned by Prayer Missions International and the Nehemiah Centre in Managua was just that. We packed in six days of teaching, travel, adventure and mostly prayer. We prayed hard and sometimes long.
Often it felt like we stood at the intersection of heaven and earth, and were waving Nicaraguan believers through the intersection, directing them toward heaven, meanwhile pointing God in the direction of his precious children, lifting their needs up before Him and pleading on their behalf.
The team God brought together and gelled into one, consisted of Pastor Jon DeBruyn (founder and director of Prayer Missions International) and six members: Jean LeMahieu and Dick Huibregste (Michigan), Nanette Hoogsteen (Ontario), along with Arthur Dubbeldam, Curt Rozendaal and myself from Bethel (Edmonton). We visited and prayed for the Nicaragua Christian Academy (two campusws), Treasures of God (a facility that ministers to challenged children and their parents), prayer walked through several unfinished church buildings and spent time praying for the City of Managua and the country of Nicaragua. Each morning began with group devotions and praying for one individual on the team.
Here’s a sampling of the people we surrounded with prayer during the week:
- Martha, the widow and ministry partner of Pastor Juan Gutierrez, who had died six months earlier, leaving Martha and her six children with few resources.
- Pastor William Estrada, family and staff (special emphasis on youth) who work in a settlement established by a German priest after hurricane El Fifi.
- CRC Pastor Berto, his wife Claudia and their daughter.
- Pastor Wilfredo, his family and church (especially their two month old son).
- The staff of the Nehemiah Centre (to whom we also taught Lectio Divina).
- Former CRC pastor Edwin and wife, who provides for his family of five with his three wheeled taxi pedal bike.
- A group of farmers (13 families) in the south east corner of Nicaragua, near San Lucas, who are being helped by The Luke Society and World Renew to develop and farm two acres of land each, which is enough for one family to live on.
I’ve sometimes wondered about the millions of dollars spent on short term missions. When the average daily family income in Nicaragua is around $2.00, wouldn’t I be better off staying home to pray and donating the $1200 spent on air fare to the poor? The poor do need financial assistance, but what they also need is spiritual encouragement. And when you stand with fellow believers in Nicaragua, and witness their faith and courage, you realize the spiritual connection is just as and sometimes more valuable than cash. Prayer is also a gift, a priceless handout from the heart.
Praying with these brothers and sisters was a great privilege. Several commented that while some pray for them, we came and prayed with them. So if you have any urge to vacation in another country (and even if you don’t) I encourage you to make this a “vacation” with a difference. Prayer Missions International is planning trips to other places, in conjunction with Christian Reformed World Missions. If you join them you will grow in prayer, meet wonderful Christian workers and discover a new land and culture. And if you like, you can tack on a week of rest and recreation.
Pastor, Bethel Community Church.
For more information contact Rev. Jon De Bruyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.