What!? Traveling 6,000 miles just to pray!?
Yep. That's what Anthony, the founder of TEN3, is doing right now. He had once told his daughter he would travel across the world just to speak for ten minutes about the Lord. Soon after, he got an invitation to go to Ethiopia to speak for ten minutes! "What could I do but accept?" he reflects with a chuckle. It turns out, though, the invitation had a mistake; it was actually for ten days.
Even after that happened, though, he thought taking a big mission trip just to pray was ridiculous. After all, you can pray for anyone from wherever you are! Save the money and traveling exhaustion for what can't be done from a distance!
Oh how little we really know. If you've been following my blog posts, you know that this year is really stretching TEN3. It will make or break the vision we've been striving for all these years. And as we've been struggling to help our four locations get to a point of demonstrable viability, Anthony was impressed with the need to be physically with our partners in Africa ... to pray. But why? Why pray over there when we can just pray from home?
"Why" is usually not a good question to ask when it comes to prayer. Do we really understand why we need to pray at all? Prayer doesn't make God any more good or loving or just. We can't impose our will onto God. The wiser theologians I've read have all said that prayer is really about changing our hearts, making them line up with God's heart and thus able to receive and participate in God's grace active throughout the world. God lines up our hearts with His in prayer, and also in being together with our brothers and sisters, where we can see the hope in their eyes, feel the fears they face, hold them if they cry.
Jesus didn't save us from His throne in heaven. He saved us by coming to where we are, living and dying as one of us, and then rising from the dead that we may be with Him. So how can we think that we can save people from a distance? No, we must choose, as Paul did,
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
It's somewhat a mystery, but God works through interaction, us being with Him and with each other. Please pray for Anthony and Rob, TEN3's worship leader, as they travel to Zambia and stay about ten days. They are taking computer equipment to help start a center as well while they are there, but their primary purpose is to pray with Pastor Collins Sakalunda and his colleagues who share his desire to reach their people through transformational education. I pray that in that time the Lord break down barriers that may be in people's hearts, that He grow brotherhood and resolve to serve, that He implant our vision of African churches overcoming the severe challenges they currently face and emerging as world leaders in education and the spread of the Gospel into everyone's heart whom He desires to be part of it.