A few years ago my kids and I spent a month praying for the THUMB people. You know about this? THUMB is an acronym for Tribal, Hindu, Unreached (or unreligious), Muslim and Buddhist. I know, it sounds super-spiritual and really holy, doesn't it? Well, if you've ever prayed with early elementary school kids, you'll know it's not too spiritual feeling. It's mainly like herding cats into a semi-quiet place and making them say more than 2 sentences that do not include, "Thank you for our food."
Each day we prayed we'd use an ink pad to place a thumb print on a map I printed off the internet. My kids absolutely loved this. We were learning about different cultures, we were paying together and (most importantly, to them) we got to use an ink pad everyday!
I, on the other hand, was thinking, "Well, it's a good thing for them to do, but I hope they don't get bored." Unlike delivering cookies to a nursing home or passing out waters to homeless people, there's not a big response to praying for someone halfway around the world. My kids wouldn't see an immediate payout of their prayers.
Or so I thought.
The day we prayed for the "U" people--Unreached people around the world, I posted a picture on Instagram of us marking our little map with thumbprints. Three days after that my brother-in-law, a missionary to Mexico posted on Facebook about an incredible day he had had three days ago while fishing with his friend.
Well, it started out as a fishing trip and turned into a fishing-for-men trip! While they were walking around in a rural area of Mexico, they came across a woman who was selling soft drinks and snacks from a small hut on the side of the road. She quietly and tentatively asked them, "Are you believers?"
They asked, "In what?"
She replied, "Jesus."
This woman had heard about Jesus from another man who had heard a pastor preach one time six years ago. She had been praying God would send her someone to tell her and her community about Jesus!
That night, my brother-in-law had a meeting with 40 or so members of the village and all were saved, some healed and others felt God's presence for the first time in their life.
When I saw this update, I felt punched in the gut. My kids had just been praying for people who had never heard about Jesus and their uncle was preaching to a village of unreached people that very day?!
And I thought this might be a boring activity?
I think about this story often. I'm a mama in the middle of the Bible belt of America. My kids barely know non-Christian people. We go to a Christian school, spend time volunteering at church and surround ourselves with the things of God as best we can. So, sometimes keeping the mission of going-into-all-the-world seems hard and totally out of reach. I feel small and like I'm not doing much for Him.
Then, I remember how God works. He works through people. Even little kids who pray two sentence prayers. He used our prayers to open a door, or prompt a woman, or give my brother-in-law boldness or something so a group of people in a faraway village in Mexico would hear about Jesus.
I can't explain how or why but it's a truth I cling to: God uses me where I am. Paul tells the Philippians,"...it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." (2:13) My feet may not be going to the far corners of the earth, but God can use my prayers. When we pray, we are partnering with God for His purposes for the world.
So today, grab a map, or a picture of your favorite missionary, or pay attention to the first country you hear about on the news. Gather your kids to your side and pray for those people. You may not see a result pop up on Facebook, but you can be certain God will use your prayers to bring people to Him!
Amanda White is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at ohAmanda.com and is the author of Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!
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