For this reason I kneel before the Father… that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. ~ Ephesians 3:14-18
Recently, I was talking to our children about a few stories we heard from missionary friends who are now spread around the globe. Like many of us, my seven-year-old son wasn’t too engaged. It’s all so distant, and we can so quickly underestimate the importance of calling out to God for our brothers and sisters. I stopped and attempted to paint the picture a little more clearly for my boy.
“Son, let’s just pretend for a minute. Can you imagine a really deep well? It is a dry well, but it is pitch black; it’s lonely; it’s a really scary place…. And there are some desperate people deep down in that hole. Help must come, and you are the lucky one that gets to hang by a really long rope with a pail of emergency supplies tied to your waist and a headlamp on your head. Buddy, you’re a pretty adventurous guy, so you are ready to go help these people, right?” “Right!,” he responds. “Good,” I say. And then I continue, “Your eight-year-old brother is going to be at the top holding the rope for you, so that you don’t fall!” My seven-year-old son was suddenly very engaged in this story. His eyes grew huge, and he looked at his bigger brother who was grinning from across the table at him.
“You don’t want your brother to forget you down in that hole, do you? Or, if it takes you a REALLY long time to do everything you need to down in that hole, do you want him to lose interest and meander away?” The answer is obvious—my youngest son did NOT want that.
The truth is, we often struggle to remember who dangles on the other end of our ropes once we send them off, but at Bethlehem College & Seminary, we don’t want that for our brothers and sisters—our former students who are going deep, and our current students who are thick in the preparation stage of becoming hole-plungers. We are so thankful that God doesn’t just send one 8-year-old (strong and loyal as he is) to hold the rope for his children who are going on mission, but that he moves many to pray at various times, for specific reasons.
We need rope holders—those who will be tender to God’s nudging, those who will pray earnestly and give sacrificially for those who are on the rescue mission, dangling on the end of long ropes. We long for lost sheep to be brought into the safety and joy of the risen Christ, and we long for those who are serving as our hands and feet all over the world to be cared for as they go. If you want to grab on with us and pray, here are just a few glimpses of some of our alumni rescuers already down in the holes and of some, soon to graduate, who are preparing to enter:
For alumni who are pastoring around the nation:
- Some are very lonely and isolated. Ask God to sustain them and to feed them from the bread of his Word and to comfort them while they wait for camaraderie.
- Others are pastors who are in the trenches of evil gossip that hinders church health and forward movement. Pray that when the winds of adversity blow strong that our alumni will stand faithful and wise, and that God’s church will grow in purity.
- We have some church planters in needy communities. Would you ask God for abiding strength, for strategic wisdom, and for divine appointments and provision, and that he would build his church.
- For all our alumni who are pastoring to be true to God’s Word in preaching and in shepherding amidst these tumultuous days in our nation.
For alumni who are serving cross-culturally:
- Some of our friends are on the front lines ministering among refugees. Pray that they will drink deep of the living water of God’s Word that never runs dry and that gospel hope will spill over and spread through the camps to bring new life!
- Pray for our friends who are doing the servant-hearted hard work of language learning in a foreign culture and of raising young children, usually amidst sickness. Pray for language learning grace, strength, perseverance, and family unity around God’s Word.
- Ask the Lord to raise up mature fellow leadership-partners for those who are overwhelmed with the amount of work to be done amidst their broken people, and ask God for strong marriages to grow up out of the wreckage that is a long history of brokenness.
- Pray for God to send rain to East Africa. Our friends know what it means to depend on the rain, because without it the people they love will die.
- Pray for families who are support raising, some with children with major health issues, and another who is doing this already-hard work while also grieving the loss of family members due to tragic death. Ask God to provide time to do the work and favor in fundraising.
For our current students who are in training:
- Pray for those who are readying to graduate. Ask God to give them peace as he leads them to their new ministry posts. Ask for discernment and family unity (for those who have families) about the next steps.
- Amidst the strain of academic life, pray that our students (and their families) will open their hearts to all that God is trying to teach them, both in life circumstances and in their studies, and that their hearts would grow in worship and happy dependence.
- Pray for those who are trying to walk into healing from broken pasts. Ask God to draw near to them and to comfort and strengthen them.
- Pray for purity and help to fight sin, and for humility and a sense of awe of our God as they study and labor.
- Pray for their financial provision.