The airplane was somewhere over the Pacific. It was dark, we were into the tenth hour of a fifteen-and-a-half hour flight and I was restless. Running through my mind was this notion of 40 Days to Freedom. I was thinking of the prayers that had been lifted heavenward on our behalf and were being lifted even as sped across the Pacific at 500 knots. How would God answer these prayers? Would we see immediate impact or would this be a season of seed planting? What did God have in mind for this time, this journey, this group of praying people?
I slid the questions into an unused corner of my heart and went to sleep for a while. I would grab them later when I could put them to use.
Prayer Along the Road
Fast forward to a bumpy road in the mountains of Madang Province. Though it was early the sun was already hot. The greenery whizzed by on both sides of the truck as we made our way toward Uria. The questions started jiggling loose and flopping around in my consciousness as we bumped through potholes and rough spots in the road. Memories flooded my mind at every turn in the road and through each pass in the mountains. “How will you answer these prayers, Father?” Kablooey. Flat tire. In the middle of nowhere. Probably wasn’t my idea of answered prayer. A group of road workers happened by a few minutes later, jacked the truck up and changed the tire. We started rolling again. Flop. Swish. Flop. Swish. The rhythmic thumping and hissing of another flat tire–no spare this time. We sat on the edge of the road. I whipped out a mobile phone and texted my wife in the U.S. “Have people pray. We are stranded.” The prayers went out. Pray-ers prayed. Along came a truck filled with people who recognized me–they were wontoks (one-talks); Somau Garia friends. They loaded up our driver, our blown out tire, and were off to town. A few hours later we were back on the road to the village. Those flat-tire prayers were impactful. I believe that the prayers offered gave extra oomph to what was discussed, what was decided, even in setting up conditions so that Jesus’ name will be honored when we return and get moving with the translation again. I also believe that a younger generation of Somau Garia speakers will be engaged and involved in the process of translation and literacy because of answer to those prayers and perhaps even due to the delay in starting the meeting caused by the tires blowing out.
Prayer With Impact
A week later I found myself in Tiap Village, where Aruamu is spoken, talking with the Lord. “Father, how will you answer prayers in this place?” No flat tires here. Events were less mundane. As I was preaching one evening, some young men were sitting together somewhere up the village, away from where we were gathered. They were absolutely astounded at what they had heard. “How is this guy reading our minds?” they were saying to each other. As we prayed and I preached the Holy Spirit was doing his work of conviction. He did this consistently. In four nights of preaching, nine were baptized and over 250 were prayed for as they responded to the conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit. A common theme emerged in the responses: a call to unity of the believers; to stand together and go forth with the Good News.
The Father honored your commitment to pray (and some of you fast) for forty days. He responded to your cries by moving in the deep places of hearts and cultures to make an ongoing impact. Thank you for your partnership in these days of wonder.
The 40 Days to Freedom Podcast Update is not only the story of people who prayed for a mission trip, it is the story of a God who answered prayer after prayer after prayer. Please take a few minutes to be encouraged and inspired to engage in the adventure of prayer!
September 16 (Day 37) — Today is Independence Day for Papua New Guinea. This is an afterglow day, really. Many attending the crusade will be walking home or catching a PMV back to Madang or elsewhere. Pray that the blessing that began here will accompany each person wherever they go. Pray that this will be but a beginning of much good to come. Pray for thanksgiving to ring out from this place. Pray for sustained power in the preaching, in the testimonies, in the casual conversations, in the story telling, in Proclaimer sessions . . . Pray for God to do something remarkable here.
September 15 (Day 36) — Today is the final day of the crusade, with preaching morning and evening and general Sunday afternoon activities—naps, soccer games, story-telling, etc. Pray for renewed energy for all involved. Pray for a tidal wave of spiritual renewal and revival to roll across the Aruamu today. Pray for an outpouring of God’s Spirit today. Pray for healing for the sick. Pray for freedom for the prisoners. Pray that blind eyes will be opened. Pray for the proclamation of the Word, the year of the Lord’s favor, the victory of the Savior, the life of Jesus. Pray that this day will begin an ongoing and sweeping revival, a gurgling fountain of God’s life flowing into many streams out of Tiap and into the lives and communities wherever the believers who go out from here return to.
September 14 (Day 35) — The crusade has been going for a few days now. People continue to arrive. At writing, it is expected that there will be as many as 800 in attendance at the crusade. Today is women’s day and there are all sorts of workshops and events for Aruamu women to participate in. Todd is continuing today with leadership workshops and discussions. Pray for God’s hand to be on Todd’s mind and heart as he interacts with the Aruamu leadership. Pray for opportunities to show God’s unique power and the power of the cross in the daily life and leadership of each leader in attendance. Pray for the preaching of the Word this evening. The theme for this week is Free in Christ (English translation). Pray that as Todd preaches this evening, many will follow in the triumphal procession of Jesus from death to life, from bondage to freedom in Christ. Pray for breakthrough in the hearts of those who are attending, that they will know what it is to have Jesus shepherd their hearts, heal broken relationships, bring children home from wandering in sin, establish households as sanctuaries of peace and God’s Spirit.
September 13 (Day 34) — It’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming. Todd will be involved in leadership training workshops today. Our other team mates will be holding special events for the children today. Pray that the kids will have ears to hear and hearts to obey the invitation that the Father is extending them today. Pray that God will give Todd specific and supernatural insight and wisdom into the leadership issues that need to be addressed with Aruamu leaders. Pray also that God will give the right words, idioms, illustrations, and phrases to communicate clearly and deeply with the Aruamu leaders. Pray also that God will grant power during the preaching hour tonight. Pray that God will arrest the attention of those whom he is calling this evening. Ask God to move in the midst of the worship, the preaching, even the times of celebration this evening.
September 12 (Day 33) — Today the crusade begins. Pray for all involved in the events of the day. Today is the dedication for the Aruamu New Testament in recorded digital audio format (.mp3). This is a landmark day for those Aruamu who cannot read or write, for children, for mothers who want their children to hide God’s Word in their hearts. The New Testaments will be available on mini-SD cards that fit cell-phones sold in PNG and on a specialty device called a Proclaimer (http://www.faithcomesbyhearing.com/proclaimer) that is powered by solar panel, hand crank, rechargeable batteries, or AC power adapter (talk about versatile!). Pray today that many will be compelled to listen, to buy an SD card, or to join a listening group gathered around a Proclaimer. Pray that this will be a watershed event in the lives of many Aruamu. Pray also for Todd as he preaches the first message of the crusade this evening. Pray that his preaching will be anointed and that the Holy Spirit will cut the listeners to the heart. Pray that many will pass from death into life in Jesus tonight.
September 11 (Day 32) — Wednesday. Today Aruamu speakers will be traveling to Tiap for the meetings. Ask God to give ample divine appointments and coincidences today. Pray for Todd to connect at a heart level with Aruamu leaders, translation team members, and villagers. Pray for opportunity for Todd to reconnect with friends. Pray for clarity, spiritual sensitivity, and physical stamina for Todd. Also ask God to help Todd to rest well while here. Pray for his heart to be clear, pure, and singly-focused for the coming days of preaching and ministering the word.
September 10 (Day 31) — Tuesday. Pray for clear weather, for travel mercy, for dry roads into Tiap (the Tiap road turns into sticky clay when it rains and is sometimes impassable). Pray that the vehicle we are traveling in will not have mechanical problems, but make it there and back again. Pray for physical safety—from bandits, broken bones, and accidents. Pray for spiritual protection as we enter the area we will be ministering in for the coming week.
September 9 (Day 30) — Monday. The battle is intensifying. Pray diligently for this day. Todd is trying to make his way back to town by Public Motor Vehicle. Marsha and team are finishing preparations. The preparations of months are culminating in the coming journey north on the coastal highway toward Tiap. Pray that the preparations will be completed in good order and that the team will get some much needed rest before tomorrow’s journey. Pray that the vehicles that have been arranged will be on hand and ready. Pray for peace in each heart. Pray that as we travel to Tiap, Aruamu hearts will be prepared and in anticipation of the events of the coming days. Ask God to impart a strong sense of expectancy in the hearts of those attending the events—expectancy that God is going to “show up” and move powerfully.