This summer has been one learning experience after another. If you've been following me for the past couple months, you might see the theme of praising God for His faithfulness and my prayer for renewed faith. The Lord has truly blessed me with faith-growing experiences, and my prayer is for humility to let them refine me closer to the likeness of the Christ.
The first two weeks of July I, and my eleven other interns (the loves of my life), were participants in Hellenic Ministries' Operation Joshua. 300+ participants stayed in the northwest town of Igoumenitsa and traveled out in cars and vans with lists of villages and towns to pass out Bibles to every home in. This required an inconceivable amount of planning, but thanks to a team of interns (not us), everything ran smoothly. This is an amazing project that doesn't end at a Bible on a gate. Those who have conversations with those delivering the Bibles, those that show hospitality, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, are then visited by the church planting team to study the Word. This is truly an incredible endeavor.
I was blown away with how saturated it was in prayer. On the orientation day, there was a long section of the afternoon where we got into small groups and prayed over every aspect of the operation. I was in a group with one of my teammates and two men from London, England. One was a recovered drug addict and former DJ, his cockney accent thicker than the London fog. The other a more respectable business man, who had brought the former to Christ a couple years prior. Their zeal for the Lord was fiery, joy radiated out from both of them.
As a personal note of prayer, I had been praying against car sickness. Now, don't laugh too much, because I mean this earnestly. (You can laugh a little, I do) Ever since I can remember, I get horribly car sick. I recall going fishing with my dad and grandfather at about the age of 4, when I got sick all over my cute fishing clothes. My father so patiently pulled off at a K-Mart and bought me a new outfit (to my delight, it was very pink) and cleaned me up. This is not a one time scenario of car sickness, and I did not want a repeat while delivering the Word of God, ya feel?
Picture the beautiful mountains of Northern Greece, winding roads up and down from village to village. now place a someone extremely prone to car sickness in that picture. Not as pretty, right?
I went to a couple of coordinators and asked to be on the prayer team, instead of being put in car, I like to pray, right? It was a perfect solution. Because of the chaos in which I had stepped into, I was not confident my request would be remembered, but I knew the Lord would handle it.
"Lord," I prayed, "I ask with shameless audacity that either I am put on the prayer team or you free me so that I will not to be car sick."
Hearing the words, "shameless audacity" coming from my lips, I thought about where I had first learned that in regard to prayer. Two summers ago, my campus ministry prayed together every morning for 21 days. On the very first day, our missions minister read over us Luke 11.
"Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need."
Perhaps it my impudence, but the Lord provided and I was not car sick, not even a little bit.
For four of the six distribution days I spent in a a rented Audi with two seventeen-year-old Greek boys, a beloved teammate, and a 23-year-old Christian rapper/campus minister. We had a wild time together, jamming to Christian music of every genre, sharing testimonies, and strategizing our distribution of Bibles to the little villages.
The final two days, I was placed on the prayer team. I was welcomed in by seasoned missionaries and minsters of the gospel from all over the world, each one twice or three times my age. Sitting at the feet of wisdom and piety, seeing how faithful they were in prayer, I was uplifted. After asking me to pray a couple of times, the woman leading the group, a retired American missionary who was 77 asked me, "It's clear you know about intercession; where did you learn to pray?" She told me she didn't start praying with the boldness she saw in me until after she was on her first term serving in the South Pacific, and all she had was prayer. Kind of embarrassed that the attention was on me in this regard (I like it otherwise, but this made my palms rather sweaty), I told her of several friends and mentors that I pray with often. I explained, tripping over words as I felt my face get warm, and not just from the Mediterranean heat, that I truly love to pray and to come before the mercy seat with Christ Jesus.
The next thing I knew, several of the members of the prayer team came over and laid hands on my shoulders and prayed blessings over me, speaking life into my spirit. They prayed abundance over my future and healing over my past. Tears rolled down my cheeks, completely humbled by their words and honored to be loved by the people of God.
The next day, for a couple hours in the afternoon, another woman, a second-career missionary, and I prayed together. Something I have not addressed specifically on here, but the Lord has been doing a lot of healing on my heart this summer. We prayed through a lot of these matters, bringing my hurt and concerns to Jesus with confidence, as the Hebrews writer encourages saying,
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this experience at Operation Joshua. It was so different than what we have done all summer, it was strange being participants and not looked to or given more responsibility. Because of that very aspect, I was able to see the faithfulness of the Lord grow my own faith and understanding. There was a lot of tears, working through the matters of the heart, but without them faith is not able to grow. The Lord placed the right people at the right time to encourage and uplift me.
Praise the Lord that He is a God who gives good gifts, and because of our shameless audacity, He gives what we need, more than we can ever imagine.