"A needy heart is a praying heart. Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer" - Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life
Things happen when we pray. A lot of things happen. We get to know God better and get closer to His heart. We change as that relationship grows and as that relationship shines lights on our own lives, even as we pray for others. Mountains are moved. Hearts are softened. Grace grows. Conviction comes along with wisdom. Things are accepted. We are able to let go of certain things. Courage is found. And trust blooms in God as we hold on to the fact that He is at work and doing immensely more than we could ask or imagine.
We have been in Tarija for more than a year. In that year God has provided in so many ways. We have a great meeting place we rent that is a good size and the landlady has blessed us. We have met more neighbors than I think we ever knew in Sucre. Although there are some things lingering because of the pandemic, technically we have no restrictions and even schools are back to being in-person.
So why aren't things moving in the ministry here?
I ask that of myself, and the Spirit always starts to correct me of my doubting Thomas voice. The voice that says, unless I see... unless I feel, I can't believe.
The truth is that we are meeting people. We are serving and trying to love people. We are opening our doors and our hearts. The truth is I truly believe we are being a light to people here.
I've always had a black thumb. I think it came from lack of knowledge, insecurities and smothering my plants to death. The only plant that worked for me in the past was a little house tree plant (just now taking a minute to look us looked like a weeping fig???? tree, but for sure some kind of ficus). Now that tree I wouldn't say was strong and heathy, but it lived and grew and I had it for years before we moved from Sucre. I decided to try again in Tarija and, to my surprise, all my plants are pretty much doing well. (I won't focus on the mint and rosemary plant that turned to dust and ashes or the plant that I wish would just give up the ghost so I could have it's pot for another plant, but it continues to grow these leaves that quickly dry out and fall and I feel guilty about ending it's life for good.)
(Pictures of the first plant that I've taken cuttings from, a clipping I have growing in water and one of the plants that has sprung from the first plant.)
What does this have to do with prayer and ministry in Tarija?
Well plants are reminding me a lot that although I can plant and water, the growth doesn't depend on me. Thank goodness they don't because I am very limited! They also remind me there is a lot going on that I don't see. I have two plants that I've been able to take clippings from and grow more plants. I love doing this because they sit there with their stems in a clear glass by my kitchen sick and although nothing seems to happen for awhile, all of a sudden I'll notice a root and then the roots grow. As it's in a clear glass, I can be a witness of the growth I would not normally see, as nothing seems to change above the water for a long time.
(Pictures of a cutting, the plant that the cutting came from and some plants I have now- that haven't died)
I believe that God is working even though I can't at times see much. I believe that the seeds we are planting are doing something in the lives of the people around us, even though I can't see it. I believe that God can do much even though I am fallible and limited. I believe in the end I will see the growth and fruit. I know, because I have seen, how God is working on and in me.
We've been praying for a very long time for people here and even for a place to open up by the University that was in our price range so that we could open up a contact center there. This last week we where at the university on Monday to pass out flyers for a class I started on Tuesday and we decided to look again and we actually found 3 places. All had their positive and negative sides. All on the small side (which we expected from that area and so it really will be just a small cafe). And by Thursday we signed a year contract for one of the places. We are excited and hopeful about what this will mean and how we can reach out to the people in this area. We are thankful for this answered prayer. And I know God is answering the prayer for the people too. (We will continue for now renting the other place as it is bigger for Sunday worship and for activities and will allow us to still be around the people we have met in that neighborhood. )
We have been praying. You have been praying. Because of those prayers, things are happening. I know it. But there is something about collective prayers. Something about a group of people coming to storm the gates of Heaven with the same purpose and petition and that is what we want to do on May 3rd.
I will put out another blog next week with specific prayer requests, but I want to get the word out now and ask that you commit to pray (and maybe even fast in whatever way that may look for you) with the Tarija team on May 3rd. We have a sign up, not so much as to lock you in as more of a way to encourage one another knowing others are standing with us in prayer. Please sign up. You can sign up as a guest without needing to log in. You can sign up on the times others have also signed up for. You can sign up and pray throughout the day. We just ask that you pray. And signing up is encouraging for us to know people are praying with us. I feel that this is extremely important right now that we do this and I ask that you pray. Pray now, pray later and pray on May 3rd.
Click the button to the sign up and thank you!
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray 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. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." - Ephesians 3:14-20