Five years ago, on a short-term prayer trip to a people group in Asia, I found myself angered at the spiritual bondage and oppression of the people there. I cried out to God, calling for him to tear down the temples. God responded, not by destroying temples, but with a question: “What will happen if I tear down the temples?” God answered his own question. “They will just rebuild them. Rather than ask me to take the temples from the people, ask that I take the people from the temples.”
Late last year I had the chance to take another trip, to the same people group but in another country. A few years before there had been an earthquake in that place, and the local temple had been destroyed. The only thing was, when I arrived the temple was still standing there... looking like nothing had happened. It had been rebuilt! The people were still in bondage. Still oppressed by spiritual forces. God reminded me of what he had said those years before.
This theme continued. As we sought God for his strategy in how to pray, we found God telling us that this temple was a distraction. (It was a big temple). It was pulling our attention away from what was really on God’s heart - the people.
They were who he had called us there to pray for, to tell about Jesus, and amongst whom we were to worship God. In fact, on this trip we would even write a prayer-song to sing.
For two weeks we had the opportunity to pray, worship, and when the chance was there, to talk about Jesus. Our mandate was to come before God and lift up this people whom he loved. Whether in our little hotel rooms, out walking the streets, or at temples and monasteries. We even took the chance to pray for, and talk about Jesus with, patients in a hospital.
Whilst the temples still stand, what is becoming clear is that the people are, slowly, moving closer to Jesus. In small numbers still, but hearts are being opened. God is at work. The temples are losing their hold. This was noted by a couple of locals - not believers. “This place is lacking in power these days. It’s because of all the Christians”.
One of the great opportunities offered by short-term mission trips is the chance to go and pray for a nation or people on location. To see with our own eyes, to come before God and seek him and what he is doing in that context. This was my second prayer trip to this people group. Hopefully not my last.
What I love most about such trips is seeing and being part of what God is doing in peoples all over this world. I trust through such prayer trips we can change the world. I know these prayer trips change me.
Whilst currently based with WEC in Australia, Ben loves to take the occasional short-term opportunity to be God’s feet among the nations.