Hold The Ropes

| Maria van den Akker

“We all need to be reminded from time to time of the importance of prayer.”

The success of local and global missions depends upon the faithful prayers of those who go and those who send. I know this to be true, yet I often fail to daily lift up the work God’s people do to further his Kingdom. Whenever I need a reminder of the importance of prayer, and we all need to be reminded from time to time, I call to mind these stories on the topic:

The first of these stories is a narrative I’ve only read in a missionary biography called GoForth of China about the pioneering efforts of a family, the GoForths, and their perils and successes. As they prepared to leave for the field, they shared this story with their readers. Though all the facts are not presented in the account, let this story carry out its original purpose: to encourage us to pray. “The story was of a young couple, when bidding farewell to their home country church as they were about to leave for an African field, known as The White Man’s Grave. The husband said, ‘My wife and I have a strange dread in going. We feel much as if we were going down into a pit. We are willing to take the risk and go if you, our home circle, will promise to hold the ropes.’ One and all promised.”

“Less than two years passed when the wife and the little one God had given them, succumbed to the dreaded fever. Soon the husband realized his days too were numbered. Not waiting to send word home of his coming, he started back at once and arrived at the hour of the Wednesday prayer-meeting. He slipped in unnoticed, taking a back seat. At the close of the meeting, he went forward. Awe came over the people, for death was written on his face. He said: ‘I am your missionary. My wife and child are buried in Africa and I have come home to die. This evening I listened anxiously, as you prayed, for some mention of your missionary to see if you were keeping your promise, but in vain! You prayed for everything connected with yourselves and your home church, but you forgot your missionary. I see now why I am a failure as a missionary. It is because you have failed to hold the ropes!’”

The second story I will leave with you is the story of a faithful family we will call the Smiths. As my family prepared to move overseas to be missionaries, they received our prayer card. While the Lord began to work in their hearts to eventually bring them to the same country in which we ministered, they prayed for us faithfully over their homeschool table. We eventually met on the field and enjoy a sweet friendship with them to this day. I ended up, by a sweet grace of God, becoming roommates with their daughter in college, and we shared sweet seasons of encouragement in the Lord. I know it was the prayers of the Smiths and hundreds of others across the globe that sustained my family in seasons of spiritual drought, ministerial discouragement, and strained relationships. My parents continue to serve in that country and have been for twenty years, sustained on the faithful prayers of the saints.

May these accounts encourage those of you who have been praying faithfully for a family or team of missionaries you may have never met or ever will. God uses your prayers.