Sitting on a couch in Lima, we waited for our busses to navigate the impossible traffic. I chatted with our translator as the strong smell of diesel and distant honks filtered in through the lobby. We were part of an outreach coordinated by the local Peruvian church to preach Jesus in the public schools (a rare permission given). Working with Mandate, this was a very different climate than the restricted sites I was used to frequenting for work.
I asked our translator what had been the best part of the week for her. Without hesitation, she immediately responded, “That you all came. You love us before you know us. You pray for us before you know us. That to me is amazing.”
Those words since have echoed in my thoughts. Rarely do we get to glimpse the real people living real lives who reside on the other side of our prayers. Whatever country you’re praying for, whatever people group has your heart, whatever nation you have or will consider going to, hear her words. Thank you for loving that place before you came. Thank you for praying for those people before you ever met them face to face. Though you may not get to see it and may not have the joy of hearing those heavily accented words spoken directly to you in broken English, the truth behind them is no less real.
As we boarded the bus and set off driving to our first site, the team member next to me shared an incredible testimony. Years ago she had felt called to stop and help a young single mom sitting by a RedBox kiosk with a cardboard sign. This was right here in our small American town. After a few days of taking her in, discipling her, getting her back on her feet, and sending her off on a plane to the family she desired to reconnect with, she drove off from the airport wondering “does it even matter?”.
Right then at the traffic light to get back on the interstate she saw a vision. She saw the young woman coming towards her out of a piercing white light. She hugged her neck and said, “I’m here because of what you did”. After her was a sea of Latin American people who one by one came towards her, hugging her neck as she squinted in the bright light, and said, “I’m here because of you”. Immediately the vision ended. Confused, she kept driving and tucked it away in her heart.
Years later when her feet hit Central American soil on her first mission trip, the vision came back to her. Now as she entered her second Latin American country for ministry, it became a precious promise. The unseen effects of prayer and obedience. If you’re wondering, “Does it even matter?”, know that you too will see nations stumble towards you in the light of eternity, saying, “I’m here because of you”.