Footprints in the Mud
I was told of a missionary and his family who had been working in Africa in the strife-torn early 1960's. In addition to the very primitive living conditions of the post-colonial and rebellion-torn continent of that decade, their lives were in constant danger from many sources.
Back in their U.S. church one day, one of their friends felt he should pray for the family. Wanting help, he called around and finally pulled together a group of six who also felt that urge. They didn't know why, but they knew they must pray and not stop praying until the Lord gave peace. Coming together in one of their homes, they prayed for several hours through the day. As suddenly as the need to pray had come, it left. They could stop. Again, they did not know why but it was a unanimous feeling.
On that day the missionary and his family were travelling by jeep through a dangerous part of his country. Knowing others had been stopped, robbed, beaten, and even killed on that road, he told those with him to stay in the jeep and to keep the doors and windows closed as they drove through a certain part of the rain forest.
They began their journey in late afternoon, hoping to drive directly home before dark. Halfway there, the jeep broke down in the middle of nowhere. Night was falling and the only thing to do was huddle in the locked vehicle and pray. Total darkness fell, as it only can in the tropics. Through the night they heard the sounds of people talking and moving around the jeep.
The next morning there was no one there. Around the jeep, facing outward in the dust of the road, they found six pair of footprints.
Don't ask me, as some have, who these footprints belong to. I give you the story as I heard it. Six people prayed; six sets of footprints were there, facing outward. The prayer group had surrounded their missionary with a circle of God's power so that nothing could get through. Sounds more than a bit like Elisha’s experience in 2 Kings 6.
The prayer group did not immediately know why they prayed or the results of that prayer. The missionary did not know what those footprints meant. Their understanding of God's intervention did not come together until sometime later when the missionary came back to that church and shared his experiences. Comparing dates and times, they finally realized how God had brought them together at exactly the time of need (even accounting for the difference in time zones).
Friends who are reading this. You are, or can be, the footprints in the dust around your missionaries. As you pray for their needs, for their health, for their protection, you will be standing around them, your backs to the workers, facing outward to protect and sustain them so they can get on with the job God has given them to do.