The row of pillows under the blankets was meticulously shaped to look as though the 15-year-old girl was still asleep but her family was not fooled for long. The Jones family got up one morning to discover that their daughter had snuck out in the night and had not returned. Not that uncommon; many of us have done the same or remember, as I do, catching one of our own trying to sneak back into the house after a night of revelry. But as morning turned to afternoon, and after making numerous phone calls to her friends, their baby girl was nowhere to be found. As the first day ended and the next day began, the search for their daughter had turned this non-Christ-following family into desperately praying people.
My wife Windy and I received a phone call, after two other area pastors had declined to get involved. We joined the Joneses on the third day of the search for their daughter, which had turned into a search for answers ... not just about their daughter's disappearance, but about life. We were thrust into leading community prayer vigils and praying daily with the family. As the days accumulated into weeks, we shared meals, joined more searches and listened to their story. We cried together and prayed some more.
Indelible in my mind is the memory of sitting in a car with the young girl's mother, looking at the compost pile where just days earlier the assailant had shown authorities where he had hidden her precious little girl's body for over two months.
The redeeming point of this painful memory is twofold:
- They followed Christ - After two months of praying with, crying with and loving this family in their darkest hours, they were becoming Christ followers.
- They forgave - We were with this family during the sentencing of their daughter's killer when they expressed forgiveness for what he had done. I've never seen such undeserved compassion outside of the cross itself and it was being offered by a family who had just recently found that same forgiveness in Christ.
Jesus said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field" (Matthew 9:37-38). Broken and bruised people are all around us. We must pray for the harvest and be in the harvest field, earning the right to be heard by them. Then they will love to know the loving God that we know. Being leaders during the prayer meeting is important but more than that, being in the harvest means being an example, being available listeners—people who cry with and care enough about people to show them a loving God who gave everything to have relationship with them.
Prayer Focus: Let our prayer be that God will raise up laborers for the harvest, that He will use us, that He will touch our communities, that He will open doors for the gospel, and that He will gather souls from the east, west, north and south.
By: Dave Veach, Northwest District Supervisor