And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.—Colossians 4:3,4
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.—Romans 15:30
Since the beginning of September, we have been spending our Sunday mornings at Community Church talking about the Holy Spirit. We’ve looked at who the Bible says He is, and at what believers can expect Him to do in our lives. Along with that, we set aside a week to pray and seek God, asking Him to fill us more and more with His Spirit. We know we need this as we face life’s challenges, and as we are presented with opportunities to share the love of Christ and the truth of Christ.
In the above passages, the apostle Paul asks fellow believers to pray for Him as he proclaims the Good News. He seems to believe that their prayers will make a real difference, that they will open doors and give him strength and a clear mind. He goes so far as to say that his friends are joining him in his struggle as they pray. The greatest realities in life are invisible, and prayer matters more than we know. From the outside, it might have looked like Paul was the only one speaking and laboring and spending time in a prison cell. But if we could see what God sees, we would realize that there was a whole team of people, whose prayers were having an effect in and alongside of Paul to make him much more fruitful than he would have been otherwise. We all have different roles in the ministry of the church, but it is always the Holy Spirit who is doing the real work.
In just a couple of weeks, I will be privileged to have a small role in the ministry of Pastor Gus Peters and his team of church planters in Kolkata, India. Gus has invited me to spend two weeks there, teaching in a variety of settings, all of which I’m very excited and honored to be part of.
I’ll spend the first week teaching a class to future pastors, which will involve morning and afternoon classes for five days. This is the training program Gus described for us when he visited Community Church in April. If you were with us on that Sunday, you may remember that Gus and his team have successfully planted eight churches in the greater Kolkata area, and God has given them a vision to plant 100 total churches in the next 10 years in the West Bengal district of India. To accomplish this, they have created their own one-year, in-house pastoral training program to raise up the leaders who will plant those churches. I’ll be teaching a class called Biblical Foundations of Church Planting, trying to give these future pastors a clear understanding of what the church is and how it is supposed to function.
The next week, I’ll be the speaker at their ministry’s annual retreat (I’m intentionally not using the name of this ministry on the internet). Once a year, their staff of nearly 40 people get away for a few days of spiritual refreshment and long-term planning. I’ll be leading the morning and evening devotionals at this retreat, and spending the rest of the days just getting to know the staff and being available for conversations.
Finally, I’ll be preaching in at least two churches on each of the two Sundays I’m in Kolkata. This will be another way to serve the team there, and will also give me a chance to see the churches we are supporting first-hand.
Again, I want to use the words “honor” and “privilege” to describe this opportunity. I am humbled that Gus thinks I will have something to offer his team, and I know it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that my time in India will be fruitful. And of course, that’s where you come in. I want to ask you to “join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” Here are some specific things you can pray for:
- Pray for me in these next two weeks of preparation. This will be more Bible teaching than I have ever crammed into a two-week period, and I’m not completely ready yet.
- Pray for safe travels (I’m taking 4 flights to get to and from Kolkata) and all the travel details (visa and other paperwork) to work out smoothly.
- Pray for my family. This will also be the longest time I’ve ever been apart from my wife and children. Carey will be holding down the fort, homeschooling the kids, doing meals, etc., for 16 days, and I know she would appreciate your prayers.
- Pray for my time to be fruitful. Pray for my preaching and teaching to be clear and helpful, and for God-ordained conversations with people who need encouragement.
- Pray for spiritual protection. Pray for God to keep our enemy far away from me, my family, our church, and our Indian brothers and sisters during this time.
- Pray for guidance. While I’m there, Pastor Gus and I will be discussing the long-term partnership between our two ministries. Community Church has already been a tremendous blessing to them, and we want to be led by the Spirit to be an even greater blessing in the future.
And pray for anything else you can think of! Again, I truly believe that those who pray with me are partners in this endeavor. I’m grateful to be part of a church that is willing to share me in this way, and I’m praying that the entire thing would somehow be a blessing in Susanville as well as Kolkata. That being said, please be aware that because of the busyness of getting ready to leave these next two weeks, plus the trip itself, plus the Thanksgiving holiday, this will be the last Thursday Thoughts until December. Thank you in advance for your prayers!