The other day as I began my prayer time, I felt directed towards Paul’s prayers in the Bible. I have often found myself awestruck at the magnificence of his prayers, so it wasn’t like God had to twist my arm to get me to spend some time praying from them. And I figure if God saw it good to record a man’s prayer in Scripture, it’s probably a prayer worth remembering. 🙂
Here are a couple pointers for praying Scripture effectively in a way where your heart connects with the living God:
1. Take your time. When I use Scripture as the basis for my prayers, I stop often. Sometimes I stop after just about every word. Sometimes I stop after a phrase. Sometimes I go through the whole thing a couple times. Don’t be in a hurry. Enjoy it. It’s God’s word, after all.
Today, I got a call from Jason that one of the Rromi families we had spoken to wanted a Bible. As I had a few Romanian New Testaments at the house, I told him I’d meet up with him in a few minutes. About an hour later, we met up and made our way towards the gypsy family.
This particular family is living on a patch of vacant land between a massive Cora (a “hipermarket” like a Super Walmart) and Plaza România (a massive mall). I say “family” when talking about the group of gypsies, but I really have no idea who’s related to whom, who’s child is whose, etc. Every time we’ve visited, there have been a different collection of people inside the flimsy wooden structure they call a home. The structure itself has been moved the last two times we visited. The kids and adults are all filthy but full of smiles and happy to visit with us whenever we come by.
Today was special because we were delivering a Bible for a woman who requested one for her husband who is in prison. When we arrived at the home, we delivered the Bible to the happy woman.
Everyone in ministry knows that we often have ulterior motives to loving. Ultimately, we want to help people get right with God. When I was working in Spring Green, if a student called me looking to get a ride home, I would often do so in the hopes that my service would help him to see Jesus better. I worked in the schools not so much because I love teaching but because I wanted opportunities to speak to students I wouldn’t normally get to speak with. If I planned a big party, it wasn’t because I love parties (I’m an introvert by all accounts) but because I wanted opportunities to identify with students and speak to them about Jesus. Even airsofting, as much as I loved it, was always the means to an end: an opportunity to witness and to be an example so that a student would one day repent and live for Jesus.
We often have ulterior motives. In the ministry, our ulterior motives are good. (Seriously, what better goal can there be that someone would come to know Jesus?)
But we’re called to love simply to love.
Jason, a Canadian missionary to Romania, introduced me to the music of Jonathan and Melissa Helser a couple weeks ago. I have to say that at first it didn’t really grab me. But now that I’ve downloaded and actually listened to “On the Shores” and “Long Story Short,” I’m overwhelmed.
Probably not the most appropriate picture, but it’s darn funny if you ask me. 🙂
So, today we headed to Ferentari once again to do some street evangelism. Although we spent about 3 hours out there, we only ended up talking to 5 different people.
The first was an older woman who was taking care of her young grandchildren. She told us how their parents were in jail or just plain gone. Although we shared the gospel with her, I think the biggest thing was simply sitting with her, hearing her story, and praying God’s blessing over her household.
The second group were two men outside a little corner store smoking cigarettes and drinking beers. We hadn’t even planned to talk with them, but they up and asked us, “What are you doing here?” So we told them how we were out there talking with people about Jesus. Although one of the men seemed unconcerned about spiritual things, the other (Ioan) seemed to share some concern. He was especially receptive after we shared what we sensed was a word for him from God. He knew he was running from God and needed to wake up to him; pray that he would do so.
Man, I love this song! Tonight at our staff meeting, we spent some extended time in worship and prayer. It was so refreshing!
This song was especially hitting home tonight:
Today, headed out to Ferentari for some street evangelism. Our four-person team was truly international, featuring two from the United States (Jake and I), one from Great Britain (Jacob, in the middle), and another from Canada (Jason, on the left) who can speak Romanian. Samuel (Romanian) and Sorin (Gypsy) had hoped to join us but couldn’t make it today.
To give you some background, Ferentari is Bucuresti’s poorest neighborhood. It is also the most notorious for crime, and it’s the home for many Rroma (Gypsy) people and so largely avoided by Romanians. When I asked the Bucuresti police if there were any areas they hated to work, they told me unanimously that it was Ferentari. Unofficial statistics I heard were that 3 women disappear every night in Ferentari and are sold into the sex trade. That statistic seems high, but I don’t know. We learned that last year a pile of dead children was found in the neighborhood. Every one of them had his lungs ripped out, probably to be sold on the black market. In a dark city, this is the darkest place (other than, perhaps, the political areas), and so we headed there to bring some light.
I got a chance today to work at Genesis Collegiate teaching English to elementary school students at their English Camp. It reminded me of everything I enjoyed about substitute teaching, and I’m definitely looking forward to getting to go again tomorrow.
My friend Rob hooked me up with the job. Rob moved out here from California a year or two ago after he met and married Camelia, a native-born Romanian. Rob and Camelia are awesome, and I’m definitely glad I got to meet them. Anyhow, Rob used to be a hotel manager, but he found his calling when he ended up teaching English to elementary school students in Romania. Whodathunkit?
I’m considering maybe getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. Here in Romania, there’s some need for English teachers, but worldwide there’s a very high demand right now. It could get me some money, but (more importantly) it can be a great open-door for ministry and for service.
But my days are already packed as it is, so I don’t know… Just one more thing to be praying about, I guess.
Jake and Jessie’s first few months (and my first month) have been spent largely in getting to know how to simply do life here in Bucureşti, but we’ve also been checking out what’s going on spiritually, who’s doing what in the churches, how to do evangelism…. We’ve been meeting a ton of great people, and it’s been cool to see how God is working in their lives and even to come alongside and partner with Him in some occasions.
I love all the people we’ve come to know, and I really appreciate the ministries that are serving here in Bucureşti. Missio Dei has a crazy awesome gift for fellowship and building a community of believers who really love each other and grow with one another. They’re solid in the Bible, hungry for Jesus, and spreading the message of the gospel to all their friends. Spiritual Revival is hardcore about seeking and believing God for revival, and their pastor (Peter) believes passionately in the necessity of the power of the Holy Spirit and the crucial place that prayer and fasting must play in the Christian’s life. The church as a whole is new to the things of the Holy Spirit, but they’re hungry and they’re all determined that the Bible is our ultimate basis for what the Christian life should look like. Plus, they really do believe God for revival in individuals and in the city.
So, my day started off with Jake asking, “Hey, Ben, wanna go meet a self-proclaimed prophet who says he was sent to bring revival to Bucharest?”
Of course, with an introduction like that, I had to say “yes.”
So we headed to McDonald’s (the restaurant where all the missionaries hang out here in Bucharest) to meet up with Jason and this self-proclaimed prophet guy. Jason, since I probably haven’t introduced him to you yet, has been here for about 6 years and has spent most of that time pouring his heart out to the gypsies. He’s got some end-times theology I disagree with, and he can be abrasive, but he’s got a heart for God, loves the church, and is working for revival here.
Anyhow, the “self proclaimed prophet” “sent to bring revival” ended up being a pretty normal 18-year-old who got touched in a revival going on in northern London. Jacob has been working with a church in Bucharest that reaches out to Ferentari, the poorest and most dangerous of the neighborhoods here. It was cool to meet him and just hear what God has been doing in London.