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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)--Do you believe that praying for missionaries makes a difference? That they covet your prayers for their protection and strength? That praying for the people missionaries are trying to reach helps prepare hearts to receive the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?
Time and time again, Southern Baptist missionaries express their appreciation for the invaluable prayer support from members of Woman's Missionary Union as they share the incredible ways God is at work in our world.
Praying for our missionaries and giving our resources to aid in the work of overseas missions is at the heart of who we are in WMU. While it is a daily activity for most of our members, once a year we seek to draw the attention of our entire congregation to focus on international missions. We call this the Week of Prayer for International Missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
WMU's commitment to overseas missions began with their love for Lottie Moon, who served as a Southern Baptist missionary to China from 1873 to 1912. When WMU was founded in 1888, one of its first actions was to establish an offering goal of $2,000 to send two missionaries to help Lottie in China. More than $3,000 was received in that first-ever Christmas offering -- enough to send three missionaries.
While money is vital for the ongoing work overseas, missionaries consistently say the thing they need most is prayer. Scripture supports their requests with the words of James: "The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).
Learning about the needs of unreached people groups and those who are ministering among them provides insight to effective prayer. Praying "God bless the missionaries" once you are informed is not specific enough to open these dark places to the light of Jesus Christ. It will take informed, inspired praying to reach our world with the message of salvation.
As you participate in the Week of Prayer events and personal prayer times during this month, would you pray consistently for those working among the unreached people groups? Ask God to grant them an abundance of patience and creativity as they try to establish a credible witness with their group. Ask God to protect them and support them in the difficult places.
Also pray for the people they are trying to reach. Ask God to create openness to the Gospel in their hearts. Pray that the Bible will be available in their language so they may know for themselves that God loves them and has a purpose for their lives.
Your informed prayers for missions could be the inspiration you need to give sacrificially this season.
Wanda S. Lee is executive director/treasurer of Woman's Missionary Union, SBC.