Michael White went on short-term mission with Crosslinks from September 2020 – August 2021. As part of his language degree ‘year abroad’, he was able to work as a ministry apprentice at a French-speaking church in Belgium. When he returned to the UK, Michael told us how important the prayers of his partners back home were to him.
I love how Paul opens his letter to the Colossians:
‘And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you…’ (Colossians 1:9).
What a comfort it must have been for the Colossians to know that they were being prayed for 24/7. I shared and grew to appreciate this comfort for myself during my university year abroad last year.
Aside from the usual challenges of getting to know a new culture, people and language while living abroad for the first time, there were added complications for me because of COVID. Travel back home was restricted, friends and family couldn’t visit and in-person contact was limited by social distancing. And there were all the daily challenges (and encouragements!) that come from working with a new church plant. Essentially, I was constantly reminded of my need for prayer.
That’s where churches and friends from home played a big part.
I sent out prayer letters every two months to update people on what I’d been getting up to and give them an opportunity to pray and give thanks for specific things, both for me personally and for the life of the church in Louvain-la-Neuve. Whether I was finding life easy, hard or somewhere in between, it was always a real encouragement when someone replied saying they had just prayed for me, and even more so when I saw those prayers being answered!
Looking back, my year in Belgium opened my eyes to the difficulties (and joys!) of the nitty-gritty reality of experiencing mission abroad. But more importantly I got to see the difference prayer can make, both to individuals and to the overall accomplishment of God’s good and sovereign plan. So let’s not underestimate or neglect prayer!
In the words of my officially most-played song on Spotify for 2021,
‘What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer!’
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