Where to begin. It's been a pretty incredible week. I think if I were to recount every obvious movement of the Lord, I'd need so many more pages. Things have been slowing for us in the last month or so with support raising. We were fighting some discouragement this season. We knew this week was coming up with conferences and retreats that Encompass was putting together. We hoped there'd be opportunity for connecting and possibly new direction with how we should raise the remaining support. We've been consistently praying for the Lord to bring us our partners and help us reach Japan quickly. I think there were a few pieces missing however.
If you look at many of the stories of healing in Scripture, there's a couple of key components. Those being healed had faith. Sometimes, it's made obvious that this faith was given to them by Jesus. James 4:2-3 says "You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures". Matt was studying Scripture when he felt like the Lord lead him to these concepts of asking more boldly and with faith. None of this is new to us, so why then does it feel so new? This leads to some conviction for us. As we're praying, do we have great faith that Jesus will respond? If we're lacking in this type of risk-taking faith, do we ask Jesus to increase it in us? Do we really believe Jesus will do what He says He will do? We know we're not praying selfishly. We've been asking the Lord to make Himself known to the Japanese. We've been asking that we can play a part in bringing God's Kingdom to Earth. We want Jesus to be known and to be glorified. Why then are we not praying with desperation--with boldness in the request?
Matt started to wrestle with these questions. His prayers changed and he started to pray big. He asked Jesus to increase his faith. He asked boldly for Jesus to move mightily for us. More specifically, Matt asked that the Holy Spirit would move on our behalf this week and that we'd see that He's making this happen. We asked that this week would be a turning point and that we'd know that Jesus is moving to get us to Japan. Well… He listened! Immediately after he prayed this, Matt gets an email. One of our supporting churches was praying about whether to hire a youth pastor for their congregation. As they're praying, they feel led instead to double their monthly support for us. This does not come without sacrifice on their part! We are blown away at the immediate response to that prayer. Literally, each day of the week, something new and amazing like this happened. I can't even think of a way to sum up each of the ways the Lord listened to our prayers, and then moved on our behalf. We have so many new connections with pastors, believers and churches. This was the very thing we were lacking. We had the director of our entire missions org advocate for us throughout the week. His faithfulness has already brought us new monthly supporters as well as connected us with some impassioned networks of churches that want to see many more people to come to faith in Christ.
We used to quickly say "Reaching Japan will be tough. The only way we will be able to do this is if God makes it happen". We say that and believe it, but now our hearts are beyond convinced. It makes me so excited to see what the Lord will do in Japan if He's already putting in this much effort here and now. There are so many lessons we can learn from this week. So many things to meditate on and really let sink in. I just want to scream from the rooftops about how great our God is!
Some highlights of what we're learning:
- Pray with desperation, real desperation.
- Pray believing that God is able.
- Pray with boldness and for big requests.
- Jesus cares so much more about bringing His kingdom. If we pray asking Him to accomplish this, it's a good prayer and we can ask for it with confidence.
- Pray expecting Jesus' intervention on your behalf.
- We can't accomplish this on our own strength or merit. The Lord is the only one that can. We need to be desperate and have bold prayers asking Him to move.
Jesus hears us! He responds and moves mightily! I still need to really sit and ponder over all this, make sure I'm grasping all the lessons He's trying to show us this week but a big one is to have great faith in Him, and ask boldly believing He will do something about it. We're both just so humbled and encouraged right now. Nothing that's happened this week has been from our efforts, it's literally God's Grace being poured out on us. We just have to be faithful and show up ready.
As I was thinking through this week, I kept thinking that my brothers and sisters in Christ might be encouraged by these truths. I hope you sit and turn your heart to the Lord asking Him boldly for many hearts to know Him. Be willing to be used for His purposes…and just wait and see how He responds!
With hearts filled with hope,
Jen and Matt
If you're looking for more study resources this week, you may enjoy some of these:
- Dave Guiles giving a sermon on how Encompass is carrying out the Great Commission
- Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him."
- Acts chapter 3 for an example of healing that came through faith.