“He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” Psalm 18:34
Every mission to India we visit an old aged and widow’s home. Pastor Israel, one of our India partners, lovingly cares for these women by providing a home, daily food, blankets, clothing, and fellowship. His mother used to be a part of this ministry before passing away a few years ago. This has become a very special place for us to visit as we have fond memories of his mom and have gotten to know many of the other women. Even with the language barrier, smiles and hugs knit our hearts together.
After greeting everyone through our translator (Pastor Israel’s youngest daughter, Jennifer), I introduced another team member, Jim, to share a message. On the drive here, with nothing prepared, we prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to lead us. I was thankful upon arriving when Jim spoke up and said God had put something on his heart to say. Jim’s message was powerful as he told the women that their best days are yet to come. How can you say that to a group of women who are bent over with crippled knees and weathered skin; women in the last stage of life who have been through so much and are left alone with no other family then each other? You can say that because they know Jesus!
Jim explained that all Christ-followers are only growing closer to the day He returns, or when we are united with Him in death. The joy that is set before us is real, permanent, and full of hope. But he went on to warn, “Your job here is not done. God wants to use each one of you ladies to continue to fight the good fight through your prayers! We’re in a spiritual battle that will be won through prayer and worship. The nation and people of India need your prayers! Pray for the younger generation to rise up and be filled with His glory and spread the Love of Christ all over India; pray for Modi, the Prime Minister, to experience Jesus and stop promoting violence; Pray for the persecuted Christians in India to stand strong in the face of hatred and opposition; And pray not only for India but for us in America as well. Your prayers are like arrows against the enemy.”
As Jim spoke, I suddenly thought of my mom. I was still mourning her loss from just two months before and looking at these women’s faces flooded me with emotion. They were around my mom’s age and like my mom they loved the Lord and valued prayer. Tears started welling up that I couldn’t control. I missed my mom, but also I was also overcome by the truth of Jim’s message… the power of prayer and how it is our strongest weapon to advance God’s Kingdom. I thought of my mom’s prayers and how they carried me through so much and most likely led me to follow God to India in the first place.
When Jim finished, I stood and tried to speak. At first only tears came but as I composed myself, I shared with these older women about my mom. I told them of the impact her prayers had on my life and how their prayers will have the same impact on others. I could feel their love and compassion as I spoke, and it felt as if my mom was right there with us, cheering me on.
Pastor Israel came up and put his arm around me. I could see he was moved to tears and now wanted to speak. Although we didn’t have any of this planned it was obvious God was at work. Israel said that hearing me talk about my mom and seeing my emotion brought back memories of his mother. He too was choking back tears as he shared the story of his childhood and the history of this old aged home.
He was raised in a poor family even though his mom and dad worked very hard. He doesn’t remember his parents ever complaining about being poor; they just did what they had to do. Both of his parents were uneducated but realized the value of an education. They would sacrifice what little they had to make sure their children went to good schools. He grew up aware of the disparity of those who had more than enough and those who were barely surviving. Pastor Israel made up his mind at a young age that he would do what he could and not turn a blind eye to the poor.
He explained how this old aged home was his mom’s idea. After his dad died, his mom was adamant that she didn’t want to live the rest of her life being cared for by one of her kids. She wanted to help other widows and old aged women. Pastor Israel honored her wish by buying this home and opening it up to others. He hired help but his mother would be the heart and soul behind this ministry. It was her hard work and prayers that made it happen.
What incredible testimonies of the power of prayer to affect the next generation and usher in God’s Kingdom. Not only were we able to encourage these women to pray big prayers but we were encouraged as well. This was my first mission without my mom’s support and prayers (so I thought) but God allowed me to experience her prayers and presence in a way I never had before through our time with these beautiful women. He truly does teach our hands to war and He’s looking for many more warriors. No matter our age, race, sex, or economic status, we can all pray!