Move man, through God, by prayer alone
Hudson Taylor knew the value of prayer. He was convinced that prayer should be central to everything in life. Following his example, OMF hopes to equip people to pray, whether it is through providing up to date prayer requests or by helping to inspire and excite Christians who may not know the need.
Last summer, OMF UK sent a Serve Asia Prayer Team to the Hokkaido region of Japan, specifically to pray. Praying for overseas mission work from home can be hard to keep up. For some, meeting the people you are praying for, talking to them and seeing them work, can ignite a lasting fire to intercede for them and with them.
‘The team is here, and Christians in England are praying, because Japan is on God’s heart’, reports Angelo, who led the team.
The team’s plan was to meet and pray with the Nayoro Grace Church plant. On the way they had the chance to visit Kitami Grace Church and Abashiri Grace Church. Pastor Kitoh, who oversees the churches, helped them to understand vision 2020: the hope to become a bridge connecting churches in Ohotsuku with the Northern regions of Hokkaido, where there are few Christians
The team were quickly affected by the importance of the vision, and hoped that they, and those following them, would join in the vision by helping to build a long-term relationship of prayer: prayer for the salvation of many in Northern Hokkaido, and prayer with Japanese Christians, for their encouragement in the task of proclaiming Christ.
Karen Viljeon writes ‘we believe the Lord is calling his people to pray for a mighty movement of his Spirit as he “reopens the wells” in Northern Hokkaido’.
The journey started by joining Kitami Grace Church at their early morning prayer meeting. They had the chance to pray for the big picture in Hokkaido, as well as asking God to work in the lives of individuals, in particular two seekers, Mrs O and R.
‘We came back to the church from lunch the first afternoon to a very excited woman who had been studying the Bible with Mrs O for months. “She confessed Jesus as her Lord and wants to be baptised!” What a privilege to have partnered in prayer with this woman, even if our (the team’s) part was merely at the end of her journey in submitting to Jesus’, Karen recounted.
At Abashiri Grace Church (a Kitami church plant) the team joined a mid-morning prayer meeting. Mrs Kataoka, who oversees church activities, expressed thanks for the previous team’s (2014) prayers, many of which had been answered, including seeing a number of new believers come to faith in the past year. Mrs Kataoka asked the team to pray for Yobito, the neighbourhood the church is based in. The farmers and fishermen of the area are some of the hardest to reach with the gospel. Hearing how God had answered the prayers of the team before them was a great encouragement as they spent time with the Abashiri church praying for breakthrough among local people.
Finally, the team travelled to meet with the Nayoro Grace Church plant. They were able to share in traditional Japanese meals provided by Miho Walker and meet with other couples from the church to share and pray.
Karen writes, ‘The final morning in Nayoro was a special time of prayer with Tim & Miho Walker, to pray for their contacts, such as TS, a self-defence force officer with whom Tim is studying the Bible. In a prayer of faith, Melanie prayed that the Lord would lead ten new people to believe and be joined to Nayoro Grace Church by 2016!’
The team decided that it would be beneficial for them to visit a Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple, to help them understand the culture of many Japanese people, both in Japan and those studying in the UK. However many of these temples are very dark spiritually, one particular place was dedicated to aborted babies. Angela suggested that while in these places they could listen to praise music to concentrate their thoughts on God and his protection as they looked around. As they explored the temples they had the chance to pray for the people they saw, that their hearts would be softened and they would meet the creator God.
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The team’s time in Japan allowed them to experience first hand the power of prayer in God’s work. To see how you could be part of a similar Prayer Team visit omf.org/uk/prayerteams