Stir me to pray

During my time in Zambia, I read a book called ‘Living Faith’ by Helen Roseveare (short biography & podcast). She was a medical missionary to the Congo, and has written several books to encourage and challenge Christians by sharing her experiences. I could write pages on how inspiring she is – but that’s not what this post is about. I wrote my thoughts after each of the three chapters to help me digest what I had read. This series is about how God used this book to work at my heart and teach me a few important lessons.


Prayer is a major part of my relationship with God that I have been struggling with the past year. I know that it should be a natural part of my faith: like breathing, simply talking to God. But when it comes to actually praying, I get stuck. I don’t know what to say or how to pray – what is the ‘right’ way to pray and how to make my prayers more ‘effective’.

The Lord answered my cry asking Him to teach me how to pray. He is opening my eyes to what I need to learn to set me in motion. Helen writes that the purpose of prayer is not primarily to affect situations, but to learn and understand His will and purpose, seeking to bring my life in line with it for its fulfillment. Prayer is the means by which God works through and gives us all we need to live out His perfect plan.

The need for prayer is great, for those who do not believe in Jesus are perishing. We need a concern for the lost to constrain us to pray – this is where I have been lacking and what has stopped me from praying. I asked the Lord to reveal to me when and why I lost this compassion. I used to be so passionate about the lost! … It was because caring is costly. It is painful to feel compassion for those who are perishing, so I unwittingly chose not to feel at all. I must daily ask God to fill my heart with a concern; a compassion like Christ for those who are without Him. I must accept God’s burden, praying in faith that lives will be set free.

Another key thing to remember is that we do not need to understand why or how God uses our prayers to fulfill His plan. I struggle with this – I usually need to understand the mechanism of how things work before putting it into practice. I guess a helpful way to think about it would be like learning to drive. I don’t understand the whole mechanics of the car, but I trust that if I step on the accelerator it will go; if I pull the brake it will stop; if I turn the handle it will change direction; if I change gear it will allow me to change speed. I do not question how or why – I just do my part. Of course, it is not as straightforward as this, but it helps me understand that it is okay to not understand everything.

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Once we start praying, we must commit and persevere until it is answered – whether in visible results or a peace of mind. We must put the needs of those we are praying for above our own, particularly if it is urgent. Don’t count the cost, whether that be in sleep, food, energy, time. Continue believing when praying for longer than 10 minutes. Maintain earnestness. This comes from a heart that is willing to care and love, to suffer with them. Prayer can be painful.

Pray for those who are sick, for God’s healing hand. Lord give me the faith to believe! Do not be discouraged by those who are not healed – simply accept His sovereignty and move on. ‘Our task was to obey and serve to the limit of our God-given ability, trusting Him with the outcome’. Our obedience to the urge of the Spirit to pray, even if specific needs are unknown, may be the channel through which God wants to act on their behalf, for He knows their exact needs. Prayer can be powerful.

When we pray, God may not answer in the ways we anticipate, nor at the time we expect. But when we pray with a heart willing to be available to Him, seeking His will and acting in obedience, He will work out His perfect, pleasing plan. Prayer will turn into praise.

Stir me, oh stir me Lord, till prayer is pain, till prayer is power, till prayer turns into praise. Stir me, till heart and will and mind, yea all is wholly Thine to use through all the days. Stir till I learn to pray exceedingly. Stir till I learn to wait expectantly.

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Stir me to go

During my time in Zambia, I read a book called ‘Living Faith’ by Helen Roseveare (short biography & podcast). She was a medical missionary to the Congo, and has written several books to encourage and challenge Christians by sharing her experiences. I could write pages on how inspiring she is – but that’s not what this post is about. I wrote my thoughts after each of the three chapters to help me digest what I had read. This series is about how God used this book to work at my heart and teach me a few important lessons.


Just before I began reading this chapter, someone suggested to me that I consider medical mission in the farming villages and rural islands of Korea. Out of curiosity, I searched what the medical needs of these communities might be. They seem to be a mostly elderly population with local access to basic healthcare, but often unable to reach better services until too late. The needs in Korea will likely increase, with a growing population of refugees, foreign workers, and their families. Unification of the two Korea’s will create an even greater population requiring both practical and spiritual help. All this stirred my heart, but I refused to be moved by it. I prayed, “Lord, do not stir me”. I was afraid of being called to Korea – I did not want it.

As I started this chapter, I was afraid I would be pushed into a corner, forced to submit; but the Lord is good and kind and gentle. The chapter was not an urgent call for missionaries, but of how God guides us in life. I was comforted by the fact that often God only asks us to follow Him one step at a time. The ultimate location of where God wants us to be is usually not as important as it seems. We tend to over-complicate this journey of following God’s plan for our lives; when in reality, it is much simpler.

Helen Roseveare challenges us that we must: a) be 100% certain that He has a complete plan, and b) be 100% available to God for whatever that plan might involve. Seek grace to obey Him, as revealed in His word, and He shall guide us. One example she gave was of a boy being called to a people he did not want to go to. She counselled him to simply hold it in his heart and thank the Lord for wanting him in His service. She comforted him saying that when it comes to, God will help him love the work and the people he will serve. What great grace and comfort! He does not push us beyond what we can take. We must simply obey in faith, as He reveals to us His will, one step at a time.

Stir me to give

During my time in Zambia, I read a book called ‘Living Faith’ by Helen Roseveare (short biography & podcast). She was a medical missionary to the Congo, and has written several books encouraging and challenging Christians through beautifully honest accounts of her experiences. I could write pages on how inspiring she is – but that’s not what this post is about! After each of the three chapters in ‘Living Faith’, I wrote down my thoughts to help me digest what I had read. This series shares how God used this book to work at my heart and teach me a few important lessons. I hope it encourages and challenges you too!


Dr Helen Roseveare unravels story after story of how God provided for every need in answer to prayer: sometimes in cash, other times as the exact material needed, much like the answered prayers of George Müller.

God often met their needs through stirring other people’s hearts to give. These people then chose to listen to His Spirit and obey. He stirred Helen’s own heart too, to give her all to Christ in her time, strength, and resources – her everything.

I see that many aspects of her situation in the Congo were similar to what I have seen here in Zambia – financially, culturally, perhaps even spiritually. I wonder if anyone here is praying like she did for every need – specific prayers uttered in complete trust.

Helen’s honest stories of failure, disappointment, disillusionment, and weakness encourage us that it is a constant learning process, even as it was for her. Many of these struggles she had are so similar to mine. Her stories, along with my experience so far of medical mission in Zambia, have shown me how crucial it is to wholly rely on God – generally in life, but particularly so when on the mission field.


On returning from Zambia…

We left for Zambia with the aim to learn, but also hoping to help with the workload and encourage the Zambian staff and international missionaries. We wanted to give our hands and feet in medical service, but the reality was disappointing. Although the official national language is English, we soon found out that this did not really apply to most of the local people who exclusively spoke Tonga – even some of the staff from other tribes had to learn the language from scratch!

As we settled into our new routine, we began questioning why we were there. Yes, we were learning about Zambian culture, and how medicine is different there in many ways. But what was God’s purpose for us in this time and place? How could we be useful in a place where we could not communicate with the locals? We were only there for 4 weeks – insufficient time to learn enough of the language for medical work!

Praise the Lord – God still used us for His glory in unexpected ways.

The Lord revealed to us on our very last day in Zambia how He had been working through us. He showed us that we had been able to give! We had spent time building relationships with some of the Zambian healthcare students on placement there. They too had left the comfort of their homes and university life to spend a number of months learning at this hospital. These friends truly blessed us by expressing how encouraged they were by the friendship and fellowship we shared with them, particularly during what could have been a lonely and difficult time. Praise the Lord for working through us to edify and build each other up! (1 Thess 5:11)

Be open to the creative ways in which God wants us to give – it may not always be how we expect or want to be used. Physical work and financial support is needed, but so is encouragement and our genuine interest in others! Let us remember that sharing the love of Christ should be the heart behind all we do, ‘whether we eat or drink’. (1 Cor 10:31)

Lessons from Mexico – #4

Lesson #4: one body in Christ, many parts

One of the first things we noticed as a team was how each of us had different talents, interests and experiences, and how God had brought each one into the group to serve a role.

We initially realised this during the children’s holiday club. There was no formal meeting to discuss or delegate roles, but we were simply happy and open to serve in whatever way was needed. As we prepared and led various activities, we naturally took on the roles that were created. Each team member ended up serving in their area of gifting, whether that be leading games, worship and dancing, taking photos, handing out sweets and stickers, building relationships with the parents, or helping with arts and crafts activities.

This is only one example. There were many other instances (e.g. when doing practical work at the Christian campsite, seeing the missionaries working together as a team) when  I felt we were experiencing what Paul meant when he wrote about the Church forming the body of Christ:

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

Romans 12:4-6

Some have gifts that are more upfront and visible, others have gifts that may often take them behind the scenes. As the passage says, we do not all have the same role to play, for how silly would it be if we only had eyes to form our body! We must not be jealous or proud or even embarrassed, but humbly use the gifts we have been given to serve Christ and His body, the Church. We need each other to play our given roles in order to build up His Kingdom and hold the Church together and strong. Let us not forget any member of the church, whether young or old, big or small, new or regular – whatever shape or size, each member of the Body is needed to keep it healthy, whole and functioning!

Lessons from Mexico – #3

Lesson #3: the Father’s heart for the lost

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The view of Tepoztlan from el cerro de la luz

During the first week in Tepoztlan, we were invited to join the church in praying for the town. We walked up a local hill that overlooks the town – ‘el cerro de la luz’, meaning the hill of light. It was breathtaking just to take in the beauty of His creation surrounding us (literally breathtaking too – some of it was quite steep!). There was something moving about seeing the church pray  for the salvation of the town people, for His kingdom come in Tepoztlan.

We had some time to pray in smaller groups. I kept my eyes open so I could look at the town as I prayed. During this time, the Lord poured His heart into mine. The heart of a Father yearning to be reconciled with His children, to see this people saved. It was so strong, so powerful, such passionate love. I don’t think it was even the whole thing, just a little taster so I wouldn’t burst, and yet my little heart was still unable to contain it. What heart would? His love is so great and unfathomable.

I have previously known this love for the lost, a heart that ached for people to be saved. But I let life distract me and I forgot. I was reluctant to speak out, not knowing what to say or how to say it. The more I let fear speak louder than the Holy Spirit, the weaker His voice becomes within me. This outpouring of His heart in Mexico was a reminder of the Lord’s passion, and of how much I had decidedly forgotten and ignored it.

It is so easy to let the more pressing things of everyday life – deadlines, exams, events, relationships – to take priority. But what is more pressing and urgent than the salvation of souls! We must remember the grace given to us was not just for us to sit happily in His blessings, but to get up and go, sharing the gospel so that others may hear the life-saving good news. I have noticed that my faith grows the most and is strongest when I have done so. When I ignore this calling to share, my faith begins to get stagnant and lukewarm. Let us fight the fears and the comforts that hold us back, and trust in the Holy Spirit as we, in faith, testify to the Truth that sets us free.

Lessons from Mexico – #2

Lesson #2: the nations will worship the Lamb

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The team!

As a team of four meeting Mexicans, we represented four different continents – Europe, Africa and Asia meeting America. Although we all lived in the UK, we each carried different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It wasn’t something we had planned or expected, but wherever we went, people were able to see at a glance that God was indeed at work in all four corners of the world. What a blessing it was to be able to encourage others and glorify God by simply being there, even before we said or did anything! It made me realise once again that it is not by our own strengths and talents, but by His grace and our submission to His workings (having responded to His call to go to Mexico!), that God uses us to glorify Himself and bless others.

Throughout our time in Mexico, there was a theme that emerged. The first Sunday sermon in Tepoztlan, one of our team devotionals, the sermon at the church in Cuernavaca… chapters 1 and 7 of Revelations kept cropping up! The following verses really spoke to me in particular:

… Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen                                                                 Revelations 1:5-6

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”                                                                          Revelations 7:9-10

When we arrived at El Monte, the theme continued. We were greeted by a missionary, who had recently been reading a book on heaven. He shared with us his excitement for how great it will be when the Lord returns and establishes the new heaven and new earth, and how we can imagine us representing a glimpse of this – people from all nations coming together to worship the Lord!

The Lord helped me realise that I had become too preoccupied with the busy-ness of what was going on around me in the here and now. He lifted my eyes up again, reminding me to keep my eyes and focus fixed on the finish line (Hebrews 12:1-2). Let us not get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of this world, lest we get swept away by its whirlwind – but let us fix our eyes on the Lamb on the throne, holding on to the hope of a new heaven and earth where He will reign forevermore!

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The beautiful church of Tepoztlan

Lessons from Mexico – #1

This summer I went to Mexico with WEC (World Evangelisation for Christ) UK on a short-term team missions trip for 3 weeks. It’s taken me a while to organise my thoughts and find the time to post them, but here are a few of the lessons I learnt whilst I was out there. I realised after writing the first lesson that this will take longer than I thought, so I will be continuing it as a series. I hope and pray it encourages you!

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Morning sunrise in Tepoztlan

Lesson #1: the power of testimonies

We had the great privilege of sharing our testimonies with many of the local families and church members. I could see it was encouraging for those who already believed, and intriguing to those that were yet to believe, to hear a group of young people from the other side of the world sharing with them about Jesus and how he entered into our personal lives.

However, as the missions trip was nearing its end, I began wondering if any of the seeds we had sown would bear fruit – whether sharing our testimonies would lead to the salvation of any, let alone many! I know that sometimes we are not granted the privilege of seeing the fruit (and we must be patient and faithful in those times), but I asked God to show me some small sign to encourage me to keep sowing.

Our God is good and He listens to the smallest of our prayers!

On the last day, I was reading John chapter 4 and a verse caught my eye. It was from the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman – a well-known story. Usually I focus on the conversation between Jesus and the woman, but this time I noticed what happened afterwards. The woman ran into her town telling everyone about her encounter with Jesus. Sounds a lot like evangelism, or sharing testimonies. When it comes to telling someone about Jesus or sharing our testimony, I often find myself afraid that nothing will happen, wondering if it’s worth it all. But here’s the encouraging part:

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

The power of testimonies is that it leads people to Jesus! Some of the town people believed in him before they even met him, because of the woman’s testimony. Your testimony could be the key that the Lord uses to open the door of someone’s salvation. How exciting is that! It’s easy to think leading people to Jesus is only the pastor’s role, or for someone more knowledgeable about the Bible. So often we just try to get them inside the church one way or another, hoping that as soon as they step inside, something magical will happen. With this approach however, I think there may sometimes be an underlying belief that the church is a building, or the church is the leadership – no, the Church is all the believers, including you and me!

According to this story, something as simple as sharing how Jesus has changed my life can spark an interest in people’s hearts for more of Jesus and his words. Getting into the word of Jesus actually happened afterwards, leading even more people to believe and strengthening the faith of those who already believed.

How great is our God, that He chooses to work through our testimonies! I hope this encourages both you and me to keep sharing, and to see with the eyes of faith the fruit it might bear.  Let us continue running the race and fighting the good fight – for the glory of God, and for His Kingdom!