By Cheryl Odden (thevoice@vom-usa.org)

Dr. S. M. Zwemer, a Christian scholar on Islam, said, “The history of mission is the history of answered prayer ... it is the key to the whole missionary problem. All human means are secondary.” J. Oswald Sanders said, “(Prayer) is fundamental, not supplementary ... All progress can be clearly traced back to prevailing prayer.”

We could publish the addresses of Christians imprisoned in restricted nations and carry in Bibles until we are blue in the face. If done without prayer, however, our efforts would be fruitless. Missions is answered prayer. Our work was petitioned years, perhaps even centuries ago by men and women who tarried on their knees for the persecuted church. One of those men was Pastor Richard Wurmbrand.

Pastor Wurmbrand shares: “You can move God. Remember how God decided to destroy the Jewish people after they had worshiped a golden calf, and through Moses’ prayer, did God change His mind? To produce changes in heavenly decrees is much more important than moving mountains (of difficulty).” God promised Abraham that He would bless him and that Abraham, in turn, would be a blessing. Moses knew that if God were to destroy the Israelites (Jews), He would not have kept His promise, and the Israelites would not have become a great people. What kind of image do you think the Gentiles would have had of God? Do you think many would have wanted to follow Him? I think not. Moses knew the heart of God. He knew the promise God had made with Abraham and reminded Him. Therefore, God changed His mind.

Are there times when we can “move God” as Pastor Wurmbrand shared? Change His mind? If Moses could do it, why couldn’t we? Perhaps we shy away from this fearing we will ask too much of God. There is no formula in making sure that we are not asking too much from God. That comes only through our relationship with Him. It comes through our daily walk with Him as we spend time in His Word and with His people and come to know His heart.

As I read and observe what is happening around the world today, I would rather be guilty before God of asking too much of Him than asking too little. When I watch a Sudan video, I would rather be guilty of asking too much for the little boy in chains that too little or nothing at all. I fall on my face at the thought, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10), yet I boldly stand at attention with, “Ask of Me and I will give the nations as thine inheritance” (Psalms 2:8) and “If you abide in Me... ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). The key is knowing His heart - abiding in Him.

We can pray for God to move in restricted nations around the world. We can pray for God to move in the hearts of atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, so that they may know Christ. We can pray for God to move in the hearts of governmental authorities and prison guards.

In 1991, Vietnamese pastor Ai Nguyen was arrested and given a three-year prison sentence for “preaching without a license.” His sentence was tripled to nine years for refusing to name other pastors involved in the underground church. In May 1992, Voice of the Martyrs included a postcard in their monthly newsletter for readers to mail to Vietnamese authorities with a request to release Pastor Ai. We asked for prayer on his behalf. A year later we received word that Pastor Ai was released early, serving only a fraction of his sentence.

Pakistani Christian, Gul Masih, was arrested on November 5, 1992, for blaspheming Mohammed, a violation of Law 295C. He was sentenced to death by hanging. However, two years later, his case was retried, and he was acquitted of all charges - a miraculous turn of events.

On May 24, 1995, Cuban pastor Orson Vila was arrested in an effort by Cuban authorities to squelch his church of 2,500 members. He was given a 21-month prison sentence. On March 2, 1996, he was released early and placed under house arrest. Upon his release, Pastor Vila shared about his time in prison: “I am so thankful for the power of prayer I received strength from God and was never ill - no flu, no skin disease, no illness at all. And I had lots of opportunities to share the gospel with my fellow inmates.”

When we “remember them that are in bonds as bound with them” (Hebrews 13:3), we enter in to the “fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). Pastor Wurmbrand wrote, “manacles hurt not only the wrists, but also the soul.” When they hurt, our souls hurt. When they are beaten, our souls are beaten. When they are isolated in a dark cell, our souls share in that darkness. However, we carry with us the “keys to the Kingdom” (Matthew 16:19), the keys to their comfort - prayer. With prayer we can rub the feet of those in shackles. We can put blankets over those shivering with cold on the icy cement floor. We can feed a spirit starved for fellowship and God’s Word. We can rub the wounds of a back bruised and cut from being whipped.

In the late ‘70s, USA Director Tom White was arrested and given a 24-year prison sentence for violating Cuba’s literature laws. (Tom and Mel Bailey made routine flights over Cuba dropping gospel tracts.) During his time in prison, he was placed in a refrigeration cell for one week This cold cell was designed to keep prisoners from resting. That same week, his mother prayed that he would get some sleep. He did.

Christian Wolfkes of Romania prayed daily: “0 Lord, I pray that I may not die before I have converted a Jew to the faith. You are all-powerful. Bring a Jew here to me in my village, and I promise I will do my utmost to convert him to the faith.” That Jew was Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. What would our world he like if this man had not prayed that prayer? May we also pray as Wolfkes did, that we would not die until we convert a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Communist, a terrorist, to faith in Christ. Who knows? Maybe he or she will rise up to advance God’s Kingdom in ways we cannot imagine, as Pastor and Sabina Wurmbrand have so faithfully done in their lives.

We invite you to join us on the front-lines in prayer to experience with us the joys of “remembering them in bonds as bound with them.” We invite you to join us in asking God for the nations. Each time you pray for one of our brothers and sisters in bonds, remember that some day we will all be together before God’s throne singing praises and “comparing notes” of when we prayed and rejoicing in how those prayers were answered (Revelation 7:9). Remember, as we look into the future, our mission is your answered prayers.

Acts 1:8
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