On Saturday, June 15, 2013, 25 teens and 8 sponsors from Colonial Hills Baptist Church left the church parking and travelled over 800 miles to Ringgold, Louisiana in order to minister for the week at Kingsway Baptist Church. This trip served as the culmination of months of requirements and preparation as teenagers diligently honed lifetime skills of discipleship and faithfulness in their pursuit of Christ that would serve them well on the trip, as well as in their lives. Along the way, God impressed an important theme into our minds: God answers prayer. Allow me to explain:
The fact that God answers prayer should come as no surprise to true followers of Christ, but it often takes events like mission trips to make us understand just how powerful the resource of prayer is. It didn't take long for God to begin to teach us this lesson. On Saturday evening we sat in traffic near Jackson, Mississippi for an hour and a half while the bus didn't move at all. As I pulled up a traffic app on on my phone, I quickly realized that we were in some real trouble. Even though we hadn't moved at all, the app showed that we were only halfway through the traffic. We could be in for a long night. Quickly, we asked five teenagers to pray for God to intervene so that we could arrive in time to minister on Sunday, and within fifteen minutes of praying, the traffic cleared and we were on our way. This episode set the tone for the week. On Sunday we prayed that God would bring some children out to the first night of VBS, and 29 children were there. We prayed that God would grow our numbers on Monday, and 42 children arrived. On Tuesday, we prayed that we would see one soul come to Christ, and we saw 43 children attend, with two professions of faith. Wednesday night saw 57 children attending the closing night, along with three more professions of faith. Every request that we asked for was answered with stunning swiftness from our sovereign Ruler.
As we approached our Cola War on Thursday night, we began to become concerned. No matter how hard we looked and canvassed, there did not seem to be any teens in the area. I began to prepare our teens for an evening of sharing testimonies of God's goodness if no teens showed up. Again, we prayed. Inexplicably, God saw fit to bring 19 teens out to our Cola War that evening, with 5 professing Christ. Once again, God was teaching us that if we ask in His name, He is inclined to hear and to answer our requests. The emotion that filled the room that evening after the Cola War as we shared testimonies of God's power to answer prayer is one that I will not soon forget. I believe that God brought our youth group to Ringgold to teach us that He will answer our prayers.
As I spoke to the teens this past Sunday, I used the illustration of receiving an inheritance. Imagine if you received an inheritance of one million dollars, and yet you allowed yourself to live in poverty. You didn't work, you didn't eat, and you had no means of sustenance. All the while, the inheritance money sat in a bank available for your use, but collecting dust while you rotted away. I am convinced that this is what many Christians are doing with their prayer lives. They long for God's power, but find their journey of faith to be marked by abject spiritual poverty and fruitlessness. All the while, their loving Ruler has provided the remarkable resource of prayer that sits there collecting dust while we spiritually waste away. He's inclined to hear and to answer us (I John 5:14-15), but we must tap into the resource that He has provided.
God used a trip to Ringgold, Louisiana to show us that His love and care for His people is manifested through His eagerness to answer their prayers. May we remain faithful to draw from the source of His magnificent power all year long -- not just on a mission trip.
For a pictorial recap of our Trip to Louisiana, click HERE.