The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. I Kings 19:11-12
If you're fortunate enough to visit Children's Impact Network's Bolivia Life Center (BLC), there are several mantras you will hear repeatedly: don't pet the stray dogs, drink water, and pray about it. Throughout several conversations with people on my team, the Children's Impact Network interns, and onsite staff, I heard the last phrase so many times that I began to wonder if I'd ever truly heard it before. Since I was on a mission trip abroad with my church to visit a Christian organization, that reminder seemed like it should be obvious. Of course, you would know to pray in this environment! But what became obvious was that I wasn't doing it nearly enough. And, each time I was told to pray over something, I began to realize how little I hear this outside of places like my church and my family. Or, perhaps, how little I have practiced seeking out this advice.
This world we live in is very much a "dream it, be it" world. If you want to try something, go for it! If you want that new job, why not? If you want to achieve something, follow your heart! But this is not the attitude of Children's Impact Network, where prayer and seeking God is what the Bolivia Life Center revolves around. I found myself so affected and motivated by this attitude that I began to want to pray over the concrete we mixed during our morning service project. I began to pray grace and salvation over the little children we played with and danced for at Sidewalk Sunday School. I looked at the boys running around at the BLC and prayed over and over that they would begin to understand just how loved and valued they are. And then came the house visit.
Another idea that we as a church group were reminded of during our stay was the necessity of spiritual quietness. God asks for a relationship in which we intentionally seek out meaningful quiet time, choosing to ignore or push aside all the busyness and distractions begging for our attention. No matter the situation, if we are ready and willing to listen, He can and will speak to us - but quiet time can change the game.
“And then came the house visit.”
Getting quiet in order to inquire of the Lord on behalf of someone in need was an example of the spiritual quietness that we sought at our home visit. In a typical home visit, we bring a basket of food and drink and take the time to get to know whoever we are visiting so that we can be more specific in how we pray for them. Before we even walked up to the home of Gladys, the single mother we were visiting, it was as if a hush had already fallen over the group.
We gathered around Gladys and two of her three children, heard her story of great hardship and bravery, and listened to three different languages spoken and translated back and forth. God had never felt so close. In the very act of quieting and focusing our minds, we had actively made room for Him to stand in the midst of us. We’d made room for Him to inhabit our prayers. And because of that, He was far more glorified than he would have been if we were encouraging Gladys by our own strength.
“We had actively made room for Him to stand in the midst of us.”
So, in the midst of Spanish, Quechua, and English dancing back and forth, God was whispering to Gladys, “I am here. I am faithful. I see you as much as I see everyone else.” And we were fortunate enough to be the conduits of those reminders.
The best part is this isn’t a one-time thing. Not only do church groups who visit CIN orphanages pray with and give to the needy in the community each week, but those of us in the States can do this same thing in our own communities regularly. And we don’t have to take three flights to do it! This was probably the most valuable advice given to us by the founders of CIN: take the servant heart you’ve cultivated in a different country back to your home country. Pray over and give to those in need. Find those who have been abandoned and love them. Sometimes they’re right next to you. And in everything you do, pray about it.
It’s there, when we open ourselves up to pour love into others, that God comes close and whispers. Both to them and to us.
This article was written by Molly Pearson, who served on a mission trip in 2019 with Lake Forest Church, North Carolina.