Today’s post is a guest post from Pastor Jim Buckman. Pastor Buckman serves as an urban missionary in New Jersey and is the author of iPray. His latest project is ahouseofprayer.net – an online web app to help you find a church to pray with you. You can also download the iPrayU app on your iPhone or Android.
By God’s grace, as I serve as a missionary in a far off place called New Jersey. I grew up in West Africa, my parents were missionaries there in the 1960’s and 1970’s; our family and two other American families were by ourselves in a people group of about 50,000. When you and I hear ‘missionary’ we think of the village I grew up in; not New Jersey. My passion as a missionary is to help our congregations develop their Prayer ministry and plant community Bible studies or house churches.
When I first came to New Jersey, I began to work with a Pastor in Newark, NJ who was as God would have it- a West African immigrant. Newark is a city of 280,000 people, plus an additional 100,000 commuters; yet our worship attendance at the West African churches I work with average only 30-40 people. The northern part of Newark is largely Spanish speaking which makes outreach by West Africans a challenging proposition.
Pr. Scott Seidler the Senior Pastor for Concordia Lutheran Church in Kirkwood, MO has been a friend since our days at the Seminary and has been a ministry partner since my first day as a network supported missionary. Shortly after I arrived in New Jersey, Scott called me up and wanted to visit, see how the work was going, and look at ways to partner.
So, when Scott came to New Jersey we went prayer walking in Newark. One way I go prayer walking is to simply go to people’s homes, ring the doorbell, introduce myself and say, “Hi, I’m Jim, this is my friend _______, we are praying for the neighborhood; we would love to pray for you. How can we pray for you?”
I will never forget one house that we called on- a little girl answered the door; so I asked if her parents were home. The homes in this neighborhood are smaller so you can easily hear what is being said inside. The little girl disappeared around the corner, probably into the kitchen and said to her mom, “There are some men outside looking for you.” I had to smile.
When the mother came to the door I introduced myself and Scott, explained that we were praying for the neighborhood, that we would love to pray for them and asked them what we could pray about. I will never forget the mother’s response. She pointed her finger at me and said, “Today I was served my divorce papers. You can pray for myself and these two children.”
I looked down at my watch and replied, “Ma’am we will be at the church in about 15 minutes and we will be praying for you and your children.” I then pointed out Pr. Lawrence Gboeah (our West African pastor) and said, “This man is the Pastor of our church; he and the congregation will make sure that you don’t go through this alone.”
The mother paused for a second and said, “You know something- this is the first time that a church has ever come to my house.” I simply said, “Praise God.”
Psalm 68:5 says that God is a “Father to the fatherless…”
By being out in the community and asking people how we could pray for them, we learned what their specific needs were. In an instant we connected with this mother and her children; she shared their need and accepted our offer to minister to them.
Prayer is a tremendous blessing for us from God. It costs us nothing to pray for others. When we ask others how we can pray for them, we are not using some man-made church growth technique; we are being true to what God has called us to be, “a house of prayer for all the nations.” (Isaiah 56:7)
God wants the fatherless to know that they are loved. Your offer to pray for someone might just be the way they hear His story.