mission

The Bible is full of stories and admonitions regarding prayer. Since mid-May, we’ve been exploring these biblical patterns of prayer in our Sunday morning worship services. You can find the sermons here on our website. These stories and patterns from Scripture are intensely encouraging.

One of my favorites is the text for this weekend’s sermon: Acts 4:23-31. After the apostles were arrested and told not to preach, they returned to tell the rest of the church. They didn’t complain, protest, write an editorial, or call their local politician. Rather, they prayed. They sought God.

They praised God’s glory and sovereignty as they quoted Psalm 2. Their prayer was humble, together, and scriptural. And God answered their prayer directly. They asked for boldness to preach the gospel and for God’s divine power to rest on their ministry. God gave them both answers. What we discover in Acts 4 is that God loves to answer our prayers.

Here are some more answers to prayer that we’ve experienced at Wilkesboro Baptist in the past week. I hope these answers will encourage you to keep praying.

  • Here are a few health concerns where church members were prayed for and have experienced strength, grace, and even healing. A church member who had emergency stomach surgery is home and doing well. Another church member is recovering after having stints. A church member who’s had several shoulder surgeries got a great report after visiting with the doctor. The shoulder is healing as expected and will get stronger.
  • Here’s a longer praise that reflects an immediate answer to prayer. A church member and her sister have experienced timely answers to prayer calling them “Sarah’s Miracles.” Recently, an electrical fire started in Sarah’s kitchen. Her sister, member of WBC, rushed to Galax, VA praying the whole way for her sister to be safe and for there to be only minor damage. She arrived to find everyone safe with minor damage. And as an added blessing, the insurance company is paying for the clean up and new flooring.
  • A child of church members who we’ve prayed to trust in Christ for years, trusted in Jesus as Lord last week!
  • And here’s a praise from one of our mission partners. Ashley has served Muslim refugees in Central Asia. “Mrs. B.” was a part of one of the families she ministered to before leaving for the US during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Mrs. B.” has experienced health problems, marriage challenges, and significant difficulties related to being a refugee. During their last in-country conversation, Ashley read the story of the woman who had the issue of blood healed by Jesus when she reached out to touch his robe. Ashley and her team also left stories and Scriptures in audio for “Mrs. B.” to listen to. On a recent video call with “Mrs. B.,” Ashley witnessed “Mrs. B.’s” depression and sadness. She reminded her of the story of the woman who was healed by touching Jesus’ robe and asked her about listening to the stories of Jesus. At that, “Mrs. B” visibly changed and began talking about listening to the stories of Jesus. Some team members visited with her after this conversation and “Mrs. B.” shared that she is becoming a follower of Jesus!

These are just a few answers to prayer. There are so many more. God invites us to pray and wants to answer us. I would encourage you to keep a journal of how God answers your prayers. Would you also take some time to pray for missionaries and pastors and each other as we share the good news? If you are part of WBC, here’s our mission partner list and how you can pray for them regularly. As you can see, God is working and answering. Praying is our part in the process.

Photo by Calvin Hanson on Unsplash

I’ll never forget the spiritual journey that brought me to faith in Christ. My father is a retired pastor, and we were always in church. My mother was a godly prayer warrior. From my earliest age, I remember having my spiritual faith encouraged. We had devotions, went to church, and I had numerous opportunities to experience faith.

I learned to be a good little boy. For most of my childhood, I believed the facts about the gospel. I tried to do all the things I should (read the Bible, confess my sins, behave well). In spite of my efforts, my teenage years were internally disturbing. I experienced uncertainty about my salvation and could not be confident that I would have eternal life. For about 6 years, I faced mounting doubt and uncertainty. There were a number of occasions where I just wanted to die so I could find out where I would spend eternity.

On the outside, I’m sure I looked fine. On the inside, I was a spiritual mess.

During the summer of my 18th year, I was invited to go to summer camp with my cousin’s church. I distinctly remember having a conversation with God prior to camp where I said,

“God, I don’t know what is going on in my soul. I can’t get peace. But whatever you say, whatever you tell me to do, I will do.”

At camp, the internal turmoil did not ease. Rather, it grew exponentially. My heart was bursting with tension and frustration. It was at this point of tension, that God spoke loudly and clearly,

“Chris, you need to be forgiven. Your sins are the reason I died. You need to trust Me alone for your salvation.”

That night is forever imbedded in my memory. I gave up. I asked God to forgive me. God saved me that night at summer camp. In that moment, I experienced a peace, a joy, a freedom that was unexplainable. Something else became unalterably clear to me in that moment. God wanted me to preach his gospel to others. For me the call to salvation and the call to preach occurred at the same moment.

In the 20+ years since that experience, I’ve thought a lot about my conversion and call experience. Following are some insights into God’s call that I’ve developed as I interpreted my experience through the lens of Scripture.

  • Personal experiences are not universals, but they can be templates. It is important that we don’t generalize our experiences that we believe they are universal for everyone. But we should learn from personal experiences. Moses’ call in Exodus 3 might not be replicated in our lives today (God speaking through the burning bush), but when God calls, it will be to reveal himself and send us on his mission (this is the universal).
  • My need for salvation was because I had been relying on my goodness rather than God’s grace. Over the years I reflected deeply on why I was not converted at a younger age. I believed the facts of the gospel long before I experienced salvation. God helped me understand that one could believe spiritual facts while still relying on self for salvation. Trusting in Christ alone is required for salvation, and that is what I was missing.
  • God’s calling to salvation may not always be a calling to preach, but it always includes a calling to serve. Not every salvation experience includes a vocational call. But every salvation experience does include a call to follow Christ and serve his purpose. I’m afraid that in experience-driven Christianity, this may not always be communicated clearly. God’s call to salvation anticipates a call to serve his purpose and testify to him and his glory. According to Matthew 28:18-20 we all have the obligation to lead our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus.
  • In order to hear/sense God’s call, we need to have distractions removed. That fateful summer camp for me provided a time of devoted attention to hearing from God. Moses’ burning bush experience occurred in the wilderness where he was alone. Many of David’s psalms were written during his alone time with the sheep. The principle is this: if we are going to hear from God, we need to make time to be alone and quiet with him. Cell phones, television, and other distractions must be removed so we can hear and experience God.

What about you? Have you experienced God’s call to salvation? I hope so. Nothing is more important than knowing God and being confident of eternal life. If you have that peace, then have you embraced God’s call to serve his purpose and live his mission? If not, why not make time to pause, pray, and hear from God about his calling on your life.