June 27, 2017

Pray for Missionaries: A Personal Appeal

I’ve recently been sharing some ideas about praying for missionaries (here and here). How would you like a real-life opportunity to put those things into practice?

As some of you know, my husband and I have felt God’s call to be missionary church-planters in the intermountain West. We’ve had a long stretch of waiting and preparing as he worked through six years of seminary. Last spring he finally graduated, and we flew out to Salt Lake City to meet with the board of Northwest Baptist Missions. We were officially accepted as “pre-field missionaries” and started looking for a more specific area to focus on.

Pray for the Gospel to spread in Logan, Utah
We had a few days free to survey different areas, and God clearly directed our steps to focus our attention on one specific city: Logan, Utah. It’s a truly beautiful area, nestled in between three different mountain ranges, and we felt at home almost as soon as we set foot in town. People were friendly and we loved the local places that we stopped at. We were able to get a moderate grasp of the religious diversity in the town, the cultural experiences, and the major employers.

Like most of northern Utah, Logan’s 50K residents are predominantly Mormon. However, it’s also home to Utah State University, which draws in other religious denominations — a good thing for missions, since it means people are more open to considering other beliefs. It’s also a major cultural center during the summertime, which draws in even more visitors and seasonal residents from other parts of the country.

Pray for Logan, Utah
We came home excited about a possible field, and spent several months in prayer considering whether that might be where God wants to use us. Of course, we’re not there yet — and what looks like an open door could just be a signpost to another location — but He has certainly drawn our hearts to the people there, giving us a love for them and a strong desire to reach them with the Gospel.

However, before we can settle in Logan (if that’s where God wants us), we first need to do a one-year unpaid internship with another mission pastor as we get to know the culture and the area. Hopefully during that time, we will pin down the exact location God wants us to settle, maybe even do some legwork in that area, then we get to start deputation and finally head towards our chosen field.

Pray for people to be saved in Logan, Utah

But we need to get out there first — and that’s where you come in! We are ready to dive deep into the mines, but we need you to hold the ropes

Will you pray for us?

First, we are facing several obstacles to getting to the field:

  • Medical Care: My husband injured his wrist a while back and there has been some delay in getting treatment for it (gotta love bureaucratic paperwork). He’s finally getting some tests done and should know soon about possible surgery and rehab. I have also been dealing with some health issues — minor surgeries and new medications. Pray for medical wisdom and complete healing for my husband, and physical improvement and stability for me.
  • Timing: We were originally hoping to move in early fall, but my husband’s injury has delayed us at least until the new year. Of course, we’ll be moving cross-country — and driving a Uhaul through the midwest in wintertime is a pretty bad idea. So now we’ll be delayed at least until spring. I know God has a reason for His timing, but we’ve been in “preparation mode” for the past 8 years, and are very eager to get busy working! Pray for patience as we wait, for confidence in God’s perfect timing, and for wisdom as we determine when it might happen.
  • Location: Once we know when, then we can discuss where of our internship. Not only do we need to consider where we’ll be able to best serve and learn, we also need a location that offers quality medical care (at least for me) and proximity to wherever we hope to serve in the future (so we can get more familiar with it before going on deputation). Additionally, since it’s an unpaid internship, my husband will need to find a job in the community to help support us. Pray for wisdom for both us and the mission board as we work together to choose the best placement. Pray also for direction in finding housing, employment, and good doctors.
  • Financial Provision: I have a feeling I’ll be surprised just how expensive moving cross-country can be. At the same time, I firmly believe God will provide what we need, since He has called us to go! Additionally, we need to consider how to pay bills once we’re focused on planting a church and spreading the Gospel. It would help if we weren’t distracted by trying to make ends meet. Pray for God to provide abundantly (as He always does), and for us to faithfully trust His timing and manner of provision.

Second, we would love your prayers for the field itself:

  • Utah: Our hearts are so burdened by the spiritual darkness of northern Utah. At least 90% of the people have been deceived by Mormonism and there’s a smattering of other false religions as well, with only a handful of churches that are doctrinally sound. Pray for God to send more laborers into the field, for Gospel seeds to be planted, and for hearts to be receptive to the truth.
  • Missionary Pastors: Visit nbmwest.org to learn more about missionary pastors who are currently planting churches in the Western US. I know they would appreciate your prayer support! Pray for the spiritual growth of current church plants, and for new avenues to open into more communities, so that the light of the Gospel might spread far and wide.
  • Our Final Destination: Pray that, even now, God would be preparing a place for us wherever He ultimately wants us to serve. Mormon communities can be very closed to outsiders sometimes — as any community established around a central religion or culture might be. Many neighborhoods are built around “wards” (Mormon churches), and outsiders often stick out like a sore thumb. In fact, some missionary pastors can go years without truly connecting with their neighbors, simply because they don’t attend the same church on Sundays. Pray for the neighbors we’ll have, the businesses we’ll frequent, and local connections we’ll make. Pray for people’s hearts and eyes to be opened to their spiritual need, and for opportunities to build relationships as soon we settle in.

Lord, Send Laborers!
I’ll be sharing more about Logan and our burden for Utah in my next newsletter.
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Comments

  1. So excited for you! I will be adding you to my missionary prayer list. Looking forward to seeing God at work through you and your husband!

  2. Hi Elizabeth and James I will lift my prayers for you both as you seek Gods will in your lives and for HIs Provisions to supply your needs.
    Dear Lord and Heavenly Father,
    Bless these your children Elizabeth and James as they seek your will to serve you on the mission fields of Utah to spread your word of the Gospel to all and to direct the path they should take watch over them and protect them surround them with your love and comfort Lord God and know how much they are loved and cared for by family and friends. Bless them in Jesus Name Amen.
    With love and prayers your Cousin Elizabeth and the boys