A Global Day of Prayer

October 1st marks the start of World Vision’s fiscal year, and around the globe, every office dedicates the entire day to prayer and thanksgiving. The WVUS and WVI offices on the West Coast are the last legs in a marathon that starts 16 hours earlier in Australia and moves around the world through almost 100 countries. It’s quite a stunning and unique commitment in an organization of this size and breadth.

This year, I’m attending the Global Day of Prayer with WVUS near Seattle as I write this. I look forward each year to concentrated prayer for global needs but had forgotten about the powerful time we spend praying for donors. There must have been over 15,000 donor prayer requests this year, more than in any previous year, and each of the 500+ attendees was given a stack of 25 cards. These hand-written tear-offs were mailed in along with the donor’s contribution. We dedicated an hour, praying silently over each request and sending a postcard back to each writer.

What a powerful reminder this was of why I love World Vision. It impacts 100 million people in 100 countries. (“Good to Great” author Jim Collins commented to Rich Stearns yesterday that World Vision in 10 years could make more impact on global poverty than the U.S. government. I doubt that, but WV makes a big impact.)

But how does that impact happen? Through the faithful widow’s mite, through the hearts of the humble. Today we were brought into intimate encounters with those humble enough to ask for prayer, to pour their hearts out to some stranger, yet not to a faceless institution or bureaucracy but to a ministry partner: whether from a sense of connection or one of desperation, they asked for prayer as an act of faith.

Breathe slowly through a few requests I had the privilege of lifting up:

-For my missionary nephew in China with a rare bone cancer…
-That God gives us a bigger home, so we can take in more foster kids – to love those children…
-For my father to not be in pain…
-That God would forgive me from my “sexall” sins and that Jesus lets me up in heaven…
-Heal fractures in my family…
-My children… My children and my grandchildren… My sponsored children’s health and their families…All the poor and abandoned children…
-All the hungry and homeless people; my needs are minor compared to theirs…
-Friendship with other single seniors who love our Lord. Sometimes I feel lonely…
-For my 10-year old, that if it is God’s will He would spare her the ravages of this disease…
-That my friend leaving prison would heed the Spirit and avoid trouble…
-For a young mother with life-threatening cancer…
-For my husband’s return to our girls and to me. He doesn’t see them or even return their calls…
-I haven’t worked in almost a year: pray for work…
-For my granddaughter on drugs and on parole, and for her twins now being raised by her own middle-aged parents…
-That we could pay off our credit card debt so our family of 6 could adopt children in need…
The final prayer card stopped me in my tracks: an 87-year-old woman who was practically beside herself about how some ministry told her that God had led them to her and they really needed her money, and she had given them all she had or could give, so her sponsorship pledge would be late. She asked prayer for forgiveness from God in case she made wrong decisions on giving away her money… I’m keeping that one in my office.

Praying through these requests was such a privilege. I kept the cards and prayed through them again today (Sunday). And I was viscerally struck with the reality that this tapestry of donors large and small hangs in the parabolic banquet hall of the King: rich & poor, young and old, black and white, highly educated or lowly, many with hearts far larger than their checking accounts.

No gift too small or too large to fit onto a $1.2 billion offering plate lifted up to the Lord… mingled with the incense of the fervent prayers of the fragile and the hurting who gave what they could. Gave to meet another’s need in the midst of their own needs. ‘I’m not working, but here’s my gift and my prayer request.’ ‘I’m broken-hearted; here’s my contribution to help heal the broken.’

Woven together into a fabric so diverse and beautiful, of which we are each but one small yet infinitely precious part. One puzzle piece praying for another piece. Neither one above or greater than the other.

My heart hurts for these needs. This time, it’s not the needs of the recipients but of the givers. For as we are all wounded healers, we are givers who are also in need of receiving.

I sat alone writing this after the prayer session as everyone ate their box lunch in the foyer. Alone with my thoughts. Alone with my prayer cards. Spent. A friend walked over to chat and I couldn’t do it. This was a holy hour, and I was in a sanctuary, having been invited to walk through the private dreams and pains of 25 faithful partners in this ministry.

Corrected perhaps from the creeping tendency of seeing donors at times more as spigots filling a coffer, as ATM machines. Of exalting the big gift over the widow’s mite.

But mainly I’m simply in awe—of the fellowship of saints which is the World Vision donor family; and of the privilege and the awesome responsibility of stewarding their sacred trust. Everything World Vision has comes from God, but it comes through the hands of His servants, many of whom—maybe all of whom—give to alleviate the suffering of others even in the midst of their own.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s