Saturday, July 11, 2015

'Because Prayer Matters': Raleigh Fellows Attend IJM Global Prayer Gathering

“Because Prayer Matters”

A couple of months ago, the Raleigh Fellows had the incredible opportunity to travel up to National Harbor, Md., to attend the International Justice Mission’s (IJM) Global Prayer Gathering.  For those of you who have never heard of the International Justice Mission, IJM is a global organization that fights to protect the poor from violence and slavery in the developing world. They do this by “rescuing victims, restoring survivors, bringing criminals to justice, and by strengthening justice systems,” to quote from their mission statement  Their concern is primarily centered on those who are victims of slavery, sex trafficking, sexual violence, police brutality, property grabbing, and citizen rights abuse. 

“Jesus, I pray for a miracle.”

The Global Prayer Gathering gave us the opportunity to step into the lives of the field directors and their teams as they return from places like Mumbai, Rwanda, Phnom Penh, and Guatemala (just to name a few) to be prayed over, and to share in how the Lord is changing lives and judicial systems in these third world countries.  We were asked to take this time to rejoice for the miraculous work God is doing, and to lament over those who are still amidst terrible suffering.  Our days were spent deep in prayer as we would begin in the large group where we would worship with singer/songwriter, Sara Groves, and would listen to keynote speakers.  From there, we would break up into groups and visit various rooms that were focused in on one area of the world, like Rwanda, where we would listen to the prayer request, and go into a powerful time of intercession. 

“Jesus, make loud the voice of those who seek justice for those who have no voice.”

The overarching statement of the weekend was, “Because prayer matters.”  From a personal standpoint, I have always known that prayer is a pivotal part of my relationship with God.  The idea that we have the ability to speak directly to the Maker of heaven and earth has always astonished me.  However, this prayer gathering gave me a new and powerful perspective on prayer, and reminded me of God’s strong desire for us to come to Him with ALL of our needs.  Isaiah 58:9 says, “Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”  With this in mind we entered into those hours of coming before the throne of God and praying on our knees for those suffering thousands of miles away. 

“Jesus, bring deliverance to the widows in Kampala, Uganda, who are experiencing violence and devastation to their land.”

On Saturday morning, we took our seats in the large group room which held a little over a thousand people.  We began with worship, announcements, and then jumped into listening to a key speaker from Mumbai.  I was already feeling emotion from the prayer time, and then as I listened to the story of six young ladies who had been captured into the sex slave industry in India, my heart dropped even lower.  The speaker then described his team’s decision to go into the brothel to free these girls who were daily objectified and broken.   We were so captivated by his steadiness and the excitement in his voice as he went deeper into the account.  Several times his team and the police raided the brothel in search of the girls—each time failing to find them.  The police became more irritated with each failed attempt when finally, late one night, they raided once more, and began to knock on the panels and floors to listen to any hollow sounds.  One policeman finally knocked once on a wall in the kitchen.  He began to break the wall down and found a small hole.  They wiggled their way down the long passage and found a small room.  There were the six young girls who had been forced to wait the raid out.  I felt big tears roll down my cheek as I listened in disbelief to the success of freeing these slaves.  We began to clap as he wrapped the story up, and then finally the clapping stopped when he announced, “Now we are going to go live to Mumbai to talk to three of the girls who were rescued.”  I looked at the other Fellows faces and we were visibly shocked.  It was one of the most powerful moments of the weekend.  Each girl took a moment to talk and then shared various prayer requests.  I will never forget their beautiful faces as they attested to the power of God, and for the deliverance out of the pit.  My favorite part was when it was finally revealed to them who they were speaking to as the camera showed the crowd and we rose to applaud them.  They laughed and looked at each other.  It must have lasted for a few minutes. 

“You will be called the Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets to dwell in.”

All in all, the weekend was like drinking from a rushing fire hydrant.  We felt full with the Spirit as we buckled to leave for Raleigh.  All of us agreed, there is power in prayer, and we serve a God who is passionate about justice, and using His creation to bring that forward. 

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