I am a member of the Guayas Mestizo Team. There are two IMB missionaries, and nine nationals. Our team leader is a national believer. Years ago, when our team was made up of only IMB missionaries, our meetings were different than they are today with a majority being national believers.
Prayer is more the priority than the business needing to be taken care of.
In most USA Christian meetings a short devotional may be shared followed by someone praying God's blessing and guidance for the meeting, with the bulk of the time spent on the business agenda. Here, typically, 2/3 of the meeting is given to prayer, singing, sharing what God is doing...and maybe 1/3 of the time going to the business that needs taking care of.
As a N. American Baptist missionary, this can be extremely frustrating when not enough time is alloted to "taking care of business." There are so many urgent matters that need discussion and decisions.
-Who is going to be in charge of the volunteer team coming next week?
-The 'nuts and bolts' of how the new training will take place in the north part of the city.
-Progress reports on the teams who went out to share disaster relief with the flood victims.
-Follow up on all the recent conversions.
-Going over the text and layout of our new COSECHA brochure.
The list of pending, urgent items needing attention is long indeed. Yet, in its place long prayer times, tears, passionate crying out to God gets top bill. By the time we are done praying, people start looking at their watches as if it is time to go, and we have to rush through business in a distracted way because everyone is chatting with one another, getting up to get coffee, or going to the bathroom.
But you know what? I can honestly testify that more is taking place spiritually in our midst than ever before. The Spirit of God is blowing in our midst. Souls are being saved. People are being mobilized into the harvest fields. We are getting more requests for CP training than we can possibly handle. In short, the very things we are praying over God is answering. This creates an excitement and passion in us all. Talking about brochure formats is mighty dull compared to hearing about lives being impacted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To illustrate the difference in spiritual outlook between 'us' and 'them'...
This past Saturday I was out to lunch with Geovanny (our team leader), his brother Marcos, and a visiting missionary from Mexico. We were downtown standing in line to get our rice, beans, plantains, and meat when my cell phone rang.
Hermano Guido...ORE!!! Pedro está grave. Parece que está teniendo un ataque cardíaco!!! (Brother Guy, PRAY! Peter is very ill. It looks like he is having a heart attack!)
Call an ambulance, get him to the hospital as fast as possible. It is critical that someone take him NOW!
Pray for him, please! He is very ill and is struggling to breath...
Get Pedro to the doctor ASAP!
The four of us sat down at a table and began to pray for Pedro. The two missionaries prayed that the Lord would help the family get the medical attention Pedro was needing. The two nationals prayed that God would heal Pedro.
After a few minutes Pedro's wife called back.
Pedro is fine, thank you for praying. A bunch of the church and family arrived in the nick of time to pray over him. We prayed for his healing. God once again graciously intervened. He is now resting.
Yesterday Pedro was with us in our meeting like nothing had happened. He looked perfectly fine and was one of those walking around the room crying out to God in the extended time allotted for prayer that God would continue to send out laborers into the harvest fields.
Even though we have been here for 20 years, I feel like a novice in spiritual matters. I learn so much from the example and spiritual walk of my brothers and sister in Christ whom I am privileged to serve amongst. Is prayer really my first response?