Sunday, October 27, 2013

Personal Testimonies from 2013 Annual Council prayer team!

I wanted to share a few thoughts from our prayer teammates that were on location with me at the General Conference this year.

First to introduce you to their faces, let me share a couple pictures.

The first group on location at the GC included Chelsey, a friend from College and a serious intercessory prayer warrior, as well as ASAP Ministries Associate Director Julia, another close friend and prayer partner. Besides these two gals, Susy, my roommate and prayer partner from Loma Linda who now lives close to the GC, joined us as well as some of the local ladies from the GC prayer team that were part of our group last year - Urislyn and Millicent - what a blessing they were and are! So, although small, we had a great time together. (See picture below Chelsey, Julia, and I with Susy - my Indian roommate from Loma Linda.)

The second group on location at the GC, I had my fellow ARME Ministries teammate Kim, as well as Ranela from the Central California Conference. Again Susy and Ursilyn and Millicent joined when they could. And again God blessed our time together! (Below see pictured Kim, Ranela, Susy and I.)

Now for some testimonies from these teammates:

From Chelsey - from Ohio 

United prayer. I have forgotten what it was like to be united in prayer. I have been involved in groups of prayer, but never have I experienced such richness of the Spirit as while I was at the GC! God truly revived me to the power of praying together.

Actually, I almost did not come to the GC. The reason for my hesitation was because of my strong feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness! And even after arriving, I felt like my prayers were so shallow and weak. However, in solitude, I sought God, pleading with Him to give me a spirit of prayer and to show me how to pray persistently and effectively. He did. I had forgotten what it was like to pray in His Spirit and in His strength!

I loved the unity within our prayer group. That's what captivated me while I was there--unity and love. The prayer team was unified in thoughts, actions, ideas, words, and behaviors. We were of one accord, like the disciples were in the day of Pentecost.

I saw prayers answered. I witnessed hearts changed. God poured out a measure of His Spirit on our leaders, and on us! 

I also saw something I haven't seen in years -- God is getting His people ready, He is waking up His people. He is preparing their hearts (as well as all who are the Lord's) for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I believe it because I saw it with my own eyes. As a result, I came home a changed person. Some of the personal sins of my life, I noticed, were done away with. My prayer life has changed for the better. I have a deeper connection with the Lord!

After all that I have experienced and witnessed, I truly believe having a prayer team at the GC during annual council meetings is vital. There is power in prayer. This is something we desperately need! Not only at the GC, but in our personal lives, in our local conferences and churches!

From Julia - from Michigan:

Melody invited me to join her and the team to come pray for the leaders of our world church at the GC. I first thought, "No way! I have too much going on with full-time ministry, which already involves travel away from family, etc." However, the Holy Spirit kept tugging on my heart and when I finally relented, He amazingly paved the way for me to go! I truly thank the Lord for what He did there. Though we could not see immediate answers to all our prayers, we knew He was working because he promises to in His Word.

The Holy Spirit brought our prayer team into unity with each other, Him and heaven. It amazed me how He guided the prayers. Some sessions we couldn't stop praising! Other times, He gave us deep brokeness for our sins and the sins of the church. When we were tired by the new schedule and our prayers sounded stale, we claimed how the Holy Spirit promised to take our prayers and groan with passion to the Father! He breathed increased faith into our intercessions and gave us a deep care and concern for people we don't know personally and in many cases have never even met. This prayer journey was a serious blessing personally, and I know it was exactly what the Lord intended to happen for His kingdom growth.

We enjoyed praying in one of the committee rooms where a large map of the world hung and as we prayed for each division leader by name, we would look at the area of the world and consider what an enormous task they have to reach the lost in their regions. Yet the Lord often reminded us of His promises to pour out His Spirit in the last days and His Spirit will do what is humanly impossible. We felt His mercy drops falling around us and sensed His beautiful presence interceding with us as we prayed for the showers of blessing, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

It was an incredible blessing to be part of the team. But I hope that what I shared will encourage you to seize every opportunity you are given to pray unitedly with others. I experienced how when I seek the kingdom of God first, He does what He promises, He added everything else and then some. He blessed me spiritually through all that time in prayer with Him. He made my time to be extra efficient at work when I got home. He provided divine appointments while there! He blessed my family financially even. God is so faithful!

From Ranela - from California:

I came for the last portion of the 21 day prayer event.

When I got there just a few days before the official Annual Council meetings started, and we walked through the building at 3:30 a.m. -- I could sense God's Spirit there in a very real way. It was amazing and obvious that God was already at work.

As we went through the various departments in the building, praying for the revival and personal spiritual growth of the workers and officials, I know God sent His angels on missions of mercy to draw them closer to Him. When we pray, many times we have no idea what's going on "behind the veil" in Heaven and on Earth. But God gave us small glimpses of what He was doing to encourage us of the greater work He was doing, that we perhaps would never see until Heaven.

As I was praying in the Prayer Chapel with Elder Hale, Union President of Ethiopia, a young girl opened the door as if to come in, but saw us and began to leave. I quickly urged her to stay so we could pray for her, and she came in. Before we prayed, we found out that her dad was diagnosed with cancer just a few months prior, and that it was weighing down on her. Both the President and I prayed heartfelt prayers for her. When we finished she was crying, and the story came out. Although she worked at the General Conference, she had stopped going to church out of her "anger" towards God. She felt that it was unfair that God allowed this to happen to her dad. She had grown up SDA her whole life, but was coming to a crossroads. Then she shared how just a couple weeks earlier (around the time the first girls started walking through the GC praying), she felt "all of a sudden" that she needed to start going back to church again. Then, that day as she was walking by the Prayer Chapel, she felt a strong conviction to go in and pray. After our prayer time, she repeatedly told us, "Thank you so much, this really meant a lot to me. You've helped me, thank you…"

We know this was a direct answer to our prayers for God's people to open their hearts to Him again. Praise God!

We also had the Euro-Asia Division President come in for prayer, and relate to us that his Division had experienced great things that he would never thought possible just a few years ago! Looking back, it was 2010 when Elder Wilson began to push for "Revival and Reformation," and it was this year the prayer team began to come, praying even more earnestly for God to pour out His Spirit all over the world! (And as Melody has shared, years before this, another group at the GC, led by Stanley Poniah and other GC employees, had consistently been praying for revival and reformation as well.) It's amazing to see how God answers prayer…but sometimes we have to be patient before we see the results.

Each day during Annual Council, we led united prayer for the leaders before the meetings. Throughout the day different people kept thanking us for what a major blessing that was to them. One representative from the South Pacific Division told me continually, "Those morning prayer times are just the absolute best time of the whole Council!" We know that's where the true power is.

Although the devil was angry and tried to bring about confusion and discord in different ways during the meetings, I know God prevailed. I was one of the prayer team that got to sit in on the business meetings to pray. Surprisingly, I found even these meetings to be quite spiritual. Elder Wilson and his team did a great job of keeping the focus "spiritual" even in the midst of what can become "mundane" business meetings.

Through different things that Elder Wilson and others did, I really felt God's Spirit at work. Even the church Treasurer, Elder Bob Lemon, God spoke powerfully through. For example, after he gave his 30 minute Treasurer's Report, he ended with a major spiritual emphasis. He asked, "We can keep track of numbers and dollars pretty well in our church--but what about our church members? Why is it that we have so many people that we just don't know where they are anymore?" He challenged leaders to be able to track down church members and visitors just as well as we track our money. He made a wonderful speech about truly caring about where people are, as well as getting the young people involved in Evangelism. This is our General Conference world Treasurer! Amen!!!

Elder G.T. NG also brought lightness and happiness to the business meetings, and I felt a great spirit of unity there as everyone laughed and gave their input.

At the very end of the Annual Council an elderly leader stated: "These were the best meetings I've ever attended!" I don't know who the man was, but he seemed to be older and experienced in these meetings.

Of course, this is the Lord's doing, and it is great in our eyes! As we claimed God's promises to bless, and knew that our prayers were according to His will, I believe God answered in powerful ways that we won't even realize until the Heavenly Kingdom when all things shall be revealed. Praise and all glory be to God!

From Susy - from Maryland:

As the day for the 21 days of prayer came close, I realized that my control had to go. I needed God to be in control! Unfortunately, what I was asking, I found the opposite happening. I was asking for unity, and suddenly I was seeing disunity. So I came to the point where I had to stop everything and realize that nothing else was important except to be right with God and seeing souls saved. I cried to God for myself and my family: "I will not let go except you bless me." As I held on, He blessed! 

I really didn't know how to pray as I should, but the Lord promises to teach us how to pray. So I began asking Him to teach me. This is the back ground and attitude which I joined the prayer team.

Personally, I saw a beauty in praying in unity - praying the Bible promises especially gave us more power and trust to pray with confidence. I also liked looking at the map of the world and praying. It helped me realize how God looks on our world with such compassion. The world suddenly became small, yet I realized that our need is huge and can only be met by our Creator. I recognized the needs are humanly impossible without God.

One day God did something special. I had asked the Lord to show me a personal blessing during this prayer time. I wanted to see Him working in my life in a tangible way, and this is what He did.

One morning, I came in early with the girls to pray at 3:30 a.m. This was Friday morning.

After our prayer time, I went to work and was able to finish my work without feeling sleepy. (A true miracle!) Not only that, but as I worked my coworker was having a hard time and was grumbling and so I asked the Lord to not let that affect me. He kept me calm and patient. Then as my coworker was finishing her work she said, "I wish I could be patient like you, you have such a sweet spirit."

I told her that she too can have that if she asked the Lord because I am naturally impatient, but the Lord is helping me. I was able to pray with her and I gave her a hug. I asked her what she wanted me to pray for her at our all night prayer that would occur that evening at our Indian church. She gave me two prayer requests.

With God's strength I was able to attend the all-night prayer. Melody and Chelsey came to help us get started. Then our Pastor and others led. It was so powerful. The all night prayer in my church truly brought healing to some hurting people. I will never forget this experience.

One evening Julia asked me how she could pray for me. I shared with her an experience and she shared how something similar had happened in her life and how God had worked.  That was an encouragement the Lord gave me because we had such a level of trust in each other. As I look back on this time, I will always cherish how the Lord brought the 4 of us girls into unity in prayer time and time again. It was truly the Holy Spirit.

The Lord is still working in my life. Sometimes it looks like it is taking forever. But I trust my life into His hands. He is the potter and I am the clay. I just keep asking myself, "What if we had continued in prayer like the early church? They never stopped when they received the Holy spirit. What if we would do the same?"

From Melody - from Arkansas:

Well, you already know my story and my testimony… as it's shared throughout this blog. However, I will share something different here.

Obviously, God has laid a big burden on my heart to pray for our leaders over the last few years. However, this hasn't been an easy burden to carry. And every time I go to put into action something to push this endeavor forward, I have been hit by many spiritual attacks.

This summer as we started our three month long "Praying for Rain" prayer initiative, the devil sent so many discouraging things against me. Sometimes they completely knocked me over and took the wind out of my sails. Sometimes I didn't feel like praying, and I wanted to walk away from the whole prayer project! (I'm just being honest!) But I knew that the devil was angry and just trying to discourage the work, so I kept pressing forward.

When we all got to the GC for this last 21 days, the girls looked to me as the leader. And that's what I was. After all, I've been the one leading our prayer team for the past 4 years. However, being a leader doesn't mean you always have everything together and you feel the greatest. This year I felt anything but great. Not only was I exhausted before we even started the final 21 day event, but I continually had things hitting me trying to pull me down spiritually. (One of which was losing Denise Ratsara, a very dear friend, which happened right in the middle of our prayer venture!)

However, through the continual attacks of the enemy, God kept reminding me that He was the one that had called me and He would strengthen me, and He did. When I didn't feel like praying, but rather crying, I would go out walking and pray.

One time I was walking around our motel where we were staying just praying out loud. (So to anyone watching, it probably looked like I was talking to myself!) But I didn't worry about what anyone thought. After walking around the motel several times, this black kid, who had been watching me, spoke up. "What are you doing?" he asked. "I'm praying!" I responded without blinking. "Can I pray for you?" he nodded. I walked over to him. "What do you want me to pray for?" I asked. He just looked down at his feet. "I'm not happy. I need happiness." he responded. In answer to that, I began to tell him where I found happiness. (In Christ of course.) I prayed for him than asked if he wanted to walk with me and learn to pray. He must have walked around the motel with me 2 or 3 times before his ride came. He was visibly touched. I have no idea what happened to him, but I pray God planted seeds in his heart that will take root and grow.

Another thing that really helped me was singing. As soon as the alarm went off in the morning, rather than whining or feeling sorry that our night of sleep was over, I would start singing (much to my roommates amusement) and pretty soon we all were feeling cheery and happy!

Sometimes while we prayed as we walked through the GC we also sang. I think singing drives the enemy away. ;-)

So I've learned time and time again, no matter what we feel like, we just need to keep praying and praising God. When we pray, rather than consulting our fears or our feelings, God will strengthen us. So when we felt weak (and we all did at times) we just threw ourselves deeper into prayer, clinging to God's promises and to His Word. This is what carried us through. This is what brought victory and answered prayer. God is so good. We just need to stand upon His Word.

Let me share a quote from Inspiration:

“Faith takes God at His word, with or without feeling. It “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We can believe our fellowmen, and can we not trust the word of God? When we go to Him for wisdom or grace, we are not to look to ourselves to see if He has given us a special feeling as an assurance that He has fulfilled His word. Feeling is no criterion. Great evils have resulted when Christians have followed feeling. How do I know that Jesus hears my prayers?—I know it by His promise. He says He will hear the needy when they cry unto Him, and I believe His word. He has never said to the “seed of Jacob, seek ye Me in vain.” If we walk in the light, we may come to the throne of grace with holy boldness. We may present the promises of God in living faith, and urge our petitions. Although we are weak, and erring, and unworthy, “the Spirit helpeth our infirmities.” When we have offered our petition once, we must not then abandon it, but say, as did Jacob when he wrestled all night with the angel, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me,” and like him we shall prevail.” Bible Echo, September 24, 1894, par. 4

Of course, this isn't the usual testimony…nor is this the majority of my testimony! The major part of my testimony is shared before and after this post. I've tested God a thousand times and found Him to be trust worthy and true. He's real, He's alive, and He still answers prayer. And since I've started to dive in deeper into His Word and claim His promises when I pray, it's taken me on an adventure of a lifetime. And I love every minute!

But I wanted to share that there are hard times too, as I've found that many people feel intimidated and unqualified to take on such a prayer venture. I want you all to know that it's not the qualified people that God calls. He calls those that are willing. They are imperfect, and they stumble along, but because they are willing, He can use them. And if He could use us, He can use anyone…even YOU!!

God blessed in so many ways…and we saw so many testimonies and answers to prayer throughout our 21 days. But it was obvious, very obvious, that the devil was not and is happy!

I just want to warn you, that if you ever get the faintest idea to do something similar, you need to be prepared for spiritual battle because the devil will try to do everything he can to stop you. However, DO NOT let this discourage you! Don't look at the enemy, don't listen to his threats! Look to God. If you cling to God and don't let go, He will give you power to overcome and He will be victorious! And it will truly be one of the greatest experiences of your life!!!!!

As Janet Page always says when she shares her testimony, "My life is forever ruined for the ordinary!"

While it's not always been easy, this prayer journey and how God has evolved it over the last 4 years has been such an amazing adventure. I just wish we could somehow inspire more people to take hold of this idea and encircle our church, their churches, and leaders in prayer. We can't change the world, but if we can see a life changed (especially lives of influence), God will use them to change the world and reach others. What are we waiting for when God has given us such an amazing gift, right within our own grasp.

"Prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven's storehouses where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence!" Wow! What a great God we serve!

As we are told in the books Christ Object Lessons, "There is no danger that the Lord will neglect the prayers of His people. The only danger is that in temptation and trial they will fail to persevere in prayer." p. 175

Let's not fail to persevere! Let's not fail to pray! Let's move forward… Greater things are to come! But they won't come unless we pray!

“It was because Elijah was a man of large faith that God could use him in this grave crisis in the history of Israel. As he prayed, his faith reached out and grasped the promises of Heaven, and he persevered in prayer until his petitions were answered. He did not wait for the full evidence that God had heard him, but was willing to venture all on the slightest token of divine favor. And yet what he was enabled to do under God, all may do in their sphere of activity in God’s service… Faith such as this is needed in the world today—faith that will lay hold on the promises of God’s word and refuse to let go until Heaven hears.” Prayer, p. 138

No comments: