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Prayers to End Poverty

Congolese Cell Phone Prayers

I'm reading a book called The Poor Will Be Glad by Peter Greer and Phil Smith. I highly recommend this book. In the final chapter, the authors introduce us to a Congolese village known for minerals such as coltanite, used to make cell phones. The authors note the irony that, at the time of this book's publication, no one in the impoverished village owned a cell phone. Further research indicates Congolese coltanite as a conflict mineral, extracted through violence and oppression.

This presents an opportunity for prayer – and action beyond prayer. Prayer itself is an action and should precede other actions, whenever possible. (Obviously, in an emergency situation, action sometimes precedes prayer, or the two happen at the same time.) Often, prayer leads to further actions. That is the case regarding this story of the Congolese minerals.

If you are reading this and you have a cell phone, your phone has now become a good reminder of people struggling through difficult conditions in this and other Congolese villages. Let your cell phone become a prayer reminder. As you pick up your phone, pray first for the people living not just in this particular village, but also in remote villages all over the world. Take some time to put yourself in their shoes and say a fervent prayer for them. Know that God will work through your prayers to make a difference. 

Let your cell phone also be a reminder that people who live near bountiful resources often do not benefit economically from those resources. Pray for God's justice to bring redemption and restoration to those situations.

Finally, allow prayer to lead to a further action: Learn about global sources of injustice, such as conflict minerals. Do some research on the current state of legislation regarding corporations and source minerals. Know where the items you purchase originate, and at what cost to human lives. As Christians, we need to do at least that, just for starters. As God leads you further, in prayer and in action, to bring global justice, follow His lead.

Begin all things with prayer. Know that your prayers are powerful and will make a difference. Be willing to be used by God as an answer to prayer. And when your cell phone rings, take a moment to pray for the people living in Congolese villages.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

Prayer Spotlight: Junior Achievement

How many children in your community know how to balance a checkbook? How many adults do?

Financial illiteracy adds challenges to already difficult situations. If someone is struggling with poverty, not only does that person need employment opportunities and training. He or she also needs life skills to sustain that employment and provide for his or her family.

Many community organizations put volutneers to work, sharing and teaching life skills. Poverty is not the only stumbling block to learning life skills. In my own community, we have children living practically homeless, often without adult supervision; grandparents, aunts, and uncles trying to raise more children than they can care for; parents in jail; extreme levels of addiction in the population; and few corporate jobs or work-training programs.

Fortunately, our community has responded to these challenges with many organizations fueled by volunteers. As prayer warriors, it is important that we get to know the volunteer programs in our community, and not only join one that's appropriate for us, but also pray for one or two others. Each of us can ask the Lord: "Where should I volunteer to help my community? And please show me one or two organizations You would have me pray for." It's important not to overextend, but to hear strategically from the Lord. One person can't be everywhere or pray for everyone. But the Lord can orchestrate many willing hearts, so that everything is covered, and we are praying in unity.

To gain some experience in praying for a volunteer organization, let's look at one that made a difference to me when I was a teenager: Junior Achievement. When I was in high school, I learned life skills, entrepreneurship, and how to serve as a corporate officer through my JA company. I received a sense of self-worth by the fact that several corporate employees gave up one night a week to mentor us. And the life skills and financial literacy I was taught by my parents were reaffirmed and put to work in our JA company.

Recently, I was thrilled to learn from a teacher-friend that JA still exists, and has revamped for the young population of today. They provide weekly entrepreneurial and financial literacy training at learning centers, as well as "JA days" in the classroom. What a great opportunity for children K-12, as well as for the adults who volunteer.

I would encourage you to take a look at the JA website and see what they are offering. How might we pray strategically together for JA, or for other organizations like them?

Here are a few suggested prayer points:

  • Pray that the children will discover their God-given identities and a sense of self-worth.
  • Pray for hope to spread through the communities this organization is serving.
  • Pray that the children will discover God has provided this opportunity for them (James 1:17).
  • Pray that the volunteers will not overextend or grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).
  • Pray for the Fruits of the Spirit to be exhibited by volunteers (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Pray that as the children are helped, whole families and neighborhoods will be impacted.
  • Pray for creative ideas for teaching life and work skills to each child.
  • Pray that the organization has sufficient volunteers, funds, and resources, and invests these wisely into the lives of the children and communities.
  • Pray for protection for the children and volunteers, and that the organization effectively screens out individuals who intend to harm the children.
  • Pray that the body of Christ will learn, through organizations like this, how to make a difference in the lives of the people in the community where God has planted them.

Let's each take a few minutes and pray through these points together for the JA nearest you. Your prayers right at this moment will make a difference for JA and those children today. They will feel your prayers, they will experience breakthroughs by God's power, and they will have an amazing day. How awesome is that! As we pray together, there is strength in our combined prayers.

What are other ways you would pray for Junior Achievement and organizations like it? Which organizations are doing similar work in your community? Let us know, so we can pray for them together.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

 

Prayer Lessons from God’s Heart

A week ago I returned from a surprise mission trip to Guatemala. What a blessing, in countless ways, many of which I am probably still not aware of.

God used that time in Guatemala – away from familiar surroundings and language – to teach me a lot about His heart for prayer. I am so grateful, and I am trusting Him to work these new lessons and changes through my heart.

Meanwhile, I would love to share with you some of my reflections on prayer during my time in Guatemala. I was able to post these at our team's blog site:

Treasure in Jars of Clay

I would love to know your thoughts, and to hear similar stories of how God has taught you from His heart of prayer.

God bless you.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

Praying Family - background

Imagine not having a voice

The past month has been interesting. My flesh would choose other words to describe it: "difficult," "frustrating," "heartbreaking." I'm beginning to realize I don't have that luxury. I am (in the words of Paul) a bondservant of Christ. Jesus owns me – He bought me with His own life. I can't complain about … well, anything, really.

I serve as a missionary. It's where God put me and I've gone willingly. Most of the time, joyfully. Then there are months like this past one, where not much funding comes in. In those months, I scrape by and thank God for every single blessing.

What happened at the beginning of this past month was Ash Wednesday. I asked God to help me, during Lent, to feel more of His heart for people who live in poverty. I don't mean American poverty. I mean places where people fall through the cracks and have no recourse. Granted, that happens in America too. There are people in this country who fall through the cracks and don't know of any alternative. But at least we have alternatives in this country. We have some way for folks in poverty to get help, to have a voice. The news might not have reached everyone yet, but the resources are here, and there's a better chance of hearing about it here.

There are places in the world where no such resources exist. Where poverty runs deep and no one has a voice. Places where, if there are a few hands offering support, most folks haven't heard.

I don't know that kind of poverty. I never have, and to be honest, I never will, simply because I live in America. No matter how bad things might get, I have been spared that depth of poverty, helplessness, and silence. I have utterly no right, under heaven, to complain about how hard this past month has been.

I have been learning, over the past two years of fundraising, what it's like to depend on God for everything. In reality, we all depend on God for everything, whether or not we realize it. I've gotten a better glimpse of what that means. Even so, I don't know that utter depth of dependence on God, as those who live in countries where poverty relief is sparse, and almost unknown.

Imagine being that helpless, and not having a voice in this world.

I pray for them, as I eat food graciously given to me. I cry out for them, as I receive medical care donated to me to cure a bladder infection. God hears their cries. They may go unnoticed by much of the world, but they don't go unnoticed by Him. He is moving hearts, all around the world, to respond to their need. The need of HIS children.

Are we listening? Are we responding?

I admit there have been times when I've wondered – is God moving someone's heart to help me, and what if they don't hear? My question, for myself, is driven by fear (fear is a sin, by the way). I know God is moving hearts to help me – He has been, for my past two years as a missionary, and all my life, really – and people have heard and responded graciously, generously. It's why I'm still in ministry. I couldn't do this without the help of people who God has moved to sow into the ministry where He has placed me.

But that's for me.

It's different when I look at His children in countries deep in poverty. When I look at them, and see the way they live, I do wonder – Is God calling us to respond, and do we hear His voice?

We can start with prayer. Prayer is an action, and it opens the way for other actions to follow. Let's ask God who He would have us pray for, somewhere in the world today, or right here in our own town.

I'm grateful for the ways I've had to acknowledge my dependence on God. My circumstances have opened my eyes to see His love and grace in new ways, and to see how His heart moves to take care of His children, everywhere … and how He moves our hearts to join Him in blessing others, and in turn, being blessed to take part.

May God bless you in every way this day.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.