by Nita Wiebe
PARAGUAY–Under-qualified. That’s the word that came to my mind when the Holy Spirit prodded me, “You should be on that prayer team to Paraguay.” Was this chance that a verse in Zephaniah leapt off the pages of scripture that very day to affirm the calling? “Then I will purify the language of my people, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder” (Zeph. 3:9).
I would go. I would raise my voice, call on God to intervene in Paraguay, and thus work shoulder to shoulder with our missionaries there.
It occurs to me that the meaningful occurrences of a Spirit-led Christian cannot be attributed to chance or human logic. If it were so, what would make us different from “the nations that do not call on the Name”? Ours is a God who wants to lead down strange paths (like through a Red Sea), provides strangely procured bread (manna), and leads us to make war by unorthodox methods (blowing horns and breaking jugs).
Our team (Maria Dyck, Peter and Anne Kroeker, Doris and Elmer Barkman, Reynold Plett, David Kruse, Tina Wiebe, and myself) was a strange brew, too, and came together through unexpected healing, inexplicable provision. We were away from March 9 to 21 and served in the Minga Guazú and Asunción areas.
We got to Paraguay on flights that were, to say the least, not as planned. But it was God’s way to show us that this was His scheme, not ours. We landed there on March 9 in three disrupted flights that enabled some excellent God-conversations to happen on planes.
We loosely followed a 10-day schedule made up by the missionaries in Paraguay and Gerald Reimer at the EMC national office. Even though our goal was to pray/work alongside our hosts and be as little additional work as possible, hosting is work. And we are so thankful to Joanne Martens, Chris and Revita Kroeker, and Travis and Rosey Zacharias for so graciously hosting us in their homes for the bulk of the time.
So, what does a prayer team look like? There were mornings when three hours flew by praying for our host families, their families, health, and mission ventures. In the afternoons we visiting homes in the area of the church plant, praying God’s intervention for salvation, provision, healing, justice, employment.
We visited retired missionaries and calling on God to bless their “retirement ministry.” We prayed while on-site in Alto Refugio, a refuge for people living with HIV/AIDS in Asunción; in Santa Teresa at a school, church, dispensary, and store for the Mbyá; at Radio Mensajero; at sites of future ministries (addictions recovery).
We took part in several church services by prayer, preaching, testimony, and music. We visited with and prayed for associate missionaries like Benny and Esther Goertzen and Dave and Judy Schmidt. We prayed for people who heard a prayer team was in town and just showed up needing prayer. We prayed for waitresses, for people in the seat next to us. Oh yes, we had a day where our prayers were mostly, “Ooh! Ah! Wow!” as we toured Iguassu Falls and a bird park.
We had such precious, transparent times of fellowship as a team, praising God, admitting our fears: “What if we spend all this time and money to go pray and nothing visible happens? What about healing? What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? Do we always pray for the nice outcome if we are led by the Spirit?”
There were rich times when we lifted each other up to the Father, asking help through grieving, for wayward children, personal growth, dying family members, and guidance.
Here are obvious questions to ask, “Doesn’t prayer work from home? Why waste all that money on plane tickets when it could have been used to feed the starving children in Africa?” Our God is a King with a lavish, loving disposition, not an accountant! He will provide for what He approves in ways we don’t expect. And he tells us to “Go!” and he tells us to “Ask!” So, do it!
Nita Wiebe is a part of the Portage Evangelical Church.