"Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, "Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of
God in my hand." So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword." Exodus 17:8-13 ESV
I am extremely blessed! I have a dear, sweet friend who recently shared this passage with me. She hastaken the initiative to faithfully contact me weekly to encourage me, pray for me, listen to me and help me more than she will ever know. She heard a message on these verses and realized that though Dwayne and I might be "in the battlefield", she can belike Moses and lift up hands in prayer. And it works! There are times we know that someone is praying for us at that moment because of inward peace.
Perhaps Aaron and Hur thought they couldn't do anything for the battle. However, Moses, Aaron and Hur were faithful in what they could do and did do, and God directly blessed their actions. But as I reflected on thispassage on my own, I realized that she would not be able to hold her hands upforever on her own – she cannot pray and encourage every missionary. Moses needed help himself and others came along beside him to share that burden. Some have asked for specific ways for people to practically "hold up the arms" for missionaries. Here are just a few ideas.
1. PRAY,PRAY, PRAY! R.A. Torrey said, "The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came. Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory." Don't wait until prayer meeting or until a crisis happens. Develop a habit of praying with consistency.
2. Mission Newsletters – please read them. I know I often will see a newsletter and put it off until later (which means I never read it) or I skim through it barely considering what is said. Most missionaries try to highlight only the important parts of what's going on. The best way you can encourage a missionary is not to just read the newsletter, but to send a brief comment, question or encouragement back. There is usually much, much more they want to say, but they know your lives are busy too. Since what we are fighting requires prayer, we want you to know how best to PRAY.
3. Reach out and contact them with the purpose of ministering to them. It doesn't have to be an hour long phone call– just an email, text, letter, Skype, or care package. Tell what you are doing, how things are going back home, what's happening in church – things you might find "boring" are very comforting to us, living perhaps in uncomfortable or different situations. And when you PRAY, please let those you are praying for know it. It is an incredibleblessing to get a text or an email with the message "I've just been praying foryou" or "I'm getting ready to pray for you right now – how can I pray?"
4. Please share spiritually. Oftentimes missionariesare sent to a place because there is a lack of gospel there. We need spiritual encouragement too. We are told to reach out to the nations and bring them the gospel in their heart language, but it is a great benefit to hear the gospel in our heart language! A ladies group from Poland, NY skyped me a few months after I had been here. They sang a couple songs and after we talked,they prayed and allowed me to PRAY with them. I was struck with the fact that it was the first "American" prayers I heard (outside our family prayers) since I had been here. What an emotionally blessed time that was for me!
5. Remember the kids. Not our kids, but yours! We are thrilled when we hear comments or questions from young people. Talk to your kids about missions. Let them get involved with drawing pictures, sending emails or letters. (Personally, we have a "kids corner" on our website where our kids try to put up things that might be interesting to your kids.) Have missionaries into your home
when they come back to the States. Consider visiting a missionary with your family. Encourage your kids to follow missionaries' facebook pages and learn what is happening around the world with the gospel and PRAY for them.
6. Finally – Support. I hope that you've noticed an underlying theme in this blog – PRAY - that is the best way to help a missionary. But Jesus was wise in saying, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." - Luke 12:34. We have found that the people who pray the most for missionaries are the ones who are invested personally in missions. If you are not personally supporting a missionary, beyond what your church may be doing, please consider starting. Sacrificial giving WILL change your perspective on the mission field.
Yesterday I heard John Piper talking about Billy Graham. As best as I can remember how the story goes - Billy Graham said to a group of supporters, "I think there are some of you in this room who will receive a greater reward in heaven than I will." When met with skeptical looks from the listeners, he gave this quote, "Do you not understand that God rewards faithfulness, not fruitfulness?" Those that are faithful in the small things are rewarded more than those less faithful even though they might appear fruitful. God looks at the heart that follows him, not the outward appearance. So faithful friends – great is your reward and deepest thanks as you hold up your arms for us.