The First Activity of Mission

Read: Luke 10:2; Acts 13:1-2

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. (Luke 10:2)

One Tuesday last November, I was setting out with our Ugandan team for a long trip through a remote area. We were already behind schedule when Godfrey, one of the leaders, called us to pray. Titus, another leader, sensed my anxiety over our tardy departure. He reminded me, “Jon, you Americans have the watch. We Ugandans have the time.” I smiled and settled into the Ugandan prayer. When they pray before a journey, they begin with a song, follow with an extended time of prayer, often ending with another song.

This is closer to Jesus’ instruction in Luke 10:2, “Pray earnestly.” The first activity in mission is earnest prayer. Jesus does not suggest prayer, he commands prayer. The prayer commanded is not a checkoff from the pre-trip to-do list, but an earnest asking, even begging, for God to act. If it’s God’s mission, then we ought to pray as if we are completely reliant on God. We see this among the first Christians. In Antioch, as the church worshiped and fasted, the Holy Spirit set apart Paul and Barnabas for mission to the Gentiles (Acts 13:2).

I tend to rush through prayer to get to what I think is a more important task. In November, I was once again reminded of what is most important. Indeed, it was! The journey was more challenging than we imagined. Two vehicles broke down, heavy rain slowed us, but God preserved us and led us to an amazing time of ministry.

As you pray, pray earnestly for God’s mission.

About the Author

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Sent: Preparing for Mission Trips