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FIRST-PERSON: Praying around the world, one birthday at a time

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–During a recent Women on Mission celebration event, I sat at a table with a missionary who was home for a brief stateside assignment. We enjoyed listening to her share about her life and work in Mexico. Following dinner, the prayer calendar was presented with an emphasis on the importance of praying for our missionaries every day. Immediately the missionary raised her hand and reminded everyone that her birthday was listed on the last day of the month. She asked us to especially remember her as she cared for ailing parents.

As the evening progressed and we talked further about the importance of praying for missionaries, she shared an incident that happened to a fellow missionary. That missionary had experienced a robbery that could have had disastrous results. Instead of being extremely distraught, however, the missionary remained unusually calm. When asked about it later, she explained the incident happened on her birthday. She knew people across the United States were praying for her because her name was on the prayer calendar.

I have heard other stories from missionaries like this one. Missionaries consistently say the power of prayer is the most important thing we can offer them.

They often report delaying decisions or undertaking difficult assignments until their birthday. They know they will receive extra prayer that day. While they rely on you and me for many things to enable them to stay on the field, they count on us most to be faithful in our praying.

But they also count on us to be good stewards with our giving. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering provides more than half the overseas budget of IMB (International Mission Board). It covers missionaries’ salaries, benefits and the resources needed for their work.

As we enter this season of praying and giving, as we plan the International Mission Study for all ages in our churches and as we promote and gather the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, let’s remember the reason for our efforts. It is not about fundraising or special events in our churches. It is about celebrating what God is doing through the lives of committed missionaries all around the globe as they tell the story of God’s amazing grace. It is about celebrating the birth of our Savior. It is about responding to the needs of those who do not know Him, through faithful giving and praying.

I love the prayer calendar because it is a tool for teaching disciplined praying. For me, it is a daily reminder of my responsibility to lift up those who go — and to give as God leads me to — so they can stay.
Wanda Lee is executive director-treasurer for national Woman’s Missionary Union.

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  • Wanda Lee