PULASKI, Ga. (BP)–Hubert Miles stood beside a nondescript harbor on the North African coast, lost in thought.
It wasn’t much to look at — three cargo ships were being loaded at a leisurely pace and, to one side, a dredging project sat idle. But Miles was seeing the place some 56 years ago — from May 1943 to February 1944 when he served here in the U.S. military.
Miles, of Pulaski, Ga., now 76, was seeing ships, planes, soldiers, heat, bullets and suffering.
“We came through here and anchored there to the left. This was a dock area and this is where we loaded,” he said excitedly. He recalled an air raid when American cannons fired at attacking planes.
“It was like fireworks on the 4th of July with all the flack. I just forgot for a second how dangerous it was. You could read a newspaper it was so bright,” he said of how things looked back then, when he was just 19 years old.
That military campaign more than half a century ago was called “Operation Torch.” Now, Miles was back in North Africa not just to remember that effort, but to take part in a new “Operation Torch.”
He and his daughter, Tress Miles of Richmond, Va., joined with six Mississippi Baptists in a 10-day prayerwalking journey, praying that God will open up North Africa to the gospel and that millions of people here will get free of Islam, superstition and oppressive governments and be able to join thousands of churches that need to be started across this land.
In this new “Operation Torch,” Southern Baptist missions leaders hope more than 1,000 Southern Baptists will come to North Africa to prayerwalk through cities, markets and residential areas, all the time asking God to liberate people through the gospel.
New Southern Baptist workers are being sent to North Africa constantly as they begin to reach out to people groups who live in some of the world’s most inhospitable places, such as the Sahara Desert, and amid some of the world’s most oppressive governments.
But results are being seen: Already in Algeria, for example, a full-fledged church planting movement is under way and scores of new churches are springing up. It has happened here before: Christianity was well-established across North Africa in the first century or two after Christ.
Miles was comfortable about returning to North Africa armed with prayer instead of guns.
“All my life my father has been one of the greatest prayer warriors I have ever known,” said Tress Miles, a teacher at the International Mission Board’s Missionary Learning Center in Rockville, Va. “Oh, he still says ‘Thee’ and ‘Thou’ and that sort of thing, but he feels deeply about prayer and is very comfortable with it. He has always urged us to pray about things when we told him this or that was wrong. I wanted to go with him on a prayerwalking trip because I wanted to experience that with him.”
Miles and other team members prayerwalked though several North African cities in May, passing through business and residential areas and the busy, narrow alleys of market areas, all the time praying that people might come to know Jesus Christ.
Her father, who teaches an adult Sunday school class at Pine Grove Baptist Church in Metter, was optimistic about missions prospects in North Africa.
“I think our prayers should be for a greater faith on our part — to have a faith strong enough to believe that God can do it! God is a great God. He is in control. He holds everything in His hands. The Scripture says he owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
“God owns it all. And maybe the limit here is our faith. Maybe we don’t believe God can do the things we’re asking him. I’m coming to believe if we had a greater faith, then He would have delivered these people,” he said.
Other teams of Southern Baptists will be visiting North Africa in coming months. Southern Baptists or church leaders who want more information on Operation Torch in North Africa may contact Lannie Wilbourn by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling Gerry Volkart at the Southern Baptist International Mission Board in Richmond, Va., toll-free at 1-800-999-3113.
More information is on the Operation Torch website at www.optorch.com.