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Passion for lost in North Africa born from short-term outreach

WOODSTOCK, Ga. (BP)–Virginia Stephens still can see the faces of the lost people she met during her first short-term mission project in Western Europe.

“When I went over there, I hadn’t a clue what God was going to do in my life, until I was there and actively participating,” she explains. “God gave me a passion for the people.”

That passion changed her prayer life and her perspective about missions dramatically. Today she is part of the strategic mission partnership for North Africa at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.

Stephens, along with a prayer coordinator and other mission volunteers, work to stay in contact with prayer requests and needs from field personnel in the region. They commit to pray for a specific need each week. They also keep the spiritual needs of North Africa on the hearts and minds of church members during mission conferences.

The best way to get Scripture into North Africa is through the port ministry in Europe, says one Christian worker. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature are sent into North Africa every summer through port ministry. Many of the people who receive the materials live in countries with little gospel witness.

Stephens, along with a team of volunteers from Woodstock, participated in a summer port ministry where missionary personnel from different evangelical organizations along with dozens of volunteers across the United States passed out thousands of packets to North Africans visiting Western Europe during the summer.

Stephens remembers handing the packets to two little Muslim girls. Her heart broke when their father snatched the packets out of their hands and ripped them up in front of them. “I can still see those little girls, and I pray for their salvation every week,” she says.

These type of experiences are the key to starting a powerful prayer movement among Southern Baptists for The Last Frontier, believes Gerry Volkart, associate director of International Mission Board work in the North Africa and the Middle East region.

“When people come away, they not only are praying for the people group, they have a much better understanding about the situation the people live in,” Volkart says.

People group teams around the world are not just made up of missionaries, adds Randy Sprinkle, the board’s director of prayer strategy.

“The team is actually far, far larger than just the missionaries that are assigned to that team,” he says. “The team is made up of everyone who God has called, burdened for, and linked with that people group. I see intercessors as actual members of the team.”

Woodstock First Baptist Church has been praying and participating in project Northern Lights for more than five years.

“I’ve seen people who go over there and they come back changed,” Stevens says. “They come back stronger prayer warriors, committed to pray for the field personnel, committed to pray for the nation they are ministering to.

“It’s like it gets in you, and God just gives you that heart passion for that nation.”
— To learn more about PRAYER Plus and People Link, two ways of entering strategic partnerships on behalf of unreached people groups, visit http://www.imb.org/missionaries/people_groups.htm.
— For information about scheduling a missionary to speak in your church, call toll-free 1-800-999-3113 ext. 1663. Churches can learn about adopting a missionary who works in The Last Frontier by calling toll-free 1-800-362-1322.
— To learn how to serve as a volunteer on a short-term mission trip, e-mail [email protected] or call 1-800-888-8657. Financial assistance is available for volunteers wanting to become prayer advocates.

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  • Tammy Dunkum