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FIRST-PERSON: Why God sent me halfway around the world to pray

North Carolina Baptists pray earlier this month while on a mission trip to eastern Europe. Photo from Todd Unzicker/Facebook

God sent me halfway around the world to pray. I realized that truth while with a missions team in a second-floor room in a Hungarian school near the Ukrainian border just a few weeks ago.

Our team gathered around some of our Hungarian partners in a room that’s housing a church plant, and I was asked to pray. To pray for refugee work in this town near the Ukrainian border. To pray for a young church to thrive, make disciples and reach their community. To pray for workers and resources to undergird their work. To pray!

The day my state executive director, Todd Unzicker, invited me to join him, Richard Brunson (executive director for Baptists on Mission) and some other N.C. Baptist pastors and leaders on a brief mission trip to eastern Europe during Holy Week, I knew God would show us work to do.

I knew He would open doors for partnerships and ministry. I knew He would show Himself in our appointments and even in the complications that always accompany a mission trip. What I’m so grateful to also see now is that God sent us to pray.

When we were delayed crossing the Ukrainian border, we prayed.

When we listened to a Hungarian principal share of her wearying work from COVID, obstinate local officials and needy families, we prayed.

When we gathered to leave for the airport and return home, we prayed.

And as we prayed, God heard and answered. His presence was palpable. His timing was perfect. His Spirit was unifying. His wisdom was guiding.

As you pray, perhaps God would nudge you to be a part of His answer to those very prayers.

Each time we prayed, we asked God to meet our immediate specific needs, to end the war, to care for the refugees, to strengthen the workers, to send more teams and to raise financial support for the work here. As we watched God show immediate favor and guidance, we also looked forward to how and when He would answer these other petitions as well.

We saw firsthand the many ways God has blessed the fruitful partnership of Baptists on Mission and Hungarian Baptist Aid in the region. While we only glimpsed the work in Hungary and Ukraine in our short trip there, Baptists on Mission are also engaged in Moldova, Romania and Poland assisting refugees and sharing Jesus’ love.

In fact, it’s been the prayers of God’s people in the past that is fueling His work in the region now. Baptists on Mission has prayerfully worked to establish partnerships across eastern Europe for nearly two decades. And now, through these partnerships, N.C. Baptists can join in God’s work that has been prepared and paved through prayer.

God continues to teach me that the invitation to us to join him in His work also means that we can in part be the very answers to our prayers. I know God wants each of us to pray. Baptists on Mission and our Eastern European partnerships can certainly use them. I’m convinced God wants us to give, as churches and individuals, to the continuing work there. I believe God is calling some of us to go and directly serve in the work.

As you pray, perhaps God would nudge you to be a part of His answer to those very prayers. Perhaps God would lead you to be generous in giving to Baptists on Mission and the upcoming North Carolina Missions Offering. Perhaps God would call you or a team from your church to go serve the Ukrainian refugees. Regardless of how He answers our prayers, I know I’m looking forward to seeing them.

He sent me halfway around the world to pray. Perhaps He will do the same with you, too.