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When God surprises us with answered prayer

CMS missionary Grace Adams is serving with her husband Chris in Timor-Leste. In this article she shares how God answered prayers for a pressing need. 

It was the day of our Bible curriculum training workshop in Dili, but I could not see how it could go ahead. Even while living with a pandemic, I had never experienced such a cloud of sicknesses that affected our immediate family and colleagues all at once. Fellow CMS missionary, Julie Dean, had dengue fever. Febia, my Scripture Union (SU) colleague, required an appendectomy. Sandra, another SU colleague was suffering from morning sickness and was also caring for her sick 10-month-old baby. My own children, Micah and Emily, had also been quite unwell.  

Persisting despite setbacks 

Without Sandra and Febia to co-lead and given that I was exhausted from caring for sick children all night, it might have been reasonable to cancel the event. However, I had a quiet yet firm affirmation that the training day should still go ahead. So, I sent out an urgent prayer request to our CMS family and friends and put it in God’s hands. 

Twenty-eight children’s ministry leaders from 10 different denominations came to be trained in ‘The Big Picture Story Bible’ curriculum. As we began, I asked a couple of participants to pray for the day, our team and families, and for me!  

Normally I would lead the first half of the training which gives an overview of the curriculum, while Sandra and Febia would lead the second half which focuses on the practicality of implementing the curriculum. It was overwhelming to be leading the whole day on my own.  

During the concluding time of reflection and prayer, we were overwhelmed by words of encouragement from the participants. We prayed for them as we sent them out to keep serving faithfully in children’s ministry, and they prayed for us too. There was a heartfelt sense of love and fellowship in Christ despite our differing backgrounds.  

Laying biblical foundations 

I began with an interactive Bible study to unpack the various elements of the curriculum from its aims to the best teaching methods. 

I sensed that the years of our work on The Big Picture Story Bible which involved translation, publication, teaching, and curriculum development were culminating to this moment.  

We had been given this incredible opportunity to lay biblical foundations for Bible engagement for Christian leaders who are accustomed to reducing the Bible to a ‘moral handbook.’ What a privilege to be involved in equipping them with practical tools to teach God’s word to the next generation. 

Surprised by answered prayer 

Normally, about half-way through my presentation, Sandra would lead some activities from our curriculum to re-enforce the message that Scripture is about Christ who fulfills God’s promises. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Sandra walk into the room just in time. 

Sandra was also able to demonstrate the curriculum by teaching a sample lesson—she shines when she is interacting with children, even if they are pretend children!  

One participant commented, “That was incredible. It seems impossible to think that we could teach like Sandra has just shown us.”  

I replied, “You certainly can, with this curriculum, and we are here to support you.”  

During Sandra’s presentation, we were both amazed to see Febia arrive, just in time for us to break into small groups. In the groups, each participant had an opportunity to prepare and teach a lesson, guided by Sandra, Febia or me as their coach.  

Fellowship in Christ 

During the concluding time of reflection and prayer, we were overwhelmed by words of encouragement from the participants. We prayed for them as we sent them out to keep serving faithfully in children’s ministry, and they prayed for us too. There was a heartfelt sense of love and fellowship in Christ despite our differing backgrounds.  

As Sandra, Febia and I sat together afterwards, we looked at each other speechless, trying to find words to capture the overwhelming sense of awe in God. Our eyes were filled with tears of joy and relief, and our heart filled with praises to God.  

We thanked God for his wisdom in using weak and frail vessels to reveal his power and glory. Please be encouraged with us that God always answers our prayers according to his will, love, and wisdom.  

PRAY 

Keep praying for the work of CMS missionaries like Grace Adams, that God would enable their ministries despite setbacks and obstacles. You can sign up for regular missionary updates here.