Church Multiplying: Prayer at Every Stage

"We looked at the Bible together. She was shocked to realize that the curse also fell on Adam!" (from Issue #514)

by Denise Hodgman

Our underlying and overall goal in NCEM is that Christ might be “exalted in all the earth” (Ps. 57, etc.). By faith we believe that our church planting vision will help accomplish His purposes among Canada’s First People with … Prayer at Every Stage

In evangelism and church planting it’s important to gain understanding of people’s thinking and perception of reality – well enough so that Biblical truth can be communicated in a way that makes sense.

These two goals – understanding people, and communicating God’s truth clearly – are so ambitious that we know they’ll only be accomplished with God’s enabling!

One of the ways to discover a person’s worldview is to ask about the “sayings” of their people group.

I remember asking a Cree friend about sayings, and she said she couldn’t think of any. But when I asked if there was something that her mother or grandmother said repeatedly, she said she was always told that, after she swept the floor, she was never to leave the dirt in a pile, but to always throw it out.

I asked her if this had to do with cleanliness, or something else. She said it had to do with spirit activity – if dirt is left out, spirits will come and cause problems. Others have told me similar things about food or dirty dishes being left out over night.

These conversations helped me realize that these friends weren’t just telling me about their everyday activities, but may have actually been expressing their fear of spirits.

People who have experienced encounters with spirits do not let go of that perception of reality easily. They have seen it, experienced it, and been taught it from childhood. They have heard many stories of spirits bothering those who have broken the “rules.” They will not be easily convinced of Christ’s supremacy over spirits … without the work of the Holy Spirit.

And it would be arrogant of me to help people think through and respond to their encounters with spirits without prayer and study of the Word.

Another prominent goal is to identify people’s misconceptions of Biblical truth, and then gently challenge those misconceptions. This, too, takes God’s guidance and wisdom that comes through prayer.

We depend on the Holy Spirit as, in the midst of conversation and relationship, we try to determine whether it’s right to just hear out their story without any response, or if it’s time to ask some questions that will help them recognize their own faulty assumptions. We need to do it in a way that won’t make them want to end their talking with us. We need to know when is the right time to teach the Word.

Recently I was talking to a friend with whom I’ve walked and prayed through a variety of crises over the course of several years.

As she mused about the grand cause of her continual suffering, she mentioned God’s cursing of Eve in Genesis 3. So we looked at the Bible together. She was shocked to realize that the curse also fell on Adam! Her perception of human history, and of her own life, had been colored by thinking that it was God’s decree that women were always to be oppressed, used, and abused!

When I asked her how this thinking made her feel about God, she said she had always thought of Him as unfair. She did not believe these things in anger and rebellion, but in a confused fatalism, while she still sought God.

This story illustrates just one misunderstanding of Biblical truth. But because it was held at a deep worldview level, it affected my friend’s view of cause and effect, of identity, of origins, of all history of mankind, of the entire scope of all people’s experiences, of her relationships and, most importantly, her response to God.

As we implement our Mission’s church planting vision, we know that the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit and the contributing prayers of God’s people are indispensable. Please pray!

Adapted from our Northern Lights magazine (#514). Note: some of the locations and involvements of our missionaries may have changed since the original publishing of this article.