We are beginning to see the unfolding of a beautiful story. God is writing it, and we certainly don't know how it will end, but are so excited about being a part of it.
Two years ago we were asked to step in and pastor a church in a small town. The long-time pastor had stepped down due to a personal issue, and he was ready to close the church, when God led him to us. When he asked us to help keep the church going, we were surprised and very uncertain. We hadn't planned on pastoring, especially not pastoring a church that, according to all the other pastors in the area, was spiritually dead. However, God's plans are not our plans, and through a series of events, we knew that He was leading us to that small town. We didn't know why...but we knew we had to obey.
It's been two years, and the progress has been SLOW. The church was spiritually dead when we arrived, and we were at a loss as how to wake people up. We did everything we knew to do- we prayed, fasted, preached, taught, and prayed and fasted some more. We held events, retreats, crusades. People came, some people came to know Christ, but the spiritual atmosphere remained the same: apathetic. We were seeking God more than ever, but seeing so few results. Then last year, we had a breakthrough when several of the women went to a retreat and were filled with the Holy Spirit. The change in them was huge, and there was no doubt that something supernatural had taken place within them when I suggested prayer meetings 4 mornings a week, and they said "YES!"
So, we began to pray. My husband was to pray with the men at 6am and I was to pray with the women at 10am. The women were excited and we began to intercede together. Unfortunately, my husband was left to pray alone as none of the men wanted to pray before going to their jobs. The women kept praying, for the nation, for the town, for the church, and especially for their husbands. They prayed fervently, at times sowing in tears, that God would raise up their men to be true men after God's heart. As trials and tribulations came and went, some of the women dwindled, but the women that remained were falling in love with the Lord more each day. They began to share with their husbands...and we all kept praying.
Last weekend, we held our very first men's retreat. It was hard to get the men to attend, and several backed out at the last moment, but for the ones who attended, it was an eye-opening experience. They experienced aspects of God's character that they had never experienced before...and some of them were truly transformed. They shared testimonies with the church on Sunday, and some of them have even approached us about getting more involved in ministry...very exciting, yet the real transformation was this: this morning, my husband wasn't praying alone. Today, when my husband arrived at church at 6am, there were 2 men waiting for him! They prayed and interceded together, and when the women heard the news in their prayer meeting, they rejoiced!
Some might say, "Two men at prayer meeting isn't a big deal. It was only one day. They might not even be there tomorrow." It's true that we don't know if they will show up tomorrow. Even if they don't, no one can take away what we are learning from this whole experience. We are watching God write a story here, in this town and with these people. It has been a long, slow process for us, but He hasn't given up on any of them. He is still working and still moving...and prayer really works! We are seeing prayers answered...things that seemed impossible to us are now happening because ALL things are possible with Him. The church that everyone wrote off as "spiritually dead" has a flame that is burning brighter every day. God is breathing new life into His people, and He is awaking within us a new hunger for Him. The beginning may be small, but it is still a beginning...and He is not finished yet! Greater things are yet to come...