by: Jessi Cormier
It was ten hours to the hospital. The missionary was almost to his destination. On the seat beside him sat his sick little girl. He had to get her to the doctor. He glanced sideways at her. How he loved her, this precious little one who God had given him to raise and to protect.
“God,” he prayed, “Please help my little girl. Please make her well. Please let the doctor know what is wrong with her so that he can know how to treat it.”
His whole mind was consumed with praying and with the worry he felt in his heart. Normally, when he drove the roads in that country, his mind stayed on high alert as to what was going on around him, but on that day, his only thought was to get to the doctor FAST.
As he neared a one-way bridge in the road, he noticed a semi-truck coming on fast from the opposite direction. He could see that the semi would easily make it to the bridge before he did, which meant he was going to have to stop and wait his turn. His foot touched the brake pedal, and the car gradually slowed to a stop on the side of the road. The missionary stared at the oncoming truck, but his mind was far from the scene before him. Then, without warning, it happened!
Suddenly, from the bushes along the side of the road sprang two men armed with machetes. One of them rushed at his door, while the other raced around to the passenger side. In an instant, his door was yanked opened (Oh! Why hadn’t he had it locked as he normally did?), and the terrifying movie-like drama began to play itself out. Thinking quickly, he grabbed his door and jerked it open as wide as it would go. The man on his side of the car was knocked out into the way of the oncoming semi. He slammed and locked his door and then whirled around to take in the situation on his daughter’s side of things. The second man was reaching across his daughter for the gear shift! Mr. Missionary rammed the man’s hand to the floorboard and at the same time glanced up at the road. The semi had past! His foot stomped on the gas pedal, and the car roared to life. Both men were left sprawling in the dust behind them.
His heart pounded! It had all happened so fast, and it was over before he had really known what was happening. He turned to his daughter. She was okay, just shell-shocked like he was. As his mind replayed the event that had just taken place, he realized that the situation could have played out much worse. Why did the second man dove for the gear shift instead of grabbing his little girl? If he had taken her, everything would have been over. The missionary would have had to get out to fight the two men, and they probably would have taken the car and everything in it. But God had mercifully blinded their eyes, and had given him the wisdom to know exactly what to do. It was a moment in time that he would never forget.
Fast forward several months. The missionary and his family were on furlough just finishing up a service at one of their supporting churches. It was obvious that this church loved their missionaries by the way the people hung around their table and spoke to them after the service. No one seemed to be in a hurry to leave. Later, though, when the church was almost empty, the pastor walked up to the missionary with a sober look on his face. “Brother, there is something I want to tell you,” he said. “Every morning, I get here to the church early, and before I enter my office, I always take a few minutes to pray for our missionaries.”
The missionary glanced around him at the many prayer letters lining the walls. He nodded as the pastor continued.
“Each morning, I make my rounds. I lay my hand on these prayer letters and pray for each missionary in turn for a few minutes before I move on to the next one. Brother, several months ago, something really strange happened. I put my hand on your prayer letter and as I began to pray, I was overcome with an intense burden for you and your family. I literally could not take my hand off your letter, and God would not let me move on. Instead, my eyes filled with tears, and I stood there for who knows how long laboring in prayer for you. Brother, I’m curious. Do you have any idea why I might have been under such a heavy burden that day?”
Time seemed to stand still for the missionary as his mind raced back to that horrifying day three months before. And then it was his turn to tell his side of the story. After the telling of it, the two men hugged one another and wept at the goodness of God. The hearts of that missionary and pastor bonded as the full truth hit them that they truly had both been laboring together that fateful day on the mission field.
The missionary went on to tell that story, both sides of it, everywhere he went. Now, more than ever before, he realized that he and his family could not make it without the prayers of their supporters back home.
The Harrelson Family–1989–Dick, Cindy, Jessica, and JoAnna
That missionary was my Dad, Dick Harrelson. The mission field–Papua New Guinea. The little girl was my sister, JoAnna, and that pastor was Bro. Vic Wilson, a man who faithfully pastored his church and prayed for his missionaries for many years.
Question: Do you pray for your missionaries? I mean, do you REALLY pray for your missionaries? Do you know them personally because their names are on your lips on a regular basis? If you were asked about one of your missionaries in particular, would you know him, or would his name just vaguely ring a bell? That thought really bothers me. No, more than that, it scares me! I don’t know how to emphasize this enough. Your missionaries, each one of them, needs YOU. Are you ready to bow before God at a moment’s notice to spend time in prayer for one of them? They are depending on you for more than just money to keep them on the field. They need your prayers. Their lives may depend on it!