Early this morning as I attended the 4 o'clock, MWF regular intercessory prayer meeting of a local baptist church two houses away from my sister's home, I was amazed at the faithfulness of few people who had been constantly coming to church since day one just to pray. This was in contrast with the silence of the surrounding neighborhood who were undoubtedly faithful, too, in their sleep. I do not say we were noisy then while praying. On the contrary. In fact, most of us were praying in utmost silence and in agreement to the pastor's near-low voice as he led us.
As the pastor started listening to our prayer requests, thoughts began flashing in my mind. Every soul attending the prayer meetings had very reasons to be there! Most had gone through adversities in life. Others had near-death sickness traumas, and prayers for relief had been mightily answered by God. No one believed in times wasted there. We remained faithful and expectant because we knew that God answered and will continue to answer our prayers. Yes, we have been faithful amidst adversities because we have trusted Him fully.
Friends, let me share you some of our real stories hoping they would build Godly foundations in your heart. Here they are:
Her family are close to my family because we are more than relatives. She was an attractive woman and had many suitors. We went to college together, she got married to our relative, and we worked in the same government agency. For many years, she suffered from a toxic goiter that almost deformed her face, and nearly ended her life. It was a great struggle and a fight for death when God started to move in her life. With God's help, she fought and won.
All those years, the doctors told her not to get pregnant because it may mean death for her, but she had two beautiful gifts, a girl and a boy! She has now regained more than three -fourth of her beauty, which experts wrongfully said could not be undone due to eye deformities. What inspired our prayer group most is her attitude of going to church in all it's activities: dawn or dusk, sick or healthy, monied or not and for any reasons.
Our town does not have pedicabs (we call them in Cantilan, tricykad) early in the morning, so she had to walk half a kilometer alone, sometimes with her daughter, on a partly dark road just to attend the prayer meeting. She trusted God very much to protect her. She said many times that it is better to die in church with God than somewhere else. When she said that, I, a paralyzed, had been encouraged to attend every morning prayer since then.
Another story is from a once-very-rich family who lost their finances because of failures in business. They had to struggle facing years of wanting after decades of enjoying too much abundance. Good thing, God has other means for them to survive because the wife is a teacher. They are now sending their last child to college. Their daughter is now in the last year of BS Nursing. They are blessed, too, with married children who are doing good in their own carriers. One is now a successful business entrepreneur like they were once. Thanks God for their constant prayers.
Pastor, himself, is a multi-task and very skilled man who tried to support his family of four (his wife is a plain housewife-intercessor). He could never get a permanent salary job because he would never leave the ministry. For him, it is first priority.
Our church is not big and there is no financial support from big, financially-stable sister-churches. Many times, during the early morning prayer, I noticed the Pastor lacking in sleep, but he was there with us and would always be present in any activities of the church, be he in good health or not unless bed-ridden. Church's bulletin board and its blog say our church activities are: MWF Early Morning Prayer, Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting, Friday Night House-to-House Bible Study or Last Friday Night Church Prayer, Saturday Afternoon Service, and four Sunday Services (whole day at different intervals that include ministries in outreach house-churches ) - all in one week! Friends, these are weekly schedules. Again, we really thank God for His abounding grace and mercy.
I still have many stories to tell you, but it would take too much time to read them all. But, I do believe that in all of them, Christ is clearly manifested and honored. Truly, there is faithfulness amidst adversities.
(c) July 2009, Luisa Mercado