It happened last Tuesday night. Shane was working late, Ezekiel was sleeping, and I was going through our mail. I came across the Together In Prayer newsletter put out by the World Mission Prayer League. This is the monthly publication that I designed and worked on at WMPL a few years back. When I got to Chuck's editorial, I was reminded again of how Jesus commissions us to "make disciples of all the nations."
This word "nations" is repeated throughout the Bible and is often mistaken for political countries, the areas where humans have drawn lines on maps. However, that word "nations" is literally translated "ethnic people groups." For example, India is one political country, but check out all the ethnos nations within India. I believe these ethnos are the nations Jesus was talking about when he commissioned us.
An ethnic people group nation is a group of people who understand and accept each other. Generally, they speak the same language. There are many more languages spoken in the world than there are countries.
What's more, Jesus said he won't be coming back until the gospel has been preached to all these groups!
When I lived in the Mission Home, praying for the nations of the world was an everyday thing. "When in Rome..." But now, somehow, it has faded into a once-in-a-while thing. So I prayed on Tuesday night as I packed Shane's lunch, and my heart was stirred again.
That is what most amazes/surprises me about praying for the nations. Admittedly, most of the time I am praying for myself and thinking about myself. Or at least praying and thinking about someone in my corner of the world. But when I bow and pray for strangers whom God so loves, especially if I do it on a regular basis, I start to care. I start to care about what God cares about, and the commission he has given me.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
- Matthew 9:35-38