After we tore ourselves away from them and set sail… – Acts 21:1
When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey,
and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside
the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed and said farewell to one
another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home. – Acts 21:5-6
While visiting a tribe in the southwest jungle of Colombia, we found ourselves in a very volatile situation after our indigenous friend dropped us at the river boat launch area. As we came off the plaza at the top of the hill, five very dark natives surrounded us. We kept our heads down and prayed desperately for God’s protection. As we continued walking, I watched the feet of those men keeping pace with us. I was sure we were going to at least get robbed and probably beaten or killed. I must have closed my eyes while praying. When I opened them and looked for the feet that were surrounding us a moment ago, they were gone! We immediately stopped to turn around and see what happened. The men were about 200 feet behind us in a huddle, ranting wildly and pointing in our direction. Looking to see where we were, we found ourselves right in front of the place we were lodging! Without hesitation we entered, knowing God had miraculously rescued us!
When I think about that moment, I know without a doubt God absolutely heard our prayer for help. But not just ours. We had brothers and sisters in Christ who loved us and were praying for us. We also had the prayers stored up that were prayed over us when our church family sent us out.
We look at the account of Paul continuing his third missionary journey from Ephesus to Patara. Verse 1 says, “…we tore ourselves away from them.” In the Greek, this phrase carries the sense of dragging forth with a degree of force implied. Paul’s mission team found it very difficult to leave those Ephesian disciples who prayed for them as they wept and kissed their beloved apostle before he left them.
A few verses later we see all the disciples of Patara, including women and children following Paul’s team to the sea where they would continue their journey. Again, we can imagine an emotional farewell as they knelt on the rocks and dirt and prayed.
This past week our own beloved Neil, a Jewish believer, went to a congregation in Canada that is young in the faith. Those of us who love him prayed for his safety as he shares the gospel with them. In a week, Mark and Neil will go to Poland. In love, we will pray for them, as well.
At great risk, missionaries leave the comfort and love of their friends in Christ to take the gospel to the nations. They need our love, prayer, and support. Are you praying, yet?