2016 West Papua – Louise Kim

Struggle in Prayer

Epaphras… greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. – Colossians 4:10

I signed up for this season of missions after attending New Philly Sydney’s baptism service late last year. As I witnessed 6 brothers and sisters in our covenant community being baptised, I found myself overflowing with an unprecedented level of joy – the joy of salvation! God was reminding me of the joy of my own salvation, but even more than that, He was showing me what it means to truly celebrate and rejoice in the good and transformative work that He does in the lives of others.

So I joined in with eager anticipation to witness God transforming lives in West Papua. And also with a growing desire to not just spectate, but to be part of what God would do, despite not knowing what this would look like specifically.

It was right before reaching the field that Colossians 4:10 was highlighted as the key verse for my trip. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Epaphras [is] always struggling on your behalf in his prayers”, and earlier in Col 2:1, “For I want you [Colossians] to know how great a struggle I have for you”, essentially that they would know Christ and grow in Him.

This word, “struggle”. It was unfamiliar. But I knew that God was inviting me to learn what it means to struggle in the place of prayer, on behalf of the people and the land.

From Day 1, I definitely felt a grace for intercession. I was praying with greater faith and boldness than when I’d been preparing for the trip in Sydney. But I was also experiencing frustration, as if I was coming up against a wall – I knew there was more that God wanted to release in and through us but I wasn’t hearing his voice clearly and I didn’t know how to break through the wall and access his heart. But I held onto Colossians 4:10 and at every prayer meeting, revival service and on my own, I continued to press in and ask for God’s heart for his people, and that they would encounter Him.

On our fourth morning in West Papua, we went to a prayer meeting at a church member’s house. It was a smaller gathering consisting mostly parents of children who would be attending the youth revival service later that night. Our team preacher, Pastor Paul preached on being persistent in prayer and crying out to God. As I listened to the message I wept as God began breaking down all the walls, and reviving my heart to cry out to Him in faith. Because He hears. And because he is a good Father who wants to give his Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Luke 11). Together with the parents, we began to cry out, lifting our voices to God to bring revival to the youth of West Papua. It was so powerful to see one generation praying for the next.

Right after this prayer meeting, our team gathered again and had a time of intercession and spiritual warfare for the youth service that night. We realised that God was calling us to cry out on their behalf because they couldn’t cry out for themselves – because they were hardened in their hearts, or had lost hope, or in some cases were oppressed. As we contended, there was a clear shift in the Spirit – we all prayed with greater prophetic precision, authority and faith. Together, we struggled in prayer on behalf of the youth.

And surely, God is faithful to hear the cry of his people – our cries, their parent’s cries, and even the silent cries of the youth. Many of the youth entered the sanctuary looking disengaged. During the time of opening praise, they just looked on as the New Philly team extravagantly worshipped God. But with every part of the service, from VBS to Pastor Graciela’s testimony on receiving grace, to Pastor Paul’s message on God’s calling, there was an increased awakening – a fresh hope and faith rising up. Many flooded to the altar to repent before God, to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and an impartation of fire to pray for revival in West Papua. There was a hunger and zeal to know Jesus personally and this caused me to rejoice! The night ended with a spontaneous dance party where the youth were dancing and celebrating in full freedom. The difference from the beginning of the night was so dramatic.

I also experienced a shift on this night. Throughout the day, God had been reminding me of my long season of feeling dark and hopeless by allowing me to relive certain thoughts and emotions. It was uncomfortable and even unpleasant to feel so weak and vulnerable but because I remembered my brokenness, I prayed for the youth and ministered to them with greater compassion. And I was able to release the love and hope that I’d freely received with full conviction that God was turning their lives around, just as he’d done for me.

Let’s pray that the youth of West Papua would continue to walk in freedom as they grow in their true identity as sons of God. Let’s also pray for an increased hunger and zeal to know Christ among the believers in West Papua. And as they grow in the knowledge of God, that they would be emboldened to proclaim Christ wherever they go.

Throughout this trip, God challenged me to rise up as a minister – in the place of intercession. He showed me that anything we see with our eyes – any breakthrough, healing, salvation – is the result of what happens in the unseen. The struggle. The wrestling, persisting and crying out to God on behalf of his people. And although “struggle” wouldn’t have been my theme of choice, He showed me that as we struggle in prayer, the joy of each victory is richer and sweeter. #thestruggleisreal! But good! Hallelujah!