In January 2010, six Southern Baptist volunteers from various churches in the United States prayerwalked (praying quietly with eyes open while walking) in South Asia, passing through shops, villages, traffic-congested streets and Hindu temples.
"Being from a very small town in Wyoming -- 70 to 80 miles from the nearest town of any size -- I was totally shocked by all the people," said prayer team member Lynda Wandler of Wilderness Baptist Church in Dubois, Wyo.
"My heart was drawn to the women, and I wanted so much to interact with them," said Wandler, noting challenges with the language barrier.
Though few, if any, know the name of Jesus in the cities and villages the team visited, they prayed God would someday find a way to draw the people to Himself.
But the casual observer might conclude that little was accomplished on the prayerwalking trip.
No one was baptized.
No churches were planted.
No Bibles were distributed.
No medicine or clothes were given to the poor.
Some might even say the situation in this area of South Asia is hopeless and void of truth.
HELP ON THE WAY
Little did the prayer team know, but a few months later a volunteer team from Parkway Baptist Church in Moseley, Va., would travel to the same area where the first team had prayerwalked.
The team from Virginia walked in the same villages where prayers had already been lifted to God.
They handed out tracts along the same streets.
And the team from Parkway was allowed to show the "JESUS" film to Hindus in the same temple courtyard where Wandler and the first team had prayed.
"Hundreds of locals responded," said volunteer Mike Young of Parkway Baptist. Young traveled with the team that included his son, Tim.
"Many of the kids were literally fighting for ," said Tim, who built relationships and shared his faith with locals while playing soccer. "We didn't have enough to go around."
At the end of the trip one local asked Tim, "Who will come and tell us more?"
Though the work in that part of the world is just beginning, Ed Cox, the International Mission Board's director of global prayer strategy, described Parkway's success as affirmation of the power of prayer.
"We can't imagine beginning new work without first preparing the soil with prayer," said Cox, who traveled with the first team to South Asia to pray over the people there.
"As we go, we pray that the Holy Spirit will really speak into lost hearts, preparing them to receive the seed of the Gospel," Cox added. "The benefits are very long-term."
While in South Asia, prayer team members did feel God's presence as they encountered friendly locals who seemed open to talk and to help.
"As we entered a village, we prayed that we would encounter a person of peace and hopefully be invited into their homes and share with them," Cox said.
"More times than not, that answer appeared within four or five steps. It's incredible."
Before leaving South Asia, Wandler had an opportunity to interact with two young women.
The prayer team met a family that spoke English, and Wandler connected with the two daughters -- especially the one who is a college student.
"On our departure clung to me asking me to pray for her," Wandler said. "We were invited back to stay with the family."
"When God sends you out and you are obedient, He makes things happen," she added.
"There is no doubt in my mind."
For more ways to pray for needs around the globe, visit imb.org/pray.
Alan James is a senior writer for IMB.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net