Hearts on Fire
The last night of a mission trip is always full of emotion that lingers close to the surface. An intense week of hard work, cross-cultural immersion, a deepening of relationship, and little sleep is a recipe that starts the heart on simmer and slowly increases to a boil. By the closing worship service with El Jordan Baptist Church, many of our hearts were threatening to catch on fire—the Holy Spirit so dense you almost glimpsed a dancing flame.
What captured many of us that evening was how Pastor Mayra closed the service. She invited everyone to stand in a circle, and then asked each member of her church to partner with a member of our mission team. She said, “This person is going to pray for you. For your life. For your ministry. A blessing for your trip home.” In my life as a missionary, I have experienced many mission teams and many closing worship services with them. Not once had I ever experienced a host church pray in such a one-to-one, personal encounter. Usually it was a prayer for the entire group. Or, perhaps prayer in small groups. But an intimate prayer blessing? My heart began to beat in anticipation.
Exactly What You Need
A young Cuban man came and stood in front of me. He was tall and slender. Very shy. He took my hands and began to pray. Since I speak Spanish, I strained to hear his words. But he spoke so softly and rapidly that I couldn’t quite grasp them. And that’s when God impressed on me, “Don’t worry about it. It’s exactly what you need.” Tears were falling; I was trembling. I couldn’t even name what I needed in that moment. Even now, three weeks later, I barely know. But God was directing this young man’s heart to speak to mine. God’s mysterious love language that binds us together in the name of Christ.
After the prayers, Pastor Mayra then said, “We have a gift for you.” When we’d entered worship that evening, I’d noticed that each member of El Jordan had a paper heart tied to a string hanging around his or her neck. Now, they each took their heart and placed it around the neck of their prayer partner. The heart had the name of both churches—El Jordan and Oakwood Baptist—and this Scripture verse: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” (Psalm 133:1)
Robert was the name of the young man who prayed for me. I asked him to sign the back of my heart. His heart, my heart, now rests between the pages of my bi-lingual Bible. In the stillness of the night, I can hear it beating. A Cuban-American metronome setting a new tempo for my faith.