"Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, "The hand of our God is for good on all who seek Him, and the power of His wrath is against all who forsake Him." So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty." - Ezra 8:21-23
Ezra had given his testimony of faith in God to the king of the Persian Empire, Artaxerxes. Now he had to put his money where his mouth was!
The King had given permission for more of the exiles to return and finish rebuilding the Temple. He even gave lavish offerings himself for the worship of God, to be carried to Jerusalem, but he hadn’t assigned a security detail to protect them on their way, and there were bandits and enemies along the road. It was dangerous, and they were carrying a valuable treasure of offerings for the Temple.
As missionaries we lived with that same reality for decades. Hiring bodyguards was just not an option. We worked in neighborhoods where the police couldn’t go and drove on highways that businessmen and diplomats wouldn’t think of traveling. They were advised by their companies or governments to only travel with an armed escort or get a helicopter to fly them where they needed to go.
But we knew we were where God wanted us to be, and so we had to trust Him for our protection. We had people in 150 churches praying for us. We tried to stay in touch with them so they would know how to pray, but of course there were many things we couldn’t publish in a letter.
Pray for your missionaries! Many are working in the same places where we were; others are in places even more challenging. The security situation around the world is no safer than it has ever been, and in much of the world it has become more dangerous than ever.
They carry the precious cargo of God’s Word and it will result in a beautiful offering of souls won for Jesus from all the places where they go. The way is often dangerous and difficult, but they are trusting in God’s protection and counting on your prayers.
Lord, we lift up before You the missionaries we know. Give us wisdom to pray right. Remind us throughout the day to pray for them. Give them your protection and fill them with the gifts they need to faithfully carry out the work You have entrusted to their care. Bring many to know You and be saved through their testimony, in Jesus’ name and for His sake. Amen. Pastor Dan Giles