When Jesus sent his disciples into the mission field he said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38, Luke 10:2) Jesus has been sending his followers ever since to proclaim God’s Kingdom to those who have not heard.
About a year ago a few people started praying for God to send more laborers to the 76 Unreached People Groups living in Arkansas. They even prayed that Christians from some of those groups might sense God’s call to lead a new work among them. And over the past year God has raised up a handful of missionaries – both Western and indigenous – who are committed to seeing disciples made and churches formed among the unreached peoples of Arkansas.
A lot of people have started asking how they can be involved in reaching the nations in Arkansas. There is an obvious need for more people to commit themselves to identifying unreached people groups and engaging them in Gospel conversations, sincere relationships, and church planting strategies. But it should be of no surprise that prayer is the easiest way for every member of every church to get involved. The priority of prayer is not meant to be cliché, nor is it a simple nod to the example or commands of Jesus. Rather it is a sincere recognition of God’s heart and God’s power to include every member in God’s mission. Likewise, it is not only the first step in reaching the unreached, but it is also the fuel needed throughout the entire process.
We believe that God responds to our prayers by softening the hearts of those we pray for, by removing spiritual and physical barriers to the Gospel, and by opening doors for believers to share the hope they have Christ. But we also believe that prayer changes the hearts of those who pray. As you pray for unreached peoples, God often softens your own heart and opens your own eyes to the nations around you. Therefore, we believe mobilizing others to pray is foundational to seeing the nations reached in Arkansas and around the world.
Here are three steps you can take to initiate a prayer strategy within your circles of influence:
- Download our 15 Day Prayer Guide for People Groups in Arkansas Volume 1 and Volume 2 or contact our offices to request printed versions.
- Set aside 15 days and invite others to pray with you. This could be a short prayer time around the dinner table with your family. This could be small groups and Sunday School classes either praying individually and holding each other accountable, or it could be a “missions moment” over the course of 15 Sundays. However you decide to do it, stick with it and invite others along.
- Ask God to help you not only pray with insight but to also pray in-person. Consider visiting a point of interest related to one of these people groups. Visit an ethnic restaurant, and when it is not too busy offer to pray for and with your server. Ask a business owner how you can pray for them and their business. You can even schedule a tour with a number of places of worship, and before you leave PRAY. Feel free to contact the Missions Team at the ABSC for more ideas.
The irony, and genius, of Matthew 9 and Luke 10 is that the ones who pray for more laborers become the laborers themselves. A majority of the unreached peoples in Arkansas come from faith traditions that place a high value on prayer. Praying with them can often times open up topics of further conversation that might otherwise be difficult or awkward to just dive off into. So through your prayers on behalf of them you might just become the next person Jesus sends to proclaim the Gospel on behalf of Him.
Thank you, Arkansas Baptists, for praying for the nations among us.
Jamie Naramore serves on the ABSC Missions Team