My parents are passionate about prayer, and the prayers of my parents have shaped my life. Sometimes even when they didn't realize that the subject of their prayers was me.
In the mid-90's, my Dad was missions chairman of Hillside Church. He had a vision for our church to partner with a team serving an unreached people group. He prayed God would show him the country and the team, and it turned out to be a Reach Global group working in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The partnership began in 1996, and Hillside began sending out teams to Tanzania (over 20 teams in a decade!). My Dad led Team #1.*
My parents prayed that God would build and grow and train His Church in Dar es Salaam. They prayed that God would shine His light on those communities that had never heard the gospel. They prayed that God would send a Hillside member to be a full-time worker in Tanzania.
During that first exploratory trip, one of the things my Dad did was prayer walk on the coconut plantation which was later to become Haven of Peace Academy's campus. He stood by the giant baobab tree which bisected nothing but rows of coconut trees, and prayed for God's blessing on the fledgling school that had a vision of expansion.
In 1998, I was on Hillside Team #5 with three other college students. We came to provide English camps for a group serving the Muslim and Hindu Indian community in Dar. We were also introduced to Haven of Peace Academy. I always knew I wanted to be a missionary teacher, but when I found out about HOPAC, I was hooked.
My parents never, ever pressured Gil or me about any major life decisions--and they never intentionally planted the idea of serving in Tanzania in our heads. They never prayed that Gil and I would be the answer to their prayers.
Yet in 2001, God led us to Tanzania. He led Gil to join the team serving the Indian Community that I had joined on Team #5. He led me to HOPAC--and later, Gil too. And now God is using us to train His Church in Dar.
And it all started with my parents' prayers.
My parents were here visiting the last two weeks, and the time was filled with card games and water balloons and sight-seeing and long talks after the kids went to bed. I am blessed that my parents are some of my best friends and my biggest cheerleaders. I am incredibly thankful for their lives of service, sacrifice, and passion.
But today, I am mostly thankful that they pray.
*Special note for other RG and/or Hillside folks: Ironically, for those of you who know him, Kevin Kompelien--the pastor of Hillside--was also on that first Tanzania team. Kevin later became the Reach Global director for Africa and is now the candidate for president of the Evangelical Free Church of America. Seems like my parents' prayers affected more than just us.