Stand With Them

I’m not sure how much you know about the plight of Christians around the world. If you’re the typical American, it’s probably not much. After all, we’ve lived pretty sheltered lives here in the States. And it’s easy to get caught up in the here and now. Unless we are looking for something else, we only see what is happening around us. I don’t fault you for that. I’m often the same way. And I spent two years of my life working at a missions organization.

There are so many things I could have written today. My journals are littered with scattered thoughts of a hundred blog posts. I could have picked any one of them. But yesterday I learned that Christians in Nigeria are being murdered for their faith. Today I read that Egypt’s new president is pushing Shari’a law. And now, I can’t focus on anything other than my brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering in the midst of these circumstances… and other circumstances that have yet to reach my ears.

These people aren’t just an idea to me. Not a general, “Someone around the world is suffering.” They have names and faces. I’ve met them. Carried on conversations with them long into the night. And though they live in different countries and speak different languages and lead different lives, they are no different than you and me. Some of these people suffering are my friends. And even if they weren’t, they are fellow Christians. My brothers and sisters in the family of God.

It is my job, my honor, my pleasure to stand with them. To hurt because they hurt and to fear because they fear. But also to hope when they find it hard to hope and to pray with their same desperate cries as if I were suffering alongside them. Because I am suffering alongside them. And if you had the privilege of calling these precious people your friends, you’d be suffering too.

And I don’t usually do this, but since it is the singular cry of my heart this morning, I’m going to ask you to take a moment and pray. Pray for Egypt. Pray for Nigeria. Pray for every country in which someone is being persecuted today. Stand with your brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Cry their tears, taste their fears, and join your voices with theirs in a glorious song of hope and deliverance.

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” ~Hebrews 13:3

Directed Steps

I should have been in India last year, but the trip fell through. Instead of walking the streets of Mumbai’s red light district, I was holding my breath, preparing to meet with a publisher to present my book for the very first time. Instead of sleeping in a home designed for women rescued out of the sex trade, I found myself rooming with a young woman with a calling to minister to women who don’t know that they’re beautiful. I knew that God had directed every step that led me to the She Speaks conference last year. And I knew that my meeting with Meagan was nothing short of divine.

I’m meeting up with her today, and we’re flying to India together. We’ll minister to the women in Mumbai’s red light district side by side. This is why God canceled my India trip last year. This is why He directed my steps to Concord, North Carolina. Meagan needed to go to Mumbai, and how would she get there if I didn’t invite her?

I find that God is constantly changing my plans, shaping my path, and sending me on journeys of which I had never dared to dream. Though going to India has been a longtime dream, God has expanded my vision. I’m not just going because Amy Carmichael’s story beckoned me to the mission field twelve years ago. I’m not just going because I fell in love with a ministry that pulls women and children out of the darkness of sex slavery. I’m not just going because I feel compelled to write a novel about a girl who goes through the red light district. I’m not just going because it’s an amazing ministry opportunity to serve alongside my divinely appointed roommate-for-a-weekend. I’m not just going because my older brothers are going to be able to meet me there. I’m going for all those reasons and more.

I would appreciate your prayers during this adventure. I know that I’m going to be stretched to my limits. I know that I’m going to see things that are hard to bear. I know that my heart is going to break. I need God’s strength. I need your prayers. This blog is going to be quiet for a couple weeks now, but I’ll see you when I get back from India, and boy, will I have a story to tell…

When God Says “Pray”

All was quiet in the Snyder house. I was just about to drift off to sleep when my eyes flew open and my spirit was convicted to pray for Tony. Tony was a friend – more of an acquaintance, actually – whom I hadn’t seen since he had moved a good six months earlier. But it was the middle of the night, and I was inclined to pray. So I did.

Tony’s face haunted me for more than a week, often at the most inconvenient times. I’d be guiding a string of preschoolers down the crowded hall of a church. “Pray.” I’d be fixing a late lunch for my siblings. “Pray.” I’d be lining up the perfect pool shot. “Pray.”  Though I thought the persistent urge to pray was getting a tad bit ridiculous, I prayed.

A year later, I stumbled across Tony’s mom on facebook. I shot her a message to ask how life was going and part of her reply sent a holy tremor down my spine. Tony had been in an accident last June. June was the month I couldn’t get him off my mind.

It struck me that I could have been lying in bed praying for Tony the very night he rolled his truck. My frantic prayers could have empowered the angels who spared his life that night. I suddenly realized that the entire time I was praying, Tony was lying in a hospital bed, recovering from a near death experience.

Let me tell you, a message like that will make you think twice the next time God puts someone on your heart. So, of course, when I was unable to read the other night because I couldn’t get a certain face out of my mind, I set the book aside and began to pray. Though I may never know the reasons behind this particular prayer, I think of Tony… and how God divinely touches the hearts of His children when another is in need. And so I pray.

Before You Make Him Mine

It has been over ten months since I’ve prayed a heartfelt, in-depth prayer for my future husband. That may seem crazy to you as it does seem to go against every book you’ll find on waiting for Prince Charming. I thought I was crazy myself, at first. But it can’t be any more crazy than how crazy I felt back when I was faithfully praying for my knight in shining armor. I didn’t stop praying because I got the impression that the man I will one day marry is above falling, but because I know how prone I am to fall myself. When I was consistently praying for my future husband, I was constantly thinking about him. And because I thought of him so often, I got to a point where I wasn’t content with living without him. That’s why I dropped the specific prayers. That’s why I shredded the list of things I wanted in a husband. Maybe it’s the novelist in me, but when I write a guy out on paper, he becomes real and eventually becomes all I think about. But he shouldn’t be all I think about during this stage of my life.  That’s why when it comes to this delicate subject of waiting, I decided to, well, stop waiting. If I’m going to live in this moment here and now, I can’t be dwelling on a future with him.

I told my mom that she is simply going to have to pray twice as hard because I can’t offer those deep, intercessory prayers that I’ve been advised to pray. I find them to be detrimental to my emotional health. Yes, I have those moments like the one I had ten months ago. Sometimes I get the compelling urge to pour my heart out in prayer for this man I have yet to know. I don’t ignore those urges. In those types of moments, I pray long and hard. But as far as the daily moments when I find my mind turning to thoughts of Prince Charming, I offer this simple prayer: “God, make him the man You want him to be before You make him mine.”

That’s it. I think it pretty much covers all of the basics. God knows the heart behind that simple prayer. He knows what it truly means. He knows that it is so much more than that simple statement. He knows that, truly, it’s a repeat of the much longer, specific prayer I prayed ten months ago. When I whisper that one simple line, I believe God hears the 28 other lines I had penned leading up to that closing statement. And because I know He hears the words I choose to leave unspoken, the thought of “happily ever after” drifts from my mind as quickly as it came and I am free to embrace the moment that has been handed to me here and now.

This is how I’ve been able to dance through the moments of my life as a single girl. It works for me. And it may work for you. Then again, it may not. After all, dreaming up a list of who I thought my future husband should be certainly didn’t work for me. But if you’re really struggling with the fantasy playing on repeat in your mind, I’d encourage you to give it a try. Shred your list, quiet your mind, and whisper these words:

“God, make him the man You want him to be before You make him mine.”