Over ten years ago I, along with millions of other people all over the world, read a little book entitled The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkenson. It’s a small book based on a short, yet powerful prayer of a man in Scripture most had never even heard of. This prayer from 1 Chronicles 4:10 says this …
Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
Jabez was a man with a mission. Yes, he desired the blessings of God, but he also longed to be used of God in some way. When he prayed, “enlarge my border,” he was asking God to give him a greater sphere of influence. He also asked for God’s protection from harm.
And God’s response … He granted what Jabez asked.
It’s interesting to note that this is the only place in Scripture that Jabez is mentioned, yet God honored the prayer of this seemingly unknown man from the line of Judah. He heard his humble cry and responded. He saw him! In the midst of a long line of descendants, God inclined His ear toward him. He was not forgotten, cast aside, or overlooked. Jabez was remembered.
During our time in Swaziland we have had the privilege of doing home visits each afternoon. What is a home visit, you may be wondering? A home visit is an opportunity for us to take a child or group of children home, meet their parents or caretakers (if they have them), take them food, hear a bit of their story, talk with them about Jesus, and pray over them.
Today we had an amazing home visit! Two groups piled into one van. There were 19 of us in this van – eight adults and 11 children. The driver dropped us off near each home and our group carried the bags of rice, beans, maize, and other food items up the dusty path that led to the home we were to visit.
This particular visit was unique because there was actually a complete family unit present. There was a mother and a father. Please understand that it is very rare to see a father figure in a home and even more rare is the opportunity to engage in conversation with a dad. This family was truly special!
Our guide for the home visit, Xolani, is the Shepherd at Ruby’s Care Point. When we walked up, Xolani told us to place the food on the ground and sit on the cinder blocks outside of the home. The mother and father, along with all of the children sat outside by the door of the home, as well. Xolani began talking to the parents, telling them who we were and why we were there. They shared with him a bit of their story and he then translated back to us.
He told us that they had been praying for God to provide for them. They had both recently lost their jobs and though they had been trying to survive, things were grim. They had tried to plant a small garden, but it had been destroyed. They had searched for jobs but were unsuccessful. They were completely without food and in their words, “they had very little hope.”
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their cry. – Psalm 34:15
The mother then shared with us in English how very grateful she was that we had come to bless them. Then a really amazing thing happened. The father began to talk to us, not in English but in SiSwati. He, too, expressed his gratitude and thanks to God for providing for his family.
We explained to them that it was not us, but God who had heard their prayer and answered it.
After this we presented them with the food and exchanged hand shakes and hugs. They kept saying how they were overwhelmed with the provision of God!
We asked if we could pray with them and they responded with a joyful, “YES!”
Praying here in Swaziland means that everyone prays his or her own prayer to God, out loud, at the same time. It’s really an incredible sound! We all began talking to God at once. It was a beautiful! A sacrifice of praise to the Lord!
We asked if we could have a picture together and they agreed. We embraced again and said our goodbyes.
As we were walking back to the van, Xolani shared something profound. He shared how amazed and overwhelmed he was at God’s provision to answer his prayer. He explained how very difficult it is to do what he does. He shepherds the children at the care point, but he is also the one responsible for deciding who gets a home visit. He said that he prays and prays to have discernment so he can know who needs a visit that day. He expressed his gratitude to God for leading him to choose that family on this day!
Xolani said something else that really convicted me and touched me deep inside my heart. He said, “God wants us to be obedient to Him and if we will just be still, stop all of our busyness, and sit at His feet, we can hear His voice and know what to do.”
Now that is not a new truth to me. I have heard that truth, read that truth in God’s Word, and taught that truth many times. BUT … I don’t always live that truth. Busyness takes precedent over stillness. I fail to stop and see the miracles God provides for me with daily.
Today this family discovered God in a way they had never seen before. God (El Roi) pinpointed this little family, in this little house, in the tiniest country in all of the world. He didn’t need a GPS or Google Maps either. The very hand of God reached down and scooped up this little family. He heard them, just like He heard Jabez, and He granted what they asked. He showed Himself to be Jehovah-jireh, their provider.
Do you see the multiple miracles in this story? HE saw. HE provided. HE used this team of ordinary people to be His ambassadors of love. And God didn’t just hear this family’s prayer. He heard Xolani’s prayers, as well, and He blessed Xolani for His obedience.
In Matthew 6:25-31, Jesus said these words,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.”
What miracle has God blessed you with recently?
I pray that we not only notice the miracles, but that we, like this family, are overwhelmed by the goodness and grace of God every single day!
Oh, that God would bless us indeed, expand our territory, keep us from harm, and hear our prayers!
We love you!
Swazi Summer Team 2015