Thursday, July 12, 2007

Prayer that Crosses Racial Barriers



Prayer, heartfelt and unhindered, crosses many barriers, including the racial chasm in the church. Many years ago, a black man and his wife were called to Ft Wayne, Indiana to start an inner city ministry. Having recently moved from a rural community, my experience with other races was limited. This was about to change.

Soon after Sam Winger’s arrival we stood on a downtown street corner praying for one another. Sam began, “Lord, if someone talks about Bob, they are talkin about Sam.” And, I prayed likewise, “Lord if someone is talking about Sam they are talking about Bob.” At the time neither of us realized where that prayer would take us. Three years later, a fellow pastor came to Sam making accusations against me. Sam simply asked, “Have you talked to Bob?” There was hesitation, “Well no.” My new found brother in Christ said to him, I have nothing to say until you talk to Bob and get your answer from him. We experienced a modern day answer to Christ’s prayer for reconciliation. that they may all be one….that the world would believe that Thou didst send me.”-John 17

Another time our congregation cried out to the Lord on behalf of a broken and needy inner city church. Their pastor shot and killed his wife, then turned the gun on himself taking his own life. We read the tragic story in our local paper. The following Sunday I led our body in prayer, asking the Lord’s healing upon this grieving people. We also prayed for them to find a new pastor. After prayer, our people wrote personal prayer messages (Prayer-A-Grams) to our brothers and sisters in that congregation. Paul writes in Galations 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”

Months later, at an area pastors gathering, a huge black man introduced himself to me as Pastor Mike Nickelson. When he heard my name and the church I pastored, he lifted me off me feet in a bear hug, “Pastor Bob, you are the church that prayed me into Ft Wayne!” Mike and I began meeting to pray and seek the Lord together. Soon, he invited me to preach at Mt. Calvary Baptist. The same morning, I invited him to preach at Broadway Christian. That was the start of a long standing relationship of trust and love. He now refers to me as “Dad”.

When we pray and act upon those prayers we can expect results. Our Lord cares deeply for the broken, the grieving and the forsaken who live not far from us. We have been divided by decades of color, separate neighborhoods fear and misunderstanding. Not until I met two other men of color, prayed with them, did my vision and heart change. When love conquers prejudice in answer to our Lord’s prayer, the unchurched will be drawn to Christ and His body on earth. Prayer changes things, especially the hearts of those who do the praying!

“May it be the real I who speaks,

May it be the real Thou that I speak to.” -C.S. Lewis

Robert Yawberg

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was tremendously blessed by the article. Thanks God for Praying Pastors. Thanks God for Pastor Bob and Pastor Mike for being obedient submissive servants of God and Prayer.