By G. M., a Navigator serving in Asia
The names in this article have been changed for security.
Here in the Asian nation where I’ve lived for many years, within our extensive, natural relational network, a young woman with a gentle spirit recently graduated from college. In her free time, she loves to put on high, black rubber boots and other outdoor gear to hunt for truffles (delicious mushrooms) in the forest.
The night before her graduation, about 20 of us gathered for a celebratory meal. As we ate together, the conversation spontaneously turned to anxious questions about how our country’s economic downturn might impact the young woman’s future.
The young woman’s uncle, a man I’ll call “Somchai,” implored everyone at the table to pray more. Prayer has become important to Somchai in recent times, in part because his wife has cancer. He is poor and his wife’s illness has added financial pressure. Nevertheless, by God’s grace, he was able to buy a small truck to transport his wife to and from the hospital.
“When God hears prayer, He answers,” said Somchai to the group. This was followed by a question: "How do we know that God hears us?" That led to a discussion about how Jesus gives us direct access to God. It was a vibrant exchange of ideas.
My wife and I could not have planned this conversation. We did not have time to prepare a message or a Bible Study about the theology of prayer. But unpredictability is the nature of authentic relational ministry. We cannot control people or dictate the outcomes—at least not if we want to keep our friendships.
We can, however, be prepared with love, respect and knowledge of the Scriptures. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul says that we should be ready in season and out of season to preach, teach, instruct, reprove, and exhort; or, in short, to always be ready to respond in an appropriate way to the opportunities presented.
How can I be ready in a moment's notice to respond? When I don’t know what to do, I serve PIE. What is PIE? This is my acronym for a scripture Passage, a biblical Illustration and a personal Example. In other words, I try to be prepared with a reference and story from the Bible, along with an example from my own life. I share this, when the time is right, in a way that connects scripture to my personal experience.
This is exactly what Somchai did. He shared how he and his wife prayed and how they got a good report from the doctor, and how God has been helping them to pay their bills even with added health costs. Based on his experience, he stated that prayer should also be a response to the current economic crisis.
I take my PIE approach seriously. I have hundreds of little cards with a piece of PIE on them. I write down my ideas as I prepare Bible study, or during my quiet times, or after I have a life experience that teaches me something new. I intentionally work to "bake" PIEs so I will be ready in the future.
Serving people in a network of relationships is profound and meaningful. We can help people see that our spiritual lives are natural, and that our natural lives are spiritual. We live one, whole and complete life.
Are you prepared?