As we have served on a B2H team for about 11 years we have become ever more aware of the forces that are working against “our Bridge mothers.” There is the worldly environment all around them; there is their own personal “baggage,” and on top of that just basic human perversity. Unfortunately, Satan too is in the mix. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that success doesn’t come without a struggle.
True, The Bridge to Hope tries to provide every positive good that will help these girls to a new and stable way of life: well-equipped apartment, practical training and education, help with job search, food stamps, help to get their children back from DCS, social services, attendance at classes and groups to reinforce sobriety, love and support from their mentoring team, and even people to take them to church. In latter years a weekly Bible study class just for the mothers has also been provided. Surely all these good things should be enough!
And there has been success: much positive change in lives, many answers to prayer; jobs obtained, children returned to their mother, lessons learned, needs supplied, even new office expansion! Yet the negative forces are strong. Problems can be just around the corner: the flare-up of rebellion, or jealousy, or discouragement, or illness. There can be slipping back, or strong temptation. You can teach them against lying, but it is still there. You can urge daily contact with the Word, but they are too busy. They want to be patient with their children, but they are tired. They intend to embrace the rules, but it’s hard and easier to cut corners. How can all the negative forces be overcome?
Here is a factor we cannot neglect: in any ministry two things are required: human effort and spiritual power or God’s working. Usually we tend to lean more to the side of human effort. That’s how things are done “in the world” and we Christians tend to pick that up. We place a lot of emphasis on programs, media, equipment, buildings, skill, events. Many people work hard to put on events or to run the programs, to lead meetings, to teach classes, even to raise funds, but how many people are working hard in prayer? Hudson Taylor once wrote, “We have given too much attention to machinery and to resources and too little to the Source of power.”
For some “strange” reason, God has ordained that prayer should be an important part of the equation. (Just note how often it is urged in Scripture.) When we went out to Thailand 54 years ago, our mission required that we have a certain number of committed prayer partners before we could go to the field. It is not only foreign mission work, however, that needs to be upheld in prayer. Every aspect of life and service where we hope to see God working, no matter where it is, needs to be backed by heart-felt prayer. If God is not working and we are not showing our trust in Him to work, something will be missing. How do we assure God’s working? The only way I know is through regular and sufficient prayer. How many people have to be praying and how much? God hasn’t told us. But we know God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. (Heb. 11:6) The Bridge to Hope greatly needs more prayer partners. Will you be one? –parting words of encouragement from our Bridge Board and Team Members Jerry and Barb Wibberly.