“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1, King James Version, emphasis added throughout).
Paul clearly recognized the vital importance of this mission. He told the Corinthian brethren, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Just as Paul understood this, those of us in God’s Church today realize that proclaiming the truth about Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is our first and foremost duty. Plus, we sincerely yearn to see people freed from spiritual deception and blindness.
Therefore, praying about the work of preaching the gospel, as Paul stated, is our marvelous opportunity and obligation. Indeed, the Bible compares “the prayers of the saints” to incense (Revelation 5:8). When physical incense is ground up into fine powder and burned, it releases a sweet-smelling fragrance. Similarly, when our prayers are precise and detailed, it is like a pleasant aroma to God (Leviticus 16:12).
Several weeks ago we introduced a new feature to be published periodically in the Ministerial and Member Services eNews, titled: “Pray for the Gospel to Have Free Course.” Each message consists of one-to-three short paragraphs highlighting needs or challenges that the home office and our international offices face in spreading the gospel. The objective of this communiqué is to help us pray specifically about those issues. Considering this, we know that our Heavenly Father loves to hear the prayers of His faithful people. “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:12).
Below are synopses of messages that were published over the past few weeks in the “Pray for the Gospel to Have Free Course” section of the MMS eNews:
1. Johnnie Lambert, pastor in New York and Eastern Europe, has been unable to travel to Estonia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. He asks for your prayers that he can soon visit the brethren and print and insert Estonian language supplements into the Russian language edition of Beyond Today magazine.
2. David Fenney, chief executive officer of UCG-British Isles, asks for your prayers that Beyond Today magazine subscribers will be increasingly motivated to renew their subscriptions and that office personnel can find ways to enhance the magazine’s renewal process.
3. Jorge de Campos, senior pastor of the work of God in the Portuguese-speaking areas, asks for your prayers that God will provide laborers who know written and spoken Portuguese, and can be available to assist with counseling and traveling.
4. Anthony Wasilkoff, director of operations for the United Church of God in Canada, asks for your prayers that UCG-Canada can find affordable print media advertising opportunities. He also requests prayers that the gospel message will not be obstructed—since there are growing government-imposed communications restrictions. In some instances, even the Bible has been referred to as “hate literature.” Mr. Wasilkoff also asks that you to pray that God will provide a way to replace aging pastors in Canada.
5. Paul Moody, senior pastor for English-speaking West Africa, reports that significant violence is being carried out by a terrorist group in Southeastern Nigeria, which is resulting in many casualties. The brethren of the Owerri congregation are caught in the middle of this turmoil. Mr. Moody asks you to pray for the brethren’s safety and that God will make it possible to resume visits to potential members and do outreach with the gospel—which has been greatly hindered due to the unrest.
6. Peter Eddington, operation manager for Media and Communications Services, stated that Google has been censoring the Church’s ability to fully advertise online. Our ads are approved to run only to limited audiences. Our reach and effectiveness is being censored and controlled. Please pray that our ads can be available to all those who use the Internet and not just the audiences that Google selects.
7. David Schreiber, senior pastor for India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, has been unable to visit the region due to COVID-19 restrictions. He asks for your prayers that he will be able to resume ministerial travels in order to visit the brethren and give greater spiritual nourishment to interested individuals. In addition, he seeks your prayers that God-fearing men will be raised up to care for our members and help teach and counsel newly called individuals.
8. Wim Dekker, UCG-Netherlands National Council chairman, reports that the Dutch website has recently been entirely revamped so as to make it easier to be found by search engines. He asks for your prayers that God will greatly bless the new website and that it will be an ideal tool by which Dutch-speaking people may be led to the truth of Jesus Christ and the gospel.
9. Roy Demont, regional pastor for South Africa, reports that the country has sadly transitioned from a Western cultural orientation to a socialist/Marxist one that looks to China and Russia for guidance. Its leaders are implementing ideas and presenting solutions to problems molded on a Marxist philosophy. Consequently, God’s Church is having to rely more and more on the United States for financial assistance in its efforts to preach the gospel. Mr. Demont asks for your prayers that the Church in South Africa can keep moving forward in doing God’s work despite many obstacles.
10. Our brethren in Myanmar need your prayers for their protection as military clashes between the government and a resistance group are ongoing. This situation has hindered the Church’s ability to reach the public with the gospel. Also, please pray that God would send an elder to visit the country when it is safe. There are some prospective members and several young people who may wish to be baptized.
11. Peter Eddington stated that recent negative comments by a television station manager airing Beyond Today programs was a reminder that the gospel message can be obstructed by the whims of a station manager or account executive. He asks for your prayers that God’s blessing and guiding hand will be on our various efforts to preach the gospel and that we may find favor in the sight of those with whom we do business.
12. Peter Eddington reported that the United Church of God is launching a major print promotion campaign from January-March 2022 in the U.S. A total of 75 million advertisements will be included in coupon inserts in Sunday newspapers. People will have the opportunity to request a free subscription to Beyond Today magazine and one of our Bible study aids. Please pray for God’s blessings on this important effort.
Finally, we thank you in advance for your urgent and ongoing prayers that the gospel can be spread with great power and without restrictions everywhere on earth today!