“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”Hebrews 4:14-16
In his year-end update, Pastor Mario Maneville in Cape Town, South Africa, recalls several instances of the church calling out to God in prayer and receiving wonderful help from Him. Due to the number of stories and the length of his update, we were forced to choose only a few. Teaser: One of the most dramatic answers to prayer that their church has seen will be announced next year.
“Greetings in the name of our one true God who gives us access to His throne by His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I praise God that our weakness does not disqualify us from coming with confidence to the throne of grace. Instead, it is the very motivation for us to come, since our Lord sympathizes with our weakness and bids us to come. It is because of Christ that we can come to receive mercy and find sufficient grace to help in our time of need.
My intention with this report is to motivate you to acknowledge how weak you truly are, especially considering the awesome calling of God upon you and your church, and that such a realization would bring you to a desperate dependency upon the Lord.
I like to describe our church as a small, weak little church. That is not just a description of how few members we are, but rather of how dependent we are on the Lord for everyday mercies. This desperate dependency has made us rely upon our Lord in prayer for things that might seem insignificant to many, as well as things that seem impossible to most.
‘Lord I need a job, but I have a criminal record.‘
Our brother Theo was wonderfully saved out of a life of gangsterism and crime. He used to be one of the notorious gang leaders who terrorized our community, but God was gracious and saved him. He applied for a job with the City of Cape Town and was called in for an interview. As part of the application and interview process, Theo had to sign a form reporting whether he had a criminal record or not. The city does not employ anyone with a criminal record.
I remember our church having a prayer meeting in his little bungalow at the back of his in-laws’ yard. That evening the church prayed for the Lord’s favor, asking that the Lord would grant him the opportunity to provide for his family. A few weeks after that, the city called to let him know he got the job. Somehow, his criminal record had been erased! Since then our brother has been awarded “Employee of the Year” several times. That’s God answering prayer!
‘Terminate the pregnancy or give birth to a Down syndrome baby.‘
Our brother Donnie and his wife were expecting their 8th child, and their only daughter. The doctors told his wife that she needed to abort the baby for the sake of her own health as a diabetic, and because the baby would be born with abnormalities, possibly even Down syndrome. They showed her several horrific videos about what to expect if they had the baby. Donnie insisted that they will trust the Lord and accept whatever He gives them, but they will not kill their baby.
The church started praying and pleading with the Lord for a healthy baby and to keep Shiyaam safe throughout the pregnancy and delivery. The Lord answered our prayer, and a beautiful, healthy baby girl was added to this all-male family.
‘Peter, if the Lord doesn’t save you then I pray that He remove you!‘
‘Peter’ (not his real name) is one of the oldest and biggest drug dealers in Bellville South. He runs Hell’s Kitchen (the most dangerous area in our community). We do a lot of outreach in this area and on one particular night we did an open-air service close to Peter’s house and ‘place of business.’ Quinton, full of the zeal of God, was preaching the Gospel and started calling gangsters and drug dealers to repentance.
Those who were listening, and certainly those of us from the church, were shocked when he shouted with a loud voice, “You who keep on selling drugs to kill our children… you must repent or be removed. Peter, if the Lord doesn’t save you then I pray that He remove you!”
The church started praying that the Lord would save these thugs or remove them. Since then many have either gone to prison or died, but the Lord saved Peter. Now we have an open door to hold Bible studies at a place that used to be a drug den. Another prayer that the Lord has answered.I hope you are encouraged and challenged to see afresh your desperate dependency upon the Lord and that you too would be able to say like David and poor needy sinners like us:
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me… Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”Psalm 34:4,8