Prayer and Giving Dovetail

My earliest Christmas memories revolve around church life. I remember spending hours practicing lines for Christmas pageants. All children were in the productions. I don’t recall it being optional. Afterward we would exchange gifts in our small country church. Before leaving, my dad would lead the congregation to sing “Away in a Manger.” The number of words and verses would depend on the status of our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal. Hopefully by our Christmas celebration, the target would be met. Christmas lights poking through a homemade wooden board lit up the song.

The best was yet to come. Everyone was given a brown paper lunch sack filled with goodness on his or her way out the door. The gift bag always contained a handful of peanuts, a few old-fashioned creams, an orange, and some hard candy. The Baptist Sunday School Board may have produced literature about how to pack the treats, because many my age remember receiving the same gift bags at their churches.

The years have come and gone. Some traditions have changed. The call to pray for our missionaries and support the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering remains until all have heard. As I sit down to type this article, my mind reflects on a sweet missionary I hugged goodbye 10 hours ago. Jan Johnsonius serves in Europe. I asked her a few questions that I hope will encourage Christ followers to pray and give generously. Jan and her husband, Jim, were first appointed to serve in Argentina. A car wreck in 1993 killed Jim and left Jan seriously injured. Nine years later, Jan was commissioned to Spain.

Jan connects with urban professionals through life coaching, hospital chaplaincy, cooking classes/Bible storying, a golden retriever hiking group, cultural and social activities, and just doing life in her neighborhood/barrio. Jan says, “In and through all these connecting points, I’m able to live out the reality of Christ in my life [and] the relevance of the gospel and God’s Word and speak out the truth of the Scripture, the hope we have in Christ, and the difference He can make in the lives of urban professionals. I do that alongside Spanish believers, mutually encouraging one another as we share the gospel, do seeker Bible studies, and plant churches.”

I asked Jan why praying and giving are so important. She responded, “Prayer is the foundation, the fount of living water, in this dry and thirsty land called Madrid, Spain. And giving is what enables us to stay in Madrid, year after year after year, investing in people’s lives, allowing them to see, hear, and taste that the Lord is good and that He has a plan for their lives. Without prayer and giving together, hand in hand, missions does not happen. Life transformation does not happen.” I wholeheartedly agree.


Each of us may not be able to physically go to the ends of the earth, but we can impact the nations through our giving and praying. Awaken Your church. Stir the hearts of Your people to pray. We are reminded in Matthew 17:20 that prayer moves mountains. May we emerge from our knees eager to generously support Your work in the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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